Matt Cain this week threw what some people are saying was the best “perfect game” ever. Is it really possible to say that one perfect game is better than another and, if so, which one would you vote for?
I think so, but such a statement comes with the caveat that one would have a hard time quantifying it. Why is it the best? Because of Mr. Krause? Because of Mr. Lung? Because of the interns?
That’s just the very beginning of a long list of things that makes RSBS the G.O.A.T.
But can we quantify what exactly makes one perfecto better than another? Not really. But it’s fun trying. For example, Matt Cain’s 14 strikeouts tied the MLB record for strikeouts in a perfect game (Sandy Koufax, 1965), which clearly demonstrates superior command and dominance over the opposition. Cain also threw 19 first pitch strikes and never got himself in a 2-0 count. Meanwhile, his defense did some dazzling. Both the 6th and 7th innings featured unbelievable catches in the outfield that, had they not been made, would have sunk the perfect game effort. The last out, a hard ground ball to third base that put Joaquin Arias in a stutter step also provided one final gasping twist to the accomplishment. All of the above, plus Cain’s eery zen mound presence throughout it all, provide plenty of quantification for it being the “best” perfect game ever.
Still, it’s relative. And maybe we see it as the “best” right now because it’s fresh in our minds.
I recall Randy Johnson’s 2004 effort against the Braves as being one of the most dominate games I’ve ever seen too. The Big Unit struck out 13 in that game and was throwin’ nasty stuff all the while. David Cone didn’t see a 2-0 count in his 1999 perfecto against the late Expos, a game where he also had to sit out for a 33-minute rain delay, on Yogi Berra Day, with Don Larsen in the stands!
But, for me, the best perfect game I’ve ever seen came on a lazy Thursday afternoon in July 2009, when Mark Buehrle pitched himself into the record books, again. What made that game so special, for me, was that I was watching it at work and by the 8th inning, I was watching it with the UPS man, the FedEx man and yes, even the mail man. When Dewayne Wise made “the catch” we reveled in our mutual south sidedness and gave each other big, sweaty man-hugs.
That’s the sorta thing that only happens once in a lifetime, so I’ll be hanging my hat on the Buehrle perfecto for the forseeable future. But that’s just me.
You can hate me for that. Just don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
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We learned many things from Jim Joyce, Armando Galarraga and the infamous Imperfect Game of June 2, 2010. We learned that throwing beer bottles at the wall may cause significant DAMAGE (to the beer bottle, possibly the wall too). We learned that styling one’s facial hair after the Pringles man cannot disguise MISTAKES. And we also learned that the best way to avoid controversy, is to AVOID controversy.
So when Philip Humber threw that wild 3-2 breaking ball two feet off the plate on Saturday and Brendan Ryan checked his swing, I felt all of the fury, all of the tension, all of the RAGE from the Imperfect Game ALL over again. Except homeplate umpire Brian Runge called it a swing, AJ Pierzynski threw the ball to first and the celebration began.
OH BUT THE CONTROVERSY!!!
In my house, I had a hard time celebrating Humber’s gem because I was already seeing the asterisk-calling headlines, I could already hear Mariners fans (all three of them) flooding the sports talk shows with vitriol. And as Brendan Ryan argued with Runge about the call, I knew it was time for me to go outside to get some fresh air before my phone started to blow up with imperfect texts.
Except… none of the above actually happened. Brendan Ryan dropped the subject. He tipped his cap and moved on. The networks — as if taken over by an Orwellian machine of greater good (a fantasy in itself) — didn’t even show the replays of Ryan’s checked swing. The Wizard said “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain” and I — WE ALL — gleefully obliged, even though it sorta felt dirty doing so.
We owe that guilt-stained dirty feeling to Brendan Ryan. In fact, whether it is a good thing or not, Philip Humber’s perfect game will live on unscathed by controversy because Brendan Ryan simply let it go. He shut his mouth. He went about his business. And now we are to forget.
For a guy who was labeled as “a distraction” and a “clubhouse cancer” during his St. Louis Cardinal tenure, it’s nice to see Brendan being recognized for something else. Admittedly, I never would have bet it’d be for saying… nothing.
Don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
Humans are imperfect. That’s just the way we are. And even though I (and a select few i.e. Jesus, Gandhi and Kelly Clarkson) come close to perfection most of the time, part of being human is making mistakes. Jesus gave up a life with Mary Magdalene (mistake), Gandhi didn’t fight back (mistake) and Kelly Clarkson starred in From Justin to Kelly (big friggin’ mistake). Even my colleague, Allen Krause, makes a lot of mistakes — publicly, here on this blog. But I don’t hate him for that. I forgive him and move on. And sometimes, he even surprises me with interesting, near-perfect thoughts.
Closers are not immune from this inherent imperfection. The law of averages is an inevitable circumstance of life and if your closer mauls down opponents one after the other, night after night, then you better be ready for him to “average” out at some point. Fifty-five games in a row where Eric Gagne was unbeatable? Fifty-five games in a row, folks. 55! That’s a lot of games to save! Well, he’s “averaging” out now.
Sure, Izzy will get you through five in a row. Just know that after that he’s bound to blow two or three. That’s just how it is. Papelbon? Unhittable? For a while. But he is human and he’ll screw up to “average” himself out. This is symbolic of human nature. This is life itself.
Obama blew through the early primary stages — secured his lead. So he loses Indiana. Who cares? So West Virginia might not go his way. Let’s look at the big picture. Bottom of the 9th, 2 outs, 3-2 count, go-ahead runner on second, and a gunslingin’, gay-hatin’ redneck is at the plate. Who do you want on the mound?
Because he’s the man. More times than not, he’s going to be victorious.
Now, if you want to read great analysis on the possibility of a real paradigm shift regarding closing pitchers and the state of the game, check out The Prince of New York (buy his book!) by clicking *here*.
If you want to see me in all my (im)perfection, click *here* (I am the extremely attractive man dressed in black who takes the suggestion).
If you just want to see the most disgusting thing ever, click *here*. *Warning! These are Cub fans. They are sick people.
In closing, I may blow a game or two, but please don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right. And for the record, I usually am right, so get used to it.