A perfect ending to a perfect day for Felix
As journalists, we’re not supposed to get involved in the stories we cover. But I’m finding it perfectly acceptable to relish the first perfect game — or no-hitter even — that I’ve ever witnessed in person, thanks to Felix Hernandez’s overpowering 1-0 performance today against the Rays.
This one was historic. This one was monumental. The first perfect game in Mariners history. And, yeah, it was cool to see.
Sure, the Mariners endured a perfect game against them in April by Philip Humber. I happened to have that day off. Ditto two months later when six Mariners pitchers combined to no-hit the Dodgers.
Both those games happened to be covered by my backup, recent University of Washington graduate Josh Liebeskind, who is an associate reporter for Mariners.com. Josh has covered all of 54 Major League games now — and seen three no-hitters.
That’s a sore point to some, like Larry Stone of the Seattle Times, who has covered Major League baseball for 30 years now. Today was the first no-hitter he’s seen in person.
I haven’t covered as many baseball games as Larry, having also been an NFL and college reporter in my younger days, but I have been covering the Mariners as a columnist or beat writer now since 1997 and this is my first no-hitter. And no, I won’t forget it.
In this age of the Internet, game stories have to be filed literally as the game ends — or even earlier, if possible — so they can be posted immediately. So I started writing the perfect-game angle about the sixth inning, thinking all the while that I’d need to re-do my focus as soon as one of the Rays reached base.
Instead, the game zoomed along as Hernandez never relented. After eight innings, I sent in my initial story with a note saying I’d rewrite as necessary. Three outs later, Hernandez and catcher John Jaso were exchanging the most heart-felt man hug imaginable and my story was just fine.
Eventually, after talking to all parties involved, I rewrote the final game story, which you can read here.
Eleven days earlier, Eric Wedge called Hernandez’s two-hit shutout in Yankee Stadium the best game he’d ever seen by a starting pitcher. But on Wednesday, the King one-upped himself.
And all of us who were lucky enough to see it will never forget this perfect day.