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June 13, 2012 11:48 PM   Subscribe


 
Best pitcher in the world for the next five days.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:53 PM on June 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to Bill James' Game Score measure, it registered a 101 -- tied for second highest ever.
posted by dw at 11:53 PM on June 13, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's always bugged me that the definition of "perfect game" in baseball is that no batter reaches first. To me, a "perfect game" for a pitcher would be where you go against 27 batters and pitch 27 pitches, and strike every one of them out. That has never happened, not even once,

Baseball, the only sport where the statistics are as exciting as the action on the field, knows that this ideal of perfection is unattainable, and has downgraded the definition of "perfection" accordingly. But it's not perfect.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:12 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's some stuff from ESPN about why it was so amazing.

And here's a MeFi post from last year about Cain's batterymate Buster Posey, who bashed up his leg bad on a play at the plate last season and lost most of 2011.

And here's a dorktastic article from 2009 in which Cain and fellow San Francisco Giant Tim Lincecum talk about being "partners in dominance."

Also tonight, after RA Dickey threw a one-hitter, the Mets will appeal the scoring decision on a first-inning infield hit by BJ Upton in the hopes of having Dickey's game ruled a no-hitter. (If I had to bet, I would say that since MLB declined to give Armando Galarraga a retroactive perfect game on a clearly incorrect call in 2010, they won't change their decision on a borderline call like this one).

Cain's gem follows a perfect effort from Chicago's Phil Humber in April, although Humber's career as a starting pitcher might be coming to an end.

Cain's perfecto is also the fifth no-hitter in baseball this year.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:16 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


twoleftfeet, what you describe is called a "natural perfect" game. It's like hitting for the cycle (non-baseball junkies: the batter accomplishes all four possible outcomes of a hit, reaching 1st, 2nd, and 3rd base, as well as home). You can hit for the cycle as long as all four boxes are "checked." A "natural cycle" is hitting all four possibilities in sequential order. As long as nobody leaves the batter's box going anywhere but the dugout, that's perfect. :)
posted by fireoyster at 12:16 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sorry. Blew the math. 3 batters times 9 innings equals 27, but there should be 3 pitches per batter.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:18 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've had the same thought before, but it would have to be 81 pitches to strike 'em all out or else 27 caught or grounders thrown out at first.
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:19 AM on June 14, 2012


To me, a "perfect game" for a pitcher would be where you go against 27 batters and pitch 27 pitches, and strike every one of them out.

Well, the guy would have to throw 81 pitches, but I take your meaning. An immaculate inning- in which a pitcher retires three batters with three strikeouts on exactly nine pitches- isn't quite as rare as a perfect game. And fireoyster just taught me two new baseball phrases!
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:20 AM on June 14, 2012


I wonder has there ever been a 3 pitch inning?
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:22 AM on June 14, 2012


Yeah, 81. Sorry.

My point was that in baseball there really is an absolute standard for what should be "perfect" - every pitch is a strike. It never happens, but as an absolute basis that's where you should use words like "perfect".

Hard to get people excited about a "nearlly perfect" or "almost perfect" game, though.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:27 AM on June 14, 2012


Here's the video highlights.

I'm guessing that link will only work in the USA though.

posted by TwoWordReview at 12:28 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I wonder has there ever been a 3 pitch inning?

I can't believe you even have to ask me that. (shorter answer: yes, many.)
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:28 AM on June 14, 2012


Yes.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 12:29 AM on June 14, 2012


The MLB record for fewest pitches thrown in a nine-inning complete game is 74. There have been many, many 3-pitch innings.

In theory, you can pitch zero pitches in an inning and still retire all three batters, though it would be so wonky I doubt it would happen. From answerbag:

"The theoretical answer is zero. One scenario which can result in an out without a pitch is if the batter switches boxes after the pitcher is set - auto out. 3 of those in an inning, and you have 3 outs, no pitches. Or, let's say your pitcher balks, batter advances to 1st. Tries for second or is just too far off base and gets thrown out. 3 of those - 3 outs, no pitches (we are talking theoretical, after all). Or any combo of those 2 scenarios.

