By John Boyle
One of the many likable traits about Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez is that the dude tells it like it is. When he has good stuff, he’ll grin after the game and say, “It was pretty good, huh?” And he has also never been shy about his desire to do great things, among them throwing a perfect game.
Well on Wednesday afternoon, Hernandez joined one of baseball’s most exclusive clubs, throwing a perfect game in a 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
After striking out Sean Rodriguez to record the final out, after celebrating with his teammates, and after telling Mariners fans, “I’ve been working so hard to throw one, and there it is, for you guys,” Hernandez eventually made his way Safeco Field’s interview room, which isn’t normally used for post-game interviews.
“Why are we doing the interview in here?” he said. “Something big happen?”
Actually, Felix, something very big happened. For a day anyway, Mariners fans who have seen far too much losing over the past decade got to enjoy a moment of pure joy. Hernandez, who threw the first perfect game in Mariners history, has long been one of the best things Seattle sports fans had going for them, and today he created another indelible memory in what has already been an outstanding career.
And of course whenever Hernandez’ greatness comes up, some jerk who doesn’t want Seattle to have any fun will talk about how the Mariners should trade him. Since the trade deadline has passed, we’ll have to wait for next year for that to start up again, but there was one funny moment after the game when Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik got on an elevator full of reporters.
Fully aware of the company he was in, Zduriencik put his cell phone to his ear and said loudly, ““No, we’re not trading Felix.”
Hernandez struck out 12 batters, and eight of those came in the final four innings, including five of the last six hitters he faced. After the third inning ended with a fly out, only one ball left the infield the rest of the day. He was, well, perfect, and it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.
And to think, I almost went to Seahawks training camp today.
I’ll have more later, including reaction from Hernandez and his teammates, but have some writing to do first.