Yet another episode of Point-Counterpoint as brought to you by Twin brothers from another mother, both born on the 13th of July.
Introduction by SportsChump:
Oh, Major League Baseball, how you disappoint me. Let me count the ways.
What’s most impressive about our national bad time is that it continues to inexplicably hold on to its old school fans (many of whom, like me, are jumping ship) while simultaneously convincing a younger generation that they (the institution, not the players) give a flying leap about them… and more importantly, that their record books still hold merit when nothing could be further from the truth.
Here’s the latest way the sport has managed to preserve its storied records books and pull the wool over its fans’ eyes.
Due to the pandemic, Major League Baseball has compacted its schedule. This off-season, they decided that double headers would no longer last nine-innings, but rather seven. It’s the sport’s way of listening to those who say the game has lost its excitement. Seriously, if baseball weren’t a total bore, it wouldn’t need to come up with gimmicks like this to keep its fans attention.
During these shortened games, the wins obviously still count. The hits still count. The errors still count. In fact, every single statistic counts in these shortened contests… except for one.
The league’s precious and elusive no-hitter.
Last month, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ ace Madison Bumgarner took to the hill in Atlanta and stirred up some controversy. You see, Bumgarner went the seven innings the league required and didn’t allow a single hit. He threw a complete game, shut out, no-hitter, except for one thing. Major League Baseball is not recognizing the game as a no-hitter because he didn’t retire 27 batters. Hypocrisy much?
Bumgarner’s no rookie. He’s a World Series MVP. He didn’t raise a stink about being shorted the no-no. At this point in his career, he’s the kind of guy who will take comfort in the fact that he didn’t allow a single hit over the time required. He did his job to (near) perfection. Note: he struck out seven, walked none and was one D’Backs error from pitching a perfect game… which probably wouldn’t have counted either.
Bumgarner won’t go full Twitter Schilling pleading his case although inquiring minds want to know how he really feels. The opinions of other old school, sports conservatives piqued my interest on the matter, so I dusted off the Bat Phone to call up my old Point-Counterpoint partner, J-Dub the Ignorant Slut, to have the old curmudgeon put forth his best explanation as to why Bumgarner started the game, finished the game, didn’t allow a hit, received a complete game and a shutout for his efforts, essentially doing everything that baseball asked for… yet didn’t get the ever-coveted no-hitter.
Defend your sport and its record books, sir. Let the debate begin!
Debate? Puh-leeeze… As usual, the Chump has given me more material with which I can continue to fill my special file reserved for the opinions of non-baseball fans.
Nothing entertains me more than listening to somebody who proudly flies their “baseball sucks/is boring/(insert miscellaneous moaning here“) flag, then turns around to pontificate about something in our National Pastime. That begs the question which I really want Chump to answer…”What the fuck do you care?“
Awww, how chivalrous of you, defending the sport you love.
Listen here, Mr. Gimme Three Steps. Before you stick your chest out in defense of baseball’s long-standing and most certainly questionable honor, let me remind you I’m not checking out your girl because she has a nice rack. She only caught my attention because of the ketchup stains all over her blouse. I’m not interested. I just recognize a gross misdoing when I see one.
I can’t help but picture the powers that be in Major League Baseball, i.e., Commissioner Rob Manfred, the owners of the 30 teams, their GMs and representatives of the Players Union sitting around the table in the off-season and discussing how to proceed with a season amidst a still threatening pandemic.
Like the other professional sports that take place during this time, i.e., NHL, NBA, they decided to compact the season, regularly test players and staff accordingly and figure out the best way to fit in a respectable schedule. As I mentioned earlier, double headers last only seven innings.
Did anyone attending these meetings ask the question: what if a no-hitter is pitched in one of these games? The likelihood of this happening was not out of the realm of possibility as we’ve seen since it already happened within the first month of the season. Excluding Bumgarner’s we’ve already had four on the year, a frequency we haven’t seen in over a century.
Major League Baseball has traditionally defined a “no-hitter” as “a game in which a pitcher, or pitchers, gives up no hits while pitching at least nine innings.” Since they are adjusting the season to have games last only seven innings, why not adjust the rules for no-hitters as well?
