Johan Santana no-hitter Getty

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.”

The Chicago Cubs: Spring training games, regular season prices

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Craig Calcaterra
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MESA, AZ — I’ve been covering spring training for eight years, and in just those eight years a lot has changed in the Cactus and Grapefruit League experiences. The parks are bigger and fancier and the vibe is far more akin to a regular season major league one than the intimate and laid back atmosphere most people think of when they picture February and March baseball.

Just imagine, however, how much has changed if you’ve been coming to Florida or Arizona for a really long time.

“When we first started coming, you could bring your own beer in,” says Don Harper, a lifelong Cubs fan from Kennewick, Washington who spends his winters in Arizona. “You couldn’t bring a cooler, but you could bring a case of beer and a bag of ice and you just set it down in between you and you just put the ice on it and keep it cold.”

I asked Don if the beer vendors complained.

“They didn’t sell beer,” he said.

That was three decades and two ballparks ago. They certainly sell beer at the Cubs’ gleaming new facility, Sloan Park. Cups of the stuff cost more than a couple of cases did back when Don first started coming to spring training.

The price of beer is not the only thing that has changed, of course. The price of tickets is not what it used to be either. Don told me that when he started coming to Cubs spring training games tickets ran about seven dollars. If that. It’s a bit pricer now. Face value for a single lawn ticket, where you’ll be sitting on a blanker on the outfield berm — can be as high as $47 depending on the day of the week and the opponent. Infield box seats run as high as $85.

The thing is, though, you’re not getting face value seats for Cubs spring training games. Half of the home games sold out within a week of tickets going on sale in January. Since then just about every other game has sold out or soon will. That will force you to get tickets on the secondary market. According to TickPick, the average — average! — Cubs spring training ticket on the secondary market is $106.30. For a single ticket. It’s easily the highest price for spring training tickets in all of baseball, and is $26 higher than secondary market tickets for the next highest team, the Red Sox:

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That may be shocking or even appalling to some, but as the automatic sellouts at Sloan Park and those high secondary market prices suggest, there are at least 15,000 people or so for each Cubs home game who don’t seem to mind. Supply meet demand meet the defending World Series champions.

I spoke with two younger Cubs fans, Corey Hayden and Eleanor Meloul, who traveled here from Salt Lake City. On Sunday they lucked out and got a couple of lawn seats for $28. On Saturday, however, they paid $100 a piece on StubHub to get some seats just beyond third base. I asked them if there is some price point that would keep them from coming.

“There isn’t one,” Hayden said. “I paid $4,500 for a World Series ticket, so . . .”

Don Harper wouldn’t do that, but he doesn’t really mind the higher prices he’s paying for his spring tickets. Of course, he’s a longtime season ticket holder so he gets access to the face value seats. I asked him whether his spring training habit would end if those prices got jacked up higher, as the market would seem to bear, or if he had to resort to the secondary market.

Don paused and sighed, suggesting it was a tough question. As he considered it, I put a hard number on it, asking him if he’d still go if he had to pay $50 per ticket. “Yeah, probably,” he said. “$75?” I asked. He paused again.

“As long as I got enough money.”

Don is a diehard who, one senses, will always find a way to make it work. Corey spent a wad of cash on that once-in-a-lifetime World Series ticket, but he and Eleanor seem content to bargain hunt for the most part and splurge strategically. If you’re a Cubs fan — and if you’re not rich — that’s what you’ll have to do. The ticket it just too hot.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.