By Taryn “The Coop” Cooper
I’ll never forget how I felt when there was talk that the Red Sox, Yankees and Mets were interested in the two-time Cy Young Award winner, a hero in Minnesota. I had some texting going on with some Mets friends. “He’s going to the Bronx, we all know it,” we had convinced ourselves. Till the Twins asked for too much and basically, Boston nor New York thought to keep Santana out of the mix.
Then the Mets got him.
Stuff like that wasn’t supposed to happen for us. We weren’t supposed to get the guy everyone wanted, especially a guy who was coveted by the Yankees. See, they got everyone they wanted. We did not. We got sloppy seconds, like Doug Mientkiewicz over Carlos Delgado. We got Brian Schneider and Ryan Church instead of Barry Zito for Lastings Milledge.
After a monster late season collapse in 2007, Mets fans were holding their collective dicks, wondering what, if anything, would happen.
And Omar Minaya orchestrated a trade for who was the best pitcher in baseball at the time, Johan Santana.
Johan Freaking Santana.
I remember the euphoria, the excitement associated with him starting on Opening Day in Miami April 2008.
I’m not going to knock the trade. The prospects didn’t amount to much and the one who ended up pitching a perfect game (Philip Humber) ended up sucking all around. Not to mention, he pitched the game just weeks before Johan pitched the first no-no in Mets history. (The irony? One of the young pitchers Minnesota wanted and didn’t get then…they have him NOW.)
Yes, Johan has given us some good memories. He left us with a lasting impression of the good times we had at Shea Stadium, by pitching a complete game versus the Marlins the last Saturday game in 2008.
He gave us a no-hitter.
Was it all worth it? I think so. It wasn’t J0Jo’s fault that the team around him couldn’t come through when they needed to. It certainly wasn’t for lack of trying on his part.
From 2009 to 2012, he’s had injury-marred seasons. Why this talk of him not making the Opening Day start is a) shocking or b) n0t expected is beyond me. In fact, I called it weeks ago that it was foolish to believe Johan Santana was still an “ace” in name only. But that was more of an argument to quit undervaluing Jon Niese’s role in the pitching rotation.
I love Johan. I will always be grateful for the hope he brought to the Mets in their last season at Shea, and even associated afterwards. But that’s just it. You can hope in one hand, and shit in the other, and see how quickly one fills up.
I don’t mean “letting go” of a traditional or proverbial sense. I mean, in the sense of any hope or fear or triumph we had associated with Johan Alexander Santana, the great pitcher from Minnesota who came to the Mets via trade in early 2008, that is an idea we need to let go of to fully move on from the past.
It’s time to let go of the idea that somehow, Johan Santana is going to be THE Johan Santana of old. This shouldn’t surprise people.
It’s time to let go of the idea of Johan Santana.