No no-no’s this season?! What gives?
After seven no-hitters were tossed last year in 2012, there has not been any yet as we approach the halfway point of the 2013 MLB season. A few close calls, but still, no no-no’s. So what’s the deal?
Well, despite last year’s flurry of no-hitters, the fact is, it remains a very rare feat. Only 279 have been thrown to date in nearly some 400,000 major league baseball games. Give or take a few thousand, that’s roughly seven every 10,000 games. With some 4,860 games a year (not counting postseason), that allows for only about two per season. So with seven from last year, odds are there won’t be another for three or four more years.
The seven no-hitters last year matched the modern record for one season, tying 1990 and 1991. (There were eight no-hitters in 1884, but the rules were a bit different back then to say the least. Without going into a lot of specifics, six “called balls” were a walk. Suffice to say, things were a lot different back then, thus the differentiation of the “modern” era.)
The first recorded no-hitter was thrown by Joe Borden in 1875, pitching for the Philadelphia White Stockings against the Chicago White Stockings. (Apparently white was a popular color back in the 1800’s and stockings were all the rage.) Borden, who played under numerous surnames, reportedly came from a prominent family. If they had known he was playing baseball for money, they would have greatly disapproved of his bourgeois activities. My, how times have changed.
The last no-hitter thrown, as many will no doubt remember, was thrown by one David Dewitt Bailey, Jr., otherwise known as “Homer” by many of his teammates, fans and just about everyone else who follows the game of baseball today. Bailey tossed his no-no for the Cincinnati Reds last September against the Pittsburgh Pirates; a 1-0 game that doomed the Bucs to 20 consecutive non-winning seasons, a major North American professional sports record that Pirates fans hope will finally come to end this year. (So far so good.)
But beyond the mere statistics of no-hitters, the fact remains that hitting a baseball is not an easy thing to do. Striking a small-round object with a relatively long-skinny stick as it travels anywhere from 85 to 100 mph towards you can be like trying to catch a bullet in your teeth … Well, okay, it’s not quite that difficult, but you get the idea. But any activity where you can fail 66% of the time and that still gets you in the Hall of Fame (providing you do it long enough), cannot be anything but hard as hell.
So if it’s so hard to hit a baseball, why then aren’t there more no-hitters?
Well, if you watch enough baseball games, you’ll notice that most balls don’t get hit the way the batter had in mind. A ball off the end of the bat that bloops over the infield for a base hit, a jam-job that results in a perfectly placed swinging bunt or a misplayed ball by an outfielder that gets scored a double are just a few examples of “hits” that fall into the “luck” category; or “bad luck” category if you’re the pitcher. So over the course of nine innings of baseball, something’s bound to fall in between the fielders, whether it’s intended to or not. That’s what really makes it so hard to throw a no-hitter.
So, as luck would have it, yep, no no-no’s so far this season.