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July 24, 2009

Prospectus Today

Perfection

by Joe Sheehan

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When I first heard that Mark Buehrle had thrown a perfect game, I went through a quick mental calculus that minimized the feat almost immediately. I figured it was a getaway day that featured the kind of strike zone a command pitcher like Buehrle would exploit. Thinking about the Rays, I dismissed them as a team that can't hit lefties, and one that likely played some of its bench players for the day game after a night game that closed the four-game set. It seemed to me, initially, that this would be the perfect setup for a pitching feat, one where the context of the performance was as critical to the story as the performance itself.

As it turns out, I was wrong about all of that. My first clue was that Buehrle threw 116 pitches, 4.3 per plate appearance, out of line for a pitcher of his ilk. He threw 40 balls. He threw 76 strikes to retire 27 batters despite having just six strikeouts. That's not the line of a pitcher throwing to a big strike zone. The Rays took 61 pitches, not the act of a team looking to get to the next city. Eric Cooper called 40 of those pitches balls and just 21 of them strikes, not the approach of a home-plate umpire checking his watch. I could sit here and pick apart any individual call, but then again, I could do that for any of the 15 games played yesterday. The second inning was typical, as Buehrle got ahead 0-2 on all three batters without a swing and miss (four called strikes, two fouls), then went to 3-2, 2-2, and 2-2 before getting the outs.

As a result, the time of the game and the travel schedules of the participants cannot be used to wave away Buehrle's feat. It's clear that his perfect game wasn't the product of some outsized strike zone or a hacktastic opponent.

The Rays took two-thirds of Buehrle's first pitches, 10 for strikes and eight for balls. They got themselves ahead in the count with increasing frequency as the game wore on, but were never able to convert good situations because of how effectively Buehrle changed locations and speeds. He forced the Rays to take a number of weak swings with two strikes throughout the game. Buehrle was down 2-0 to B.J. Upton in the fourth, battled back to 3-2, and got him swinging on what was a terrible swing at a changeup over the outside corner. He fell behind Gabe Kapler 2-0 in the sixth, then got a fastball up and in that Kapler could only bounce to third base. Two batters later he had his only 3-0 count of the day, then slipped in two high strikes to Jason Bartlett, and eventually retired him on a grounder to short.

Kapler came into the game with an OPS above 1.000 against lefties; Bartlett had that going for him as well. A year after being susceptible to southpaws, the Rays are actually a bit better against them than they are against righties. The lineup they played yesterday consisted of eight regulars or platoon regulars and Michel Hernandez, starting in the usual spot for a backup catcher. This wasn't Eric Milton's no-hitter a decade ago against the Salt Lake City Bees dressed in Angels gear; this was beating the starting lineup of a team that came in with an .800 OPS against southpaws.

The Rays really made Buehrle work in the eighth, when he threw 17 pitches, 12 of them strikes, in what appeared to be a determined effort to challenge the hitters. (It's notable that Buehrle was far from dominant-the Rays swung at 55 pitches yesterday, and made some contact on 47 of them.) Carlos Pena, Ben Zobrist, and Pat Burrell had professional, patient, high-quality at-bats… and all went back to the dugout unhappy.

What was remarkable about the game was how rarely the Rays came close to hits. There were a couple of foul balls late in the game, one by Upton, one by Burrell, that nearly snapped the string of outs. Alexei Ramirez made a couple of nice plays, but they were nothing outstanding. Until the play that made DeWayne Wise's short career, the Rays didn't have anything notably close to a hit.

The Wise play is the signature moment of this game; it deserves every bit of attention, and Wise every ounce of praise, that you can bestow upon it. Sometimes, great plays at the wall don't so much save a homer as they do save a double, or add some unnecessary effort to what should be an F8 at the track. This play, though… this was a great catch. Wise, playing somewhat shallow and in straightaway center field, covered a tremendous amount of ground just in getting to the wall, timed his jump perfectly, and took away a home run-the ball was over the line and almost behind the fence when he caught it-from Kapler, then recovered from the impact at the wall to recover the ball with his bare hand as he stumbled away.

Had Nyjer Morgan made the catch in the eighth inning of a dreary Nationals blowout loss, it would have been the play of the day. Wise made it to convert the 25th out of a perfect game for a team in contention. We hype things to the moon these days, and we become jaded because of it, but this catch is worth every bit of hype you can crank up. It was sublime.

