The Mets-Dodgers game tonight was started by two pitchers, Odalis Perez and Pedro Astacio, each with 11 wins and a 3.14 ERA. That's were the similarity ended though. Perez was perfect through 6 1/3 innings. Astacio lasted three innings and allowed eight runs on 12 hits. Needless to say they are no longer tied in those statistics any longer.
Perez lost the perfect game on a controversial 3-2 ball call, walking Rey "Don't Call Me Bork" Ordonez. He then lost the no-hitter and the shutout on a home run to Mike Piazza on the very next pitch. Three pitches later it appeared that John Valentine would follow Piazza with a trot around the diamond, but his ball was caught on the warning track. Perez struck out Mo Vaughn (which has become a description as much as a name) to end the inning. He was then pulled, and mop-up men (that's what Paul Shuey has been reduced to) finished the last two innings.
I think that Perez got a raw deal on the 3-2 ball call to Ordonez. The replay showed that the ball was six inches inside, but it appeared that Rey Must Go took a decent enough hack to be punched up. It seems that typically a player that goes around that much gets called with a swinging strike. Perez, having lost a previous perfect game in the seventh this year, grooved a fastball for Piazza, and that was that. I wonder what would have happened had Ordonez been called out.
By the way, Dave Roberts made a great catch in center, fully extending himself on a shallow fly ball, to preserve the perfect game. He also pulled a triple out of a double in driving in the last two Dodger runs. Not bad for a guy who was two different players by that same name when I was a kid.
Other notes: The Shea faithful chanted "Go on Strike! Go on Strike!" early in the game. The thing that the fans did not realize was that the Mets already had.
The Mets are now in last place in the NL East, a full game behind third-place-tied Florida and Philadelphia. Are they still wild card contenders?
Mets announcers Tom Terrific Seaver and Gary Thorne, to keep awake in this snoozer after the bid for perfection was gone, debated the merits of a two-wild card playoff system. They proposed that the two top non-division-winning teams in each league play a one-game playoff the day after the season ends to determine who advances the next day to the Division Series round. These teams would not, therefore, be so quick to accept the wild card. The teams would have to fly to the site of the team with the better record and play one game, and then the winner would have to fly basically after the game to play the Division Series opponent. It gives the division winners a real advantage and forces the wild card contenders to continue to fight for the division title. It's an interesting idea, but it has some holes. Let's take the NL West this year as an example, the D-Backs have a big lead (8 games). The Dodgers and Giants have been duking it out for the wild card and are now three games apart. Assume that the Astros were further back and LA and San Fran were basically the only two teams fighting for the wild card. What incentive do they have down the stretch if they know that they will face each other in a one-game playoff on the day after the final day of the season? Home field advantage? Doesn't it make more sense to rest your key players and orchestrate your rotation so that you best starting pitcher and best lineup are available for that one-game playoff than to continue to fight for home field? The argument then falls in on itself like a house of cards. The wild card is a too solipsistic. The only way that you can make it less pernicious is to eliminate it altogether. This will be achieved once baseball settles this labor dispute, resumes expanding for quick cash fixes, and realigns with four-division leagues. Unless they expand to another round of playoffs--ugh!