Technically, I’ve seen a no-hitter. Or technically, I haven’t. I guess it depends on your point of view.
Down in the minor leagues, most doubleheaders are seven-inning games. Several years ago — 2004, maybe? — I watched Robert Ellis throw a seven-inning no-hitter on his first day with the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team. He literally met his catcher in the afternoon, then threw a no-hitter that evening. Michel Hernandez was the catcher, and I’m pretty sure a guy named Mark Smith homered. Not nearly the same as a perfect game in the big leagues, but it was still pretty cool.
And baseball’s good for little moments like that. Even if you weren’t there to see it person — or if you walked out early like this morning’s Pinch Hitter, David, did when he was a kid at David Wells perfect game — the memory lingers.
I’ve said before that Derek Jeter’s 3,000th hit is probably the memorable thing I’ve ever seen on a baseball field. I covered the World Series clincher in 2009, but a championship is different. It’s a culmination, a part of a bigger picture. What Jeter did stands on its own.
The 2003 postseason, do you immediately think of the World Series loss or the Aaron Boone home run? This year’s World Series, do you think Cardinals fans will remember more about the clinching Game 7 or the David Freese heroics of Game 6? Wells made 10 postseason starts for the Yankees, but do you remember any of them quite like you remember the perfect game?
Those unexpected moments along the way don’t minimize the importance of a championship — I don’t think Jeter grew up dreaming of 3,000 hits the way he dreamed of playing in the World Series — but they’re unforgettable because they’re so wildly unpredictable. We all knew Jeter was approaching 3,000, but who could have predicted he’d get there that way? It makes the list with the dive and the flip, anoter moment that stands out.
There are a lot of baseball games in a season — a lot of at-bats, and a lot of pitches thrown — and people who don’t like the game will say the long games and long season makes it boring.
The rest of us will say you have to keep watching, because you never know when you’re going to see something great.