Johan Santana No-Hitter Fallout

Much like Red Sox fans who said, “now I can die and go to heaven (although that might be a bit presumptuous),’’ after their team finally won the World Series, so too are Mets fans saying the same thing after Johan Santana’s no-hitter Friday night.

SANTANA: Taking another bow yesterday. (AP)

You’ll start reading stories about long-time Mets fans who missed the event, just like there will be those who saw history in their first game watching the team. It’s all part of the fate when it comes to baseball. You just never know.

It does remind me of when I started covering the Yankees in 1998. I worked a month straight before my first day off – which turned out to be David Wells’ perfect game.

It’s all part of the maddening charm that is baseball.

R.A. Dickey said following Santana would be a tough act to follow, but a shutout isn’t a bad way to do it.  Dickey’s gem yesterday is part of the fallout of the no-hitter:

* The Hall of Fame will be collecting items from the game for display in Cooperstown. Sadly, he won’t be using it for a while, but a nice touch would be to show Mike Baxter’s glove. We knew Baxter was injured selling out to make that spectacular catch, but he’ll be gone at least six weeks. Ouch. Baxter’s absence hurts the Mets on several levels in that he played good defense but was also a pinch-hitting savant.


* From the “It Can Only Happen To the Mets Department,’’ reliever Ramon Ramirez strained a hamstring running in from the bullpen for the post-game celebration. He went from sitting for three hours to a full sprint, so it isn’t all that hard to imagine.

* Manager Terry Collins is considering bumping up Chris Young’s return date next weekend to give Santana extra rest. Wise move. Pitchers are a creature of habit, so it will be interesting to note if Santana changes his routine at all this week.

* Speaking of Collins, imagine the pressure he was under in deliberating keeping Santana in the game. The human part of him wanted to extend Santana so he’d get the no-hitter. Then, there was part of him that wanted to protect his pitcher. Coming off surgery, it was a gamble, one in which we might not know the outcome for awhile as it isn’t always the next start in which the 134 pitch-count could come into play in a negative way. Here’s hoping it never does.

Finally, a classy comment from Carlos Beltran, who had a extra-base hit taken away by a blown call from umpire Adrian Johnson, saying he was happy for Santana and was being rewarded for all his hard work in his rehab.

10 thoughts on “Johan Santana No-Hitter Fallout

  1. Very tough decision by Collins. We are keeping our fingers crossed on Johan but even if he is hurt (God forbid)Collins will be forgiven. He would not have been forgiven for taking Santana out of that ballgame.

  2. I watched every pitch!
    This prices pitch count is bunk!
    If the pitcher is on leave him in!
    RA didnt disappoint he followed with a complete game shutout!
    Maybe TopCat has helped stick a pin and made pitch count near meaningless :-)

  3. Steve C – the fact he was able to throw the no hitter does not disprove pitch counts.
    What if he starts to have arm problems as a result?
    Then again, that does not prove pitch counts in one game, as it is more a function of accumulated pitches over a period of time.

    If a guy throws on average 90 pitches, one game with 120 isn’t necessarily going to cause problems.

    However, if he constistently throws 120 plus, then you could have a problem.

    There has been a lot written on this subject. Exceptions do not disprove a rule.

    How quickly Mets fans forget Pulsipher, Isringhausen and Wilson. Baseball has seen many young arms burned out (Kerry Wood, Mark Prior, the list goes on).

    Look at Lincecum this year. The guy is nowhere near as dominant as he has been. You think maybe his pitch count/innings may be part of the reason?

    Yes, I know the old guys threw lots of pitches. I wonder how many of them could have had longer careers if they knew then what is known now. I’d hazard to guess for every Seaver there were 2 others who’s careers were cut short.

    • I do not have statistics, but look at the Mets pitchers from the mid 80’s.

      They regularly went 7 innings or more. How many had 7-10 year careers?

      Pretty much the whole pitching staff from those years was better individually than most #2 pitchers today and many are better than some teams #1.

      The worst pitcher in the rotation was El Sid. Yet today if he was pitching he would be a #2 on many teams today. He only went about 6 innings which is what Niese, Gee and most of our pitchers not named Johan or Dickey do.

      My point is they were both better from a quality standpoint and they went deeper into the game. Now perhaps they were an anomaly. If they were fairly representative of the pitchers from 30 years ago what does that say about today’s pitchers? What does that say about the training and teaching methods of today?

