Wednesday was not a good day. Amongst other indignities, I sliced my thumb on a can of crushed tomatoes and was wearing a pressure bandage. Editing work rolled over into the evening. I tuned into the Tiger’s game over the Internet, while trying to type with my monster thumb. They were playing the Los Angeles Angels. Justin Verlander was pitching.
The browser kept cutting in and out of the play-by-play. Eventually, it cut out altogether. I kept working, as the Tigers have been having worse luck than me.
Shutouts turned into blowouts. Potential rallies that fell short. Disheartening trades and blown chances. Licking the basement of the AL Central instead of leading it. A five-game losing streak.
I finished my work and rebooted the browser, wanting to check the score before I called it a night. That’s when I saw the Tigers had scored five runs and Justin Verlander was pitching a no-hitter. It was the fifth inning.
I kept my seat. No-hitter protocol: don’t change position; don’t say a thing.
My son wandered over.
“How are they doing?”
I can’t tell you.
I waited. He checked the line score. A smile spread over his face.
Now I had a friend.
Seeing as I couldn’t leave my seat, I asked my son to get my sewing. He returned with my cellphone. My father had texted me.
“Are you listening to the game?”
I grinned. More company.
While I texted my father, my son returned with my sewing. We sat together, listening intently, texting grandpa occasionally, and not saying much. It was special.
The sixth inning passed…the seventh…the eighth…
Then, Chris Iannetta – an Angel’s batter with an abysmal batting average – hit a line drive that smacked the foul line, sending chalk flying.
Poof! Goodbye no-hitter.
Justin finished the game, getting the last two outs. A one-hit, complete game shutout. Beautiful, but not history.
Later, I saw a photo of Verlander just as the “poof” happened. He was arched back in total surrender to the merciless and unpredictable baseball gods – two outs shy of being the sixth pitcher in baseball history to record three no-hitters.
Here was a man who has won Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young Award and the MVP. Yet, these last two years, he has been injured, replaced as the ace, pushed to the side, crucified in the press, served up to the trolls, ridiculed on talk shows, and left as the losing pitcher in masterfully-pitched games because of poor offense or rotten luck.
And yet he endures. A true ballplayer. He will play until the game is done with him. And that was more impressive to me than a no-hitter.