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.