Please accept this stream-of-consciousness:
A thing of beauty: 000 000 000 0 0 0
That is what the Comerica Park scoreboard showed.
Justin Verlander, the catcher in front of him, and the seven behind him, allowed no runs, committed no errors, and you already know, allowed no hits.
I had to take awhile to breathe. To think. To remember. Not really to digest. How can you not digest what went on? Verlander stood on the mound and for 27 outs did not allow a hit. Not to gain perspective. It’s easy to put this one into perspective. Every Tigers fan knows who Jack Morris is. Every Tigers fan knows how long ago 1984 was. Every baseball fan knows how rare a no hitter is. And Verlander is 24, is in just his second year in the majors. No, I think the guy down the street who doesn’t watch baseball can put that into perspective just fine.
Let me tell you about my evening. It’s hot. It’s incredibly hot by Marquette standards. It’s nearly 90. It’s just… too hot. It’s steamy, muggy, still, awful heat. It’s no fun. It’s a bad day to be in a shirt and tie and to wear a collar that’s too tight for you. So I did what you would do in that situation: I went to the beach. We have a nice beach in Marquette. It’s long. It’s pretty soft. You can mold the sand into a nice pillow, listen to the rhythm of the waves, feel the cool breeze and listen to a baseball game.
I’ve got a Washington D.C. thriller, a real page turner, and I’m reading it and enjoying a summer paradise as Verlander starts to systematically beat the Brewers. He’s striking them out. They’re not getting out of the infield. Jeff Suppan, always a World Series champion Cardinal, is pitching almost as well for the Brewers. A fine pitching duel. It doesn’t take much effort to keep up with my book and the radio.
The first inning. The second inning. The Brandon Inge homer. The third inning. Suddenly, I’m starting to feel it. By the end of the second inning I thought, as I sometimes think “no hitter? hmm.” But I think my thoughts jinx things and push them away. By the end of the third, I was having problems pushing them out, but it was early. Then it’s the fourth. Then it’s the fifth. And I’m throwing more and more rocks into Lake Superior, so cold I don’t want to go past my ankles. I’m thinking I live in heaven. Baseball, the beach, sun, a breeze. Does it get any better?
Then it’s the sixth. “There’s still no hits?” I think, noticing the radio guys have stopped talking about anything but strikeouts. And I get in my car and I’m home in 3 minutes. Somehow, Verlander seems to slice through the Brewers in that short time period.
That’s six innings. That’s when the Associated Press starts to stir. They send out notifications across the wire: hey, editors. Wake up. No hitter in progress. The notification goes up on the box scores online. Six innings of no hit ball and it’s real.
The Tigers offense wasn’t going down fast enough. An insurance run or two is fine but Verlander was going to throw a no hitter. He didn’t need any more. I knew it. I just wanted them to set the bat down, grab the glove and let Justin get back to his thing. Then it’s 4-0. I’m getting nervous. 1-2-3. Oh crap. Now it’s really real. Now you’re commited. Now I’m commited. Now the announcers want to update fans what’s going on but they can’t. They show you how many strikeouts Verlander has. They tell you he’s having a good day. They are NOT jinxing this.
And the Tigers offense keeps scoring in the bottom of the seventh. STOP IT! STOP IT! SERIOUSLY! Get back in the field. And I can’t sit down.
And it’s the eighth and Bill Hall is a thorn in Verlander’s side. His pitch count is high. This isn’t going to come around every day. My God. Just swing! Oh crap! A line drive. NEIFI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111111111111111111 ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
Something happens in the bottom of the eighth. To be honest, I don’t remember. I’m standing up. I’m sitting down. I’m up. I’m down. I’m up I’m down i’m up i’m down imupimdown I can’t take it oh my God I can’t take it.
The camera shows the RHE on the right side of the scoreboard at Comerica Park. 0 0 0. Strikeout. AH! Strikeout. AH! I’ve never experienced this in my life. I’ve rooted on a perfect game as ESPN showed it. I was thinking back, was it Maroth who took a perfect game into the 8th and still lost? I couldn’t remember. I was bouncing. I didn’t know where to put my hands, my feet, my rear end. It was overwhelming and there’s two strikes. And then the ball HITS the bat and I think “OH MY GOD NO” and Verlander jumps and Magglio stands there and I know.
No hitter. The Tigers. No hitter. I saw it. And I’m jumping up and down and the emotion is bursting out. It’s not tears, but it’s something. It’s an emotional release unlike any I’ve experienced in baseball. This was better than beating the Yankees in Game 2 of the ALDS. This was better than going to the World Series.
I was 4 when Jack Morris did it.
A no hitter.
Add: 3-0 after six. 4-0 after 7. My error.