I detest the phrase “perfect game”, and I think it should be removed from the baseball vernacular for good. Why? In it’s current form, it’s used to denote a winning effort that lasts a minimum of nine innings in which no opponent reaches base. Basically, a “perfect game” is a “no-hitter” + “shutout” + “walk free” + “errorless game”. So, what makes that “perfect”? No walks? No errors? Hogwash.
Strike zones come in all shapes and sizes. Some are almost oval. Some are like elongated rhombus shapes with tails. Some look liked tipped-over parallelograms. A few of them even look like rectangles, but they shrink and grow as a function of time-of-day, game speed, or TTO (time to Oprah). Errors? We don’t need no stinkin’ errors! Like beauty, an error is often in the eye of the beholder. It’s a judgment call, right? Well, sorta. If a slow runner hits the ball sharply to the 2nd baseman in the 1st inning, and the throw pulls the 1st baseman off the bag, then the runner has a shot at an infield single. If that happens in the 9th inning of a no-hit bid, that’s “E4″, baby.
If anything, I think that a no-hitter represents just as significant an accomplishment, because it frequently requires that the pitcher overcome obstacles imposed by the human element. A teammate could make a terrible play that puts a runner on 1st or even 2nd. An umpire can blow a call (not pointing fingers at anybody…yet). If the pitcher manages to pitch around the mistakes of others without giving up a hit or run, then that’s even more difficult than dealing with no runners in my opinion. MLB doesn’t see it that way. Fine.
According to this article on Associated Content, there have been 9 no-hitters in St. Louis Cardinals franchise history. You’re probably familiar with at least a few of the names on the list.
- Jesse Haines – July 17, 1924 vs Boston Braves
- Paul Dean – September 21, 1934 vs Brooklyn Dodgers
- Lon Warneke – August 30, 1941 vs Cincinnati Reds
- Ray Washburn – September 18, 1968 vs San Francisco Giants
- Bob Gibson – August 15, 1972 vs Pittsburgh Pirates
- Bob Forsch – April 16, 1978 vs Philadelphia Phillies
- Bob Forsch – September 26, 1983 vs Montreal Expos
- Jose Jimenez – June 25, 1999 vs Arizona Diamondbacks
- Bud Smith – September 3, 2001 vs San Diego Padres
Do you think any of those guys cared that they pitched a “no-hitter” instead of a “perfect game”? Maybe they did. I’d be interested to ask a few of them that very question.
I realize that some distinction should be made between a “no-hitter” and a “no-hitter” that does not include any walks or errors, but I’m sure we can come up with something better than “perfect game”. By golly, we’ve come up with names and acronyms for just about everything else. VORP, BAbip, FIP, POOP (yes, I made that up), snerk, tweet, and tweeps are commonly used and accepted. We must come up with a replacement for “perfect game”.
I’ve got something. It needs work, but it’s a start.
NHEW (no hits, errors, walks)
Sweet. While we’re at it, I’ve got a few other ideas.
Pujolsian – [adjective] superlative reserved only for accomplishments so significant that only a true mang could achieve them
Joyciferous – [adjective] usually describing human forms who have humbled themselves before others in a public fashion and admitted mistakes that few would admit to making
Umpirical – [adjective] – denoting information derived from viewing a baseball play differently than all rational human beings view the same play
TIDBIT: I have the utmost respect for the way Jim Joyce handled the blown call on Armando Galarraga‘s no-hitter. I have zero respect for the way Bud Selig handled the matter, though. If your ultimate goal isn’t to get the call right, then you have no business being commissioner of baseball. It’s not just about winning; it’s how you play the game, right? If the umpires had been allowed to take 30 seconds to use instant replay, they could have made the right call, and the cheer from the crowd would have been massive. 30 freakin’ seconds. Maybe 60. It takes Jonathan Broxton longer than that to transit the distance from the bullpen to the mound. Talk about speeding up the game. Somebody bring back the helmet-shaped golf cart for that guy.