Yu Darvish was perfect through the seventh inning against the Red Sox last night until David Ortiz hit a routine pop-up into shallow right field. It fell between Alex Rios and Rougned Odor and was officially ruled an error, thus preserving a no-hitter. For two innings the baseball world sat on the precipice of a Seussian meltdown; some rallied around the rulebook (it's in the rules, it doesn't have to touch his glove), others rallied around convention (doesn't matter, it's never called an error). The oven was pre-heating and the hot takes were ready to go and then David Ortiz saved the day.
Ortiz once again found a hole in the shift, but this time it was incontrovertibly a hit. It was Darvish's third brush with a major pitching feat—he lost a perfect game with two outs in the ninth and another no-hitter in the eighth against the Astros last year—and another tough break for Darvish. Happily for the rest of us, there was none of the gray area that makes baseball at times very fun and exciting and at others the worst fucking thing on the planet.
Ortiz got a hit and Baseball was saved the ignominy of having a possibly-questionable-not-really-sure-if-it-should-count-but-there-it-is-anyway no-hitter on the books. This is a real concern for the sport, for the ones covering the sport, and for the ones yelling loudly about the sport in a bar.
There is no question that is exactly what that battle is about, either. Baseball more than any sport is obsessed with history. It's the same reason they won't vote Barry Bonds into the Hall of Fame or that Greg Maddux wasn't a unanimous selection. Baseball is hyper-aware of it's own history and hilariously requires things be on the up-and-up because Baseball wants to preserve and enshrine everything it possibly can. It can't have some un-earned achievement discrediting all the other legitimate ones. What will the future generations say about that? This is how a no-hitter with a questionable call drives people so fucking bonkers that they asterisk it.
All this serves as background for the meltdown on MLB Network; the collective sensitivity to Baseball's legacy, in real time, made that possible. It could have been even worse but for Ortiz's single in the ninth inning. It wouldn't have been Yu Darvish Pitches No-Hitter. It would have been Did Yu Darvish Pitch No-Hitter? What's the correct interpretation of the rules? Does Baseball Have An Official Scorers Problem? And the game gets lost forever in the argument over what it means.
But here's the thing, if you were watching that ninth inning, no one in that stadium cared. They were home fans about to watch their ace throw a no-hitter and they were jacked up. No one was debating whether it was truly an error, they were just having fun watching a baseball game. Yu Darvish's no-hitter gone wrong provided everything that is great and terrible about baseball.