For the fan in enemy territory

Saturday, July 28, 2012

New York Mets: Why Their First No Hitter Could Have Been a Deal with the Devil

The day was June 1, 2012. The New York Mets had their ace, Johan Santana, on the pitcher's mound for a home game against the St Louis Cardinals. The result was the unthinkable: a no hitter for the New York Mets.

This is a team that is celebrating more than 50 years in the sport of professional baseball and were just one of two teams to never have had a no hitter in their franchise. They were synonymous with quality pitching in that span. Names like Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, David Cone, just to name a few. This is a team that never accomplished that feat. In all that time, they accumulated 37 one hitters. They never made it to the promised land.

How much of a coincidence is it, then, that in their 51st season, after 50 full years without one, they finally got the monkey off their backs? What price did they pay, however?  The team seems to have signed off on a deal with the baseball gods to earn this accomplishment. In exchange for it, they had to suffer some blows, though.

For one thing, since that epic performance in June, Johan Santana has had a miserable time. He's posted a 3-5 record and has given up four or more runs five times in the eight starts after the events on June 1st. He was placed on the disable list after his July 20th start and has yet to make any rehab news.

Next, in the wake of that game, Major League Baseball has changed its rules to include foul balls down the line as being a reviewable play for instant replay. In the 6th inning of that game, former Mets great Carlos Beltran smoked a ball down the third base line that the umpires called foul.

Even as a Mets fan, I can't deny that it was fair. The video evidence is overwhelming. If this scenario were to come up next season, the Mets would not have a no hitter. It seems that the team caught an enormous break.

Finally, they have dropped to 19-29 since that game. That's 10 games under the .500 mark. This is a team that was fighting for first place and, at one time, was seven games over the .500 mark. Their playoff chances are dwindling and morale is dropping faster than tickets sales. But at least they have a no hitter.

Sometimes the baseball gods are merciful, sometimes they are merciless. The Mets seemed to have done something to get on their bad side for a time. After the electric debut of Matt Harvey the other night, however, the gods seem to be a little happier with the New York Mets. Let's see how long that lasts.