We can’t all be perfect.
But these days, it seems that it’s becoming easier to go unblemished on the pitching mound.
Baseball prides itself on its imperfections, the anomalies unique solely inside its diamond-shaped heart.
It’s a place where flawlessness is usually reserved for myth.
So, when a pitcher tosses a perfect game, it’s considered entry into an elite fraternity — presumably Epsilon Tau Alpha or ERA to the non-Greek-speaking layman.
It’s a caste of 20 players dating back to 1880 that’s about as privileged as it is fickle when it comes to its enrollment.
Despite the discretionary company, it appears, in an age caricatured by hulking hitters, that it is now easier to toss a perfect game — AKA 27 batters up, 27 batters slink back to the dugout without reaching base.
There have been 11 perfect games thrown since Len Barker, a man known around the Cleveland Indian clubhouse as “the Big Donkey,” got stubborn with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1981.
That’d be a dozen perfectos, had Tiger pitcher Armando Galarraga not been fleeced by Jim Joyce. The first-base umpire incorrectly ruled what would have been the final out of Galarraga’s June 2 bid in Detroit to become the fraternity’s 21st member.
Conversely, MLB only witnessed the feat nine times in the 100 years prior to Barker’s perfect game.
That’s an average of one every three years in the post-Barker era, as opposed to one every 11 years dating back to the 19th century.
Perhaps MLB’s new steroid-testing policy has done to the long ball what debit cards did to the panhandling industry — that is, systematically destroy a once-profitable market.
Maybe it’s the pitchers who are much stronger? Of the 65 players suspended by MLB since 2004 for using performance-enhancing supplements, 34 of them were pitchers.
None of them — it should be noted — are members of the perfect game fraternity.
While it can’t be determined whether or not science is being used to gain perfection, we can use science to predict the next one.
Of the 20 perfect game thrown, seven of them have been thrown in May — the most of any month by far.
None have ever been tossed under the humidity of August.
Chalk it up to fresh arms, colder weather and chillier bats.
PERFECT GAMES BY MONTH
April – 1
May – 7
June – 3
July – 4
August – 0
Sept. – 3
Oct. – 2
It also helps to be pitching on the Lord’s Day to trap a little divine mound magic. Seven of the 20 perfect games occurred on a Sunday afternoon — the most of any day of the week.
Also a mere six of the 20 have been thrown on the road.
Does a foreign city plus the lure of performance inhibitors equate to perfection?
Only one has been thrown on a Tuesday. Monday’s only perfect game was the biggest anomaly of them all: Don Larsen’s call to perfection in the 1956 World Series.
Saturday has played host to two bouts with history. They happened 130 years apart in 2010 (Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies) and 1880 (Lee Richmond, Worcester Ruby Legs).
PERFECT GAMES BY DAY OF THE WEEK
Sunday – 7
Saturday – 2
Friday – 3
Thursday – 3
Wednesday – 3
Tuesday – 1
Monday – 1
All of these pitchers in this class of perfection have proven to be fallible.
One of Cy Young’s MLB-record 511 career wins was perfect; but the former Cleveland Spiders is also credited with the most losses (316) in history.
There are as many pitchers with losing career records (five) in the perfect game frat as there are hall of famers.
As Joyce, Galarraga and the rest of baseball were painfully reminded last week:
PERFECT GAME NOTES
The Florida Marlins are selling roughly 13,000 of the unsold tickets to Roy Halladay’s perfect game on May 29 in Miami. Tickets are going for face value and are selling faster than Halladay shut the Marlins.
Dennis Martinez (1991) and Kenny Rogers (1994) threw perfect games three years to the day on July 28.
Eight of the perfect games thrown have come from left-handed pitchers.
The combined career record of pitchers who have thrown perfect games is 3,351-2,424.
Roy Halladay, R*
May 29, 2010
Dallas Braden, L
May 9, 2010
Mark Buehrle, L
July 23, 2009
Randy Johnson, L*
May 18, 2004
David Cone, R
July 18, 1999
David Wells, L
May 17, 1998
Kenny Rogers, L
July 28, 1994
Dennis Martinez, R*
July 28, 1991
Tom Browning, L
September 16, 1988
Mike Witt, R*
September 30, 1984
Len Barker, R
May 15, 1981
Catfish Hunter, R
May 8, 1968
Sandy Koufax, L
September 29, 1965
Jim Bunning, R*
June 21, 1964
Don Larsen, R
Oct. 8, 1956
Charlie Robertson, R*
April 30, 1922
Addie Joss, R
Oct. 2, 1908
Cy Young, R
May 5, 1904
John Montgomery Ward, R
June 17, 1880
Lee Richmond, L
June 12, 1880