“I feel like I have to protect my teammates. You can call that whatever you want. We’re in it together.”—Johan Santana
Giants' pitcher Matt Cain may not have thrown at David Wright’s head intentionally, but the fact is, he hit him. And when Santana retaliated, it was the right thing to do.
If the pitch “just got away” from Cain, then he shouldn’t be anywhere near Wright’s head in the first place if he can’t control his pitches.
But that’s baseball—and retaliation is part of baseball, too.
There are two schools of thought on how to go about it: One is to drill the pitcher, the other is to hit the opposing team’s star player.
The Mets' star third baseman was the one beaned. The Giants, coincidentally, have a young star third baseman of their own, so Santana chose him. But if he would have known that Cain would classlessly and sarcastically tip his hat to the booing fans when he left the game, Santana may have had second thoughts on deciding who to hit.
We’re talking about the Mets here, so of course Santana missed Pablo Sandoval, throwing behind him. Where have you gone, Shawn Estes? And, of course, Sandoval blasted a home run two pitches later.
Warnings were issued to both benches—enough with those stupid warnings, let the players police themselves. But that didn’t deter Santana—he hit Bengie Molina anyway.
He was not coming off that mound until he hit somebody.
Protecting Wright was about more than this one game. Wright was thrown at on purpose in Arizona, and the Mets did nothing about it, as usual. Santana had had enough, and he felt payback was due. And it’s about time.
From the late 1960s into the 1990s, old-fashioned country hard ball was part of Mets baseball. Throwing at hitters has been a part of baseball since the beginning of the game, and it was certainly synonymous with the Mets.
If a hitter wanted to dig in against Jerry Koosman, Tom Seaver, Jon Matlack, Nolan Ryan, David Cone, or Dwight Gooden, so be it. Those pitchers wouldn’t think twice about throwing a little chin music. And if an opposing team wanted to start something and take on Kevin Mitchell or Ray Knight, then good luck.
But somewhere over the course of the last 10 years, the Mets have turned into pushovers and patsies. They sit back and take it and rarely retaliate.
To see Santana throw at batters until he hit one was a sight for sore eyes.
It’s all a part of baseball, and to Molina’s credit, he accepted getting hit as part of the game. The problem for the Mets the in the last 10 years is that it hasn’t been part of their game.
It’s about time that they joined the club.
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