A few reactions to Roy Halladay's perfect game

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halladay throwing.jpgRoy Halladay captured the nation’s attention on a sports-heavy Saturday night, throwing the 20th perfect game in Major League Baseball history as the Phillies defeated the Marlins 1-0 in south Florida.  Let’s take a trip around the baseball world for some unique reactions to the perfecto:

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports noticed some rather deep counts and an amazing will to battle back:  “The difference between brilliance and immortality is one pitch, and
seven times Halladay ran the count to three balls only to bail himself
out.”

Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski saw it coming in the fifth inning:  “Halladay was so sharp, so on, so confident, so much in control, that he
turned the improbable into the expected, he made a perfect game feel
oddly routine.”

ESPN’s Jayson Stark points out that few great pitchers ever get a taste of perfection:  “There are 67 pitchers in history who have won a Cy Young Award. And
before Saturday, only four of them ([Sandy] Koufax, [Catfish] Hunter, [Randy] Johnson and David Cone) — not to mention Cy Young himself — ever managed to throw a perfect game.”

David Brown of Yahoo’s Big League Stew calls Halladay the “perfect pitcher” to throw a perfect game:  “I view Halladay like Quint looked at great white sharks in “Jaws.” He saw them as the perfect killing machines. Emotionless, except for a certain amount channeled of rage when they attack.

Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer remembers the last Philadelphia pitcher that recorded 27 straight outs, Jim Bunning:  “He estimated that additional commercial opportunities generated by the perfect game added $15,000 to his $30,000 salary in 1964.”

MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez saw a different side of Halladay the moment he completed the perfecto:  “Before being surrounded by teammates, a usually stoic Halladay smiled
ear to ear and extended his arm to receive a warm embrace from his
catcher, Carlos Ruiz, who he gave a lot of the credit to for his gem.”

The Phillies have been in a highly publicized offensive slump as of late, but there’s no doubt that this club will be competing once October rolls around.  Halladay has been superb all season and, taking into account Saturday’s perfecto, is 7-3 on the year with a 1.99 ERA, a 1.00 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 86 innings.  He’s an early favorite for NL Cy Young Award consideration alongside the Rockies’ Ubaldo Jimenez, who made a little history of his own this season with a no-hitter against the Braves.  It’s not the worst time to be a baseball fan.

Claire Smith becomes the first woman to win the BBWAA’s Spink Award

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ESPN
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The Baseball Writers Association of America has elected Claire Smith the winner of the 2017 J.G. Taylor Spink Award. She becomes the first woman to be given baseball writing’s highest honor. She will be honored with the award that is presented annually to a sportswriter “for meritorious contributions to baseball writing” during Hall of Fame inductions in Cooperstown on July 30.

Smith, 62, covered the New York Yankees for five years beginning in 1983 for the Hartford Courant before becoming a columnist with the New York Times. She later served as an editor and columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1998-2007. She is now ESPN’s news editor of remote productions, responsible for the integration of news and analysis in live game broadcasts and the Baseball Tonight and Sports Center studio programs. She is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and winner of three New York Times Publishers’ Awards.

Smith was named Sports Journalist of the Year from the National Association of Black Journalists in 1997, received the Mary Garber Pioneer Award from the Association of Women in Sports Media in 2000 and the Sam Lacy Award at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and Hall of Fame in 2010. She has served on the Baseball Hall of Fame Veterans Committee and was the chair of the New York chapter of the BBWAA in 1995 and 1996.

There will be Under Armour logos on the front of baseball uniforms

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Under Armour
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Yesterday’s announcement that Under Armour will be taking over the MLB uniform business brought with it an added bit of news: for the first time, beginning in 2020, baseball uniforms will feature the maker’s logo on the front of the jersey. From Paul Lukas of UniWatch:

While the Majestic logo has appeared on MLB sleeves, the Under Armour logo will be appearing on the upper-right chest area.

Lukas has a bunch of Photoshopped images of MLB players wearing uniforms with UA logos on it to give us a sense of how it will likely look.

It’s certainly weird and in some cases even a bit jarring. It would be my preference not to see baseball uniforms go this route as I think they’re aesthetically pleasing parts of the game in and of themselves. But it’s inevitable. If there is a chance for leagues and sponsors to make money and if it doesn’t cause them to lose fans (i.e. lose money) they will take it. You can say you’ll give up baseball if they put corporate logos — including paid advertisements, not just the logos of the companies which make the gear — but you’re lying to yourself about that. You and I will complain and grumble and then we’ll get used to it. At some point, after a couple of years, we’ll start talking about which ads look better and which ones look worse and applaud particularly savvy and pleasing looking logos.

As I wrote back in April when the NBA approved ads on uniforms, there may even be a bright side to all of this.

Sports teams have had it both ways for a long time. They’ve worked to make a buck off of anything that isn’t nailed down all the while pretending to be something greater than any other business. They play on our nostalgia and our loyalty in order to portray themselves as something akin to a public trust or institution, entitling themselves to perks no other businesses get and the avoidance of regulation. By turning players into walking billboards, perhaps the four major North American sports will inadvertently make some folks realize that they are just businesses and that they aren’t deserving of such special treatment.

I’m not holding my breath about that, but anything that takes away even a bit of the faux public trust luster that sports leagues and teams use to manipulate their fans is a good thing. Maybe it’ll make, say, the Yankees or the Dodgers look less venerable and sharp. But maybe it’ll remind people that they’re just business units of a $10 billion industry, not some fourth branch of government or whatever.