When the Mets acquired Johan Santana from the Twins in February of 2008 and signed him to a six-year, $137.5 million contract, he was supposed to be the piece that would bring the team back to the postseason.
Things haven’t exactly worked out that way, as the Mets narrowly missed the playoffs in 2008 and have endured three straight losing seasons since. Santana underwent shoulder surgery in August of 2010 and didn’t throw a pitch in the majors last year. There were many who doubted whether he would ever throw a pitch in the majors again, let alone resemble the ace we saw in the past. Perhaps we shouldn’t underestimate him any longer.
After going the distance in a 9-0 win over the Padres last Saturday, Santana went a step further this evening by tossing the first no-hitter in Mets’ history as part of an 8-0 win over the Cardinals. Finally. After 50 years and 8,020 games, the Mets have their first no-hitter. And they said it would never happen.
Sure, it wasn’t the prettiest. Santana walked five and needed a career-high 134 pitches to get it done. We’ll hear plenty about third base umpire Adrian Johnson, who missed a would-be double by Carlos Beltran down the third base line in the top of the sixth inning. With expanded replay, the Mets might not have had this moment. Of course, we could probably cherry pick other no-hitters which had similar controversial plays, too. We all know this game isn’t perfect. Not right now. Probably not ever. But that’s a conversation for another time. Sometimes it’s a real drag to dwell on the negative when somebody accomplishes something pretty awesome. And tonight was pretty awesome, whether you are a Mets fan or not.
After missing all of last season rehabbing from shoulder surgery, the resurgent Santana now has a fantastic 2.38 ERA and 68/21 K/BB ratio over 68 innings this year. He still hasn’t led the Mets back to the postseason, but tonight he provided the first real “moment” since Citi Field opened its doors in 2009. And it didn’t hurt that he did it against the Cardinals, who defeated the Mets in seven games in the 2006 NLCS.
1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion signed a three-year, $60 million contract with the Indians early last month. The 34-year-old had spent the last seven and a half seasons with the Blue Jays, but his future elsewhere appeared to be written on the wall when the Jays signed Kendrys Morales in November to essentially occupy Encarnacion’s role.
Encarnacion spoke about testing free agency for the first time in his career and the situation that led to him leaving Toronto for Cleveland. Via Jorge L. Ortiz of USA TODAY:
“Toronto was always my first option, but I had never been a free agent, and anybody who gets to free agency wants to find out what’s out there,’’ he said. “I think they got too hasty in making their decision, but now I’m with Cleveland and I’m happy to be here.’’
Encarnacion last season hit .263/.357/.529 with 42 home runs and an AL-best 127 RBI. He’s now on the team that defeated his Blue Jays in the ALCS to advance to the World Series. Encarnacion effectively replaces Mike Napoli, who returned to the Rangers.
I’m on record saying that Sammy Sosa has been rather hosed by baseball history.
The guy did amazing things. Unheard-of things. He was truly astounding at this peak and was incredibly important to both his franchise and Major League Baseball as a whole. His repayment: he’s a pariah. His club won’t claim him and his greatness, by any measure, has not just been overlooked but denied by most who even bother to consider him.
Yes, he had PED associations, but they were extraordinarily vague ones. He’s in the same boat as David Ortiz as far as documented PED evidence against him, but Ortiz will be a first ballot Hall of Famer while Sosa barely clings to the ballot. He hit homers at the same cartoonish rate as Mark McGwire, but while Big Mac has been embraced by baseball and has coached for years, Sosa can’t get into Wrigley Field unless he buys a ticket and even then the Cubs might try to hustle him out of sight. The man has been treated poorly by any measure.
Yet, it’s still possible to overstate the case. Like Sosa did in this interview with Chuck Wasserstrom:
It’s like Jesus Christ when he came to Jerusalem,” Sosa told chuckbloggerstrom.com. “Everybody thought Jesus Christ was a witch (laughing) — and he was our savior. So if they talk (bleep) about Jesus Christ, what about me? Are you kidding me?”
At least he was basically joking about it. Still, it’s a totally unfair and almost offensive comparison.
I mean, anyone who watched Sosa’s career knows that he had trouble laying off breaking stuff low and away. In contrast . . .