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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 Sun At Last Sets on 2022

A 4:10 weekday start to conclude a home series against the Dodgers evoked, however briefly, one of the few peaks of the Mets baseball experience in the 2020s. On September 1, 2022, the Mets and Dodgers began play at Citi Field as leaders of their respective divisions. L.A. was running away with the West. The Mets had fashioned a smaller cushion in the East, but were successfully fending off Atlanta. The three games in Queens loomed as an NLCS preview. The Dodgers took the Tuesday night opener, the Mets the second on Wednesday evening in grand and dramatic fashion. Jacob deGrom had thrown seven innings of three-hit ball, assisted on defense by Brandon Nimmo robbing Justin Turner at the center field wall. Starling Marte had homered with a man on. Adam Ottavino pitched a scoreless eighth and, with a 2-1 lead in the balance, Timmy Trumpet — live and in person — heralded the entrance of Edwin Diaz for the ninth. Trea Turner, Freddie Freeman and Will Smith went down in order, setting up the Thursday late-afternoon rubber match. It was at least as huge a deal in New York as whatever Serena Williams was doing across the boardwalk at the US Open in her final professional matches. That’s how immense the Mets had gotten as a ballclub and a story as 2022 had progressed.

The Mets didn’t disappoint in the finale. If their third game versus the Dodgers wasn’t quite as grand and dramatic as the second, it was effective. Chris Bassitt hung in against Clayton Kershaw, exiting after pitching six innings and the Mets trailing, 2-1. Kershaw went only five, opening up possibilities in the bottom of the sixth and seventh. Versus the Dodgers’ pen, the Mets put up two runs one inning, then two runs in the next, with RBI honors performed by Francisco Lindor, Darin Ruf, Nimmo and Marte. Mr. Trumpet had left town, but the man for whom he was musical muse, Mr. Diaz, was deployed successfully enough in the eighth by Buck Showalter (one run allowed versus the heart of the L.A. order) and Ottavino took care of the ninth. To borrow some tennis parlance, the Mets had won this qualifying tournament, 3-4, 2-1, 5-3. The championship round in October was gonna be something else.

Something else got in the way. The Mets sputtered in September. Starling Marte was hit in the hand in Pittsburgh, Atlanta revved its engines, and the Mets entered the postseason as a Wild Card, leaving it before the tournament ever got serious. The 2022 National League Championship Series paired the Phillies and the Padres. Mets-Dodgers at the end of August and beginning of September was not a harbinger of something even greater. In retrospect, from a Met perspective, it was the end of not an era, but an interlude.

We thought we were in the midst of an era for five months of 2022. Something grand. Something dramatic. Something that would grow and endure and fill us with satisfaction that we who’d been Mets fans all our lives, through handfuls of ups and torrents of downs, had stayed Mets fans. We had the kind of team, led by fresh-air ownership, that was as formidable as any in baseball. This is what we’d been waiting so, so long for.

It can now be said with certainty that the wait continues. The very last semblance of what 2022 represented at its heights is dust. Following the late-season and postseason deflations of that year, the mess that was last year, and all that had been going wrong this year, such an assessment might strike you as a rather slowly arrived bulletin. Yet 2022 had earned the Mets enough good will with me that for all of my 2023 dismay and 2024 disgust, I believed somewhere in there was the heart and fiber of a good baseball team, a perennial contender, a top-flight professional enterprise. I no longer believe any of that. I believe the Mets are back to being the Mets of popular, unfriendly imagination. Go ahead, those who peer inside Metsopotamia only to mock — say what you will about how hopeless, ridiculous, whatever these Mets are. After Wednesday’s late-afternoon finale, there’s no reason inside our bubble to dispute any of it.

The Mets lost, 10-3, to the Dodgers, who never more than pause from being a powerhouse. It was 3-3 through seven, which indicated that if the Mets could craft one of their flash-mob walkoff rallies to end a series they had already lost on an upbeat note, they would take bows for never giving up…or if they fell short by a run or two, they could console themselves with how they had stayed in yet another close, hard-fought contest.

