Monday, May 9, 2011

Perfect, but not good enough

Perfect games are always cause for celebration in baseball. There have only been 20 in Major League history, so each one is worthy of being mentioned as an important moment in baseball history.

Last year, while I was compiling my sports by the day countdown, Dallas Braden threw a perfect game on May 9. Twenty days later, Roy Halladay threw a perfect game. Both games warranted at least some consideration to be the greatest sports moment of that day, but I decided not to list either one as the new "champion" of that day.

In all honesty, their close proximity to each other might have actually hurt their cause. Having two perfect games thrown within 20 days of each other makes each one seem less impressive in retrospect. It isn't fair to either Braden or Halladay, but their perfect games were really overshadowed by each other.

A big key for me is how memorable the games were. It's one thing to be great; its something else to have your performance remain in the minds and consciousness of sports fans long after it happened. In that regard, both men were overshadowed by Armando Galarraga, who retired the first 26 batters of a game on June 2, then lost his perfect game bid on a blown call at first base. Galarraga didn't throw a perfect game, but his near-miss made more headlines - and was remembered more universally - than the games Braden and Halladay threw. And in Halladay's case, it's likely more people will remember his playoff no-hitter from later that season than will remember his perfect game.

So Braden's game wasn't good enough to knock off Ron Francis' hat trick, and Halladay's wasn't good enough to take over for Wayne Gretzky's self-described greatest game. Braden and Halladay were perfect, but they weren't good enough.

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