R.A. Dickey has back-to-back 1-hitters

Asked right after the Tampa game how it felt to lose his Mets-record scoreless string on an unearned run in the 9th, the ever-placid Dickey said only, “It’s a good time to start another one.”

And how.

On the heels of his dazz-baffling 1-hit, 12-K, 0-walk, ER-shutout of the Rays, R.A. Dickey got a clean 1-hit shutout of the Orioles Monday night, with 13 strikeouts to match the Mets’ high of the last 5 years. The only blots were a line single by Wilson Betemit on a straight-ish knuckler with 2 out in the 5th, snapping a 12-IP hitless skein, and full-count walks to Betemit in the 8th and to pitcher Jake Arrieta in the 3rd, that one snapping the perfect game.

Perfect game? You think such thoughts with Dickey on the hill these days.

The tricksy pitch that was a wonder from the opening toss in Tampa got better as this game moved briskly on. Few balls were hit hard: Betemit’s single was the first ball to reach the outfield. David Wright, the maybe-culprit in the last one-hitter, snared a liner in the 6th, reaching to his right but not diving, then made a smooth swiping pickup of an in-between bounder (and then a steady throw) for the next out. That was about it.

The corner pasturemen got the night off. There were two lazy flies to CF; everything else was on the infield, mostly in Josh Thole‘s glove — or that of Ike Davis, when Thole had to track down strike 3 and complete the out. The shimmy-shake reached a sublimely ridiculous apex in the 8th, when a pitch to poor Nick Johnson — getting his first glimpse — took an abrupt left turn away from his bat in mid-swing. The next offering was fouled off his shin, leaving Johnson (as usual) hobbling. The next was called strike 3, strikeout number 11.

The O’s didn’t like some of the calls, and maybe they were right sometimes. Maybe the last pitch to J.J. Hardy in the 9th should have been ball four instead of strikeout number 12. But with a lineup that leads the majors in Ks, it was just a matter of time.

And to make sure it didn’t all go to waste, Ike Davis launched his first-ever grand slam with 2 gone in the 6th for the game’s first runs. It felt like ten runs. That rally, too, began with Dickey’s leadoff single. It all comes back to Dickey now.

You can’t help but think of Vander Meer and the record you’ve heard all your life would never be matched. You can’t help but think, how close it was. One split-second judgment and a skip off the infield skin, and one butterfly that missed the breeze: that’s all that came between Robert Alan Dickey and immortality.

We’ll save the rest of the “first since…” and “only guy ever to…” for another time. The performance, like the pitch and pitcher that produced it, is unquantifiable.


The Mets are having just about as interesting of a season as you can have without making the playoffs.

David Wright batting .400 through game 45. Ike Davis forgetting how to hit a pitched ball. The unexpected everyday presence of The Nieuw Kid. Back from dicey surgery, Johan slaking a half-century’s no-hit thirst. Frank Francisco, on the brink of rejection like a transplanted organ, delivering a post-game rant somehow redolent of Pedro’s “sitting under a mango tree without 50 cents to pay for the bus” monologue, then making an abrupt U-turn towards dominance. Shortstops and left fielders dropping like Spinal Tap drummers.

And now, for the first time in 27 years, a Mets pitcher has found a groove that makes him seem a no-hit threat every time out.

It can’t go on forever. Even as we dream that Dickey’s invention, the hard knuckler, is the new Perfect Pitch, we know in our hardened hearts that every action in this grand old game has an equal and opposite reaction. There’ll be another rainy night in Georgia when the floater flops. The spell will be broken, and Dickey will go back to the solid pitcher he was before the pixie dust fell.

Enjoy it while you can, baseball fans.

85 thoughts on “R.A. Dickey has back-to-back 1-hitters

  1. 1
    Mike L says:

    Drink it in, John A. In sports, as in life, there are very few moments of perfect contentment.

    • 10
      Shping says:

      Well said, Mike, and yes, savor it in good health John! Plus, there’s an added bonus for Mets and other baseball fans: continuing to steal headlines from the other NY team and their rumored winning streak.

  2. 2
    Jason Z says:

    Maybe it can’t go on forever. But with the injury to Roy Halladay,
    and the Zitoesque all at once decline of Tim Lincecum, the door is
    open for NL Cy Young.

    The hard knuckler continues to baffle hitters for the rest of this
    season. Eventually hitters will figure him out. His recent dominance
    suggests it may not occur this season. If it doesn’t…

    RA Dickey your 2012 NL Cy Young award winner…

  3. 3
    Phil says:

    Is is safe to assume that 95 and 96 are the highest back-to-back game scores ever?

