On Thursday, the Mets shut down Johan Santana and his balky back for the remainder of the season. Three years ago today, the team did the same thing for Santana due to bone chips in his throwing elbow. Since coming to the Mets, every campaign has ended early due to injury for Johan with two exceptions: his first season in 2008 and 2011, a season which he missed in its entirety while rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Santana's tenure in New York illustrates the importance of trying to develop impact pitching rather than buying it.* As great as the lefty has been at times–and he has been absolutely masterful on several occasions–he's only been healthy enough to make about 65% of his starts. It's hard to imagine that percentage will increase as Johan approaches his age 34 and 35 seasons.
*Yes, Santana came to the Mets in a trade, but the team was able to complete the deal because they were willing to give him a $100+ million contract.
- Clarence Coleman, the grown man Mets fans know as Choo-Choo, turns 75 today. For biographical detail about the colorful catcher, it's hard to do better than this George Vescey-penned profile from January. Here are three of the most interesting details from the article:
- Prior to making it to the majors, Coleman played in the Negro Leagues for the Indianapolis Clowns, a team that was akin to a baseball version of the Harlem Globetrotters.
- As befits a man nicknamed Choo-Choo, Coleman hadn't been on an airplane in 35 years before flying to New York this winter.
- After retiring, Coleman's main job was cooking fried rice and pepper steak for a Chinese food restaurant in Virginia.
- Pedro Feliciano (2002-04, 2006-10) is 36. If you watched a Mets game between 2008 and 2010, it's more likely than not that you saw Perpetual Pedro take the mound at some point. The rubber-armed reliever set a new club record for appearances in 2008 with 86. One year later, he broke his own record by pitching in 88 games. In 2010, Pedro pushed the mark to 92. Unsurprisingly, he needed arm surgery in 2011.
- Shaun Fitzmaurice had fifteen plate appearances as a 23-year old for the 1966 Mets. Today, he turns 70. At the 1964 Summer Olympics in Toyko, Fitzmaurice led off a demonstration game against host Japan with a home run. Team USA went on to win 6-2, though baseball wouldn't become an official sport until 1992.
- Gary Matthews, Jr. (2002, 2010) is 38. Your 2010 Opening Day starter in center field, Lil Sarge struck out in nearly half of his at-bat with the Mets before mercifully being released in mid-June.
On this date in 2009. the Mets traded Billy Wagner to the Red Sox for players to be later be named Chris Carter and Eddie Lora. By the end of the 2010 season, all three men were out of the majors. Wagner retired, as did Lora, it seems, after hitting .088 in his fourth stint in rookie ball. Chris Carter split time between the triple-A affiliates of the Rays and Braves, before taking his Animal stylings to the Seibu Lions for the 2012 season.
Game of Note
Jerry Koosman twirled a gem against the San Francisco Giants on August 25, 1971. Kooz went the distance in a 5-1 win, giving up just three hits while striking out eight. The Giants' only run came on a solo shot by Dave Kingman, the very first of Kong's career. The Sky King would go on to smash 442 career home runs, a plurality of which would come while playing for the Mets.
Amazin'-ly Tenuous Connection
Director John Badham turns 73 today. Among the movies he's helmed are Saturday Night Fever, Short Circuit, and WarGames, the film that taught a young Matthew Broderick that "the only winning move is not to play." That seems to be the principle that the Mets operate under these days.