Except the Band-Aid was torn off with force. Six Dodger runs in the eighth, another in the ninth. David Peterson’s return to active duty was modestly encouraging in a vacuum (5 IP, 3 R, 7 H, no noticeable hip discomfort). Tomás Nido, who nobody wishes was the primary catcher, belted a two-run homer, and what had been a 3-0 deficit was erased when J.D. Martinez doubled home the tying run in the fifth. It was almost enough to make a person forget that a) Edwin Diaz went on the IL before the game with shoulder impingement issues and b) Pete Alonso left the game in the first inning after his right hand absorbed one of James Paxton’s fastballs.

Diaz, not the closer he was when he was serenaded by international recording stars, is still the closer of record. Being without him for however long represents a return to last year’s situation of every reliever being asked to step up a rung, and we all remember how that went. Alonso, who has personified the word “slump” since launching his 200th career home run more than a month ago, is too much the slugging sun around which this lineup orbits to not miss if he has to sit (x-rays were negative, further imaging to be announced). Besides, the HBP that Pete couldn’t shake was a little too reminiscent for comfort of the one that bruised Starling two Septembers ago.

So it hadn’t been a good Met day Wednesday, but it hadn’t been full-on calamitous until Jorge Lopez drew everybody’s attention. Lopez had passed for a pleasant surprise when there was anything pleasant about watching the 2024 Mets. He’d pitched in more games than any reliever on the club and forewent imploding for the most part. But Wednesday was about to change perceptions.

Lopez was called on to clean up for Ottavino. Ottavino also pitches quite a bit for the 2024 Mets and has also resided on the brighter side of dependable a little more often than not. Wednesday was a different story. The Dodgers, led by Will Smith leading off the eighth, proceeded to light up Otto. Smith homered, par for the course. Jason Heyward tripled with one out. A walk and a steal set the stage for Miguel Rojas to drive in another run. It was 5-3. The game was not beyond repair when Carlos Mendoza made his next call to the bullpen.

A busy signal would have been preferable. Jorge attempted a pickoff at third base that the third baseman, Brett Baty, wasn’t expecting. It hit the third base umpire, Ramon De Jesus. It allowed the baserunner on first to move to second. And it didn’t pick off the baserunner it was intended to trap. The fella at the plate while all that was happening, Miguel Vargas, soon doubled both of those runners in. It was 7-3. One out later, Shohei Ohtani, who had been too quiet for too long, homered. It was 9-3. Versus Freddie Freeman, Lopez didn’t get a strike call he wanted on a checked swing. Lopez barked at De Jesus. De Jesus ejected Lopez. Perhaps the umpire could have been the bigger man, but Lopez had recently hit him with a pitch, so who knows what he was thinking? A more apt question might be what the hell was Lopez thinking when, as he trudged to the dugout, he flung his glove over the protective screen and into the stands.

Josh Walker, who had been optioned before the game to make room for Peterson and then almost immediately recalled when Diaz went on the IL, finished the game, giving up an extra run for good measure. Then the Mets players took it up on themselves to hold an internal airing of grievances. When the media had their chance to read tea leaves, they sought out Nimmo, Ottavino and Lindor for explanations. I listened intently to each of them as they were aired on SNY’s marathon postgame show. I can’t say any of it registered with me, other than when you lose enough games in enough ways and there’s no sign you’ll stop losing games, you kind of have to have a meeting.

