Sunday, April 07, 2013

Santana’s Greatest Hits by Steve Reynolds

1) “Evil Ways”
Johan Santana had an evil curse placed upon him the moment he arrived in New York. Sure, he could have had the same run of multiple injuries playing for his first team, the Minnesota Twins, between 2008 and 2013. Pitchers break down all the time, that’s one of the truths of baseball. Yet I can’t shake this feeling that when Santana stepped off the plane at LaGuardia over five years ago one of the luggage handlers was a Twins fan with a master’s degree in voodoo.

2) “Jingo”
The Oxford definition says “a vociferous supporter of policy favoring war, especially in the name of patriotism.” That seems to sum up every single caller to WFAN here in New York that wants to talk about the Mets. The amount of vitriol spewed by callers over the years in support of or against Santana during his run with the Mets could power Manhattan (with the help of bullshit-laden hot-air-to-energy convertor).

3) “Hope You’re Feeling Better”
The week that this Zisk issue went to print Santana had his second surgery for a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder. Only a handful of pitchers have attempted to come back one time from this surgery, let alone two. It took Santana 19 months to resume his career after the first surgery. What are the chances that a 34-year-old athlete—even one of his caliber—can do that successfully and resume his career a year-and-a-half later as a 35-year-old pitcher? It’s gotta be slim, right? Yet I hope Santana does feel better and makes it back because even after that marvelous no-hitter on June 1 of last season, Santana pitched some really great games. He threw six shutout innings against Baltimore on June 19 and a masterful eight shutout innings against the Dodgers on June 30.

4) “Samba Pa Ti”
Oh my, I really did feel like sambaing in my living room on June 1, 2012. For that I will be eternally grateful. Speaking of being grateful, why don’t Mets fans at CitiField give Mike Baxter more props when he comes to bat? My friend Jason Fry at Faith and Fear in Flushing says that “we’ve failed as a fanbase” if Baxter—a Queens native, fer chrissakes—ever pays for a drink again in the five boroughs. And I strongly agree.

5) “Persuasion”
I didn’t cover the Santana trade on the Zisk website back in 2008 because I was going through some health issues. But I definitely needed to be persuaded that it was the right deal. I laugh now when I think back to a time where I thought Carlos Gomez was an essential player for the future. Ha!

6) “Black Magic Woman”
This is the woman that put the curse on Santana. I’m sure of it. She had some very evil ways, no doubt.

7) “Oye Como Va”
The opening line of this Tito Puente cover is loosely translated as “listen to how my rhythm goes.” (Yes, I had to look it up. I didn’t fail two years of Spanish for nothing, you know.) When Santana was in a groove, his rhythm was as good as this song.

8) “Everything’s Coming Our Way”
Hmm. I don’t think I’ve felt that way during Santana’s run. However, it is my favorite track on this album.

9) “Se a Cabo”
The correct Spanish spelling is actually “se acabó,” which it most certainly is for Santana in New York. Well, he could return to the Big Apple if the Yankees continue their washed-up veterans strategy. I’ll root for that.

10) “Everybody’s Everything”
Alas, in baseball one man cannot carry a whole team to the promised land of a World Series win. (Well, maybe Kirby Puckett did.) As much as Santana was hailed as the cure to wipe away the memories of the 2007 collapse, that was an impossible mission. But what he did do here? I’m glad I was able to witness all of it.

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