Hi all, my name is MCATDT and I’m a Mets fan.
I haven’t written a substantial piece of writing in a while so I apologize for any errors or lack of clarity in advance. I was born and raised in a small town in Florida as far away and opposite from New York as you can possibly imagine. Before I finally got into football when I was 14 (Go Giants!) the only sports team that I ever followed was the Mets. My mom is from East Rockaway on Long Island and her aunt took her to the Mets games as a kid. She never stopped being a fan throughout the years and passed it on to me almost right out of the womb. I was born after the glory years, after the ‘86 team was aging and broken up. This unfortunately is why the only Met I remembered from the early/mid 90s was Bobby Bonilla. The heroes of Mets teams past were just stories, just like the story of how the Mets had never had a no hitter. In the late 90s/early 00s I found my first true sports hero in Mike Piazza, a coach to love in Bobby V and pitchers to admire in Al Leiter and John Franco. The last time the Mets played the Rays I was there getting all the autographs from Leiter , Agbayani, the best infield ever and even Tug McGraw by a stroke of luck. Tug drew a smiley face on my hat and Piazza waved at me from the team’s charter bus, my mother swears it.
In 2000 I got a subway series shirt that somehow still fits. It did little to ease the pain of that World Series. From then on my interest waned. My heroes had failed me. I vaguely remember Piazza’s great 9.21.01 homer, I didn’t care after Bobby V got fired. I only kept in touch with the Mets because each new Minaya free agent brought excitement from my ma. I got to see Wright, Reyes, Beltran Pedro and Santana all at their best in passing from the kitchen to my bedroom at home. I watched more often in 2006; I don’t know if I saw Beltran strike out or not. Once again the Mets faded from my life as Super Bowls were won, managers were fired at 3 AM and stadiums were torn down.
In 2010 I was a freshman in college and football season was over. I looked up my old friends the Mets again. I had been following SBNation’s excellent blog TomahawkNation.com. That discovery led me to Amazin Avenue and I haven’t looked back. From you guys I learned everything I had forgotten about baseball. A spring training game on ESPN that March sealed the deal; I was back good or bad. I learned to believe again and also inherited all the demons that had been chasing the team all those years I had been casually watching. I became part of a community even though I’ve never been within 300 miles of NYC and can count the number of Mets games I’ve been to with my fingers. I became the fan I was destined to be, a fan like my ma. She’s been really excited to be able to talk Mets with me these last few years.
In mid-June the Mets play at the Rays in Tampa again for the first time since Piazza was catching. I can’t be there. I’m in Alabama far from home, living in my childhood friend’s spare bedroom, working as an intern to pump up my resume before I graduate.
That’s ok though, because Johan Santana threw a no hitter on June 1, 2012.
I wanted this bad, I wanted it worse for my ma. I wanted it just as bad as I want the Mets to win a championship again in our lifetimes, just as bad as I want David Wright and R.A. and Johan and Pelf(and Beltran and Reyes when they were still Mets) to win it all because the F*@king deserve it. They deserve a better fate than the 99-01 teams. If Wright and Santana and Dickey can just hold on long enough for the kids to bring one home…
Last night we turned a corner, not on the field so much as emotionally. The 99 and 00 teams will always have a "but…" attached to them, mostly by Braves/Yankees fans. June 1, 2012 will have no asterisk.
I watched the first 3 innings from work and took my time getting home. I almost forgot about the game. I was excited about the offense, but when I saw three zeroes going into the 8th I was glued to my ipad screen. I missed some demons be beaten. We all know that Carlos Beltran got a hit, that he was clutch when the Cardinals needed to make something happen last night, but luck finally shone on our heroes. I missed Baxter’s Endyesque catch and that controversial call. It made sense; of course we would make a legit no-hit bid while I wasn’t paying attention. My heart rate increased with the pitch count. I frantically tweeted Kevin Burkhardt to tell Gary Cohen to stop talking about no-hitters and about how Yadier Molina had never hit a regular season home run against the Mets. I wondered what my ma was doing and why she hadn’t texted me. I wasn’t surprised; she would be quiet until it was resolved. When TC came out to see Johan in the 8th I knew nothing would come of it. He was going to do it or have his bionic arm fall off trying. All the weight of 50 years of frustration and a decade of failure was sitting on Johan’s shoulder. I expected his pitches to start going wild; he would crack under the strain. After each half inning I would look up at the ceiling and say "you gotta believe, right Tug?"
The 8th inning came. Captain Kirk made like Bill Shatner and dispatched the first batter. Santana never let the next batter touch the ball. Then Carlos Beltran came up. Here it was, the final out of the 8th and Beltran of all people. I yelled at my ipad screen for him not to swing. I was hoping Carlos could somehow help his old team, that somehow his heart was with all of us instead of with the Cardinals. Foul ball, strike one. Then Johan threw this awful pitch that was making a beeline for the dirt in front of Thole. Swing. Carlos Beltran swung at a pitch that he had no business swinging at, there was no way he could hit it. The difference was that it wouldn’t have been a strike if he hadn’t. Carlos Beltran gave his parting gift to the Mets with that swing, and I almost cried. Then Daniel Murphy made a great play to end the inning. Beltran, Murphy , both had exorcised their demons. Johan was battling, fighting against the anguish of 50 years and an entire franchise, an entire city! On he fought, slaying the demons left and right, the scars of the last decade of futility struck down with every out. He was willing himself far beyond what anyone thought he could do, beyond probably what HE thought he could do, and ultimately beyond where any Met had gone.
The 9th inning came. Johan had endured an inhuman amount of pitches and the most intense at-bat of his career. I began to dream like all those other times of how it would feel after the first Mets no hitter. "You gotta believe, right Tug?" The big boppers went up to bat. Holliday, one pitch, one out. Kirk makes out number 2. I lost count of the batting order, the entire inning I kept yelling "oh f*** we have to go through f***ing Yadier Molina!" When Freese came up I breathed a short sigh, Yadier would be helpless for just one more batter.
A swinging strike three and the ipad went flying. I ran down the hallway of my friend’s apartment yelling "NO HITTER!!!" in an embarrassing high pitched voice as my emotions were set free for a brief moment. MLB.tv stayed on the SNY feed right up through Justin Turner’s pieing. I called my ma, screaming "NO HITTER!" into the phone. She couldn’t make out what I was saying, she didn’t even know what had happened! She had been at a birthday gathering for a friend and would have to watch it on DVR when she got home. I got to break it to my ma and she got to see, albeit a few hours late, what she had been waiting 43 years to see.
The photo on Chris McShane's game recap is so telling. Santana and Thole are obviously excited, but in the background you see David Wright with that big smile on his face. It’s a perfect photo for a perfect game for Mets fans. A pitcher searching for redemption, a few young players looking to prove themselves, an outfielder from Queens, a third baseman who was a fan before he was a player, a manager who loves his players, who said Johan was his hero, an ex-Met who still had to prove he was worth something, and a gaggle of other Mets misfits killed every dark cloud over the franchise and heralded a new era in the span of a few short hours. Whatever happened before last night and whatever this season may hold doesn’t matter because things are looking up. With all thats happened to the Mets and us the fanbase recently, I don't think saying that we needed this to happen is too much. The players needed it too. David Wright, Johan, and all the others have something that nobody can ever take from them. The Mets have a no hitter, and I can’t wait for all of us at AA and all Mets fans around the world to see what future seasons in our brave new world bring.