    • 4
      John Autin says:

      Phil, I tried to get that answer for you, but suddenly it seems the Play Index is in heavy use — streak searches (the most memory-intensive search) are timing out.

      I wouldn’t be so sure it’s a record, though. High Game Scores can come from long games as well as from high-K dominance.

    • 5
      John Autin says:

      I can tell you the number of pitchers with 2 Game Scores of 95+ in one season, by decade:
      — 2000-12, 5 (counting Dickey)
      — 1990s, 3
      — 1980s, 1 (John Candelaria, 1988?!?)
      — 1970s, 7
      — 1960s, 4
      — 1950s, 1 (Mickey McDermott, 1951)
      — 1940s, none
      — 1930s, 1 (Red Ruffing, 1932)
      — 1920s, none
      — 1918, 1 (Walter Johnson)

    • 23
      birtelcom says:

      The Play Index, going back to 1918, shows no previous consecutive games of Game Scores of 95 or more

    • 24
      John Autin says:

      Phil — Here’s the only other instance I can find of back-to-back Game Scores of 95+ since 1918:

      Bob Veale had a 97 GS in his last start of 1964, and a 95 in his first start of ’65. In between, he had relief outing, 2 IP, 5 Ks in 7 batters.

      I wouldn’t hold a relief appearance against a “consecutive starts” streak, but spanning two years is a tough sell.

      • 27
        birtelcom says:

        Nice find, John. For a true streak of Game Scores in the mid-90s (no relief appearance and no off-season in between) you just need to go down to a 94 Game Score. Dean Chance in 1964 had a 2-hit 15-K shutout in a 1-0 win over the Red Sox on June 2, then on June 6 pitched 14 innings and gave up only three hits, but the Angels lost the game to the Yankees (Jim Bouton pitched 13 shutout innings in that one). That ’64 season was Dean’s one transcendent year — his 9.1 WAR that season is the best WAR ever by an AL pitcher in his age 23 season.

        • 36
          Phil says:

          Thanks for checking all that out.

          I did a very unscientific scan last night of the best seasons by Koufax, Ryan, Johnson, Pedro, and Clemens, plus Gibson’s ’68. I think the only back-to-back 90s I found were by Pedro in 1999. Taking into account degree-of-difficulty, this has to rank near or at the top:

          Sept. 4 vs. Seattle — the Mariners scored 859 runs that year, and had Griffey, A-Rod, and Edgar batting 3-4-5; Pedro pitched 8 innings, 2 hits, 3 walks, 15 K, no runs, GS of 90.

          Sept. 10 vs. New York — the Yankees scored 900 runs and won the World Series; Pedro pitched a complete game, 1 hit, no walks, 17 k, one run (Chili Davis HR), GS of 98.

          Both games were on the road.

  4. 6
    Doug says:

    Dickey’s gems are the first back-to-back one-hitters since Dave Stieb on Sep 24th and 30th, 1988. Stieb had only 12 strikeouts total in the two games (plus 3 BB and 2 HBP) for games scores of 91 and 88.

    • 8
      Doug says:

      Others are:
      – Sam McDowell, Apr 25 & May 1, 1966. 18K, 11 BB.
      – Whitey Ford, Sep 2 & 7, 1955. 7 K, 10 BB. Neither game a shutout
      – Jim Tobin, Apr 23 & 27, 1944. 6 K, 3 BB. No Ks in 1st game. No-hitter in 2nd game.
      – Mort Cooper, May 31 & Jun 4, 1943. 7 K, 3 BB.
      – Johnny Vander Meer (of course), Jun 11 & 15, 1938. 11 K, 11 BB
      – Lon Warneke, Apr 17 & 22, 1934. 18 K, 8 BB. 1st game on opening day & 2nd game not a shutout.
      – Dazzy Vance, Sep 8 & 13, 1925. 15 K, 1 BB. 2nd game a no-hitter but not a shutout. Game scores of 91 and 93.
      – Howard Ehmke, Sep 7 & 11, 1923. 6 K, 2 BB. 1st game a no-hitter with only 1 K.

    • 9
      MikeD says:

      Doug, thanks. I was wondering when the last pitcher tossed back-to-back one-hitters. I did see John reference R.A. as the first Met pitcher in twenty-seven years to be a threat to throw a no-hitter each time out, so I thought maybe Dwight Gooden had done it in the mid-80s.

      Has any pitcher ever tossed three consecutive one-hitters? Or a couple one-hitters and a two hitter consecutively? Just wondering what we should be looking for the next time R.A. takes the mound!

      • 12
        topper009 says:

        Stieb’s were his last 2 starts of 88 (preceded by a 4 hit shutout). He started 89 with a pathetic 4 hit, 1 run 8 inning no decision, but followed that with another 1 hit shutout.

