This may not be the most timely of articles, but the thought has been a constant in my mind since Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game on August 15th. It was the third perfect game this season and the fifth no-hitter this year. Between 2010 and 2012, there have been ten no-hitters thrown throughout baseball. Compare that with 1999-2006 when there were only four total. Does the increased number of no-hitters make the feat any less memorable, any less exciting? It’s an interesting question and one worth exploring.
Since the game was formalized in the late 1870′s, there have been 278 no-hitters thrown, depending on whose stats you use. MLB.com only goes back to 1902 with their list of no-hitters, and we know there were some pitched before then – as early as 1875. That being said, 278 no-hitters may seem like a lot, but is it still a lot when you consider those no-hitters came in a span of 137 years of baseball? How about if you break it down to how many games were played over the course of those 137 years?
No-hitters are special. Perfect games are incredible. The notion that a no-hitter is becoming too common and ultimately losing its excitement is ludicrous. So there have been ten no-hitters thrown in the last three seasons. There will have been (at the end of this season) 14,580 regular season opportunities to throw a no-hitter. So is 10 out of over 14,000 really all that common? That’s just about half of a half percent of the time a no-hitter is thrown. That’s pretty special even if this “torrid” pace keeps up.
As you flip through the sports radio channels or watch the analysts on television, or even read the articles online, too many people out there have this misconception that the no-hitter is becoming to common. Thinking like that simply takes away from the moment a guy like Felix Hernandez should enjoy for the rest of his life. Instead, he may drive into work and hear someone ignorantly say that they are getting bored with no-hitters. After all, King Felix’s was the third perfect game this season and the fifth no-hitter. Who cares?
Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but when those opinions make no sense, I think it’s fair to call them out on it. Home runs are still exciting and they happen all the time. There were over 4,000 home runs hit last season but almost every one of them brings up to our feet. Obviously a home run is not nearly as exciting as a perfect game or a no-hitter. Baseball is full of moment, and the second we try to diminish those moments by claiming they happen too often when in truth they do not, the game gets a little darker.
Is Felix Hernandez to blame for there being a higher number of no-hitters in the last three seasons (sure he added one to the list, but he did not make no-hitters more common)? Baseball is a sport that is always changing – no matter how much it seems to stay the same. Pitchers throw less innings, condition better than ever before, throw harder than ever before, and are monitored closer than ever before. The changes in the game have led to better pitchers throughout the league.
And don’t forget, baseball is a cyclical sport. This isn’t the only time there have been a lot of no-hitters thrown over a short span. Between 1880-1882 there were seven no-hitters. Between 1883-1885 there were ten. If you want more modern examples, there were ten no-hitters thrown between 1970-1972. There were also nine thrown between 1976-1978. In the 90′s we had 15 no-hitters between 1990-1992.
Before you start to take the shine off a no-hitter, think about the history of the game, look at the numbers, then maybe you’ll want to get that old bottle of polish out and start shining up the status of the no-hitter that you so desperately want to tarnish.