Friday, July 24, 2009

The Perfect Game

Okay Company, I think you should know that I love sports, and I could easily talk about sports just about every day. That being said, I am pretty sure that you don't want to hear that. In fact, I know sure that you don't. But I still love sports; so much so that I have thought about starting a sports blog. Thankfully though, every time that thought comes around my head prevails when it says "You don't have time and that would be so much more work" even though my heart is screaming "WRITE A SPORTS BLOG!"
Anyway, all that being said, I am going to write about sports today, because something sort of magical and certainly extraordinary happened at US Cellular Field (which you might know as Comiskey Park) in Chicago. Yesterday afternoon against the defending American League Champions the Tampa Bay Rays, Chicago White Sox All-Star left-handed pitcher Mark Buehrle pitched only the 18th perfect game in the history of Major League Baseball (MLB). The 132 year history of Major League Baseball. For all of you math majors out there that's one every seven years and four months on average, which doesn't sound particularly impressive until you factor in how many games are played between how many teams every year and that comes out to one perfect game for about every 11,000 MLB games played. Impressed yet? I think Wikipedia said it best when they noted that "For comparison, more people have orbited the moon than have pitched a Major League Baseball prefect game." Now you should be impressed.
For those of you who are not sports literate, and I am sure that many of you are not, a perfect game is when a pitcher allows no hitter to reach base. No hits. No walks. No hits batsmen. No errors by the fielders. Nothing. Twenty-seven people come up to bat and twenty-seven people walk away without touching first base. I know that this doesn't sound particularly difficult; it's ideally how every game should go. But it's not easy. You can't make a single mistake. You must throw the ball where the batter can easily hit it to avoid walks. Your fielders must all be in the prefect position to field every ball that is hit into play. And, honestly, you need a heap of luck and usually at least one amazing play.
Buehrle got his amazing play in the top of the ninth inning, with no one out when he was facing Gabe Kapler, who himself has had a rather remarkable career. Kapler got a hold of the 105th pitch in the game and drove it towards center field, where journeyman DeWayne Wise had just entered the game in that inning. The same DeWayne Wise who was with the Atlanta Braves when they were on the wrong end of the last perfect game in 2004. Wise ran, he ran a long way actually, and leaped at exactly the right moment to get the ball in his glove as it was sailing over the top of the wall. He didn't catch it though. Not right then. The impact with the outfield wall sort of knocked the ball out of his glove so he had to reach up and catch it in his bare hand before it hit the ground. All while doing a sort of backward somersault. It was pretty amazing. You can watch it here. It always seems that as games like this go on - whether they are perfect games or no hitters - the players in the field make more and more outstanding plays. And so it was in this game.
I am always impressed by this feat. I know that it can make for a boring baseball game if you like offense and hitting and whatnot, but it's still amazing to me. If you aren't quite sure how extraordinary and amazing this feat is, think about who called Buehrle while he was in the clubhouse after the game getting sprayed with champagne. Well, I don't know if he was getting sprayed with champagne but I DO know that he was in the clubhouse when President Obama called him to congratulate him. Now, it is true that the President is an avid and longtime white Sox fan, and that he met with Buerhle during the All-Star Game a couple of weeks ago, but still, when you get a phone call from the Pres and you DIDN'T win some sort of championship, then you know it's on.
And so it is. Congratulations Mark Buehrle on your perfect game, stats show you will never do it again. Enjoy it, you are part of a very exclusive club. And good for you all of you who were fortunate enough to see it in person. You're probably going to have to wait another seven years before it happens again.

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