        So 3 of 4 outings, but over 2 seasons.
        5 outings covering 44 IP with only 11 hits allowed.

        Alexander Cartwright would not tolerate this level of baseball blessing for long, the next outing for Stieb lasted 0.1 IP yielding 6 runs.

      • 13
        Doug says:

        I can tell you that:
        – Tobin preceded his pair with a 3 hitter in his first start of the season
        – Vander Meer sandwiched his no-hitters with a 3 and a 4 hitter. Preceding the 3 hitter were two straight 5 hitters. He won every time in that string of 6 complete games.

      • 16
        Doug says:

        Here are the longest complete game streaks (3 games) allowing 3 or fewer hits:

        1918-1968: http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/aYKAG
        1969-2012: http://bbref.com/pi/shareit/TsSbV

        Most recent is Roger Clemens for the Blue Jays, Aug 20, 25 & 30, 1998, all shutouts. In his next start on Sep 5, Roger allowed 3 hits over 8 innings.

        • 18
          Richard Chester says:

          And I have mentioned in a recent post that there have been 6 pitchers who threw a total of 3 games with 0 or 1 hit in a game in a season: Virgil Trucks, Jim Tobin, Bob Feller, Dean Chance, Nolan Ryan and Dave Stieb.

  5. 7
    Max says:

    I can’t tell which name is more fun to say, Dickey or Duda. Both make me giggle.

  6. 11
    topper009 says:

    Nice job mentioning Vander Meer, he was the first thing to come to my mind. Clearly, his record is not unbreakable. It is a long shot but its not like Vander Meer was the greatest pitcher in history. Stieb and now Dickey have back-to-back-one-pitch-away-from-tying efforts plus maybe others.

    511 wins, unless MLB implements a rule banning relief pitching, is unbreakable.

    Also this is now 43 straight IP without allowing a run, might the bulldog be sniffing a contender in his yard?

    • 35
      nightfly says:

      Sadly, that last streak is going to be safe for a while. Tampa scratched an unearned run off RA last start – error, passed ball, passed ball, ground out.

      I do think Vander Meer’s record is unbreakable, however: none other than Charlie Hustle pointed out that to better it, you would need to throw THREE consecutive no-hitters. Hard enough lately to throw three straight complete games.

      Consider that only three pitchers in all MLB history have ever thrown three no-hitters in a career… There’s just so much game-to-game variance, it’s hard to imagine getting through the lineup without a Baltimore chopper or a blooper. Every borderline call would have to go your way. Just so tough. To put it another way: if RA did, indeed, just throw two straight no-nos, could we realistically expect him to toss the third against the Yankees this Sunday?

      • 40
        John Autin says:

        FWIW, my original phrase was that Vander Meer’s record “would never be matched.” I think it goes without saying that it will never be surpassed.

        • 41
          Richard Chester says:

          In 1947 Ewell Blackwell of the Reds came within two outs of matching Vander Meer’s record.

          • 79
            bstar says:

            In a different way Dave Stieb in 1988 came within two outs of Vander Meer also. Both of his consecutive one-hitters were broken up with two outs in the 9th inning, one out away from a no-no.

  7. 14
    MikeD says:

    I’ve been following Dickey since 1996 when he was first signed by the Texas Rangers.

    A variation on a well-told story, I was a subscriber to Baseball America (only print in those years) and remember quite well the photo of Dickey and four other Olympic pitchers posing on the cover. At that point in my career I worked with photographers quite a bit, so I was kind of mystified as to why the person who shot the cover had all five pitchers aligned, with their arms hanging flush, that is all except one. Dickey’s was at a slightly cocked angle and I couldn’t figure out why they didn’t align him to complete the symmetry.

    Well, as I’m sure most of you know, the team physician for the Texas Rangers, who had just signed Dickey, wondered the same thing, although his immediate thought wasn’t what’s wrong with the photo, but what the hell is wrong with Dickey’s arm! They called him in and found he had no ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. They ripped up his contract for roughly 800K and gave him a new one for only 75K, almost as a mercy signing as they figured there’s no chance his arm would hold up, even though he had probably pitched his entire life without the ligament.

    Yup, being on the cover of Baseball America cost him more than $700,000 dollars, so from that point forward I followed Dickey through the minors, rooting for him when he made the majors, no matter what team he was on. Then when he started flirting with the knuckleball I was even more hopeful, as it appeared once Wakefield retired there would be no good knuckleball pitcher in the majors.

    I’m glad he mastered it, and I get to see him here in NY, now sixteen years removed from that famous (perhaps he would say infamous) Baseball America cover. It’s stories like this that add a great deal of flavor and fun to watching baseball.

