Buehrle gets perfect game
Thanks to an amazing catch at the wall by centerfielder DeWayne Wise that robbed Tampa Bay's Gabe Kapler of a home run in the ninth inning on Thursday, Mark Buehrle became the 18th player in history to pitch a perfect game. The last one? Randy Johnson [ARI] in 2004. Before that? David Cone [NYY] on July 18, 1999 and David Wells (NYY) on May 17, 1998. (Notice a pattern?) See MLB.com; that page contains links to several others. After the game, the winning pitcher got a phone call from Air Force One. I don't know if records are kept for such things, but Buehrle is surely one of very few major league players to have talked to the president two times in as many weeks!
Here's a lesson I wish more people would take to heart: If they hadn't moved the outfield fence in at U.S. Cellular Field in 2001, that fly ball would have been a lot easier to catch, and would not have been a home run in any case. They could still rebuild the outfield wall and bleachers to make it less hitter-friendly and more like the predecessor, Comiskey Park.
According to MLB.com, "The fleet-footed outfielder's function on the South Side is to serve as a late-inning defensive replacement and pinch-run in big situations." Talk about the perfect player in the perfect situation! Buehrle now owes Wise a favor that can never be repaid, but he'll have to make the attempt nonetheless. A steak dinner every week for a year? A Mazerati coupe? A sea-fishing boat? Buehrle's name is well-known in baseball, and after this remarkable defensive effort by DeWayne Wise, hopefully many people will remember his name as well.
Memorial Stadium update
Speaking of memory, I recently wrote that "I had forgotten exactly when it was that I saw games at Memorial Stadium," which is pretty funny if you think about it. I'm sure if they ever name a sporting venue "Amnesia Stadium," I will definitely remember when I go there! Anyway, the Memorial Stadium page now has been updated with a variety of minor corrections and enhanced detail.
"Dugouts"? Not really.
When is a "dugout" not a dugout? For a while I had thought that Memorial Stadium in its 1950s configuration lacked true below-ground dugouts, since they were originally underneath the first two rows of seats, like at the first three stadiums listed below. After looking more closely at photos, however, it appears that there was indeed a small step or two down. Several of the dual-use cookie-cutters stadiums had baseball "dugouts" at ground level, to avoid extra bother when shifting from baseball to football and back again. Like artificial turf and domes, this expedient compromise undermined the authentic baseball experience, but is now pretty much a thing of the past.
- Jack Murphy Stadium
- Three Rivers Stadium
- Riverfront Stadium
- Olympic Stadium
Henderson, Rice in HOF
Today the Baseball Hall of Fame officially inducted two new members: Ricky Henderson, and Jim Rice. Henderson, who spent the better part of his career with the Oakland A's, has the all-time record for stolen bases (1,406) and runs (2,295), and was a shoe-in. Rice gained fame with the Boston Red Sox in the late 1970s; it was his final chance to get elected by the baseball writers. Congratulations to both men, neither of whom will have asterisks next to their names in the record books. See baseballhalloffame.org.
Nats are on a rebound
The Nats lost 6-2 to the visiting San Diego Padres on Friday night, largely because the superb Jordan Zimmermann was taken out of the rotation and put on the DL due to a sore elbow, and replaced by Collin Balester MLB.com. They came back with a fury on Saturday night however, thrashing the Padres 13-1 after a long rain delay. The final pitch was just before 1:00 A.M.! Too bad they couldn't spread some of those runs around. Today was a tense pitchers' duel, as John Lannan turned in another top-notch performance, giving up one run in eight innings. Mike MacDougal blew the save opportunity in the ninth inning, but the Nats managed to win in the tenth, thanks to a rare clutch RBI by Austin Kearns. Interviewed by the MASN reporter after the game, you could see he had tears in his eyes. I felt bad for having scorned him for having such a lousy year. Good job, Austin!
So, there are some hopeful signs under the new management of Jim Riggleman. After losing the first eight extra-inning games they played this year, the Nationals have now won the last four such games, including the suspended May 5 game that was completed on July 9. The Nats have now won four of their last six games, only the [third] such string of above-average play this year. After a
day [night] of rest, the Nationals head to Milwaukee. The Brewers have been struggling lately, while the woe-begotten Cubs have taken first place in the NL Central!!!