It feels like just yesterday that Johan Santana pitched the first ever no hitter in New York Mets history. It was a day that no Mets fan will ever forget, but it seems as if that no-hitter was the apex of the Mets season and it has all been pretty much downhill since then. Even the Mets head coach, Terry Collins, thinks that his players have lost their flare and that the Cinderella story that so many fans were in love with through May has fizzled out and now they are just the same old Mets. Since the all-star break, the Mets are an embarrassing 11-26 and have gone from .5 a game out of the wildcard to an insurmountable 10 games back. The Mets woes have just become worse with the news that their Ace, Johan Santana, will be sidelined for the rest of the season with yet another injury. Johan’s most recent ailment was diagnosed as lower back inflammation and can be placed on Santana’s long list of disappointing Disabled List visits as a New York Met.
Since being signed to one of the biggest contracts in baseball history back in 2008, Johan has had some extreme highs and lows while wearing the orange and blue. His best season was his first with the Mets where he was 16-7 with a 2.53 ERA and 206 strikeouts. 2009 and 2010 got progressively worse and then Johan was sidelined for the entire 2011 season because of a shoulder surgery that a lot of people thought would end his career. There’s no denying that Johan is a fighter because he was ready to go once the 2012 season rolled around and it looked as if he had found the skills that won him 2 Cy Young awards back with the Minnesota Twins. The Venezuelan was throwing his change up and fastball with such confidence that it looked like his talents combined with the Mets knuckler, RA Dickey, were going to lead the Mets to their first playoff appearance with Johan on the roster. During a stretch where the Mets seemed absolutely unbeatable, Johan took the mound on what seemed to be just a regular Friday night.
I know that I will never forget that June 1st night where Johan Santana pitched the first ever New York Mets no-hitter, but I also won’t forget how abysmal Johan’s stats were for the rest of season after it. In his 10 starts since the no no, Johan had an ugly 3-7 record with an astronomical 8.27 ERA. His opponents were batting .327 against him and he was giving up more than a homer a game. It was even uglier in the final five games where he was 0-5 and had a disgusting 15.63 ERA (worst in baseball during that stretch). It seemed like something was off and everyone was pointing fingers at injuries that hadn’t even been diagnosed yet. If you are a Mets fan than you know that if Johan is not pitching well it is because he is injured, because when he is healthy there is no one in the game better than him. Unfortunately for the Mets, he is injured more often than not.
Just two weeks ago, Terry Collins announced that he was going to play a 6 man starting rotation and that the only starter who was going to pitch on regular rest was RA. Now with Johan done for the year he is going to have to rethink things. The Mets season seems to be over for the most part but the real question is whether Johan’s career is over. If Johan returns, will he return as a Met? The Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson seems to think so.
“I’m very confident he’ll be back next season ready to go, hopefully in a stronger position coming into this season, if you look back at this season and what we reasonably would’ve expected at the beginning of the year, he’s accomplished quite a lot,” Alderson said.
Regardless of what Sandy Alderson, the worst GM in all of baseball thinks, Johan will never be good again. This injury is just a cherry on the top of what has been sheer and utter disappointment from Johan as a New York Met. I know that his 2008 season was pretty damn good, but when you make the type of money that Johan has, over 23 million a year, you better have more that just a pretty good season. I should have expected that he would never prove to be anything more than a flash in the pan because that’s what the Mets produce…right Jason Bay. We give these exorbitant contracts to players who look great with someone else and then we turn them into people who will end up on the Bleacher Report as one of the most overpaid players in sports. It makes me sick that no matter what direction the Mets have tried to go it is always seems to be the wrong direction. Every team in baseball wanted to sign Johan, but the Mets were lucky enough, or unlucky enough depending on how you look at it, to acquire him. But the second he put on the jersey that leads to nothing more than mediocrity, his career was doomed.
Now I have been a Mets fan my whole life and that’s not going to change. I always try to look for the silver lining in all things related to the sports teams I root for. The departure of Johan will make way for another Mets prospect, Right-hander Collin McHugh, who will look to build on the Mets other rookie starting pitcher, Matt Harvey. It doesn’t look like the Mets are too far away from putting together a solid young rotation, but for the time being the Mets suck again and now I’m just waiting for my Jets to come around and help me forget about them. The sad thing is that the Jets are looking pretty awful so I might be waiting until late October so my Knicks can give me hope of winning a championship…but they probably won’t.
The Mets epic 2nd half struggles can only be described one way and that’s by quoting the famous Dennis Green tirade, “They are who we thought they were.” After a ridiculously surprising 46-40 record entering the All-Star break, the Mets surpassed everyone’s expectations. With their 1-11 record since the break entering last night’s contest in Arizona, including being swept by division rivals Atlanta and Washington, the Mets have proven all the critics correct…their first half was clearly a fluke.