For a SLIGHTLY more realistic scenario - you could say one pitch. (Only slightly more realistic, mind you LOL!) Pitcher balks - runner on first. Next batter does the switch - he's out. Third batter lines to first - first baseman catches, tags, and throws the out at second. Three outs - one pitch."
posted by maxwelton at 12:30 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


But this was against the Astros . . . I know some are calling this possibly the greatest perfect game ever, but shouldn't competition count?
posted by Jurbano at 12:31 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


but shouldn't competition count?

As a Mariners fan, gawd I hope not.
posted by maxwelton at 12:32 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


twoleftfeet: You have to throw balls sometimes in order to throw strikes.
posted by XhaustedProphet at 12:35 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can't believe you even have to ask me that. (shorter answer: yes, many.)

I suppose as a Giants fan I should have known that considering Madison Bumgarner is on that list!
posted by TwoWordReview at 12:35 AM on June 14, 2012


Aww, I missed it! After listening to the Pirates getting blown out again, I turned off baseball and played video games all night.

And the Rays might be the victim of yet another no-hitter. How many is that for them in the last three years or so?
posted by dirigibleman at 12:40 AM on June 14, 2012


You have to throw balls sometimes in order to throw strikes.

I don't think that's in the official rules, but it makes a damn pithy bumper sticker.

In theory, you can pitch zero pitches in an inning and still retire all three batters, though it would be so wonky I doubt it would happen.

Wonky ball! The basketball game where everyone just shoots 4-pointers!

I once calculated the highest score theoretically possible in any (American) football game. You do this by using reasonable figures for human running and passing speed and by taking the most extreme interpretation of the rules and expectations of play. You assume that as soon as the other team has the ball they fumble and turn it over to you. Anyway, it is theoretically possible to have a game where one team wins by almost 1,000 points, but of course that's never going to happen.
posted by twoleftfeet at 12:45 AM on June 14, 2012


27 pitches, 27 ground ball outs to the right side (or left for lefties). My perfect game. Raised 2 college pitchers, so I've put a little thought into this...
posted by sfts2 at 12:54 AM on June 14, 2012


The game is unusual in a number of other ways: the highest recorded pitch count of any perfect game and the highest run deficit in any perfect game.

Matt Cain is also the only player ever to have scored a run in his own perfect game. Take that American league.
posted by anigbrowl at 12:56 AM on June 14, 2012 [15 favorites]


From an old Straight Dope:

Question: "Which is more elegant, a perfect game accomplished in 27 pitches, each batter hitting into an out, or one accomplished in 81 strikes, giving the position players nothing to do at all? (Warning: Roger Angell himself refused to answer this question.)"

Answer: "(3) The number of pitches thrown during a perfect game is no more relevant than the number of brush strokes used to paint the Mona Lisa. A perfect game is just that: perfect. To cavil about the minor details of such a performance is to proclaim that one has the morals of a newspaper publisher. I need say no more."
posted by madcaptenor at 1:11 AM on June 14, 2012 [24 favorites]


I was watching on TiVo and was about fifteen minutes behind towards the end. I don't think I've ever had a harder time not peeking at the score. Amazing effort all the way around.
posted by Lazlo at 1:21 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm guessing that link will only work in the USA though.

Works fine for me in London.
posted by Optamystic at 1:40 AM on June 14, 2012


I watched with a friend in a cafe that had no tv, huddled around an iPhone and the MLB at-bat app which had cut to the video 'live look-in'. We cheered perhaps a little too loudly at the last out, just as the cafe owner was trying to take our table's order. I'm glad I live in the future, where I can watch little bits of history (sports and otherwise) in realtime, with real and virtual/online companions to share these moments.
posted by TwoWordReview at 1:44 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


I didn't watch baseball tonight because, apparently, I was jinxing my team and only complete abstinence can break a streak like that. I missed everything! A perfect game AND my team won 10-1. At least that worked! Sometimes I just can't believe the sacrifices I make.
posted by Anitanola at 3:05 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


You are right to not jinx your team. I remember one game where my team was winning, but I went to the bathroom and when I came back they were losing. I haven't felt completely safe in the bathroom ever since.
posted by twoleftfeet at 3:21 AM on June 14, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Or, let's say your pitcher balks, batter advances to 1st."

