Honestly, you guys, these are *supposed* to be pretty rare...
August 15, 2012 7:16 PM   Subscribe

Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners has pitched the Major League's 24th 23rd perfect game, in a 12-strikeout, 1-0 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. You can watch an abbreviated video showing all 27 outs in succession at mlb.com here (6:08).

This marks the third perfect game thrown in the major leagues this season, with about one-quarter of the season still left to be played. Non-baseball fans who read Metafilter may be unaware that this is not actually a common feat, as only 16 perfect games were thrown in the history of baseball prior to 2004, often with several years or even decades between perfect games.

Yet in just the last 9 seasons, almost one third of all perfect games in history have been thrown (or exactly one-third, if we count Armando Galarraga's stolen perfect game in 2010). There had never been two perfect games in the same year- until two were thrown in 2010, and now three and counting in 2012.

The Tampa Bay Rays have been a solid hitting team and perennial playoff contender over the last several years, yet seem unusually snake-bit when it comes to no-hitters/perfect games, as they have been no-hit 4 times since 2009- of which three have been perfect games.

It also is the third no-hitter and second perfect game involving the Seattle Mariners this year at their home park of Safeco Field, as they were the victims of the Phil Humber perfect game in April, and combined for a rare six-pitcher no-hitter in June.
posted by hincandenza (62 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Good for him. It's getting to the point for no hitters/perfect games against the Rays will need an asterix behind them.

Not related, but it comes on the same day one of the top hitters in baseball this year is suspended for testosterone.
posted by drezdn at 7:22 PM on August 15, 2012

More like the pretty good game, am I right?
posted by 2bucksplus at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2012

A nice piece on the trials of Felix Hernandez from a couple days ago.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 7:25 PM on August 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have two solutions to the perfect game 'problem':

(1) Raise the pitcher's mound
(2) Let batters take steroids again.

(OK, I confess - the second one is MuddDude's suggestion)
posted by muddgirl at 7:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Lower the pitcher's mound! Lower!
posted by muddgirl at 7:30 PM on August 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

There are good pitchers and great pitchers and there are pitchers who are beautiful to watch. Felix is beautiful to watch... probably my favorite outside of Craig Kimbrel right now. It's too bad the Mariners are abysmal; you'd think they'd trade him and get some other team's entire farm system in return.
posted by sonic meat machine at 7:35 PM on August 15, 2012

"...no hitters/perfect games against the Rays will need an asterix behind them"

I am pretty sure French cartoon characters don't play baseball.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 7:38 PM on August 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

Perfect games are about as common now as hitting for the cycle.
posted by exogenous at 8:07 PM on August 15, 2012

Ohhhh, that explains it! There was a palpable happiness in the air as I was driving through Pioneer Square on my way home from work today. Groups of people were just chilling out, sitting on the curb talking with their friends, which is really unusual, especially during the evening commute. I guess they just didn't want to go home quite yet after such a perfect day at the ballpark.

I didn't even realize there was a game today. Usually day games snarl traffic for my commute home, but today it was smooth sailing. King Felix must have made exceptionally quick work of the Rays, and his perfect game was that much more perfect for that reason as far as I am concerned.

I have a little shrine to Felix in my office. A bobblehead, ticket stubs, that kind of stuff. I'll be adding to it tomorrow, and I'd have to face the jeers from my coworkers for having completely missed his perfect game, if any of them gave the tiniest shit about baseball. Alas, I'm in the clear on that one.
posted by Balonious Assault at 8:22 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

muddgirl is correct; the solution may be to lower the mound again, as was done in the "Year of the Pitcher", 1968.
posted by ylee at 8:22 PM on August 15, 2012

I was always given to understand (and even referenced on Scrubs) that you're not supposed to acknowledge the possibility of a perfect game while it's in progress.

