Why MLB Should've Given R.A. Dickey His No-Hitter (And Why MLB Didn't)

Illustration for article titled Why MLB Should've Given R.A. Dickey His No-Hitter (And Why MLB Didn't)

Earlier today, Barry argued that a no-hitter has a particular, ineffable importance:

A no-hitter is about the mounting pressure of the late innings, the superstitious avoidance of a pitcher in the dugout, the social aspect of calling and texting all your friends to tell them to put on the game, and foremost, the gleeful dogpile celebration on the mound. A distant last is the actual "not giving up a hit" part.


Horsefeathers. A no-hitter is about not giving up any hits. That is the only thing it is about. It is one of baseball's signature pointless statistical oddities, like hitting for the cycle. Home run, triple, double, single: you've done something immortal. Hit two homers and two doubles—a more valuable offensive performance, and a rarer one—and you're just some guy who had a good day.

This notion that a no-hitter must have some magical meaning is what led jackass commissioner Fay Vincent to get his Committee on Statistical Accuracy to screw Andy Hawkins and a bunch of other pitchers out of their due. In 1990, Hawkins pitched a full game and allowed no hits, but his team played awful defense behind him and they lost 4-0, on the road. That meant that the winning team didn't need to bat in the bottom of the ninth, so Hawkins only got credit for 8 innings.

But he still didn't give up any hits.

That offended Vincent's sense of dignity, and so a year later his committee declared that any game like Hawkins's—in which the pitcher allowed zero hits, but didn't reach the nine-inning benchmark—would not be recognized as a no-hitter. Despite the fact that nobody got a hit.

This is baseball, not ice dancing. There's no place for notions about the "correct," most aesthetically pleasing way to do something. A screaming line drive up the middle is a base hit. So is a crappy little topper that dies on the infield before anybody can make a play on it. So, for that matter, is anything else that the official scorer deems to have been a base hit.

This argument about the rightness of re-scoring B.J. Upton's ground ball as an error on David Wright is an argument about whether R.A. Dickey's performance on Wednesday—by game score, currently the 12th-best game in Mets history—possesses the same mystical value as a game that's not in the Mets' top 20.


Awarding Dickey an after-the-fact no-hitter would have been the perfect counterweight to the bogus Hawkins decision. That's why baseball didn't have the nerve to do it.