I was at my senior prom when my phone buzzed with a notification that read: “Sean Manaea no-hitting the Boston Red Sox through 7 innings.” To be blatantly honest, I didn’t think too much of it at first glance. I indiscriminately figured he wouldn’t finish the job, and as a die-hard Red Sox fan who quite literally has the middle name, “Fenway” (thanks Dad), I trusted my team and their red-hot offense.
Fast forward about 30 minutes and I found myself staring at my phone screen — completely unaware of my surroundings — diligently refreshing the box score up until the moment when Hanley Ramirez recorded the final out by grounding to short. Manaea had done it. He tossed a no-hitter against a team who was off to a historical 17-2 start that was driven by their high-powered offense.
Like most baseball fans, I was rightfully shocked. At the time, Boston was leading the league in nearly every offensive category, including hits! To prove it wasn’t a fluke offensively, the Red Sox went out the next day and apathetically managed to stumble across only one run, which happened in the 7th inning off a Brock Holt RBI double. As a self-proclaimed Red Sox homer, I was disappointed with the lackluster performances. But it did remind me, as it should remind everyone else, why I/we love the game of baseball so damn much.
Baseball is a game of flaws and imperfections. It has never been made out to be more than that. The idea of perfection as defined by a statistic, a perfect game, has only been done 23 times. Since the MLB was founded in 1869, there have been approximately 214,000 games played. But again, the idea of perfection in a single game has only been achieved 23 times. This implies a clear-cut reminder that a perfect season will never be played by a team or a player.
The Boston Red Sox, although only for a short period of time, looked unbeatable. That, of course, proved not to be the case. They showed that they’re vulnerable and that they have weaknesses like every other team in the league, and it is time and time again that we see even the best of teams run into walls.Sean Manaea's improbable no-hitter against the 17-2 Red Sox reminded us of what makes baseball the lovable sport it is.Click To Tweet
In 1906, the Chicago Cubs set the all-time record for wins in a single season by going 116-36; a record that still stands today. They, however, lost in the World Series. More recently In 2001, the Seattle Mariners, whom were led by future Hall-of-Famers Ichiro Suzuki and Edgar Martinez, matched that amount of wins by going 116-46. They had a similar fate and lost in the ALCS. The Third Law of Gravity states that what goes up, must come down. And while I don’t believe that Isaac Newton was referring to baseball or any other sport when he theorized the concept, I think it is safe to say that it applies here. Any team that finds themselves with their head in the clouds will eventually come back down to Earth. This applies to every single sport, and history speaks for itself.
What makes baseball so much different than every other sport, however, is that on each pitch, on each swing, on each put-out, the opportunity for a game-defining moment lies in the seams of the baseball. There is only one unit of scoring, which can only be achieved by a 360-foot journey around the bases, all while the offense’s aspirations lie in the hands of the pitcher. Baseball is unlike any other. It makes it practically impossible to be perfect even for just a moment. There is a reason it has been and always will be America’s timeless pastime.
To look on the other side of things, Sean Manaea deserves all the credit in the world for his exceptional performance. The Boston Red Sox were 17-2 coming into that game in Oakland against him, and were coming off an eight-game win streak in which they had outscored opponents 60-16. But he completely and utterly shut them down over nine innings of absolute dominance and reminded us that there are no perfect playing teams even in the midst of their own ostensible invincibility. Instead at the very most, there are great teams: and at that, great teams with lots of flaws and lots of imperfections.
Manaea threw a hell of a game, and although he did come up two walks short of a perfect game, I think it is more than appropriate that despite his memorable performance he came up just short of perfection. Nobody truly loves anything for its so-called perfection, but instead for its fallible nature, its imperfections, and all that comes with that, whether it be towards another human-being, a job, or baseball.
Baseball is imperfect. And maybe this is tacky, and maybe it’s a commonplace remark, but we like it like that.