Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Perfect!

The world already knows about Mark Buehrle’s perfect game from Thursday afternoon. By now every sports website, blog, newspaper and television station has covered Buehrle’s perfect game in some way or form. And by now everybody knows that it was only the 18th perfect game in Major League Baseball history- the 17th in the regular season. In fact, not one minute after Jason Bartlett grounded out to shortstop to end the game, ESPN, Sports Illustrated and the other major sports outlets ran stories chronically the achievement.

This story has oversaturated the sports media by now, as every sports writer in the country has contributed to, or mentioned, the recognition that has so deservingly been steeped upon Mark Buehrle. So why add another story? Because every sports writer or blogger covering baseball, football, basketball, hockey, golf, soccer, tennis, swimming, track and field, gymnastics, ping pong, handball, sumo wrestling, strongest man competitions or water polo owes Buehrle-and the game of baseball-some degree of recognition whether it be a detailed story, a short kudos, an ‘ata boy’ or at least an insincere pat on the back if that’s all they can muster (I’m looking at you Cubs fans). He deserves every moment of what is sure to be a season long tribute to this rare feat.

For those of you who don’t know, a perfect game doesn’t come around all too often. As stated, it was only the 18th perfect game ever thrown in MLB history and was one of the more exciting occurrences of such. A no-hitter occurs when a pitcher does not allow one hit the entire ballgame. A defensive error may allow a base runner or a pitcher may allow a walk to put a man on base. But a perfect game only occurs when there is no base runners all game. Not one.

There were few opportunities for Buehrle’s defense to help secure his place in history, but Dewayne Wise, playing center field, found an opportunity to provide a little defensive help for the man on the mound. Wise, who had sat in the dugout for the previous eight innings, had just come into the game for left fielder Carlos Quentin, which pushed Scott Podsednik over to left. Wise patrolled the center of the outfield. And patrol it did he ever.

The first batter in the top of the 9th was Gabe Kapler, who drilled a ball deep to center. The ball would’ve been outta the ballpark if Wise hadn’t leaped just high enough to keep the ball in play. He bobbled the ball once as he fell to the ground, but was able to hold on with his bare left hand. He pushed himself up, threw the ball to the infield and gave an ‘I got your back’ point of the glove to Buehrle, all without as much as smiling or acknowledging the unbelievable play he had just made to save what would become the 17th regular season perfect game in MLB history.

Buehrle will be remembered in the record books for his unbelievable day of no walks, no hits and no errors for as long as at least one human being on the Earth still cares about baseball. But Wise’s contribution may be forgotten in the annals of time.

It was an uneventful day for the defense on Thursday afternoon, which was a testament to Buehrle’s lights-out pitching. But for a brief two seconds, Dewayne Wise rose to the occasion in what may be the most exciting and remarkable play to save a perfect game or no-hitter in the history of baseball.

This was Buehrle’s second no-hitter (the first coming on April 18, 2007 against the Texas Rangers- he walked Sammy Sosa in that game, but he was picked off at first) and first perfect game. His changeup was his savior on more than one occasion with three balls, as he was able to avoid walking anybody in this one. He was on the mound for only 32 minutes.

Please leave your comments with memories of other tremendous defensive efforts to help save a perfect game or no-hitter.

Written By Danny Hobrock

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