Last night, James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners tossed a no-hitter. I was fortunate enough to tune in to MLB Network in time to see the 9th inning. He was still dealing, hitting 100 mph on the radar. The joy and emotion when a pitcher accomplishes this feat is infectious. I was smiling ear to ear and was covered in goosebumps. I can’t imagine what Mariners fans were feeling; what Paxton was feeling.
The no-hitter is something we dream of as kids. That feeling of pure dominance that usually eludes us. The closest I came was in Knothole when I pitched a 10 inning 2-hitter. To pitch one at the major league level is quite an accomplishment. I’ve heard ‘fans’ in the past say that throwing a no-no against a bad team doesn’t really count. Yes, it does. Even the worst team in baseball has outstanding hitters. Paxton threw his against a pretty good Blue Jays squad. Impressive.
Some of the greatest pitchers to ever take the field never got their no-hitter. In other instances, obscure pitchers got theirs, usually never to be heard from again. Mike Warren has one, Greg Maddux does not. Homer Bailey has two, Fergie Jenkins has none. If you’re pitching at this level, you’ve got the stuff to make it happen. Timing seems to be the key. When Edison Volquez first came onto the scene, I remember commenting to a friend that I thought he had what it takes to throw one. Years went by and I had given up on that. On June 3rd, 2017, he got his. I really enjoyed that one.
I thought I was going to see one in person several years ago. Greg Maddux, with LA at the time, had 6 no-hit innings in the book against the Reds. And then the skies opened up. When play resumed, 45 minutes later, Maddux was out of the game. The Reds mustered 1 hit that night against the Dodgers bullpen. So close, but still a dream.
There have been 299 no-hitters thrown in the history of MLB, including 3 already this season. 256 of those have been in the modern era (post-1900). Will we see #300 this season? One can hope. Maybe it’ll be Verlander, Scherzer, Kershaw, or Sale. Then again, maybe someone whose name we don’t know yet will channel their inner Eric Milton or Chris Heston and surprise us all. I just hope I’m able to catch the 9th inning again when it happens.
Baseball is a beautiful sport. At times predictable, but usually it will take us on an unexpected ride and give us stories to tell for years to come. Enjoy the games tonight.