Saturday, August 22, 2015

No-hitters are meaningless


So, the Dodgers were no-hit last night, and judging by the usual social media reactions you would think this was an excuse for team management to fire everyone and start from scratch. At the very least, according to these people, Mike Fiers' no-hitter exposed fatal weaknesses in the Dodgers' make-up that will prevent it from winning in the postseason.

I admit I used to think like this.

And, while I confess I have little confidence in this Dodgers team, and I think that they're too undisciplined and reliant on their natural abilities to go far in the postseason, I don't think a no-hitter pitched against them means anything about what they'll do in the future.

I noticed last night in myself a sense of resignation as Fiers pitched the no-hitter last night. While other Dodgers fans flailed around in a panic, I didn't care all that much. Yes, it sucked that the Dodgers were being no-hit (especially at the same time the devil magic Giants get HRs from their pitchers), but my overriding emotion was "Yes! I have a lead story for the cover of tonight's sports section!"

That's what happens in the middle of August, when you're staring at preseason football and little else.

I just don't feel the humiliation of a no-hitter anymore. My feelings of depression and embarrassment have faded over the years. I decided to explore that by studying the times that the Dodgers have been no-hit since I've been following baseball.

In the last 40 years, the Dodgers have actually been no-hit almost more than any other team. Only the Giants have been no-hit more times (ha!) -- eight to the Dodgers' seven. There was a glorious period, between Don Larsen's World Series perfect game and the mid-1970s when the Dodgers were not no-hit. But we were talking about a team that was fundamentally sound, talented and whip-smart. The Dodgers haven't been that way for a long time.

Anyway, here are the times that the Dodgers have been no-hit since 1975. You can feel my emotions fade as the years get closer:


Aug. 9, 1976: John Candelaria no-hits Dodgers, 2-0

This was the first no-hitter against the Dodgers since Larsen's in the 1956 World Series. And it was the first regular-season no-hitter against the Dodgers since they were blanked by Vern Bickford of the Boston Braves in 1950!


I didn't hear about Candelaria's no-hitter when it happened, I only half-watched games on TV at the time, I was only 10 or 11. But I remember reading about it on the back of Candelaria's card, and I was livid. How dare he! Who was this Candy guy?

For years, while people jovially called him "The Candy Man" and laughed about he appeared perpetually stoned, I stewed. This guy threw the first no-hitter against my team that I ever knew. Even when Candelaria came to the Dodgers in the early '90s, I didn't trust him.


Sept. 26, 1981: Nolan Ryan no-hits Dodgers, 5-0

This is the first no-hitter against the Dodgers that I saw live on TV. I don't remember the particulars, but I think whatever station was broadcasting may have cut in to show the ending of the game. It was like watching someone kidnap your dog. Just awful.

It was a big deal because it would be Ryan's fifth no-hitter, breaking Koufax's record for career no-hitters. And, of course, it had to come against Koufax's team. Bleah.


The next year, there was an entire card devoted to Ryan no-hitting the Dodgers. Bleah, again. I'm pleased to say this was one of the last cards I needed to complete the set.



Sept. 16, 1988: Tom Browning throws a perfect game against the Dodgers, 1-0

Browning threw his perfecto during a time when I was blissfully unaware of the daily drama of baseball. I was having too much of a good time, enjoying the first few months out of college, working a couple of jobs. Days off were for partying, not watching baseball. I only vaguely remember hearing about Browning's no-hitter, never saw any highlights, and can't say I was affected at all.


But I found out I did have some animosity. A couple years later I moved to an area where Browning lived when he was a high school athlete. We would do stories on him periodically. And I was like, "why does that jerk need a story?"



July 28, 1991: Dennis Martinez throws a perfect game against the Dodgers, 2-0

Another perfect game? Sheesh. This no-hitter probably bothered me more than any other no-hitter against the Dodgers. You'd have to hire a psychiatrist to figure out exactly why, but I know one reason. I was on vacation when this no-hitter happened. Hanging out with good friends after a road-trip to Michigan. I was far from anything that brought me pain. Then I picked up whatever paper that was at my friends' home and read about Martinez's perfect game. I was offended.


I held a grudge for a long time and it still hasn't fully faded. This card doesn't mention Martinez' no-hitter on the back, but it's the only 1992 card of Martinez that I could find in my collection. Perhaps I threw out all the other ones that mentioned that game?



