I have this nagging, unwelcome, unpleasant feeling about baseball right now, and I can’t swear it would be any different if my periodontist hadn’t thrown cut fastballs at my mouth for two hours on Thursday.
This crummy feeling is stupid, and I’m going to write some words down now, to try and pull myself out of it.
There’s not really a good reason to be sad about Yu Darvish’s latest near-miss.
I think I was in a multi-day funk when Al Oliver and Buddy Bell went a combined 0 for 3 in the 1980 All-Star Game, too.
It’s about wins.
It’s all about wins.
It’s not about All-Star games or batting averages or Rookie of the Year results or no-hitters.
And Texas 8, Boston 0 was a spectacular win. A thorough taking down of the reigning World Champs, a May baseball beating of the highest order, with lots of offense, and three hours of majestic, special, breathtaking artistry painted on a canvas that stretched across the 60 feet and six inches between one slab of rubber and the other.
It was, what, one of the ten greatest Texas Ranger pitching performances I’ve seen?
How can I be upset about it? What sense does it make to feel even a little sad?
Yeah, maybe Alex Rios cost Yu Darvish a bit of baseball history. And an extra nine pitches. And another matchup with David Ortiz in the ninth that probably wouldn’t have happened if Rios had properly called Rougned Odor off the ball in the seventh.
But that’s baseball, and baseball is about wins, and we got one of those and that’s the best you can do.
At least as far as the bottom line is concerned.
To that point, on some levels baseball is about number one pitchers, and we got one of those and that’s the best you can do, and I think back to that December 7, 2011 afternoon at the Hilton Anatole in Dallas, where Jon Daniels and Thad Levine and A.J. Preller and Don Welke and Josh Boyd spent three hours making a case, in front of Ray Davis and other members of Rangers ownership, for an unprecedented posting bid on the young Nippon Ham righthander. And then drove to Fort Worth the same day, to repeat the pitch to Bob Simpson.
Thank goodness for all that went into that, and came out of it.
I care less about whether there’s thought and discussion today that lead the official scorer to tear up the existing E-9 ruling than whether there’s thought and discussion underway that lead an organization and its ace to tear up his existing contract and replace it with a lengthier one, rewarding both sides.
Sure, I wish Darvish went 27 up, 27 down last night. Of course I do. But not as much as I wish Wash had put Endy in for defense 926 days ago, in the penultimate game the Texas Rangers played before Yu Darvish arrived. And if you give me the choice: last night’s result and wins in the next eight straight against Boston, Houston, and Toronto, or a perfect game and wins in only five of the next eight, I’ll take the win streak.
There were 293 one-on-one confrontations in last night’s game, and Texas won most of them, enough to give them the nod as far as the one ultimate outcome goes. That’s what matters.
There are lots of fascinating notes to come out of the game, from the Rangers’ league-leading shutout total, to Darvish’s league-leading volume of recent bids for perfection, to his transcendent strikeout totals, to the reassuring results in his starts following a 120-plus-pitch effort. Plus FanGraphs writer David Golebiewski pointing out that Darvish’s “Game Score” (under the Bill James definition) of 92 last night was actually higher than the average for all recorded no-hitters in big league history.
But that’s more numbers. More content for the record books and the pregame clips.
Texas won the ballgame, handily, thanks in very large part to one of the greatest performances ever turned in by one of the greatest pitchers in baseball.
It was pretty much a perfect game, even if not according to the rulebook definition.