  8. 15
    MikeD says:

    I forgot the most important question I meant to ask related to Dickey and his missing ligament.

    Has anyone wondered if the reason he has such a unique knuckleball is because of his unique arm? Maybe the missing ligament is why he can throw a harder knuckler and with more control than post knuckleballers. Sorry if this has been written about in the past and I’m late to the party.

    • 17
      John Autin says:

      Interesting question, MikeD. I’ve never considered it before. I wonder if there would be any way to approach it, even pseudo-scientifically. After all, it’s not as though his lack of a UCL prevents him from throwing traditional pitches of at least MLB-fringe-caliber. He was a decent pitcher in the PCL for several years with a standard arsenal before taking up the knuckler in earnest.

      And I can’t say that when I see him throw a fastball, which he does at least a few times a game, I recognize any physical oddity in his delivery. Can you?

      BTW, I believe Dickey had not yet signed a contract when the missing ligament was detected.

      Also BTW, I’ve never seen the oft-mentioned photo, and I couldn’t find it just now via google. Can you help with that?

      • 19
      • 21
        MikeD says:

        I never considered it either until I started thinking more about the unique nature of his knuckler, which then got me to thinking about the unique nature of his arm. My guess is probably not, but it’s something I won’t dismiss entirely since we have heard of pitchers seemingly helped by their hand deformities. Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown as one example, and Bob Wickman another. The difference, though, is their missing fingers, or part of a finer, touched the ball, perhaps impacting its rotation, where Dickey’s missing UCL does not. Perhaps as his pitching successes increase, we’ll hear more from the so-called medical experts.

        As for the contract, I think you’re correct. If he had signed the contract then they would not have been able to rip it up, so I’m guessing they must have had an agreement pending physical. The leads me to wonder if they would have discovered it during the normal physical. I don’t know. I’m guessing an MRI is not part of the normal signing physicals unless they suspect something was wrong.

        Last, I see Voomo found a copy. I still have the original buried in a box and perhaps one will get RA to sign it. Not sure how I’ll accomplish that, but where there’s a will there’s a way. I’m hoping he views it more with humor all these years later. He seems pretty zen, so I’m guessing he would.

        Here are a few more samples from a Google search. I will say the third photo over on the top line has nothing to do with the BA cover. I don’t know what’s going on in it, but Dickey’s teammate seems way too excited to see Dickey. Way too excited.


        • 22
          John Autin says:

          Um, maybe that’s where he keeps his Big League Chew?

          • 26
            MikeD says:

            I think I’m sorry I brought it up. : -)

            BTW Unrelated, but since I mentioned Mordecai Brown, I think Mordecai is a name that needs to make a comeback.

            It’s certainly more interesting than Mike.

        • 50
          CursedClevelander says:

          Speaking of pitchers who were ‘assisted’ by their bodily deformities, I remember hearing that Jim Mecir had to learn the screwball because he was born with a club foot, and it might have even improved the effectiveness of the pitch.

          • 52
            Richard Chester says:

            Speaking of players being assisted by their bodily deformities I remembered reading somewhere that Mordecai Brown was assisted by his finger deformities. I didn’t know if it was true or not so I referred to what I consider to be a reliable source, the SABR BioProject. I got confirmation from them as they stated that his deformities helped him throw “bewildering pitches with lots of movement”. He actually had 4 1/2 fingers. Due to accidents he was missing half of his index finger, had a bent middle finger and a paralyzed pinky.

          • 53
            CursedClevelander says:

            So Richard, in other words, you encourage young wannabe pitchers to tear out their UCL and mangle their hands in farm machinery, right? 😉

  9. 25
    birtelcom says:

    In 2011, the Mets in games not started by R.A. were six games under .500. In 2012 thus far the Mets are yet again six games under .500 in games not started by R.A.. But last season the Mets were two games under in games R.A. started and so finished the season eight games under. This season the Mets so far are 10 games over .500 in games R.A. has started, and as a result, if the season ended now the Mets would be in the wild card play-in game versus the Giants.

    • 31
      John Autin says:

      Interesting facts there, birtelcom.

      It’s funny how much the Mets and Yankees have helped each other in the standings in a relatively few games: the Mets of course lost 3 straight to the Yankees, and are 4-0 against AL East contenders Tampa & Baltimore, while the Yanks are 7-0 vs. NL East contenders Washington & Atlanta.

  10. 28
    Jimbo says:

    Is Dickey a pitcher that could conceivably pitch on less than 4 days rest with consistency? Ala Wilbur Wood in the 70’s?

    A top pitcher that could start 40+ games per year without being affected would be almost a surefire Cy Young/MVP no?

