The 2010 baseball season is just over two months old, and already we have seen a no-hitter and three perfect games.

This demonstrates two things: that pitching is above average this year, and that MLB’s crusade against steroids is working.

Not to take anything away from Ubaldo Jimenez, Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay, or even Armando Galarraga, but the pitchers this year aren’t all Nolan Ryan clones. Give it to them—pitching has been of an above average quality this year.

However, that is not the biggest reason why there have been so many gems this season.

The biggest reason for the increase in pitching gems is that the batters aren’t as good anymore—and the batters aren’t as good anymore because the MLB has created one of the best steroid screening systems in professional sports. 

There are no more Goliaths standing at the plate with human growth hormone coursing through their veins. Gone are Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Jose Canseco, and Barry Bonds. This has allowed pitchers to pitch more freely and aggressively with reduced fear.

In 2004, Major League Baseball instituted its mandatory steroid testing policy. Now, that system for screening players for steroids has grown into the best in professional sports.

It is capable of detecting minute traces of estrogen, a la Manny Ramirez, that can be used to flush the body system of remaining chemicals following a steroid regimen. MLB then brings the hammer down on any player found violating the steroid policy in the form of extensive suspensions and heavy fines.

During the height of the steroid era, pitchers were commonly hit around by batters, and the thought of a no-hitter, let alone a perfect game, almost never crossed people’s minds. It was something that just didn’t happen; the batters were too good.

Gone were the days of starters frequently going nine innings and winning 20 games a season, and in their stead were batters posting obscene offensive stats of more than 50 home runs a season.

It is said that “chicks dig the long ball.” This may be true, but baseball fans love a pitchers’ duel. It’s not about scoring 20 runs every game; it’s more about having your starter go out there, put in seven solid innings, and give up one or two runs.

The strikeout is the new home run. Until batters begin to readjust to playing sans steroids, pitching will dominate the headlines. 

Prior to this season, there was only one time in history that there were two perfect games in a single season. That year was 1880, prior to the formation of Major League Baseball. Having three perfect games in one season is unheard of, let alone in about a month.

Now, this is more coincidence than anything else, because baseball is baseball. Anyone can go out on any day and make history. The probability of a throwing a perfect game is still absurd—8,200:1 (since 1968).

The game of baseball is changing; nothing drastic, but it is reverting back to how it should be. It’s going back to a time before performance enhancers, when it was a battle between the man with the ball who was trying to throw it by the guy with the bat. 

Welcome to the Era of the Pitcher. Enjoy the show.

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