art thiel, sportspress nw
In an unfinished 1997 TV pilot partly set at a bowling alley, I remarked that in baseball, a perfect game is when nothing happens; while in bowling, a perfect game is when everything happens.
What I didn’t say was that baseball’s “nothing” can be a thrilling, suspenseful, even joyous nothing.
Baseball, as the philosophers of the sport (and it’s the only U.S. sport that has philosophers) say, is the game where the defense controls the ball. It’s not based on metaphors of insemination, but on control vs. chaos. The star of any particular moment of any particular game is the pitcher, high on his dirt pedestal in the center of the field.
The fly-by-night fans root for lots of cheap home runs, for moments of high action.
The hardcore fans, though, they love the control. They love that near-oxymoron, a “pitchers’ duel.” (They never actually combat one another, and in the AL they’re never on the field at the same time.)
They love the intricacy of a pitcher’s “arsenal” of different styles of pitches. They love a pitcher who doesn’t just have speed and power, but also finesse and versatility and endurance.
Here, in what had previously turned out to be yet another Mariners season of futility (capped with the anticlimactic loss of Ichiro, the team’s only other superstar, to the damn Yankees), pitcher Felix Hernandez accomplished the sport’s rarest and most prized single-game feat.
He made history.
Heck, he even made Wikipedia.
And yes, the damn Yankees (or at least damn Yankee fans) now want him. Figures.
ted s. warren, ap via seattlepi.com