Baseball is already full of asterisks. What’s one more?
To me, this reeks of baseball’s last ditch effort to try to remind everyone how important they think their record books are instead of changing with the times. Do you think twenty years from now anyone will care that baseball bent the rules to acknowledge Bumgarner’s no-no*? Even Cooperstown, another upstanding institution that allows neither your beloved all-time hit king nor the sport’s home run champion anywhere near its doors, is making a place for the hat Bumgarner wore while blanking the Braves.
There are a few things that need to be changed in this country. Baseball’s holier than thou attitude is one of them. And spare me the whole 27 outs argument that I know is forthcoming. If getting through the lineup a third time is what qualifies as a no-hitter, then why doesn’t it also constitute a complete game, shutout or baseball game in general?
Uh-huh. I could fertilize the Sahara with that lofty load of shit. But for the sake of argument, let’s say you’re swiping your card on that bilge. Even if the Chump were more than a fair-weather jock-sniffer for the Tampa Rays, this all makes it difficult at best to have an intellectual debate with someone so linguistically limited they tried to use “hypocrisy” as a verb. Not only that, his argument is chock full of factual errors. To that end, picture me trying to write this as slowly and clearly as I can so Chump can understand this on the Etch-A-Sketch he thinks is an iPad.
Despite his verbal belching, Chump…and many like him making this argument…have little more than disdain for baseball, and his bloviating shows it. The only thing the Chump knows about baseball is how to pour concessions down his surprisingly-accommodating gullet. For a slim guy who likes to make fun of my size, he can down and entire stadium bratwurst in one gulp. Apparently, when he was younger and needed the money, the Chump made some films of which he’s not particularly proud…but that’s a tale for another day.
The crux of Chump’s argument about Bumgarner’s non-no-hitter is all about the length of the game. The day the Chump sent me his first draft on this piece, the Cubs and the Dodgers were having one of those aforementioned 7-inning twin bills. The Cubs’ Kyle Hendricks tossed a six-hit, one-run complete game to give the Northsiders a “W” in the day’s first tilt. Until the top of the seventh, Hendricks had a shutout going, but then Dodger pinch-hitter Keibert Ruiz deposited a wood-finder into the Wrigley Field bleachers.
The very next day, Baltimore’s John Means tossed an honest-to-goodness nine-inning no-hitter in Seattle. A few days after that, Wade Miley tossed another “no-no” for the Cincinnati Reds. It’s almost as if the baseball gods wanted to show the Chump what a real no-hitter actually is.
But since the Chump is so wrapped up in his self-important pseudo-moralizing, he’s either lost sight of some important facts…or simply ignored them. In order to spell these all out, I’ll start with the Means’ no-hitter. Remember, Chump thinks this is all about the length of the game.
In the case of Means, he had never gone deeper than seven innings in his career, and his 113 pitches were also a career high. Keep that pitch count in mind, because that’s the key to the difference between seven and nine innings; one that’s more than the obvious math.
The pitch count is the metric which drives how managers handle pitchers in today’s game. Say what you will, but the reality is starting pitchers rarely go more than six innings anymore; 100 pitches seems to be the “magic number” which many managers use as a landmark for how long to leave a starter in the game.
Now, in terms of Bumgarner’s performance, there was almost no way he was going to stay in that game if it were a full nine innings. His track record throughout this season bears that out. Bumgarner hadn’t got out of the fifth inning before or in his first start after that double-header. He only went six in the start after that. In fact, the last time Bumgarner went a full seven innings was September of 2019.
The removal of those last two frames completely changes how managers handle pitchers, and double-headers double down on that. In the game in question, Bumgarner was doing his manager a big favor by posting a pitch count which allowed Tory Lovullo not to use his bullpen for as long as possible. But at 98 pitches, there would have been almost no way Bumgarner would have trotted out to the mound for the eighth inning.
