Madison Bumgarner’s 7-inning no-no a chance for MLB’s asterisk to shine

Madison Bumgarner
Madison Bumgarner threw a no-hitter in the second game of MLB’s seven-inning doubleheader format.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

One of the most controversial symbols in Major League Baseball is the asterisk (*) — though it’s been used more as a threat than put into actual practice.

It adorned Roger Maris’ then-single-season record of 61 home runs in 1961 for 30 years before it was removed because he set the mark in more games than Babe Ruth hit his 60 in 1927.

Over the last 20 years, it’s been threatened plenty, though never put into practice.

Many argue Barry Bonds’ single-season record of 73 home runs and all-time mark of 762 round-trippers should have asterisks due to his steroid use.

They also have made shouts that the Houston Astros’ 2017 World Series championship should be labeled with one as well after they were found guilty of illegally stealing signs during their title run.

The 2020 season promised the potential of asterisks galore considering it was shortened to just 60 games; a wild sprint that some believed devalued the quest to the Fall Classic.

No such star has been slapped on the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first World Series win since 1988 and likely never will.

But Major League Baseball might have stumbled upon the perfect time to use the symbol in its record books — one that would preserve one of the game’s most impressive feats while providing the proper context within its footnotes.

Arizona Diamondbacks veteran southpaw Madison Bumgarner became the first pitcher to throw a seven-inning no-hitter — the lone blemish a Diamondbacks error to allow a baserunner — on Sunday evening in the second game of a doubleheader against the Atlanta Braves.

MLB instituted the seven-inning doubleheader while preparing for the 2020 COVID-shortened season in an attempt to cut down on a long day of baseball for teams playing a tightly packed, relentless schedule.

With pace of play always a main concern of league commissioner Rob Manfred, the seven-inning doubleheader carried over to the 2021 season — along with the dreaded automatic runner on second base to start extra innings.

MLB and the Elias Sports Bureau are continuing to have conversations on whether or not they will recognize Bumgarner’s no-hitter — which included seven strikeouts and no walks — as an official one.

After all, it wasn’t nine innings.

But if the league is recognizing these seven-inning games as official, then the exploits within those contests should be deemed just as validated.

Therefore it was understandable why Bumgarner was mobbed by teammates on the mound after getting Marcell Ozuna to fly out for the game’s final out.

“You know I like to keep it pretty low key, and they definitely didn’t,” Bumgarner said. “But that’s fun and I appreciate that, too. It’s a pretty special moment for all of us, and like I said, I’m just blessed and fortunate to be able to do that and be a part of this.”

This is the asterisk’s time to shine, if you ask me. Add Bumgarner’s name to the list of 308 others on MLB’s no-hitter list and simply hang an asterisk next to it, indicating that it came in an official seven-inning game.

Problem solved.