At one point of my life I watched a ton of baseball. It’s a nifty game, really. Different than all other games. Its matches play in waves–each inning, each half-inning, really–being it’s own event, the flow of anticipation builds slowly, then releases in unexpected ways. You can watch a baseball game, and if you’re truly paying attention you’ll see something that you’ve never seen before.
But I don’t watch much anymore.
Last night, though, as Lisa and I were prepping for our evening of internet catch-up, I needed something to play in the background, and rather than the usual string of “Big Bang Theory” reruns, I decided to flip on a game. The Giants of San Francisco were visiting the Reds of Cincinnati.
If you follow baseball at all, you’ll know that something very special happened in this game. Homer Bailey, the Reds’ pitcher tossed his second career no-hitter, walking only one batter. The no-hitter was preserved by a weird play in the eighth inning that became a first-baseman to third-baseman fielder’s choice rather than a hit.
Here’s the statistical question of the day for all of you. I’ve done the math. I know the answer to this one, so I’ll turn it into a contest. First to email me a correct answer (to ron_at_typosphere.com), along with their address, will receive a free copy of one of the Writers of the Future volumes I appeared in.
The question is this: What are the chances of me having turned on a random game and seeing this no hitter?
Well, there have been 280 official no-hitters in baseball history. There have been approximately 400,000 Major League games played (including National Association). So if we use those numbers, you’ve got a 1 in 1,425 chance of any game being a no-hitter.
However, if we’re taking the chances that a no-hitter is pitched in TODAY’S conditions, with today’s rules and today’s ballparks, we might come to a different conclusion.