The last second-to-last time Barry Zito flirted with a no-hitter, I was sitting in the right-field bleachers at the Oakland Coliseum. The A's were playing Seattle that night, and while the Mariners were just about out of the AL West race at that point in the season, they were still a pretty competitive team. Nevertheless, Zito had his way with the Mariners -- he didn't even allow a baserunner until there was one out in the sixth inning and Dan Wilson of all people (lifetime OBP: .309) notched a walk. Zito got out of the sixth without further incident, worked a one-two-three seventh, and we were six outs from witnessing the first A's no-hitter since Weblog co-namesake Dave Stewart did the deed in 1990.
That's when the idiot contingent had its say.
As the Mariners came to bat in the seventh inning, with a no-hitter in progress and the A's clinging to a taut 3-0 lead over a hated division rival, a cadre of morons in the second deck decided this would be a perfect time to start The Wave. For the record, the ideal circumstances for The Wave include never, not on your life, and during some sporting event that I'm not watching and don't care about. But to do it for an exciting game where the outcome is still in doubt and we're in a hey-did-anyone-happen-to-notice-that-nice-round-number-in-the-hits-column situation seems... I don't know... knuckleheaded.
Is it any surprise that Jon Olerud led off the eighth with a single, ending the no-no? Or that Ruben Sierra followed with another single, bringing the tying run to the plate? The total stranger next to me was beside himself with rage. He pointed at the second-deck section where the instigators were sitting and hissed, "This is all your fault." And soon, everyone in our immediate vicinity was pointing at that section and chanting, "It's all your fault." We hardly even noticed Mike Cameron flying out and Dan Wilson grounding into a double-play to end the Seattle threat. Those two hits recorded during The Wave were the only ones Seattle would have the rest of the night.
I am, by and large, a rational man. I believe there's a perfectly logical explanation for most occurrences. I favor carefully constructed hypotheses that are subject to rigorous peer review. I don't believe in spooks. And yet... I am convinced that I was denied the opportunity to see a no-hitter live and in person because some guy thought it would be neat to do The Wave. And before I leave this earth, I will track down the perpetrator and inflict the crunchy beating that society owes me.
Zito matched his 2002 effort against the Mariners in Friday night's game with the Rangers. This time, I was not in the right-field bleachers or even in the Bay Area. Instead, I followed the progress of the game from my mother-in-law's living room in Northern Virginia via a frequently updated Yahoo box score. I'm told that the A's game wasn't on TV locally, so it seems that my view of the game from across the country was just as good as one from back in the 510. Which would have been small consolation had Zito actually pulled off the feat, though I think I would have gotten over it rather quickly.
(And as noted in the comments below, Zito actually pitched 7 1/3 innings of no-hit ball against the Rangers last year.)