Thursday, April 21, 2016


Jake Arrieta, working on his no-hitter in 2015 in LA. (Photo: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports)

I just finished watching Jake Arrieta of the Cubs finish no-hitting the Reds.

I love love love love no-hitters. Of course, they're the less exclusive brothers of perfect games (295 vs. 23 as of tonight), but I love them both.

I've watched or listened to too many to count (both perfectos and no-no's).

David Cone. Dwight Gooden. Felix Hernandez. Johan Santana (what a farce). Dave Righetti. Jack Morris. The list goes on.

I remember sitting in the parking lot at Stew Leonard's listening to Jon Miller cal the end of Tim Lincecum's in 2014.

I remember missing every pitch of David Wells' perfect game in 1998 (the first one by a Yankee since Don Larsen - of course - in 1956). I was at a convention in Las Vegas, and found out via TV, and literally yelled.

I caught Cone's in 1999 while in a friends' car, and refused to change the radio. That drive from Albany to Danbury was something to remember.

As social media began reporting tonight's gem, I began to pull myself together for where I would watch the event. Of course, I would also address the so-called "curse."*

* It's said that if anyone says the words "no-hitter" or "perfect game," it curses it. This includes fans, players, coaches, concessionaires, taxi cab drivers, clubhouse attendants, and kindly little old ladies.

And broadcasters. Most of all.

Yet there's this guy - name's Scully - and he's called 20 no-hitter and three perfect games. Somehow, he has said those dreadful words in just about all of them.

Just saying.

So whenever I watch one, I'm reminded of a rainy Saturday: September 4, 1993 at Yankee Stadium. I didn't think the game would be played, and there were only 27, 125 on hand at the glorious old House.

I was there, in the lower deck right field seats. Jim Abbott - born without a right hand - worked his way through a talented and upcoming Cleveland Indians lineup. A group that, in fact, would be in the World Series in both 1995 and 1997.

The rhythm of a perfect game or no-hitter carries is as such: You largely downplay the first couple of innings. In fact, you might not even know what's going on. Innings 4-6 are when things start getting real.

After the sixth inning, people know**. Now the nerves kick in.

** Except for some of the people I was with that day.

In the seventh inning, the buzz builds. The stomach begins to churn.

In the eighth inning, the knuckles get whiter. Get through the eighth, and it's probably time to text, call, or contact your friends via social media.

To the ninth inning. You're jumping at every pitch. You're growling at Kenny Lofton for trying to bunt (BUNT! You wuss!) his way on. To paraphrase Mr. Scully: you're seeing the game with your heart, and not your head.

Two outs to go. This is brutal.

One out to go. Just throw the damn ball.

Then it happens. The ball hangs in the air for an eternity. The umpire calls a third strike. Wade Boggs strikes out swinging.

It's over.

In the ballpark, you're high-fiving strangers, because you now share something that millions will say they were at, but only (in my case), 27, 000 were. You're glowing. You never want it to end.

Of course, assuming your team won.

I smiled all the way home that day, and watched it again on TV later. On the other hand, I glared at the screen when six (yes, SIX) Astros pitchers combined to no-hit the Yankees in 2003.

Interesting side note: the Yankees still have no been no-hit by one single pitcher since September 20, 1958, when Hoyt Wilhelm beat them 1-0.

For me, I'll always have Jim Abbott. Along with the scorecard.

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