I'm sorry; the author of that statement ffrom answerbag appears to be talking about Calvinball. Ten foul-pole-to-foul-pole runs, and a reading of the rulebook, before they are allowed to talk baseball again.
posted by stevis23 at 4:02 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Time to lower the mound again.
posted by reenum at 4:08 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


twoleftfeet: It's always bugged me that the definition of "perfect game" in baseball is that no batter reaches first.

Well, consider the wording in this FPP: "a particularly fine perfect game". If there are gradations to perfect games, then by definition, they are not perfect. If someone actually pitched a perfect game, then it could only be equaled, never surpassed.
posted by Malor at 4:36 AM on June 14, 2012


Watched the highlights. When he got two outs and they showed his wife (and family presumably), and how nervous she was...even knowing the result my stomach was twisted in a knot.

Great stuff.
posted by dry white toast at 5:11 AM on June 14, 2012


I once calculated the highest score theoretically possible in any (American) football game. You do this by using reasonable figures for human running and passing speed and by taking the most extreme interpretation of the rules and expectations of play. You assume that as soon as the other team has the ball they fumble and turn it over to you. Anyway, it is theoretically possible to have a game where one team wins by almost 1,000 points, but of course that's never going to happen.

Oh, Georgia Tech tried, they really tried. Ended up only 222-0 though.
posted by kmz at 5:16 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, consider the wording in this FPP: "a particularly fine perfect game". If there are gradations to perfect games, then by definition, they are not perfect. If someone actually pitched a perfect game, then it could only be equaled, never surpassed.

And also, what the fuck does "a more perfect union" even mean? Learn some English, hacks.
posted by kmz at 5:19 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


And while I was getting excited last night watching Red Sox rookie Felix Doubront take a no hitter into the 6th, I missed this.
posted by COD at 5:22 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Awe man, I was sleeping when this happened!! (Not that I would have watched anyway...I'm a Cubs fan - UGH - and I am taking an extended break from baseball.) Good for him. The perfect game is my favorite thing in sports.

And did you see that great diving catch at the warning track? That would have been an incredible catch in any situation, but it's even cooler as part of a perfect game.
posted by sc114 at 5:28 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


It was a treat to watch this last night, though I scared the cats with all my yelling. Having the Giants get their first perfect game because of Cain is especially sweet, since he's been with the team his whole career. Go Giants!
posted by rtha at 5:48 AM on June 14, 2012


I played in a dice baseball league this year. So while Matt Cain was doing that, my pretend Giants got swept to finish the season on a 17 game losing streak.

Perfect games are rare enough that their distribution doesn't mean anything, I don't think. But it's interesting that they sort of come in clumps.
posted by hoyland at 5:50 AM on June 14, 2012


A pitcher must feel strange and fine to see his name tied with Sandy Koufax for anything, never mind a list of the best games ever pitched.
posted by pracowity at 5:58 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like George Carlin's idea: "Pitcher hits the batter, batter's out. You hit 27 batters in a row, you got yourself a perfect game, my friend."
posted by MoonOrb at 6:08 AM on June 14, 2012


There was also Bill Lee's idea of a perfect game: load the bases 9 times but no one scores.
posted by yerfatma at 6:45 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


Sweet revenge for the Giants. In 1986, I was lucky enough to be present when Mike Scott of the Astros pitched a no-hitter against the Giants to clinch the NL West. To pitch a no-hitter in such a clutch, high-pressure situation was a phenomenal achievement.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:48 AM on June 14, 2012


"The term 'perfect game' is at least as old as 1908. I. E. Sanborn's report for the Chicago Tribune about [Addie] Joss's performance against the White Sox calls it, 'an absolutely perfect game, without run, without hit, and without letting an opponent reach first base by hook or crook, on hit, walk, or error, in nine innings.'"

I fucking love when the fielders make great plays to preserve perfect games and no hitters. Right fielder Gregor Blanco made a great diving catch on the warning track in the gap in the seventh. The last out was nervewracking. It looked like it short-hopped third baseman Joaquin Arias but he made a great play and throw to get the last out.

I've had the same thought before, but it would have to be 81 pitches to strike 'em all out

Unless you're Bugs Bunny.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:49 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Perfect games are rare enough that their distribution doesn't mean anything, I don't think. But it's interesting that they sort of come in clumps.

