Something changed last night for Felix Hernandez
I remember it like it was yesterday. The date was August 15, 2012, and Don and I were doing the show when a buzz started in the newsroom.
People started gathering around the TV mounted on the wall. That’s usually not a good sign. Was there a school shooting? Maybe a plane went down? Or something worse.
I went outside the on-air booth to see what was going on and people were watching the Mariners game. Turned out that Felix Hernandez had a perfect game going into the latter innings.
If you’re not a big sports fan, a perfect game is a very big deal. There had been close to 200,000 games played in Major League Baseball history, and up to that point, there had been 22 perfect games thrown. This was a rare situation. A perfect game happens 0.0001 percent of the time.
Don and I had a little chat and said, we should break in and carry the play-by-play on our show if he makes it to the 9th inning. We double checked with our program director, and he said, “Do it.”
When the 9th inning came around, the perfect game was still intact. Don explained what we were doing and then we listened as Rick Rizzs make the call. Felix pitched the 23rd perfect game in the history of baseball. It’s an important memory for me as a lifelong sports fan.
Most likely, the Felix Hernandez era as a starting pitcher came to an end last night as he was rocked by the Texas Rangers. Things usually end badly for professional athletes. Their mind tells them they can still do it. And they can do it, up until the point when their body betrays them.
I never begrudge an athlete for staying too long. They will never have the chance again. Make them rip the uniform off as far as I’m concerned.
I know King Felix made a lot of money in his career. If he was smart with his money, he should be set for life. But I’m still bummed that he never got to pitch in a meaningful playoff game for the Mariners. He never got to face off in a championship situation at the peak of his powers. That’s too bad because he may have Hall of Fame credentials. We’ll have to wait and see.
I’m not saying that I know for sure that this is the end of the line for Felix. Stranger things have happened.
But I am sure that it will never be the same.
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