OAKLAND, CA - MAY 09: Dallas Braden #51 of the Oakland Athletics celebrates after pitching a perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays with his grandmother Peggy Lindsey during an MLB game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 9, 2010 in Oakland, California. Braden is seen kissing his mother's wedding ring who passed away. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
UPDATES: Per Susan Slusser, Evan Scribner has been sent to AAA to make room for Tyson Ross, and Eric Sogard has been recalled from AAA with Adam Rosales sent down, while Kila Ka'aihue has cleared waivers and has been sent to Sacramento. -Nico
"There is one word in America that says it all, and that one word is, 'you-never-know.'" — former Athletics pitcher Joaquín Andújar.
One of the most beautiful things about baseball is that, like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get.
Yes, before I get started, this post was motivated by something that happened on a rival team — but it's been relevant to the A's twice in their history. If that's enough to turn you away, then just come back at 1 p.m. for the game thread.
A game ticket is really more like a golden ticket. To me, there's an inherent excitement in knowing that the ticket you hold to today's game, to next Wednesday's game, to a random night game in September, could be your entrance into history. Earlier this week in San Francisco, people who paid for bleacher seats and people whose corporate perks included behind-home-plate views got to witness history.
Think about that for a moment. Life doesn't give you that kind of value often. How many times could you walk into a dealership with $5,000 and ride out in a 1982 Toyota Camry or a brand-new Lamborghini? That's the beauty of baseball. Paid full price? Got the ticket free from a friend? Rushed over to the park after work, buying a ticket from a scalper? You all get the same experience during a perfect game.
Baseball and the perfect game, as well as its cousin no-hitter, are unique. Sure, you can buy a ticket to a football game and hope to see a 300-yard passing game. You can buy a ticket to a basketball game and hope to see a triple-double. You can buy a ticket to a hockey game and hope to see a hat trick.
But I'm not sure how many of us freak out when a quarterback has 250 yards in the third quarter. Or when a basketball player just needs four more assists for the triple double. Or when the second intermission ends, and a player is one goal shy. There's not the same waiting in anticipation. You can say "300-yard game," or "triple-double," or "hat trick," in the middle of these feats. There's not really anything to jinx.
Baseball is a different animal. As A's fans were fortunate enough to find out on Mother's Day 2010, after the fifth inning, the entire stadium is on pins and needles. Every third ball, every "maybe" foul tip, every time the batter makes contact... there's a shared experience with everyone.
I still regret not going to the game on May 9, 2010.
I had gone the day before, a 4-2 win over the Rays that brought the A's to a game within first place in the AL West. Imagine that! I was living in Stockton at the time, but that night I partied at a friend's house in the Bay Area and spent the night. Since I was a poor journalist/recent college graduate, I had to make my trips out to the Bay Area count. I considered just showering up that morning at my friend's house and heading back out to the Coliseum. My mom and I had already celebrated Mother's Day, so I figured, why not?
That morning, however, I decided to just head home and nurse my hangover. I woke up, drove back to Stockton and went to sleep again at about 11 a.m.
What woke me up? An explosion of text messages, all containing some combination of "OMG! PERFECT GAME! DALLAS BRADEN! 209!"
I was ecstatic at first. Then I realized... I could've been there. I should have been there. But who knows? Maybe had I gone, one of Tampa Bay's hits would've blooped in for a single.
Perfect games are wildly unpredictable. That's why when I listened to the radio as Matt Cain inched closer and closer to history, I felt conflicted. I was jealous, of course, that the first perfect game I got to experienced involved a San Francisco Giant. After Cain got the 27th out, I remembered the euphoric feeling from May 9, 2010. I couldn't hate Giants fans for that. For one night, all of the thousands of people in that ballpark and millions more listening on the radio or watching on TV or following on Gameday or getting updates via carrier pigeon, were connected. How cool is that?
By holding a ticket to a future game, technically, you have a chance to see a perfect game. That's the beauty of baseball.