06-03-2012, 08:18 AM #1
The Mets First No-Hitter - CONTEST ENTRY
The Mets First No-Hitter
50 years. 8,019 games. To type those two numbers seems almost laughable, but there they are, in black and white. Tim Kurkjian and Jayson Stark of ESPN marveled at the streak’s length. Gary Cohen and Howie Rose, the Mets’ play-by-play voices on television and radio, thought it would never happen. For a franchise known more for bad luck, boneheaded moves, and crushing disappointment, the fact that they were one of only two teams in Major League Baseball history never to throw a no-hitter seemed a surprise to no one. There was even a website dedicated to the streak, Nonohitters.com.
Since the franchise’s inception in 1962, the New York Mets had taken on the persona of loveable, hard-luck losers. Already facing the difficulty of sharing a city with the Bronx Bombers and their now-27 World Series championships, the Mets could never catch a break. But to never throw a no-hitter, in 50 years? There had to be something supernatural at work here.
The numbers are staggering. 132 no-hitters have been thrown since the Mets entered the league in 1962, six thrown against the Mets. The Mets expansion partner, the Houston Colt 45’s, took less than a season and a half to get their first, and have had nine more. Heck, the four most recent expansion clubs, the Marlins and Rockies (1993), and the Rays and Diamondbacks (1998), all have at least one, with the Marlins throwing four.
Dock Ellis threw one while tripping on LSD. Jim Abbott threw one without a hand! The last player to throw a perfect game in the majors, Philip Humber, is a former Met. Tom Seaver, the Mets all-time leader in wins, strikeouts, shutouts, and every other major category, threw one… for the Reds. Mets all-time greats Doc Gooden and David Cone each threw one too, for the Yankees! Ten players threw one before joining the Mets, and seven after leaving them. Hideo Nomo has two, one before AND one after playing for the Metropolitans. And then there’s that guy you may have heard of, Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. After leaving the Mets in 1971, all he did was throw SEVEN no-no’s. Compare that to the Pittsburgh Pirates, a team around since 1882, playing 19,707 games, with six. Six!
It’s not as if the Mets trotted out a bunch of stiffs over the course of half a century’s worth of baseball, either! Other than the aforementioned Ryan and Seaver, both Hall of Famers of the highest caliber, and Gooden and Cone, All-Stars in their day, the Mets have had their share of talent toe the rubber. Jerry Koosman won 140 games with the Mets, and was a dominating pitcher in the late 60’s-early 70’s. Jon Matlack and Craig Swan starred throughout the 70’s. Mike Scott, Sid Fernandez, Frank Viola, Ron Darling, Bret Saberhagen, and Bobby Ojeda all took turns starring for the Mets in the 80’s and 90’s. Recent Mets hurlers include Pedro Martinez, Tom Glavine, Al Leiter, and even Rick Reed and Bobby Jones, all making All-Star appearances and pitching well. Knuckler R.A. Dickey owned the most recent one-hitter, spoiled only by a Cole Hamels (yes, pitcher Cole Hamels) single in the 6th. Not a single one, however, was able to go the distance holding the opponents hitless.
But I digress, back to the current Mets, and June 1, 2012. On to the mound steps Johan Santana, in the 5th year of a 6-year, $137.5 million contract. A contract, so far, that has worked out to about $3.2 million per win, and the entire 2011 season lost due to major shoulder surgery. One All-Star appearance. Less than a strikeout per inning.
To say that the contract was a bad deal is akin to saying the Mets trading Nolan Ryan AND three other players for Jim Fregosi was a bit of a lopsided trade. Johan had been a shell of his former self, after major surgery in 2010, and is due almost $50 million over the next two seasons. Think about this: Santana is making almost as much this season as Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum, COMBINED. Yikes. Johan had been coddled since his surgery, too, throwing no more than 108 pitches in any start since.
The lineup they were scheduled to face the evening of June 1st, the St. Louis Cardinals, featured the most potent run-scoring offense in baseball, led by familiar face Carlos Beltran and slugging outfielder Matt Holiday. Opposing Santana would be Adam Wainwright, former 20-game winner, All-Star and runner-up in the Cy Young race in 2010.
The pitch count added up for Johan, passing 100 in the 7th. Despite being on a “strict” pitch count, and having thrown over 120 pitches, Johan came out to bat for himself in the 8th, much to the delight of the over 27,000 in attendance at Citi Field. He had already “scattered” 5 walks going into the 9th inning, but he still seemed to have good movement and decent velocity.
After retiring Beltran to end the 8th, he had Holliday, Allen Craig, and World Series hero David Freese to contend with, the same player who had saved the Cardinals’ championship hopes last year in the bottom of the ninth, with two outs, on baseball biggest stage.
As if the last three outs of a no-hitter aren’t tough enough, Johan, with his control problems, a mounting, career-high pitch count, and a tough lineup ahead, had one more thing against him: history. 8,019 games worth of disappointment. 50 years of heartbreak. The ghosts of Mets past who had been to the same mountain, but failed to reach its summit. Johan was pitching against the elephant in the room, with the franchise’s albatross around his neck, and the weight and hopes of a fan base, starving for something to root for, on his diminutive, 5’11” shoulders.
In the words of Johan during his postgame interview, “Yeah baby! Believe it!” It finally happened. Striking out Freese to end the game, a collective sigh of relief could be heard across Manhattan, emanating from every Mets fan. Of course, the game was not without controversy, with a clear missed call robbing Carlos Beltran of what looked like a hit down the third base line, but how could it be any other way for the Mets? Mets reliever Ramon Ramirez pulled a hamstring running out from the dugout to celebrate the moment with his teammates, landing himself on the DL after the game, and providing another subtle reminder that these are, indeed, still the New York Mets.
No matter what happens from here on out, the date, June 1, 2012, and the name Johan Santana will be etched in Mets lore forever. Only one question now remains: When will the Padres finally throw their first no-hitter? It’s OK, they have time. It’s only been 44 years and 6,918 games.
NOTE: Thanks to Nonohitters.com for much of the information used in this article.
06-04-2012, 07:57 PM #2
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06-05-2012, 10:37 AM #3
06-21-2012, 08:48 PM #4