He may barely register on the pitching staff radar as the first day of full-squad workouts commences (though it feels like the Mets have been in Port St. Lucie for a month already), but Collin McHugh was front and center in our attention not even six months ago. The date was August 23, 2012; the place was Citi Field; the occasion was McHugh’s first MLB start. The contemporary Met vibe was wan during that summertime stretch when the Mets were operating under a strict restraining order that kept them at least 90 feet from home plate at almost all times, but the numbers were spectacular in any league, let alone the biggest one: 7 innings, 2 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts and 0 runs allowed. The only stat that put a crimp in that sunny Thursday afternoon was the final score of Rockies 1 Mets 0.
Whatever juice McHugh (a pitcher and a blogger) squeezed out of his performance seemed to evaporate pretty quickly in the eyes of his supervisors. Collin was sent down in a flash and hasn’t brought up much in Met pitching conversations since. But he’ll always have August 23, 2012, and we have a ton more insight on what that kind of experience is like thanks to some fine reporting and writing by a Mets fan at Williams College by the name of Elliot Chester.
The previously unpublished Elliot made Collin the subject of an in-depth profile for a class assignment. He spoke at length to the pitcher and, in the course of his diligent research, tracked down one of the alleged 22,544 attendees who bore first-hand witness to his pitching (me) to put together a terrific piece that I’m proud to direct you toward. It runs on Mets Merized Online — an Amazin’ly comprehensive news and analysis site, if you’re not fully familiar with it — in two parts. Get a sense on Collin McHugh the person in Part One and follow Collin McHugh the pitcher through his first major league chance, if not his major league first win, in Part Two.
The photo above, of McHugh in action in his first inning of Mets work, was taken by my friend Sharon Chapman, whose photography has lately been included in a couple of exhibitions, an honor she richly deserves. The most recent of them is this one in New Jersey. And someone among the “22,544” who watched McHugh with Sharon and me, Sam Maxwell, continues to blog our team beautifully at both Converted Mets Fan and Rising Apple. In particular, Sam and Rich Sparago have risen above the bile (lord knows I retain an ample supply of it) to find something nice to say about erstwhile left fielder and lingering money pit Jason Bay. Check it out here. Plus, as long as you’re on Rising Apple, read Danny Abriano’s salute to a stadium that took one last whack from the wrecking ball four years ago today.
One of the benefits of Mets blogging I didn’t mention in noting our eighth anniversary was that you find yourself in proximity to a bunch of talented people you might otherwise miss, 1-0 losses notwithstanding. It’s quite the bonus.