Thursday, June 03, 2010

Almost perfect

Players whose only major league at bat was a grand slam home run.

I just thought that stat up, but if it's happened, Elias Sports Bureau could say who, when & where.

Baseball is such a statistically well-documented game that there are "records" for everything. The stats reveal baseball as a game of trends, of ebbs & flows. There are hitter's eras, pitcher's eras, home run eras, strike out eras. There are eras when the ball is "lively" & eras when it is not. There are confluences & coincidences - always coincidences, because most of what happens in baseball is unexplainable & unpredictable. Now, the computers find something unusual in almost every game.

The Tigers' Armando Galarraga was one out from a perfect game.

In the "modern era" since 1900 only 19 perfect games have been pitched; 27 batters up, 27 down, nobody reaches base. Until this season, two perfect games were never pitched in the same year, much less within a month. There were almost three over the past month, but for an obvious blown call by an umpire on what should have been the final out of the game. Later, the ump admitted the bad call & apologized, but the ruling stands. A ruined chance for an unremarkable pitcher to join a super elite group. A great thing about baseball, otherwise forgettable players can make unforgettable history. It was a one hitter. Two pitchers have 12 one hit games in their careers. They're memorable if you see one, uncommon but not rare. Some were almost no hitters, broken up by a hit late in the game. Hopefully a clean, indisputable hit. There have been 223 no hitters including perfect games in the modern era, & they are considered the high points in the careers of most of the pitchers who throw them. A few pitchers have tossed multiple no hitters, but every pitcher knows he's really lucky to throw just one. The odds are against it. Very.

So now the baseball stat freaks need to find an explanation for why there were two (actually three) perfect games in a month. As if there could be an explanation.
As a fan of radio baseball, I really enjoy when the Mets or Yankees play late games on the west coast. The games begin at 10 pm & it's a treat to get into bed after 11 with a book & the game playing softly on the radio.

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And some people actually think that a game with no hits is boring! One of my more memorable games attending was at Dodger Stadium where Doc Gooden and Valenzuela were pitching a 0-0 game for 13 innings until, sadly, the Mets got a run scored and we lost the game. And I remember when I was in NYC I believe it was 1989 or 1990 (my first trip there as an adult) both Valenzuela and if memory serves me, an Oakland pitcher had no hitters on the same day, in June. That was cool, at least for those of us that love baseball!
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