Carlos Rodon’s no-hitter — the 20th by a White Sox pitcher — was a reminder that baseball offers anyone who plays it the chance to show up on any given day and have the best damn day of his life.
Carlos Rodon wasn’t about to shut off the thank-you spigot Wednesday night after his no-hitter against the Indians at Guaranteed Rate Field.
The White Sox lefty thanked his parents, his wife, his kids, his in-laws, an aunt, an uncle, some cousins and coaches. Teammates, too, of course.
“I’m blessed to still be able to play this game,” he said.
Blessed to throw a no-no. Blessed to still be chasing his dream. Blessed to have major shoulder and arm trouble — Tommy John surgery in 2019, people — behind him, with whatever is left of the promise of a No. 3 overall draft selection in 2014 still in front of him.
This is a pitcher the Sox all but gave up on after the 2020 season. They brought him back for a song.
“A lot of work,” he said, water just having been dumped all over his head. “A lot of people. A lot of help went into this comeback. I’m just happy I’m here again.”
It was beautiful. It was history. It was sports standing up and declaring that, yes, even in a pandemic, what we do around here is important. It was a reminder that baseball, especially, offers anyone who plays it the chance to show up on any given day and have the best damn day of his life.
So let’s talk about no-hitters. Let’s talk about the magic of such occurrences.
“That was the most incredible thing that I’ve ever been a part of,” said Sox catcher Zack Collins.
A first-round pick in 2016, Collins, 26, has heard critics say throughout his pro career that he isn’t much of a receiver at all. Maybe they should ask Rodon — who didn’t shake off Collins on a single pitch — about that. There’s a whole who’s-who of backstops yet to go where Collins has now gone.
There have been 20 no-hitters by Sox pitchers, second only to the Dodgers’ 26. The Cubs are close behind with 16. At the other end of the spectrum are the Padres — around since 1969 — who got their first-ever no-hitter last weekend from hometown boy Joe Musgrove.
“It feels so incredible,” Musgrove said.
Sox pitcher Lucas Giolito wasn’t nearly as in touch with his feelings after no-hitting the Pirates last August.
“Oh, my God,” Giolito said then. “I don’t feel anything.”
It’s one thing for Giolito, who has ascended into the role of staff ace, to have such a big day. The last Sox pitcher before him to throw a no-hitter — and a perfect game on top of it — was Philip Humber in 2012. Humber had been the No. 3 overall pick, taken by the Mets, in 2004, but by 2012 he was a journeyman when he took the mound on a fateful April afternoon in Seattle.
“I can’t even put it into words,” he said after his perfecto. “I’m just so happy.”
He won only four games after that all season and lost his spot in the rotation, relegated to long relief. After 2012, Humber never won another big-league game. Artifacts bearing his name are in Cooperstown, New York, just the same.
Last September in Milwaukee, Alec Mills threw the Cubs’ first no-hitter since Jake Arrieta’s second one in 2016.
“I don’t really know what to say,” Mills said afterward. “I think it’s kind of hit me now — it’s very overwhelming, a once-in-a-lifetime type of thing.”
Especially if your team doesn’t give you 30 cracks at it each year. Mills, a pro’s pro who takes the ball and does whatever is asked of him, is viewed by the Cubs as a Swiss-army-knife type, meaning long relief, spot starts and, frankly, a whole lot of not getting to do what he wishes he were doing. But one day last year, at least, he wasn’t a jack of all trades. He was a master.
Mills’ catcher for the major league’s 305th no-hitter was Victor Caratini. A mere 208 days later, Caratini caught No. 306: Musgrove’s.
“I think it’s pretty rare to find yourself in those situations,” Caratini said.
Rare? No one had ever caught consecutive no-nos on the big-league list for different teams. This was beyond rare.
“It’s really awesome,” he said, and that was the truth.
Rodon may never not pile up All-Star honors and individual awards on the South Side. On a one-year deal — after being non-tendered in December — he could be gone at season’s end. But he sure gave us something to remember him by, didn’t he? Digging extra-deep on the mound in short sleeves on a cold night, he was part pitcher, part wild animal, part 1985 Bears offensive lineman.
It was magic.
“Holy crap,” he said when it was over. “I just can’t believe it. I can’t.”
Just leave the spigot open. This one lasts forever.