Matt Cain, Justin Verlander, Gio Gonzalez, C.C. Sabathia and R.A. Dickey. Much easier on the ears than Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro, right? A little nicer. Just a tad cleaner.
After Matt Cain's perfect game Wednesday night against the Houston Astros, it's safe to say baseball has entered a pitcher's era. Cain and the Giants staff have completely outshined the team's offense over the years and thoroughly replaced Barry Bonds as the pride of the Bay Area; a pitching for power trend that is happening throughout the league.
Cain's no-no was the third of its kind this month. The other two were tossed by Johan Santana and six Seattle Mariner hurlers.
Justin Verlander has also been close (and is close every time he pitches). R.A. Dickey, the knuckleballing, freewheeling, award-winning author, flirted with perfection on Wednesday. And a handful of other pitchers have been exceptionally dominant this season.
2012 run totals are on pace to be almost 4,000 notches lower than 2001—a year when Barry Bonds led all hitters with 73 home runs. Luis Gonzalez hit 57 and Alex Rodriguez crushed 52. Sammy Sosa racked up 160 RBIs and Bret Boone batted in 141 to lead all AL sluggers.
There was something terribly wrong with this season and multiple seasons before it. Maybe we didn't want to admit it then, but we must've felt it. Sure, there was excitement. But it was excitement with a hint of "How" and "Am I still playing MVP Baseball 2001 or did Barry Bonds really just hit his 70th home run?"
The excitement that brought baseball back would almost tarnish its reputation forever.
But now, it seems players are on an even playing field. Sure, there are an abnormal number of dominant pitching performances, but nobody asks why. Nobody is checking their Xbox to see if they left their game running.
It's natural, and it's refreshing. It's an excitement without any questions. If the perfect game isn't more exciting than the long ball for its suspense, anticipation, grit and focus, then love it for its honesty.
Of course, I'd also love to see what the 2001 Barry Bonds would do to an R.A. Dickey knuckleball...