For those of you who haven’t heard (and for those who have), Homer Bailey of our hometown Cincinnati Reds pitched his second career no hitter July 2nd. I received some flak from the guys on EXAIR‘s softball team for skipping practice last Tuesday to go watch a Reds game. Well, seeing a no hitter live is a once in a lifetime experience, so I’m sorry to miss practice but I would do it again.
It is a great thing to go to a sporting event and feel a group of 27,000 people cheering for the same outcome. The energy in the building increased with the third out in every inning. By the end of sixth inning and every subsequent inning, we were out of our seat to applaud Homer into the dugout. There is a superstition in baseball that no one should mention that a no hitter is still going on. As the game wore on, more and more people acknowledged that Homer had a chance to throw his second no hitter. I winced each time the baseball gods were challenged, “Hey, the Giants don’t have a hit”, “Dude, do you think Homer could do it again”, “Didn’t this guy pitch a no hitter last year.” I don’t believe in jinxes, superstitions, or voodoo dolls, but at a baseball game all you can do is cheer for your team, have a great time, and wear your hat inside out in the bottom of the ninth when the Reds are down a run.
What I’m trying to say is I know it doesn’t make a difference for a guy in the upper deck to point out that the Giants don’t have any hits, but it is all we can do to help this pitcher so superstition lacking comments to yourself! Thanks, I needed to get that off my chest.
Seriously though, there are two reasons I wanted to write about the no hitter for EXAIR’s blog. The first reason is that a guy pitching a no hitter is just one of those rare sporting events that made me want watch sports. ESPN doesn’t have to build it up or make it more than at is. People have been playing major league baseball for well over 100 years and a no hitter has only happened 280 times, so it is something to get excited about.
The second reason to write about this event is that the no hitter is primarily remembered as an individual achievement, but in reality the entire baseball team needs to play exceedingly well in order for a no hitter to happen. There were two great examples of teamwork leading to a great individual achievement during the game. The first was Joey Votto’s play at first to turn a hit into a fielder’s choice.
In the above play (click on the image for a video), it is Homer Bailey’s responsibility to cover first base on a ground ball to the right side of the infield. He makes a very good pitch to one of the best hitters in the game, but doesn’t cover first base as quickly as he should. Joey Votto realizes that it will be a close race to first, and sees that the runner on second is heading to third. He guns down the runner at third, which saves the pitcher from possibly blowing his own no hitter with bad defense, and gets the lead runner out from an earlier walk (a Fielder’s Choice isn’t a hit). This is the kind of play that will never be documented in the stat sheet, but inspires confidence in Homer that his team is looking out for him. If you have confidence in the people around you to do their jobs, this allows you to have great achievement at yours.
The second example of great teamwork was off the field, but I think it was much more important. My wife and I went to see the game with her coworkers and their families. One father had his son, who lives out of state, at the game. The father was overwhelmed by his son (and son’s friend) and trying to socialize with his coworkers that he lost track of the game and tried to leave in the eighth inning. Now I don’t have kids, so I don’t really understand not realizing that there is a no hitter in progress, but I could see how this could happen. When he tried to leave the game, the entire section of coworkers vehemently pleaded with him to stay for six more outs. Any sympathy we had for a tired father and his even more tired son, faded. The poor father was taken aback and had no idea what was going on because our superstition prevented us from mentioning anything about a no-hitter. It was the end of the eighth inning. This is not the time to mess with the baseball gods and say anything about the no hitter. We politely but forcefully pointed him back to his seat and asked him to stay for six more outs. By the end of the game, the father had figured it out and we took a great picture of the two of them after the game was over.
All of this is a long way of saying that sometimes in life you might not cover first base or you might not know every stat in a baseball game, when you worried about taking care of your son, but if you look out for your teammates, one day they might do the same thing for you. Every great event has a group of people behind it. So if you are trying to save your company money by reducing the amount compressed air you use. Give Joey P, Rusty Bowman, No Leak Evans, Raker rhymes with Baker, Captain Kirk, Brian not Philo Farnsworth or I a call and we will help you out. The team at EXAIR has more experience in compressed air products than Reds players have playing baseball, and we can make that play, when you really need it.