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

12 Comments

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 report blames seam height, not juiced balls, for 2019 home run surge

Getty Images
1 Comment

SAN DIEGO — This morning Major League Baseball released a report from a committee of scientists tasked with studying baseballs and the home run surge from 2019. Their verdict: that manufacturing variation leading to inconsistent seam height — not any intentional act taken to “juice” baseballs — is the reason for last year’s power explosion.

There were 6,776 home runs hit during the regular season, which shattered the previous record, set in 2017, by nearly 11 percent. Numerous players around the league suspected or assumed that the league, which owns the ball manufacturer, Rawlings, had intentionally juiced the baseball to promote offense. The committee concluded in the report that “no evidence was found that changes in baseball performance were due to anything intentional on the part of Rawlings or MLB and were likely due to manufacturing variability.”

That conclusion would appear to only be partially accurate.

Dr. Meredith Wills, an astrophysicist who has been conducting her own research on baseballs and the home run explosion, published her own work on all of this in The Athletic last June. Wills concluded that, based on her examination of baseball seams and seam height, a key part of the manufacturing process — the drying of damp, finished baseballs after assembly is complete — likely did change.

Specifically, she concluded that seam height and decreased bulging of baseballs which led to less aerodynamic drag and farther ball flight was likely the result of Rawlings using heaters to dry balls, as opposed to the traditional air-drying, allowing them to produce more balls in a shorter period of time. Wills told NBC Sports this morning that she suspects Rawlings did this because many more balls were needed due to Major League Baseball mandating that Triple-A adopt the major league ball for the 2019 season.

As such, the key word in this morning’s report is “intentional.” Wills:

“The decrease in drag was very likely unintentional, but the change in the drying process would be intentional. No, they didn’t intend to juice the ball, but yes, they did make an intentional change to the manufacturing process. It was not ‘manufacturing variability’ it was deliberate process improvement to accommodate higher demand. ‘Variability’ makes it sound like it’s random or a mistake. It was not.”

There is also the matter of the decrease in ball flight and home runs observed — and confirmed by today’s report — in the 2019 postseason.

MLB’s expert panel basically punts on any explanations for the variation, noting small sample size and no other apparent explanation. As such, the matter for the immediate change in the home run rate and fly ball distance the moment we moved from September to October baseball is not clear. Wills is continuing her research on 2019 postseason game balls — a matter about which there has already been no small amount of controversy of late — and expects to publish her results soon.

There will be a press conference regarding the study here at the Winter Meetings at 1PM Eastern time today. NBC Sports will be at that press conference. NBC Sports has a good number of followup questions.