A farewell to Johan Santana

June 1, 2012 is a night permanently engrained in the memory of all Mets fans.

Just like our parents, or grandparents, or even some of us might remember where they were when Kennedy got assassinated, Mets fans will always remember where they were when Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in franchise history.

For me it was at the Fireplace in Paramus.  I was working that night, on the side of the counter that you couldn’t see the TV from.  When the game first started I glanced over at the television and actually thought, “I bet they get their no-hitter tonight.  I’ll be at work, not able to watch, and they’ll get it.”

I went on working, not paying any attention to the game, just occasionally glancing at the score.

At 9:51 pm I received the following text message from a Yankee fan friend:

“So you guys finally got one.”

I quickly rushed over to the TV, turned off the soccer game that the cooks had put on and switched to SNY.  There was the line score: 8-8-0 for the Mets and 0-0-0 for the Cardinals.

It had finally happened, and I missed all of it, but I didn’t care.  The Mets had finally, after 50 years, thrown a no-hitter, plus I knew I’d be able to see the game for the next 50 years on Mets Classics.

He was never the same pitcher after the no-hitter, earning Terry Collins some undeserved criticism from fans who thought Santana shouldn’t have been allowed to throw 134 pitches, a career high.

Forget that these same fans would probably crucify Collins if he took Santana out and the bullpen allowed a hit.

***

When I speculated in my first piece for Mets 360, “What 2013 holds for Johan Santana,” that he would no longer be a Met in 2014, I expected that he would have one last go-around, one last chance to take the mound at Citi Field, for the fans to show their appreciation for him, and all he’s done for the team.

I was wrong.

Santana’s time as a Met, and perhaps as a major league pitcher, is over.  An MRI showed that Santana has sustained a second tear in the capsule in his throwing shoulder, which will likely require surgery, wiping out the 2013 season for Santana.

This is a somber day for Mets fans, for many of whom Santana occupies a very special place in their hearts.

In his Mets career Santana went 46-34 with a 3.18 ERA, including a league leading 2.53 mark in 2008, his first season in Flushing.  He also posted 7.6 K/9, 2.5 BB/9 and 11.6 fWAR.

Santana also pitched two of the greatest games in Met history.

One was the aforementioned no-no, but the first was arguably even more important.

It was the 2008 season, and the Mets were once again in the process of blowing a division lead.  They needed Santana to beat the Marlins on the second to last day of the season on three days’ rest to live another day.

Coming off a then career high 125 pitches, Santana hurled a gem; limiting the fish to three hits over nine innings, striking out nine and earning a game score of 87.

Oh, and he did that with a torn meniscus in his knee which required surgery after the season.

That game symbolized Santana as a pitcher, and was indicative of the time he spent on the Mets.  He was gutsy.  He was a fiery competitor.  He was great.

But now he’s gone, and all we’re left with are the memories of Santana’s triumphs.

Thanks for the memories, Johan.  We’ll appreciate you more than you’ll ever know.

Follow Joe Vasile on Twitter at @JoeVasilePBP.

8 comments for “A farewell to Johan Santana

  1. March 29, 2013 at 8:22 am

    Joe, you just hit a home run. I couldn’t have said it any better. Santana has the heart of a lion. He is a class act, He wants to win regardless of what it might cost him. A true professional who respects the game and his responsibility to it. I just wished he could stayed healthier.

  2. March 29, 2013 at 9:32 am

    Well-written.
    I was looking forward to seeing Santana, Harvey and Wheeler pitch together.

  3. March 29, 2013 at 11:21 am

    I was at the second to last game where Santana pitched, it was a great game, and the mets lost the next day and didn’t make it to the playoffs, I watched the game where Santana threw that PERFECT GAME, and was inspired by what he did, and I am VERY VERY DEPRESSED NOW, KNOWING THAT HIS CAREER IS OVER.
    We have Wheeler, we have Harvey, who are both good pitchers so us MET fans just have to keep out fingers crossed and hope that all goes well this year.
    So sorry about Santana, and I hope that he gets better. My thoughts are with him and his family, but lets go METS, the season didn’t start yet, and 1 person doesn’t make a TEAM, he just helps it.
    MONDAY OUR SEASON BEGINS. So to all “US” MET FANS, monday begins another year of MET BASEBALL. Im just wishing for the best. John Franco, if U rread this I think U are still the best relief pitcher that the mets ever had. I have been following U since the 80′s when U played High School baseball, U graduted with my cousin from Lafayette Hih School in BROOKLYN. Best of luck to the METS and to “US” MET FANS. Happy Easter everyone.

  4. Name
    March 29, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Santana provided some truly great memories for Met fans. Knew that a demise was inevitable and that the final years of the contract were probably not going to be very pretty, but it’s a shame that it couldn’t be a graceful demise.

    For closure, it would be really nice if Santana came out and said exactly when (or when he percieved to be) he got reinjured again. I know it’s highly unlikely he would do it in the near future and if he would do it, it would probably be after he officially retired, but it’s something that most fans want to know.
    And personally, i would like to know with some certainty if it was really the no-hitter that caused his demise because the results between his no-hitter and ankle injury certainly do not support the fact. But there are a many who have been able to put up great results hurt(dickey).

    I wonder when GM’s will realize that long-term backloaded contracts are just not the way to go. These type of contracts do a lot of damage in terms of reputation to both the player and the team during those final years.

  5. steevy
    March 29, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I’m not surprised.It’s sad but I wasn’t expecting much from him this year.

  6. March 29, 2013 at 5:11 pm

    I was also at that 2008 game and I’ll never forget it. Santana hasn’t been what we hoped he’d be over the course of that contract, but he sure was in 2008. Seemed like just generally a nice guy too. In fact, at spring training in 2009 (I think), after throwing his warmup (he was pitching that day) he cheerfully headed over to my wife and other fans to say hi and give autographs (unfortunately he never made it as he was beckoned by some coach or other).

    It was great to see that from superstar Santana. Even some minor-leaguers can be jerks about stuff like that (coughcoughHarveryandWheelercoughcough).

  7. March 29, 2013 at 9:45 pm

    A truly great warrior. The 2013 Mets will not be the same without him. Thank you Johan for your time in the blue and orange.

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