Philip Humber threw the 21st perfect game in Major League Baseball history earlier this afternoon. Humber's story is a good one. A former first round pick, Humber underwent Tommy John surgery in 2005. He was eventually a key piece in the 2008 trade that sent Johan Santana to the Mets from the Twins. He was never given much of a chance with the Twins who released him after the 2009 season. Humber signed a minor league deal with the Royals, was picked up by the A's before the 2011 season, and immediately then released again. He latched on with the White Sox and was a solid contributor in their starting rotation during the 2011 season. Long considered a first round bust, Humber has transformed himself into a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter and has now cemented his place in baseball history.
If there is a blemish to this historical event, it is that the final out of the game came when the home plate umpire ruled that the Mariner's Brendan Ryan had swung at a 3-2 pitch in the dirt to strikeout for the 27th out of the game. Ryan thought he held his swing. When he saw he was rung up, he started to run towards first base as the ball at gotten away from the catcher. The momentary hesitation took away any chance he had at reaching first and the game-ended with the perfect game in tact.
FOX, who was airing the game nationally, never showed a replay of the final strike from the first base side camera. From the "behind the pitcher" viewpoint, it certainly appeared that Ryan checked his swing. The controversial call certainly won't tarnish Humber's accomplishment, even if it is a less than ideal way to cap off a perfect game. I just wish FOX would have chosen to show the alternative view, rather than acting as if there was nothing controversial about it. It was almost as if they felt that showing the side view, which provides the best view of whether a batter checked his swing, would take away from the accomplishment. It won't and they should have at least given viewers a chance to see if the call was indeed correct, especially since cameras clearly picked up Ryan complaining to the umpire about the swing call.
Also on FOX, the Red Sox took on the Yankees at Fenway. I left for dinner around 5 PM and the Yankees were down 9-0. The score was 9-1 in the 7th when FOX switched to the White Sox game to show the last half inning of Humber's gem. By the time the station returned to the game in Boston, the score was now 9-5 Red Sox, with the Yankees still threatening to score more in the 7th. After a Mark Teixiera 3-run home run cut the score to 9-8, you knew the Yankees were going to win the game. They did go onto win, of course, adding a few more runs and securing a 15-9 victory.
It always makes me feel dirty pulling for the Yankees (Nick Swisher showed again why he is one of the least-likable players in baseball with his over-the-top celebration after hitting the go-ahead double in the 8th) but I am really hoping that this bad start for the Red Sox turns into a full blown downfall. The team is already bickering amongst themselves, playing poor baseball, and racking up the loses. Everyone in and outside of Boston knew the signing of Bobby Valentine as manager was a bad idea and nothing has happened so far to change that notion. The Red Sox have been terrible for nearly two straight months now and there aren't many reasons to believe that they will be able to dramatically turn things around.
It couldn't be happening to a better team.