Do they really? Usually I'd take this as a challenge but I'm on my phone, so somebody else will have to analyze this. They certainly appear to though.
posted by madcaptenor at 6:50 AM on June 14, 2012


And also, what the fuck does 'a more perfect union' even mean?

The 1777 Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union was the founding document of the United States. It had several flaws and was replaced by a more perfect union, the US Constitution, in 1789.

posted by kirkaracha at 6:55 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everything has to go just right. Schafer's foul ball in the 4th could have been ruled a hit. That early, there would have been no Gallaraga like controversy. Earlier in the night Snyder's long drive might have been a homer.

The Astros aren't that bad this year, at least compared to last year. Not even bottom of the division (one of the few times in my life I've ever been happy the Cubs exist). I generally don't watch West Coast games, so I missed this one live. God, it's going to suck being in the AL West next year.
posted by IanMorr at 6:59 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I once calculated the highest score theoretically possible in any (American) football game. You do this by using reasonable figures for human running and passing speed and by taking the most extreme interpretation of the rules and expectations of play. You assume that as soon as the other team has the ball they fumble and turn it over to you. Anyway, it is theoretically possible to have a game where one team wins by almost 1,000 points, but of course that's never going to happen.
You could easily exceed a thousand-point differential just by having one play over and over: team A kicks off to team B, who fumbles the ball in the end zone where a player from team A falls on it. Say that takes 10 seconds, then you can fit 360 of them in a game, times 7 points each is 2520. (You might want to go for two-point conversions but I'm not sure it's worth the extra time on the clock.)

In the final two minutes of each half, the clock doesn't even run on a kickoff until a player touches it, so you can reduce that 10 seconds to like 1 and run up the score even more.
posted by dfan at 6:59 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


> It's always bugged me that the definition of "perfect game" in baseball is that no batter reaches first. To me, a "perfect game" for a pitcher would be where you go against 27 batters and pitch 27 pitches, and strike every one of them out. That has never happened, not even once, Baseball, the only sport where the statistics are as exciting as the action on the field, knows that this ideal of perfection is unattainable, and has downgraded the definition of "perfection" accordingly. But it's not perfect.

Baseball isn't downgrading the definition of perfect. When I muse over the perfect plums I ate earlier this year, that's not downgrading the definition of perfect either. It's not an objective term.
posted by desuetude at 7:22 AM on June 14, 2012


Baseball isn't downgrading the definition of perfect. When I muse over the perfect plums I ate earlier this year, that's not downgrading the definition of perfect either.

I have pitched
a game that was perfect
for a given value
of "perfect"

with which
you may disagree
wholly
or in part

Forgive me
some strikes are balls
and some
are fouls
posted by mightygodking at 8:22 AM on June 14, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pitchers don't really earn perfect games. Baseball is a team sport and perfect games, this one included, have a lot to do with great defensive baseball. The team really earns the perfect game and the pitcher is rightfully recognized as the primary contributor.
twoleftfeet's definition is no more perfect than this one the Giants just pulled off.
posted by rocket88 at 8:32 AM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


eighty one strikes are
most often mixed with a few
balls for confusion

the batter won't know
what is coming at him next
and that makes tension

if everything was
just one swing for each missed ball
we'd crave for flexion
posted by atbash at 8:47 AM on June 14, 2012


I hope I never end up with seats next to some guy who's going on about what really constitutes a perfect game.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 10:08 AM on June 14, 2012 [4 favorites]


Good news: I don't think those people go to games. Or necessarily follow the sport.
posted by yerfatma at 10:24 AM on June 14, 2012


It looked like it short-hopped third baseman Joaquin Arias but he made a great play and throw to get the last out. Good thing they took Pablo out. I don't think he would have made that play. Not that the same play would have happened if they left him in, but whateer--he's not playing well defensively.

My point was that in baseball there really is an absolute standard for what should be "perfect" - every pitch is a strike. It never happens, but as an absolute basis that's where you should use words like "perfect".

