Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
June 1, 2012
BASEBALL: 8020

You gotta believe. There is joy in Mudville. Finally, at long last, the Mets have a no-hitter, and it's by Johan Santana, the Mets staff ace with the surgically reconstructed shoulder and a fastball that only barely impersonates his old heater.

How do you write about something you've waited for your whole life? Something I wish my mom and my older brother and Bob Murphy had lived to see?

This was the best Mets moment since the 1986 World Series, topping even the epic comebacks of 1999 and the 2000 NL Pennant. It was all the sweeter because it was Santana, a classy guy and a true warrior and a pitcher of the stature to deserve succeeding where Seaver, Gooden, Ryan, and others had failed, and the guy who had pitched the previous guttiest Mets start I ever saw, the last win at Shea in 2008. To recap, while the Mets had not produced a no-hitter in 8,019 prior games going back to 1962, the following pitchers had pitched for the Mets and thrown a no-hitter for another team:

Pitchers Who Threw No-Hitters After Leaving The Mets:
Nolan Ryan (seven times, including for every other franchise he pitched for)
Tom Seaver
Mike Scott
Dwight Gooden
David Cone
Hideo Nomo
Phil Humber

*Octavio Dotel (1 inning in combined no-hitter)

Pitchers Who Threw No-Hitters Before Coming To The Mets:
Warren Spahn (twice, albeit long before he was a Met)
Dean Chance (twice)
Don Cardwell
Dock Ellis
John Candelaria
Bret Saberhagen
Kenny Rogers
Al Leiter
Hideo Nomo (got 'em on both ends)
Scott Erickson

**Pedro Martinez (9 perfect innings, but allowed hit in tenth; no longer officially counted as a no-hitter)
*Alejandro Pena (1 inning in combined no-hitter)
*Billy Wagner (1 inning in combined no-hitter - same one as Dotel)

If you count Pedro and leave out the relievers, that's 17 pitchers and 26 no-hitters. Meanwhile, teams like the Red Sox have had no-hitters thrown by figures as obscure as Devern Hansack.

Santana threw over 130 pitches tonight, the most of his career. A choked-up Terry Collins (who told Santana on the field that he was Collins' hero) made the right choice during the game - given how much this meant to Santana and the franchise - to let him finish this game, but he was clearly worried about Johan's health. At a minimum, the Mets have some options for giving Santana (who between this year and next is owed $54.5 million and is again the team's ace) an extra day of rest, either by throwing RA Dickey on 3 days rest or by bringing up Jenrry Mejia.

Santana's champagne and whipped cream shower after the game and SNY's emotional footage of him returning to the Mets clubhouse after the game showed how much this means to these guys. Sports are an emotional business, and Collins, as a leader of men, can't ignore that aspect. This team is unlikely to win the World Series; this is probably as good as 2012 gets for the players and the fans alike.

Collins in the postgame told a great story about managing Sid Fernandez to an A ball no-no; Sid had 18 Ks but had thrown 119 pitches through 8, and had a strict 130 pitch limit. He struck out the side in the 9th on 10 pitches, ended with 21 Ks. Sid was the all-time master of the 5 inning no-hitter and then the wheels come off (I saw him do that in an exhibition at the first game ever played at Camden Yards in 1992: 5 no-hit innings, 5 runs in the sixth). When he was promoted out of A ball in 1982, Sid had a career record of 13-2 with a 1.70 ERA; in 163.2 IP, he had allowed 81 hits and struck out 269. As anyone who watched the All-Star Game or Game Seven of the World Series in 1986 could attest, Sid could be that unhittable at his best even against the most fearsome Major League lineups.

There were many nervous moments in the game, from Kirk Nieuwenhuis almost crashing into Omar Quintillana on an 8th inning popup to Mike Baxter leaving the game with a busted shoulder on a catch against the wall.

There was poetic justice in Carlos Beltran being the last out of the 8th, and Adam Wainwright the losing pitcher.

On the whole, an Amazin' night.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 11:48 PM | Baseball 2012-13 | Comments (12) | TrackBack (0)
Comments

Congrats to Johan. I watched the last 3 innings on MLB TV, and I plan on watching the first 6 tomorrow. Glad to see the Mets fans get this monkey off their backs.

Must be lonely to be a Padre pitcher now.