Here’s why that matters. The whole point behind the nine-inning length was to establish a minimum of three at-bats for each hitter. That’s the seed from which the magic of a no-hitter grows. It’s not about the number of innings; it’s all in getting through a major league lineup three times unscathed. That’s why the rule is as specific as it is:
Perfect games and No-hitters:
An official perfect game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) retires each batter on the opposing team during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings. In a perfect game, no batter reaches any base during the course of the game.
An official no-hit game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings. In a no-hit game, a batter may reach base via a walk, an error, a hit by pitch, a passed ball or wild pitch on strike three, or catcher’s interference.
~Major League Baseball Official Rule Book
Here’s the fact Chump is ignoring: the length of a Major League Baseball game has always been subject to change. All major league games are official after five innings. That means there are plenty of games which were scheduled for nine but didn’t go the distance. That also means there’s all sorts of stats from four-inning games which got flushed when the game was canceled. By itself, that invalidates the “length of the game” argument.
But what really invalidates his argument is his complete dis-ingeniousness. “I just recognize a gross misdoing when I see one”…what a load of bullshit. Not only is his main argument demonstrably invalid, it only exists as part of his usual shitting all over baseball. Chump can’t bring himself to understand that the dynamic nature of a “complete game” does not necessarily meet the strictly defined standard of a “no-hitter” as it exists now. Granted, I would be in complete agreement that Commissioner Manfred and the rest of the powers that be running Major League baseball errored when they didn’t consider stuff like this when they established the seven-inning complete game. I also understand there’s a host of reasons why they didn’t, but those are for another time. The fact is they didn’t, and that is the most important fact to Chump. He doesn’t give a shit about no-hitters; he just wants to shit all over baseball.
If you doubt that, just look at the rest of his laughably off-topic rant, because it leads to one rule he from which even he can’t escape. His “length of game” argument has already been shown to be invalid. That’s the proverbial “strike one.” I can’t tell if he knew the spine of his argument was so twisted as to be unsupporting, or if he decided to swing at two pitches so far out of the strike zone because he doesn’t know that rule either.
Bringing up record books and the Hall of Fame to point out the supposed “injustice” being done to Madison Bumgarner as part of something “systemic” is like shooting out all your light bulbs so the sun will go down. They don’t have anything to do with each other.
Sports media has waged a war on the “record books” since the dawn of time. Even if you can’t understand what their fascination with Sabremetrics has done, why do you think ESPN managed to make a show solely about baseball completely unwatchable and why it took all the way until Mariano Rivera for a unanimous induction into the Hall of Fame? Not to mention the “asterisk*” is an urban legend with the sole exception of Roger Maris in 1961…a piece of punctuation which was removed in 1991.
As far as the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum (NBHOFM) is concerned, it’s obvious Chump doesn’t know this is an organization which has no official ties to Major League Baseball. The only connection is the NBHOFM formally excludes people on MLB’s “Permanently Ineligible” list. Chump brings this topic up because in another example of his disdain for the rules, he’s one of those soft-brains who thinks Pete Rose belongs in the Hall.
He doesn’t because he broke the one rule which historically everybody in the game knew would get you banned. I’m not getting fully into that debate; a guest columnist on Dubsism already handled that. The bottom line is the NBHOFM could change its policies tomorrow and put Rose in Cooperstown tomorrow if it so desired.
But it doesn’t.
I’ll call that one a “foul tip” because the Chump actually touches on something that does need to change. When it comes to the whole “steroid” thing in baseball, we must never forget that this version of “Chemical McCarthyism” was brought to you by the baseball writers as an attempt to discredit Barry Bonds…and these are the very same writers who the NBHOFM allows to decide who gets enshrinement.
If there were ever an area where the NBHOFM needed a change in it’s procedures, their process for induction is at the head of the list. Again, the “nuts and bolts” of how to fix that problem is for another day; the point here is that Chump once again is assigning blame where there is none to be had. Who’s in and who’s out of the Hall of Fame is strictly a function of the NBHOFM and it’s policies; it has nothing to do with MLB and Commissioner Manfred.
And that’s strike three. You’re out, Chump.
Now who’s the “ignorant slut?”
Always a pleasure to host a friendly debate with you, my brother… especially when you’re wrong. Until the next.