I'm a baseball romantic — aggressive baserunning from speedy players like Dee Gordon, Billy Hamilton and Javier Baez, walk-off home runs from sluggers like Chipper Jones and late inning come-back rallies made me fall in love with America's pastime.
My absolute favorite baseball feat, though, is the perfect game. In a sport with, well, a lot of games — a history stretching back to the 1800s — and enough stats to keep even the heaviest statheads happy, only 23 perfect games have been thrown in the Major Leagues.
To accomplish perfection on the mound, a pitcher has to throw for the entire game and sit down 27 consecutive batters without allowing one to reach base on a hit, walk or error.
Stats cannot predict perfection, even for some of the greatest hurlers to ever step on the mound. Nolan Ryan, arguably the greatest pitcher of all time, pitched seven no-hitters, but never threw a perfect game.
The variables are endless — for nine frames, the catcher calls the grip, the pitcher heaves it at his mitt, the batter swings and the fielders make a play. It's a mental task of trying to outguess the other, and for a perfect game to happen, everything has to go right for the player on the mound. All of the guesses from pitcher and hitter, shifts in the field and exhaustion from throwing nine innings worth of balls at the plate build perfection.