Is that no longer the prevailing wisdom?
posted by revmitcz at 8:38 PM on August 15, 2012

This is beginning to smell a lot like the McGuire/Sosa insanity. Yes, we all have PED slugfest fatigue and this is all a breath of fresh air, but shouldn't we wonder if pitchers are doping somehow?

Fool me once about unrealistic performances by MLB players that come just when the sport is losing popularity, shame on you...
posted by allen.spaulding at 8:44 PM on August 15, 2012

Man. What the hell is wrong with the Rays that fully half of the perfect games since 2009 have been against them?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:59 PM on August 15, 2012

Everyone, including the pitchers, gets tested for PED, so if they were doping they get caught, just like Melky Cabrera did today.
posted by dw at 9:00 PM on August 15, 2012

We own a Mariners 16 game plan. So far, we've missed Humber's perfect game (just didn't go), the combined no-hitter (sold the tickets), Ichiro's first game as a Yankee (work party that ended being dismal), and now Felix's perfect game (on vacation).

I don't know what to say anymore. We're either the unluckiest fans in history, or just the worst. We may just sell our last three dates just to ensure infamy.
posted by dw at 9:08 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was at the game today.

My wife and I haven't really gone out of our way to expose the kids to sports. My oldest is three, so it's not like he's at an age where sports are typically even interesting, but neither me nor my wife watch spectator sports. I grew up totally into baseball and played through high school, but pretty much lost interest when I became a pot smoking anarchist hippy in college.

But one day not too long ago, my son started talking all about baseball. I think he must have seen a game going on at the local park or something. We always jump right on anything that the kids express an interest in. Started putting a few games on TV. Bought him a Giants hat that he hasn't taken off in 3 months. He has a foam bat and even a little glove and every day when I come home from work, I'm greeted immediately at the door. "Daddy, you want to play baseball with me? I'll be pitcher, you be batter. I wear my Giants hat and you be the Brewers."

So we're driving home from the airport a month ago, past Safeco field, and I explain that's where the Seattle team plays.

He looks at me with a very serious tone: "Daddy, I want to go see the Seattle team play at Safeco field." And he doesn't stop talking about it for days.

So I arrange a day off work, and buy the best seats still available for August 15th when the Rays are in town. Right behind the home team dugout. When they arrive in the mail (I have a funny feeling, I'll want actual ticket stubs from this and pay the extra $3 to get real tickets instead of electronic ones), I sit down next to him "Hey buddy, check this out, these are two tickets for you and me to go see the Seattle team play next week." He is flipping out all week. I buy him a little replica jersey which hasn't come off yet.

"We're gonna eat popcorn, and sing the national anthem, and I'm going to bring my baseball glove and catch a ball!" He's telling everyone at school, at the park, family members.

We arrive at the game early enough to catch batting practice and the day does not disappoint. Like most three year olds, he usually loses interest in whatever he's doing after 30 minutes and I am prepared for an early exit. But he gets his big tub of popcorn, and he's enthralled, actually cheering and shouting "Hit the ball over here, Saunders!" He's getting a little tired by the sixth inning but then they do the little hydroplane race thing on the Diamond Vision and he's right back in it. He knows the words to "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" at the seventh inning stretch. He picks out a Mariners cap for his baby brother from a vendor.

By the eighth inning, Hernandez is on fire, and the excitement is building. I think he struck out something like 7 of the last 8 batters he faced. My son has no idea what a perfect game is or how rare they are, but the rising excitement and wild cheering with each pitch is reflected and amplified by the boy.

At the last called strike, the crowd goes wild and the team is jumping up and down, giving each other hugs not 10 yards in front of us. My boy is getting high fives from all the people around us including the Mariners Moose and the people sitting in the row behind us who tell me my kid is the cutest, luckiest kid ever. Perfect game, indeed.

So I do the natural thing and call my dad on the way home to tell him about our day. He reminds me that he took me to my first baseball game in 1973 when Vida Blue, pitching for the Oakland A's, threw a no-hitter against the Minnesota Twins. I was three years old at the time and had recently and inexplicably expressed an interest in baseball to my father.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 9:16 PM on August 15, 2012 [638 favorites]

Oddly enough, I was there.

