Quickly now…what do Ubaldo Jiménez, Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay, Edwin Jackson and Matt Garza all have in common? You probably guessed that each has thrown no-hitters in the major leagues this season. This is incorrect. OK, try this. What do Al Geiberger, Chip Beck, David Duval, Paul Goydos and Stuart Appleby have in common. Again, did you blurt out, “They’ve all shot 59 in a PGA TOUR event!” Wrongo. Oh, I’m sure these pitchers and golfers all think they did these things but, in my mind, they did not. That’s because the benchmarks we all cherish in every sport should be reserved for legends.
Since the first recognized no-hitter was thrown by George Bradley, of the St. Louis Brown Stockings (try marketing that team name and logo, folks) on July 15, 1876, the no-no has been the domain of the game’s biggest arms. Nolan Ryan, who threw seven no-hitters, epitomized the event. Ryan, then 26, threw his first no-hitter for the California Angels in May 1973. He threw his last one in May 1991 at the age of 44. In that final classic, Ryan struck out Blue Jays’ second baseman Roberto Alomar for the final out. In the first two of Ryan’s no-hitters for the Angels, Alomar’s father, Sandy Sr., was the Angels’ second baseman playing behind Ryan! Are you kidding? That’s a legend, folks. Ryan deserved as many no-nos as he could pile up.
So did Christy Mathewson, Smoky Joe Wood, Carl Hubbell, Bob Feller, Allie Reynolds, Lew Burdette, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Catfish Hunter, Bob Gibson, Jim Palmer and Vida Blue. They all threw one (or more) no-hitters. Excellence. The name goes with the spectacle. Randy “Big Unit” Johnson did it twice, with the second one being a perfect game. Perfect!
The best day ever for fans of no-hitters was June 29, 1990. I sat at SkyDome with my wife and some friends (one of whom had forgotten to wear her glasses and kept asking, “What happened?”) when Oakland’s Dave Stewart no-hit the Blue Jays. Just a few hours later, Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers did the same thing. Two huge names. Two no-hitters. Same day. Only time in MLB history.
So, can you see my problem? Among this year’s no-hit tossers, only Roy Halladay belongs. The other guys are just names filling out a list. A.J. Burnett once threw a no-hitter while allowing nine walks. That should be rescinded. Five walks maximum. Dwight Gooden threw a no-hitter. Good. Bud Smith, with a career record of 7-8, threw one for the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001. No good.
This goes for every sport. If Wilt Chamberlain’s single-game record of 100 points is going to be broken this season in the NBA, it’s got to be by Kobe Bryant. Dwyane Wade would be fine. Kevin Durant makes sense. About 440 other guys do not.
Phil Mickelson. Tiger Woods. Jack Nicklaus. Those guys can shoot 59. Paul Goydos? Please! For years, Al Geiberger was known as “Mr. 59.” I am not going to refer to Paul Goydos or Stuart Appleby as “Mr. 59.” Appleby, despite his 59 yesterday, is 94th in the world. Goydos, who shot 59 last month, is 110th.
I cannot embrace these pretenders to greatness. Darryl Sittler had ten points in an NHL game. Lee Stempniak better not even consider coming close to that record. Don’t even think about it, Joe Pavelski. John Tavares, Henrik Sedin, Patrick Kane. You’ll all be superstars. You have my permission to proceed.
Are you with me?