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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Posnanski: Cain Perfection

[Matt Cain] has been the perfect antithesis to his pitching partner Tim Lincecum: While Lincecum has been spectacular, Cain has been steady; while Lincecum has been been quirky, Cain has been steady; while Lincecum has been mercurial, Cain has been steady; while Lincecum has led the league in strikeouts three times and won two Cy Young Awards, Cain has been steady; while Lincecum has been goofy and quotable and out there, Cain has been steady…

My favorite Cain quote—not that there are many contenders—happened after the he pitched Game 2 of the World Series in 2010. Someone asked him how he was able to sleep the night before his first World Series start… Cain’s answer was pure Cain: “Close your eyes.” ...

that brings us back to the perfect game and how common it has become. Five (or six) in the last three years—it seems insane. Of course, there are some variables to consider. One, there are about twice as many teams in baseball as there were pre-1960. That means twice as many chances to get perfect games. That’s simple math. Also, the strikeout has gone way up, which affects a lot of things… The perfect game is an amazing achievement, but I suspect much of its rarity has been a mental block, like the four-minute mile. So much has built around the idea of a perfect game. You know: Announcers aren’t supposed to mention it on air, teammates are supposed to stay away from the pitcher, all that hype and superstition and mysticism and whatever. Well, I don’t think it’s like that anymore. It’s still extremely hard to throw a perfect game, but I don’t think anyone buys into the barrier now. You don’t have to be Randy Johnson or [Roy] Halladay to do it—you can be an very good pitcher like Dennis Martinez or David Wells or David Cone or Mark Buehrle or Mike Witt, but you can also be a pitcher who just has it all working on a single day, like Phillp Humber.

The District Attorney Posted: June 14, 2012 at 08:54 PM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: giants, joe posnanski, matt cain, no-hitters, perfect games

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   1. Rants Mulliniks Posted: June 15, 2012 at 08:12 AM (#4157439)
I don't buy the comparison of perfect games to the 4-minute mile. On a track, you're only competing against yourself - from a physical standpoint, the other runners in the race don't have any effect on your performance. You might compare bowling or golf to track, but not baseball.
   2. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 15, 2012 at 08:19 AM (#4157444)
Poz's point about strikeouts is a good one - we know that when the ball is put in play, #### happens. I saw Randy Choate - who hadn't given up an earned run at home since 2010 - get lit up by Boston against Miami the other night, and there must've been three ground balls that could've just as easily been double play grounders as they were singles to the outfield. Add the necessary lack of errors to achieve a perfect game, and it is obvious that the ability to strike out a lot of guys, and minimize the chance of #### happening, is pretty key. Think about it - Cain struck out 14 guys. There were only 13 times when something bad could really happen, and in the two plays where the chance was greatest (the amazing catch in CF, and the harder-than-it-seemed grounder to 3B to end the game), a very strong defensive play saved the day.
   3. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: June 15, 2012 at 08:35 AM (#4157457)
[Matt Cain] has been the perfect antithesis to his pitching partner Tim Lincecum: While Lincecum has been spectacular, Cain has been steady; while Lincecum has been been quirky, Cain has been steady; while Lincecum has been mercurial, Cain has been steady; while Lincecum has led the league in strikeouts three times and won two Cy Young Awards, Cain has been steady; while Lincecum has been goofy and quotable and out there, Cain has been steady…
Plus, Cain's video game avatar always wears a towel.
   4. zack Posted: June 15, 2012 at 10:12 AM (#4157538)
I don't buy the comparison of perfect games to the 4-minute mile. On a track, you're only competing against yourself - from a physical standpoint, the other runners in the race don't have any effect on your performance. You might compare bowling or golf to track, but not baseball.


That's not strictly true in the mid- and long-distance events. You need at least one, probabluy two, other fast guys in the race to run out in front.
   5. Rants Mulliniks Posted: June 15, 2012 at 12:57 PM (#4157813)
You need at least one, probabluy two, other fast guys in the race to run out in front.


Yeah, I wasn't considering the impact of drafting.
   6. Nasty Nate Posted: June 15, 2012 at 01:05 PM (#4157823)
In some ways, Cain has had a similar career arc to Sabathia. They both started very young, cut down on their walks as they aged, and never miss a start.

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