Jun 02

Johan Santana Thundered For Mets Before Rains Came

It poured last night, and even if that smudge on the left field line was rubbed out, nothing could wash away what Johan Santana did in throwing the first no-hitter in Mets’ history.

After 8,020 games, and the likes of Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Nolan Ryan, Dwight Gooden and David Cone throwing magic for them the previous 50 years, Santana just missed throwing the Mets’ 36th one hitter.

SANTANA: Waving to crowd (AP)

We know the numbers because the no-hit streak became a part of franchise lore, to be announced nearly every day after the opponent’s first hit. It will be interesting to hear how the Cardinals’ first hit today will be broadcast.

Who knows, maybe the Mets will throw a few more in the coming years, but there is nothing like the first. Jon Niese, R.A. Dickey and John Maine came close in recent seasons, but it was special because it was Santana, who showed extraordinary focus against the National League’s premier offense and overcame the tendency to wander and shift into cruise control with an 8-0 lead.

He was aided by an umpire’s blown call – the streak would be alive today with instant replay – but for one night baseball karma was with the Mets, the way it was during the Summer of 69 and on that crisp October night when Mookie Wilson’s grounder snaked up the first base line and scooted underneath Bill Buckner’s glove.

Perhaps karma was with the Mets because after so many snake bites and near misses – many with Santana on the mound – they deserved to have one to go their way. Logically, it isn’t supposed to work that way in sports, but the Mets always defied logic, just as Santana’s comeback from serious surgery came against conventional medical wisdom.

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Apr 30

Wondering If Johan Santana Regrets Signing With Mets

This time, it was the Mets’ bullpen that betrayed Johan Santana. The Mets finally scored runs for him, but the bullpen blew a four-run lead in the eighth inning with Tim Byrdak serving a grand slam homer to Todd Helton.

Another no-decision for Santana, who is still looking for his first victory since September 2010.

SANTANA: Comes up empty again.

I know Santana doesn’t regret the money, but there are times such as yesterday when I wonder if he regrets not staying with Minnesota, where he had a chance to go to the World Series, or try the free-agent market where he could have gotten the money and a better chance to win.

The Mets were still a contender when they acquired him, but there were major cracks in the foundation. When Santana agreed to the deal, did he think about those things?

Santana has pitched well with the Mets when healthy, and to be fair, injuries could have happened anywhere. But, there have been too many games when the offense disappeared or the bullpen imploded to make him wonder if he did the right thing.

“We won. and that’s all I care about,” Santana said after yesterday’s game.

But, if winning is the only thing that matters, there must be times when he wonders if he made the right decision as there have been so many games since joining the Mets when he came away empty.

Santana is 0-2 with three no-decisions despite a 2.25 ERA this year. He’s given up only six earned runs in 18 innings, with four of them coming in one start.

He pitched to a 2.89 ERA in 2010 before the injury, but with nine no-decisions. Eight of those were games decided by two runs or less, and seven by one run.

In 2009, eight games he started that the Mets lost were decided by two runs, with five by one run.

There were 11 no-decisions in 2008, with the Mets winning six of those games. The Mets lost nine of the games he started by two runs or less, with six by one run.

All those numbers reminds me of the Peanuts cartoon strip when Charlie Brown, after being told of his lousy pitching record, screams “Tell your statistics to shut up!”

Trouble is, that can’t be done. The stats are louder than ever.

Feb 16

Gary Carter passes away.

It is with great sadness I report Gary Carter passed away a little over an hour ago.

CARTER; Lived a full, loving life. Rest in peace.

“I am deeply saddened to tell you all that my precious dad went to be with Jesus today at 4:10 pm.,” daughter Kimmy Bloemers posted on the family’s website. “This is the most difficult thing I have ever had to write in my entire life but I wanted you all to know. He is in heaven and has reunited with his mom and dad. I believe with all my heart that dad had a STANDING OVATION as he walked through the gates of heaven to be with Jesus.”

Carter was diagnosed with four brain tumors last May, but several new tumors were found in January.

Carter was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003 after retiring in 1992. In 19 seasons, he hit .262 average, with 324 home runs and 1,225 RBI and was an 11-time All-Star.

