Pitchers are my favorite baseball players, but I came late to Johan Santana. I’m New York oriented, so I barely pay attention to the pitchers who are not playing here – I’m not checking all the baseball results every day in the Daily News.
I remember Seaver, Ryan, McGraw from the early Mets and all the others who came after them – and I have favorites. Ron Darling leads that list and always will, but right now my attention is drawn to Johan Santana. I think it was his heroic performance with the bad leg a couple of years ago that opened my eyes to his determination and his sense of team play.
What a game that was – I believe he went into the hospital shortly thereafter for surgery and the season ended poorly for the Mets, but Santana’s gutsy performance has stayed with me since.
By now, I’m sure you think that I must be heartbroken at his performance last Sunday – but I’m not. Any athlete, any person can have a bad day – don’t we all? I believe that is what happened last weekend.
Pitchers are alone when they work, and some of them – like Andy Pettitte – even cover their faces with their hands so they won’t be distracted. The pitchers mound has room for only one player – the lonely pitcher – and in fact there have been pitchers who refused to have anyone – yes anyone – approach that mound.
However, pitchers can be downright jovial in the dugout and the clubhouse – where they have the opportunity to socialize with the rest of the team by discussing the game etc. pulling some practical jokes and of course, always talking ‘business”.
Johan is one of those.
So, when Johan Santana next takes the mound at Citi Field – give him a cheer and a big smile – he deserves no less.
He’s Our Pitcher.