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From Ben Margot, AP Photo

The Madison Bumgarner “No-Hitter”: Should It Count?

Madison Bumgarner threw a complete game shutout today, on the road against the Braves. He also allowed no hits. The kids are calling that a “no-hitter” nowadays, but the MLB record books will not recognize MadBum’s gem as a no-no, since it occurred in a seven-inning game.

There are a couple ways to look at this.

Why It Shouldn’t Count

Baseball games are meant to be nine innings long. This is 2021, though, a strange time indeed. We now have seven-inning double-headers, such as the one the Diamondbacks and Braves played in today. Nevertheless, as per former commissioner Fay Vincent’s ruling in the early 90s, an official no-hitter/perfect game must span at least nine innings. Any no-hit complete game that does not meet this criterion, due to bad weather or any other reason, will not be be considered a no-no. So it goes.

As such, if we’re following the letter of the law, Madison Bumgarner simply had a really, really good game today, but not a historic one. I personally object to the whole idea of scheduled seven-inning games in MLB, so part of me is fine with events like this showing how janky Commissioner Rob Manfred is making this beautiful sport.

But there’s another part of me that thinks differently.

Why It Should Count

I think there’s a key distinction between what happened today and what happens when a pitcher’s potential no-hitter is ruined due to rain, snow, etc; the former occurred exactly as it was intended. There is nothing Madison Bumgarner could have done about a seven-inning game on the schedule. This is how MLB drew it up. There was no deviation from the plan, which was for the Braves and Diamondbacks to play two seven-inning games today.

That’s different than a rainout, which is just bad luck. Madison Bumgarner didn’t have any bad luck today, but apparently, he never had a shot at history to begin with. That doesn’t seem fair and his no-hitter should count just like the rest of them. MadBum threw as complete of a game as he could have today.

It’s a tricky debate, to be sure. Whichever side of the spectrum you’re on, though, I think we can agree on one immutable truth.

Seven-inning games are dumb.