    • 32
      John Autin says:

      Jimbo, I think the difficulty in getting more starts out of one pitcher in today’s game is that there are no longer any scheduled doubleheaders. Those used to provide opportunities for strategies that required rotation juggling, like having Ted Lyons pitch every Sunday for a whole season. Given the modern obsession with keeping everyone in the rotation on a consistent schedule (which I’m not saying is wrong), even if Dickey were able to pitch more often, it would be hard to take advantage of that.

      EXCEPT … as a reliever, between starts. And again, I have no idea how Dickey would feel about it, or how long it takes him to warm up. But assuming he has a “throw day” in between starts like all other rotation starters, and given the sorry state of the Mets’ bullpen, it seems a waste not to use him in a tight spot here and there.

      • 37
        Mike L says:

        John A, I’m going to disagree with that just a little. I think it’s a mistake to overexpose him, on the chance that part of his success derives from how different he is than others. Dickey’s Mystery.

        • 38
          John Autin says:

          I agree that we want to be careful with the goose that lays the golden eggs. But I really don’t think that short relief outings would affect his exposure.

          First off, since the vast majority of series last 3 games or less, he would almost never be starting and relieving against the same team in a short span of time.

          Second, while the data pool isn’t deep enough to be decisive, I see absolutely no evidence that repeated exposure to Dickey’s knuckler in a short span of time gives the hitters any edge. A couple of examples:

          — In 2010, Dickey faced the Phils 4 times. In late May, he blanked them for 6 IP. Two-and-a-half months later, he got hammered. But 5 days after that, he tossed the 1-hit shutout. That’s exactly the opposite of the pattern you’d expect if exposure were a factor.

          — In 2010, he faced the Astros twice within 12 days, and was excellent both times.

          — In 2011, he saw the Nats twice in April, and was better the second time. Ditto his 2 September games against them (using Ks as a tiebreaker).

          — In 2011, he saw the Padres twice within 6 days, and again the 2nd start was slightly better.

          — In 2011, he saw the Pirates twice within 12 days. Both were good starts.

          — In 2011, he saw Florida twice within 10 days, and tossed 7 scoreless each time.

          Against all those pairs, I can find only 2 times in his Mets tenure in which he faced the same team less than 3 weeks apart and had worse results the 2nd time: 2011, June 5 and 16 against Atlanta, and again with the Braves this April, the 2nd time being the rainy night.

          So while there still could be reasons not to use Dickey in relief, I can’t see exposure being one of them.

      • 46
        mosc says:

        The thing to remember with Dickey is he throws two very different Knuckleballs. We think of the wakefield-esque slow knuckler but Dickey also throws a much harder pitch. He can get 10+ mph differentiation between what can only be described as a knuckle fastball and a knuckle changeup. I think the velocity difference between his balls is a key to his success. Also, he has a low 80s sinker that still sees some action. I bring this up because Dickey is not like Wakefield. He throws his arm with what it’s got and needs rest like any conventional pitcher. He’s also 37, not 25.

  11. 29
    Mark in Sydney says:

    On knucklers, anyone seen


    The shorts look intriguing.

  12. 30
    deal says:

    Somebody may want to check my math – If you take out the Rainy Night in Georgia game RA Dickey has an ERA of 1.33 for the Season. Since that Braves game I have him at 11 ER in 81.2 Inn for an ERA of 1.21 over his last 11 starts.

    Add Note1: Both Teams Dickey 1-hit would be in the Playoffs if the season ended today.

    Note2: If you count the Santana Faux-Hitter, the Mets have 3 CG 1 Hitters this month.

    • 33
      John Autin says:

      First time I’ve heard the term “faux-hitter.” I probably shouldn’t be able to find it both offensive and brilliant, but I guess I love wordplay even more than I do my Mets.

    • 34
      John Autin says:

      Your math, by the way, is impeccable.

      In a similar vein, I’ve been casually throwing around a stat I call “mulligan ERA” — a pitcher’s season ERA based on all games except their one worst game. I don’t have a way to find that number for all pitchers, but of the ones I’ve noticed and checked, Dickey stands alone at 1.33 (14 ER in 94.2 IP). Dempster’s MERA is 1.53. I don’t think any other qualifier is under 2, but I haven’t checked every possibility.

  13. 43
    Michael E Sullivan says:

    So nobody is thinking what I’m thinking — what the heck happened to R.A. dickey? Looking at his stats, it’s crazy — he looks like a random journeyman pitcher, makes the league at 26, gets a couple decent but unspectacular years as a back-rotation starter/reliever, then appears to wash out. Comes back two years later similarly, then suddenly in 2010 at *35*, he has a really good year, full season starting with a 138 ERA+. Continues with a lesser but still good year last year. And now, at 37, suddenly he’s out of the gate with a first half looking like Roger bleeping Clemens?


