Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Resilience of Our 1-2 Punch

Sexual Abuse. Mount Kilimanjaro. Shoulder Surgery. Those are just some of the things R.A Dickey and Johan Santana have faced and conquered in their lives. Dickey wrote a book in the offseason finally telling the public about his troubles in his childhood, including being abused by a 14-year old girl and a 17 year old male. He then went on about how he perfected his knuckleball over many, many years with the help from some greats, Charlie Hough and Phil Niekro. With this help, he finally became a steady starter in the big leagues, but then landed in Flushing, where Jerry Manuel gave him the chance to be in the rotation. Dickey took full advantage as he set his career highs in wins and Games started. When Manuel was replaced by Terry Collins, nothing changed for Dickey as he still was guarenteed a spot in the 5-man rotation. Dickey was extremely elated when he heard that news. Dickey, though, was not the same in 2011 as he was in 2010. He was very shaky, and could not get a grip on why his knuckleball was not working as it was in the previous year. He worked on it in the offseason, and tuned up on the glitches. This year, Dickey has emerged as the front-runner for the NL Cy Young Award. He is 11-1, getting wins in his last 9 decisions. He's thrown 2 1-hitters (consecutive), and has not allowed a earned run in his last 40 and 1/3 innings, nearing Dwight Gooden for the team record. Gooden has 49 consecutive scoreless Innings. That means, if Dickey can keep up his brilliance in his next start and go the distance for and 3rd consecutive start, and for the 4th time in his last 5 starts, he will pass Doc Gooden for the Team record. Pretty amazing story, huh? A guy that has overcome abuse, childhood  abandonment, adversity as a pitcher, and perfecting the toughest pitch in baseball, is now competing for the Cy Young and leading a relatively young rotation in the right direction. I guess that's why his nickname is Really.Amazin. Dickey.

Johan, let's just say, has had it easier then his #2 Starter R.A. Johan came to the Mets in the 2007 offseason in a blockbuster trade because Johan was arguably the best pitcher in the MLB at the time. The deal for Johan included now One Game Wonder Philip Humber, who is now on the White Sox. The Mets signed Johan to a BIG 130 Million dollar contract, but was never the same in a Met uniform as he was in a Twin uniform.He went 40-25 in his first 3 years as a Met, with about a 2.80 ERA. Now those stats aren't too bad, but not exactly what you expect from the BEST Pitcher in the MLB. In late 2010, though, Johan tore his shoulder apart and had to later undergo surgery. That surgery on his throwing shoulder would then keep him out the following year, 2011. He went through some rehab starts with the High-A St.Lucie with success, but the doctors said he could not resume baseball activities until next year. Johan came back this year and was named the opening day starter by skipper Terry Collins. Many people were shocked by this, knowing that he had just come off the biggest change of his baseball career. Johan went out to face the Atlanta Braves on Opening Day, ready to prove all the critics wrong and that he was back for good. His critics were silenced. Johan threw an absolute gem against the high powered Braves lineup that included All-Stars Brian McCann and Jason Heyward. The extent of his gem? How about a 1-0 shutout for a Mets win. Johan came back down to earth, going 1-3 in his next 4 decisions. He approached the mound on June 1, 2012 and he felt in a groove after his bullpen session. This was the 8,020th game in Mets history, and the Mets were 1 of 2 teams left in the league without a no-hitter in their franchise history. Johan, from his first pitch in the game, was absolutley unstoppable. His fastball had more "zip" on it than usual, he was pulling the string more on his changeup, and his curveball fell off the table everytime he threw it to the Cardinals hitters. He had a no hitter through 6, but then it was threatened. Yadier Molina sent a shot to Left Field, where rookie Mike Baxter was playing for the Injured Jason Bay. Baxter went in pursuit of the ball, and caught it at the edge of the warning track. The fans gasps turned to cheers as they saw the ball settle into Baxter's glove. The fans gasped again once they saw what happened next. As Baxter caught it, he could not catch his balence and went crashing, shoulder-first, into the wall. Baxter laid on the ground, ball still in the glove,but motionless. The trainers rushed out to Baxter, and finally got him up and walked him off the field. Fans clapped fo Baxter, who could have just saved the first no-no in Mets History. In fact , he did. Johan retired the next 8 batters that he needed to get the no-no and went crazy when he struck out David Freese for the final out. The whole team rushed to the mound and jumped and mobbed Johan, as he had just made HI57ORY.

R.I.P Gary "The Kid" Carter #8. Never Forget Jose Reyes.