Thursday, July 23, 2009

What a Perfect Afternoon

I love baseball. I really, really do. I know a lot of people think I'm crazy when I say this, but it's my favorite sport, and I can say that pretty confidently. Football and basketball are great, and ostensibly more exciting, but there's something about the intricacies of baseball, the history and lore and everyman quality to it that do it for me. Maybe it's the little battles that happen between pitcher and batter; maybe it's the slow pace that can sometimes lead to a big payoff; maybe it's the chance for a different guy to be the hero every night; likely it's all those things and more (no joke, as I type this the Angels just won a game in which they scored twice in the ninth inning and once in the tenth to win it. Excuse me while I shout my fool head off). And it's definitely because you know that on any given day you could see something you'll never forget. That's what happened for fans at this afternoon's Rays-White Sox game in Chicago, as they witnessed perfection.

Ok, let's do some bad math here: let's just say that since 1900 there have been an average of 15 teams playing, and let's say they've been playing 154 games per season for the last 109 years. So that's...251,790 games that have been pitched in that time, and only sixteen of those have been perfect games--no hits, no walks, and no errors. The computer on my calculator won't even give me a recognizable number when I try to figure out the percentage; the readout said, "Just stop it." Hopefully my completely unscientific calculations help you see just how rare and special a perfect game is, because Mark Buehrle pulled it off today, and it's got me all kinds of excited. To be fair, I hate Buehrle a little bit for his involvement with the infamous game in the 2005 playoffs that the Angels went on to lose to the White Sox because of a strikeout pitch that wasn't caught cleanly--all Angels fans reading this just scrunched their faces up in anguish and screamed "Mendoza!!!" while shaking their fists at the sky--but he seems like a very regular, humble guy who just happens to be a very good pitcher, so I'm happy for him. This wasn't even his first no-hitter; that came in 2007, so he joins a relatively short list of pitchers with more than one.

The coolest thing about all this, for me anyway? I got to see the last inning on TV, as the centerfielder stole a homerun from the leadoff batter in what has to be one of the most spectacular catches ever, given the circumstances. Then Buehrle had the nerve to throw a 3-2 changeup right down the middle for a strikeout, and then the last batter grounded out to shortstop, as everyone rushed the mound and bounced around the infield, a crazy, hopping mass of ecstatic humanity. Now that's why I love baseball.

4 comments:

J.O. said...

It was amazing! That dude Sanchez could have had one for SF about 2 weeks ago, but one of his infielders had an error. doh!

Hatfield said...

Yeah, and Sanchez also got bailed out by an amazing catch by a centerfielder in the ninth, though not quite as impressive. Of course, if his infielder isn't called with an error there they have to call it a hit (he probably wasn't going to get the guy at first even with a great throw) and then Sanchez doesn't even have a no-hitter, let alone a perfect game.

Nicole said...

So that is what it takes to get you "all kinds of excited" huh? No hits, no walks, no errors? Man, do I have my work cut out for me? I don't even play baseball

Hatfield said...

I'm sure my (admittedly small) readership would appreciate if I didn't discuss what you do that gets me excited, my dear...