    What is this guy’s story?

    Was he always expected to be amazing and just plagued by injuries, or has he really just come out of nowhere to post a half year of historic level dominance in pitching at 37 years old?

    • 44

      He was a star in college and a 1st round draft pick.
      But how and why a man puts it all together at age 37?
      Don’t think any of us can answer that.

    • 47
      mosc says:

      He’s two different pitchers. One who had a low 90s sinker that he threw >60% of the time and another who throws Knuckleballs. In recent years, he’s even started throwing two different types of knuckleballs. 2001-2005 Dickey is a “conventional” pitcher. In 2006, he was a knuckleballer. It was a 6HR affair that had him sent down immediately to the minors after one appearance. He worked it out and has been ever improving since. Obviously it doesn’t get much better than his most recent two games.

      Seriously though, I find this post surprising on here. Your comments are a little more “living under a rock the past few years” than I’d expect 😉

      • 48
        Michael E Sullivan says:

        I guess this is what happens when my easy baseball listening/watching prospects include pretty much every yankee game and most red sox games, but honestly not a lot of mets games, and I’m no longer in contact with any big mets fans except through here.

        Until this year, I’d never even heard of R.A. Dickey.

      • 51
        CursedClevelander says:

        Concerning Dickey’s current arsenal, he was interviewed today on Sirius-XM MLB Radio, and one of the hosts (former Rookie of the Year and Tribe Legend Todd Hollandsworth, I believe) mentioned that he occasionally throws a ’96 MPH four seamer.’ He quickly corrected himself, as Dickey complements his fast-knuckler with an 86 MPH four seamer. If he could still throw 96 in addition to that knuckleball, I think you’d see guys pulling a Norm Cash and going up to bat with a table leg. Either that or they’d just go on strike for the day.

        Reminds me of making those “create a player” pitchers in MLB video games. Start off with 102 MPH four-seam heat, a vintage Randy Johnson slider, Mo-style cutter, a Koufax curve, and just for s’s and g’s, add a butterfly-flittering mid-70s knuckler for a 5th pitch.

        • 56
          Jim Bouldin says:

          “I think you’d see guys pulling a Norm Cash and going up to bat with a table leg”

          Tell more…

          • 58
            CursedClevelander says:

            The full story can be found many places. Here’s one of them: http://blog.detroitathletic.com/2011/11/01/when-norm-cash-took-a-table-leg-to-the-plate-for-the-detroit-tigers/

            Basically, Nolan Ryan had a no-hitter going, and he was close to tying some sort of K record. I think it was Feller’s AL record for most K’s in a game. Anyway, Cash was 0 for 3 on the day with 2 K’s and a ground-out. When he went to bat with 2 outs in the 9th, instead of a bat, he first came to bat with a table leg. It was ruled illegal by the umpire, of course. Cash was always known as a notorious practical joker. Cash did manage to make contact, flying out, but he was the last out in the no-hitter.

            Here’s audio of the event, as called by the legendary Ernie Harwell: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QbI3S2kEI6I#!

          • 61
            John Autin says:

            Cursed @58 — Deepest thanks for that Cash video link! I was there with my family that day, celebrating my brother’s 12th birthday. It was one of the 9 Tigers losses we attended during our 4 summers in Ann Arbor before they finally won one.

            We never noticed Cash’s stunt, though. We were probably listening to Dad discourse on Ryan’s shortcomings. (He always hated walks.)

            I heard about Cash’s stunt years later, but had never seen the clip, and I doubt my brother has, either. So I’ll surprise him with it. And thanks again.

          • 64
            Jim Bouldin says:

            HP Ump: That looks like a table leg you’ve got there Cash
            Cash: It is
            Ump: You can’t hit with that
            Cash: True, but I can’t hit hit him using a bat either, so what’s the difference?
            Ump: That’s not what I meant
            Cash: What did you mean?
            Ump: I meant you can’t bat with a table leg, it’s against the rules
            Cash: Show me in the rulebook where it says that
            Ump: Cash, look…

    • 71
      birtelcom says:

      R.A. is the 86th major league pitcher to have won at least 11 games in his age 37 season. The average (and the median) number of career wins those guys had coming into their age 37 season was 162 wins. R.A. had only 41 career wins coming into this season.

      Only three of these guys with 11 or more wins at age 37 had fewer career wins through age 36 than Dickey, and none of those three guys was really pitching in a true major league in his age 37 season. George McConnell had just 12 wins in the majors before he switched to the renegade Federal League in 1915 and won 25 games that season in the FL. He pitched one more season after that, back in the NL, and won only four games. Those facts seem to say more about how the Federal League shouldn’t really be treated historically as a major league than than they do about McConnell.

