As soon as the top of the 8th ended with another Felix Hernandez out – the 24th in 24 opportunities – I asked my boss if I could go home early. I didn’t say why.
Working a mere 10 minutes’ walk from my home, it would’ve been easy to just GO home and watch the final three outs of history. But, I don’t have cable. Because I don’t find paying for a full package of cable is worth my monthly dollars when all I would watch is the Mariners. Maybe if the team was better …
So, I ran to the nearest place I knew would have sporting events on: Mad Pizza in South Lake Union (no, I don’t work for Amazon, so you can put that to bed right now). Unfortunately, they have some weird Fox soccer channel and the NFL network, but apparently had NO IDEA what channel Root Sports was on. In a panic, I remembered Paddy Coyne’s. I ran.
The place was mostly empty, because Jesus Christ it’s a bar in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday, so I grabbed a table and ordered a Manny’s. I texted a buddy of mine in San Francisco because I’d read somewhere on Twitter earlier that morning that the game was televised for free for out-of-area patrons of mlb.com. Had I remembered, I would’ve reminded him earlier, but I figured the 9th inning was better than nothing.
I didn’t start looking online for game updates until the third inning or so. It was 1-0 and Felix was dealing. But, this is the Seattle Mariners: it’s ALWAYS 1-0 and Felix is ALWAYS dealing. I’ve gone into just about every Felix Day the last three years expecting Felix to make history, and every Felix Day I’ve been some shade of disappointed. That’s poor phrasing on my part; most of the time I’m DELIGHTED, because he’s Felix and he’s the greatest! But, you know … he’s FELIX. And the greatest is supposed to do something that proves, definitively, that he’s the greatest.
So, of course it had to happen at a 12:40 start time where I had to work.
Anyway, after 2pm, I started getting really excited. I lived and died with every refresh. Until finally, it was time.
I nervously drank from my Manny’s. I nervously clutched at my own hands. I pondered: am I bad luck? Did my coming here from work somehow alter the sands of time. As the pitches started coming in that first 9th inning at-bat, I dreaded a seeing-eye single. It would be all my fault if Felix lost perfection because I was sitting in a bar instead of at my cubicle.
But, then Felix grabbed the Baseball Gods by the throat and told them to eat a dick! Strike three swinging by Desmond Jennings on a NASTY changeup low and inside.
He was followed by Jeff Keppinger who saw four pitches and grouned one to short. If there is anyone I would trust above all others with a routine ground ball, it’s Brendan Ryan. Two away.
The bar, with about ten people in attendance, got loud with each out, and damn near silent with each other pitch. The volume was turned up by the bartender so everyone could hear Dave Sims and Dan Wilson on the call. Sean Rodriguez walked up to the plate. Felix missed with a fastball and he missed with a curve to start 2-0. He came back to even the count, painting the outside corner. Then, with one final throw, a curve froze Rodriguez, hitting the glove right at his knees for strike three.
I jumped out of my chair before the umpire had a chance to ring him up. It was so obvious, there was no worry about premature celebration. Felix had done it! Felix was perfect!
12 strikeouts. Third perfect game this season in the Majors. Second no-hitter for the Mariners this year. Third career perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays.
As soon as the game was over, I called my dad and left him a message asking him to DVR the replay tonight at 7:30pm. I’m going to watch it on Friday night. I’ll have more on this then.