The Rules of a No-Hitter: The unwritten rules of baseball are never supposed to be written down. According to legend, even attempting to do so can bring plague, pestilence, and Neifi Perez. But no one said anything about the untyped rules of baseball. It’s a new era. There’s a loophole.
First up: Who can jinx a no-hitter? Let’s get it all out in the open.
Boring answer: No one. Jinxes don’t exist, so keep your amulets and rune stones away from me.
Baseball answer: All sorts of people!
So here’s a definitive list of everyone -- and I mean everyone -- who has the power to jinx a no-hitter:
- People in the dugout
Glad we could settle that. The only people who should be concerned about jinxes when a no-hitter or perfect game are in progress are the people in the dugout. Really, talking to a pitcher throwing a no-hitter could mess with his mental state. Going up to a pitcher and pretending like you want to talk about the economy could affect the no-hitter. Going up to a pitcher and saying, "Well, la-di-dah, looks like Mr. Fancypants thinks he’s Nolan Ryan!" could affect the no-hitter.
These are the extremes, but somewhere in the middle is a gray area, which is why teams for a century have had the same practice: ignore the pitcher. Let him sit on the end of the bench and handle it however he wants to handle it, as long he does it alone. It works out just fine for everyone, except for the pitchers who lose the no-hitters, probably because of something one of their teammates did.
Let’s review the people who cannot jinx a no-hitter:
This whole post was inspired by the backlash against Mercury News reporter Andrew Baggarly after he tweeted this:
This is the 2nd time Lincecum has taken a no-hitter through 6 IP in his career. The other time: 7-9-09 vs. SD - a day before Sanchez's no-no
Pretty innocuous, no? Well, that set off a tweetpocalypse. Lincecum gave up the no-hitter, and there was civil war. It was # against @, RT against FF, and no one was spared. All because a REPORTER decided to REPORT. He didn’t go up and lick Lincecum’s ear after the tweet; he was doing his job.
This is even more ridiculous than the reporter one. What is a broadcaster supposed to do?
... throw to first. Got him! And with that, we’ve played seven innings. There is something very unique about those seven innings. Verrrrry unique. You should look at that line score. Just look at it! Isn’t there something funny? Something missing? Som...."♫O’REILLYYYY AUTO PARTS!♪OWW♪AUTO PARTS!♫"
The announcer is allowed to mention the no-hitter. He’s allowed to describe the last no-hitter he saw. He’s allowed to mention that an anagram of "no-hitter" is "rotten hi." He’s announcing the game. He can’t jinx it.
You can call your cousin Darryl and tell him that a no-hitter is going on. It's okay.
Players: Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep treating those pitchers like they’re about to sneeze powdered botulism. Stay away. Everyone else needs to breathe into a paper bag while a no-hitter's going on. Not changing your underwear while your team's on a roll? Well that's just good science, so keep up with that. But drop the no-hitter thing.