Monday, June 4, 2012

No Hits, No Runs, No Problem

Santana Celebrates with Catcher Josh Thole

On Friday night the Mets played the Cardinals in the beginning of a four game series.  This seemingly innocuous inter-divisional series turned into an historic one very quickly.  Johan Santana made sure that Mets fans, and baseball fans everywhere, would remember June 1st, 2012.  Santana threw the first no-hitter in New York Mets history.  For some perspective, think about this: The Mets franchise began in 1962, replacing those of the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants, who departed New York for Los Angeles and San Francisco respectively.  Half a century later, the 2012 Mets are an interesting team.   The Mets have stormed the 2012 season, thought to be a rebuilding year, with ferocity.  Now midway through the season, they find themselves tied atop the tightly packed NL East, a place which no analyst, pundit, or fan thought they would occupy.  They have won 31 games, doing so with mostly home grown players whom few thought would contribute sun flower seed shells to the dugout floor let alone 239 runs to the scoreboard (4th in the NL).  At one point this season, the Mets, starting lineup contained players all from their farm system, and daring feat.

Despite the 2012 Mets doing their best job to imitate the “Amazin's” of the past, nothing can overshadow Johan Santana's recent no-hitter.  Santana faced the Cardinals, the National League's best offense, making them look like a Little league team playing at PETCO Park.  Despite the no-hitte result, Santana wasn't at his best Friday night,  his control shaky at times, especially when throwing his fastball.  He walked 5, struck out 8, and threw a career high 134 pitches in the momentous effort.  Nonetheless, he was effectively wild to the point that hitters could not pick up his dynamic changeup, which he used early, often, and on any count.  Santana did a fantastic job keeping the St. Louis hitters <consider “sluggers” instead for alliterative effect> off balance, forcing them to swing at pitches out of the zone and keeping them guessing whether they would next encounter his incredibly deceptive changeup.

Santana's no-hitter did not occur without some controversy.  Former Met Carlos Beltran hit a line drive down the third base line that on instant replay clearly hit the line, making it a fair ball and thus a hit (video footage of the play can be seen here).  Not so fast, said third base umpire Adrian Johnson,who called the screamer a foul ball, thus continuing Beltran's at bat and keeping the no-hitter intact.  The Saturday morning St. Louis Post-Dispatch sports section prominently placed an asterisk next to "no-hitter", making an obvious reference to the hit that wasn't. <St. Louis is a town well accustomed to asterisks, eh?> While Cardinals fans may not be happy with the result Friday night, is this missed call such a big deal?  Certainly, Adrian Johnson made the wrong call, and it may anger some to see that call stand. However, until MLB incorporates instant replay into game decisions, fans must expect the human element to come into play.    In no way did Adrian Johnson's blunder fall in the same category as the missed call that cost Armando Galarraga a perfect game, but it does rekindle the on going argument in baseball concerning the a role for instant replay.   

Mets General Manager Sandy Alderson

In the end, the call on the field was foul ball, giving Johan Santana the first no-hitter of his career and in Mets history.  This leaves the San Diego Padres as the lone franchise in MLB history with no pitcher having thrown a no-hitter.  For comparison's sake, the Dodgers franchise has had 20 no-hitters, the most in MLB history.  As someone pointed out to me, the Padres also have never had a hitter hit for the cycle, but the latter event seems more of an aesthetic accomplishment than does a no-hitter.  Now that the Mets have the no-hitter monkey off from their backs, perhaps fans will take notice of their team's overall success.  The 2012 Mets have a bright future with minds like Sandy Alderson, Paul DePodesta, and J.P. Riccardi in the front office and a solid manager, Terry Collins, at the helm.  Watch out for the Mets: they exude a great attitude on the field, and in a tight and competitive NL East, anything can happen between midseason and the playoffs.

No comments:

Post a Comment