In light of Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Matt Garza’s no-hitter last night—the first in franchise history—the 2010 baseball season continues to be known as the “year of the pitcher.”
Garza’s no-no is the fifth such performance we have seen this season already, or the sixth if you count the blatant robbery of a perfect game by umpire Jim Joyce on Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga.
Two of those no-hitters have been perfect games (Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay).
Although there seems to be a “no-hitter alert” on your sports ticker every week, it’s not as good for baseball when compared to the home run.
All of these no-hitters could be attributed to the end of the “steroid era” which plagued baseball for over a decade. It’s almost as if home runs decreased immediately as the juice from the ‘roids left the body.
Or maybe pitchers are just having off-the-wall performances by random luck. Maybe each no-hitter has been “one of those nights” when the pitcher is in another zone and the opposing team couldn’t hit a watermelon coming at 50 miles per hour.
Either way, it doesn’t make the game that much more appealing. Perfection doesn’t draw more fans; actually, it pushes them away.
If there is one thing sports fans love, it’s scoring.
They love basketball games in which both teams score in the triple digits; they love 6-5 hockey games, and they love shootouts on the gridiron.
And when it comes to baseball, fans love scoring—especially home runs.
“Chicks dig the long ball,” but so does everybody else.
I’m speaking of the casual fans who come to the ballpark or watch on TV.
They don’t like sitting there for three-plus hours to see a scoreless tie. It’s just not entertaining, but at the same time, it’s the nature of baseball.
Purists would disagree in terms of the drama and excellence of a no-hitter, because achieving such a feat is just not easy.
Every pitch means something and one wrong decision could end up costing a hurler a no-no and even put his team behind.
Just ask Max Scherzer.
This year’s All-Star game was the lowest rated game ever. The year of the pitcher was also the year of the stinker in terms of viewers tuning into baseball’s Midsummer Classic.
That says something more about the current state of the game: people are tired of it.
A no-hitter can not save the game so many have revered for tens of decades, and a slew of no-hitters won’t save it, either.
The fact is that the home run chase of 1998 and Barry Bonds’ quest to beat Hank Aaron were some of the most closely followed spectacles in the history of baseball—and all three players involved are associated with illegal performance-enhancing drugs.
We glorify those who play fair, and frown upon those who don’t follow the rules. But in our culture, the ones who did it the wrong way get more attention.