Palladino: Perfection Not Mets’ Way
By Ernie Palladino
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It’s a cute little stat, one that doesn’t gauge a team’s or pitcher’s long-term worth, but interesting just the same.
If a Mets pitcher wants to pitch a no-hitter or, better, a perfect game, the first order of business is to find his way out of the organization.
The White Sox’s Phil Humber became the latest ex-Met to twirl himself a no-no Saturday when he went a perfect 27 up, 27 down against the Mariners in his first career complete game.
The Mets, of course, have never had a no-hitter in their history. But they’ve sent off an awful lot of pitchers who have thrown an awful lot of no-hitters since 1962; some great hurlers, some not so great. They have amassed 13 no hitters, a pretty healthy number when you think about it.
Humber was just a promising prospect — a first-round pick in 2004 who underwent Tommy John surgery a year later — when the Mets shipped him off to Minnesota in the 2008 trade that brought two-time Cy Young winner Johan Santana. And he didn’t win his first game in the majors until 2010, when he played for Kansas City.
But still, he counts as someone who the Mets certainly would have brought up for an extended stay eventually had Santana never become available. So he counts as one of seven ex-Mets who have gone on to throw no-hitters in their New York afterlife.
The others? Well, we can start with Nolan Ryan, who threw a record seven of them in the bazillion or so years or so after his 1971 trade westward that brought the eminent Angels shortstop Jim Fregosi, whose all-star career immediately went into the toilet. The swap would be regarded as one of the biggest debacles in a history of questionable Mets trades (remember Amos Otis for Joe Foy?).
Ryan actually threw four no-hitters with the Angels. But just to prove how no-hitters are simply scrapbook moments in time in the life of a pitcher, Ryan proved to be just a .533 pitcher with California in his eight years there.
Another Hall-of-Famer, Tom Seaver, threw his the year after Mets chairman M. Donald Grant railroaded him out of town to the Reds in a 1977 trade.
Japanese sensation Hideo Nomo spent only one year with the Mets in 1998, already having one no-hitter under his belt with the Dodgers. But in 2001, in his Boston Red Sox debut on April 4, he tossed a second one, qualifying him for the list.
Mike Scott, a pretty darned good pitcher for the Astros once another former Met, Roger Craig, taught him the split-fingered fastball, tossed one in 1986. Now, it’s not really right to say the Mets should have seen this coming, since Scott was only 14-27 with them at the time of his 1982 trade. And he continued to struggle with the Astros until Craig got there in 1985. But in ’86, the split-finger was down pat, and Scott became one of a select group to throw a no-hitter and collect 300 strikeouts in the same season.
To throw some light on his no-hitter against the Giants, that game clinched a playoff spot and was voted as one of the top-five games played in the Astrodome.
In the playoffs, he dominated the Mets in games 1 and 4, and the Mets needed a 16-inning, pennant-clinching win in Game 6 to avoid a Game 7 battle with Scott’s devilish pitch.
Still, despite four dominant seasons and a 1986 Cy Young Award, Scott’s overall body of work leaves him far from Hall-of-Fame consideration.
Doc Gooden and his combination of rising fastball and big, looping curve afforded him a fantastic Mets career that he ruined through drug use. But he had enough left to throw a tightrope of a no-hitter with the Yankees in 1998.
And David Cone had a wonderful Mets career from 1987-92 before they traded him to Toronto in 1992 for Jeff Kent and Ryan Thompson. He found his way to the Yanks in ‘95, and on July 18, 1999 he threw the Yanks’ last no-hitter — a perfect game — on Yogi Berra Day against the Montreal Expos. It was the only interleague perfect game in history, and came on a day where Berra and his World Series perfect game pitcher Don Larsen bore witness to it.
Wonderful moments in time. Some great moments in Hall-of-Fame careers, others just fantastic memories.
And every one of them in a uniform other than the blue, orange, and white of the Mets.
Maybe their day will come soon. But it hasn’t happened since their birth in 1962, so no one should hold his breath.
Will there be an eighth former Amazin’ to toss a no-no before the Mets’ first? Sound off below…