Felix Hernandez completed a perfect game some hours ago and I was present at Safeco Field for the final six outs. This is my story of how that came to pass. It is not going to feature any statistics or analysis or insight of any kind, this story is a simple one and I’m telling it because I honestly don’t know what else to write right now. I am a Mariners fan and so this is a very enjoyable day/evening for me. I am currently experiencing a lot of positive feelings and emotions and while those feelings and emotions are very nice and pleasant, they make writing about baseball with a clear head somewhat difficult. I’ve also been celebrating with an adult beverage or two which means this blog post is part of a grand literary tradition, a literary traditional that usually ends in tragedy and liver failure but a tradition nonetheless. Felix Hernandez has thrown a perfect game. This is my silly little story of how I experienced history. You have been warned.
I did not have tickets to attend this afternoon’s Mariners game but my wife did. This is one of the myriad examples of why my wife is smarter than I am. Put in charge of a work function, my wife made the particularly inspired choice to attend today’s game with a group of co-workers. The fact that Felix Hernandez was pitching seemed reward enough for her clairvoyance, but we all know there was more to come. I was tasked with picking her up in my car after the game ended and the timing seemed to be perfect. When the game started, my wife sent me a taunting text featuring a picture of a full beer and a hot dog and it made me very jealous. From that moment on, I began following the Mariners/Rays game very closely, texting my wife comments about certain happenings in a feeble attempt in interject myself into her revelry and good times. By the fourth inning I was discreetly watching the game on MLB.TV, what with it being the special free selection of the day and all. Painfully aware that Felix was pitching a perfect game, it struck me that his breaking ball was noticeably sharp and difficult to make contact with. I’m by no means an expert on this sort of thing, but I’ve watched the man pitch quite a few times and he was beginning to show signs that he was at the very top of his game. Unhittable. Perfect. Knowing that I had to drive to Safeco Field to pick my wife up from the game regardless, I told myself that were Felix to remain perfect through six innings, I would leave work early and make an attempt to attend the final innings live.
It happened. I left work. I drove very fast. I struggled to find parking for quite a while before an above-average spot opened up before me. I ran towards Safeco Field. I asked for the cheapest ticket available. I paid thirteen dollars and ran some more. I entered the stadium in time to watch Brendan Ryan battle and foul off many pitches during a lengthy at bat. I stood behind the seats behind home plate. Other things happened and then Felix was pitching and it was the eighth inning. He was to face Longoria/Zobrist/Pena. Snark all you want about the Rays lineup but I defy you to disrespect that collection of hitters, especially given the circumstances. All three struck out. The atmosphere of the stadium was electric, metaphorical sparks and all that. I spoke to my wife on the phone and after some more running around the two of us ended up standing behind the seats on the third base line as Felix faced the final three batters of the game. I’m unclear on the details but I’m pretty sure all three were retired from the game without a successful hit or walk. Two of them struck out, the eleventh and twelfth of the contest. Everyone yelled loudly and jumped into the air. Emotions were purged. Catharsis was achieved. There was joy.
Joy, perhaps the rarest of human emotion. A word that looks strange in isolation. Say that word—Joy. Think about what it actually means. Delight, gladness, pleasure, mirth, rejoicing. This is what sports did, what baseball did, what Felix Hernandez did. There’s something to be said here about how bad the Mariners have been at playing baseball and how long things have been this way. I’ll leave this truth to more thorough writers. I’ll compromise by saying they’ve been pretty damn bad for a pretty long time. And then there was this, and all of a sudden everything was worth it. Everything we had endured up to this point only served to heighten the elation of the experience. Pain provided perspective and our appreciation was stronger for it. That sounds lame, trite. You might sense hyperbole in those words but I swear that they are true. Felix Hernandez pitched a perfect game and I can say that I was there. I was there with my wife and we were happy and things were good and baseball was the cause. That’s validation enough for this ridiculous hobby we all share. That’s something be grateful for, that’s something to celebrate.