We moved to Seattle a month ago and MetaFilter's Own Hero Walter, a huge baseball fan, got us all tickets to the game today. (It is his first week of unemployment.)

Kid and I were at the playyard for most of the game but we returned for the final inning.

Lots of fun!
posted by k8t at 9:21 PM on August 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

@Slarty - we (with 3 year old boy too) were in section 119, row 10. I saw your kid and the Moose! My kid was jealous.
posted by k8t at 9:26 PM on August 15, 2012 [33 favorites]

The montage of all 27 outs was a great way to watch this unfold. It was amusing listening to the announcer tip-toe around the issue without wanting to jinx it, especially around the 7th or 8th inning. ("it's nitty-gritty time!")

Announcers in Hockey will do the same thing when a goalie is on the verge of a shutout. Phrases like "let's talk about it!" will get lobbed around as a nod to the audience that yes, we're all excited about the possibility, but we dare not speak its name (yet!)"

He did manage to say "the P word" at least 3 times throughout the game, though, ("perfect through six innings...") which probably would have been considered a mortal sin had Hernandez not succeeded.
posted by ShutterBun at 9:27 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's lots of great stuff about today's game on Lookout Landing and U.S.S. Mariner.

I'm watching it on FSN Root Sports for the second time today. A lot less nerve wracking the second time around.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 9:43 PM on August 15, 2012

On the other side of the boxscore, the Rays pitchers allowed one run on five hits and a walk. That wins you the ball game most days. (Reminds me of a game where Randy Johnson gave up one run on three hits, but Jose Jimenez threw a no-hitter for the Cards. Tough luck is a part of baseball. )
posted by azpenguin at 10:10 PM on August 15, 2012

Here is a Dan Bern song about that Armando Galarraga game (he pitched a perfect game but the ref called the last play wrong so it doesn't count).
posted by onlyconnect at 10:13 PM on August 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Beautiful thing. I'm glad you guys were there, Slarty and k8t!
posted by LobsterMitten at 11:21 PM on August 15, 2012

Random comments:

Beautiful story, Slarty. I think the only downside is that when he goes to his next game, he'll be wondering why people aren't half as excited as they were the first time around. (First game I went to wasn't until I was 10, and looking now, Tuesday was the anniversary. 8/14/88, Hershiser only lasts 2 IP against the Giants, and I had no idea what was going on. But a couple starts later he began his scoreless inning streak.)

I'm fine with the way the pitcher/batter dynamic is right now. There's still some high-scoring games, but not like it was a decade ago. I know one theory on why there's so many more no-hitters is that hitters are more worn down by season's end, but most of these seem to come early in the season. And maybe advanced stats gives pitchers the bigger edge?

As for not jinxing a no-hitter/perfect game, surely the announcers of the team on the receiving end are talking it up as much as they can? And whatever the Rays announcers are doing, it's clearly not working. I'd still take Joe Maddon any day.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 11:39 PM on August 15, 2012

The unwritten rule about not saying "no-hitter" or "perfect" game has faded out over the last decade plus (and obviously, it only applied to the announcers for the team that was throwing the no-hitter). My dad is a radio broadcaster and has been for many years (minor league games and high school), and he said that superstition was pretty much universal. However, most announcers will say it freely these days, the Mariners being no exception. For those of us who grew up with that unwritten rule, it's still jarring to here announcers say "no-hitter" or "perfect after about the 4th inning, when it starts to hint at the possibility.

I still think Maddon's attempted delay of game was a punk move, but Maddon is a dick like that (most particularly because he has no internal ethics, and will as quickly denounce a move on a Thursday that he himself pulled on a Wednesday). Still, all's fair, etc; in a 1-0 game, if getting tossed basically arguing balls and strikes disrupted Felix's rhythm and got the Rays a 2-1 win, it'd be a canny if rather sleazy move.

