There is a big story in baseball this season, and it’s not the long ball, it’s the pitcher’s duel.
Think about it. On a team, there’s often the old school adage of “pitching wins championships.” Mostly, of the starting pitching variety. Even the bullpen figures in, occasionally, since a strong bullpen is depended upon during the long postseason if your team should be lucky enough to participate.
Look at my team. The Mets have been blessed with great starting pitching, from Seaver and Koosman, to Doc, Sid, Bobby O and Ronnie, Al Leiter, even Fresno Bobby Jones. But for years and years, it was always about the no-hitter. The goddamn NO no-hitter, I should say.
But forget about Johan Santana’s no-hitter two weeks ago. Okay. Remember it. But that’s not the point. Clearly, the story this year has been the knuckleball and most importantly, R.A. Dickey’s renaissance surge to not only make his case to start the All-Star Game this year, but quietly mounting a strong campaign for the NL’s best pitcher hardware. Time will tell, but although Santana’s no-hitter will christen the Mets’ books as the historic one, if you saw R.A. Dickey’s start on June 13th against the Tampa Bay Rays, clearly, that was the more dominant pitching performance…BJ Upton bedamned.
The funniest part of that story is that the Mets actually put in an appeal with MLB to get the first hit (an infield variety by Upton) charged as an error by David Wright. So let’s see — go 50 years without a no-hitter, than two in two weeks! Okay, gotcha. I doubt that MLB will reverse it, but hey. Goes to show just how dominant pitching has been.
Jered Weaver started the trend in Anaheim with his no-hitter. I remember my friend Sully, from Sully Baseball, telling everyone to turn the game on, as the 9th inning approached. He was so excited, Weaver had to pee between innings!
Then came a potentially cruel joke, with former Mets pitching prospect Phil Humber pitching a PERFECT GAME for the Chicago White Sox. While he’s been lackluster (at best) since, the guy who was traded to get Johan Santana was pitching a perfect game, and the Mets didn’t even have a stinkin’ no-hitter. Point is he can suck for the rest of his natural born life, and he pitched a perfect game.
Then came Johan. Then came the Seattle Mariners’ combined no-hitter effort of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Really? What is fascinating about those two no-hitters is that they were against strong offensive teams.
Lastly, Matt Cain of the San Francisco pitched a perfect game on June 13. MATT CAIN who walks, like, everybody.
Some pessimists may say that the achievement isn’t as notable now. Other say that the change in data sharing in baseball has improved for the defensive side of the game, and not the offense. Yet at the same time, fans dig the pitchers duel.
It’s true. A home run derby in the most literal sense is a reason to drink at games because you really don’t need to pay attention. Great pitching performances leave you on the edge of your seat.
Give me a call when the San Diego Padres break their no-no-hitter drought, but in the meantime, I think the season of the pitcher is about friggin time. It’s more than just the stats, with Dickey leading the NL in wins. The pitching landscape is just so interesting right now, and the pitching performance is back.
I love it.