Matt Cain and the Persuit of Perfection

Last night was interesting. Not so much because I had awesome plans or really did anything out of the ordinary, but rather because from that everyday, normal monotony sprung something fantastic. Actually, it was better than fantastic. It was perfect.

If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m talking about Matt Cain’s perfect game.

You see, last night was not unlike any other. I got home from work, ate dinner, and sat down on the couch to surf the web and watch some TV. Eventually the Yankee Loving Fiance wandered off to bed and I found myself lost in the awesomeness of The Rock, a movie I’ve seen probably close to a hundred times at this point but feel the need to watch whenever I find it on TV. I didn’t know this at the time, but watching a movie centered around Alcatraz, the famous former prison located in the San Francisco Bay, would be something of an omen.

Once the movie had finished and Nick Cage and Sean Connery had finished saving the U. S. of A., I was left with the problem of what to watch next. I flipped through the TV guide a few times, scrolling through the listing trying to find something to watch. Turns out it was just one of those nights where there was absolutely nothing on television. No good reruns, no movies, nothing interesting at all.

Living in New Orleans it just so happens that we are situated close enough to the city of Houston that we have been deemed a “part of their market.” I say part of their market loosely because New Orleans is a good 6 hours away by car. That would be like saying Cleveland was a part of the Baltimore market.

Because of this, my cable provider feels it necessary to give me Fox Sports Houston as a part of my cable package and everything that comes along with it. In other words, I can watch as much crappy Astros baseball as I want. Ironically, I can’t watch the New Orleans Hornets… you read that right. And they wonder why the NBA struggles in this market.

After a few frustrating minutes of channel surfing I finally settled on the Astros game. Not so much because I wanted to watch the Astros, but because they were playing the Giants. I like the Giants. They have an awesome stadium and some really likable players thanks to Showtime’s The Franchise that chronicled their World Series defense last season. If nothing else, the game would serve as background noise while I worked on a few things and killed some time before I went to bed.

I turned the game on during the top of the 4th inning. Not thinking anything of it I simply thought, “Oh, the Giants are kicking the crap out of the Astros. What else is new?” I paid little attention to what was actually unfolding until an inning and a half later. As the Giants walked off the field I looked up and there it was. Houston Astros 0-0-0. Looking online confirmed what I thought was happening. Heading into the bottom of the fifth inning Matt Cain was dealing a perfect game.

I didn’t move from that spot on the couch for the next hour and a half… I wasn’t about to let me moving throw off the balance of the rotation of the earth, thus causing wind patterns to change and a 3-2 pitch to go from being a called third strike to a ball. Flushing the toilet? out of the question. Yes, as a sports fan I whole heartedly believe in this crap. I may be neurotic.

Batter after batter, pitch after pitch the stakes continued to get higher. I also became that much more invested. How often do you actually get to watch the majority of a perfect game? Usually it’s either the highlights the next day or the final inning when ESPN finally decides to cut in on the action. But this was different. I tuned in well before the possibility of a perfect game became a possible reality.

When Chris Snyder flied out to deep left field, and by deep I mean sending Melky Cabrera to within a step of the wall, it felt like a higher power was toying with us. The ball was absolutely crushed and I held my breath along with everyone in the stadium. The only logical explanation is that the baseball gods redirected the wind just enough to hang it up. All the while, Matt Cain continued to paint the corners with the type of stuff that looked like he was controlling the ball with a joystick.

And then it happened…

In the top of the 7th inning, Jordan Schafer’s bat met Matt Cain’s offering with authority. As the ball traveled through the air towards deep right center all hope looked lost. The ball was going to split outfielders Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco, land on the track, and bounce up against the wall. The for sure double wouldn’t change the outcome of the game, but it was certainly going to alter history. The perfect game was over and all that was left was to give Matt Cain one hell of a standing ovation.

Only that’s not what happened. In every perfect game or no-hitter there’s a moment in time when everyone looks at each other in exasperation and thinks, “This is really going to happen.” That moment came as right fielder Gregor Blanco came within steps of the track, reached out and dove. Ball met leather, Blanco met turf, and the crowd went nuts. Some how, some way, Gregor Blanco caught a ball he had absolutely no business in catching. This was going to happen.

One after another Matt Cain plowed through Astros. Eight outs to go turned into six.  Six outs to go turned into three. As he took the mound in the ninth America waited in bated breath. Twitter had officially blown up, ESPN had finally cut in, and history was ready to be made.

One out….

Two out!…

THREE OUT! PERFECT GAME!

It was incredible. Twenty-seven up, twenty-seven down. In the end Matt Cain tallied 14 strikeouts, a record he’ll forever share with Sandy Koufax. It was a moment that will be remembered forever, the 22nd perfect game in baseball history and the first in the 128 year history of the San Francisco Giants. It’s something I know that I’ll never forget watching. It was incredible, absolutely incredible.

All because there was nothing else to watch on TV.

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