Friday, July 24, 2009

A Perfect 9

In modern day Major League Baseball it is rare to see a pitcher throw a complete game. Rarer yet is seeing a no hitter pitched. Before yesterday I had seen six no hitters and one of those in person. But the rarest pitching feat in baseball is the perfect game.

In my lifetime, I would estimate that I have seen more than 7000 MLB games. Two of those have been Perfect games. Actually two and a half (I was able to watch the last four innings of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series – I’ll never forget Yogi Berra jumping on Larsen after the last pitch).

The first perfect game that I watched was on our new 17 inch color television. I believe that my Dad (who would always say “color television hasn’t been perfected yet.”) had bought it so he could watch Baseball games in color. It sat on top of our old 27 inch B&W on which he would watch almost everything else.

This game was the Cubs versus the LA Dodgers in Los Angeles. Sandy Kofax was pitching for the Dodgers. Although we were both die hard Cubs fans we found ourselves cheering for Sandy during the 9th inning. My Dad had never seen a perfect game.

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to watch my second perfect game. It was an afternoon game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago White Sox. Mark Buehrle was the White Sox pitcher. It was shown in the local market by Fox Sports Florida. The announcers were Dwayne Staats and Brian Anderson (I would have much preferred to hear Steve Stone and Hawk Harrelson call the game but it wasn’t on WGN America).

During the eight inning, Staats spoke about the possibility of Buerhle getting his second no hitter in the last three seasons. Shortly after that statement Pat Burrell slapped a ball up the left field line. Fortunately it went foul and Burrell lined out to third base on three pitches later to end the inning.

At the beginning of the top half of the ninth inning both Staats and Anderson intimated that Buerhle was flirting with a perfect game as well as a no hitter: mentioning that the Chicago fans had not seen a no hitter in their ballpark for a long time. This is usually the “kiss of death” as players as well as fans tend to be superstitious. In the old days it was an unwritten rule that broadcasters did not mention these possibilities.

At this time Sox manager Ozzie Guillen made a defensive move placing Dewayne Wise in center field.

The first Rays batter in the ninth inning was Gabe Kapler. After a two and two count Kapler whacked a pitch to center field; it was heading for the center field stands and would surely be a Home Run (Gabe, Mark and I knew that "crack of the bat" sound well). This would end the perfect game, the no hitter and the shutout for Buerhle.

But center fielder Wise timed his move perfectly, jumped high and caught the ball just before it went into the stands. The look of amazement on Buerhle's face was an awesome sight to see. Now, for me, that’s baseball excitement!

Two outs later Buerhle was swamped by his fellow players; he had pitched a perfect game. I cried, thinking about the time that my Dad and I watched Kofax’s perfect game.

The Beach Bum



Blogger alfredo_tomato said...

You noticed that the number 9 figures in the past two posts.

Conspiracy theorist take note.

I missed the game. I've fallen out of love with baseball, football and college basketball have taken its place. It's still a game of drama and strategy, and I appreciate that. Every now and then it is a thing of beauty.

right now the tour is taking up my time and interest.

Sunday is the Hungarian GP. Love the grid girls.

Fri Jul 24, 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger The Curmudgeon said...

I was stuck at my desk working on a brief that consumed the last two weeks of July and most of the first week of August. My wife called and gave me the play by play in the 9th.

Then I went home and watched the end of the game... they re-ran it that night... and I was still nervous.

Where Wise made that catch is now labeled on the outfield wall: "The Catch." And, Josh Fields, who hit the grand slam to supply the offense and got a bit part (with Wise) on Letterman from the deal? Demoted to Charlotte.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

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