      The only other two guys with 11 or more wins at age 37 and fewer wins than R.A. through age 36 were Dick Barrett and Ray Starr, both of whom had their big age 37 seasons in the midst of World War II, when a huge number of regular major leaguers were out serving with the armed forces. 30 of Barrett’s 35 career MLB wins, and 33 of Starr’s 37 career MLB wins, came during World War II.

  14. 49
    Jameson says:

    R.A. Dickey was interviewed recently by Terry Gross for Fresh Air on NPR. He is an interesting guy.

  15. 54
    Fireworks says:

    NO JA! NO!

    Have faith in Dickey.

    Believe that he will pitch from age 37-46, make 300 starts, go 200-60, win 2 Cy Youngs, and so on.


  16. 62
    John Autin says:

    Totally off the subject, but I just read about the 50-game suspension of Freddy Galvis. And I’m stunned and dismayed that he gets to serve the suspension while he’s already on the disabled list.

    What?!?!?!?!? Hello … THAT’S NOT A PUNISHMENT!!!

    I don’t know what the hell’s going on with MLB. I thought they already lost a lot of credibility by cutting Manny’s suspension in half on the grounds that he had already punished himself by retiring, which is obviously unsound reasoning (though that case may turn out to be moot). But this is absurd.

    At first blush, it seems like yet another case of Bud wanting to have his cake and eat it, too: maintaining the appearance of having strict enforcement and serious punishments, but using back doors to placate the players. This is just speculation, but perhaps a secret deal was struck that Galvis would not contest the finding — he denies ever knowingly taking anything banned — in return for having essentially NO PUNISHMENT.

    • 63
      Evan says:

      So essentially a $150,000 fine, which could be significant to a 1st-year player especially if he doesn’t make a major league roster again. But I agree that letting him serve his suspension during a DL stint is a sign of a weak policy.

    • 65
      Fireworks says:

      Personally I thought Manny shouldn’t have served a suspension at all. Or still do the 100 games.

      He opted to retire instead of serve a 100-game suspension. There’s no indication that the Rays didn’t want him to come back to them later. He lost out on 150 games, and got no salary.

      To me, either the temporary retirement suffices as an alternative to the suspension or it doesn’t. Half-credit is weird.

      As for Galvis, I don’t know what the story is with that yet. Maybe new things will develop.

      • 66
        Mo says:


        BTW, David Murphy is a great resource to follow for Phillies info. He had a great column yesterday about a new (and improved?) Stat to calculated player value.

        • 67
          John Autin says:

          Mo, thanks for the link.

          But the source of my “moral indignation,” in Murphy’s phrase, is not his (presumed) act of ingesting a banned substance, but MLB’s absurd decision to let his 50-game suspension run while he’s on the disabled list.

          As Evan noted, the suspension will also cost Galvis a large chunk of his modest salary. But what drives my outrage is the hypocrisy of MLB’s enforcement decisions in the cases of Galvis and Manny.

          It is a very bad thing for any society of laws and rules to have some that are not enforced consistently and evenly, or to have stated punishments that amount to far less in practice than how they are touted. And while I don’t know the letter of the banned-substance suspension rule, one or the other of those wrongs logically must be case here.

          Granted that we don’t know when Galvis ingested this substance, nor do we know for certain that he actually ingested it or did so deliberately. But suppose that an injured player took a banned substance for the express purpose of healing more quickly. Wouldn’t it be laughable to allow the suspension for that violation to run while he’s on the DL?

          I submit that, in light of these two “suspended! (just kidding)” actions, plus Braun’s being cleared on a procedural technicality, MLB’s banned-substance policy is rapidly becoming laughable. It will be interesting to see if reporters pursue these matters with Bud Selig during his next “state of the game” interview — doesn’t he usually do one at the All-Star break? — and how he responds.

          • 68
            Ed says:

            John – MLB didn’t decide this. The collective bargaining agreement allows for drug suspensions to be served while on the DL. You may disagree with that, but MLB has to follow the rules that have been agreed upon.

            BTW, the same thing happened with Edison Volquez back in 2010. Here’s an interesting take from Greg Doyel on Volquez serving his punishment while on the DL:


          • 69
            John Autin says:

            Ed @68 — Thanks very much for the info. I don’t have time right now to read the link, but I have to say this:

            OK, so MLB didn’t make this decision in the instant case — they made it when they set the policy in collective bargaining. It doesn’t change the underlying issue: allowing a suspension to be served on the DL makes no sense. I believe the same is not allowed in the case of other suspensions.

