I was going to let this one go today, as it's a litte bit nit picky, but I just heard for what seems like the one-millionth time that we almost had two perfect games last night in Major League Baseball. It’s driving me nuts!
When I first saw the headline on Twitter last night, “R.A. Dickey Almost Perfect,” I was a little confused. I had been watching baseball all night and was never alerted to the fact that something special was happening in Tampa, that the countdown to perfection had been initiated. That’s pretty standard stuff - to keep viewers of other games in the know when history is being made on another diamond. Then I clicked the link and read the story.
R.A. Dickey of the Mets tossed a one-hitter against the Rays, walking none, his only blemish a 2-out infield single to B.J. Upton in the 1st inning. Wait, what? The 1st inning? Are you kidding me?
First of all, the ball Upton hit was a slow bouncer that the Mets’ David Wright attempted to barehand, his only shot, but couldn’t find the handle. It was listed in the article (and has subsequently been mentioned many times today) as a controversial call. Some seem to feel, including the Mets who have filed an appeal to have the official designation changed, that Wright should have been charged (or at least could have been charged) with an error. It’s silly, but fine, even if that had been the ruling, Dickey would no longer have been eligible for perfection. That is to say, if he had retired every man he had faced from that point on, he would have tossed a no-hitter. So, in truth, R.A. Dickey threw a near no-hitter. He wasn’t almost perfect. Perhaps that’s getting fired up over semantics, but that’s where my irritation finds its roots.
But more that the linguistic debate, my beans are grinding mega-force over the insinuation that Dickey was anywhere near perfect because the score card reflects a lone stain.
The timing is everything in a bid for perfection (or a no-hitter), and Dickey’s timing is laughable to the debate.
The moment B.J. Upton’s dribbler was ruled a hit, an indissoluble chain of events was set into motion. The very essence of a no-hitter or a perfect game bid is the crowd, the dugout demeanor, the whispers and the screams, the countdown – 6 outs to go, 5, 4, gotta get 3 before they get 1. It’s the mental marathon and the physical strain. It’s “For Love of the Game” – when Kevin Costner says, “I don’t know if I have anything left,” and then Dewey Cox responds, “You just throw whatever you got, whetever’s left.”
Last night in Tampa, Florida, there was no buzz; there was no dugout etiquette in danger of being violated; there were no whispers; there was no countdown; Dickey’s teammates didn’t have to pick him up and lead him through the doubts and above the pressure. Why? Because the bid for history was wiped out IN THE 1ST INNING!
R.A. Dickey threw one heck of a game, almost as well as a guy can throw, but he was far from perfect.