- Faith and Fear in Flushing - http://www.faithandfearinflushing.com -

Capturing One Helluva Debut

Ya gotta start somewhere, and Collin McHugh certainly did. (Photo by Sharon Chapman) [1]

Ya gotta start somewhere, and Collin McHugh certainly did. (Photo by Sharon Chapman)

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 [2] 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 [3]) 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The previously unpublished Elliot made Collin the subject of an in-depth profile for a class assignment.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 [4] — 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 [5] and follow Collin McHugh the pitcher through his first major league chance, if not his major league first win, in Part Two [6].

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 [7]. 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 [8] and Rising Apple [9]. In particular, Sam and Rich Sparago have risen above the bile (lord knows I retain an ample supply [10] of it) to find something nice to say about erstwhile left fielder and lingering money pit Jason Bay [11]. Check it out here. Plus, as long as you’re on Rising Apple, read Danny Abriano’s salute to a stadium [12] that took one last whack from the wrecking ball four years ago today [13].

One of the benefits of Mets blogging I didn’t mention in noting our eighth anniversary [14] 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.