For the typical 40-year-old male, the perfect workday would likely consist of sneaking into the office an hour late without the boss noticing, looking at Internet porn all morning, taking a three-hour early lunch (with martinis), and ducking out of the office early for a round of golf. For 40-year-old Arizona Diamondbacks pitcher Randy Johnson, perfection came in a more dignified manner. On Tuesday, May 18, Johnson faced 27 Atlanta Braves and retired them all to record only the 17th perfect game in baseball history. The imposing 6-foot, 10-inch lefty nicknamed "The Big Unit" didn't just dominate the Braves, he humiliated them by striking them out 13 times with a variety of fastballs and curveballs that danced over the outside and inside corners of the plate. Baseball is one of the few sports in which an athlete can achieve absolute perfection, and to do so at an age when most players are retired is nothing short of phenomenal.
Golf is about the farthest thing from perfection there is. Technically, in order to achieve perfection in golf one would have to shoot 18 through 18 holes. To give you an idea of just how unattainable that score is, Tiger Woods' record for a low round at his home course of Isleworth is a 59 (it would have been a 57 had he not lipped out two eagle putts). Shooting in the 50s is just about unheard of in golf, unless there's a PlayStation 2 involved. Golf is the worst sport someone with an obsessive-compulsive disorder could play, as there's no perfection to be found. No matter how far or accurately one hits the ball during a round, the ball could have always gone a little farther or a little straighter. A PGA golfer is lucky if he shoots a single hole in one during four rounds of a tournament, let alone 18 of them during one round. Thus, perfection is never going to be achieved in the sport of kings, known to us peasants as golf.
Can perfection be found in football? That's debatable. A quarterback can indeed achieve a perfect quarterback rating by throwing all completions and no interceptions, but is that a "perfect" game? Not if those passes were supplemented by a running game that allowed the quarterback to avoid throwing the ball on certain downs. For perfection to be executed in football, a quarterback would have to throw the ball on each and every down for a completion, with every play resulting in a touchdown. On the defensive side, a player could be considered perfect if and only if he was involved in every tackle, forcing a fumble and recovering it on each play. A field goal kicker can go 4 for 4, thus giving him a success rate of 100 percent. But is that perfection? Whether it is or not is irrelevant, as kickers are used so infrequently that they simply don't factor into the equation of perfection. Plus, they have funny European names and often injure themselves after celebrating a good kick. Lo siento, Gramatica.
In basketball, it is extremely rare to see a player go through an entire game without missing a field goal or free throw. However, even if he does, so what? If he dishes off the rock for a pass even once, that's not perfection. To be considered perfect, a roundballer would have to chuck it up (and make the goal) every time he touched the ball, and that's just not going to happen. Plus, he would also have to grab every potential rebound and block every shot on the defensive end. As good as Orlando Magic superstar Tracy McGrady (at least as of the writing of this column) was last year, I don't think we'll be seeing him achieve this feat anytime soon. Even Wilt Chamberlain, the only player to ever score 100 points in a game, missed his share of shots.
Would a one-punch knockout in boxing be considered the perfect fight? Not for those who bet on the KO victim or the countless millions at home who ordered the fight on pay-per-view.
No, the only other sport besides baseball in which a participant could ascend to the heights of perfection would be bowling. In fact, bowling a 300 game is as perfect as sporting perfection gets. If, every time a bowler rolls his ebony ball at those white pins (with red necks, no less) he knocks them all down, and if he puts together 12 of these strikes in a row, there's absolute perfection: the 300 game. Some bowlers get a ring for such a feat, some get their names on a pennant at their local bowling alley, but one thing is for sure: They all have a gut and a mullet.
Randy Johnson also sports the mullet hairstyle, which may or may not give him Samson-like qualities. He is the only pitcher over 40 years old to ever retire all 27 batters he faced during nine innings of baseball, thus giving him a perfect game. But wait, is this really perfect? Wouldn't a perfect game for a pitcher mean that he would strike out each and every batter? Or perhaps a better model of efficiency would be getting every batter to swing at the first pitch he faced, and popping it up to the pitcher who would then catch the ball for the out. 27 batters, 27 pitches. That would indeed be perfection. Until that mission is accomplished, I suppose baseball perfection has yet to be seen either. In attempting to show how impressive Randy Johnson's perfect game was, it seems that I've inadvertently debunked the theory that he indeed threw a perfect game.
Apparently, bowling is the only sport in which one can be perfect. But is it a sport? It's played in an air-conditioned alley and you can drink and smoke while you play! Yeah, in my world that's definitely a sport. And a perfect one, to boot.