“When you think of the great baseball field generals, you think Gary Carter,” Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said in a statement. “He ran the game from behind the plate with strong leadership and passion. The Kid’s contribution to our national pastime is big, but his heart was even bigger. We’ll always remember his caring way, ever-present smile and strong devotion to family, community and the Baseball Hall of Fame.”

Carter was an integral member of the 1986 World Series championship team. He handled the pitching staff with a firm hand and was clutch when the Mets needed a hit with the game on the line.

The Mets just released this statement: “On behalf of everyone at the Mets, we extend our deepest and heartfelt condolences to Gary’s family — his wife Sandy, daughters Christy and Kimmy and son D.J.  His nickname ‘The Kid’ captured how Gary approached life.  He did everything with enthusiasm and with gusto on and off the field.  His smile was infectious. He guided our young pitching staff to the World Series title in 1986 and he devoted an equal amount of time and energy raising awareness for a multitude of charities and community causes.  He was a Hall of Famer in everything he did.”

I’ll always remember Carter on the field as a clutch hitter, but off it I’ll remember his smile, his sense of humor and his accommodating nature to myself and other reporters. I always checked him on my Hall of Fame ballot and was pleased with he was finally inducted.

Rest in peace, Gary.

Jan 26

Tigers will regret Fielder signing ….

Not surprised at the reaction to Detroit signing Prince Fielder, giving them a formidable pair of sluggers when teamed with Miguel Cabrera. All that power; all those home runs will make the Tigers the team to beat.

Yeah, and I remember all those World Series the Yankees would win after signing Randy Johnson, Jason Giambi and Alex Rodriguez. At last count, the Yankees won only one Series with Rodriguez and none with the other two.

The Tigers are the latest team to be seduced by agent Scott Boras.

Detroit said it would move Cabrera to third base, which he prefers, but in truth he’s a defensive liability at third and if his mind were clear about it, he’s best suited to be a designated hitter. Fact is, so is Fielder.

All this makes me wonder what the over/under is on the number of years it will be before the Tigers regret signing Fielder for the princely sum of $214 million over the next nine years. I’m guessing four years.

His body type suggests he’s susceptible to getting out of shape or breaking down physically. I don’t know enough about Fielder’s emotional make-up to say he won’t work hard to stay in shape, but history dictates he could get complacent and possibly break down. It also dictates, and strongly, that the deeper the Tigers get into this contract the more the money will become a burden.

Look at the scorecard: Alex Rodriguez with the Rangers and Yankees; Manny Ramirez with Boston; Ryan Howard with the Phillies; Jayson Werth with Washington; Carlos Beltran with the Mets; Barry Zito with San Francisco; and Giambi with the Yankees.

There are dozens more.

Whether it be the money, lack of production, injuries, testing positive for steroids, or in Ramirez’s case, being a boor and quitting on his team, every one of those teams wished they could dump the contract.

The Tigers are going for it this year. They’d better make it because this won’t be a happy marriage.

Jan 19

On honoring Gary.

It is very sad to hear the discouraging medical reports about Gary Carter. After reading doctors are evaluating their next course of treatment I know from my father this isn’t good news. All you can do now is pray and hope he’s not in too much discomfort.

CARTER: In a happier time.

Not surprisingly, Carter’s illness raised the question of whether his No. 8 should be retired.

There is little question Carter was an integral part of the Mets’ 1986 World Series winning team, but in truth he played only four full seasons with the team, and 50 games into a fifth. Retiring a player’s uniform number should be based on long term contributions to the team and not as a sympathy gesture because of his illness.

If the Mets were to do it, they should have done it years ago. Doing it now would be cheesy and an almost empty gesture. If the Mets do it now, entering the 50th anniversary of their existence, it wouldn’t mean anything unless he went in with company, meaning Keith Hernandez, Darryl Strawberry and Dwight Gooden, the only others from that team worthy of that honor. In looking at Mets history, also worthy – and overlooked – is Jerry Koosman.

I was glad to see Carter inducted into the Hall of Fame, an honor he truly deserved. At the time Carter said he was torn between going in as a Met or Montreal Expo. The Hall of Fame rules state a player would go in wearing the cap of the team where he carved his niche, and with Carter, that was Montreal, regardless of the ring he earned with the Mets.

And, that ring, as good as it was, isn’t enough to putting No. 8 on the outfield wall.