Compare to Bob Brenly's silly outburst about the Ben Davis bunt single in the eighth that ended Curt Schilling's perfect game bid in 2001, where that was a 2-0 game in which the bunt meant the tying run came up to the plate, was completely legitimate, and totally justifiable.
posted by hincandenza at 12:03 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

How seriously the whole "jinx" thing gets taken is very specific to the person at the mic. By my recollection Jon Miller (one of the four-headed Giants radio/tv crew, and the winner of the 2010 Ford C. Frick broadcaster's award from the Baseball Hall of Fame) didn't hesitate at all to point out on-air that Matt Cain had a perfect game going while it was still in progress.

Of course, as Giants beat writer Andrew Baggarly found out a few months ago, flippancy in the face of Baseball Superstition does have its risks.
posted by Lazlo at 12:15 AM on August 16, 2012

Nice number.
posted by 23 at 12:28 AM on August 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

By my recollection Jon Miller (one of the four-headed Giants radio/tv crew, and the winner of the 2010 Ford C. Frick broadcaster's award from the Baseball Hall of Fame) didn't hesitate at all to point out on-air that Matt Cain had a perfect game going while it was still in progress.

Miller was actually on TV that night instead of radio for most of the game, since Krukow was taking one of his few well-deserved days off during the season. Miller blogged a bit about calling the game and discussing perfect games with Vin Scully. I remember after the game Dave Fleming was talking about how he actually tried to mention "perfect game" a whole bunch of times because he didn't want fans to tune in, hear it was a 10-0 blowout, and change the station without realizing what was going on.
posted by zachlipton at 1:17 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The unwritten rule about not saying "no-hitter" or "perfect" game has faded out over the last decade plus (and obviously, it only applied to the announcers for the team that was throwing the no-hitter).

I was being a bit flippant about the other team's announcers, but more relating the point that it's kind of a silly superstition (like how hockey teams don't pick up their respective conference trophies, even though that superstition has a 50% failure rate). But I can at least understand why the hometown announcer would want to skirt around it. Actually, it seems like ESPN cutting to one in progress is the bigger jinx.

It's kind of cheesy though that a pitcher will get visibly riled up if a guy bunts during a no-hitter, because he's basically admitting that his no-hitter is more important than both teams trying to win a close game. But it seems like pitchers are more honest now about when they realize they're pitching one, instead of just giving the old "I wasn't thinking about it at all!"

Some of the unwritten rules are about sportsmanship or sticking up for your team, but others are just antiquated. A funny one from a couple years ago was when Alex Rodriguez walked on the pitcher's mound on his way to the dugout after an out.

I got a library book about baseball's unwritten rules, "The Baseball Codes," but have yet to read it. I'll have to start with the no-hitter chapter...
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 1:43 AM on August 16, 2012

Jon Miller (one of the four-headed Giants

Did Ray Harryhausen design the announce team up there, or what?

Regarding the "tease" of the perfect game during an otherwise unremarkable meeting, that makes sense. Granted, I only saw 6 minutes of highlights here (which pretty much doubles my total intake of new baseball material over the last 10 years, minus the Miami home-run-spectacle) but looking back, I can see how the announcer would definitely be trying to "sizzle" the idea of a perfect game in progress, without strictly jinxing it.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:45 AM on August 16, 2012

I would agree that "upholding of unwritten rules, vis a vis 'sportsmanship'" definitely depends on the individual circumstances.

Since I have an easier time relating to hockey, I would say that if a guy has 2 goals toward a hat trick, and the other team has pulled their goalie, there are two distinct scenarios:

1. You're up 4-2 = feed him the puck at every opportunity
2. You're up 3-2 = whoever gets a chance, shoots it

3. You're up 3-2, but it's very late in the season and you already have tee times scheduled for the following week = feed him the puck at every opportunity.