What was most enjoyable about the game was watching Buehrle work. He operates so quickly that he was actually into his windup a couple of times and had to stop because the batter wasn't ready. You can take a tape of this game and make every pitcher in the world, eight to 80, watch it twice a week-this is how you do the job. There is a rhythm to pitching, to repeating a complicated set of movements over and over, and when you work at a pace, you make that job so much easier for yourself.

I was prepared to find reasons to downplay the 18th perfect game in major league history. I was set to point to a strike zone or a lineup or a plane waiting on the tarmac. There's nothing there, nothing, that can take away from what Mark Buehrle did yesterday. He moved the ball around, he threw strikes, he changed speeds, and my god he worked quickly. It was a display of pitching that deserves the one word that will always be attached to it: perfect.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  Perfect Game,  Dewayne Wise,  Two Strikes

52 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

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BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Edit: 18th perfect game in MLB history.

Jul 24, 2009 09:40 AM
 
Ragnhild

Is it commonly accepted wisdom that command pitchers have an advantage on 'getaway day'?

It would seem like an easy theory to (dis)prove, although I've never come across such research...in any case, just glad to be slighly less cynical and jaded that I don't immediately look for ways to minimize every accomplishment.

Jul 24, 2009 09:40 AM
rating: 6
 
scottlong

This is the kind of piece that makes BP the best source of baseball writing, an in-depth look at the game. Best recap of the specifics of Buehrle's gem I've read.

No pitcher has caused me to reexamine some of my SABR theories more than Buehrle. Sure being a power-pitcher of the Clemens variety is optimal, but having a guy who consistently gives you a quality start, has a golden glove, and the best pick-off move in the game is another way of going about being a great pitcher. PECOTA and the other predictive systems have whiffed more on Buehrle than any other player the past decade. His current ERA is more than a run below expected and it is even below his 90% projection. For us who have watched him during his career, we are not that surprised. One of those few exceptions where you have to watch him pitch on a regular basis to see why he can excel. Despite lacking a wipeout pitch or a fastball that is over 90 mph, he gives the White Sox a chance to win almost every time he toes the rubber.

Jul 24, 2009 09:56 AM
rating: 1
 
greensox

"I was prepared to find reasons to downplay the 17th perfect game in major league history."

Why would you even try to do that?

Jul 24, 2009 10:02 AM
rating: 7
 
ChuckR

No kidding. If there is a path to gaining favor in the eyes of White Sox fans, instinctually downplaying a historic achievement before knowing anything about the actual game is not it.

Enjoyed the rest of the article, though. Sox fans are well versed in the Buehrle rhythm and its good to see others catching on as well. As for the Wise catch - it should be noted that he had just entered the game as a defensive substitution. Podsednik does not catch that ball (witness his misplaying of Crawford's inside-the-park HR earlier this week). Brian Anderson probably could have made the play, but he was sent down earlier this week.

Jul 24, 2009 10:20 AM
rating: 1
 
ragerd

Chuck, imagine if Ryan Howard played for the Rays. The perfecto would be a forgone conclusion.

Jul 24, 2009 11:59 AM
rating: -1
 
Robert Flaxman

I think what he means is similar to what I thought - Buehrle is not an overpowering pitcher and the White Sox not a great defensive team, and that's not the kind of combination that is likely to lead to a perfect game against a team with the Rays' offense, therefore there must have been other factors in play. As it happened, there weren't; while he didn't induce a ton of strikeouts (of the post-WWII perfect games, only Dennis Martinez with 5 had fewer than Buehrle's six), he did put the ball in places where the Rays were not able to make a lot of solid contact, which is a feat in and of itself considering that the Rays were pretty patient and in theory *should* have been able to force him to throw more hittable pitches or at least take a walk or two. But Buehrle made the exact pitches he had to, and deserves all the expected credit (though of course Wise deserves plenty as well).

Jul 24, 2009 10:33 AM
rating: 3
 
Ira

In the past 25 years, there have been 8 perfect games:

Mike Witt, Last game of the 1984 season (September 30)
Tom Browning, September 16, 1988
Dennis Martinez, July 28, 1991
Kenny Rogers, July 28, 1994
David Wells, May 17, 1998
David Cone, July 18, 1999
Randy Johnson, May 18, 2004
Mark Buehrle, July 23, 2009

Can you compare them? Can you compare these 8 pitchers? It looks to me like this is made up of guys from the Hall of Very Good (plus Randy Johnson, future HOFer)

Jul 24, 2009 10:10 AM
rating: 1
 
Hoff

Well, probalby most of the very good pitching lines of the last 25 years come from the hall of the very good, as their legion is quite a bit larger than the hall of fame.

