Johan Santana threw a no-hitter! I choose to see circularity in the affair:
— That Johan Santana threw the no-no, he who pitched the last meaningful, stadium-rocking, show-stopping, changeup-demolishing Mets victory in Game 161 back in 2008. He put Shea to sleep and work New Shea up.
— Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright, the three starring figures in the prelude to the dark times, returned to play important parts once again. The reunion was on.
— And really that’s all I’ve got re: circular affair.
Friday night felt like a turning point. It wasn’t; turning points are never apparent in the moment. We pick turning points later, assign events a new, historical meaning once the present washes away. Game 7 of the NLCS in 2006 felt like a first step for a young exciting Mets team — David Wright, Jose Reyes and Carlos Beltran, along with the young pitchers John Maine, Oliver Perez, Mike Pelfrey — and it proved anything but. The 2007 season started to come apart when the Phillies swept the Mets in Philadelphia at the end of August, even if it just seemed a late-season swoon at the time. The turning point for these New York Mets may have come already, may still come, maybe won’t come for a long time. Maybe it was the no-hitter. The fire spreads at some point, but we won’t know when until we pick the flash point out later.
But this. The no-hitter happened — IT HAPPENED! — and that’s where the magic lies. The Mets saw 8,019 Christmas Eves before finally waking up for their first Christmas morning. Johan Santana appeared to will himself into this, just as he seems to will himself into everything. All those nonsensical, cliched words — guts, heart, will, desire, want, whatever — shook off their overuse and regained meaning. They seem so real when Johan Santana pitches. Behemoths are real. We’ve caught glimpses, seen what others whisper about and many claim to see.
Not to lose perspective of course, on the the silly, pajama-wearing, bat-and-ball, circular-running, weighted-number generator, “whatever-the-hell-a-pastoral-game-is” pastoral game that provides us with so much entertainment. Guts on the baseball field matter not. Unless you want them to matter. Baseball gives you what you take from it. The players play and we tell the stories. We build our own meaning out of a game.
Johan Santana faced 32 batters on June 1 and none reached on a hit. I’ll take some meaning from that, thank you very much.