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!!!
Where did this freak of nature come from? If you were to try to tell me that nearly at the midpoint of the baseball season the best pitcher in the game would be a 37-year-old knuckleballer on the New York Mets, I would have to ask what you were smoking. Amazingly, R.A. Dickey is just that and over the last three months he has taken the baseball world by storm.
Dickey was drafted out of the University of Tennessee as the 18th overall pick by the Texas Rangers. After being drafted by the Rangers, Dickey was initially offered a signing bonus of $810,000, before a Rangers team physician saw Dickey’s throwing arm hanging oddly in a picture. The Rangers did further evaluation of Dickey, leading to the discovery of a missing ulnar collateral ligament of his elbow joint and reduced their offer to $75,000. Usually when an athletes career starts like that, they don’t turn it around 16 years later.
Tonight, Dickey proved once again that he is without question the most unusual and mesmerizing pitcher in the game. Just 5 days removed from his masterful and controversial 1-hitter against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, where he set a career high with 12 strikeouts, R.A. took the mound against a hot Baltimore Orioles team. And wouldn’t you know it, he did it again. Another 1-hit treasure from Dickey and this time he did it with 13 strikeouts. Jokingly after the game, Mets manager Terry Collins said to the media (referring to his appeal for last weeks 1-hitter to be turned into a no-hitter), “Do I have a chance to appeal that base hit? Anyone dive for that ball…I didn’t see? I had a bad view.” In this game, the Orioles definitely had a line drive hit off of Wilson Betemit’s bat in the 5th. To make matters even better for the Mets, Dickey matched his opponents hit total with a line drive of his own that he eventually came around to score on. This is the first time that anyone has had back-to-back 1-hitters since Dave Stieb for Toronto in September 1988.
It’s not just the last two games that has separated Dickey from the rest of the NL Cy Young contenders for the time being, he has been doing this all year. Robert Allen Dickey is now the first pitcher in baseball with 11 wins this season and is a staggering 11-1 on the year with a minuscule 2.00 ERA. The most incredible part of all this hoopla is that Dickey performs these magical stats with only 1 pitch…the Knuckleball. For decades, hitters have been baffled by the flat and erratic knuckleball, but never has there been a dominance over it like Dickey’s. The knuckleball is supposed to be hard to control for even the best users of it, but Dickey has seemed to figure out a trick that no one else can.
8 days after releasing his autobiography Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, where he discussed suffering sexual abuse as a child and his struggles with suicidal thoughts as an adult, Dickey took the mound against the Mets division rivals, the Atlanta Braves on April 7th. He came out of the game with a solid victory that would soon become a trend for the Mets. The Mets are 12-2 when Dickey takes the mound and it only seems as if Dickey is getting better every game. I have personally never witnessed such a dominant stretch as Dickey has put on over his last 6 starts where he has gone 6-0 while pitching 48 and 2/3 innings out of a possible 54 and accumulating a ridiculous 63 strikeouts and only 5 walks.
The Mets are an above average team right now and with Dickey on the mound they are nearly unstoppable. I would definitely have to put Dickey as the starter for the NL All-star team and right now he is my front-runner for NL Cy Young. Try and debate that!
A lot of people go through their midlife crisis when they turn 50, but the Mets seem to dealing with their 50th year in the best of ways. Coming into the season, the Mets were considered one of the worst teams on paper and with all of the background baggage, like debt and losing Reyes, Mets fans were not very optimistic entering April. Well it’s time to turn those frowns upside down because the Mets are once again relevant and are surprising the baseball world more and more everyday. Sitting with a record of 21-17, the Mets have almost matched what a lot of analysts thought would be close to their win total at the all-star break. OK, that’s an exaggeration, but what New York has been doing so far this season has impressed everyone.
Let’s start with one of the early season front-runners for NL MVP, David Wright. There is only one word that can describe how David has been performing this season…UNBELIEVABLE!. He leads all of baseball with an astonishing .411 batting average and .513 on-base percentage. If this was the final week of the season Wright would have the MVP locked up, but unfortunately we are only a quarter of the way through the season and there is a lot of baseball left. Wright isn’t the only Mets player putting up great early season numbers. Daniel Murphy is quickly establishing himself as one of the best contact hitters in the game. Murph is off to a fast start with a .331 BA and you can tell by the way he takes each at-bat that he his modeling his hitting style after another great New York player from across the bridge, Derek Jeter. Murphy has found ways to use the whole field while hitting and he has a lot of potential with his ability to find the gaps. Right now the Mets are 6th in baseball in team batting average and 5th in on-base percentage.
Hitting helps a team succeed, but everyone knows that you need quality pitching to win games. Right now the Mets are 6th in baseball with 23 quality starts, led by their ace and second in rotation, Johan Santana and RA Dickey. Johan is finally looking like his former Cy Young winning self with an impressive 2.89 ERA, over 9 strikeouts per 9 innings, and an almost 4/1 K/BB ratio. The ageless veteran Dickey has been equally impressive with 7 out of his 8 starts being quality ones and already having 5 wins and we are only half way through May. There is some room for improvements in the starting rotation with Dillon Gee off to a very slow start with a 5.65 ERA and season ending shoulder surgery to Mike Pelfrey.
The Mets have had a hard time finding a manager worth keeping around for a long time now. Well it looks like they found a winner in Terry Collins. He handles this young and athletic team with a sense of ease and calming that they need to succeed. In Collin’s most recent act of quality managing he pinch hit for his star player, David Wright, to protect him from a potential retaliatory beaming from the Milwaukee Brewers pitcher. In his post game interview Collin’s defended his decision and the sports world seemed to agree with his reasoning, as did I.
I know it is early in the season but for the time being I am extremely excited about what the Mets are putting together. Let’s hope they can keep it up!