Johan Santana, Mets Legend

Tonight Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in New York Mets history (boxscore: http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=320601121).

As a life-long Mets fan, it is difficult to describe how amazing I feel. The Mets have existed since 1962 and were one of only two Major League teams (out of 30) to have never thrown a no-hitter (the San Diego Padres are the other), and this is knowledge that each Mets fan carries with us constantly. Every game, you wonder, is this the night? until that first hit drops. Tonight, it finally was. Watching the ninth inning, I could barely move, I was numb, the first two batters made fly ball outs that initially looked like they might drop in for bloop hits, then Johan fell behind the  final batter, David Freese, 3-0, but he battled back and struck him out swinging, which was the perfect end to the game. Kudos to catcher Josh Thole, who was playing his first game since coming off of the disabled list with a concussion, for calling a fantastic game all the way through, and to manager Terry Collins for leaving Santana in the game despite his high pitch count. Mets fans would never have forgiven him if he had pulled Santana before he allowed a hit.

Watching the replay of the final pitch and the ensuing pile-up on the mound, one thing that stands out is that there is a fan wearing a Gary Carter jersey who runs out onto the field and joins the celebration. This is both wonderful and poignant considering Carter’s death earlier this year and the fact that the Mets are wearing a memorial patch for him all season long. The lack of a no-hitter has weighed heavily on fans, so I am glad that one got to join in on the field as a representative of us all.

As is well-known, the Mets have had numerous pitchers throw no-hitters once they were no longer with the Mets, the three most famous being Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan (who threw seven!), and Doc Gooden (he and David Cone’s both came when they were with the evil Yankees). Before tonight, Seaver had come the closest to throwing one as a Met, reaching the ninth inning without allowing a hit three times. It feels so, so good that these statistics are now irrelevant, kind of like when the Rangers ended their 54-year Stanley Cup drought in 1994. This year’s Mets team is showing that they have a lot of heart and that they are not going away quietly. Nights like tonight make you think that something special is happening.

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