With decades of continuous failures and disappointments, Mets fans have learned to hold onto hope with our strong and encouraging motto, “Ya Gotta Believe!” So season after season us Mets fans keep faith and look for miracles to save us from our routine collapsing and utter embarrassment. With the recent season ending injury to Dillon Gee and the newly DL ridden Johan Santana, the Mets needed to find said miracle before all of their first half successes went for naught as they slowly dropped out of the playoff race. For months, fans have been pleading for the organization to bring up either one of the young stud minor league sensations, Matt Harvey or Zach Wheeler.
Ask and you shall receive. With the demotion of failed veteran, Miguel Batista, the Amazin’s had a starting slot open in their rotation. Enter Harvey! Every Mets fan in the world has pretty much written the current season off with how bad they have looked recently. The little bit of hope that any fan might of still have was all placed on the shoulders of the 23-year-old rookie making his major league debut last night in Arizona. Well Mets fans, I know it’s been a grueling couple of weeks since the all-star game but I think it’s time to turn those frowns upside down…for the time being.
Matt Harvey came out and preformed better than any rookie making their Major League debut in Mets history. The #7 overall pick of the 2010 draft showed exactly why he is considered one of the best prospects in the nation. Not only was it a historic start for the Mets history books, but Harvey also made his mark in baseball’s record books by becoming the first pitcher since 1900 to strike out 10 or more batters while also getting at least 2 hits of their own in their debut. Matt Harvey, whose first name is amazing by the way, looked as if he had been pitching in the majors for years. His complete stat line was 5.1 innings with 11 K’s, 3 BB and 3 hits while allowing 0 runs. With 4 different pitches working perfectly all game, including a consistent 97-98 MPH fastball that he so smoothly painted on the corner’s of home plate, Harvey lead the Mets to a 3-1 victory over Arizona.
After Harvey started the game out by fanning the D-Backs lead off hitter Gerardo Parra, you could just tell that Harvey was where he belonged. It didn’t take Harvey that long to realize it though, he knew it from the warm ups. “When I was warming up I looked around and kind of took everything in,” Harvey said. “At that moment I really did believe that I was meant to pitch in the big leagues. It was everything I could have imagined. I just wanted to do everything I could to keep the team in a winning distance.”
Only one Diamondback player was able to reach third base while Harvey manned the mound and that was only because of a wild pitch, which I thought could have gone as passed ball. Harvey not only impressed the fans and his teammates but he really made an impression on their manager.
“He lived up to exactly what everybody has talked about him,” said Mets manager Terry Collins. “Now I want him to go out the next time and be a little more comfortable yet pitch as effectively as he did today. He is a different cat.”
You know what Terry, I want the same thing. I know it’s only one win, but maybe this could be the start of something special. Who knows, maybe when Wheeler is called up he can outperform Harvey and the Mets can have that formidable 1-2 punch that they started the season with before Santana got hurt and Dickey came back to reality. Regardless of how this season turns out, it’s nice to have a smile on my face while talking about the Mets again. LET’S GO METS!!!
Late last night, San Francisco Giants Ace, Matt Cain, threw the franchise’s first ever perfect game. 27 up and 27 down, Cain might have pitched the most impressive statistical perfect game ever. With the highest pitch count in a perfect game ever (125), Matt Cain becomes the 22nd pitcher to ever accomplish this epic feat of not allowing a base runner. In fact, Cain matches the most ever strikeouts pitched during a perfect game with 14, and he now finds his name alongside Giants greats Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry as a member of an exclusive Giants club that have thrown no hitters. In front of his sold out home crowd of over 42,000 screaming Giants fans, Cain threw his arms up as the Astro’s pinch hitter, Jason Castro, grounded out to third for the final out of the game.
“This is incredible right now,” Cain said. “It was unbelievable. The guys did a great job making it, in a way, kind of relaxing, because they were able to get on the board early.”
Cain was absolutely masterful from start to finish but he did have to be bailed out with a couple of great plays behind him. Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco both made unbelievable catches in the outfield to ensure that Cain would finish his historic night. And you will find out as you keep reading why a quality defense is essential to a perfect game.
“Those were unbelievable catches,” Cain said. “I mean that right there, that changes the whole thing.”
Usually a perfect game would dominate the headlines as there has only been 22 of them in the history of baseball, but last night the sports Gods provided their fans with nearly two doses of perfection. Across the country from where Matt Cain pitched his perfect gem, the New York Mets RA Dickey tried to make some history of his own. Just a couple of weeks removed from the Mets first ever no-hitter by Johan Santana, Dickey took the mound against the AL East juggernaut, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Dickey threw a career best 12 strikeouts over 9 masterful innings. After the Rays first two batters of the game went down swinging at RA’s phantom knuckleball, BJ Upton hit a slow grounder to Wright at third that seemed to be playable but David mucked it and the favorable scoring of home field advantage awarded Upton with a hit. As I watched it I thought it should have been an error but since it was the 1st inning I didn’t really care too much. It turns out that was going to be the only “hit” that the NL’s leading Cy Young candidate would give up for the game.
