This article appeared in the April 15, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

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When the goal is bigger than a ‘perfect’ game

Craig Lassig/AP
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw throws against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of a baseball game, April 13, 2022, in Minneapolis. He was pulled after seven innings after allowing no one on base.
Peter Grier
Washington editor

Let’s talk about baseball and failure.

It’s a coach’s truism that baseball is a game defined by failure, after all. The best hitters trudge back to the dugout after an at-bat 65% of the time. The best pitchers are very, very likely to allow a base runner over the course of a nine-inning game.

How likely? Getting 27 outs in a row – three straight outs in each of nine innings, nobody reaches base in any way – is called a perfect game. That has happened just 23 times in Major League Baseball history, over about 220,000 games, each with two starting pitchers! 

That makes the odds of a perfect game about 1 in 20,000.

Or one every 34 seasons. (They’ve increased somewhat in recent years, for unknown reasons.)

On Wednesday Los Angeles Dodgers star left-hander Clayton Kershaw walked away from a perfect game. Or more accurately, he was walked away – Dodgers manager David Roberts pulled Mr. Kershaw after seven perfect innings. He hadn’t thrown that many pitches. The relief pitcher quickly gave up a single.

Many fans were furious. But after the game the pitcher himself calmly accepted the move. He’s not fully in game shape yet, and he has a history of injuries. The Dodgers, with a chance to win the World Series, need him for the full season.

He had the resilience to rise above disappointment and see a fuller picture.

“I would have loved to have stayed,” he said to reporters after the game. “But bigger things, man, bigger things.”

This article appeared in the April 15, 2022 edition of the Monitor Daily.

Read 04/15 edition
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