|ESPN.com: 2009||[Print without images]|
Matt Garza of the Tampa Bay Rays threw the fifth no-hitter of the year Monday, which is patently ridiculous -- even in the Year of the Pitcher.
Somewhere, some of history's greatest pitchers are chewing holes in their lips because they never threw one. In fact, when it comes to great pitchers, you could do a Who's Who of Who Didn't:
Don Drysdale, Steve Carlton, Whitey Ford, Ferguson Jenkins and Greg Maddux, to name five. John Smoltz, Don Sutton and Roger Clemens never had one, either. Roger the Rocket! That's like Ben Hogan never having a hole-in-one! (But he did. He had two.)
Do you realize that of the 71 pitchers in the Hall of Fame, only 30 have thrown verified no-hitters?
You know who has thrown a no-hitter? A whole collection of card-carrying nobodies. Ed Halicki (1975), Mike Warren (1983), Joe Cowley (1986) and Tommy Greene (1991) have done it, to everybody's complete shock. Juan Nieves of the Milwaukee Brewers threw one against the Orioles in 1987. He was out of baseball by the next year. Jose Jimenez threw one in his rookie year for St. Louis -- a sign of great things that were never to come. Jimenez went 5-14 that season with a 5.85 ERA.
And then there's Bud Smith.
My point exactly.
Smith is generally considered the lousiest pitcher of the past quarter-century to throw a no-hitter. He did it for the Cardinals in 2001. It was the highlight of his career. Of course, when your entire career is a 7-8 record and an ERA of nearly 5, just walking around the mound without bursting into a ball of flames is a highlight.
Still, he can always go up to Roger Clemens in a bar and say, "So, Rog, how come you never threw a no-no? Me, I never had a problem with it."