About three weeks ago, I expressed scant emotion when learning of Dallas Braden’s perfect game against Tampa Bay. So you can imagine how I felt when I learned of Roy Halladay’s perfecto on Saturday against the Marlins (boy, those Florida teams do have a knack for getting perfect gamed). I barely blinked. At least with Braden, it was a guy you didn’t expect to join a group that includes Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Jim Bunning, Catfish Hunter, Randy Johnson, Mark Buerhle (yeah, I know, and Len Barker and Mike Witt, but some guys get lucky now and then). But with Halladay? When he’s on, you wonder how anyone gets on base. It was bound to happen. On the road of course. Nobody, I mean nobody, is going perfect at Citizen’s Bank Park.
There have now been 20 perfect games in baseball history. There were a total of nine from 1885 until 1981. Since then, there have been 11. There were none from 1968 (when Hunter performed his gem) until Barker tossed his 13 years later. Now we’ve seen three since last July, when Buerhle stymied the Rays.
I see a pattern developing here. As difficult as it is to throw a perfect game, the numbers don’t lie: it’s just not as difficult as it used to be. But why? It’s not like the pitchers are better. Most of them are lucky if they can go nine on their best day (Halladay being an exception). The ballparks are more hitter friendly. I don’t know, maybe the fielders are better. Maybe the smaller strike zone is a factor. That would certainly favor a control freak like Halladay. All I know is that the next guy who throws a perfect game better do something really special if he wants to be remembered. Striking out all 27 batters would be a pretty good start. Now that would get me out of my seat.