          • 70
            Ed says:

            John – I would suggest reading the Greg Doyel article before coming to a definitive decision. I’m not saying I agree with his reasoning…but he did change his mind after thinking it through some more.

            As for other suspensions, I believe that all drug suspensions are handled the same way. So someone who was caught abusing cocaine could also serve their suspension while on the DL. For other types of suspensions, I’m not sure what the policy is but I suspect that it would be rare for them to occur while on the DL (e.g., a pitcher suspended for hitting a batter wouldn’t be on the DL unless they got hurt during that game).

            BTW, Sergio Mitre is another player who served his PEDs suspension while on the DL.

          • 72
            John Autin says:

            Ed @70 — OK, I’ve read the piece. My response has three prongs, all coming out of the premise that I don’t agree that the suspension is intended to affect only the player.

            1. If that were true, then why have a suspension at all? — why not just have a fine equivalent to 50 days’ salary?

            That seems like a hole in Mr. Doyel’s logic big enough to drive a team bus through. What is the point of a suspension, as opposed to a pure fine, if not to impact the team?

            After all, a suspension is not like a jail sentence. It deprives the player of nothing except his salary and his sense of contributing to the team, and perhaps some of the team’s goodwill towards him. So again, if he’s already not contributing to the team by virtue of being disabled, a concurrent suspension costs him only salary, and costs the team nothing; thus, it loses that particular punitive aspect, which (by logical inference) it clearly is intended to carry.

            Furthermore, although the team’s ability to police its players is limited, the prospect of suspensions (with actual team impact) does give them incentive to do all that they can, such as keeping shady characters out of the clubhouse. We’ve seen in retrospect how some teams were, perhaps not complicit in the use of PEDs, at least recklessly lax in their practices, in a way that fostered the PED environment.

            2. A sensible policy on PEDs would have to contemplate the possibility that an injured player might take a banned substance specifically to speed his healing, and would create a disincentive to that. Suspension concurrent with DL time misses that point entirely.

            3. Insofar as a suspension is meant to punish the player, part of its impact is in costing him time and opportunity to advance his career. Imagine that there were right now a clone of Freddy Galvis on another team, at the exact same stage of his career, performing at the exact same level, and disabled with the same injury for the same length of time — only the clone is clean. Both players will lose the same amount of career opportunity, due only to their injuries. How is that fair?

          • 74
            Ed says:

            John – I don’t necessarily disagree with your arguments. And obviously we can’t get Greg Doyel to defend himself. Still, I wonder what MLB’s rationale is for agreeing to include this in the drug policy testing. Perhaps there’s a rationale that we’re not aware of?

          • 75
            birtelcom says:

            Am I right that in most cases a rule that required the suspension to begin only after a stay on the disabled list ended would have limited effect in the case of most 15-day DL designations? As I see it, teams would have every incentive to move a guy from the DL to the suspended list as soon as his minimum required stay on the DL is over, whether he has healed from his injury or not, so as to start the suspension clock running. Probability suggests you will probably add just an extra 7 or 8 days on average to the suspensions of guys who happen to be somewhere along a 15-DL stint when they are suspended. Balancing that small gain in the credibility of suspensions vs. the loss of credibility for MLB that would result from teams moving still-injured guys off the DL to get their suspensions running makes this a closer call (to me, anyway) than it might seem at first glance.

          • 77
            Evan says:

            You could require that the player be cleared to play by a doctor who is independent of the team.

          • 78
            no statistician but says:


            I tend to agree with everything you point out here, but I caution you not to expect the situation to change, except possibly for the worse.

            Or, as I’ve remarked here before: Just one more example of how the game is better now than it was in previous eras.

  17. 76

    Gosh. All this talk about steroids.
    Here’s a clip that demonstrates, once and for all, how bad the problem could be.

    Note: Some of this footage may may a sensitive person queasy:


  18. 80
    Jeff says:

    Can anyone explain to me why Matt Cain hasn’t been credited with 3 shutouts this year? He has a perfect game, a one hit and two hit shutout. Confused…

    • 81
      John Autin says:

      Hi, Jeff — Nine scoreless innings doth not a shutout make. On April 18, Cain and Cliff Lee hooked up in a superb duel, 9 goose eggs for Cain, 10 for Lee, but neither pitcher lasted until the game’s lone run scored in the 11th inning. A pitcher only gets credit for a shutout if he goes the distance. The same scoring rule applies to no-hitters and perfect games.

      • 82
        deal says:

        Yet one can get credit for a CG while pitching only 8 innings if he is the starter for an away team in a loss.

        The irony and cruelty of pitching stats.

  19. 85

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