Meanwhile on the South Side: No, No-Hitters Never Get Old

Last Wednesday night, Carlos Rodán made history by hurling the 20th no-hitter in White Sox history. He almost became the fourth pitcher in franchise history to throw a perfect game, only missing it by a toe. Even my father, a die-hard Cleveland fan, said Thursday morning that Roberto Pérez should have gotten out of the way.

It’s only been about eight months since Lucas Giolito’s no-no in August of last year, but the thrill of a no-hitter never gets old. The anticipation of a possible no-hitter makes a banal game in April feel like the postseason. Every pitch is tense, every ball in play is stressful, and every out is a relief.

It’s such a memorable accomplishment that even near misses remain with us. I can still feel the disappointment of Tom Candiotti’s one-hitter in 1986, the closest I’ve ever come to seeing a no-hitter in person. I’m not sure whether there’s really an appropriate time to start thinking about a no-hitter, but it usually starts hitting my consciousness after the 5th inning.

Only twelve outs left

In this particular case, I wasn’t actually on board until the 7th inning because the 12th game of the season isn’t enough to alter my regular television viewing. The game was already 6-0 White Sox after one inning, so I figured I was safe with a solid win and crime drama for the night.

When it comes to real-life drama, every no-hitter seems to have a close call or huge play that gets mentioned along with the pitcher’s achievement. In this case, it will be José Abreu’s sliding save to get the runner out at first. The umpires reviewed the play and, though it was inconceivable that they would overturn the play, my righteous indignation was simmering. Perfection, however, would last only slightly longer than it took to confirm the call.

After the aforementioned Perez hit-by-pitch, a routine grounder to third ended the game and a dogpile of joy ensued. Yermin Mercedes might have been the happiest person in the stadium, but his exuberance spoke for us all. We got an early reason to celebrate this season and it felt a little sweeter because of the pitcher involved. Like Giolito, Rodón has had quite a few ups and downs — mostly downs — since being drafted in the first round in 2014.

Shoulder surgery, Tommy John surgery, and a biceps injury led the White Sox to non-tender Rodón at the end of 2020. He was picked back up in February on a one-year, $3 million contract that carried little in the way of expectation. Maybe he could serve in a fifth starter role or in long relief. He’s certainly exceeding those expectations now.

Or maybe by the time July rolls around he will be that back-end starter, not quite reliable, perhaps a little disappointing. Watching those mid-to-late-summer starts might be bittersweet, wondering what his career might have been if not for those injuries. Regardless, Rodón has a place in White Sox history, baseball history, and the personal history of everyone who tuned in or attended. It’s hard to forget moments of pure joy.

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