Not that I don’t enjoy sports, and not that I wasn’t absolutely chained to the television during the past Olympiad in London, no. But when regular boys were out playing football or shooting hoops, I was practicing my Frisbee forehand flick. For years, I was passing; I would sit with my dad and brothers, watching the 49ers play through the autumn months. I cheered with them all during the Montana-Rice years. But in my mind, I was visualizing my bicycling jockey technique, so I wouldn’t have to take my feet out of the pedal clamps at stop lights.
But in recent years, as I’ve grown older, I’ve found an area of intersection, an area where despite my Sports-Gene Deficiency, mainstream sports and I meet: Baseball. I’m not a number-crunching, score-card ticking rankings hawk. I’m just a guy who enjoys the game, appreciates its subtler aspects, enjoys its open-ended pace and its long, storied tradition. And that’s why yesterday was a very special day.
Yesterday, here in Seattle, under beautiful blue skies, in one of the most beautiful ballparks in America, Felix Hernandez pitched a perfect game. Not a shutout, not a no-hitter. A perfect game.
Twenty-seven men came to bat. Twenty-seven men sat down.
It was an afternoon game, so attendance was light. The buzz started to run around the office at 1:30 or so. I’m an early bird, so I get to leave early, and at 2:30 I zipped out the door and caught my bus. I arrived home and ran in.
“Turn on the TV!”
My wife thought that something terrible had happened as I fumbled the remote, searching for the sports channels. I found it, and it was the top of the 9th.
We watched, tension mounting, knowing the 1-0 score could be ruined with the swing of a bat. Felix struck out the last three batters, and his teammates ran in to congratulate him.
Baseball still has, in my opinion, the highest well-mannered coefficient of any major American sport, and in his on-field, post-game interview, Felix thanked his teammates and the fans, and with perfect grace, completed a perfect game.
And that is why I love baseball.