      Every time we talk about pitch counts the argument about how it prolongs careers comes up. I don’t see it. Players get hurt all the time. I think careers are extended because of medicine. How many pitchers have Tommy John surgery and then come back and pitch for years?

      Why is it that when pitchers from our team from that time talk about today’s methods they express bewilderment at what goes on today? I do not hear Darling complain that he pitched too much and that his career was cut short. Why is that?

      • Dave – Yes, many pitchers are able to come back from TJ surgery now, but that is a more recent occurrence, and most come back with reduced pitch counts/innings counts (see Zimmermann and Strasburg as examples of this).
        Doc’s career did not reach the heights it should have, mostly due to his drug problems, but also do to his pitch counts, which were quite high. Darling may not complain his career was cut short, but it was. His effectiveness went down over time.
        Again, you bring up the exceptions. What about guys like Mike Hampton, Kevin Brown? What about Jiminez in Cleveland (formerly of the Rockies). Or Pineda, who the Yanks pinned a lot of hopes on? Or Wang, who the Mets will face today? Yes, he missed time with his foot injury, but then his shoulder blew out. Look at the Reds pitching staff the past few years.
        There is a LOT of research on this. Pitch counts or steep increases in innings pitched at younger ages can cause injuries in subsequent years. There may not be a direct correlation, and it may not happen to every pitcher, but it happens to enough to give pause.
        Given the amount of money paid to star pitchers, it makes sense for teams to protect their investments.
        And you ignored “Generation K”, a prime example to refute your arguement.

        • Ed

          I think you can argue this till the cows come home. I do believe that pitchers in the 60’s,70’s, 80’s had good careers and pitched for a long time. There may be exceptions but you have numerous examples over those decades who had long careers.

          I think pitchers are handled differently which causes problems. You mention number of innings pitched creates injuries later on. Well we are in the new millennium. The new methods have been implemented and the new pitchers with a lot of money invested still get hurt. Strasburg ( who you mention), our pitcher from Long Island who barely pitched and had surgery is another.

          So they use the new methods to protect the pitchers. These guys don’t have any mileage and they still tear their arm out so it can’t be the wear and tear of abuse over a period of time.

          • Dave,

            I think you are referring to Steve Matz, a Mets draftee who has TJ surgery. He was drafted out of high school, where the monitoring is not the same as at the higher levels.
            Strasburg is a good example for both sides. Yes, he was hurt early in his career, but what controls were in place during his high school and college careers? Now that he is back, the Nationals are going to monitor him closely, at least for this year.
            I do tend to agree that the older guys did seem to do well with the higher pitch counts, and many went on to have long careers, but better monitoring may have prevented injury, making their careers even better, and perhaps allowing more guys to have longer careers. Then again, the cost to the owners back then was much lower, so they were not as concerned with injury. Now, when pitchers make $12 – $20 million, it is much more expensive to have them hurt.

            • I agree.

              The current salary levels changes how you treat the players.

              That said I am not convinced the current procedures used for ballplayers works.

              I keep going back to the veteran pitchers that comment on the game. I do not see why they would question current methods if they believed them to work. Now it may just be a simple difference of opinion. But anyone who is successful and has been doing something for a large period of their life should know what works.

              I have heard more than one person question why they have pitchers long toss when they only have to throw the ball 60 feet. I know it is a training method and it may have merit, but more than one former pitcher has questioned that method as an example of differences in training between when they played and the current system.

              Without any evidence whatsoever I offer my observation that players today seem to get injured at about the same rate as before. Additionally there seems to be a lower quality of product. Position players do not have fundamental skills before they are promoted to the majors. Pitchers just do not seem as good.There are exceptions like Johan, etc. But if you look at the starting 5 of any given team they seem worse than 30 years ago.

              Just look at our team. Niese, Gee, etc have problems going past 6 innings and have ERA’s way above 4. A few years ago there was a heated debate about whether or not we should resign Ollie, a 10 year veteran who was maddeningly inconsistent. Yet many were talking up his potential as if after a 10 year major league career he would ‘get it’ and learn how to pitch.

              • As a follow up the Mets used to have a pitcher named El Sid. He had good stuff but after about 5 innings you had to watch him closely. He was our #5 pitcher and today would be a 2 or 3 on many staff’s.

                I really only pay attention to the Mets and that staff had a really good stafff so maybe it is unfair, but Sid was a borderline pitcher for us because he could not consistently go 7/8 innings and most pitchers today basically go 6 and out.