Posted by: KennyM at June 2, 2012 12:30 AM

So awesome. I had called my dad at the start of the 8th inning, and I ended up waking him up. The significance of that didn't occur to me until he called me after the game and thanked me for waking him up - he'd been a fan since the very beginning, and I'd have been devastated if he had missed that.

Posted by: Jeff W at June 2, 2012 1:32 AM

A big assist to twitter from me. I caught the first 2 innings then broke for dinner. Following the meal I started going over some work, one glance at my tweeter feed sent me back down stairs to gather the family and watch it from the bottom of the 7th on.

Posted by: dave at June 2, 2012 11:11 AM

Noted wag and sponge-buddy JohnnyMac texted me that the New York Times sports section covered the no-hitter by claiming that"games like this will never happen again if ObamaCare is repealed. Reconstructive surgery will only be available to white 1%-ers."

J-Mac sure knows his "paper of record".

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 3, 2012 8:55 AM

Congrats to you and the Mets! Also it was great ya did to the Cards. Too bad Larrusa couldn't had been the manager. He probably would have had his pitcher try to hit Sanatana.

Posted by: zogger at June 3, 2012 12:00 PM

Does the fact that it took a (pretty clear in slow motion) blown ump's call to remain a no-hitter matter or is it just an asterisk?

Posted by: Watchman at June 3, 2012 8:32 PM

I listened to the last 2 innings driving home, with the Mets feed on XM. I was a little surprised by their seeming lack of excitement, but I suppose it was sort of likea beaten dog after all the close calls.

I'm happy for you and my Mets fan friends to finally get one. I'm also a little surprised you don't even mention the Beltran call. I am firmly of the view that it is what it is and does nothing to create any shadow or tarnish, but to not even mention it?

Since spongeworthy injected politics, I feel free to do likewise. I guess your ability to ignore "inconvenient" facts extends to baseball.

Posted by: Magrooder at June 5, 2012 10:00 AM

Magrooder, clueless demented hippie that you are, I know you know baseball. And, as someone who knows baseball, you have to be aware of the "inconvenient" fact that the umpire's call IS the fact. He says it's fair, it is fair. No other fact is relevant.

This is difficult to teach young kids and, apparenty, hippies.

Posted by: spongeworthy at June 5, 2012 12:35 PM

This is one of the multitude of reasons baseball languishes. Technology to get basic calls correct? Why would we want that? For a sport that reveres its history more so than any other sport the fact that they let highly correctable calls stand in the face of overwhelming technology that would allow them to get them right is unfathomable and embarrassing. The Tigers' pitcher had a perfect game taken away on what should have been a routine out call on the last play of the game. Santana clearly did NOT pitch a no-hitter. They go down as what they go down as but the powers that be continue to denegrate baseball by not doing something basic to make highly and easily reversable calls, well, reversable. If I am a Mets fan than, yes, I am super excited about such an historical no-hitter, but you have to know, as an adult, that the NFL would get that call right. The fact that human error come off as being "factual" when it could easily be correctable is not acceptable any longer.

Posted by: jim at June 5, 2012 4:32 PM

Replay wouldn't have made a difference on
Beltran's ball. It wasn't a binary choice - safe or out, home run or not. There's no way to say what the outcome of that ball would have been; Beltran might have fallen down trying for 2 or been thrown out in a rundown, etc. Bad calls have been part of the game since the beginning and always will be, as long as there are subjective outcomes available.

Posted by: mikeski at June 5, 2012 6:18 PM

I agree and don't. It was an obvious black or white call. Ball is foul and it's a strike, ball is fair (which it was) and it's a hit regardless of what Beltan does short of dropping dead on the way to first. I would prefer baseball get it "more" right (or "less" wrong) than entirely wrong which is the policy of the day. In my mind review plays like that or the Tigers situation and award Beltran first base and call the guy out in the Tigers case. Baseball can do better than it does and not going the way of technology will someday cost a team a World Series (what if that was the bottom of the 9th in the WS with a guy on 3rd in a tie game of Game 7? That's acceptable to just blow it?). Step up and get obvious calls corrected.

Posted by: jim at June 5, 2012 6:50 PM

spongeworthy, I agree with you. [Pause, while I dodge lightning bolt.]

The call is the call, the ball is foul and the no-hitter is a no-hitter. But, that play was one of the noteworthy incidents in the game, along with the game-saving catch and the near collision. Especialy given Crank's schadenfreude at Beltran's out in the 8th, it should have been mentioned.

Posted by: Magrooder at June 6, 2012 4:11 PM
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