It took fifty years, but if you were a Mets fan, tonight was Davey Johnson striking out in 1969 to give the Mets their first World Series win, Mookie Wilson's grounder skittering through Bill Buckner's battered ankles, Endy Chavez' incredible 2006 NLCS catch and Jesse Orosco falling to his knees in 1986 all rolled into one. Until tonight, NOBODY -- not Tom Seaver, not Jerry Koosman, not Dwight Gooden, not David Cone, not Ron Darling -- NOBODY had EVER pitched a no-hitter for the Mets.
And I didn't even watch. I can't even count how many times I've sat on the sofa watching a Mets pitcher flirt with history, only to find that the minute I had to get up to pee, said pitcher would give up a fat one to some guy with a .214 lifetime batting average. I can't even count how many times over the years I screamed at Tim McCarver to shut the fuck up because every time he'd say that some pitcher was throwing a no-hitter, said pitcher would immediately give up a fat one to some guy with a .214 lifetime batting average. I've even sat in the stands once, watching Bob Ojeda flirt with history for six and two-thirds innings. But while Dwight Gooden and David Cone both went on to pitich no-hitters with the Yankees, of all teams, and Tom Seaver finally got his no-no in Cincinnati. And let's not even TALK about Nolan Ryan, shall we?
But no one in a Mets uniform has ever been able to climb over that hurdle, until tonight. And I knew that if I turned on the game, Johan Santana would join the ranks of guys flirting with a no-no and then giving up a fat one to some guy with a .214 lifetime batting average. Because it always happens that way.
The only possible way I could be happier is if it had been thrown by R.A. Dickey.
But Johan Santana now has his own Story. Santana was always a class pitcher and he's a superstar, which already makes him special among the ranks of pitchers who have thrown no-hitters, who are more often than not guys you never heard of before or again. But Santana's story has all the baseball cliché you could want. He was traded to the Mets for, among others, top prospect Philip Humber, who threw his own no-no earlier this year. He's received some of the worst run support from this team, a record no pitcher of his caliber should have to bear. And most importantly, Santana is a pticher many believed Would Never Pitch Again after what usually is career-ending shoulder surgery to repair a torn anterior capsule. But after missing ALL of last season, Santana has been nothing short of spectacular, which is no doubt making Mets medical director Dr. David Altchek kvell with naches, since this achievement means you CAN come back from this relatively new type of surgery. And if you're Mets pitcher Chris Young, currently rehabbing from the same surgery in Buffalo, you've got to be feeling pretty confident after throwing six scoreless innings against Columbus last night and now hearing this news. Who knows, this procedure may end up being called "Johan Santana Surgery" the way Tommy John surgery is called, well, "Tommy John surgery".
But this is the way this team plays. In a year when everyone had the Mets picked to do absolutely nothing, they're in the hunt, they're playing the kind of scrappy, Put Me In Coach I'm Ready To Play ball that we haven't seen since the early 1980's, when a bunch of guys named Darryl and Doc and Wally and Lenny and Mex and Kid went out every day and played it like they meant it. And now this. The Holy Grail of pitching.
Darling would talk when it was over, about how a Met finally threw a no-hitter in Queens and it was a Queens kid who saved it for him, Baxter of Whitestone and Archbishop Molloy and Coach Jack Curran of Molloy, crashing into that wall, reaching as far as he could, like he was reaching across all the years, catching a ball hit by Yadier Molina, ending up in a heap on the warning track.
Maybe it had to be Molina, who hit the home run that beat the Mets in Game 7 of the 2006 National League Championship Series. Maybe it had to be Adam Wainwright starting for the Cardinals Friday night, the same Wainwright who got the last out of that Game 7, who threw the pitch that Carlos Beltran took for a called third strike, bat on his shoulder.
And maybe it figured that Beltran hit the ball past third that should have been a hit because it hit the line, but was called foul by the third base umpire. Maybe it all had to happen like that on the night Johan Santana pitched a no-hitter.
This, my friends, is Goofball at its finest. Some days you win. Some days you lose. Some days it rains. And some nights Johan Santana, who many thought would never pitch again, throws a no-hitter.
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