Let's face it: individual achievements like a hat trick, a shutout, or a perfect game, can have MASSIVE repercussions on one's career down the line. Having a few ticks in certain "high value" checklists can (I imagine) greatly increase an athlete's future prospects ("15 wins +1 perfect game" looks a lot better than, say "16 wins" to some owners, I'd bet)

Other players know this, and I suspect it could affect their decisions on the field (or in the box). Not to mention the idea of how many people will show up to Hernandez's next start, to see how many hitless innings he can pitch?, etc.

Interesting stuff.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:56 AM on August 16, 2012

Let's face it: individual achievements like a hat trick, a shutout, or a perfect game, can have MASSIVE repercussions on one's career down the line. Having a few ticks in certain "high value" checklists can (I imagine) greatly increase an athlete's future prospects ("15 wins +1 perfect game" looks a lot better than, say "16 wins" to some owners, I'd bet)

I would dispute this. A perfect game is too much of a fluke to be meaningful in judging a pitcher's ability. If a player throws a perfect game at the end of his contract, then, sure, he'll get a bounce, but I doubt if anyone cares when he negotiates the contract after that. For example, Philip Humber's not exactly having a world-beating season, despite the perfect game and that 5.90 ERA trumps the perfect game any day in terms of judging his performance.
posted by hoyland at 4:37 AM on August 16, 2012

A funny one from a couple years ago was when Alex Rodriguez walked on the pitcher's mound on his way to the dugout after an out.
Within three weeks of that kerfuffle, it was well established that it was, in fact, Dallas Braden's mound.
posted by edverb at 6:36 AM on August 16, 2012

Okay, can someone please put Blarty's story in the sidebar and hand me a tissue?

The mound was lowered in 1968 after being raised in 1962 following Maris hitting 61 home runs. All things being equal (ie no steroids or other influences) baseball is a game of evolution and tends. Things are just settling down in the post-PED era. And I'm talking only a little bit about steroids and such...amphetamines were ubiquitous in baseball for DECADES before Andro and HGH became an issue. Players used "greenies" to get through the rigors of long road trips and long seasons. While it may not have made them directly stronger in the way that steroids did, it absolutely helped their performance. Now testing has taken those out of the equation. We're still figuring out what that means for competition and performance, so changing things like the mound height is premature in my mind.
posted by dry white toast at 8:19 AM on August 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

(I was being quite facetious with suggesting that we need to cure the problem of perfect games, which I hoped to signal with the scare quotes around 'problem'. Personally, I think the 4-hour-long ballgames are more of a problem, and that is a cultural problem most easily solved with umpires agreeing to keep games speedy.)
posted by muddgirl at 8:26 AM on August 16, 2012

One interesting aspect of Hernandez's perfect game is that 26 of his 113 pitches were of the "swing and miss" variety, which is an astounding number. He "only" struck out 12 batters, but having swing-and-a-miss stuff means having to rely less on the randomness of where batted balls land. With that ability to miss bats, I wouldn't be surprised to see Hernandez continue to flirt with no-hitters or even another perfect game in the future.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:42 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

And I was there. Amazing!
posted by idixon at 8:53 AM on August 16, 2012

Interesting that the superstition about talking about a no-hitter or perfect game has died down in the same decade that perfect games have begun increasing in frequency so much.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:13 AM on August 16, 2012

So, Slarty Bartfast, not to sully the tradition, but when and if your son has a child who is three years old and inexplicably interested in baseball, your family should auction off the rights to which game that child attends to pitchers interested in throwing a perfect game. Obviously, there's some sort of weird, wonderful magic going on here.

(I kid, but the more I consider it, and the superstitions that sometimes overtake even the most professional of ball players, I wonder if it would actually be taken seriously. In fact, I have no doubt you'd be able to get a bunch of Cubs fans to kick into a fund for just this purpose.)
posted by MCMikeNamara at 9:23 AM on August 16, 2012 [5 favorites]

Ok, I'm not much for sports, I'll admit. But I played baseball as a kid, and I've been to baseball games and wasn't completely bored and miserable, and, like many who don't really attend church anymore but still have an attachment to it, deep inside I'm glad to know that somewhere people are keeping up the old ways.

