Felix Hernandez is amazing.
I got off work early today. I got off work early today, and as I was leaving the Mariners game was starting, and I thought “damn, if I didn’t have a bunch of stuff that I needed to take care of, I’d go to that game, well, at least I’ll get to watch the end at home.”
As I made my first stop, Felix had pitched three perfect innings. Big deal. He’s a great pitcher, he’s bound to take several perfect games through the first third of the game. My second stop took me through the fifth inning. I was rushing through paper work and writing so fast my wrist hurt in hopes that I’d get to catch a glimpse of something special.
I drove down Highway 18 and was tapping my foot on the ground and hand on the shifter like I was too many miles away from a rest stop fresh off a 20 oz. Red Bull.
I hit I-5 at the end of the sixth. Shit.
I hauled balls as fast as I could, and it seemed like a good chance I’d make it home in time to watch the end of Felix Hernandez’s perfect game bid.
The fucking Fife curve. If you’ve ever tried to get anywhere south of Fife at any time in the afternoon, you know that there is no rhyme or reason to why the Fife curve is backed up. It’s four lanes wide and it’s in fucking Fife! Who the hell is driving in Fife at two o’clock on a summer afternoon besides this dummy rushing home to watch King Felix?
If that question is on Mariners trivia tomorrow night, the correct answer will be C: A buttload of faceless people.
So as I’m swearing under my breath and trying to think of local watering holes I can poke my head into to watch history, the road cleared. I rushed home, breaking at least three traffic laws to get home in time, and ran into my living room just in time to see the first pitch of the ninth inning.
Felix threw 96 miles per hour in the ninth. He threw 96 miles per hour in the eighth according to the radio broadcast.
Felix hasn’t thrown 96 much, if at all this season, and he was pumping fastballs in at 95 and 96 miles per hour in the ninth. He had an amazing slider, and his wicked change. And the one curveball he threw was just simply unfair. I watched less than 20 pitches from Felix Hernandez tonight and have no doubt that he was perhaps the nastiest he’s been since he announced himself to the league in Boston in 2007.
The King’s Court was jumping up and down. The tension in the stadium bled through the TV screen. And Felix was unhittable, literally.
Felix missed 26 bats. Take that in. 26 bats. League average whiff rate sits around nine percent. Felix missed 23 percent of bats today. 23 percent. I can’t make these letters italic enough.
Felix Hernandez came into today with an outside shot of winning his second Cy Young Award this year. He was second only to Justin Verlander in WAR for pitchers, and actually had a pretty decent win-loss record (10-5) compared to his prior award-winning year when his record wasn’t nearly as good (13-12). And we know that wins don’t matter to us in pitcher evaluation, but let’s not ignore their effect on the Baseball Writers that select award winners. Felix isn’t the only pitcher with good peripherals. Jered Weaver and David Price have good peripherals and 15 wins each. Chris Sale has good peripherals and 14 wins (though perhaps also a dead arm).
But Felix put his name back in the hat today. In fact, he tied the slip of paper with his name on it to a rock and threw a 96 mile per hour fastball into the hat with his name attached. Matt Harrison’s name literally flew out of the hat and back to Texas when Felix threw his name back into the hat. Literally.
I don’t know if Felix will win the Cy Young, and I don’t know if he deservers it. He’s certainly building one hell of a platform the second half of the season though.
Today was a great historic moment in a season that has left much to be desired. There may be cynics who call Felix’s talents wasted on a bad team. Fuck those cynics. Felix is an amazing pitcher, and I still can’t believe how amazing it was to watch him close out his perfect game live on television. The amount of deflation I felt after Philip Humber dealt a perfecto to the Mariners earlier is eclipsed two fold by the elation of watching Felix pump his fist on the mound at Safeco Field after his own. Today was cinematic, and I’m glad I got to see it.