Daily Archives: May 9, 2010

More On Dallas Braden’s Perfect Game

Normally I wouldn’t piggyback on Chappy’s post on the same subject, but today’s gem by Dallas Braden is just too significant on too many levels for me to pass up. The obvious part is that he dons the green and gold. I’ve been a lifelong A’s fan and this is the first perfect game by an Athletic in my lifetime. The only other one was Catfish Hunter’s in 1968. It also helps that Braden has been making a lot of noise in the media as a result of his encounter with Alex Rodriguez. While most baseball traditionalists agreed with Braden’s sentiments, many others were asking, “Who is Dallas Braden?” Even A-Rod dusted off Braden’s objections because he “only has a handful of wins.” I get that, but it doesn’t matter who you are at that point. I was hoping that Braden would have a good season to back up his comments a little bit, but I never could have begun to hope for this. I’m pretty sure everyone in baseball knows who he is now.

What many people don’t know – or at least didn’t before today – is Braden lost his mother to cancer in high school. So, to accomplish this feat on Mother’s Day is an amazing tribute. Though, while she wasn’t at the stadium to witness it today, his grandmother was, and he shared an emotional hug with her in front of the dugout after the game. He also had the support of his usual Stockton contingent, or section 209, which is also the area code of Stockton.

Dallas Braden was never supposed to be a factor in the big leagues. He was a 24th round draft pick of the A’s in 2004. I remember seeing his major league debut in 2007. I thought, who is this guy with the flat bill on his cap? He won his first decision, but finished the season with a 1-8 record. When I moved from the Bay Area to Sacramento in the middle of the season, Braden also was sent down to AAA-Sacramento. He wasn’t exactly dominant, but he did show signs of brilliance, in particular when he struck out 17 batters in a game late that season. Over the next season, he looked like he was going to be mired in the minor leagues for life, but he kept working, and there’s one thing you can say about Braden, he’s all business on the field. As a result, Braden has proved over the course of the last season and a half that he belongs. Today though, he proved more than that.

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Dallas ”Get Off My Mound” Braden’s Perfect Mother’s Day

Dallas Braden of the Oakland Athletics isn’t an overpowering pitcher, but as I said in my preview a  month ago, he’s a gamer, and will give you everything he has when you put the ball in his hand. Whenever he’s on the mound he doesn’t back down. He’s already proved that twice this year. He proved that by telling A-Rod to get off his mound. He followed that up today by throwing a perfect game against one of the best teams in the leagues, Tampa Bay. I caught innings six through nine, and he never really looked nervous, just fired up the way he always is. After Kaplar fouled off what felt like 20 pitches in the 6th, Dallas cruised the rest of the way and only fell behind one hitter 3-1 after that. I was strangely confident that he was going to come through while I watched, maybe a little too confident for comfort. The main reason was because he threw a ton of strikes mixing up speeds and locations. He was hitting the target nearly every pitch. Since he’s not overpowering it was truly a masterful performance. Braden is a guy that didn’t seem like he was ever overwhelmed by it on the mound, he just kept dealing with one pitch at a time. He had a ton of friends and family including grandma on hand, as he bought out a lot of section 209 to watch the game. It was the first perfect game in Oakland since Catfish Hunter decades ago. Dave Stewart threw a no hitter in 1990, but there has been nothing since! I’m not sure if the difference was NOT having their normal catcher Kurt Suzuki behind the plate. Instead he had Landon Powell, his catcher he worked with routinely in AAA, and from what I saw he rarely shook off a pitch, so you have to give Powell a little of the credit. The one bad thing about this perfect game is if/when he does bean A-Rod, it will be more obvious because now everyone knows he has great control!