The Athletic Reporter
September 12, 2005 Sports News the Way You Want It. Completely Made Up. Issue 127
The Average Mulder
by Joe Mulder
Let's All Take a Moment to Appreciate Johan Santana

As the late, great Jack Buck once memorably said, pardon me while I stand and applaud.

The accolades in this instance go to Minnesota Twins pitcher Johan Santana, who on Sunday had his streak of 17 consecutive winning decisions snapped by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. More accurately, he had the streak snapped by Angels ace Bartolo Colon and by the Twins offense itself, which mustered only one run against Colon and relief pitchers Scot (that's how it's spelled; I double-checked) Shields and Francisco Rodriguez. In the loss Santana actually tied his career low mark for hits allowed in a game, with two. Unfortunately, both were Angel solo home runs.

A game like Sunday's only goes to show, of course, how much team baseball in involved with a streak like Santana's; on rare occasions during the streak he had pitched much, much worse than he did Sunday (such as his first start of this season, in which he allowed four first-inning runs to the Seattle Mariners and lasted only five innings), but had been bailed out by his teammates (such as in the aforementioned Seattle game, in which seven fifth-inning runs by the Twins got Santana out of trouble).

Nevertheless, Santana's streak was mighty impressive. It helped the Twins win their third straight American League Central Division title last year, and it pretty much won him the 2004 American League Cy Young Award (he became only the third Twin in the history of the franchise to win the Cy Young, and the first since 80s baseball hair poster child Frank Viola in 1988).

The fun part of all this is that with Randy Moss gone, Kevin Garnett's Timberwolves faltering and the Minnesota Wild not doing much of anything these days, the Twin Cities are Santana's for the taking. Maybe this is just an optimistic Twins fan talking (okay, definitely this is an optimistic Twins fan talking, but, still), but if Santana can lead the Twins to a World Series title, he could own Minnesota.

It's not a ridiculous notion, either; the Yankees obviously aren't as bad as they seem right now, but they sure are looking beatable. The Red Sox are just happy to be alive after last season, the Angels are good but not insurmountable (despite the Santana loss, the Twins just took two out of three from them), and the White Sox, while currently in first place, are still the White Sox, and can be discounted without a second thought.

Who knows? Maybe this could be the year. The Twins haven't gotten a break in the playoffs since the fall of 2002, so maybe they're due. They've got baseball's best bullpen, baseball's best starter and a lineup full of tough outs. As long as they don't keep letting Juan Castro hit second, and don't let Luis Rivas hit ever, I wouldn't count them out. They're already the only baseball team to win the World Series in the 80s and the 90s (my favorite bit of baseball trivia; it seems obvious, but whip that one out at your next gathering and see if anybody knows. Most people guess the Yankees or the Dodgers. Feh); why not add the whatever-we're-calling-this-decade-s?

[can we get a ruling on that, by the way? I'm going to want to talk about the last five years and the next five years at some point, and I'd like to know for sure what we're going to be calling them. The Two-Thousands? The Zeroes? I don't want to have to wait another five years to be able to refer to the current decade in a quick, concise manner. Shouldn't the President or Angelina Jolie or somebody people might listen to just make a call on this and let the rest of us know? Because I'll call it anything, as long as I know what we're going with]

What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. Johan Santana is awesome. If he keeps this up -- throwing eight innings of two-hit ball in games he loses, no less -- he could become (and I know it's early yet, but, a guy can speculate) the American League's first back-to-back Cy Young winner since Pedro, back when Pedro was still Pedro.

That would rule.
Joe Mulder

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