Over the last few years, the Baseball Hall of Fame inductee announcement day has become the least anticipated among a large subset of baseball fans for varying reasons not worth getting into here. It has become such a disorderly hodgepodge of hot takes, shortsighted logic and hypocrisy that some writers of the Baseball Writers Association of America, or BBWAA, have decided to forgo their votes all together. The Hall of Fame is not something I can invest time or thought in any longer and I question the life decisions that had me once passionately refuting who the “infallible” gatekeepers chose to allow entry to if not the player with the most home runs or hits. If you would like commentary on this ham handed process I will point you to Twitter where you will find all the futile arguments for and against the unyielding ignorance of the a majority of voters your heart can handle. This piece is not that.
If you are unfamiliar with the process, BBWAA writers with 10 years experience can vote up to 10 players between 5 to 15 years after retirement into the Hall of Fame. If a player gets 75% or higher of the electorate’s vote they’re in, if they get less that 5% they are no longer eligible. From the title you might have guessed this is going to be a pitch for the Hall of Fame case of one of the best pitchers I have ever seen or maybe a plea to the more thoughtful voters to game the system and throw him a vote to keep his chance alive. That has been done and this is not that piece.
This is about Johan Santana. I am writing this because I fear, based on many reasonable predictions/projections, that Johan might not get the aforementioned 5%. Through no fault of his own one of the greatest peaks in performance the world has seen will be victimized by an outdated process and reduced to a Veterans’ Committee inductee, don’t get me started on this. So I wanted to give a couple of anecdotes about one of the gurus who led to my intense baseball fandom.
I coincedentally started get more serious about baseball, your team winning the World Series will do that, at the time Johan was the best pitcher in baseball. By this time I had started to figure out what I liked about the sport and getting a feel for a game that I actually disliked until around 2000. I started to pay more attention to and gain affinity for players outside my team. I don’t remember the exact day but I am guessing it was some time in 2005 or 2006, Sportscenter ran a segment about him with a tease along the lines of “the man who is dominating baseball with a softball speed pitch.” I remember it being around a 15 minutes of a feature on his glorious change up. I stayed up all night and I must have watched at least 6 replays of that Sportscenter. This was obviously before we could cue up gifs on a smartphone like this masterpiece below. Watching his pitches break and fool hitters while everyone else was trying for more velocity was eye opening and one of my earliest baseball memories.
dat late break
Around 5 years later, after age had sapped his immortality he would still manage to give relief to one of the most passionate fan bases in sports in the form of the New York Mets’ first no-hitter. It was one of the sloppier no-hitters, he walked five and used a career high and pitches but he did it. Watching a him grind against the defending World Series champions, clearly a reduced version of his former self was a heartening moment and a brief reminder of his brilliance during my developmental fan years. I vividly remember recounting the game with a good friend the next time we saw each other, we were grown men but from our enthusiasm one could swear we were kids again. To this day I’m convinced that no hitter is the reason he decided to take on the burden of being a Mets fan.
look at all the happiness he brought to these unfortunate souls
If Johan Santana is statistically a borderline candidate for the Baseball Hall of Fame, stories like these are what make his inclusion a no brainer to me. The man ruled baseball from the small market of Minnesota. He inspired people to root for teams well beyond his stay with the organizations. It was Jackie Robinson who said a “A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives,” and for a whole generation of baseball fans Johan Santana was instrumental in our baseball upbringing. He deserves some remembrance, if the BBWAA voters can’t see passed their analytical deficiencies let this serve as my pyre in his remembrance.
everyone loved him. This video inspired me to do the same with all my coworkers