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No-no, this fan could not miss New York Mets history!
For half a century, I've been waiting for a New York Mets no-hitter, sighing deeply every time a former Mets pitcher threw one for some other team (Nolan Ryan, seven times!), and dreading the great day. Why would I dread it? Because I KNEW I'd miss it. I'd be in Rome, out of reach. I'd be in the hospital, recovering from some terrifying surgery. I'd be covering some boring late-night meeting about sewers. But I'd find out about it only after the fact. The certainty of this was at least as worrisome as the lack of clarity around this question: How could any team go 50 years without a no-no, with as many good pitchers as it has produced?
Well, last night, I attended the monthly meeting of the council of Pax Christi Long Island, the local arm of the Catholic peace movement. Part of the way through this seemingly endless meeting of peacemakers (endless meeting of peacemakers is a redundancy), I guiltily sneaked a look at my phone for the score of the Mets-Cardinals game at Citi Field.
Right there, on that tiny screen, my 50-year nightmare was coming alive: Johan Santana had a no-hitter through six innings. Oh, Lord, why are you so strict? I'm here, trying to make peace -- trying to be patient with the excruciating collegial decision-making process that the movement uses, which explains why the warmongers always seem to be winning -- and a no-hitter is happening. When the meeting finally ended, past 9:30, I bolted out of the building, jumped into my car and drove like a madman, looking for a bar. I got to one in Farmingdale, found a seat, and ordered a drink, just in time to watch the last out. Yes!!! Finally, after 50 years. I found myself clinking glasses with people decades younger than I am, who haven't waited as long as I have, but who were just as elated as I was.
But you can't be a real Mets fan without finding some little flaw in this moment of glory. And I did. They showed replays of the ball that Carlos Beltran (an ex-Met, of course) hit past third base. The ump called it foul, and Santana went on to get him out. But the replays made it pretty clear that it was actually fair. The disturbed chalk on the foul line was pretty convincing evidence. Was it a real no-hitter? Would baseball take it back?
Then I started thinking about Armando Galarraga, who pitched a perfect game for the Detroit Tigers on June 2, 2010. Only it wasn't perfect. The ump blew a call at first base on what would have been the final out, and it went down in history as a one-hitter, leaving the ump in tears and Galarraga showing himself to be a classy young man, forgiving the ump and shrugging off this cosmic injustice. Then I thought of all the bad breaks, bad bounces and bad calls that went against the Mets over the years. Finally, the checkout clerk in the supermarket this morning sealed it for me when he observed sagely: "The ump is part of the game."
Fortified with that bit of supermarket philosophy, I can now put that disputed call behind me and accept it: It WAS a no-hitter, just as the box score says. Finally! Now that the Mets have a no-hitter in the books, what's next? Would it be so crazy to hope that peace will break out?