The entirely predictable happened. A pitcher threw a seven-inning no-hitter and a lot of people don't know what to do with it. Who could have possibly seen this coming except for everyone?
When Major League Baseball started experimenting with indicas, seven-inning doubleheaders and ghost runners on second base last year, it was seen as an almost necessary tinkering to get through a pandemic-plagued season where the main goal was to keep enough trains on the track to ensure a postseason and less-disastrous revenue losses.
The gadget stuff isn't aging as well now that some form of normalcy has returned. Look no further than Arizona's Madison Bumgarner, who twirled seven frames yesterday without allowing an Atlanta hit. Seven innings were all that were officially scheduled. So it's an official game. Simple as that.
Now, does that feel right? Not really. But this is the Pandora's Box baseball has opened. If these shortened games count in the standings and the stats accumulated in them go toward the final tally, then of course they are every bit as valid and important as a nine-inning affair. Bumgarner's no-no deserves to stand as an equal with the longer ones, unsullied by an asterisk.
Dumb? Yeah, kind of. Yet why should Bumgarner be the one who is saddled with caveats when he was most harmed by a truncated experience? No one would have liked to see him go for nine full hitless more than himself. He and every other pitcher who starts in a doubleheader now enters knowing that, best-case scenario, they'll perform so well that future generations will debate if their greatness should count.
Not a great situation.
Thinking people can be trusted to have a no-hitter or perfect game identified as of the seven-inning variety. But it's not Bumgarner's record book. Or Stugotz' personal record book. It's Major League Baseball's. And if these are the games they want to play, they should wear the consequences and not reverse-engineer a situation to save face.
No one should lose sleep over the classification of Bumgarner's outing. Yet it's silly to think that records and stand-alone accomplishments are not a crucial part of baseball's framework. No sport takes numbers and in-game benchmarks more seriously. That we're even having this discussion is proof positive that there's been some sloppy handling of big-picture issues from on high.
Keith Olbermann made a smart point about the artificial timeframes being imposed on the sport, which always boastfully pointed out there was no clock. It seems none of the clocks match. And when that happens, confusion reigns.
Is Bumgarner's accomplishment hollow? Yes. And he's the one who feels that. Further penalizing him for a position baseball foisted upon him, though, is making the little guy bear the brunt of the burden.
This is what Major League Baseball wanted and this is what they're getting. Just because it's sort of dumb doesn't mean it didn't happen.