May 29 was an insanely full sports day, but arguably third on the list was Roy Halladay's perfect game against the Florida Marlins. Third. A perfect game.
It's the second perfecto this season. A's pitcher Dallas Braden also threw one, and Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez threw but a piddly no-hitter (he WALKED BATTERS!) earlier in the season. We haven't seen two perfect games in a season — let alone 20 days apart — since 1880. And we were a little younger back then; we were too naive to think games like this would never be rare, and we also tried our damnedest to keep Negroes out of the starting lineup.
But now it's 2010, and we're a more reasoned society. (A man of color is even president. Neat, huh?) We have forgotten, however, how to throw more complete games, but Halladay does the work nobody else wants to do, firing his third complete game shutout of the season. The rest of the league has 13. And yet we've got three no-hitters before June.
This is strange.
1990-1991 was a golden era for no-hitters. There were 13 of 'em in two seasons … but just one perfect game (Dennis Martinez). However, most of them came during the summer. In neither of those seasons did three no-nos occur before June 1. We haven't seen that spirit here since 1969, when three of six no-hitters were on the scorecards by May 1.
(Funny thing about '69. That was the year they lowered the mound to give batters an advantage. And yet the no-hitter frequency shot up, including one two-game series in which the Reds and Astros no-hit each other on consecutive days.)
But here's the real aberration: nobody throws complete games anymore. Halladay's perfect game marked the 50th CG of the year. Fifty. Out of 1482 starts. With about three percent of all starts going the distance, compare that with the '69 year when 25 percent of all starts didn't require bullpen assistance. Then again, statistics deviate for a reason: they didn't experiment enough in college.
But cheers to ESPN for airing the final inning of Halladay's masterpiece, because we've gone years (and decades) between perfect games. Who knows when we're going to see another one? Probably next week.