Johan was credited with the Mets first ever no-hitter, but when Carlos Beltran hit a ball that was called foul (clearly it was fair based on the picture above), many fans wanted an asterisk placed on his no-hitter. Funny enough, the Mets are now appealing the hit/error by Upton and they are trying to get Dickey credited with the Mets 2nd ever no-hitter. In fact, Dickey didn’t walk anyone either, and without Gold Glover David Wright’s 2 errors (or 1 error and 1 hit however you look at it), RA might have had the Mets first ever Perfect Game, joining Cain in the Hall of Fame record books. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that while Dickey was pitching this superb game last night, he surpassed Mets great Jerry Koosman’s record for consecutive scoreless innings (31 2/3) by recording his 32 2/3 in the ninth.
Matt Cain’s night was perfect and RA Dickey’s was nearly perfect. Cain’s perfect game marked the 5th no-hitter of the season. This is also only the third year in baseball history that there were two perfect games thrown in the same season. What do all of these perfect games and no hitters mean to baseball? Are we looking at the year of the pitcher or are the hitters just getting worse? Maybe if you read NYBobby’s take on his anti-doping article you can see why hitting numbers are down. As a Mets fan I am thrilled with the lack of hitting against them, but as a sports fan I would love to see some of that flare from the McGwire, Sosa and Bonds eras.
History was made last night when Johan Santana pitched the first ever No-Hitter for the New York Mets. It took just over half a century, but the Mets have finally ended the longest streak of not having a No-Hitter in Major League Baseball history. The masterful No-No came on the Mets 8020th game as a franchise. Johan, who had missed all of last season after shoulder surgery, had a career high in pitches (134), and finished the no-hit bid against the St. Louis Cardinals with 5 walks and 8 strikeouts. As a life long Mets fan, this is an extremely exciting moment for myself as well as any Mets fan that suffered through the years where the Mets have accumulated 35 1-hit games.
The absence of a No-Hitter for the Mets has become an ongoing joke among fans based on how close we have come on so many different occasions. Well now the jokes are over. No longer will I have to hear about the Mets all time greatest pitcher, Tom Seaver, and his 3 blown no-hitters in the 9th inning. The truth of the matter is that the Mets have had some of the greatest pitchers in the history of baseball play for them, some who had even gone on to throw a no-hitter, but never for the Mets. The Mets have left the San Diego Padres as the lone team longing for a no-hitter, and if it remains that way for the next 7 seasons then the Padres will pass the Mets for the longest streak of not having one.
When Johan made it back to the dugout after pitching a hit-less 8th inning, there was not one Mets player that would talk to him or even look at him as he was isolated to the end of the bench where he could think about changing his franchises history. With a full count on the St. Louis Cardinals David Freese, Johan threw his patented change-up for his 134th pitch and got Freese to swing and miss. The stadium filled with over 27,000 screaming Mets fans erupted in jovial celebration with fans running on the field and cameras flashing throughout the ballpark. This was the 2-time Cy Young award winner’s first ever no-hitter and after the game he was so excited to talk about it. “I don’t think I’ve ever even thrown a no-hitter in video games,” Santana said.
In the sixth inning, former Mets player Carlos Beltran hit a line drive up the third base line which appeared to be fair but the umpire called it foul keeping Johan’s no-hitter intact. Some people are saying that Santana’s triumph should come with an asterisks which I think is absurd because there are missed calls in baseball on a daily basis. The biggest hurdle that Johan had to overcome for the no-hitter was a 7th-inning bomb ripped over the Mets left fielder, Mike Baxter’s head. Baxter sprinted back towards the warning track looking over his shoulder and reaching out his glove as the ball was caught in a beautiful fashion as Baxter collided in full speed into the wall. Mike might have left the game with a shoulder injury after that catch, but he will never leave the minds of Mets fans that know he saved what has become the Mets first ever No-Hitter.
“That ball that Baxter caught, he’ll go down in the annals of New York Met lore because of that,” said pitcher R.A. Dickey.
“What a night for the Mets,” Baxter said in the Mets’ clubhouse. “As a Met fan as a kid, it is a huge night for the Mets. We have been waiting a long time for a no-hitter.”
What a night indeed. In what has already been an overachieving season for the Mets, seems to only be getting better. Let’s hope they can keep it up because we still need a Perfect Game!
