Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dontcha No!

Monday night Tampa's Matt Garza pitched the 5th no hitter in MLB this year. Of course this was really the 6th No-No of season if you count Detroit's Armando Galarraga's perfect game that wasn't. This seems to be a recurring theme. 2010 has already been declared "The Year of the Pitcher." MLB has basically seen 3* perfect games and we've yet to reach August!

Some are saying the value of a no hitter has diminished. Many are crediting the rising number of no hitters to the end of the steroid era.  Another hypothesis is that today's pitchers are better athletes that throw the ball harder.

First off, the value hasn't decreased. How many of us can say they've witnessed a no hitter in person, or even watched an entire 9 inning game of pitcher throwing one on TV. Yeah, we've seen ESPN cut away to the 9th inning when a pitcher has a chance to make history. I'm sure if anyone actually saw a no hitter in person, they've saved their ticket stub. I guess this year's no hitters have even been more valuable since the average attendance at all 5 have been around 21,000. That can be contributed to the fact 3 of the 5 occurred in Florida.

From 1990-91, their were a total of 11 no hitters. In 1990, there were 6! This is where the steroid era becomes a factor. Many say the steroid era started around 1992 and ended last year. There was also expansion which occurred MLB in 1993 with Colorado and Florida, and again in 1998 with Tampa and Arizona. This may have diluted the talent in the game and now people are saying the playing field is leveling out. But if steroids were a such a huge factor, it wasn't only the batters who were juicing, but also the pitchers. So you would think the pitchers were able to throw harder and be able to last longer into games.

Don't tell me the pitchers being more athletic is the reason for the rise of the no hitter. David Wells pitched a perfect game! And he did this admitting he was hung over!

The fact their have been 5 (6) no hitters so far this season is merely a coincidence. A no hitter involves a lot of luck. Find me the stat at the number of one hitters in the history of baseball. I highly doubt you'll find that stat because there are just way too many. If you look at every no hitter, every one had a number of great plays made by the defense to save the no-no. Recently, we remember Austin Jackson's remarkable play in center field that kept Galarraga's perfect intact. Who can forget last year in Mark Buehrle's perfect game the spectacular catch made by defensive substitution Dewayne Wise at the wall in center field? Even last night, Ben Zobrist made a couple of great plays in right field to save Garza's no hitter.

The point is, a no hitter is still a sacred, rare occurrence which can happen anytime, by any pitcher. And a no hitter is also a "team" accomplishment. Any pitcher that has ever thrown one will first thank his defense playing behind him. We've seen that 5, really 6 times so far this season. As baseball fans, we should feel lucky we've had the opportunity to experience this rarity so many times this year.

Pedro Martinez and Roger Clemens, two of the greatest pitchers of our era, never threw no hitters. At the same time, Mark Buehrle has thrown two. Even Hideo Nomo threw 2 no hitters!

Even the once untouchable Ubaldo Jimenez who threw a no hitter earlier this season, has 7.59 ERA in July!

Here's a great stat:

On June 3, 1995, Pedro Martinez, pitching for the Montreal Expos, pitched a perfect game through 9 innings. Pedro never got credited with a no hitter because the game was scoreless after 9. He lost the no hitter in the tenth innning on a Bip Roberts double down the right field line. 40 days later, Pedro's brother, Ramon pitched a no hitter versus the Florida Marlins!

And while we're on the subject of no hitters, along with Joe Dimaggio's 56 game hit streak, Nolan Ryan's 7! career no hitters will never be matched. Sandy Koufax threw 4 career no hitters. The great Cy Young hurled 3.

List of MLB No Hitters