Sports Opinion & Analysis

Would You Rather…?

In MLB on June 11, 2012 at 8:36 am

Which would you rather see? One pitcher going from start to finish and not giving up a single hit, or six pitchers combining for the same result?

While the obvious answer seems to be the single pitcher, after what the Mariners did to the Dodgers last Friday, I’m leaning towards the less conventional choice. In fact, I might pick a combined no-hitter over a perfect game.

“Individually we’re mediocre, but collectively we do alright!”

It’s definitely not the sexy pick. Every pitcher, from little league to the pros, dreams of the day when they go all nine without giving up a hit. Movies with Kevin Costner are made about perfect games. It is the peak achievement in baseball. It’s one of the pinnacles of accomplishment in all sports. As a pitcher, you are not only better than the batter, you are better than every batter.

But here’s the thing; never has a no-hitter or perfect game been accomplished by a pitcher alone. Never has a pitcher struck-out every batter. Both perfect games and no-hitters are already team events. Every position player plays a part in it.

So why not a few pitchers, as well? Or in the Mariners case, six?

Because that’s how many stepped up to the mound in Seattle last Friday. Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League, and Tom Wilhelmsen, one right after the other, kicked their feet in the clay, chalked their hands and added a little piece of greatness to a larger scope.

For all the talk of how we, as a society, need to focus more on team efforts rather than individual feats, this is the embodiment of that act. For all the Lebron James’s and Albert Pujols’s, who dominate the highlight cycle with either individual acts of greatness, or in Pujols’s case recently, individual acts of failure, this was a break from all that. This was a team, coming together and accomplishing something, together, greater than themselves. From starter and position player to the bullpen.

There have been 19 perfect games since the modern baseball era started in 1900. There have been 276 no-hitters, including combined-no hitters, since 1876. In all of that time, there have only been 10 combined no-hitters, including last Friday’s. They’re a rarity, these team accomplishments, so when they do come around, we should all pause and take notice. Sometimes a team effort is a little better than perfect.

  1. First of, you’re a communist. But that being said. I don’t think I can agree with you on this one. I really like the viewpoint that hey this was a day when everyone, starters, relievers and defense was on their game. That’s good baseball, and I respect it. But there’s a couple things i see. First, baseball is an individual sport masked as a team game. It lives and dies with statistics. The no hitter gives the starting pitcher (usually) a shutout, a win and a no-hitter. Yeah the wealth is spread in a combined no no. a hold, a win, and a save go to different people. But the starter may not even get the win! However more importantly i dont agree with your argument regarding te rarity of the combo. They don’t happen because guys don’t get take. Out of the game with a no no unless (generally) he’s hurt, or thrown too many pitches, which usually means he’s walked a bunch of guys. And personally, I dont want to see either. One is tragic, and the other is boring.

    Regardless, I’m enjoying the blog! Keep it up.

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