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Greg Prince and Jason Fry
Faith and Fear in Flushing made its debut on Feb. 16, 2005, the brainchild of two longtime friends and lifelong Met fans.

Greg Prince discovered the Mets when he was 6, during the magical summer of 1969. He is a Long Island-based writer, editor and communications consultant. Contact him here.

Jason Fry is a Brooklyn writer whose first memories include his mom leaping up and down cheering for Rusty Staub. Check out his other writing here.

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The Day After

The recap of Wednesday’s debacle belongs in my blog partner’s already pretty big Hall of Fame, because Greg nailed it: That disaster, from its on-field component to its off-field sequel, might or might not be rock bottom for the 2024 season, but it was unquestionably the end of something.

Somehow we all knew it, and I suspect a lot of us spent the day after acting accordingly.

Take your recapper, for instance. When Thursday night’s game started, I was on the East River off a pier in Brooklyn Bridge Park, sitting in a kayak and making sure people in other kayaks didn’t get themselves in trouble while enjoying a lovely spring evening. (Come join us! It’s free!) I knew the game was starting but didn’t trouble myself beyond that – and yes, I remembered it was my recap. So what? I had things to do and the Mets had forfeited their right to be atop the list of those things.

Afterwards, when my kayak buddies opted for pizza and beer I joined them, letting the Mets linger down at the bottom of that list. And I didn’t feel a twinge of guilt about it. They would do what they did and I would do what I did and I would chronicle it afterwards, without apologies for the proportions of baseball and the avoidance of same. But old loyalties die hard: After my pizza came I propped my phone up against my water bottle and put on Gameday. When I registered that the score was AZ 2 NY 1, I rolled my eyes, muttered something about poor Christian Scott getting a hell of initiation, and went back to a conversation made considerably better by a lack of wailing about the Mets.

I don’t remember what the stages or steps are and so I can’t put a number on it, but I’m pretty sure this is acceptance.

And as is often the case, once I quit trying I got rewarded. I registered that the score had become 2-2, investigated and discovered that Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso had collaborated to turn the 1 into a 2, briefly groused that they hadn’t done that often enough this season, and went back to chatting.

It was only after leaving the restaurant and strolling through Brooklyn Bridge Park that I resumed my usual routine. MLB Audio told me J.D. Martinez was at the plate, and a moment later Howie Rose was very excited, telling me that this one might go, which it did. I did a brief little dance whose emotions are honestly hard to describe: Happiness? Sure. Exasperation? Also sure. Disbelief? Definitely in there. There were a lot of things.

Walking back through Brooklyn Heights, I listened as Reed Garrett walked the leadoff hitter in the ninth, which you don’t have to be a long-suffering Mets fan to know is usually fatal. I called my mother, who I knew would be in front of her TV swearing at Garrett and importuning the baseball gods to quit being such jerks, and told her I was coming over.

Garrett managed not to do what Met relievers have done serially of late, collecting one out and then another, both by way of hit-it-in-a-silo pop-ups. Then, in the elevator up to my mom’s apartment, the game vanished, a victim of the thick walls of the building core. I opened my mom’s door tentatively … did they? Had they?

Nothing had happened yet. I stood in front of the TV in time to see a groundball, hard but right at Jeff McNeil, and the Mets had won.

That was novel. That was good. That meant a lot less than it would have even a week ago. But it still meant something.

* * *

A lot of pixels have been spilled over Jorge Lopez, whose glove-gifting tantrum was followed by a jaw-dropper of a clubhouse interview and then by his excision from the Mets via DFA.

Reading the post-mortems, I found myself lamenting how ill-suited the Twitter age is to any thing resembling substantive commentary about one of the worst hours in a relief pitcher’s life. What happened to and with Lopez demanded nuance, and everything about our digital age is engineered to shove nuance aside as outmoded and boring if not downright cowardly. This is the age of TLDR, in which your take better be instantly available out of the oven, served piping hot and prepared spicy.

Which means we’ve lost something important if we still want to understand the world and, frankly, each other.

Look, Lopez deserved to get DFA’ed, full stop. He embarrassed his employers by representing them horribly in a public forum, after years and years of being taught to know better. The interview in a second language was a bit halting, yes, but Lopez’s standard is to conduct his interviews in English. And while the specifics of what he was saying got a bit hazy, the gist of it was unmistakable. He was offered multiple off-ramps from the bad road he was speeding along. He took none of them.

