Some folks are wondering if the Indians’ own people had a hand in breaking up Cliff Lee’s no-hitter on Sunday night:
In the eighth inning Sunday night, Cliff Lee took the mound with a no-hitter against St. Louis. While he was warming up, the Indians’ in-house announcer, appearing on the Progressive Field scoreboard, asked a fan this trivia question: “Who was the last Indians pitcher to throw a perfect game?”
The answer was Lenny Barker on May 15, 1981. The question was scripted before the game to follow the team’s “turn back the clock” promotion to the 1980s, but considering the circumstances, perhaps another question should have been asked. Yadier Molina hit Lee’s first pitch of the inning for a double into the right-field corner. Bye-bye no-hitter.
There’s no outrage or anything, but Indians’ manager Eric Wedge and pitching coach Carl Willis are quoted acknowledging the taboo against talking about a no-hitter in progress and mildly lamenting the question on the board.
I’m not a superstitious guy and I think most baseball superstitions are pretty silly. My view: since there are very, very few no-hitters, current practices must not be optimized. I suggest that we conduct a double-blind test, ordering the non-pitchers from half of the teams to bring up the fact of in-progress no-hitters during games, and the other half to maintain the current no-talk system. After, say, two or three years, we’ll have sufficient no-hitter data to know which approach is more successful.
Maybe we can even get a grant to study such a thing.