April 8, 1994: Kent Mercker no-hits the Dodgers, 6-0

The last single pitcher to no-hit the Dodgers before Mike Fiers. This really wasn't a great time for baseball for me. We were on the cusp a strike. The Braves were winning everything. I was starting not to care again. And I was beginning to realize that a no-hitter was just a one-day disappointment.


I believe this is the first no-hitter that I ever put in the paper. 1994 was the first year I did any kind of layout for a newspaper. And the first time bad news for the Dodgers could be exploited for good.



June 8, 2012: Six Mariners no-hit Dodgers, 1-0

I admit I have an attitude about multiple-pitcher no-hitters, as well as interleague no-hitters. It's probably nothing more than my emotions ruling my outlook, but they just don't seem as legitmate as a one-pitcher no-hitter against a team from the same league. This game happened on the west coast, late at night, I couldn't even post it in the paper. When it happened, I shrugged my shoulders. Whatever.

And that brings me to Aug. 21, 2015 and Fiers' 3-0 no-hitter against the Dodgers in Houston.

There was some mention last night that Fiers hadn't done much and would now be known for no-hitting the Dodgers. But I could swear he had success against L.A. when he pitched for Milwaukee. I just don't have the time to search for it now.

But like I said it doesn't mean a lot in the large scheme of things. As was mentioned in the comments of last night's post, the Dodgers would go on to win the World Series a mere few weeks after Nolan Ryan no-hit them. And, seven years later, the Dodgers would go on to win the World Series a few weeks after being no-hit by Tom Browning.

So that means for the last 35 years, the Dodgers cannot win a World Series unless they've been no-hit earlier in the season.

Sounds like a sign to me.

Hey, it's a better than falling apart after your team gets no-hit.

7 comments:

  1. "But we were talking about a team that was fundamentally sound, talented and whip-smart. The Dodgers haven't been that way for a long time."

    They will be soon enough. The new FO is just seeing what's left from the old regime is worth keeping around. When they have a better idea of what they have at the end of the year they'll be unstoppable (on paper). Giants devil magic won't last forever.

    At the very least the future looks bright for the Dodgers who actually have a farm system as opposed to the Giants who don't even have a guy who can crack the top 100 list on MLB.com.

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  2. Looking at the years of being blanked:

    1976 - 2nd
    1981 - 2nd (WS Champs)
    1988 - 1st (WS Champs)
    1991 - 2nd
    1994 - 1st (strike year)
    2012 - 2nd
    2015 = ???

    Consistency at finishing near or at the top of their division. In the long run, a no hitter is really just a tick in the loss column. The pitcher had really good stuff that day. If a no-no is part of a couple weeks of loses and low production, then there is worry.

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  3. You could replace 'Dodgers" with "Orioles" in your first few paragraphs and it would mirror my thoughts of a week or so ago when my team was on the receiving end.


    But I do still love Dennis Martinez, sorry.

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  4. I thought of you and the other Dodgers bloggers while I watched the game play out last night. Ultimately it's just one game in a long season, but it was a lot of fun waiting to see if Fiers would be able to close it out.

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  5. The only time I was truly upset about a no-hitter was when I was in high school and watched my team get no-hit.

    Of course, I watched from third base and went 0 for 3, so that was probably what was so upsetting.

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  6. That Browning perfect game came really late on a Friday night. There had been a rain delay in Cincinnati, and I think the game didn't start until almost 10 PM, if I remember right. Nothing against Browning, who did have the stuff to pitch a perfect game, but I think situations like that - particularly getaway days - lend themselves to no-hitters.

    Supposedly my dad planned to take me to that game, but decided not to go down and buy tickets because of the rain. Though I wish he had, that's not very realistic for an 8-year old kid to go to a baseball game at 10 PM.

    I can't comment without signing out of my google account. Stupid google.

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  7. Two of my co-workers went down to Spring Training back in April for one of their bachelorette parties. Matt Garza hit on one of them and some guy I had never heard of hit on the other one. My friend who was hanging out with Garza eventually shot him down because he has a family... but my other friend kept in touch with the other guy on the Brewers.

    A few months pass... and during summer school, my friend tells me that she received free tickets for the A's game from the player she met at Spring Break. Turns out that no-name was Fiers.

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