50 Awesome Things About the No-Hitter

The title came before the post, so there's some work to do.

1. Jonathan Sanchez was just bounced from the rotation. If it weren’t for Randy Johnson’s wonky shoulder, Sanchez would have been relegated to mop-up duty and odd relief innings here and there.

2. It was Sanchez’s first complete game as a major leaguer.

3. It was only the third start out of 51 in Sanchez’s career in which he didn’t allow a walk.

4. It came on the exact same day that Jayson Werth found out he had gonorrhea. At least, that’s what I like to pretend.

5. It was the first no-hitter for the Giants since 1976. It was the first no-hitter thrown in a world with “Star Wars”, Sega Genesis, and Kajagoogoo. Seriously, though: 1976. Good gravy. I think the Marlins just threw three last week.

6. Aaron Rowand’s catch.

7. Aaron Rowand’s catch. You think it’s cheating to mention it twice? Go back to the U.S.S.R., pinko. That catch was just that awesome.

8. The 3:48 long clip of all 28 outs* in one continuous video at MLB.com.

9. The look on Randy Johnson’s face at 3:30 of the above clip. Pure joy for a teammate, it was.

10. The seventh inning, in which Sanchez struck out the side, was as nasty of an inning as you’ll ever see anybody pitch. He ended the inning by hitting someone in the foot and getting a strikeout. That’s like a bad Chuck Norris fact.

11. A pat on the back from Bruce Bochy was followed by a bear hug from a teary Dave Righetti. That’s not a slight against Bochy; it just showed who worked closely with whom over an extended stretch of time.

12. Jon Miller, Dave Flemming, and Duane Kuiper’s play-by-play, as well as Mike Krukow’s color. It’s as if Mays, Mantle, and Snider were all in the same outfield, much less one city.

13. Pablo Sandoval’s home run ball just landed, and it took out a creepy carnie across the water. Sandoval is only programmed to do good things for good people in good situations.

14. Edgar Renteria made an underrated play in the eighth, as he backed up on a slow chopper and threw out the runner at first by three steps. With a faster runner, or a sketchier shortstop, the play could have ruined everything.

15. Here are Eli Whiteside’s career stats in the minors. Nothing in there suggests he should be in the majors…except as a member of the Intrepid Backup Catchers Union 428, he found his way onto a roster. He’ll probably have problems bending his knees in forty years, but thinking about his game will warm that cartilage right up. Not that he needed validation for a career as a professional baseball player…but it’s there if he needs it.

16. Bengie Molina’s son or daughter– whose birth was the reason a no-hitter was thrown – now has to be named Nohit Molina. By law, I think. It’s only half as stupid as naming your son “Nomar” because that’s your own name spelled backwards, so it has a chance.

17. It was at home, in front of a boisterous crowd. Back when the Giants played in Candlestick, Livan Hernandez took a no-hitter into the sixth inning in front of 6,000 folks, maybe fewer. I was about to drive to the stadium and try to weasel my way in if the no-hitter went into the seventh, as it would have been a disgrace for so few people to watch something so awesome. I didn’t have that temptation last night. The crowd was awesome.

18. Anything that makes you pace and talk to the television without making you feel like an idiot afterwards is, by definition, awesome. It’s a handy barometer for awesome. Last night passed.

19. After Charlie Manuel said, and I quote, “Well, ehs a nnffa good play mmm hmm steal you a base mmm rfffa my guy mm hhhfff take my guy,” the spotlight went right back to the Giants. ESPN and MLB Network broke from scheduled programming to watch the game end, and I love the idea of people across the country focusing on the Giants, even if only for a couple of minutes.

20. Jonathan Sanchez’s breaking ball. Awesome.

21. Logging on to Facebook and seeing 5,301 Jonathan Sanchez-related status updates. That’s by far the geekiest one on the list, but it was still pretty danged fun to read.

22. This picture.

23. That picture

24. The other picture.

25. The post-game thread was so active, it broke this site. Broke it real good.

26. Scott Hairston didn’t ruin it because he wasn’t on the team.

27. There’s good times to be found laughing at random Dodger message boards around the internet. Not quality boards like Dodger Thoughts, mind you. The real salt-of-the-earth boards in the bowels of ESPN, Yahoo!, or YouTube. Caps lock hilarity, 24 hours a day. My favorite find so far: “This was good news for the Dodgers. It means the Gnats will probably keep that bum in the rotation, hopefully replacing Sodomski, who kind of worries me.”

