You’re Pretty Good Looking (For a Girl) by The White Stripes. In my quest to remain cutting edge, I had hoped to suggest a track from the new Sufjan Stevens album, The Age of Adz (as it’s the big deal (at least in shit I read) dropping this week). I couldn’t in good conscience do it however. After a few listens on NPR music, my finely tuned ear deemed it a sloppy techno-y mess that I suggest you all avoid unless headache is a condition you relish. Instead, I gave it the good old fashioned “listen to my Ipod on shuffle (fast forwarding when appropriate) until something intriguing played so I could at least dispose of my “duty” to suggest a song to you this week. When, in reality, I’ve had something on my mind I just want to talk (write) about.” (N.B. “old fashioned” may not be the best way to describe my actions and if any of you perceive this to be a breach of trust between us, please let me know.) Then this process got really tedious (as in narrowing it down to about 12 of them and forcing myself to eliminate them one at a time based on some highly suspect criteria) because I have a shitload of songs on my Ipod and adding to the difficulty is that I have a shitload songs that, upon review, don’t really (any more) intrigue me. Regardless, you get You’re Pretty Good Looking (For A Girl) (Which, incidentally, (1) I can’t believe I’ve done this for year and am just now getting to The White Stripes; and (2) this song was on the first ever mix tape (or you know what I mean) I made for my now wife (witty huh?).) Okay, preface….check.
It’s October (at least it is as I write this), historically my favorite month which, I guess ironically, contains historically my least favorite holiday (gofuckyourself, Columbus). Upon reflection, it ascended to my favorite month due the conflux of a number of things. Non-exhaustive list: (1) The Weather; (2) OU/Texas; (3) Complete inundation of campaign commercials (on even-numbered years); (4) Leif Erikson Day (October 9th); (5) Dwarfism Awareness Month; (6) American Pharmacists Month (4-6 are legit for what it’s worth); and (7) Major League Baseball Playoffs. I’ve mused about my fondness for baseball before. I’ll spare you. This month serves as sort of the long funeral for the season, born in the spring and lived in the summer. I can bore you with baseball as a metaphor for _________ (you fill it in) rubbish or the eternal purity of America’s game crap or countless trite bullshit vignettes. Instead, consider this my request for your reaction to my reaction to what is (no matter what comes to pass the rest of this month) the defining moment of this season (ok, not “no matter” but within reason. I mean, conceivably, they could all turn out to be cyborgs or something). Anyone who even remotely follows baseball knows I’m talking about Armando Galarraga, Jim Joyce and the Perfect Game that wasn’t. I won’t repeat the full story. If you don’t know it, here is a pretty neutral recap. Here is more of secondary reaction. The rest of this, infra, pretty much assumes you at least have a casual knowledge of what occurred.
First, a little perspective: (Most of these stats and some of this analysis came fromwww.baseball-reference.com). There have been 20 PGs (27 up 27 down, no one gets on base) in MLB history. Each team now plays 162 games a season. There are 2,430 total games in a season. Major league baseball began in 1876. Since then, there have been approximately 198,000 games played. This means there have been approximately 396,000 chances (since each team in a game has a starting pitcher. I had to think that through also) for a PG to be thrown. Public school math then tells me that makes the chances of a PG during any given major league contest somewhere around .005%. That’s not lightning strike/lottery rare, but you get the idea. There is no real comparison to the PG in any other sport (at least I couldn’t come up with one. I’m open to suggestions). What makes it so rare or difficult is that while the pitcher is credited with the PG, the perfection, in order for one to occur, has to be everywhere. Every person on the field (umpires included) has to act or fail to act in several different ways (it would probably be a mistake to call those actions “perfect”) through the course of a game to contribute to a PG. Now a natural counter-argument to this joint effort analysis would be “what if the pitcher strikes out all 27? Then he does it by himself.” I think the response to this is “no, his team still has to win (score more runs than the other team) to be credited with a PG. This, he can’t (in a strictly rules of the game sense) do by himself.”
Ok, I burdened you with all that simply to emphasize (a) that a PG, in reality, is less about any one person and more about simply a decidedly weird confluence of events/decisions/actions in an otherwise extremely random undertaking (think flipping a coin and getting 60 tails in a row and then someone having to render an opinion that each flip was actually a tail. It’s technically possible, but.) (In dispassionate baseball statistics-ville, a PG is considered more of a statistical anomaly than a truly singular feat. As such, from a skill of the pitcher standpoint, it’s on par with a no-hitter, of which there have been almost 275. This, anomaly-ness (made up word) is why there is such a random distribution of mediocre to great pitchers that have them and very many of the truly great pitchers have not thrown one. Yet somehow, to people like me (true passionate fans, but only casual statistical dorks (not to imply that hardcore statistical dorks (and they are everywhere, and brilliant) can’t be or aren’t also true passionate fans)) that renders them neither less historic nor dramatic.); and (b) Jim Joyce really, historically gobbled it (called “heads” on the 60th flip). And he really, historically knew it. And then he really, historically owned it (in several books I’ve read about baseball the preferred is: “he wore it.”) And I watched it happen. Then afterwards I read everything I could get my hands on about it. Rants from “that’s why there should be instant replay” to touching (and I’m talking me crying here) stories about Joyce driving an hour and a half after the game to stay with his mother (like he did after every game he umped in Detroit) and then staying up all night crying about his mistake or Jim Leyland sending Galarraga out to home plate the next game to present Joyce the lineup card and give him a hug. I was captivated by it. All of it. The fact that something historic failed to occur and that failure made it maybe more historic; Joyce’s integrity in wearing it; Galarraga’s quirky little smile right after he knew Joyce had blown the call and denied him history, then Galarraga’s decency afterwards; the punditry’s melodrama over it, all blew me away. I absorbed it. Then I had a sustained reaction to it. This is what I want your feed back on. My sustained reaction was it made me feel fucking good. It might be my favorite thing ever in sports. How proud it made me feel to be a human, an American is unfathomable. Still does. Now I can feel the intrinsic silliness in this. I feel all the counter-arguments. But I still also get goosebumps when I think about it all. Explain me that. Enjoy.