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Easily Watching Matt Cain’s Perfect Game

by mgluskin

Who hasn’t thrown a no-hitter or perfect game yet this year?

Less than three months into the season, the baseball world has already tallied three no-hitters and two perfect games, thanks to Matt Cain’s gem last night. This is only the third time ever in MLB history – and twice in the last three seasons – that pitchers have hurled two perfect games in one year. (And yes, I know, that’s all I seem to write about.)

While no-hitters are cool, perfect games have a special aura about them. According to baseball-reference.com, a site we wrote about earlier this week, there have been 275 no-hitters in baseball history, with just 22 of those being perfect games.

As a baseball junkie, I love watching highlights from these games, and I needed to do that after Cain’s game since west coast baseball ends way past my bedtime. Thankfully, the folks at MLB.com always package all 27 outs of a no-hitter or perfect game into a tidy video that perfectly encapsulates a pitcher’s perfection.

Five minutes later, I had witnessed the game and history (this was the first perfect game for the Giants’ franchise). Those five minutes were packed with just the outs, except for two replays of Gregor Blanco’s incredible catch to lead off the 7th inning; not only does this catch rival DeWayne Wise’s perfect game-saving catch from 2009, but the replays allow you to appreciate just how much ground Blanco covered before extending to snare the ball.

Fans who want to watch games this way aren’t even missing much of the action. A Wall Street Journal report from 2010 calculated that only 14 minutes of the average baseball game broadcast feature live action. The rest is composed of players standing around, dugout shots, crowd views and replays, among other things.

Although watching this way cheapens part of the lore and romance of baseball – its deliberate, methodical pace; its strategic pitch sequences; its chess match between managers – it’s inarguable that it’s a time-saver.

The beauty of the Cain five-minute clip (click the picture below to watch) is that by watching, you can still sense the crowd’s enthusiasm and anticipation of every at-bat. Some no-hit crowds seem to notice in the sixth inning as they nudge their neighbor ever so slightly and point to the scoreboard (so as not to jinx anything), but the San Franciscans began to feel it in the third or fourth inning. There are also a couple of moments when they collectively hold their breath, biting their nails in nervousness, as they pray for their fielders to make the play.

Spoiler alert: they always do.

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