Monday, June 04, 2012

Unleashing A Hero

Sometimes it only takes one statement to influence someone’s success or failure. 

On Friday night, June 1, Johan Santana, the New York Mets pitcher, was on his way to pitching the first no-hitter in this baseball franchise’s 50-year history.  It was the eighth inning, and Santana had already exceeded his 115 pitch count, indicating that he was most likely tiring.

Furthermore, he had been out the previous season with shoulder surgery, and the Mets management did not want to risk excessive use.  Yet no one wanted to take  this opportunity away from Santana, thereby denying the Mets fans something we all have been waiting 50 years for.

So Manager Terry Collins took a trip out to the pitching mound to ask Santana how he felt and whether he wanted to stay in there.  Santana insisted that he wanted to  finish the game.  And then Terry Collins dispensed a motivational gem; he said to Santana:  “You are my hero!” 

Even if Santana was tiring, communicating that inspirational line alone was enough to move Santana to victory.  In that comment, Collins freed himself from the responsibility of removing a potentially tired pitcher, and made possible a potentially great moment in sports history…a great moment for Santana and a great moment for Mets fans everywhere.

The ninth inning was a nail-biter.  Pent up emotion caused eyes to well up and bodies to tremble.  Perhaps the 50-year drought would end.  We waited – out after out.  And then the third out came.  Collins’ timing was impeccable.  Santana was indeed the hero his manager believed him to be. 

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