Jul 24, 2009 10:32 AM
rating: 0
 
Adam B.

And yet the highest nine-inning game score remains Kerry Wood's one-hit, 20 K game.

Jul 24, 2009 10:42 AM
rating: 0
 
Robert Flaxman

Which probably should have been a perfect game, had someone more capable than Kevin Orie been playing third.

Jul 24, 2009 12:56 PM
rating: 0
 
dianagram

If ever there was a perfecto/no-no to downplay, it would have to have been David Cone's no-hitter against the (then) Expos.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA199907180.shtml

Those Expos were free-swingers and/or baseball neophytes.

Jul 24, 2009 10:11 AM
rating: 0
 
TheFallenPhoenix

But then I think it regain some of its impressiveness considering there was a relatively long rain delay after the...third inning, I think it was?

I mean, in order for a starting pitcher to record 27 consecutive outs without allowing a baserunner depends on an incredible degree of luck to begin with, whether that luck manifests in the strength of the defense behind him, the weakness of the lineup he's pitching against, or something else entirely.

So while I can appreciate the instinct to downplay the significance of such a feat by emphasizing that it is just as much the things that are out of the pitcher's control (unlike his skill and talent) that contribute to a perfect game, or no hitter, at the end of the day the feat is just so unusually rare that I just don't think you can eliminate the skill and talent contributions entirely.

Jul 24, 2009 10:28 AM
rating: 0
 
Cory Schwartz

That's true but to be fair the lineup that day did feature three pretty good young hitters in Vladimir Guerrero (.978 OPS that season), Rondell White (.863 OPS) and Jose Vidro (.822); even Brad Fullmer and Orlando Cabrera became useful players in their day even though they were not particularly so that season.

Anyway, for weak opponents in a perfect game, I'll raise you with this one:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/NYA/NYA199805170.shtml

Jul 24, 2009 11:29 AM
rating: 0
 
Ben Solow

One of the worst no-nos of all time has to be AJ Burnett's 9 walk no-hitter in 2001. http://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/2001/B05120SDN2001.htm

The Padres were a pretty awful hitting team at that point (Dave Magadan hitting cleanup, old Rickey Henderson leading off, no Phil Nevin), although I suppose it was a season when Kotsay and Klesko were marginally useful ballplayers.

Jul 24, 2009 12:49 PM
rating: 0
 
bbienk01

I can't remember the exact number, but I remember being blown away at the time to read that in Burnett's 9 walk no-no, he threw something like 110 fastballs out of 130 pitches.

So it wasn't like he was nibbling around the plate, he probably just had no idea where his fastball was going (and neither did the Pads).

Jul 24, 2009 22:45 PM
rating: 0
 
Rowen Bell

Where will history place Wise's catch in the list of the greatest defensive plays of all-time?

During the broadcast yesterday, Harrelson said that -- placed in the context of the game -- Wise's catch was the greatest defensive play he's seen in 50 years of watching baseball.

Jul 24, 2009 10:15 AM
rating: 1
 
Robert Flaxman

Hawk is an incredible homer, so the idea that it was the greatest defensive play in the last 50 years, even factoring in the context, is a bit of a stretch. But it probably has an argument for the top ten, particularly if you factor in the context.

Jul 24, 2009 10:26 AM
rating: 0
 
garsonf

More relevantly in the current context, Hawk is more prone to hyperbole than any announcer I've ever heard (irony intentional). Earlier in the same game he declared that he had never met two people more alike than Mark Buehrle and Catfish Hunter. What? Having said that, given the quality of the play and the magnitude of the circumstances, Wise's catch was spectacular. I loved the footage (I saw on ESPN) of the Phillies in their clubhouse watching the ninth inning. A great joyous baseball moment, pretty much devoid of cynicism.

Jul 24, 2009 10:45 AM
rating: 0
 
Matt L.

Here's a link to that Phillies footage.

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/blog/big_league_stew/post/Morning-Juice-Rays-even-Phillies-salute-Buehr?urn=mlb,178540

Jul 24, 2009 14:02 PM
rating: 0
 
Tank
(989)

"incredible homer" as a description of Hawk is like saying a September sunset off a west coast beach in Key West - gripping the perfect margarita - is "nice". Hawk is...the uber-homer, the caricature definition of extremity in being a homer. It is almost impossible to describe the withering contempt he holds for White Sox opponents, his instant readiness to explain White Sox failure as fluke, the childish silence that accompanies great plays by the other, or the gloating joy he expresses in their success...Hawk is sublime.