But that’s not the whole story.

Lopez’s teammates past and current seem to genuinely like him, but they also know him as a guy who’s hard on himself to a worrisome degree, and whose emotions can overwhelm him. You could see it in that clubhouse interview – this was a man who was clearly struggling. And this isn’t new for Lopez: Last year the Twins put him on the IL for 15 days to deal with his mental health, a move no one with a shred of decency should scorn.

Moreover, Lopez has a son named Mikael who suffers from a malady called Familial Mediterranean Fever, which has meant regular hospital visits and multiple transplants, with few opportunities to watch his father pitch. Wednesday, cruelly, was Mikael’s 11th birthday.

The Mets’ decision wasn’t unjust. But let’s not fall into the trap of thinking anything here was simple or straightforward. That does a disservice to not only Jorge Lopez but also to ourselves.

17 comments to The Day After

  • Seth

    What a contrast between the Thrown Lopez Glove and the Thrown Orosco Glove, so many years ago. That says it all…

  • LeClerc

    Cohen and Stearns better put their house in order.

  • LeClerc

    Thanks to Jason for his compassionate words for Jorge Lopez and his son.

    • open the gates

      Yep, definitely a Jay Hook moment. One hears Bob Murphy saying, “And the Mets win a ball game!” with the obvious subcontext of “And about time, too!”

      Maybe this will be the start of the 15 game winning streak that catapults the Mets back into contention. Somehow, I doubt it.

      Good take on Jorge Lopez. People tend to forget that these guys are human beings. I don’t think the Mets were wrong to DFA him, but those who would scorn Lopez should consider how they would react if they were interviewed on live TV after their worst ever day at work. His son’s situation is also relevant. I wish him the best.

      • mikeski

        15 game winning streak seems unlikely, but what if they pull off, say…9 of 12? 11 of 14?

        Would that really change your outlook on this team? They already played well for a couple of weeks early on…with no follow through or even residue left over.

        • open the gates

          Yeah, you’re right, it probably wouldn’t change my outlook much. If anything, it would be a mirage making the team look better than it actually is. Long term, it might be better if they continue to stink and forces management to just move on to the rebuild. Not so much fun to watch, tho.

    • Jacobs27

      I, too, appreciated this background. I wish the guy well.

  • LeClerc

    By the way:

    During the 2021 season Francisco Lindor disgraced himself and the Mets organization by joining with Javier Baez and Kevin Pillar by making the “Thumbs Down” gesture to Mets fans who were disenchanted with the team’s performance.

    Lindor’s penalty: 34 million dollars per year for the next seven years.

    Luis Rojas was clueless about “thumbs down”. I wonder what Mendy’s thoughts are about that behavior?

  • mikeski

    Afterwards, when my kayak buddies opted for pizza and beer, I joined them, letting the Mets linger down at the bottom of that list.

    Juliana’s? Grimaldi’s?

  • Curt Emanuel

    A win is always better than a loss, I guess. Though when your opponent’s starter leaves the game after 6 pitches it doesn’t hurt.

    Glad Pete’s OK but I had this thought that him being out for a bit might be a good thing. It would let us keep both Baty & Vientos around longer.

    Unfortunate situation with Lopez. I didn’t know about his son. Thanks for sharing that.

  • Curt Emanuel

    Should add this. It was the 3rd or 4th inning when I realized something may have happened. Had to check the play by play to be sure.

    Yup. First inning, first and second, nobody out. Used to be I’d be disappointed. It didn’t even register.

    If I had been filling out an evaluation like I used to for a presentation I’d have checked the box, “Meets expectations.”

    That’s pretty sad.

  • eric1973

    I understand Lopez is a veteran who has a bit of talent. If Tonkin can show up here 2 or 3 times, maybe this guy will be back.

    Might be worth a shot, and might just teach him a lesson…

    After all, he’s the only guy to show any emotion all year, unlike the robotic Lindors, Alonsos, and Nimmos.

    And if you ask Mendy about the Thumbs Down, he’d just say we have a game tonight. Not a bad response.

  • Orange and blue through and through

    Jason, excellent writing! I’d heard about Lopez’s son when I read about Boomer Esiason’s retraction of his earlier critique. Bad days befall all of us. Lopez deserved to be DFA’d, but he deserves our compassion too.

  • LeClerc

    News Flash!

    Narvaez DFA’d.

    Baty and Scott sent back to Syracuse.