On the Dreaded Power of the No-Hitter Jinx

When A’s starter Jarrod Parker gave up an eighth-inning single to Michael Young Monday, it saved his manager some headaches. Parker is a rookie, had already exceeded his closely monitored pitch count, and, until Young reached safely, had not yet given up a hit to the Rangers.

Bob Melvin had already told himself that the eighth would be Parker’s final frame, regardless of the outcome. He was prepared to do what Terry Collins wouldn’t, just days earlier: capsize a no-hitter in progress.

Because it never came to pass, however, and because intentions are far less fun to criticize or defend than actions, we’ll turn our attention to Ray Ratto of CSNBay Area. Never one to subscribe to superstition (or even buy it off the newsstand), Ratto set about needling those on the collective edge of their seat during Parker’s gem.

In the seventh inning, he took some notice of folks on Twitter trying to draw attention to Parker’s feat without actually coming out and saying it, for fear of the dreaded jinx. From Ratto’s ensuing column:

Superstition lives in baseball, at least among the devout and experienced. Well, I am a man of science, in that I believe in evolution for some people. So I blurted out in response to one such devotee of tradition, “You mean JARROD PARKER’S NO-HITTER THROUGH SEVEN INNINGS? IS THAT WHAT YOU’RE TRYING NOT TO REFER TO?”

Did he jinx anything? Parker gave up his first hit two pitches later.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ratto’s style from his years at the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, his response to the ensuing fallout paints a fairly accurate picture:

So it was my fault, except for the following things. Jinxes don’t exist, and superstitions are idiotic. There are no baseball gods minding the store for etiquette violations, and if there were baseball gods, they still haven’t fully explained the color line to my satisfaction, so to hell with them anyway. Plus, Parker wasn’t reading my Twitter feed at the time, plus nobody else in the dugout was, plus, they already knew very well he had a no-hitter, plus shut up.

Other than that, yes, it was my fault.

In Ratto’s mind, even if there was a jinx, he should be doubly thanked for sparing Melvin the fallout from having to remove a pitcher from his own no-hitter.

Seems like perfect logic from here.

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6 Comments

Filed under Jarrod Parker, No-Hitter Etiquette

6 responses to “On the Dreaded Power of the No-Hitter Jinx

  1. James H.

    Ratto’s hilarious. My feelings are that as long as he didn’t mention the no-hitter on the field, it’s fine.

  2. James V.

    I get the whole “don’t jinx it!” thing for no-hitters, perfect games and other stuff, but as much as I don’t care for Ray Ratto he’s right. There’s nothing any broadcaster, player, random fan, or observer can jinx simply by mentioning it.

    How many times did people talk about Santana’s no-hitter while it was in progress? Humber’s? The perfect games thrown by Braden, Buehrle, and so on?

    It’s either going to happen or it won’t regardless of what anybody says, especially anybody on the internet. Complaining about it bugs me, but it’s just one of those superstitions a lot of people adhere to. “Don’t jinx it! Find another way to talk about it but don’t say THAT thing!”

    There may be some pretty well-timed coincidences once in a while, but a jinx? Doesn’t exist. If it’s meant to be, it will happen.

    • Jason Turbow

      Heck, with Twitter, well-timed coincidences are pretty much a standard state of affairs. For all the attention paid to jinxed no-nos, every one that’s been completed has survived under similar circumstances. David Cone listened to Michael Kay talk about his perfect game — over and over — as he retreated to the clubhouse between innings. David Wells talked about his own perfecto, in progress, just to lighten the tension. That’s the thing about superstition, though — it makes no sense because it’s not supposed to make sense. Some things, for some people, are simply a matter of faith.

      • James V.

        Exactly. Starting anywhere from the middle innings of a game, any time someone has a no-no or perfecto going, it starts being talked about by somebody. Some people go with the “If it gets talked about at all and is broken up, you jinxed it!” attitude, others who happen to say something a pitch or two before get “blamed.”

        That’s why it’s more than meaningless to me, but I guess it’s fun in ways. It just crosses over into annoyance when people actually start behaving obnoxiously about it and start insulting others for talking about it.

        That’s also why I bring up the examples of the completed ones, and yours are even better ones. People forget about the so-called jinxes that never develop and focus on the much more frequent cases where history like that isn’t reached.

        During that Parker game, in the 9th inning the A’s announcers brought up something their statistician passed them, that up to that point the Rangers were one of something like four teams yet to be shut out this season. Within a couple pitches, Mike Napoli hit one out against Jim Miller. Oops! Jinxed? Nah. Miller’s probably a AAAA guy and Napoli’s turned into a 30-homer guy. Just coincidence, and a good reason why Texas is so difficult to shut out, let alone no-hit.

  3. john

    So is it a violation to have a reliever warming up? When Parker gave up the single, I was fully expecting that to be it, but the A’s didn’t have anyone up in the bullpen.

    • Jason Turbow

      Yep, warming up relievers is generally viewed as a possible jinx. Then again, if the first baseman starts chewing his gum on the other side of his mouth, that could be seen as a jinx, too. (The obvious difference being that when a pitcher sees relievers heating up in the bullpen, he could take it as a lack of confidence on his manager’s part). Still, it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

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