Only the Mets could end a historic no-hitter drought with a one-hitter.
For years, baseball fans grew up hearing that there were only two franchises that had never tossed a no-hitter: the Mets and the Padres. The most recent expansion teams didn’t really count and, heck, even they had all done it after Ubaldo Jimenez and Matt Garza broke through for the Rockies and Rays, respectively, in 2010. As for the Padres, well, they’re the Padres, and were you really shocked to know that franchise luminaries like Randy Jones and, um, I dunno, Eric Show had never done it?
But the mighty Mets had produced or rented aces like Tom Seaver, Doc Gooden, Pedro Martinez, Sid Fernandez, Tom Glavine, Frank Viola, Jerry Koosman, David Cone, Bret Saberhagen year-in and year-out and none of them could ever seal the deal. They all got to work in a pitcher’s park and still not one lousy no-hitter in fifty years.
Johan Santana seemed as likely a candidate as any to end the dry spell, but not this Johan Santana, not the one who was still rehabbing from shoulder surgery that had knocked him out for all of 2011, not the Johan Santana who was now getting people out with guile rather than power. And sure as heck not on the day he was facing the St. Louis Cardinals, the defending World Series championships and best lineup in the NL. There was just no way this Johan Santana was going to pitch a no-hitter.
But he did. Well, sort of. Cardinals outfielder Carlos Beltran led off the sixth inning with a line drive that hit the third base line just past the bag, but umpire Adrian Johnson was undeterred by the huge baseball-shaped chunk of chalk now missing from the spot on the field twenty feet in front of him, and he called it a foul ball. The mistake was so obvious that even the Mets announcers had to acknowledge it. Adrian Johnson knew it too, as he allowed both Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo and manager Mike Matheny to ream him out without ejecting anybody.
It was exactly the sort of play the Mets needed to flip the bird at history, and both fans and announcers began to sense that after five decades of cruel teases this might finally be the one. But it didn’t quite count as that one great play that legend says is always needed to preserve a no-no. That came in the next inning when left fielder Mike Baxter laid it all one the line to flag down a Yadier Molina fly ball, plastering himself into the wall and knocking himself out of the game. From that point on, it was all easy-peasy, aside from the fact that the fragile Santana was already over 100 pitches early in the seventh.
Mets fans who’ve waited half a century or at least all their lives probably won’t be bothered by the fact that the team needed charity to break the streak, but they might be left to wonder if it was all worth it. Santana wound up throwing 134 pitches, finishing the game with a 2.38 ERA. A month later, his ERA had soared close to 4 and he would be placed on the DL once again.
But the no-hitter stands and Mike Baxter has, at least, secured his place in baseball history alongside Johan.
Now the Padres are on the clock.
The game broadcast is presented here in its entirety (132 min.) without commercial breaks.
The original game broadcast is presented in a 1.78:1 ratio. The interlaced transfer is about average, and the game looks pretty much like you saw it on TV except that this isn’t in HD.
MLB has always been good about presenting audio options with these single game discs. You can choose to listen to the TV broadcast, the Mets’ English radio broadcast, or the Spanish radio broadcast. No subtitles are provided.
There are no extras aside from the audio options. You can play the entire game or use the menu to select which half inning you want to watch. You can also just watch the brief three minute post-game interview with Santana just as he’s coming off the field.
Tainted? Sure, but Mets fans can’t be choosers, and it was a heck of a performance by one of the greatest pitchers in franchise history. Obviously, only die-hard Mets fans will want to shell out the money for a single game on disc, but since they’ll only have to pay up once every fifty years, it’s not that big of an expense.
For those who care about such things, MLB appears to have changed the cover art at the last second, and the DVD I have is titled “New York Mets First No-Hitter” instead of “Santana’s 2012 No-Hitter” and has different text on the front, but the same picture of Santana that you see on the cover art attached to this review.