...isn't gold. But then again, sometimes it is.
Through six innings, Johan Santana was merciless. Through six innings, Detroit hitters walked out of the batter's box shaking their heads. Through six innings, the Tigers couldn't muster one hit.
In Today's Win Over Detroit
Every pitch took movement as though the ball just discovered the laws of physics. Fastballs slid up and in, low and away, and clocked at 97 mph the ball was in Mauer's glove by the time the batter realized how foolish he looked. Sliders broke in on right-handers and away from left-handers, looking as though they'd hit a glass wall to come dancing through an off-balance swing. And the changeup? Santana's changeup appeared to be in camouflage, because no one could hit it.
Through six innings there were nothing but zeros on the board for Detroit. No runs. No hits.
Ten strikeouts. All swinging.
Someone once asked me why I liked baseball. I told them it wasn't a fair question because the answer is too complex, so they asked me why I liked sports. My answer was easy: greatness.
When Santana climbed the mound before each inning, he looked as though it was his mound. He owned it. From it, he could control the course of the game as a king controls his kingdom. With his foot against the rubber, Santana looked like he belonged there, elevated above the rest of the players.
To see something...anything...that is great, is inspiring. Pitch after pitch after pitch, two pieces of material bound by red stitching hurtled through space and managed to avoid going anywhere but into a glove. From his throne the king commanded the game, and the Tiger hitters were merely pawns to carry out his commands.
Santana, Mid-Domination This Afternoon
Greatness. That's why I love sports, and it's the first reason I loved baseball. To see greatness achieved before your eyes, through no more than physical exertion and the exacting actions and contractions of muscles and mind, is something hard to find outside of a sporting arena. A physical representation of the greatness of man and woman; the pinnacle of human ability.
This afternoon in the Dome, Johan Santana lasted seven innings, striking out eleven (all swinging) while allowing two runs. For seven innings, he was good. For six innings, Johan Santana was greatness personified.
There are such players that are "flashes in the pan". Fools gold. Players who have great stuff, great games, great seasons. Between these players and great players, however, is a gap of longetivity, talent and perseverance. This is the difference between a great player and a great moment. In Johan Santana you have a great player, and today's performance was yet another example of him proving it. And I can't wait to see him prove it again.
Taking Out the Opposition...