Posted in Baseball

Thank You, Johan Santana

It’s The Morning After, and it wasn’t a dream.

Johan Santana, only a year removed from arm surgery, pitched the first no-hitter in the Mets’ 51-year history.

Take it from a lifelong Mets fan, the team’s total drought in the no-hitter department was a standing joke. Howie Rose, the Mets’ radio announcer, will now have to develop a new shtick. Until today, his response to the first hit delivered by the opposing team in each and every game was: “It is now the [nth] Mets game without a no-hitter.” The Mets play the St. Louis Cardinals again today at 4:00 pm. I predict Howie’s listenership on WFAN will be through the roof, just so the fans can hear his new catchphrase.

Take it from me, Johan’s no-hitter works on so many levels that the reverb is deafening. First of all, IT WAS JOHAN. This can not be overlooked. I think most fans expected a no-no at some point, but their biggest fear (mine too) was that it would be a fluke pitched by some journeyman bum the Mets had to settle for to give them innings. After so many years, we not only wanted a no-hitter, we wanted to have it all—a gem pitched by the ace of the staff. Tom Seaver came close in 1969—I remember watching him take a no-hitter into the 9th inning against the Cubs—Doc Gooden pitched pure fire, and several years ago Tom Glavine wound up with a fabulous one-hitter. So to see our Number 1 starter do this after so many said he’d never be the same, post-arm surgery, was beyond sweet.

After all the sturm und drang with the Bernie Madoff bankruptcy trustee, the Wilpons’ propensity for foot-in-mouth disease, their financial woes, the team’s inability to compete in the free agent market, the perfect game earlier this season by Philip Humber (a Met discard), and—let’s face it—the Mets’ abysmal play during the last couple of years, the no-hitter and the efforts of the entire team in backing up Johan remind us that our boys are a force to be reckoned with. There’s a ton of young talent here—Daniel Murphy, Mike Baxter,Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Ruben Tejada, Ike Davis, Jonathan Niese—and things can only get better. Although David Wright announced yesterday that he won’t talk contract during the season, I suspect the Wilpons are floating a bond issue in order to be able to sign him. They’ve made a lot of mistakes over the years, but I don’t think failing to sign David Wright long-term will be one of them. He’s the face of the franchise and a team leader. The Mets can not afford to lose him.

And how perfect was it that the no-hitter came against the Cardinals? The Mets’ perennial nemesis and opponents in the 2006 NLCS, which our Boys from Flushing should have won. And to see Carlos Beltran, our major 2006 disappointment, in a Cardinals uniform as Johan worked his magic made it even more rewarding. After so many years, we’re among the big boys at last.

Last night was exciting. This morning we’re basking in the afterglow. And if you see someone walking around today, smiling a small, almost secret smile, you can bet the ranch that’s a Mets fan.

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