Late last night, San Francisco Giants Ace, Matt Cain, threw the franchise’s first ever perfect game. 27 up and 27 down, Cain might have pitched the most impressive statistical perfect game ever. With the highest pitch count in a perfect game ever (125), Matt Cain becomes the 22nd pitcher to ever accomplish this epic feat of not allowing a base runner. In fact, Cain matches the most ever strikeouts pitched during a perfect game with 14, and he now finds his name alongside Giants greats Christy Mathewson, Juan Marichal and Gaylord Perry as a member of an exclusive Giants club that have thrown no hitters. In front of his sold out home crowd of over 42,000 screaming Giants fans, Cain threw his arms up as the Astro’s pinch hitter, Jason Castro, grounded out to third for the final out of the game.
“This is incredible right now,” Cain said. “It was unbelievable. The guys did a great job making it, in a way, kind of relaxing, because they were able to get on the board early.”
Cain was absolutely masterful from start to finish but he did have to be bailed out with a couple of great plays behind him. Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco both made unbelievable catches in the outfield to ensure that Cain would finish his historic night. And you will find out as you keep reading why a quality defense is essential to a perfect game.
“Those were unbelievable catches,” Cain said. “I mean that right there, that changes the whole thing.”
Usually a perfect game would dominate the headlines as there has only been 22 of them in the history of baseball, but last night the sports Gods provided their fans with nearly two doses of perfection. Across the country from where Matt Cain pitched his perfect gem, the New York Mets RA Dickey tried to make some history of his own. Just a couple of weeks removed from the Mets first ever no-hitter by Johan Santana, Dickey took the mound against the AL East juggernaut, Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Dickey threw a career best 12 strikeouts over 9 masterful innings. After the Rays first two batters of the game went down swinging at RA’s phantom knuckleball, BJ Upton hit a slow grounder to Wright at third that seemed to be playable but David mucked it and the favorable scoring of home field advantage awarded Upton with a hit. As I watched it I thought it should have been an error but since it was the 1st inning I didn’t really care too much. It turns out that was going to be the only “hit” that the NL’s leading Cy Young candidate would give up for the game.
Johan was credited with the Mets first ever no-hitter, but when Carlos Beltran hit a ball that was called foul (clearly it was fair based on the picture above), many fans wanted an asterisk placed on his no-hitter. Funny enough, the Mets are now appealing the hit/error by Upton and they are trying to get Dickey credited with the Mets 2nd ever no-hitter. In fact, Dickey didn’t walk anyone either, and without Gold Glover David Wright’s 2 errors (or 1 error and 1 hit however you look at it), RA might have had the Mets first ever Perfect Game, joining Cain in the Hall of Fame record books. It also shouldn’t be overlooked that while Dickey was pitching this superb game last night, he surpassed Mets great Jerry Koosman’s record for consecutive scoreless innings (31 2/3) by recording his 32 2/3 in the ninth.
Matt Cain’s night was perfect and RA Dickey’s was nearly perfect. Cain’s perfect game marked the 5th no-hitter of the season. This is also only the third year in baseball history that there were two perfect games thrown in the same season. What do all of these perfect games and no hitters mean to baseball? Are we looking at the year of the pitcher or are the hitters just getting worse? Maybe if you read NYBobby’s take on his anti-doping article you can see why hitting numbers are down. As a Mets fan I am thrilled with the lack of hitting against them, but as a sports fan I would love to see some of that flare from the McGwire, Sosa and Bonds eras.
Earlier this afternoon, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency informed Lance Armstrong that he will be charged for the usage of performance enhancing drugs. If he is found guilty, Armstrong will be stripped of all 7 of his Tour de France victories. Armstrong has been given the option of contesting the charges, and if he chooses to do so, he will stand trial and then will put himself in a similar situation to Roger Clemens. Armstrong responded to the allegations by saying “These are the very same charges and the same witnesses that the Justice Department chose not to pursue after a two-year investigation, These charges are baseless, motivated by spite and advanced through testimony bought and paid for by promises of anonymity and immunity, USADA’s malice, its methods, its star-chamber practices, and its decision to punish first and adjudicate later all are at odds with our ideals of fairness and fair play.” Armstrong is taking the same hard-nosed stance as Roger Clemens, and only time will tell how it will play out, as it appears that we’ll have another case of a world-class athlete standing trial over PEDs.
Quite frankly, I don’t know if Lance Armstrong doped to achieve a competitive edge. At this point, I wouldn’t put it past anyone to take illegal performance enhancing drugs, and I’m certainly not naive enough to think Armstrong is innocent. All I know is that I couldn’t be more sick of hearing about it. We have reached a point where almost all of sports from the 1990’s to the present day needs to be marked with an asterisk. Two of the greatest baseball players of all time, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens have stood trial for perjury charges, other greats of my generation like Sammy Sosa and Mark McGwire will never be allowed into baseball’s Hall of Fame, and some of my favorite players such as Jason Giambi, Andy Pettite and recently Alex Rodriguez have admitted to their usage of PEDs. It is literally the same story over and over and over again and seems that at this point, especially in baseball, that the majority of players were breaking the rules.
Growing up and watching as a child, did I notice anything peculiar about the performance of my favorite athletes? Absolutely not. I loved baseball, watched in awe of the players and honestly didn’t care or think about what they were doing off the field with their personal trainers. I honestly believe that ignorance is bliss when it comes to situations such as these. If Mark McGwire choose to put chemicals into his body, will my knowledge of the occurrence effect his long-term health issues? I still remember 1998 like it was yesterday, checking the newspaper every morning for the McGwire and Sosa home run count. It all seemed innocent at the time, and forgive me if I still would like to think back on those memories without all of them being tarnished.
That brings me to my thoughts on Lance Armstrong. The man battled back from cancer to take not only the cycling world, but the entire sports landscape by storm. Everybody rooted for him, marveled at his story and wore yellow bracelets on their wrist. Lance Armstrong has done so much with his fame in the name of cancer research. For what it’s worth, Armstrong has also taken a number of drug tests and has received negative results each time. Like I said, I don’t know if he tampered with anything illegal but I really don’t care at this point. Must we bring down every single sports star in the last 20 years. The witch hunt needs to stop soon because for many 18 to 35 year olds like myself, all of our sports memories are being ruined one congressional hearing at a time. Leave Armstrong alone, let him continue to inspire cancer patients and lets start worrying about issues in our country that actually matter.