Johan Santana threw a no-hitter… no asterisk necessary. That was simply done in the title for dramatic effect. Carlos Beltan’s base-hit down the line in the 6th inning was called foul by the third-base umpire, Beltran grounded out on the following pitch, and Santana didn’t allow a base-knock the rest of the way. He gets a pie in the face and a place in New York Met‘s history. What’s done is done. The human element is a part of the game; it always will be to a certain degree and I’m fine with that.
It took 131 pitches, but Santana pitched a gem that will go down as the first no-hitter in the New York Mets’ franchise that has been around since 1961.
There’s no changing that, and there should never be an asterisk on Santana’s no-hitter because this is how the game is currently played with the rules in place. However, what Santana’s no-hitter can do, at least I hope, is become a catalyst for MLB implementing instant-replay into the game.
How they do that, I don’t really care. As long calls don’t continue to get blown; calls which affect the outcome of games, calls that steal someone’s shot at perfection (eh-um Galarraga), or in this case a call that impacted the annals of MLB History.
Umpire’s want to get the call right; sometimes their eyes deceive them. Baseball is a game of inches, and there’s a lot of bang-bang calls in every game. Sometimes it’s hard to tell which side of the pole the ball soars past, or if a guy gets his leg in under the tag at home plate. Umpires call it like they see it, but sometimes it happens so fast they don’t see it the way it actually went down.
For St. Louis Cardinal fans, Santana’s no-hitter should be the least of your worries. If it wasn’t for Don Denkinger‘s blown call he made at first base in Game 6 of the 1985 World Series, the Cardinals might have 12 flags flying in Busch Stadium right now instead of 11.
If only there was a way to slow the speed of the game down in these instances. Oh wait… there is. Unfortunately, for Denkinger (who received death threats years after “The Call”), Jim Joyce, and all other umps today they’re going to continue to have to call em’ like they see ’em until MLB catches up with today’s technology and implements a smart and effective replay system.