erik lundegaard

First Mariner or 21st Ever: What's More Impressive?

There's an unnecessary line I keep coming across in all the articles and blog posts (including mine) about Felix Hernandez's perfect game yesterday. Here's ESPN.com's version:

Felix Hernandez pitched the Seattle Mariners' first perfect game and the 23rd in baseball history, overpowering the Tampa Bay Rays in a brilliant 1-0 victory on Wednesday.

Here's the subhed on the Seattle Times front page:

FELIX HERNANDEZ DOES WHAT NO MARINERS PITCHER HAS EVER DONE IN SHUTTING OUT TAMPA BAY 1-0

Seattle Times headlines: Felix's perfect game

Wow, that's a bad subhed, isn't it? Makes it sound like no Mariners pitcher has ever shut out Tampa Bay 1-0. As if that were the feat.

But that's not it. What's bugging me is the whole “first perfect game in Mariners history” line. It's so true it deserves a “no duh.”

There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball and Felix's was the 23rd perfect game thrown--21st, really, since I tend to draw the line at the 19th century, when foul balls caught on a bounce were outs and the two perfect-game teams were the Worcester Ruby Legs and Providence Grays. Some teams, too, the Yankees and White Sox in particular, have done it more than once. Basic math should tell you not every team has thrown a perfect game. So the fact that it's Seattle's first doesn't feel as newsworthy to me as it being the 21st overall.

In fact, assuming all teams being equal, it was more likely to be a team's first perfect game because only 13 teams (now 14) have seen pitchers pitch perfect games.

  1. Chicago White Sox: 3
  2. New York Yankees: 3
  3. Cleveland Indians: 2
  4. Oakland A's: 2
  5. Philadelphia Phillies: 2
  6. Arizona Diamondbacks: 1
  7. Boston Red Sox: 1
  8. California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels: 1
  9. Cincinnati Reds: 1
  10. Los Angeles Dodgers: 1
  11. Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals: 1
  12. San Francisco Giants: 1
  13. Seattle Mariners: 1
  14. Texas Rangers: 1

Which teams don't have one? In order of year established:

  1. Atlanta Braves (1871)
  2. Chicago Cubs (1876)
  3. Pittsburgh Pirates (1882) *
  4. St. Louis Cardinals (1882)
  5. Baltimore Orioles (1894)
  6. Detroit Tigers (1894) **
  7. Minnesota Twins (1894)
  8. New York Mets (1961)
  9. Houston Astros (1962)
  10. Kansas City Royals (1969)
  11. Milwaukee Brewers (1969)
  12. San Diego Padres (1969)
  13. Toronto Blue Jays (1977)
  14. Colorado Rockies (1993)
  15. Miami Marlins (1993)
  16. Tampa Bay Rays (1998)

*     Sorry, Harvey
**   Sorry, Armando.

In other words, seven of the original 16 MLB teams, all of whom have been in existence since the 19th century, still haven't seen one. The M's have only been around since '77. Yet here we are.

The Seattle Times also made a big deal out of the number of games the Seattle Mariners played before Felix's perfecto:

5,698 Games
1 Perfect Game

Imagine how Braves and Cubs fans feel.


Posted at 03:22 PM on Thu. Aug 16, 2012 in category Baseball  
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