The amount of nasty and incoherent tweets I get every time there's a no-hitter in progress is astounding to me.
For some strange reason, the "don't mention a no-hitter while it's going on" business has been taken from the dugout to the broadcast booth, and it makes so little sense I am almost embarrassed to have to write about it. But because otherwise reasonable people have a major blind spot here, I feel compelled to do just that.
Our job in the booth is to tell people what's happening (duh!). It's also to keep people watching (double duh!). And if we don't mention that a no-hitter is in progress, I am completely whiffing on my duties. Not alerting people and then having them turn off the game because they didn't know it was a no-hitter doesn't make any sense. Seems to me we should be screaming it from the rooftops to keep people tuned in.
If there's a perception that mentioning a no-hitter on a broadcast causes it to cease, it's because no-hitters are rare. Every Cubs no-hit bid after Milt Pappas in 1972 and until Carlos Zambrano's in 2008 ended at some point. Do you honestly think Jack, Harry, Pat, Chip (et al) and I personally ruined them?
There's an odd thing people either ignore or fail to realize. Vin Scully has called 19 no-hitters in his career, including three perfect games. And he not only doesn't believe in the broadcaster superstition, he openly scoffs at the idea of not mentioning a no-hitter in progress.
So, like it or not, I will continue to tell you what's happening, no matter what it is. And I might repeat it often so every viewer watching knows exactly what is transpiring. Anything less and I wouldn't be doing my job.
A memorable June:
Speaking of no-hit bids, I don't know if I have witnessed a month quite like the one Jake Arrieta just put together. He went 4-0 in June with a 0.92 ERA, taking a perfect game into the seventh inning and a no-hitter into the eighth in back-to-back starts.
Arrieta is an interesting guy. He was acquired by the Cubs last year around this time from Baltimore in the Scott Feldman deal and came with the reputation for having great stuff but lacking consistency. He also showed up with a 5.46 career ERA.
In nine starts with the Cubs, he showed flashes, going 4-2 with a 3.66 ERA to finish 2013. Then he missed all of spring training and the first month of this season with right shoulder tightness.
When he returned, he had a difficult time with pitch efficiency, not completing six innings in any of his first three starts. But as time has gone on, his command has improved and so has his confidence.
The biggest and most obvious change for Arrieta is his reliance on a slider that has become his signature pitch. His "softer" one sits in the mid-80s to upper 80s while the "harder" one reaches the low 90s and cuts more horizontally -- and sometimes out of -- the zone. It has been a put-away pitch for sure.
It is almost impossible for me to claim a guy is "pitching with confidence," because I am not in his head. But it sure looks like it when I watch Arrieta. He is on the attack right now, and man has it been fun to watch.
And yes, next time he flirts with history, I will describe it in direct terms. You can count on that.
• Len Kasper is the TV play-by-play broadcaster for the Chicago Cubs. Follow him on Twitter@LenKasper and check out his baseball-blog with Jim Deshaies at wgntv.com.