But I just can't, and never have been able to, wrap my head around the idea of getting excited when nobody is hitting the ball. Maybe it comes from having being on the team with all the worst players in the Little League, where no-hitters were a common experience. And I know, objectively, that it happens, and why it happens. But I can't imagine having the most exciting thing that could happen be nothing happening.

It puts me in mind of the line from The Music Man: "I haven't seen Iowa people get so excited since the night Frank Gotch and Strangler Lewis lay on the mat for three and a half hours without moving a muscle. Boy...that was exciting!"
posted by darksasami at 10:29 AM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I was there too. I was also at the Chicago perfect game in May at Safeco.

The truly astounding thing is both times I dragged my non-baseball fan pal Danelope along. He's been to five MLB games in his life including this one; two of those games have been perfect games. I'm pretty sure that is one heck of a set of profoundly unlikely events.
posted by mwhybark at 10:34 AM on August 16, 2012

A lot of people attribute this rise in perfect games and no-hitters to the lack of PEDs in batters, but I think defenses have gotten a lot smarter about batter tendencies, too. Shifting outfielders and infielders to where batted balls often go cuts down on the number of singles.

That said, it seems there's always one or two plays that help preserve a perfect game. Diving catch in deep center for Matt Cain, for example. One such play in Felix's game happened when Ryan covered Seager's dive and threw out the runner in the 7th; that could have easily been a disaster had Seager actually fielded the ball, because he wasn't in a good position to make the throw (at least, Ryan was in a much better position at the time).

I also think that in regards to getting excited about nobody hitting the ball, it often comes when the pitcher and team are on the verge of obtaining these high marks like perfect games and no-hitters. If there already is an infield single or something that takes away those achievements, I agree that further no-hits can tend towards the boring end of the spectrum.

In other words, while you might say that we're getting excited over "nothing happening," there actually is something happening; the guy is going for a perfect game.

I'm happy that Felix got this game, and the Mariner fan in me is doubly happy. He's such a talent, and by all reports a really good individual, and I think he deserves this achievement and any rewards it might bring.
posted by CancerMan at 10:59 AM on August 16, 2012

But I just can't, and never have been able to, wrap my head around the idea of getting excited when nobody is hitting the ball.
A no-hitter doesn't mean the batters aren't making contact, in fact it raises the stakes on every fielding play. Gregor Blanco's diving catch for the first out in the 7th of Cain's perfecto would have been a solid, athletic (but otherwise routine) play in any other game, but the context made it seem epic.
posted by Lazlo at 9:04 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

also, given the headcount in here, maybe we should do a group-buy meetup thing sometime. Although, realistically, that could be hard, as they want 40 tickets to get the $8 rate.

There are two $10 nights next week: Monday, courtesy of BECU, and Tuesday, when the M's are sponsoring a celebratory promotion they are calling The Supreme Court: 34,000 yellow Felix tees + K cards, with the intent of transforming the whole place into King's Court.

There are a variety of discounts: $35 100-level seats are $20 and the $18 to $20 uppers are $10.

Average weeknight attendance has been way, way, way under 34k. Every person at Tuesday's game is getting a shirt.

Me? Can't go, plans the next day make it a bad idea to be out of the house that evening. Darn it.
posted by mwhybark at 10:28 PM on August 16, 2012

also, two more things.

A detailed analysis of Hernandez' pitch-location and selection strategy by Bradley Woodrum at FanGraphs.

Jeff Sullivan at Lookout Landing on Hernandez' season-to-date performance in which he points out that since June 1 in 13 starts the pitcher has thrown four complete-game shutouts including Wednesday's game.

