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No-Hitters Are Fun. Remember Fun?

First, we discuss what’s behind the high number of no-hitters this year and whether it’s a bad thing for baseball. MLB’s tinkering with the ball has probably helped pitchers and exacerbated the leaguewide problem of generating offense. But Sara, Neil and Geoff all agree this is more of a moral panic du jour for baseball than it is a legitimate issue on its own. No-hitters are fun, first of all. And while there have been a lot of them this year and they’ve come in a short span, they are still pretty random as an occurrence — just look at the pitchers who throw them. But the spate of no-hitters may accelerate the push in MLB’s front office to incentivize more offensive play and tip the pendulum back toward hitters. Ideally the hitters themselves will find ways to balance the scales. (We can dream.) 

Next, we turn to the PGA Championship, which Phil Mickelson won … much to the surprise of everyone. In the process, he set the record for the oldest golfer to win a major. For someone who has spent much of his career in the shadow of Tiger Woods, this is one achievement that will probably be Phil’s alone. But maybe not — our arbitrary aging curves are changing. Golf, obviously, is a game that allows athletes to compete at high levels for a long time, but we’re seeing it across many sports: football, basketball, tennis. It makes sense given that athletes have access to increasingly better equipment, conditioning and nutrition. 

Finally, in the Rabbit Hole, Sara talks about another crafty oldster: Simone Biles, and the incredible vault she pulled off at the U.S. Classic in the lead-up to the Olympics. We all know that Biles is the GOAT (and has the sequined leotard to prove it), but her margin of victory over the silver and bronze medalists competing against her is astonishing. The pleasure of watching her is not so much seeing Biles win everything, always, but in watching her push the sport further. 

What we’re looking at this week: 

  • Ben Lindbergh of The Ringer says all of these no-hitters are bad for fans but may be good for MLB
  • Why it took more than talent for Phil Mickelson to win the PGA Championship. 
  • Why Simone Biles dials up the difficulty for her gymnastics. 
  • Plus, if you’re interested in more gymnastics stats, check out The Gymternet.

Sarah Shachat is Hot Takedown’s producer.

Sara Ziegler is the former sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Neil Paine was the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight.

Geoff Foster is the former sports editor of FiveThirtyEight.