The 2021 MLB regular season is now three-and-a-half weeks old and all the pomp and circumstance of Opening Day and home openers and all that has come and gone. The daily grind that is the 162-game season is setting in.
Throughout the season the CBS Sports MLB scribes will bring you a weekly roundtable breaking down, well, pretty much anything. The latest news, a historical question, thoughts about the future of baseball, all sorts of stuff. Last week we debated , which ties a team's ability to use a designated hitter to its starting pitcher. This week we're going to dive into the controversy surrounding seven-inning no-hitters.
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Madison Bumgarner of the Diamondbacks did not allow a hit in seven innings of a seven-inning win vs. the Braves in the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday. MLB changed doubleheader rules during the COVID pandemic, making each game of a twinbill seven innings. However, MLB has said it will not officially count no-hitters if they occur during a seven-inning game. It brings us to a simple question:
Should seven-inning no-hitters count as official no-hitters?
R.J. Anderson: Probably, right? I guess I can understand wanting to save the distinction for nine-inning affairs, since that's what we all think about when we hear the term ... but if you're going to do that, then why have seven-inning games in the first place? Besides, I'm not aware of any other statistic that gets treated with the caveat treatment -- if you throw all seven innings, you get credited with a complete game; if you do that without allowing runs, you get a shutout; and so on. Maybe just add an asterisk that it was a seven-inning game, but give some kind of credit all the same.
Mike Axisa: Yes, absolutely. If seven-inning games count as wins and losses, then they should count as no-hitters too. The game was played as scheduled to completion, and all the stats are official. MLB is free to differentiate seven-inning no-hitters from nine-inning no-hitters the same way they differentiate no-hitters from perfect games, and combined no-hitters from regular no-hitters, but it's still a no-hitter. If MLB doesn't want seven-inning no-hitters to count as no-hitters, then don't play seven-inning games. It really is that simple.
David Samson discussed the seven-inning no-no on the latest Nothing Personal with David Samson. Listen below:
Dayn Perry: I can see both sides of this. On the one hand, while no-hitting a team for seven innings is obviously less of an accomplishment than no-hitting a team for nine innings, the game wasn't scheduled for nine innings. Bumgarner pitched the entire game without allowing a hit. That's a no-hitter, right? On the other hand, the relevant jurisdictional authorities have decreed that a no-hitter must span nine innings. And I get the reasoning, given that we see a lot of no-hitters die in those final two innings. Where I come down is that the pitchers themselves would probably agree with the latter approach. Professional athletes typically don't enjoy being subjected to lowered standards, given their necessarily intense competitive drive. I think all of that -- the lowering of the standard that would allow for seven-inning no-hitters and what I assume would be contempt for it within the guild of starting pitchers -- is enough for me to say it's correct that Mad Bum wasn't given an official no-no. Plus, we have way too many damn no-hitters these days.
Matt Snyder: A seven-inning no-hitter should absolutely count as a no-hitter. The league has decided those games count the same as the nine-inning games. All the stats count. The games count in the standings. The pitcher is awarded a complete game and a shutout, so to draw the line and claim those count but a no-hitter doesn't is a total contradiction. Either these are real games or they aren't. You don't get to just pick and choose what stuff is real when the games matter in the standings.