The implication, left unstated, is that Hernandez may throw an even more impressive game before the end of the year.
posted by mwhybark at 10:38 PM on August 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

The Rays get perfect-gamed one night, and score 7 runs against "my" Angels the next. Yeah, that seems about right. And yet the belief in game-to-game momentum carries on.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 12:22 AM on August 17, 2012

Holy cats, Slarty, that is the best baseball story ever. Hurray for your son! Hurray for you in 1973!
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:20 AM on August 17, 2012

Slarty Bartfast - my first MLB game was a no-hitter, too! Phil Niekro, the Braves' knuckleballer, closing down the Padres (I think) in 1973 (I think). I was 6, and honestly I think I would have enjoyed a slugfest more, but Dad did a good job of conveying to us that we were seeing something really special.
posted by thelonius at 3:26 AM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

thelonius: "Phil Niekro"

posted by Perplexity at 6:44 AM on August 17, 2012

yes! baseball-reference is awesome!

each play by play also links to a DHTML playback of the game hosted at backtobaseball.com.
posted by mwhybark at 8:50 AM on August 17, 2012

Mariners Double-A affiliate celebrates perfect game. "Felix's brother, Moises, plays for the Generals, and was amongst the players in the outfield basking in Felix's (and the Mariners) glory."
posted by gladly at 9:49 AM on August 17, 2012

My first baseball game, when I was 10, was notable only in that it was Garry Templeton's first time back in St. Louis after being traded to the Padres for Ozzie Smith. Everyone was wearing those big foam hands with the middle finger extended instead of the index finger. Only recently did I learn that Templeton's use of that gesture at fans was what got him traded in the first place.
posted by bgrebs at 10:58 AM on August 17, 2012


I went to another Seattle Mariners game which they played on the road in Oakland, which is near where I used to live. I was a big time Mariners fan then. The main reason was initially because they were so bad, there was no pressure on them to win, and were the perpetual underdog. Then they got this player named Griffey Jr., and then they had some playing excitement as well. Really, what other father and son have hit back to back home runs in the major leagues?

Anyhow, this game I was at, the Mariners were kicking some A's ass. Shutting them out. Then after about 6 innings people were realizing that the pitcher (whose name escapes me at the moment) hadn't allowed a base runner. A's fans start cheering every out the pitcher gets. Next thing we know it's the bottom of the 9th, and he's trying for an unmentionable perfect game. He gets the first two outs in the 9th, and then the third batter strokes a home run. Bastard! The fan that caught the ball in the stands threw the ball back on the field, and the fans booed the player has he ran around the bases. 8 2/3s innings of a perfect game! It really was amazing watching the excitement build of the home team's fans, rooting for the visitors and their pitcher. It's one of those things that you want to see as a baseball fan, even if your own team is the victim. Alas it wasn't to be. The next batter made an out, and we all filed out of the stadium in awe of what might have been, and grumbling a bit that it didn't happen.

Now I live in Colorado, and the chances of a perfect game here are somewhere between slim and none, so I'll hold that memory of that Seattle Mariners game in the mid 90's as my one close brush with seeing a perfect game... Sigh.
posted by Eekacat at 2:32 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

The fan that caught the ball in the stands threw the ball back on the field, and the fans booed the player has he ran around the bases

The A's fans booing their own team, that must have been something to see.

After I posted my story upthread, I went back to the Wikipedia to look up the Vida Blue no-hitter, because it struck me that I didn't remember actually *being* at the game when I was 3 years old. It turns out the game was actually in 1970, not 1973, and although I was an infant at the time, I am sure I was screaming loudly for Vida. My dad admits his memory isn't what it used to be, but he did hang on to the ticket stub and swears he has pictures of us there with my mom. If he comes up with the photos, I will have to post them.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 5:23 PM on August 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

You can find the box score of the Vida Blue game at Baseball Almanac, and pretty much any other game. Kinda cool. Blue only pitched 6 games that year.