Jul 24, 2009 15:40 PM
rating: 2
 
antonsirius

Given the pure athleticism on display and the context of the play, I'd put Wise's catch about on a par with the one Devon White made in the World Series that should have resulted in a triple play.

Jul 24, 2009 16:22 PM
rating: 0
 
Rowen Bell

I'm glad you said that, because the White play was the first thing that came to mind when I was thinking about plays I might rank above the Wise play. (I'm a Jays fan, naturally.)

Jul 25, 2009 09:34 AM
rating: 0
 
danlbfaks

scottlong, are you sure PECOTA has missed that badly over the years? PECOTA, 2009 reality, and past history agree on three things: BB/9, K/9, and HR/9. Where 2009 is a break from past history AND PECOTA is hit rate: his H/9 is 8.2 compared to 9.3 for career and 9.7 for the last six seasons. Is it an adjustment of his own, improved defense, or some luck? If he should get all the credit, that'd make him a truly exceptional pitcher. I'll wager on the latter two reasons more than the first. His DER this year is >74% compared to a team average of 70%.

There are some skills that I don't think PECOTA captures, and Buehrle exhibits an important one: pitching with runners on. He tends to improve with runners, and this year that's been particularly strong as evidenced by these triple slash results:

.270/.303/.460 with bases empty
.203/.257/.320 with runners on

There's a huge BABIP disparity here too, but that doesn't explain the disappearance of extra base hits.

Jul 24, 2009 10:50 AM
rating: 0
 
jtrichey

Fernando Vina said that it was the best defensive play in baseball history on ESPN News.

Jul 24, 2009 10:54 AM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Sandy Amoros, among others, seethes quietly.

Jul 24, 2009 11:27 AM
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

And just to pile on, when writing this, I was thinking it wasn't the best defensive play this year. All things considered, I'd probably take Curtis Granderson's game-saving steal of a Grady Sizemore HR--pulled it back from over the fence--with one out in the ninth ahead of Wise's.

Mays, Chavez, Brooks Robinson, Bill Wambsganss (sp?), Bobby Richardson, Sam Rice...

Jul 24, 2009 11:31 AM
 
dalbano

Joe,

All things considered, you can save a game with a homer-robbing catch almost any night of the week, maybe multiple times a day on occasion. Saving a perfect game with a homer-robbing catch in the 9th has happened how many times in the 18 perfect games in the history of Baseball?

You can argue all time catches, sure, but I'm not sure you can argue against Wise's catch as the best defensive play this year.

Jul 24, 2009 12:03 PM
rating: 0
 
Dr. Dave

...Clemente, Patek/Rojas, Jeter into the stands, ...

For me, the best may still be one of the plays that Jim Edmonds made, diving while running flat out away from home plate and toward RF, to catch a line drive just off the ground. Diving over-the-shoulder catches are the rarest of all.

Jul 24, 2009 12:04 PM
rating: 0
 
greensox
Other readers have rated this comment below the viewing threshold. Click here to view anyway.

What a surprise - stealing the homer of an Indian. Objectivity is a GOOD thing.

Jul 24, 2009 13:31 PM
rating: -6
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

There aren't five plays a year that have a win expectancy of 1. The Granderson catch was one of them. It turned a loss into a win (well, a loss into +1 with one out left and a runner on, for the pedants).

When I stop doing this and move on to whatever's next in life, constantly being called "biased" by whiny fanboys will be pretty high on my list of reasons.

Jul 24, 2009 16:05 PM
 
dalbano

I think you are missing the point Joe. Even if there are three or 4 plays in a year that have a win expectancy of 1, that is still happening at least 300 times more in the history of the game than the defensive play Wise made.

Jul 25, 2009 08:56 AM
rating: 1
 
BP staff member Joe Sheehan
BP staff
(17)

Not missing the point, I just value the game-saving catch, or the one that occurs in a high-leverage situation such as a postseason game, over the history-saving one.

I think we're comfortably into the realm of the subjective here, and any one person balances the various factors (difficulty, game context, season context) is probably not something I can get too wrapped up about.

