Felix Hernandez Perfect Game: Why Perfect Games Have Lost Their Luster
I know what you are thinking: look at this writer claiming that perfection is easy, mitigating the significance of a historical event.
Well, much like a 500 passing-yard game in the NFL or a 50-point game in the NBA, the significance has been lessened by its quantity.
Granted, the task itself takes an incredible amount of talent, concentration and luck. At the same time, it must be taken into consideration that we have entered an era when one of the most hallowed achievements in the game is being accomplished at a rate rarely before seen in history.
On May 24, 2004 Randy Johnson threw a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves in an astonishing performance for a 40-year-old pitcher.
It was not until July 23rd, 2009 when Mark Buehrle set aside all 27 batters—with the help of an incredible leaping grab by DeWayne Wise—was this achieved again.
Five years may sound like a long time between perfect games, but that is only considering the recent prevalence.
Since the beginning of 2010, there has now been 15 no-hitters, including five with zero base runners.
That averages to a no-hitter once every four or five hundred games. That is not quite on the level of the 1960s, when it occurred even more frequently.
Which begs the question: how are pitchers making it look so easy?
Tom Verducci analyzed this subject after Matt Cain's perfect game in June.
The reason that I believe is most accurate is based on the analytical side of the game. Pitchers are more prepared now than ever.
Are Perfect Games as captivating as they used to be?
Those who claim that hitters have the same information available ignore the fact that pitchers are ultimately the ones who are in control.
If a hitter has a glaring weakness, that will appear in the advance scouting report and the pitcher will exploit that.
It is up to the hitter to be on the defensive at that point.
When elite pitchers such as Justin Verlander or Felix Hernandez are executing their pitches on a particular day—especially against a mediocre lineup—they can go on dominating stretches and put an offense to sleep for innings at a time.
Every time a pitcher goes to the mound, he has an entire database of information available to him. If he does not have it memorized, then either the catcher or the pitching coach will be able to re-instill it.
Essentially, we are in an era that is catered to low-scoring games. Obviously, having pitchers that throw in the upper-90s with devastating off-speed pitches and the mental strength of ninjas does not help the offense any more.
While it is perfectly acceptable to recognize these accomplishments and celebrate them for a few hours, it must be kept in historical perspective.
A perfect game is and will always be perfection—the apex of a pitcher's achievement—but just like Cam Newton throwing for 4,000 yards as a rookie, it speaks volumes to the type of game that is being played in this era.
Felix Hernandez is a phenomenal pitcher, but we knew that before today. The perfect game was simply icing on the cake.
As for the rest of Major League Baseball, the perfect game, and especially the no-hitter, has lost its luster and is not nearly on the same level of difficulty as a four home run game or a 20-strikeout game.
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