The Book of Mike

"This is no junior college. This is the notorious University of Miami.” -- Marlins starter Dontrelle Willis, after getting knocked around for six runs in 2 1/3 innings by the Canes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004


In case you missed it last night, Mike Hampton pitched a pretty good game last night for the Braves. He went all nine innings and gave up only two runs. All 23,381 fans who were in attendance in Atlanta last night probably gave Hampton a standing ovation as he left the field after the top of the ninth last night in appreciation of his outstanding performance.

Well, they would have (maybe) if Randy Johnson wasn’t in the midst of throwing a perfect game. You probably already knew that by now. It’s all over the news, other blogs, etc. That’s pretty much to be expected. In the history of major league baseball, last night’s gem by The Big Unit was only the 17th such occurrence. So it’s pretty rare to say the least.

In case you weren’t able to see the highlights, Johnson’s performance was all around ridiculous. To set the stage, Randy is 40 years old, way past his prime for any ballplayer (supposedly) and certainly so for a 6 foot 10 inch power pitcher; he’s surrounded by a team of has-beens and might-never-bes. Despite this, Johnson went out and threw a complete game, with no hits, walks, hit batsmen, or errors, in 117 pitches (along with 13 strikeouts for good measure).

What was even more impressive than Johnson’s stat line was how those stats were earned (granted, I didn’t watch the whole game, but I saw TBS’s at-bat by at-bat wrap up at the end, and I did watch the last two innings live). Rarely have I ever seen a major league batter – even a pitcher – swing and miss by as much of a margin (even once) as Braves’ hitters did against Johnson last night. His slider was particularly nasty, appearing to almost go from the left handed batters box to the right handed batters box from the time the ball left his hand until it reached the catcher’s mitt, and almost always sweeping across home plate just in time to be called a strike. Truth be told, Diamondbacks’ catcher Robby Hammock probably deserves almost as much acclaim as Johnson, because Hammock didn’t drop any third strikes which might have allowed a runner to reach base, thus costing Johnson his perfect game.

In other anomalies last night, the White Sox won a game. Hooray! And in an even bigger shock, “closer” Billy Koch earned the save in the game with one solid inning pitched (zero hits, three strikeouts, and thirteen pitches).

Oh, and my theory with He Whose Name Must Not Be Spoken completely fell apart last night as the Marlins were trounced by the Astros, who could quite possibly be the best team in the National League. I’m not sure what I’m going to do now about writing about my favorite current ballplayer. I suppose I’ll start writing about him again.


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