Wise helped make a historic event happen. Granderson turned a loss into .99 of a win. If the Tigers win the AL Central by a game...wasn't it also historic?

I think the question is more interesting than the answer.

Jul 25, 2009 19:09 PM
 
dalbano

Joe,

I agree that it is completely subjective at this point. However, I think you are arguing value in a conversation about greatness. Yes, Granderson's catch may well be historic at season's end, but so could a whole other handfull of plays, pitches, or hits that may push the Tigers into the playoffs. Yes, the intrinsic value of Granderson's catch is greater than that of Wise's catch. The difference is that at the moment it happened, everyone watching knew that Wise's catch was something that was a once in lifetime catch.

I would even argue that in a vaccuum, from swing to out, Wise's catch was a better catch than Granderson's.

I enjoyed your article and this debate, and with that, I rest my case.

Jul 27, 2009 11:00 AM
rating: 0
 
strupp

Reed Johnson vs Prince Fielder to win the game in Milwaukee on Sunday Night would probably be near the top of the list too.

Jul 24, 2009 15:43 PM
rating: 0
 
scottlong

danlbfaks- Check out PECOTA versus final tally on Buehrle's wins, ERA and WHIP over the past decade. It has been pretty far off every year, but one. I know that the peripheral stats are fairly close, but that was precisely my point. Buehrle wins games and gives up less runs than any predictive system can measure. Just this year, PECOTA was predicting Buehrle to go 10 wins, 11 losses. His next 7 seasons are projected to be 9-11 (2010), 8-11 (2011), 8-11 (2012), 7-11 (2013), 4-7 (2014), and 3-4 (2015). None of these seasons was he expected to pitch 200 innings, despite the fact that he has thrown over 200 innings every full-season of his career (since 2001). Are you buying PECOTA on him over the next few seasons?

The predictive systems are broken on him. You are right to mention that he pitches so much better with runners on. This is precisely why Buehrle is one of the few players that I think challenges SABR principles. I buy the religion (SABR), but it is important to have an open-mind to how some its scripture can be flawed.

Jul 24, 2009 11:56 AM
rating: 0
 
elm
(41)

PECOTA is conservative predicting wins for everyone. It almost never predicts anyone to win more than 15 even though every year a bunch of players do. Now, PECOTA whiffing on ERA might be a more important failing.

Jul 24, 2009 12:16 PM
rating: 0
 
danlbfaks

We're picking nits here since I think we agree with the basic premise: the prediction systems for baseball are simply not very good at capturing the whole story when you look at one guy. We can't say for certain that Strand Rate is not included in PECOTA, but there are plenty of things that the system does not capture or can not capture.

Pitchers with Buehrle's basic stats have ERAs and WHIPs around what PECOTA keeps predicting and tend to age the way PECOTA predicts. That's not a flaw in PECOTA; it's a reason to praise Buehrle for defying his innate abilities. PECOTA also has struggled with Tom Glavine...Jamie Moyer...and Ichiro on the other side of the ball. But like anything of this nature, there's going to be outliers at both ends of a normal curve. PECOTA does fairly well, in the aggregate, for most players. I think it's better to look at it as a team-level tool.

Jul 24, 2009 14:28 PM
rating: 0
 
bpars3

Joe - Great article. I have to admit I was a bit uneasy when I read that you were trying to downplay the game. But, as always, you did a great job in talking about the game.

Being a Sox fan, I can tell you that it has been a pleasure to watch Buehrle pitch all these years. He is someone that Sox fans can take pride in as being one of their own. The way he competes and how he handles himself makes it easy to cheer for this guy.

And if wants to continue beating the projections of PECOTA, that is fine with me, too. Same goes for the Sox.

Thanks, again.

Jul 24, 2009 12:10 PM
rating: 1
 
onegameref

Ozzie should get a little credit for using Fields and getting a slam out of him and for inserting Wise for defensive purposes. Talk about pushing the right buttons. I know he gets maligned as too much of a talker but you guys generally give him a lot of credit for handling the pitching staff and this day he pulled it all together. He deserves some kudos.

Jul 24, 2009 12:38 PM
rating: 1
 
scottlong

Hey, I can buy the conservative wins part, but for him to having a losing record every year...that is really hard to swallow, but of course when you are off a run or more in ERA, that will occur. Not to be a broken record (is that a cliche I can use anymore? Let's try a poorly ripped download), but no player more deserves a detailed breakdown of the failure of PECOTA than Buehrle.

