|(photo by Matt Slocum/AP)|
And we all overlooked Josh Beckett. Many of us wrote off his career. We questioned whether he even belonged in the rotation. A 34 year old washed up former superstar pitcher is what most of us pegged him as, and add to that he was coming off career threatening surgery. The same surgery that ended the career of Chris Carpenter two years ago.
Thoracic outlet syndrome is serious business. The procedure to correct it can easily be labeled as riskier than Tommy John surgery because there isn't a track record of pitchers coming back from it in large numbers, especially 34 year old pitchers on the downside of their careers.
|(photo by Hunter Martin/Getty Images)|
But Josh Beckett showed us all something today. He showed us that he cares. He showed a fire in his belly that we seldom see from a low key guy. He wanted that no-no, and he wanted it bad. So much that he uncorked a few fastballs in the mid-90s in his final inning of work. So much that he actually was guilty of overthrowing a few to Rollins and Utley. He was bearing down like no other in the eighth and ninth. Beckett could taste that no-hitter and he would not be denied.
It was early in spring training that Beckett proclaimed to the world that he felt better than he had in years and that he would simply air things out, going full force. His exact quote was:
"I'm going to throw as hard as I can and see what happens. Right now, I feel great. I'll throw the ball until I blow out and I'm hoping that's not for a few years."
(quote from Feb. 10th Hardball Talk piece by D.J. Short)
Well blow things out has has, as in blowing away the opposition. Beckett haas made his money. He has nothing to lose, so why not air things out and pitch like there's no tomorrow. That makes a guy like Beckett an extremely dangerous pitcher on the mound. I'm liking what I'm seeing and I think it's safe to say that Beckett just might be a 15 game winner this season and a real presence down the stretch and in post-season play.
So the Dodgers now have 21 career no-hitters on record, the most in major league baseball, but it has been a long time since the last one as today ended a 17 1/2 year drought of no-hitters by the Dodgers. the last one was Hideo Nomo's Coors Field gem in 1996. Beckett joins the club along with Nomo, Kevin Gross, Ramon Martinez, Jerry Reuss, Fernando Valenzuela, Bill Singer, Sandy Koufax, Carl Erskine, Sal Maglie and others.
It's a prestigious group and one to not scoff at. The wonderful thing about pitching a no-hitter is you'll always be remembered in Dodger lore for the event. Josh Beckett will always have May 25, 2014 to look back at. No-nos are rare enough that we always remember them, often times exactly where we were when they happened. Like in 1970 when I was listening to Bill Singer's no-hitter against the Phillies in my parents room, during a mid-week afternoon game. Dad had the one radio in the house, so I listened to it on that console stereo they had in that huge room.
Then there was the amazing Nomo no-no in Colorado. Not only pitched in that bandbox, but against the likes of Bichette, Burks, Castilla and Galarraga. Topped off by doing it in wet conditions, Nomo pitched the entire game from the stretch because of the slippery mound, which always made me wonder why he didn't always pitch from the stretch after that. I watched that game sitting in my house in San Francisco, amongst members of my wife's family, all Giant fans rooting for the Rocks to break that thing up. That was a fun one to watch.
No-hitters take us back in time, and I'm sure I'll remember how I watched the Beckett no-hitter. On a mini I-pad in this studio apartment in Alexandria, Virginia...between work travel assignments. I watched it alone and had no one to share it with. That was until the 8th inning when I started texting my son who is back in Thousand Oaks attending jockey school, and before I had finished a sentence, he was calling me to make sure I was watching the thing.
It was a special day...for all of us. Hopefully this is the catalyst to start something really big with the Dodgers.