The Seattle Mariners, depending on which report you read, have either signed ace pitcher Felix Hernandez to a record-setting $175 million dollar contract or they're about to. They had to. Given this news, and that I really want to publish something longer form on New Newsvine, I figured I'd republish this piece, originally titled 'Quotes From A Perfect Game' and published August 15, 2012, the night of Felix's perfect game - which I was lucky enough to see live with my father and friends.
Quotes From A Perfect Game
Not verbatim, not credited, I may add footnotes. I just want to remember this as I experienced it. The most surreal sports experience of my life and likely the best. All comments are quotes until the next asterisk break, whether blockquoted or not. Wanted to break it up a little visually.
12:40 start time? I thought it was 1:10.
What a day for a game. I didn't even know Felix was starting.
"Do you want a scorecard?"
"Nah, game's started, I don't like doing it unless I can watch the whole game."
Let's enter through the Team Store, I need a hat.
"Is this acceptable?"
"No, that hat is terrible, I'm not going to be a party to that."
"Oh! There are adjustable ones over here."
He is dealing. [repeated]
Thames is ripped, it's weird seeing a muscly baseball player. It's McGwiresque.
Excuse me sir, where did you get those nachos?
He's got his curve today. Everything's working. Be nice to have some more runs though, Justin.
"How are those nachos?"
"This is some of the most garbage meat I've ever eaten. Just...pig ankles. But it's a gorgeous day and Felix has a lead."
The King's Court is the smartest thing the Mariners have ever done. I really want to go one of these days.
Um, oh. I have, uh, noticed a statistical oddity. An, uh, extremely rare statistical oddity.
"What just happened?"
"Seager couldn't get a ball and Boog- Brendan Ryan was in the hole waiting for it."
They really look like they're having fun out there, talking to each other more. Relaxed.
"Oh, he doesn't have any walks eith-"
"Yeah. Yes. Yes, that is true."
Just strike him out, don't even let him touch it.
Ball 2. I'm gonna throw up.
WE JUST SAW A F---ING PERFECT GAME!
You know they made that graphic in the 6th. They didn't have that graphic queued up. [joyous cackling]
"Wait, make sure we all have our tickets."
"Yeah, I'm going straight to Goodwill and getting the most ornate ticket frame they have."
FE-LIX! FE-LIX! FE-LIX! FE-LIX! [repeated]
Whoa, I was wrong, this is only the 23rd ever. We're probably 4 of 300,000 people who've ever seen one.
Oh my god. Oh my god!
To make a few things clear from a rather opaque exercise - yes, I do that dumb superstitious thing where you don't mention a no-hitter is happening while it's happening. Not ashamed. I didn't do a scorecard for the first time in a long time, I didn't really sit down until the bottom of the third after getting beers and criminally awful nachos, and I didn't realize I was watching a perfect game until the top of the 6th - when Felix just went into God Mode. If you're lucky enough to see a perfect game, you're lucky enough. I coulda been Jerry Brewer.
Here's a fair generalization about Seattle fans: We rarely love unconditionally, at least in fandom 2.0. I can count the bulletproof Seattle sports heroes on one hand: Largent, Walter Jones, Gary Payton, Edgar Martinez. That's it. [Excluding Storm and Sounders due to recency, even though those are Real Sports, dammit.]
Part of it is that each fanbase has a really critical segment amplified by the internet: dummies excoriated Shawn Kemp and Shaun Alexander, and there are fools calling Fredy Montero lazy right now.
This is the deeper reason why: we never win s---, and we're very paranoid because we've seen player after player leave for greener pastures - or be traded before realizing their full potential with some other squad. The Seattle Times has run a blurb called 'ex-Mariner of the Week' in Larry Stone's column for at least 13 years.
That ain't normal. But it's part of our collective psyche and it's the most profound for Mariners fans. If you grew up with a Randy Johnson poster...and then loved Griffey in 1996...and never thought A-Rod would leave...that would make anyone slow to love, right?
But everybody loves Felix. Everybody. Never heard a bad word about him - the worst is frustration when he was still working it out as a prodigy, but it's the frustration you have with a teenager you're raising, not yelling at a knucklehead acquaintance. Any criticism was always tempered with love - and a deep, deep fear of losing him.
Lookout Landing's subhead has been 'Felix is ours and you can't have him' for a long time now. Felix represents the good part - sometimes, seemingly, the only good part - of rooting for The Team That Doesn't Get Invited To Prom. Which is why it's so wonderful he is who he is: a guy who loves competing, talks smack, likes Seattle, developed a hilarious alter ego, hits Yankees. The ace that New York wishes they could buy. The superstar you don't have to squint to envision liking you back.
I can gush about Felix like New York media about Jeter. [I won't. It'd be embarrassing.] And I'm not a sentimental sap, usually, but here's what he said today on the field:
"I've been working so hard to throw one and there it is - for you guys."
And reportedly, what he said to ESPN:
Steve Berthiaume: What do you say to fans around baseball who say they need to trade you?
Felix Hernandez: Why? Why do they need to trade me? … We gonna be better, man.”
No better quote than that. Stay forever, Felix. I'm fortunate enough to live a pretty charmed life in many aspects - but there haven't been many good days to be an M's fan. Today was a perfect day.
We are Felix's, and you aren't us.