The San Diego Padres have been around for 53 years, and they got their first franchise no-hitter on Friday night. The fun part is that it was Joe Musgrove who threw it.
On a pitching staff that has 2018 Cy Young winner Blake Snell and 2013 and 2020 Cy Young runner-up Yu Darvish, it was Musgrove who tossed San Diego's first no-no. Musgrove has been a fine but undecorated pitcher in his six-year career, and he's in a starting rotation with some of baseball's best right now, but he's the one who did it.
If that's not enough, Musgrove is a San Diego native and grew up rooting for the Padres, so he gets to forever lay claim to pitching the first no-hitter in his favorite team's history. Along with that, Victor Caratini, the Padres catcher behind the plate on Friday night also caught the most recent no-hitter before Musgrove: Alec Mills' no-hitter for the Cubs last September. No catcher in MLB history has ever caught back-to-back no-hitters for two different teams.
I love the fact that although professional baseball has been around for over 150 years, it still has the capacity for surprise.
A while back I listened to an episode of the Philosophize This podcast on laughter and humor, and this lead to some on-the-side reading on humor theories. Debates about what constitutes humor go back to ancient Greece, and one of the main ideas is the Incongruous Juxtaposition Theory. Basically, it says that we sometimes laugh at or are amused by things that turn out differently than we expect.
This can take the form of things like a punchline to a joke going a direction that we don't see coming, like the old Will Rogers joke: "When I die, I want to die like my grandfather who died peacefully in his sleep. Not screaming like all the passengers in his car.”
One of the little things I love about all sports is the way that they can always defy our expectations and give us something we don't anticipate. I still think about Northern Iowa beating Kansas in the NCAA tournament several years ago. Baseball fans a generation older than me probably still marvel that the Mets won the 1969 World Series after being an MLB punchline just a half dozen years before.
Baseball is beautiful competition, and usually the best teams win and the best players earn the highest accolades. Last year, the Dodgers won the World Series because they were by far the best team in baseball. The Yankees have the most championships because they're the Yankees. But I love the fact that the game can still surprise us, and that after 53 years, the first guy to throw a no-hitter for the Padres is Joe Musgrove, who apparently spent the latter half of the game desperately needing to go to the bathroom (Speaking of incongruity theory, Immanuel Kant wrote that laughter is sometimes a response to absurdity) but waited until the game was over because of superstition.
I appreciate that there is still the opportunity for surprise or absurdity in every game. A lot of the time baseball can feel like the rest of life -- it's on every day and most days seem a lot like the one before -- but every once in a while it goes against our expectations, and it's nice to be reminded that there is the capacity for surprise just about everywhere.