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Deadspin asks if Mets fans “disappointed” in Santana no-hitter

A Mets fan moment for the ages

A Mets fan moment for the ages

I like Deadspin. Anyone who gives time and effort to sports blogging, as a true business pursuit or simply a fun creative outlet (I’d qualify for the latter), appreciates the role Deadspin has played in jump-starting and, in so many ways, pioneering the category. They have great writers too. I would never purport to have the legitimate skills of composition that many of their staff members possess. Barry Petchesky is just one of their talented writers. He’s penned plenty of posts that I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed. As a self-respecting Mets fan, though, I couldn’t let his latest story slide.

Compelling ledes. Killer headlines. In the world of journalism, those tools are often held up as critical arrows in the quiver. They are perhaps even more potent in today’s blog-centric, social media-obsessed world. Say something even somewhat “controversial,” and you’re likely halfway there. Those statements drive page views and get people talking. Sometimes the headline is all you need. It works best when you can strike an emotional chord with a particular community. Check, check and check on this one. So, here I am. Which shows Deadspin’s already won again. No matter, we’ve come this far.

What are we talking about? Well, today Petchesky asks: “Do Mets Fans Wish Someone Else Had Thrown Their First No-Hitter?” It’s one of those headlines and lede paragraphs that immediately piques your curiosity. As a Mets fan, it did that for me. It also immediately elevated my blood pressure. The post’s opening stanza states the “case” and “question”:

It’s the love-in that dare not speak its name: Are Mets fans disappointed that Johan Santana threw the first no-hitter in Mets history?

Let’s get this out of the way, as it’s going to be a consistent theme. F&%!. And. NO. Disappointed? Disappointed???!! Elated? Yes. Relieved? Certainly. Euphoric? Quite possibly, although it’s just beginning to wear off. Give us another 50 years or so to come to grips with this new we’ve-had-a-franchise-no-hitter thing and let it settle in as the new reality.

But the bait had been laid…and I was hooked. He continues:

After 8,019 games, the outpouring of joy and relief was massive and genuine, a Shea Stadium-sized weight lifted off a fanbase’s shoulders in a single wet Friday evening. It was an occasion to celebrate, and celebrate they have. They are entitled to this moment, to keep forever—they’ve suffered long enough for it. But there’s a niggling question that no one can bring themselves to verbalize—could it have been even better if someone other than Johan Santana was the one to break the streak? Does an individual effort mean more if it comes from someone more closely identified with the team?

Where to start? Is this a niggling question? No, it’s not. I have been a Mets fans since toddler-time. “Mazzilli” is counted among my first words. Following last Friday’s no-hitter, I’ve spoken to many fans. Some in my three decade of fandom era and others who’ve waited the full fifty. Not one has brought this notion up. It’s not in their subconscious either. They’re not frightened, but deep down really want to express their hidden remorse. They don’t, because it’s not there. The entire idea is flat-out dumb. Just plain stupid.

The article goes on and gets more absurd, starting to belie the voice of the Yankees fan writer.

Santana’s not beloved.

Is Santana’s jersey going to hang on the outfield wall one day? Probably not. Is he going to be the Le Grande Orange or Mookie Wilson? Who knows? He’s been here three seasons. He’s 33 years old. It’s hard to solidify “beloved” status in that time frame. Should he make another 100 starts in a Mets uniform, there’s no reason to think he couldn’t be.

He came to Queens a mercenary, and has anchored some of the more disappointing seasons in Mets history

Sure, I guess that’s right. The mercenary term seems a bit harsh coming from a fan of a team that has a storied recent history of high-priced out-of-towners paid to perform. But there’s a name for such players. They are called free agents. Santana was a prized one. And, yes, the Mets have largely stunk during his three-plus seasons in Flushing.

He’s missed more than a full year, making it impossible to view his massive contract as anything but a disappointment so far. He’s not, for lack of a less disgusting crosstown term, a “True Met.”

Yes, it’d be great if he’d been healthy the whole way to date. He did have surgery that many believed could be career-ending, which is just one of the reasons people are beyond excited for him and the franchise that Santana was on the hill for this moment (but more on that later…). That said, he’s gone 43-27 during his time in New York, including a 2008 season where he went 16-7 and posted a career best 2.53 ERA. His overall ERA in his Mets career is under three. Did we mention he’s had garbage surrounding him for a bit in Queens? And who are all the other “true Mets” who’ve solidified such status in such a short amount of time. Sorry, back to our Deadspin story…

No one’s going to be wearing his throwback Mets jersey in 30 years.

Why not exactly? I go to CitiField and see Mackey Sasser, Ryan Thompson and Butch Huskey jerseys. I’m pretty sure Santana will be among the most popular “throwbacks” of this era when we fast-forward 30 years. It sure as hell won’t be Jason Bay’s #44.

Maybe all that is forgiven and forgotten now, as he’s the central figure in what’s sure to be one of the franchise’s immortal moments, and maybe he’ll lead these likable Mets to an unlikely playoff run.

Sorry, what exactly are forgiving and forgetting again?

Still, can a Mets fan look him or herself in the mirror and say they wouldn’t rather have had burgeoning folk hero R.A. Dickey be the one to finally break the curse? Or even a homegrown product like Niese or Gee?

Umm…yes. Which gets us to our ultimate point. Santana or Dickey would be the obvious choices (who we of course love). Those guys would be the #1 or #2 choices of almost any Mets fan, if you would have asked them prior to the no-no. I have no doubt the vote would have been over 90% for Santana and Dickey and the rest for “other.” My guess is Santana would have been tops. Niese or Gee? Why not just throw Miguel Batista and Pelfrey in there, if we’re deciding to be ridiculous? Santana and Dickey were the obvious preferences for common reasons:

1. They are among, if not the most popular Mets on the current roster

2. They’re the squads best pitchers

3. They both have tremendous stories that would add to the )no-longer-hypothetical) tale of a Mets no-hitter.Dickey with the sexual abuse/climbing Kilimanjaro/fan-friendly/thinking man’s thing. Santana with the year-long shoulder surgery what-will-he com- back-as-if-he-ever-does thing.

Mr. Petchesky then goes on to ask who in historical hypothetical land would have been the “ideal pitcher to throw the franchise’s first no-hitter” of the “245 men [that] have started games” for the New York Mets. The fantasy scenario puts longtime glory days Mets like Darling and Gooden atop the list followed by one-hit Tommy Seaver, Koosman and the like. The most accurate part of the rankings? Oliver Perez ranked #245. Won’t find many Mets fans who would argue with that one. Could be the only true-ish statement of the post.

So, pardon me for that 1,000-word rant as the point was really to answer the simple (albeit dumb) hypothetical question of Deadspin’s post.

“Do Mets Fans Wish Someone Else Had Thrown Their First No-Hitter?”

NO. In fact, aside from the compelling case that could be made for one R.A. Dickey, there is nobody else we’d have rather seen do it. Seeing as we could only choose folks from our current roster and such.

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