Reporters also checked in with Jorge Lopez, who used his platform to talk himself off the team. Maybe the glove toss had opened the door for his departure, but his decision to not publicly regret his behavior, along with muttering something about the Mets being probably “the worst team” in “the whole fucking MLB,” did his standing no favors. His forthcoming designation for assignment, which in the heat of the moment seemed an excellent idea, leaked out. It’s been one of those seasons when DFAs of any three Mets in one swoop wouldn’t make you blink. Lopez’s clubhouse performance may not have stood out as particularly bizarre when set against how players in decades past used to unleash their frustration for notebooks and tape recorders (the Mets are this weekend retiring the number of a player who wasn’t shy in that regard), but we live in a buttoned-up age, when the most any teammate will say about another teammate is some boilerplate about the need to hold each other accountable. Lopez told it like it was, clarifying that they’re all accountable, himself included. Maybe he told it like it was a little too well.

The 2024 Mets now wallow eleven games under .500. A couple of days ago, I looked up incidences of Mets teams that had fallen double-digits below the break-even mark and still carved out a winning record by season’s end. It has happened three times in franchise history: 1973, 2001 and 2019. I offer that tidbit for nothing more than trivia’s sake, given that there’s no way this team is going to be the fourth edition of the Mets to bounce back from below. Likewise, I am no longer concerning myself with the National League playoff picture, multiple Wild Card berths notwithstanding. The Mets aren’t a part of that snapshot as June approaches and won’t be the rest of the way. As a guy who analyzes returns until he can call elections accurately on social media likes to say, I’ve seen enough. Four months remain to 2024. Get out of it what you like, or just get out and do something else.

Circling back to the last game of that Dodgers series from 2022, several of that magical summer’s names are still very much attached to the Mets. There’s definitely been churn, but here we are, citing Diaz, Alonso, Marte, Ottavino, Nimmo, Lindor, along with the likes of Nido, Peterson, Baty, Tylor Megill and Jeff McNeil in the present day. Steve Cohen is still the owner, and if he’s not too distracted by building other things, we’ll assume he’s still committed to building a long-term winner in Flushing. He’s got the president of baseball operations he wants, and David Stearns has a moldable manager of his own choosing. Carlos Mendoza doesn’t have the track record of Buck Showalter, but every skipper hired for the first time had to have impressed somebody to be entrusted with running what is technically a major league team. Injuries are injuries, and to this point, injuries have removed Francisco Alvarez, Kodai Senga, Brooks Raley and Drew Smith from the daily equation, with Diaz added to their ranks. Stearns’s pickups — like Martinez, Sean Manaea, Luis Severino and Harrison Bader — have all had their moments. Christian Scott and Mark Vientos have each shown wisps of the potential we’d been told they carry.

There was a time, maybe even a couple of weeks ago, when I would have considered all of the above and inferred that these elements together, less than two years after that day the Mets took that rubber game from the Dodgers, were, at their core, capable of coalescing into something solid. A lousy record last year, a lousy record thus far this year, but surely they were better than they’d shown. They were so good at the peak of the season before last. Everything that made them that good couldn’t have completely disappeared in a span of roughly 20 months. Could it have?

It did. It’s gone like Jorge Lopez and Jorge Lopez’s glove. Welcome, at last, to the discouraging present, where there’s no sign things were fairly recently a whole lot better.

Let’s Go Future Mets, whoever you are, whenever you get here. You won’t have a tough act to follow.

14 comments to The Sun At Last Sets on 2022

  • Kranepool62

    Thanks, Greg, for summing up so perfectly (as always) one of the most infamous days in the history of this woebegone franchise. I’ve been a fan since 1968, so I’ve seen many, many fallow periods, but this one is teetering dangerously on a repeat of the worst one: the Grant’s Tomb/Chico Escuela (Google it, kids) era of 1977-1983. This team is dead to me right now. As for the Future Mets, at least Coney Island is only a subway ride away.

  • Curt Emanuel

    Losing was easier when the club was owned by a cheap prick.

    I wonder if Klapisch and Harper (are they still with us?) have started working on a sequel? Though it sounds like this club at least behaves itself off the field, as opposed to how they’ve looked on it.

    • Seth

      Yep, definitely harder when it’s owned by an expensive prick.