28. The Pitch F/X awesomeness that baseball fans are blessed with nowadays. Awesome.

29. This should probably be number one, but Sanchez’s dad being in the crowd for a start that should have been right around the lowest point of his son’s career. It was the first time his dad had seen him start a game. Hold on…I got something in my eye…damn these allergies….

30. The game was never in doubt. There wasn’t a make-or-break decision for Bruce Bochy to make that would have blown the no-hitter and the game.

31. Somewhere, a Padres fan exists who both owns a Ken Caminiti jersey and who gets really, really righteous when talking about Barry Bonds. This person watched the entire game last night without cracking a smile once. That’s awesome.

32. There were no ambiguous errors, and the strike zone was not Eric Gregged out. It was as clean of a no-hitter as you’ll see.

33. When I die, now I won’t have to haunt Paul O’Neill’s house and/or waking thoughts for the rest of his life. That will free up a ton of time.

34. One of Sanchez’s perceived problems was that he would lose focus, or that he was too mentally soft. Yet he survived one of the more stressful non-playoff situations a pitcher can go through, even pitching through a teammate’s error.

35. Sanchez’s fastball. Awesome. It was averaging 94 mph, and it even touched 97 mph at times.

36. In six at-bats, left-handed hitters only saw four breaking balls out of 27 pitches. The rest: gas. That’s a particularly beautiful kind of arrogance that, where I come from, we call “confidence.”

37. The person named “Kevin” involved with the game swung a pitch that hit him.  Suck it, Kevins Gross, Millwood, and Brown.

38. Now I can enjoy it when a Giants hitter hits for the cycle. Every time that would happen in the past, I’d think about how cycles are about as likely as no-hitters, and how I really, really, really, really wanted to watch a Giants pitcher throw a no-hitter, and how moderately interested I was when a Giants hitter went for the cycle, and how the world hates me because we would always see the cycle instead of a no-hitter.

39. After this game last year, I felt that Sanchez had arrived. He wasn’t a project or a prospect anymore; he was the equal partner of the Giants’ mighty strikeout hydra. Whoops. A little premature, there. But last night’s game reminded me of the promise he used to show almost every time he pitched. I want to believe.

40. Now we don’t have to hear about the stupid rumors, like Sanchez for Adam Kennedy or Scott Hairston. He still might be traded, but you can be sure it wouldn’t be for complementary piece.

41. Again, I'm a big chaos theory guy. I've seen The Butterfly Effect, like, a dozen times, and only a couple of those had to do with my love of Ashton Kutcher, who is truly our generation's Marc Price. So I like to think that Juan Uribe's error was a necessary component of the sequence that ended in a no-hitter. And it's hard to really blame him -- the first bounce was a little tricky, though completely playable, but the the second bounce (when he tried to recover and pick the ball up with his bare hand) was freaky. WIth a clean play, I'm guessing that Everth Cabrera breaks up the no-hitter with a successful bunt in the next inning.

42. In the eighth, Sanchez took Adrian Gonzalez to a 3-0 count. Perfect game over, unless Sanchez came into the strike zone, in which case the no-hitter was obviously over. Nope. STFD, Adrian.

43. The look on Sanchez's face after Rowand's catch. It was kind of like this one.

44. Right after the final out, Comcast Sportsnet cut to a camera that looked like it was at the bottom of a dogpile. Fuzzy shapes wrestling with fuzzy shapes. It was totally accidental, but it also captured the mood perfectly.

45. Kuiper: "You know what? He might get another start."  Krukow: "Tonight, he won his freedom my friend."

46. Brian Runge's final strike call made me wonder if Reggie Jackson was running around the park, trying to kill the Queen.

47. The final sequence: Strike three, and Sanchez cooly walks of the mound. Two steps in, he raises his arm and screams, "Yeah!" Two more steps, arms still aloft: "F*** yeah!", with a big ol' smile.

48. The no-hitter would have been a part of Giants lore if it had happened in the midst of a 100-loss season. That it came in a contending season makes it that much more special.

49. When they showed a clip of John Montefusco's no-hitter, there were, like, two people celebrating: Montefusco and Gary Alexander. The rest of the team was looking at Montefusco and Alexander as if they were trying to make love to a catcus in the middle of a memorial service. Modern baseball is so much better, it's not even funny. Cram it, grumpy nostagists.

50. DVRs. I've watched this thing about seventen times. Congrats, Jonathan. Thanks for the amazing game.

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