Carlos Rodon's No Hitter

Respect.

Jim Rome
April 15, 2021 - 9:13 am
Carlos Rodon

USA Today

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Carlos Rodon threw a no-hitter for the White Sox last night. And it was awesome. Because almost nobody throws a no-hitter and then starts their post-game interview like this. 

That might be the greatest way to start the interview after the biggest moment of your MLB career. “What’s up, man? What just happened?” 

That doesn’t sound like a guy who just threw a no-hitter, it sounds like a guy who just woke up from a nap. Or a weekend bender in Vegas. 

My guy turned in one of the all-time great postgame interviews. Like when he was asked about when he knew he had something special going last night. He said it was in the seventh inning. And that point, he knew it and so did everybody else. And I mean everybody else.

You know when “someone’s dog in Kentucky” knows that you’re throwing a fastball, everyone knows what’s coming, so you better bring it. And he did.

And this guy just kept on rolling. Like this reaction a split-second before he was hit with the ice bucket.

Don’t get it twisted. This isn’t some slacker who just hopped off his skateboard, ripped a few hits off his bong, and then pitched a no-hitter. This dude is intense. His teammates have nicknamed him “Hard Karl” because of the intensity he brings when he needs to bear down. 

And Hard Karl was in the building last night. 

It used to be that a no-hitter in baseball was an event. It was something huge. It was something major. It was the kind of thing that when it happened, you remembered the date of the no-hitter and you remembered the name of the guy who threw it. 

Now they’re happening so often, it’s hard to keep track. Quick – do you know who threw the most recent no-hitter before last night? It was Joe Musgrove, last Friday night. Do you remember the one before that? Alec Mills threw one for the Cubs in September. But I probably could’ve named any pitcher from any team and you would’ve believed me. 

A while back, I started to say that the no-hitter was the new shutout.

Now I want to be perfectly clear that just because there have been a rash of no-hitters , doesn’t mean that they aren’t still impressive. They are. It’s an amazing individual accomplishment, but I get it if people yawn every time they see one happen now.

Just don’t sleep on Rodon and his no-hitter, because this dude is a warrior. He was the third pick in the 2014 draft and went from that to being non-tendered by the White Sox this offseason. He’s been through it all. And by it all, I mean injuries. 

There was the sprained wrist from slipping on the dugout steps. The shoulder surgery in 2017. Tommy John surgery in 2019. 

There was a period of time where he could barely get above 91 mph on his fastball. Not only did he not look like the third pick in the draft, he looked like just a guy; and not one who was going to intimidate or flame anyone.

Yet last night, one of the final pitches hit 98.8 miles per hour. 

Hitting near triple digits on the radar gun when you’re past triple digits on the pitch count is crazy. What’s even crazier is that’s the fastest he’s thrown a pitch in five years. 

And not only was he working the no no, but he carried a perfect game into the 9th inning and it came this close to falling apart with the first batter. 

That was a hell of a play by the big man at first. It might not have been graceful, it might not have been pretty, but it got the job done. The old cliché is that every no-hitter has at least one great play in the field and that was the one that Rodon needed.

That kept the perfect game alive..., for a moment, anyway. Because it actually ended on the next at-bat and it ended in the worst way, with a slider that didn’t do what he wanted it to do and hit Roberto Perez.

Usually when a guy loses a perfect game, they lose the no-hitter right after it. And then the shutout, maybe even the game. They get in their head, the wheels come off, and it can get ugly.

Not last night. Rodon dropped a 12-letter bomb, laughed, and went back to work.

"I threw it, and it just took off like one of those snakes, and I go, 'Oh, there goes the toe ball.’ You hear that 'clunk,' and I was like, 'Motherbleeper.' All you can do is laugh about it. It wasn't meant to be."

That is mental toughness. Because Rodon came back to strikeout Yu Chang on four pitches. He went ball, 95 mile per hour strike, 95 mile per hour foul ball, 84 mile per hour slider for a backwards K. That is some Hard Karl bleep. That is awesome. That is how you bounce back from losing a perfect game. 

But he still wasn’t out of the woods yet. He had one more out and he had to absolutely battle for it. And I do mean battle. This was an 8-pitch at-bat that included the 98 mile an hour fastball, the Hard Karl Special. And he finally ended the at-bat and the game with this.

That play set up that interview and that incredible line: “What’s up, man? What just happened?” 

He had another, even better line, later when he talked about what he’s been through over the last few years, since the shoulder surgery and Tommy John, when he was battling to just have something positive to say after games. 

“Any interview with you guys, it’s like, ‘Oh, there’s been some ups and downs.’ It just feels good to finally sit here and tell you, ‘I dominated today.’ And it felt good. I’ve never really done that. I’ve never done it on this level at least. It feels good to say, ‘I did it.’”

Hell yes, Hard Karl. You dominated. Respect. 

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