New York Mets: Was Johan Santana's No-Hitter a Sign or a Fluke?

Alex Davidow@alexshotimeContributor IIIJune 7, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 01:  Johan Santana #57 of the New York Mets celebrates after pitching a no hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals at CitiField on June 1, 2012 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. Johan Santana pitches the first no hitter in Mets history. Mets defeated the Cardinals 8-0.  (Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images)
Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Did Johan Santana’s no-hitter signify a new attitude and culture for the Mets, or was it just the franchise’s first lucky break in 25 years?

If New York sports was a family reunion, the Yankees would be the honors student who plays college baseball and football but declined his scholarship because of his income from modeling. The Knicks would be a drunk uncle that the family has to keep inviting, and the Mets would be the younger brother that made his high school varsity team as a freshman.  

In this analogy, the Yankees want the Mets to succeed not only because you root for your own, but more importantly, the Mets don’t pose a threat to the Yankees claim of favorite child. The “relative” success of the Mets is a novelty to the Yankees.

Cute no-hitter kid, now try doing it in the World Series...if you know what that is.

The Mets have been hot lately but they are still showing flashes of their former selves. Are they exorcising their final demons on their way to baseball’s top tier or are they still the same club that gave Jason Bay $66 million?

Right now, the Mets are five games over .500 but they also have allowed more runs than they’ve scored. That imbalance cannot lead to a winning record and over 162 games, this Mets team will reveal themselves as contenders or pretenders.

Since taking over for Omar Minaya, Sandy Alderson has done well to rid the Mets of pretenders like Frankie Rodriguez, Jose Reyes, and Angel Pagan. But he hasn’t added anyone and their lack of speed on the basepath is glaring without Reyes.

Also, Ike Davis owns the lowest batting average in all of baseball, putting even more pressure on David Wright, who is second in the NL in batting average, on-base percentage and OPS. The Mets need to score more runs and they can’t depend on Wright to do it by himself all season, given his training partner.

Johan Santana threw a no-hitter in his 11th start after missing all of last season with a shoulder injury. Santana has looked healthy so far but maybe that is because someone is there to help him shoulder the load.

R.A. Dickey has eight wins, tied for the most in the majors. Dickey also had to pitch the day after Santana’s no-hitter and just like a music festival with only headlining acts, Dickey followed Santana’s performance by striking out nine and walking none during a complete game shutout. These feats are even more impressive because they came against the defending-champion Cardinals.

The Mets were feeling great about themselves heading into Monday, June 4th. Over the weekend, they got their first no-hitter in franchise history followed by two more impressive wins, and they were in position to sweep the Cardinals and take first place in the NL East.

This is when the Mets of old showed up. They bailed the Cardinals out of a sweep with a seventh inning throwing error and did it again the next night, committing two errors in the bottom of the 10th before Bryce Harper won the game for the Nationals in the 12th.

The NL East is looking fiercely competitive this year with the Nationals and Marlins looking like actual contenders and the Phillies as the only team under .500 (just one game under).

If the Mets want to make the playoffs for the first time in six years, they need to believe they belong there.

Late-inning, game-losing errors happen to teams once in a while. If they happen on back-to-back nights after a big franchise celebration, then that seems like a cultural trend of lows following highs rather than a coincidence.

Santana’s no-hitter was certainly a cause for joy for Mets fans and an accomplishment the franchise will cherish forever. But was getting that first no-hitter like Albert Pujols getting his first home run this season? It took forever, but once it happened, he fell into a successful groove.

Or, are the Mets following Philip Humber’s example? He threw a perfect game in his second start this season and has since gone 1-3 while giving up 35 earned runs over his last eight starts.

The Mets can still make this season a successful one and winning a couple of games against their big brother in the Bronx this weekend will build on Santana's achievement.

The Mets have a long way to go towards being a championship team, but maybe there will be another family reunion in October.


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