Terry Collins was thrust in between a rock and a hard place tonight.
A) Let one of the most expensive pitchers in major league history, a guy who happens to be coming off shoulder surgery, top his previous career high in pitches in search of the franchise’s elusive no-hitter
B) Pull his left-handed ace, something that surely would have happened in the eighth had he already allowed a hit or two, and try to protect his team’s investment while also likely increasing his team’s chances of completing the no-hitter by bringing in a right-handed reliever to face three straight right-handed hitters.
Obviously, he chose A. I imagine every manager in the league would have done the same. It would have been extremely difficult to go the other way, assuming that Johan Santana wanted to stay in. I do think the Mets would have had the better chance of getting the hitless ninth with Frank Francisco or Bobby Parnell facing Matt Holliday, Allen Craig and David Freese. Santana, though, got the job done, giving the Mets their first no-no in their 51-year history.
Repercussions, if there are any, will take time to manifest. Santana had never topped 125 pitches in 273 career starts before throwing 133 pitches tonight. He hadn’t thrown more than 108 pitches in a start this season. The Mets will almost surely give him an extra day or two off before his next start. But rightly or wrongly, if he breaks down again later this year, people are going to point to tonight as the cause.
As I note every spring, “Best Shape of His Life” stories aren’t really about players being in The Best Shape of Their Lives. They’re about players and agents seeking to create positive stories.
We know this because the vast majority of Best Shape of His Life claims are about guys who were either injured the season before, guys who had subpar years the season before or players whose conditioning was a point of controversy the season before. These folks, or their agents + reporters who have little if nothing to write about in the offseason = BSOHL.
James McCann hurt his ankle last season and had a subpar year at the plate. So not only is he a perfect BSOHL candidate, he went old school with the claim and hit it right on the money, verbatim:
Spring training is less than a month away, folks!
Last week Bo Jackson said that, if he had it to do all over again, he would have never played professional football and that he would never let his kids play. The sport is too violent, he said. “I’d tell them, ‘Play baseball, basketball, soccer, golf, just anything but football.’”
Fair enough. Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, however, thinks that Bo could do more than simply give his opinion on the matter. He thinks Bo should become an official ambassador for Major League Baseball:
Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, pick up the phone right now and call Bo Jackson. Tell him you have a job for him — vice president of something, whatever you would call the man in charge of converting a generation of young athletes to baseball. And pay him what he wants.
You won’t find a better symbol of the differences between the two sports than Bo Jackson. After all, he was an All-Star in both. Bo knows football. Bo knows baseball.
Bo, tell the children — baseball over football.
The Children: “Who is Bo Jackson?”
Yeah, I’m being a bit flip here, but dude: Jackson is 54 years-old. He last played baseball 23 years ago. I’d personally run through a wall for Bo Jackson, but I’m 43. I was 12 when he won the Heisman trophy. While he may loom large to middle aged sports writers, a teenager contemplating what sport to play is not going to listen to someone a decade or more older than his parents.
This isn’t terribly important in the grand scheme of things, but it’s indicative of how most columnists process the world through their own experiences and assume they apply universally. It’s probably the biggest trap most sports opinion folks fall into.