Johan Santana, Exceeding Expectations and the 2012 New York Mets
There's been Carlos Beltran not swinging at a called third strike to end the 2006 playoff run, the heart-wrenching collapses of 2007 and 2008, the signings of Mo Vaughn, Jeromy Burnitz, Roberto Alomar and Jason Bay (and about 100 others). Even the World Series run in 2000 was crushed by the cross-town, star-studded New York Yankees. A team that has always been better, drawn larger crowds and gladly taken the spotlight on the city's obsession with baseball.
But 2012 has the feeling of something different.
With low expectations coming into the season, Mets players (mostly Double-A All-Stars) and Terry Collins have given fans a reason to believe. A reason to smile. An opportunity to feel good.
Johan Santana's performance last night was (excuse my pun) "amazin'."
Coming off major shoulder surgery last year, experts expected little to nothing from Santana. Retirement rumors swirled for the pitcher who at one time, was considered one of the best in the past 50 years.
But Santana worked. He rehabbed down in Florida. He pitched in front of 5,000 fans up in Buffalo. He threw long toss. He tweeted his progress. He made it back and he is back. Last night proves that fact. Although he isn't throwing 95 mph any longer, he's still striking guys out. And that's what great pitchers do. They always find a way.
Santana's grit, heart and hard work are the epitome of the 2012 Mets.
A team that would in the past give up after being down four or even one run, is coming back. They're getting big hits and phenomenal pitching performances from guys like Mike Baxter and R.A. Dickey. They're getting angry when being pulled out of a game (instead of willingly taking themselves out of a game). They're showing a passion and desire that has been absent on past teams.
Like Johan Santana, the Mets were a team everyone counted out this year. But they're winning and having fun doing it. Manager Terry Collins keeps the clubhouse loose but disciplined, and the boys in blue and orange have responded admirably.
There's something magical going on in Queens. Get over to Citi Field now. You never know how long it'll last.
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