      I remember that Dodgers series — even then I looked at it as the end of the good times and the start of Collapse 2022 ™. And yet, there was so much farther to fall.

  • LeClerc

    Although his post-game remarks were only semi-articulate and too much for TV vulgar, Lopez was more honest than Lindor and Nimmo.

    Lopez pitched in 26 games for the Mets this season. Mendoza obviously had faith in his abilities. He lost his cool in the end – but what he had to say had to be heard.

    Mr. Casino and his helper David better get serious about putting a winning team on the field.

  • DAK442

    Greg – I’m glad you called out the “hold each other accountable” nonsense. What the hell does that mean?! Seems like every time things go south, or there’s a team meeting, there is talk about accountability. Players repeat it, and journalists just nod thoughtfully and put it in their story. Just once I’d love to see someone ask “What do you mean?” Does Lindor ask Pete why he keeps swinging at garbage? Does someone ask the pitchers why they can’t stop walking people? It’s such a pointless, empty phrase. In a pointless, empty season I guess it’s to be expected.

    Oh well, ‘86 was fun.

    • K. Lastima

      The other annoying cop-out phrase they all parrot is something like: “all we can do is remain focused on the process” … well, if these are the consistent results of your so-called process, then your process is the problem, you morons!!!

    • mikeski

      Players repeat it, and journalists just nod thoughtfully and put it in their story.

      Nuke: “[…]Teach me something new, man. I need to learn.”

      Crash: “You got something to write with? Good. It’s time to work on your interviews.”

      Nuke: “My interviews? What do I got to do?”

      Crash: “You’re gonna have to learn your cliches. You’re going to have to study them. You’re going to have to know them. They’re your friends. Write this down. We’ve got to play them one day at a time.”

      Nukeh: “’Got to play’ ― that’s pretty boring, you know?”

      Crash: “Of course it’s boring. That’s the point. Write it down!”

      Nuke: “One day at a time―.”

      Crash: “I’m just happy to be here. Hope I can help the ball club. I know. Write it down. I just want to give it my best shot, and the good Lord willing, things will work out.”

      Nuke: “Good Lord willing―.”

      Crash: “Things will work out.”

  • K. Lastima

    Only our Mets can get badly swept in a doubleheader and yet somehow find a way to sink even lower the next game … the Amazing Mets indeed!

  • Michael in CT

    That glove was a heck of a souvenir. Fans come away with the occasional foul ball, the very occasional bat, but never have I seen a player’s glove turn into a souvenir. It’s like they say, at every game you see something you’ve never seen before. Especially Mets games.

  • LeClerc

    Jorge’s Glove

    The symbol of the ’24 Mets season.

  • John in Florida

    Greg, In these dark times, your superb writing lifts one’s spirits above the soul deadening landscape of the 2024 NY Mets. Thank you for it. The most sickening and evasive player comments about trying harder and such were shown to be the Oz like falsehoods they are. I don’t wish to be insulted any longer with corporate style happy talk and soothing platitudes that are less than the air they disappear into. I am sick. Like others here, I have been a fan of this team since the Polo Grounds days of 1962 where the bleachers were rugged and splintery in spots but so much more welcoming than the snazzy stadium across the river near my high school. It’s been difficult to fend off the ‘slings and arrows’ and taunts from family and friends all this time because the Mets were my team and I held them precious as my special quirky life time possessions no one but a fellow fan would understand. Without engaging in hyperbole, and not wishing to play the ‘old philosopher’ I can say that this year indeed is the worst ever for us. I got angry in the early seventies and early nineties, but not now. I am numbed and heartsick and too old to throw my old glove into the stands (like I could reach them) in a 78 year old shit fit. Let’s be good to each other and hope as we watch this tumult settle down and a new team emerge. Thanks for reading my words such as they are.

  • JoeNunz


    It takes a lot to lose Greg Prince.

    Say it ain’t so!

  • […] The Sun At Last Sets on 2022 »    […]

  • 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.