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From perfect games to perfect messes, you can't get away from baseball soap opera


Of the 21 perfect games in MLB history, three (13 percent) of them have come in 2012. (Getty Images)  
Of the 21 perfect games in MLB history, three (13 percent) of them have come in 2012. (Getty Images)  

Go away for a few days, geez, and the world turns upside down.

Terry Ryan is leaving the Twins for Mitt Romney's campaign? Is this what I'm hearing? Reception was a little grainy up there in the mountains.

Romney unveiled his vice presidential choice, a guy named Ryan from Janesville, Wis. I know a guy named Ryan from Janesville, and he's the Minnesota Twins' general manager. Janesville is a small place in southern Wisconsin, population of roughly 63,000.

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How many Ryans can there be, anyway?

"We decided to get together in Jefferson Park to see how many of us there were," Tobin Ryan, older brother of VP candidate Paul Ryan, told the Janesville Gazette. "We ended up with something like 65 of us. In a four-square-block area, I think we have 45."

Must be fun to deliver the mail there.

So I checked with the Twins. Terry Ryan must be at least a cousin of Paul Ryan's, right?

"Looking into it," the Twins said, and that's the last I heard, and that was a few days ago.

With some 65 Ryans in Janesville, I'm giving the Twins' Vice President of Family Trees some room to breathe before I check back.

"Concrete [Bill] Ryan, his son Terry Ryan of the Minnesota Twins and all the rest are somehow related," Tobin Ryan told the Gazette.

Judging from what I've read about Paul Ryan's well-disciplined budgets, I'm guessing it's a slam dunk. The way Terry Ryan made those numbers dance while working on a shoestring under late Twins owner Carl Pohlad all those years, I can close my eyes and picture Paul taking notes across Cousin Terry's desk. ...

Anyway, it wasn't like I left for a month. Wasn't even like I left the country. I simply checked out for a few days post-trade deadline and pre-stretch run, high-tailing it up into the mountains to actually do normal things like, you know, spend some time with my wife and daughter without checking the scoreboard and Twitter every 30 seconds.

And next thing I know, someone tells me that the Mariners' Felix Hernandez had thrown the third perfect game of the season. Like that had any real chance of happening.

Then someone told me he did it against the Rays, and I snapped to attention.

"I'd call it a fluke," Tampa Bay's Evan Longoria was saying Thursday, noting that there have only been 21 perfect games in modern big-league history, so that means that 13 percent of them have come in 2012.

You want to know what's a fluke, somebody told Longoria: That also means that 13 percent of those have come against the Rays, now perfect-game victims in 2012 (Hernandez), 2010 (the Athletics' Dallas Braden) and 2009 (the White Sox's Mark Buehrle).

Really, now. Honk if you haven't tossed a perfecto at Tampa Bay.

"Only pattern I can see is all three have been away games, and all have been day games," said Ben Zobrist, who, along with Longoria and B.J. Upton, has been in Joe Maddon's lineup for all three of those games.

Though, as several Rays noted, there is one other pattern, too.

"We were saying after the game that we've made the playoffs every time it's happened before," Zobrist said.

"Sometimes, I think this team is just dumb enough to forget the things we need to forget to propel us to where we need to be," Longoria said.

"Not the kind of legacy you want as an offensive player," Zobrist added (referring to being held hitless, not being described as witless).

Know what else isn't the kind of legacy hitters seek? Ask the Giants. We had barely descended from the mountaintop when I learned San Francisco's best hitter has been suspended for failing a performance-enhancing drug test, thereby threatening to derail the Giants' NL West title run. A little late, I figured, but, hey. It's been a long time coming for Barry Bonds.

Bonds? No. Cabrera. Melky Cabrera. Shaken and stirred, then iced for 50 games for failing a performance-enhancing drug test.

Man is it confusing, and exhausting, attempting to unplug from the world for a few days.

How bad will this hurt the Giants? Let's remember that GM Brian Sabean claimed Cody Ross in August (2010), off waivers from the Marlins. So just because the trade deadline has passed doesn't mean rounding up another reinforcement is hopeless.

But as a longtime American League scout was saying Thursday night, with everybody and their cousin (whether the name is Ryan or not) thinking they're in the race in this Season of the Second Wild Card, good luck to the Giants getting anybody remotely helpful.

Then, there's Boston. And please do not repeat what I'm about to tell you. But remember that part about taking a few days off so I could spend some time with my wife and daughter, un-Twittered? That was, how shall I put this, let's see, it was ... a gross distortion of the facts.

Truth be told, I put in for some time off because of this: I simply had to get away ... from the Red Sox.

Oh. My. Goodness. I just couldn't take it anymore. And I knew that no matter how long I stayed away, I still couldn't out-run 'em. And I was right. Now there was a meeting, and the players maybe wanted Bobby Valentine fired, but the players say they didn't, and the owners say no way he will be fired during the season and I haven't seen a group this unlikeable since Mean Girls.

Red Sox icon Johnny Pesky passed away while I was gone, and as classy a moment as there's been all summer inside Fenway Park occurred at a concert, of all things, when they flashed an old black-and-white photo of Pesky on the big video board and Bruce Springsteen had his people train the spotlight on the right-field foul pole in remembrance. Pesky's Pole. Perfect.

First thing I thought of when I got the news was of Pesky in the Sox clubhouse in St. Louis in October, 2004, after Boston won its first World Series in 88 years. To know what that moment meant to New England, all you had to do that night was look at Pesky.

And to think, that group and this group are wearing the same Boston 'B'. Shame on these Red Sox.

Still, overall it was an excellent vacation. The mountain air was crisp. The scenery was beautiful. The meals were good. I'm refreshed. I'm invigorated.

And I'm in far better shape than Melky Cabrera to handle the stretch run.


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