Not just a strike, but an un-hit-able strike with maximum speed and maximum movement. And every swing would be a home run of maximum distance (450 feet or whatever). Why should perfect only refer to pitching and defense? This way the perfect game would last infinitely long.
posted by Golden Eternity at 11:17 AM on June 14, 2012


My kid and I were walking around near the stadium last night and we did our usual of slipping into the free public viewing area under the bleachers, which is standing room at field level. The kid has never had an issue checking out the game from there before, but for some reason last night he was absolutely livid that we weren't going to buy tickets to actually sit in seats for this particular game.

The lesson: give into preschooler tantrums, because there's a 1:1 correspondence with tantrums and exceedingly rare, historical moments in baseball.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 11:43 AM on June 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


Everything has to go just right. Schafer's foul ball in the 4th could have been ruled a hit.

Looks as if that was off the bag to me..

Why are perfect games becoming so common? Other pitching stats aren't that good compared to historical norms, are they?
posted by Chuckles at 12:46 PM on June 14, 2012


Why are perfect games becoming so common? Other pitching stats aren't that good compared to historical norms, are they?

Pitching has been pretty good the past couple of years. My amateur analysis is that this generation of ballplayers is basically the first cohort of non-PED-dependent to make up the majority of pro hitters since about 1990, and that gives pitchers an advantage. You can make more mistakes if no one has the power to hit your mistakes 400 feet in the opposite direction. And pitchers have trickery on their side.

I think that's also why we're seeing more season-ending and nagging injuries, where talented and valuable guys just cannot get healthy and durable. We're seeing the actual toll a 162-game season takes on non-enhanced bodies, which has been concealed for the past 15-20ish years. I don't know what's going to come down the pipe about it, especially considering that the league just decided to add another wild card to the playoffs, but I don't think it's going to norm out the way we're expecting it to.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:58 PM on June 14, 2012


And here's the AP on the rarity of the thing/oddness of no-nos this year:
Philip Humber of the Chicago White Sox tossed the majors’ last perfect game at Seattle on April 21. This is the second time in three years there have been two perfect games in the same season — before that, the only other time it happened was in 1880.

Not since 1917 have there been five no-hitters in a season by mid-June. The only year that came close was 1990, when Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Stewart each pitched no-hitters on June 29 — the fourth and fifth of the season

This year, Johan Santana tossed the New York Mets’ first no-hitter on June 1 and six Seattle pitchers shut down the Los Angeles Dodgers last Friday. Jered Weaver had one for the Los Angeles Angels on May 2.
Huh, most no-hitters since 1917, and first double perfecto season in the modern era? Okay, I guess this is way weirder than I originally thought, but I think I stand by my sense that, now that PEDs have been somewhat removed from the equation, the changes in the game over the years are favoring pitchers to some degree, maybe mostly because of their lighter/lightened workloads? And better shoulder/arm maintenance?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 1:17 PM on June 14, 2012


. As long as nobody leaves the batter's box going anywhere but the dugout, that's perfect. :)

I'm pretty sure 13 batters left the batter's box running towards first base. :)
posted by mrgrimm at 4:52 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


They just took the long way around to the dugout!
posted by TwoWordReview at 5:11 PM on June 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


I once calculated the highest score theoretically possible in any (American) football game... Anyway, it is theoretically possible to have a game where one team wins by almost 1,000 points, but of course that's never going to happen.--twoleftfeet

John Heisman's team tried .
posted by eye of newt at 10:54 PM on June 14, 2012


(You might want to go for two-point conversions but I'm not sure it's worth the extra time on the clock.)

I'm pretty sure points after touchdown plays don't count on the clock at all.
posted by kmz at 6:23 AM on June 15, 2012


Haha, during the game the camera kept cutting to this guy riding one of those water-powered jetpacks. I guess he was trying to sneak a peek at the game. (The stadium is right on the coast, apparently.)
posted by d1rge at 8:03 AM on June 15, 2012


According to Bill James' Game Score measure, it registered a 101 -- tied for second highest ever.

Not surprised to see Kerry Wood at #1. I don't think I've ever seen one of the perfect games start to finish, but I remember that Cubs game because it was just absolutely ridiculous. The most dominant I've ever seen (I didn't see Cain the other night).
posted by mrgrimm at 10:37 AM on June 15, 2012


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