No Hitters and Dinosaurs

By William Coppola

Have you ever witnessed a major league no-hitter? It was always an amazing thing to see. I use the word ‘was’ because your chances of seeing a big league pitcher go nine innings to pitch one is a thing of the past. Unfortunately for now we are seeing the beginning of something that could become extinct like the dinosaurs. Last night Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson threw 6 innings of no-hit ball and was removed after he had thrown 102 pitches. My goodness, the poor guy’s arm must be ready to fall off. He may not be able to reach into his pocket for his wallet tomorrow.
Thankfully it was an away game in Baltimore and there was a team bus to take him back to the hotel. The game has changed, we all know that. Today pitchers are on pitch counts and because of all the analytical formulas some pitchers are not allowed to go through an opposing line-up more than twice.

When Doc Gooden threw his no-hitter on May 14, 1996 on a cool 58 degree night in the Bronx, he threw 134 pitches and you would have had to get ten US Marines to get him off the mound. When Sandy Koufax pitched his perfect game with 14 strike outs on September 9, 1965 at Dodger Stadium, Cubs pitcher Bob Hendley only gave up one hit and one run. The game time was 1:43. There were no bullpen dramatics nor any trips to the mound. By the way there were no recorded pitch counts then either.

Both hurlers made it home ok and were ready to pitch again after only three days rest. See back then every team used a 4 man rotation. To save arms the Tampa Bay Rays are going with a 4 man rotation but will use 3 or 4 bullpen guys in game 5 to go through the order once each. They feel this will make them a better team. Talk about dazed and confused. The Rays continually trade away all their good players because they can’t afford to pay them when they reach free agency. Forget the 4 man rotation, charge more for a beer and hotdogs and keep your good young players. Maybe all the geniuses that work in Major League Baseball should talk to some of these old-timers and see what the secret was about pitching a complete game.

The players today have doctors, massage therapists , physical trainers and all the most modern equipment in the world to keep them in top shape. Gosh I don’t think the starship Enterprise had equipment like they have in and outside a big league clubhouse. They keep themselves in great shape and have the financial means to hire people in the off season to keep them fit.

The bottom line is that we have lost a part of the game and will never observe the beauty of a no-hitter thrown by one pitcher over 9 innings. But alas all eyes are on the home run again this year so there is something to focus on. With over 30 homers hit on opening day, we are in for what should be a record setting year of trots around the bases. When players who average 12 homers a season are now hitting 25 dingers, either they are juiced or the ball is. Giancarlo Stanton averaged 29 home runs over his first 7 seasons. Last year he hit 59. A juiced up ball with no seams is another reason why no-hitters will be far and few between, whether it’s one pitcher or a combination of arms.

We have a better chance of seeing a dinosaur walking down Park Avenue than seeing a no-hitter thrown by one pitcher over 9 innings. Oh no, I have reached my ‘word count’ and am being removed so I don’t get carpal tunnel. Someone else is coming in now and will finish my rant…………………..

William Coppola is a contributing columnist with the Bronx Chronicle with 40 years of involvement with baseball as a player, coach, umpire and scout.
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