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Elephant Rumblings: Dallas Braden pitched perfect game while hung over

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MLB news roundup

Tampa Bay Rays v Oakland Athletics

Good morning, Athletics Nation!

The latest from Jeff Passan of ESPN has team owners preparing to offer a proposal to the Players Association for how to get the 2020 season going amid the coronavirus pandemic. The proposal hasn’t actually been sent yet (it will be “within a week”), and then it has to be agreed to by the union, and even then there are plenty of ways that any plan could be dashed by future flare-ups of the outbreak. But this still feels like some level of progress.

If all goes well, then perhaps the dates reported by former player Trevor Plouffe — June 10 spring training, and July 1 Opening Day — could yet come true. Passan confirms that some teams have indeed “reached out to players to suggest that they ramp up baseball activities,” with some of them citing those specific dates as potential targets. Check out Passan’s link below for all the details.

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Meanwhile, closer to home, the big story involves Dallas Braden and his 2010 perfect game. Per a report by Susan Slusser of the S.F. Chronicle, Braden revealed on Wednesday that he’d been drinking the night before Mother’s Day and was hung over the next day when he pitched his perfecto. He made clear (as did a few character witnesses) that this was a one-time thing, not a normal habit for the lefty, but it sure worked out in the end.

As odd as this story is, it’s not unique. David Wells famously admitted to being hung over when he threw his perfect game in 1998, and of course there’s the epic story of Dock Ellis tossing a no-hitter while tripping on acid.

While the obvious reaction might be to criticize these players for their unprofessional behavior, what if there’s something to it and it’s not a coincidence? It isn’t unusual to hear a player talk about how his slump was caused by overthinking and he busted out of it by relaxing and getting out of his own head, and even we civilians have probably experienced that phenomenon somewhere in our own lives. Alcohol is certainly one way to stop thinking.

This is in no way meant to endorse players getting wasted before MLB games, and there are probably many more stories out there of playing poorly due to substance use. But if switching off one’s brain and reverting to natural talent and finely tuned muscle memory can help the body do its task optimally on some occasions, then it would explain how these hurlers were able to notch their greatest career achievements while in such impaired states.

Either way, it makes for a hell of a story.

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