Reflecting on Johan’s No No 3 Days Later

Three days after Johan Santana’s no hitter – the 1st in Mets history, I’m still smiling from ear to ear.  After allowing the events of Friday night to sink in and talking to fellow Mets fans, my initial suspicions were confirmed:  That was the most important game for this franchise and its fan base since 1986.  Obviously, the team finally accomplished something that it had never done before, which makes the game important and memorable but the Mets needed this right now.  There was no guarantee that the first no-hitter would happen any time in the near future, but it did.  Given the events of the last 5 seasons (falling short of the World Series followed by 2 late-season collapses, then failure to make the playoffs after assembling what was supposed to be a World Series contender, the team’s financial problems, losing it’s home grown talent, and extremely low expectations for 2012), the fan base needed and deserved Friday night – and I didn’t see it coming from a mile away.

It was almost cathartic.  The no-hitter exorcised the demons of the last 5 years and allowed Mets fan to turn over a new leaf.  No more no no-hitter jokes, only the memories of a great night.  Other serendipitous factors make the night even more special.  The fact that Johan Santana did it was fitting because he is the ace of the staff and he worked so hard to return from shoulder surgery.  The fact that it was against the Cardinals was fitting because they sparked this recent era of mediocrity when Adam Wainwright struck out Carlos Beltran to win Game 7 of the 2006 NLCS.  Adam Wainwright started on Friday night and Carlos Beltran is now a member of the Cardinals.  Before Wainwright locked down the save in 2006, Yadier Molina hit a 9th inning homerun to break 1-1 tie.  On Friday, Molina hit the fly ball to left in the 7th inning that Mike Baxter made the spectacular play on to preserve the no-hitter.  Finally, it happened at home and served as a reminder of how special baseball in Queens can be.  The fans cheered so loud on each strike in the 9th inning, you would have thought they just retired the side.

The team’s good start has been a nice surprise and there is no doubt that the Mets has been overachieving.  Friday can be a spark though which ignites this year’s team to do more than just overachieve.  Maybe it will set this team on a path where no one gave them a chance to be – the postseason.  The next man up (a common theme this year thanks to injuries) after Johan, R.A Dickey tossed a complete game shutout on Saturday.  After 2 straight games that the Mets held the league’s top offense to 0 runs, Jon Niese threw six scoreless innings yesterday and the Mets won 6-1.  Without getting too ahead of myself; it’s only the beginning of June and it’s a long season, but I can’t think of one good reason that the no-hitter doesn’t give the Mets the confidence to maintain it’s good start throughout the rest of the season.

Finally, Friday night was another example of what makes sports so great and why we watch.  The definition of a fan or being fanatical is to be obsessively concerned with something.  That doesn’t sound like a positive trait but when it comes to sports fandom, there is nothing negative about it.  Of course, ups and downs are a part of being a fan and investing everything you have in a team.  There are usually more downs than ups but moments like Friday night keep everyone coming back.  It was supposed to be a normal, rainy June night but instead it became the most memorable game of the last 25 years.  You never what is going to happen and sports never disappoints.  Every Mets fan will remember where they were on June 1, 2012 and who they called and how they celebrated.  Friday night the Mets played 1 regular season game of 162 this season and 8,020 up to that point in the franchise’s history but it turned into one that left it’s indelible mark in Mets history.

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