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  • Writer's pictureWyatt Bose

MLB: Major League Bummer

11 years ago, Tim Lincecum threw a 148-pitch no-hitter. Today, pitchers get pulled at 90 pitches in the seventh inning to “preserve their arm.” Where’s the fun in that? 

Every night, someone has a shot at history, and that’s why baseball is so beloved. Fans do not pay their hard-earned money to watch a relief pitcher – who was probably in the minors a few days ago – pitch the seventh inning of a no-hitter. Just as a manager would not pinch-hit a player who is one hit away from the cycle, he should not make the call to the bullpen during a no-hit bid.

Last year, Framber Valdez and Michael Lorenzen threw no-hitters within eight days of eachother. Incredible, right? However, as managers become increasingly protective, baseball will see less and less no-hitters, and fans will lose interest in the game. This season, there has been just one no-hitter, thrown by Astros’ right-hander Ronel Blanco. Blanco threw 105 pitches and struck out seven Blue Jays.

Today, pitchers must be both efficient and flawless – like Blanco– to be given a chance at history. In the past, it was customary to allow starters go the distance during a no-no, and especially if they had a perfect game on the line. For example, in Lincecum’s monumental 2013 no-hitter, “The Freak” had 103 pitches through just six innings. A year later, Lincecum no-hit the Padres again on 113 pitches. It’s fair to say his 148-pitch outing in 2013 did not destroy his career, nor did it impact him in 2014. 

Actually, Lincecum etched his name in MLB history as one of only thirty-six pitchers to have thrown at least two no-hitters, thanks to Giants’ manager Bruce Bochy who let the righty go the distance in 2013. 

This year, other pitchers have flirted with no-hitters in addition to Ronel Blanco, but perfection without efficiency has meant nothing to today’s managers. In his second career start, rookie Paul Skenes had a no-hitter through six innings and was pulled with 100 pitches. The Pirates led 8-0 when manager Derek Shelton took the ball from Skenes. Sure enough, the Cubs recorded a hit in the seventh inning. 

Skenes had 11 strikeouts when he was pulled from the game, and the #1 overall pick looked poised to go the distance. Shelton did not want to risk an injury to his star pitcher, but come on! Who doesn’t want to see Skenes punchout 15+ hitters and throw a no-hitter on the same night? One of these days, it would be nice to see a manager throw out the handbook on pitch count prudence and give his guy a shot.

With that in mind, baseball has so many unwritten rules. Why not add another one that people actually support? Here’s my proposal that MLB managers will never consider, because it’s too fun for the fans and too risky for the teams: 

In the event of a no-hitter or perfect game, let the starter ride until he concedes a hit. When he does, pull him from the game immediately. As a manager, you will receive no backlash from your fan base. In fact, you might even be lauded. Managers often face criticism for pulling a pitcher prematurely during a no-hitter, but rarely for leaving him in the game. Unfortunately, despite fanatic investment in the pursuit of history, MLB managers have grown soft. 

In short, it’s things like pulling the #1 overall pick in the sixth inning with a no-hitter that drive fans farther and farther away from the game they used to love. Baseball has been trending in the wrong direction for years now, and this new trend of conserving starting pitchers for long-term health might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

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