OpinionJune 1, 2004

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By Devin King

Unless you’ve been living under the baseball rock recently, chances are you’re aware of the perfect game thrown by the great Randy Johnson. Doubters have been silenced, fears gone away in the puff of smoke from a 98-mile-an-hour fastball. The Unit is regenerated. The parts fit together again.

Throwing a perfect game must be a magnificent feeling. For 27 outs, you are a god. You are held up there with Zeus, Odin, Osiris, Madison … the list goes on. During this short time you are not a man. You are a colossal figure among your people. You are put into a new stage. Twenty-seven outs. It all seems so simple, doesn’t it?

From the first pitch of the night to the last sickly swing by Eddie Perez, it was magic. Fielders made their plays. Johnson made his pitches. Robby Hammock called a fantatstic game for this beautiful occasion. Twenty-seven marvelous outs. Thirteen wonderful strikeouts. Nine majestic innings. One perfect game.

Here at the Cafe and many wonderful places around the world (including sports bars and Fantasy Baseball Anonymous), people love baseball. They love the 216 stitches on the tightly wrapped cowhide. They love the 36-inch bat just waiting to fly through the zone (or, in Jose Hernandez’s case, everywhere else). They love the smell of the grass, the feel of the dirt, the taste of a hot dog. As the late Harry Caray said, “You can’t beat fun at the old ballpark.”

One of the greatest parts of a perfect game is the finale. The god (in this case, Randy Johnson) steps down to be with his people. He holds a boyish smile on his face. He looks as if he is about to giggle, like a schoolboy who finds something his parents wouldn’t like. You can see in his eyes he is overcome with emotion, and yet he does his best to limit it to a grin, though not entirely unsuccessfully.

I, for one, love the perfect game. I love the suspense. I love the beauty. I love a pitcher with such ability to deceive hitters and control the game. Nothing excites me more than a great pitchers’ duel. A 19-14 game with 11 home runs is exciting, but a real duel, a pitchers’ masterpiece, is something greatly appreciated by students of the game.

Tonight, as you lay yourself to rest, imagine yourself in The Big Unit’s position. Going out there and throwing your best stuff, telling them to hit you with their best shot. Their best shot was none at all. Randy Johnson may not have done the impossible, but he did do something wondrous. Keep that in mind the next time you watch a game of baseball.

Believe in the players. Believe that something phenomenal can happen. For if you wait long enough, something phenomenal will happen – whether it be a perfect game, a 15th inning home run, or just another day at the ballpark. As I sit here at my computer, I realize my life has changed in seeing such a beautifully pitched game. Randy Johnson, on May 18, 2004, threw a perfect game against the Atlanta Braves. May none of us forget the first perfect game in Cafe history.

Devin King is a dyed-in-the-wool Mets fan … in spite of the Babe Ruth avatar he’s been sporting in the Forums, where he posts under the name DK.

Have you ever seen a more amazing pitching effort than Johnson’s perfecto? What can he do for an encore? Give props to the Big Unit!

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