Somewhere in the great sports bar in the sky, Tug McGraw is screaming, “Ya Gotta Believe!” Gary Carter is acting like a maniac. Gil Hodges is nodding silently in approval.
And Casey Stengel is rubbing his leathery face, winking his eye and uttering, “Amazin’!”
When all is said and done, this was just a regular season game. One that put the Mets six games over the .500 mark, helping them to continue on with their surprising 2012.
Yet, this game meant more than that. This was the Mets last ghost exorcized. With 8,019 games played and no no-nos, you had to wonder if this was ever going to happen. The no-hitter is one of the hardest accomplishments in baseball, but with the slew of great pitchers that have come through the Met organization, just by sheer luck, someone would have thrown one by now.
On game 8,020 it happened. Johan Santana’s no-hitter gave the Flushing Faithful a moment in Mets history that will last a lifetime. This was the Miracle Mets, Game 6, and the Grand Slam Single. This was a moment you shared with your children or called your father as it was happening.
And just like those other great events in Mets history, you will remember where you were years from now and will share it with your children and grandchildren when other Mets throw their no-hitters.
It’s the type of event that binds Met fans together. Disillusioned over the past few seasons, this one game will probably bring back the fans, hoping that another glimpse of history will happen at Citi Field.
And if it wasn’t Tom Seaver or Doc Gooden or Jerry Koosman, it is perfect that Santana is the one to break the curse.
“Short of Tom Seaver, I can’t think of a better person to pitch the first one,” said third baseman David Wright. “The type of guy he is, the type of person he is, and what he’s been through last year – to come back and have that type of performance, that’s incredible and was glad to be a part of that. … I am thrilled I could be a part of it. It couldn’t happen to a better guy.
“It’s just an amazing story. I can let you know firsthand. I was there with him in Florida throughout some of his rehab last year. The work he put in, the time he put in to get himself back to this point. I thought his last start was special, but this start was just…I guess once every 51 years.”
When the Mets acquired Santana in 2008, he was supposed to lead the team back to the playoffs. It hasn’t happened yet. His shoulder surgery was supposed to end his career or at least make him a shell of his former self.
Instead, we are seeing the Johan of old – competing every game and fighting against every batter.
Of course like any no-hitter he had help. A fortunate foul ball at third base in the sixth and then a miracle-like catch by Mike Baxter, who grew up in the shadow of Shea Stadium, in the seventh.
After that, you knew that it could happen. However, there were 8,019 reasons to believe the other shoe was going to drop. But he continued to mow the Cardinals down, one by one until David Freese – last year’s World Series hero – became the answer to a Met trivia question by fishing for the signature changeup for strike three.
All of Met Nation rose to its feet in almost utter disbelief. Tears were coming out Terry Collins eyes, standing at the dugout just enjoying the moment, as the Mets celebrated on the field.
And the same cheers came throughout New York. From houses to sports bars a certain relief was felt. You could hear it in the voices of the announcers – Gary Cohen and Howie Rose – Met fans from their youth and the voices of this generation. And the 27,69 who actually were at the game, went into a frenzy.
Somewhere in the great sports bar in the sky, Bob Murphy is giving his happy recap, while Mrs. Payson was in her usual seat watching the Mets. Lindsey Nelson was in his sports coat getting reaction from Tommie Agee and Donn Clendenon.
It was a night for all Met fans to celebrate, because on game 8,020 the curse was broken.