Every fifth pitcher-day, Seattle wakes up and asks itself “I wonder if today’s gonna be the day?” Every day up until yesterday it turned out to not be the day. Yesterday, it happened. Yesterday was the day.
The Felix Hernandez perfect game was perfect. At no point did a Rays player make any kind of serious threat against the King. This write-up could consist of me pouring over the numbers, telling you about Felix’s pitch count and swinging strikes and curveball and late-inning velocity, but I’ll assume everyone has already read something along those lines. I’d rather keep it brief by describing the atmosphere at Safeco Field yesterday, where I sat and savored the greatest pitching performance of our favorite Mariner’s career.
The setting was ideal on Wednesday afternoon. Clouds? Nope. Too hot? Not at all. Nothing more than the most beautiful summer afternoon one could possibly dream up in the pacific northwest. Pacific Northwest summers are the pinnacle of weather, and also we have Safeco. And Felix. Especially Felix, yesterday.
The crowd was minimal on Wednesday afternoon, but not miniscule. Roughly 20,000 of us were on hand to witness Felix at his thus-far peak. Around the third inning the stadium was filled with a silent buzz as people began to check the scoreboard with more and more scrutiny, staring at the zeroes as if expecting to notice something new. The home at-bats were routinely ignored after the sixth inning, and all attention was deservingly zoned in on Felix. Something special was happening, even if it hadn’t fully happened yet.
We all know the rest: it happened. Felix retired all 27 batters he faced, including five of the last six by strikeout. Felix was perfect, and the result was a fittingly perfect perfecto. I had nearly forgotten what it’s like to spend an entire ninth inning standing up and yelling, given that the Mariners of late have provided us precious few opportunities to be roused for an entire frame. Felix did more than entertain: he made history, and he affirmed our faith in him yet again. I don’t know if Felix is the most beloved major league baseball player, but he easily might be. He is the face of Seattle sports and may well be in the midst of his best season yet. Felix is in the thick of the Cy Young race, again. Felix is 26.
Felix Hernandez is 26 years old. Considering normal aging curves, which may or may not apply to this particular individual, Felix could conceivably just be getting started. This could be the tip of the iceberg and yesterday Seattle and the world at large got to see current-peak Felix. Current, of course, being the key word. What if he keeps getting better and better? Why wouldn’t he? How couldn’t he?
Safeco Field was a subdued kind of electric on Wednesday afternoon as the word “perfect” manifested all around. Felix pulled at the strings of my soul, and no doubt countless thousands of other souls, as he masterfully accomplished what we always figured he was bound to eventually accomplish. Felix Hernandez means more to the Seattle Mariners than most folks would figure is possible, and yesterday it all came together in form of a perfect game. No words will ever do the event justice. Long live the King.
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