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No-no drought proves toughness of task

Bailey ends half-season without feat seemingly common in '12 @matthewhleach

It took a while. It was difficult. That's the way it's supposed to be.

As an industry, as a sport, as a community, baseball became far too blasé about no-hitters last year. The Majors saw a spate of them, and instead of being a source of wonder, somehow it became a source of something approaching boredom.

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This is absurd.

No-hitters were never cheapened. They never became easy. We just saw a stretch where they were more common than we're used to. This year is the truth. This year is how it ought to be.

The season's first no-no came on Tuesday night, thanks to the man who delivered the last one in 2012: Homer Bailey. There's a certain feeling of "about time" going around, as though we're entitled to seeing these wonders regularly. We're not.

You can be absolutely brilliant, absolutely dominant, and not get one even against a lineup that struggles to pile up base hits -- as Yu Darvish learned against the Astros. You can pitch so well that a batter hits a ball too softly to be fielded, thus giving up a hit -- as Matt Harvey learned against the White Sox.

In short, you can get everything right, throw every pitch to the right spot, and still come up short. It takes all of that, plus a little luck and a few breaks, in order to achieve the historic feat. That's what Bailey did on Tuesday. Just as he did last September.

"To do it once is extremely special," he said. "To do it twice is kind of -- I really don't have the words right now."

Bailey threw 97-mph heat, up at the eyes and down in the zone. He threw exploding sliders. He got ahead with impeccable command, and then induced chases once he was in pitchers' counts.

Oh, and he benefited from a bizarre play that turned out perfectly, as Joey Votto's heads-up decision turned a likely infield hit into a fielder's choice and no hit.

You should have to be this good, and this lucky, to throw a no-hitter. It's really, really hard to do. Bailey earned it, just as he earned his previous one.

"What a game," said manager Dusty Baker. "I can't quit smiling. I'm so glad for Homer. He's worked so hard to get to this point. He's been through some ups and downs to try and get to this point. We're all so very proud of him. He's worked hard and dedicated himself, big time."

And for one night, one more night, Bailey was good enough and lucky enough to do it again. Just don't expect to see another one tomorrow night.


Matthew Leach is a writer for Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach.

Cincinnati Reds, Homer Bailey