Hot! Triple Play: Johan, OKC, Osi

Hello boys and girls, my name is Nicholas Kostopoulos and every week I will be posting an edition of my column “Triple Play.” I will pick three sports topics of significance from the past week and offer a paragraph of commentary.

A No-No for Jo

Friday, June 1st, 2012 at Citifield, Johan Santana faced off against Adam Wainwright and the St. Louis Cardinals and did what many Met fans thought impossible by throwing a no hitter. In doing so, he defeated the same Adam Wainwright who is infamous in Queens for striking out Carlos Beltran looking to eliminate the Mets from the 2006 NLCS. Also, Yadier Molina, another infamous member of the St. Louis Cardinals for hitting the go ahead home run in that same NLCS contest, was robbed by Queens native Mike Baxter who made an outstanding catch smashing into the left field wall. While Molina will take his World Series titles over a lost at-bat, robbing the Cardinal backstop and overcoming Wainwright contributed to how special the night truly was for the Metropolitans. Only, it didn’t end there. New Cardinal Carlos Beltran, infamous for the aforementioned strike out, hit a foul ball liner down the left field line that replay confirmed should have been called fair, but it wasn’t and the no hitter was preserved. Clearly, this night was a perfect storm of good luck for the Mets. The organization has been the butt of no hitter jokes for over 50 years, and it seemed as though the baseball gods were smiling down on the team in every way possible as they exercised three demons of the past in Wainwright, Molina and Beltran during a historic franchise event. Manager Terry Collins contemplated taking Johan out due to his injury history and high pitch count, but as he has done many times this year, Collins made the right call to give his ace Santana a chance at history, a chance to become the first man to pitch a no hitter in the 51-year history of the New York Mets. Although the team is unlikely to prove a legitimate World Series contender this season, they showed the world on June 1st, 2012 what make baseball special. Their fans, who have always stood by their struggling franchise, should be proud this dream finally came true.

Looking Easy for OKC

What do a 2-0 deficit, the challenge of ending a 20-game winning streak, combatants in the form of Hall of Fame talent Tim Duncan, MVP candidate Tony Parker, scoring specialist Manu Ginobili and all-world coach Gregg Popovich mean to the Oklahoma City Thunder? Not much apparently. The Thunder proved to be among the NBA’s elite teams this season yet were easy underdogs going up against the San Antonio Spurs who are more battle tested in the playoffs. Coach Scott Brooks lead his star duo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, as well as emerging stars James Harden and Serge Ibaka to an unlikely series victory over the Spurs and are now waiting to see if they will face the Boston Celtics or Miami Heat (series is currently tied 3-3 following the Heats’ victory last night) in the NBA finals. No matter who the Thunder face, they will enter the series as the undisputed favorites. Chock full of young stars playing for the love of the game and to win championships, the Thunder just may be on the verge of a dynasty, and the Celtics or Heat are about to find that out the hard way.

 Osi Fires Agent, Immediately Resigns With Giants

The Osi Umenyiora contract saga has finally come to an end. After fighting for a new contract with New York Giants general manager Jerry Reese for several years now, Umenyiora finally got a deal and is a happy camper. Forty-eight hours before signing, the star defensive end fired his agent Tony Agnone and agreed to play out the final year of his Giants contract at about double the salary he was due. Ultimately, Osi doesn’t feel he got what he wanted, but he has gone public saying he has tons of respect for the Giants organization, for coach Tom Coughlin (who has also signed a new deal with the Giants), and his teammates who spoke out in support of him during his holdout from OTA’s. Osi will seek a long term contract with either the Giants or whatever team is willing next offseason and in the end this contract will prove a win-win for Osi and the Giants. The Giants are not in the financial position to commit long term years and dollars to a player who contributes at a position of surplus for the team.  While this surplus (combined of course with the “elite” play of QB Eli Manning) aided in two recent Super Bowl championships, the salary cap unfortunately made a long term extension unrealistic. But, by giving Osi a raise without giving into his long term demands, the team set a precedent that they will work to reward their deserving players, but will not be held hostage by their disgruntled ones. Osi will play his hardest trying to earn his next big paycheck and that added motivation will prove important in the Giants title defense. Be warned Giants fans, should the team utilize the franchise tag next offseason, the saga may be reborn.

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Nicholas Kostopoulos

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