Welcome to this week’s edition of Around the Horn where we will cover:
- Mr. Perfect version 21.0
- Pudge’s Retirement & Ceremonial First Pitch
- Phillies Chances of Winning NL East
Another Perfect Game
The pursuit of perfection does not come easy. In nearly every one of the 21 perfect games thrown in MLB history, you can bet that there was a questionable call, an amazing defensive play, or maybe just a bit of luck propelling the pitcher towards history.
Perfect games seem to come in spurts, with some decades having quite a few, and other decades where none occurred. Despite the latest trend of smaller ballparks and better offense, the first three years of this decade have already seen more perfect games than any other decade, save the 90’s. My guess is that we will see a few more before 2019.
Philip Humber’s perfect game wasn’t the prettiest perfect game on record, but his name will forever be remembered as one of the few pitchers to attain perfection. Philip has accomplished something that Don Drysdale never did, something that Nolan Ryan never did (despite multiple no-hitters), and something that hundreds of other MLB pitchers long since retired never did.
The final pitch stirred up a lot of controversy as to whether the batter swung, or whether he held up for ball 4. But at the end of the day it boiled down to this: for the final pitch of a pitcher’s perfect game bid, the pitcher gets all the breaks. After last year’s fiasco with Armando Galarraga’s near perfect game, no umpire want’s to risk blowing the call that costs a pitcher perfection, and that is the main reason why the call went Philip Humber’s way. It doesn’t make him any less deserving of the achievement, it just means that a borderline call (something that happens multiple times in each and every baseball game) went the pitcher’s way – it just happened to be the 27th out of the 21st perfect game.
Pudge Walks Away – In Unusual Fashion
On Monday April 23, 2012, Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez announced his retirement after 20 MLB seasons and 2,543 games played (2,427 of them behind the plate). He is for sure a Hall of Famer, and will be regarded as the best defensive catcher to ever play the game. Most of his career was spent with the Texas Rangers, so it was only fitting that he retire as a member of that team.
When the Rangers asked Pudge to throw out the ceremonial first pitch on Monday’s game, everyone in attendance knew it was going to be a special moment – they just didn’t know how special it would be. Pudge left the mound, took his place behind home plate and as he’d done hundreds of times before, threw a perfect strike down to second base – perhaps the only first pitch in MLB history that wasn’t a pitch. You can see a video from MLB.com of the first pitch here.
Good Pitching > Poor Offense?
The Philadelphia Phillies seem to be on a mission to test this hypothesis as they start the week second to last in runs scored, but tops in the league in team ERA. The task doesn’t get any easier now, with Cliff Lee on the DL for a bit, so can the Phillies pitching staff keep opponents scoring low enough for their anemic offense to squeak out some wins?
Currently the Fightin’ Phils are last in the NL East, which now plays host to some much-improved teams like the Marlins and Mets. Their chances for repeating as division champs will be slim to none, however, unless they can find some offense. In the past 20 years, there has yet to be a division winner that finished in the bottom 5 in total offense, which just shows that no matter how good your pitching staff is, it can’t always make up for a terrible offense.