What they’re saying about Johan Santana’s no-hitter

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No, it wasn’t a dream.

Johan Santana made a little history last night by tossing the first Mets’ no-hitter as part of an 8-0 win over the Cardinals. Here’s some reaction from around the baseball world:

R.A. Dickey, via New York Newsday: “We’re all talking about it,” referencing Mets manager Terry Collins. “What’s he going to do? Is he going to take him out? We’re all playing manager. And to a man, we all agreed that he’d have to rip the ball out of our hands.”

Mets manager Terry Collins, via New York Newsday: “I wanted it for him. I wanted it for the organization. But you just don’t jeopardize his career or the whole organization for one inning. We’ll wait five days and see how he is.”

Marty Noble of MLB.com: “All right, now what? What do we wait for now that hell is chilly and a Mets pitcher has thrown a no-hitter? What void do we now need to see filled to feel more baseball-content? Man walked on the moon before the Mets won a World Series, supporting Casey Stengel’s premise. But Armstrong’s giant leap barely preceded Cleon’s final-play catch. And that was merely NASA responding to Casey’s challenge. This was different, a greater challenge in some ways. NASA fought gravity and then no gravity. Johan Santana was against history, karma, the odds, medical advice, pitch-count concerns, an iffy forecast and the best-hitting team in the National League this season.”

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, via MLB.com: “That’s the way the game goes,” said Matheny, referencing the blown call by third base umpire Adrian Johnson. “We’re not going to sit here and cry about it. You could tell at the time that we thought it was a hit. More important than breaking up a no-hitter was that it was a chance to get a man in scoring position. We’re not spending any time talking about that.”

Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo, via MLB.com: “Sometimes those plays go your way and sometimes they go against you,” said Oquendo, referencing Johnson’s missed call. “That’s part of it. I know he’s doing his best. There’s nothing we can do about it.”

Josh Thole, via the New York Times: “Being part of this organization, they deserve one — they deserve more than one. All the great pitchers that have come through here, including Johan, you would think somewhere along the line. But I’m sitting back there calling pitches, and you realize how hard this is. These guys that call perfect games, my goodness, how do you do it?”

Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine, via the Associated Press: “I’m really happy for them. That’s been an albatross over the pitching in that franchise forever, since `62. One of the best pitchers they’ve ever had threw it and that also gives credibility to it.”

Mike Baxter, via New York Newsday: “I’m glad I had a chance to be a part of that. It’s an honor to be able to make the play for Johan, but ultimately it was his night.”

David Wright, via New York Newsday: “Man, that was awesome. Short of Tom Seaver , I can’t think of a better person to pitch the first one.”

Jose Reyes, via the Palm Beach Post: “I need to send a text message to congratulate him. That’s the first one in Mets history. That’s huge for them.”

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez, via the Associated Press: “What pride! Long live Venezuela!”

Johan Santana’s post-game speech to teammates, via MetsBlog: “Tonight we all made history. That’s all that matters. Thanks to you guys, because you guys make it happen. I was just doing my job, and having fun.”

Matthew Leach of MLB.com: “Finally, at 9:48 p.m. ET on a rainy Friday night in Queens, it all gave way to relief and exultation. Fifty-one years of waiting came to an end, thanks to the reconstituted left shoulder of a beloved 33-year-old Venezuelan. No matter what happens in the rest of Santana’s career, he has a moment and a central place in Mets lore.”

MLB Network airs segment listing “good” and “bad” $100 million-plus contracts

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On Wednesday evening, Charlie Marlow of KTVI FOX 2 News St. Louis posted a couple of screencaps from a segment MLB Network aired about $100 million-plus contracts that have been signed. The list of “bad” contracts, unsurprisingly, is lengthier than the list of “good” contracts.

As Mike Gianella of Baseball Prospectus pointed out, it is problematic for a network owned by Major League Baseball to air a segment criticizing its employees for making too much seemingly unearned money. There’s a very clear conflict of interest, so one is certainly not getting a fair view of the situation. MLB, of course, can do what it wants with its network, but it can also be criticized. MLB Network would never air a similar segment in which it listed baseball’s “good” and “bad” owners and how much money they’ve undeservedly taken. Nor would MLB Network ever run a segment naming the hundreds of players who are not yet eligible for arbitration whose salaries are decided for them by their teams, often making the major league minimum ($545,000) or just above it. Similarly, MLB Network would also never think of airing a segment in which the pay of minor league players, many of whom make under $10,000 annually, is highlighted.

We’re now past the halfway point in January and many free agents still remain unsigned. It’s unprecedented. A few weeks ago, I looked just at the last handful of years and found that, typically, six or seven of the top 10 free agents signed by the new year. We’re still at two of 10 — same as a few weeks ago — and that’s only if you consider Carlos Santana a top-10 free agent, which is debatable. It’s a complex issue, but part of it certainly is the ubiquity of analytics in front offices, creating homogeneity in thinking. A consequence of that is everyone now being aware that big free agent contracts haven’t panned out well; it’s a topic of conversation that everyone can have and understand now. Back in 2010, I upset a lot of people by suggesting that Ryan Howard’s five-year, $125 million contract with the Phillies wouldn’t pan out well. Those people mostly cited home runs and RBI and got mad when I cited WAR and wOBA and defensive metrics. Now, many of those same people are wary of signing free agent first baseman Eric Hosmer and they now cite WAR, wOBA, and the various defensive metrics.

The public’s hyper-sensitivity to the viability of long-term free agent contracts — thanks in part to segments like the aforementioned — is a really bad trend if you’re a player, agent, or just care about labor in general. The tables have become very much tilted in favor of ownership over labor over the last decade and a half. Nathaniel Grow of FanGraphs pointed out in March 2015 that the players’ share of total league revenues peaked in 2002 at 56 percent, but declined all the way to 38 percent in 2014. The current trend of teams signing their talented players to long-term contract extensions before or during their years of arbitration eligibility — before they have real leverage — as well as teams abstaining from signing free agents will only serve to send that percentage further down.

Craig has written at great length about the rather serious problem the MLBPA has on its hands. Solving this problem won’t be easy and may require the threat of a strike, or actually striking. As Craig mentioned, that would mean getting the players all on the same page on this issue, which would require some work. MLB hasn’t dealt with a strike since 1994 and it’s believed that it caused a serious decline in interest among fans, so it’s certainly something that would get the owners’ attention. The MLBPA may also need to consider replacing union head Tony Clark with someone with a serious labor background. Among the issues the union could focus on during negotiations for the next collective bargaining agreement: abolishing the draft and getting rid of the arbitration system. One thing is for sure: the players are not in a good spot now, especially when the league has its own network on which it propagandizes against them.