As for Coors Field, Hideo Nomo threw a no-hitter there in '96, pre-humidor, in the steroid era, so I think it's very possible it could happen again.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 8:07 PM on August 17, 2012

Eekacat, Brian Holman was the pitcher, former Mariner Ken Phelps hit the home run.

Fangraphs has a nice breakdown of Felix's perfecto.
posted by The Hamms Bear at 8:19 PM on August 17, 2012

What happens to batters in a perfect game? Do they start to get psyched out watching their teammates get out, one after the after?

Has anyone ever written anything interesting about the psychology of a batter in a perfect game?
posted by awfurby at 7:32 PM on August 19, 2012

awfurby: " Has anyone ever written anything interesting about the psychology of a batter in a perfect game?"

I'm not aware of any such writing, but tangentially, there is an "unwritten rule" that batters are not supposed to bunt to break up a no-hitter or perfect game. I think it's an absolutely ridiculous rule (as most "unwritten rules" in sports are) but I am fairly certain if a batter successfully bunted to break up a no-hitter late in a game, he'd be thrown at by the opposing pitcher during his next at-bat. To me, bunting is part of the game (as is fielding the bunt) so if the pitcher doesn't want his no-hitter broken up, he (or his first/third basemen) ought to field the bunt better. The idea that there's some fuzzy gray area during a game after which it's no longer okay to bunt is just silly to me.
posted by tonycpsu at 7:16 PM on August 20, 2012

awfurby, no expert citations, but having attended and then rewatched MLB.TV of both the Safeco perfect games this year, after about the sixth inning, batter emotional reaction to swinging misses becomes highly demonstrative.

IIRC, at Humber's Chicago-won game, Brendan Ryan went so far as to argue with the call on the final out.

So, based on personal observation, I do think there is a strong desire by the batters to end the effort. More emotive than usual, at any rate.

tonycpsu, isn't the bunt thing more along the lines of 'don't bunt with no-one on base,' which is a basic strategy not always followed? Just curious. I can see where I would have bellowed my head off in disapproval at either one of these games if that had happened, just as I did at Maddon when he tried to discombobulate Felix.

Can't go tonight, darn the luck! Someone that goes tonight please drop a line.
posted by mwhybark at 7:57 AM on August 21, 2012

mwhybark: "tonycpsu, isn't the bunt thing more along the lines of 'don't bunt with no-one on base,' which is a basic strategy not always followed?"

There are plenty of speedsters who can bunt for a base hit, and the faster guys with precision bunting ability (Juan Pierre and Jose Reyes come to mind) can sometimes do it even if the defense is expecting it. Let's say you're one of those guys leading off the sixth inning of a game where your lineup hasn't managed a baserunner. Why wouldn't you try to get something started and get on base with a bunt? If you do, the starter's got to worry about a fast guy on first, so he's pitching from the stretch, and he's upset about losing his perfect game... Seems like a simple play like that could turn the game around quickly.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:12 AM on August 21, 2012

awfurby, no expert citations, but having attended and then rewatched MLB.TV of both the Safeco perfect games this year, after about the sixth inning, batter emotional reaction to swinging misses becomes highly demonstrative.

IIRC, at Humber's Chicago-won game, Brendan Ryan went so far as to argue with the call on the final out.

I wonder if sometimes they're thinking that there's no way the pitcher is throwing the ball well enough to be no-hitting them, so it must be something the hitters are doing wrong. If the pitcher's absolutely lights out, I think the hitters just shake their heads and admit it's not their night.

But, much more likely/often, it's the ump's fault, and the no-hitter is getting into his head and having him call strikes that shouldn't be. There are times when a hitter throws a fit at the ump after a swinging third strike, only because he felt there was a blown call earlier in the at-bat (or throughout the game), affecting the hitter's subsequent approach at the plate for the worse.
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing at 2:16 AM on August 22, 2012

Felix threw his fifth complete-game shutout of the year last night against the Twins. Interestingly, the Twins left their starter in all game too.
posted by mwhybark at 12:02 PM on August 28, 2012

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