Steve Kuusisto, poet, essayist, memoirist, academic, disabilities advocate, and friend, happened to be in the City yesterday and we met up at the Paley and then went out to dinner. Steve is a Red Sox fan whose National League team is the Mets. I’m a Mets fan whose American League team is the Red Sox. Which means that both of us are kicking ourselves for not being at Citi Field last night to watch Johan pitch his no-hitter. Steve called me this morning to lament how we didn’t think to go to the ballpark instead of Cassidy’s Pub. But the fact is that if we’d been there it wouldn’t have happened. Our presence in the stands would have affected the wind currents and a pitch that broke just right wouldn’t have broken or our added mass would have increased the gravitational pull of the stadium so that an easy-out pop fly to the outfield dropped in for a Texas Leaguer or something one of us yelled at the the third base ump would’ve irritated him and made him feel less than charitable towards the Mets when that ball off Beltran’s bat skipped down the foul line or the rattle of ice in one of our cups of soda would’ve raised the noise level just enough to distract Baxter at the crucial moment. Something.
So I’m giving us credit for helping out Santana by not having been there.
I don’t know if the Times Herald-Record’s Kevin Gleason was at the game or just watching it on TV so I can’t say which way he helped out himself, but wherever he was he wrote a good column about Johann’s new place in Mets history and fans’ hearts:
Read the whole thing, Santana’s no-hitter is a gift to the fans, at recordonline.com.
And what did he do when it was over? What did Johan Santana do when he put his signature on Mets history with as gutty a performance as you will ever see? He saluted the fans, the announced crowd of 27,069 at Citi, a figure that will grow significantly through the years, when moms and dads tell their girls and boys where they were the night Santana changed the state of the organization.
Santana knew. He didn't need to grow up in Queens or arrive from the Mets' farm system to gauge the torture-meter that had risen to dangerously high levels for these fans. He didn't have to see their faces when Carlos Beltran took a called third strike from Adam Wainwright, both, in perfect symmetry, part of Friday's strange reunion. And Santana didn't need to see tears of joy streaming from the faces of Mets Nation a bit before 10 p.m.
He knew what they've been through. He was pained, in more ways than one, watching from the sideline last season. A serious shoulder injury threatening his career, to many fans the last hope for short-term glory. But Santana came back this season and helped a band of relatively anonymous ballplayers punch holes in the wall of misery. Here they were on Friday, a few games over .500, contending proudly, because of David Wright and a handful of kids whom you couldn't find in a case of baseball cards.
But mostly, the Mets were making us proud because of the work being done by their ace.