When Baseball Gets Unboring
Dallas Braden throws the 19th perfect game in MLB history
I'm not a baseball guy. But I know enough when the ticker crawls across ESPN saying a perfect game is in progress to do two things: switch it over to the game and don't talk about it. Those are the rules.
Now that the perfect game is in the books, and no one messed it up with all the constant clamor (does the god of baseball make exemptions to these rules in the age of Twitter?), we're afforded an opportunity to reflect.
Dallas Braden threw only the 19th perfect game in MLB history, and it was only the 17th since the modern era began around 1900. Wikipedia breaks down that math as one perfect game every 11,000 MLB games or so, but we're a little bit spoiled here in this era, where Mark Buerhle tossed one just last season. (For what it's worth, perhaps the best thing about this perfect game was the fact that it put an end to the semi-feud that between Braden and New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez.)
In the boring world of baseball, the perfect game—and even its cousin, the no-hitter—is worth watching. The perfect game is a great encapsulation of what makes baseball a team sport, especially in our age: We value pitching to such a high degree, but it's still a team game. The outfield has to do its job and grab the pop flys, and the catcher and the pitcher need to be in synchronicity the way few actually are.
The real task is lasting through nine innings, when so many pitchers in everyday games don't even make it through a single game without taking a break. We have starting pitchers, relief pitchers and even closing pitchers. Pitching is a physically exhausting (maybe the only truly exhausting part of baseball) and pitchers usually need plenty of rest, even if they've only gone six innings—or fewer, in many cases. Braden's task, then, was obviously a rare one, made all the more rare by the fantastic way it unfolded.
Even though we've seen nine perfect games in Braden's lifetime, including his own, baseball fans should truly savor this one—because the odds are, it'll be a while until we see another one.