SAY IT AIN'T SO

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The Phillip Hughes of Down Under
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by Different Matt

THE BRONX, NY – If you were up late Wednesday night watching the Yankee game, you were treated to a stellar pitching performance from Phil Hughes. Hughes got through the 7th inning without allowing a hit. The A’s finally broke through in the hit column with one out in the 8th, and Hughes had to settle for a solid 1-hit performance.

I realized that Hughes was on early in the ball game. He had all of his pitches working and he was locating his pitches well. By the end of the fourth inning, I though it might be a special game. Then it happened. Ken Singleton mentioned the no-hitter after the fifth. I’m not a very superstitious person and I’m not sure when or why it became taboo, but mentioning a no-hitter in progress has always made me uneasy.

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Working at Yankee Stadium for ten years starting in the late ‘90s, I was fortunate enough to witness a few no-hitters. The first came in 1996 when Doc Gooden threw his no-no in pinstripes. I remember fans saying things like, “You see what Doc is doing?” and “Notice anything about the scoreboard?” but I can’t remember anyone actually saying the words “no-hitter” until after the last out was recorded.

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In 1998, when David Wells threw his perfecto, I remember a fan in the upper deck being doused in beer for mentioning the no-hitter in the 7th inning. The beer seems to have worked and the perfect game was preserved. A year later David Cone threw his perfect game without incident.

I don’t know why I get caught up in this superstition. I almost turned off the game Wednesday night when Singleton mentioned the no-hitter. At that point I was certain the no-no wouldn’t happen and figured I’d go to bed. I eventually decided to keep watching and after the sixth inning I was feeling better about my decision. I convinced myself that it was a stupid and arbitrary superstition and that it had no bearing on the game. I was an idiot for caring about the perceived taboo.

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    Hey Ken, what are Hughes doin’?

I remember watching Mike Mussina’s bid for a perfect game in 2001 (against David Cone) without sound for fear of Statler & Waldorf in the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball broadcast booth at Fenway mentioning the no-hitter. With two outs in the ninth and a two-strike count to Carl Everett (who doesn’t believe that dinosaurs ever existed by the way), Mussina grooved a pitch that Everett lined for a base hit. Everett celebrated like he had just won the World Series after the hit.

I’m sure that Mets fans can’t relate to my feelings about no-hitters. No pitcher has ever thrown one in a Met uniform. Sure plenty of pitchers have thrown no-hitters after leaving the Mets, like Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Hideo Nomo, and the aforementioned Dwight Gooden and David Cone, but, amazin’ly, no ones ever done it for the Mets.

Eventually Hughes gave up the hit, and I went to sleep, dreaming of what could have been if Singleton had honored the stupid superstition.

Sneak Peak Saturday, tomorrow.

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