Jul 24, 2009 12:50 PM
rating: 0
 
mglick0718

And Mets fans, despite Seaver, Ryan, Gooden, Cone, Fernandez (near the top of all-time leaders in fewest hits/9IP), Santana, etc., 7576 games later, continue to wait in jealousy...

http://www.nonohitters.com/

Jul 24, 2009 13:38 PM
rating: 0
 
ZamBR1985

Joe-do you like baseball?
You're prepared to find a reason to downplay a perfect game? Before you looked at a box score?
That's not only journalistically negligent, but completely wrongheaded.
And to suggest that a professional team, in the midst of a division race is going to mail a game in because its 'getaway day' is absolutely ludacris.
It is certainly not the objective, data intensive analysis I've come to expect from Baseball Prospectus.

Jul 24, 2009 14:03 PM
rating: -3
 
R.A.Wagman

did you read past the first sentence? That was his gut reaction - this article gives an "objective, data intensive analysis" that disproved his gut reaction.

Jul 24, 2009 14:07 PM
rating: 1
 
Matt L.

Also, let's face it -- most perfect games/no hitters of recent vintage have not exactly come against the 1927 Yankees. Was anyone who did not catch any of the game real-time surprised to hear that Jonathan Sanchez's near-perfect game/no hitter came against the Padres?

Jul 24, 2009 14:19 PM
rating: 2
 
ZamBR1985

Absolutely I was. When there have been (now) 18 perfect games, anytime I hear about one I'm surprised. No-hitters are more common, but that doesn't take anything away for me.
Thanks to Joe Sheehan, and Baseball Prospectus as a whole, I appreciate BABIP, FRAA, etc as metrics that tell you more than a pitcher's W-L record regarding game outcomes.
With those stats, and others, in mind, a no-no/perfecto seems even more unattainable(and that's not just because I'm a Mets fan). I don't ever remember reading that a player or a team's feelings on getaway day are something to be factored into performance.
I had no intention of tearing anyone down, and for that I apologize.
I was hoping to read about one of the rarest (and impressive) feats that happens in baseball, and that first paragraph seemed to shrug off the event, with the rest of the article trying to come to terms with it.

Jul 24, 2009 18:30 PM
rating: 0
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

Agreed. Recall that the lineups that David Wells and David Cone pitched their perfect games against weren't exactly Murderer's Row, either. The Twins lineup Wells blanked, while it included Paul Molitor, was otherwise a collection of spare parts, has-beens and never-weres. The Expos lineup Cone blanked, while it included Vlad Guerrero, Rondell White, Jose Vidro, and Orlando Cabrera, had Wilton Guerrero and Terry Jones as its 1-2 hitters. Five of its starters, including Cabrera, had OPS under .700 coming into the game.

Also note that a disproportionate number of no-hitters have been thrown in September, when teams are out of the race and often playing minor league prospects.

Jul 24, 2009 20:07 PM
 
BP staff member Jay Jaffe
BP staff

That was to Matt L.'s comment.

Jul 24, 2009 20:08 PM
 
BurrRutledge

When I saw the headline about the perfecto this morning, my thought process went something like this:

1) Wow. Followed a half-moment later by:
2) What lineup was he up against?

It is human nature to try to explain things.

On their very best days of their careers, most hall of fame pitchers won't throw a perfect game (evidenced by how rare they are vs. the number of pitchers in the HOF).

Therefore, it's natural to ask what circumstances help explain why *this* pitcher accomplished *this* feat on *this* night - i.e. what breaks went in Buehrle's favor last night? The lineup he was facing *could* be at the top of the list, as well as their attitude.

Don't tear down Joe for admitting he's human.

Jul 24, 2009 14:23 PM
rating: 4
 
Ray Whatley
(267)

Hawk Harrelson is a disgrace to professional baseball broadcasting. So is Ron Santo.

Jul 25, 2009 00:05 AM
rating: 0
 
sbnirish77

So often I hear or read sportswriters that talk or write as if they don't like sports ....

"I was prepared to find reasons to downplay the 18th perfect game in major league history."

I'm surprised that you didn't suggest that the BABIP of .000 suggested a regression to the mean long before 9 innings were up and that Buehrle was just lucky.

Jul 25, 2009 23:27 PM
rating: -3
 
John Collins
(110)

more pissy whining from sbirnish -- it must be a day that ends in "y".

Jul 29, 2009 20:31 PM
rating: 1
 
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