(Photo from Yahoo! Sports)
That game had pretty much everything you wanted in a baseball contest, no? A no-hitter by Beckett taken to the 7th despite some mighty jinxing on Eckersley’s part (more on that in a moment), everyone – including David Ortiz(!) – getting in on the hit parade, some excellent defense in service of the then no-hitter, and even a little drama at the end there with the Tigers mounting what was an ultimately fruitless but still a bit nervous-making comeback. Also, the Sox won, which is always good times.
But about Dennis Eckersley…
Sir, are you or are you not a Hall of Fame pitcher? I know you are. I’ve been to the hallowed halls of Cooperstown and seen your flowing locks cast in bronze for all the baseball-loving world to admire. That fact alone should indicate that you, yourself, were a baseball player, among the world’s most superstitious of characters. And you were, as you kept mentioning last night, also a pitcher. Now I realize that you’ve personally never thrown a no-hitter, but surely you’ve seen many happen. (Edit: I’ve been corrected by an anonymous commentor, Dennis, is that you? Eck has in fact thrown a no-hitter. In May 1977. Nevertheless.) As such, you clearly know the protocol of NOT MENTIONING THAT THE PITCHER IS THROWING A NO-HITTER. You cleverly dance around the issue. You say things like “All zeroes through seven frames for Beckett” or “Whole lotta nothing happening for the Detroit offense this evening.” You might comment on the pitcher’s superstition or how no one is talking to him in the dugout but you CERTAINLY DON’T SAY WHY. And you ABSOLUTELY don’t mention the phrase “no-hitter.” And if you break protocol and do mention it? You pretend it never happened. You don’t say it seemingly thirty more times. The fans know what’s going on. We’re smart people. Trust me, we’re paying attention.
Now, I realize that sometimes it’s difficult. Especially for someone like Eck who is prone to verbal tidal waves. Especially when you disagree vehemently with something happening on the field. Like Gerald Laird’s attempt last night to break up the no-hitter with a bunt bid. Cheap, Eck thought and I happen to agree. I also greatly enjoyed Eck’s disgust and discussion with Orsillo about whether or not Beckett should throw the next pitch over Laird’s head. See, Eck is just like us. He gives voice to his prejudices and emotions and is a paranoid homer. And it’s delightful. But, Dennis, please, remember that we don’t say “no-hitter” around these parts during a game. Not now, not ever.