Congratulations to the Mets and Johan Santana!
SOME INTERESTING STATS
It’s hard to believe that the Mets have never before had a no-hitter to their credit. Not once in the prior 5 decades has a Metropolitan pitcher managed to push through a full game without giving up at least one hit. Over 8,000 games without achieving what had been accomplished 232 times since 1901. Okay, statistically speaking we are talking about a percentage opportunity for any one pitcher on any single team actually completing a no-hitter at some ridiculously infinitesimally small number, about 0.13%!
Roughly speaking, there have been about 176,000 major league games played in the past 111 years, including post-season [for statistical purists, this is the estimate of games as a two-team total, since one game = 2 teams playing; it would be double this for individual totals). The 8,019 games in which the Mets played before Santana’s new number 1 hit (okay, number 1 NO-hit) represent only 4.5% of these games. So what does this all mean? How the hell would I know! But it’s a small frigging number and Johan did it.
It has been a roller coaster year for New York sports teams and this past weekend just added to the ride. Baseball season is underway and it seems as if the Mets and Yankees are switching places in the early going. The NBA regular season is coming to the end and the Knicks are not making it easy on their fans. The NHL regular season is over and with the best goalie in the league and the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference, the Rangers have their highest expectations going into the playoffs since ’93-’94. This past Sunday capped off what was an amazing and unpredictable weekend in New York.
Opening weekend in MLB is always fun for me…mainly because my Mets are statistically still relevant. Coming into this season, the Yankees were the favorite to win the AL East while the Mets were the favorite to finish last in the NL East, so no one could have predicted how this opening weekend went. The Yankees started this young season by getting swept by their division rival Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Both Sabathia and Kuroda got rocked in their first starts of the season and Hughes, although only giving up 2 earned runs, couldn’t even complete 5 innings. The Yanks were able to put up some runs in the first two games but with the ever-reliable Mariano Rivera blowing the opening day save for the first time in his career and picking up the loss there definitely were some Yankee fans worrying a little.
On the other side of the City, the sad and in debt Mets did something they have never done before; swept an opening series against a division rival. Johan Santana was the opening day starter and pitched an impressive game with 5 shutout innings followed by a flawless bullpen performance to finish the shutout. Frank Fransisco became the Mets first ever closer to have a save in the first 3 games of a season. I personally sat in the Champions Club Level right next to Fred Wilpon’s sky box seats and saw him smile, possibly for the first time ever, at the end of Sundays win against the Atlanta Braves. Lets put this opening weekend in perspective though. There are still 159 games left in this season and I am sure the Yankees will be just fine and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mo goes 40-1 in save opportunities. The Mets looked great in the opening weekend but I am a realistic Mets fan so I won’t get ahead of myself.
The Knicks are in the midst of a very intense and exhilarating playoff race. Currently, if the playoffs started today, the Knicks would be facing the Miami Heat in the first round in the 2-7 match-up. As a Knicks fan, I would HATE to see that, but as a basketball fan, I would LOVE to see that. Since Mike Woodson has taken the reigns as New York’s interim head coach, the Knicks have the #1 ranked defense in the NBA and an 11-3 record. Their most impressive win during Woodson’s short run came Sunday against the team with the best record in the NBA, the Chicago Bulls. If you watched this game or saw the highlights on ESPN you would know that this was one of the most exciting games of the entire NBA season and the type of game that the Knicks have lost far too often over the past decade. Carmelo had his highest scoring performance as a Knick (43), and hit a game tying 3-pointer to bring the game into overtime and then drained the game winning 3 in the end of OT. With another big game against Chicago on Tuesday and then a pivotal game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday we should have a clear understanding of where the Knicks playoff future lies by Thursday.
The other New York team that plays in the Garden has been making noise all season but hasn’t got the recognition they deserve because of the sport they play. The Rangers have been unbelievable all season long and Henrik Lundqvist is the front-runner to win the Vezina Trophy as well as probably receiving some votes for the Hart Trophy. The problem with the Rangers regular season success is that in the NHL there are a lot of playoff upsets. They have run into an unfavorable match-up for their first round by being paired with the 8th seeded Ottawa Senators. The Senators played the Rangers in 4 regular seasons games this season and won 3 of them. I still feel that the Rangers will step it up in the playoffs and hopefully bring back the cup to NY.
In other New York sports news, my new favorite Jet, Tim Tebow, had over 15,000 people attend his Easter Event in Texas on Sunday but since I do not care about his political or religious views what-so-ever that is all I will say about that.
It is great to be a New York sports fan right now and I am looking forward to the upcoming weeks. Let us know how you think the Mets and Yankees polar opposite starts will pan out. Also, where do you think the Knicks and Rangers will finish their Post Season play?