While we wait for his publicist to confirm or deny, let’s assume that Stevie Wonder was not thinking baseball when he penned his classic, “Superstition,” for Motown Records in 1972.
But he just as well might have been, because there can be no truer statement than the “when you believe in things that you don’t understand, then you suffer” line; especially when it comes to baseball and superstition.
Unfortunately, there is no way to quantify the usefulness of most of this stuff. I mean, how are we going to compare the instances of a pitcher jumping over the chalk line to his ability to get guys out? Number of turned-around caps to actual comeback rallies resulting in victory? There’s just no way.
Wade Boggs was a great ball player; we’re talking .328-with-3010-hits-lifetime great. Ate a bleepload of chicken before games too. But did the fowl make a difference, and if so, how much? And you probably don’t want to get me started on the whole red underwear thing, and what that meant might’ve meant to his OBP.
So is it any wonder that Dodgers’ hurler Chris Capuano carried a no-hitter into the late innings at Miami Sunday and didn’t get the required 27 outs? Come on. How could he possibly, with the lamest of the lame superstitions in sports, if not all of humanity, starting him in the face.
Almost without exception, baseball players do not talk to a pitcher in the midst of a no-hit performance, and Los Angeles stuck to tradition yesterday. So there should have been no big surprise when Marlins’ shortstop Jose Reyes lined a sharp single to center in the seventh, leaving our man eight outs short of immortality. “Superstition ain’t the way, no, no, no.” Translation: No no-no for Capuano. A no-no? No. No no-no.
As best we can, let’s do the math. Beginning with Joe Borden in 1875 straight on through to Matt Cain’s perfect game June 13 in San Francisco, all told there have been 277 no-hitters thrown in major league history. That’s 277, out of what, hundreds of thousands of chances? A million ballgames, maybe.
And how many one-hitters, two-hitters, three-hitters have been recorded, in which the man had his gem broken up late, with nothing and no one to keep him company but what he can only hope are his heretofore untested nerves of steel? I’ll tell you how many. Oh, I’ll tell you how many. It’s incalculable is how many. That’s how many.
We’re talking countless masterpieces, literally thousands of them, all fallen by the wayside in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings of games, each and every one of them with the poor schlub standing on the mound in virtual solitary confinement.
This silent treatmenting of pitchers during no-hitters has got to stop. Really, it simply must stop. Because clearly, it does not work. It doesn’t work. It does not work!
Look baseball, talk to the damn guy. He’s got a much better chance. “The writing’s on the wall,” OK. Talk to the pitcher. He’s your teammate, for Capuano’s sake. You want a no-hitter on your side of the ledger, talk to the damn guy! Your opponents are sitting in the other dugout with their caps on backwards , so increase your chances. Talk to the damn guy!!