It feels like there is almost always at least one tightly contested game between the Yanks and Sox in every series they play. In the first series of the season, each of the games were decided by two runs. Even last year, when every time the two teams met, except for one, the result was a sweep, there was usually at least one game that was engaging. This weekend, the losing team scored three runs each time out while the winners plated nine or more. Games decided by six or more runs are rarely exciting and these were no exception.
Watching your guys pile it on in a blowout win can be enjoyable, but it's not all that interesting to see two teams playing out the string when the game has basically already been decided. There are mop-up guys on the mound and replacements in the field. On Saturday, there was even a replacement fielder doing the mop-up work. Friday's game was over in the 6th inning, Saturday's dragged out by a rain delay and decided by the seventh and you could have turned off last night's in the third and been 95% certain of who was going to win, at least according to WPA.
I don't want this to come across as whiny or anything; that's what we sign up for as baseball fans. You take the exciting along with the boring. One of the many things that makes the sport rewarding to follow is that it's rare that it lives up to its billing. A great game could break out between teams that have no natural rivalry and something unforgettable could go down when you least expect it. And that's exactly what happened yesterday in front of 12,228 fans in Oakland.
There have been 19 perfect games in the history of baseball, and now one of them belongs to Dallas Braden. If it wasn't for Braden's spat with A-Rod, his performance against the Rays would have probably been an even better story. His mother died of melanoma when he was a senior in high school and it would be hard to pick a more symbolically significant day for him to pitch the game of his life. It happened for him in front of his hometown fans not far from where he grew up and his grandmother, who he is very close with, was in attendance (although she, unlike A-Rod, took the low road).
More relevant to the baseball side of the story, as Joe Posnanski pointed out yesterday, Braden was never really a prospect and has the type of velocity and skills that make him seem like an unlikely candidate to be wearing a Major League uniform, let alone go 27 up and 27 down against the team with the best record in baseball. On a certain level, you have to respect that.
Interestingly, as Kevin Kaduk pointed out, the third baseman on the Rays broke an unwritten rule along the way. With no one out in the 5th inning, Evan Longoria attempted to lay a drag bunt down and was lustily booed as a result. At Big League Stew just this week, Jason Turnbow named trying to bunt for a hit when the pitcher has a no hitter of a perfect game going as one of the 10 unwritten rules you might not know about. Being aware of the value Braden places on that kind of stuff, perhaps Longoria and manager Joe Maddon thought they could get under his skin by squaring up and trying to get on base on the cheap. The bunt rolled foul and Longoria ended up striking out, so if Braden did take offense to the attempt, unlike the A-Rod situation, he didn't let it bother him too much.
It was because of that pointless dust up with Rodriguez that my first reaction to hearing that Braden had pulled off a perfecto was one of disgust. Really? That fucking guy? Since then, though, I've come around on it. Good for him. Hopefully people will stop asking him about crossing the pitcher's mound and maybe this will mellow him out enough to not do something stupid the next time the Yankees play the A's. I'm with Craig, if Braden's accomplishment yesterday means that we can leave the drama with A-Rod behind, then we should all be happy about it.