BaseballAugust 15th, 2012 by terrybenish
Since the completion of Felix Hernandez’s perfect game victory against the Tampa Bay Rays at 3:05, Pacific time, much has been written. National correspondents like Jon Heyman, Buster Olney, Peter Gammons and the nefarious Ken Rosenthal feasted on the game like blow flies to a dead carcass. Melky was getting thrashed by the moralists and then the King banished him to the outback.
Lots of beat writer’s takes. Good stuff, worthy of reading.
In the afternoon I wrote an extremely minimalist piece with a Headline that said Felix Perfect. The post said, “What more can you say?” Part of me thinks it was five words too long. Perfect is after all perfect. Jim Moore who encourages me to keep after it, said “Is that it?”
No, there is more to write about watching a marvelous athlete at his peak, with complete command of his pitches and try to illustrate stuff that many thought was gone. 96 mph fastballs, two seam fastballs running from here to there, 91 mph change ups with huge movement. Hard sliders and Aaron Sele-esque 12-6 curveballs with twelve to fifteen inch movement. It was all there.
In some ways the first two hitters for Tampa Bay Sam Fuld and BJ Upton hit balls that were difficult to make plays on but Eric Thames and Brendan Ryan made the plays, later on John Jaso made a nice play on a swinging bunt and Ryan had another play, but that was about it.
I was grinding away on my work in my basement office, with the game on TV in an adjacent room and my son who plays college baseball and I stopped the purposeful activity and watched from the seventh on (I also watched the replay in the evening)and we marveled at his stuff and got progressively nervous as the game unwound.
I thought Maddon’s bologna with the umpire was both calculated to disrupt Felix and to protect Matt Joyce who had whined to plate umpire Rob Drake in an earlier at bat and was whining again after the first pitch. The reason it was whining is that Jeremy Hellickson had also benefited from Drake’s zone. He was consistent.
I love to watch baseball, from babe ruth, high school, college, minor league and the major leagues.
The beauty of the game resides in the players and what they do on the field. You can buy Ken Burn’s anthology and see pictures and early film on players and as he brings the story through the century, it is always the players and how marvelous they play. It is never the owners, only rarely the managers and never the owners or commissioners. The owners and Bud Selig did not figure in Felix’s perfect game, they were not mentioned and as far as I can tell did not come up in any of the tweets or blog posts about the game.
As it should be.
There was a piece written by Glen Nelson a former sports reporter for the Times, who had the love for sports ground out of him during his time covering big time sports to the point he hates sports. He was in the King’s court and as near as I can tell it was like a trip to a cemetery where all of his dreams and aspirations had long been buried and sitting in the stands at the game was hurtful for him.
In one and one half seasons I’ve written 600 articles/posts in and out of season almost all about the Mariner’s organization and its journey towards competitive baseball. I have been critical of the Mariner’s executive management and ownership who are antithetical to baseball success due to their decisions that have run over and trampled the current general manager and the previous one as well. They don’t believe in baseball, they believe in bobble head dolls and other hucksterism.
I still love baseball despite them.
But there were no shields to baseball today, a perfect game within THE perfect game that connects now, literally now with moments that go back before the Civil War. Watching with my son, who is a catcher remarking about how filthy Felix was today was nearly as perfect as Felix.
Did you ever see Ted Williams hit? Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Johnny Bench, Joe Morgan? Bob Gibson pitch? Koufax and Drysdale, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry, Luis Tiant and Mudcat Grant? Harmon Killebrew and Frank Howard and Frank Robinson hit home runs. Brooks Robinson win a World Series by himself. Felix belongs in this crowd.
Baseball IS still perfect. Felix was a gem in a crown today.