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The Perfect Man For a Perfect Game

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Let me throw a few names at you: Christy Mathewson. Carl Hubbell. Juan Marichal. Gaylord Perry. Tim Lincecum. None of these Giants ever threw a perfect game. Which proves that a perfect game does not a perfect pitcher make -- not even an historically great pitcher. Let me throw a few other names at you: Len Barker. Philip Humber. Dallas Braden. Tom Browning. Dennis Martinez.

Matt Cain might end up part of the first group, and he might end up part of the second. But tonight, momentary perfection confirms our most loving biases: Matt Cain threw a perfect game because he is Matt Cain. If you're peeking in from the outside, that might seem ridiculously parochial. But consider a pitcher who has quietly endured some of the most historic lack of support in the game's history. Not just for a year, but year after year. Consider a kid whose skills never fit into the sabermetric box of goodness -- so many fly balls, so few home runs, must be lucky, ergo he's bound to regress -- and delayed the recognition he's been due for a long time. As good old Dusty might have said, Dude can pitch.

Retiring 27 Houston Astros in a row on a cool night in a friendly yard doesn't prove anything, except that a guy with a hammer for an arm and a deep, cool reservoir inside can make baseball history with a little luck and a little help from his fast friends. Line drives to the warning track end up in gloves, squibbers to third end up as outs. So random. The perfect game is a night of loopy, dramatic perfection. But the years and years and years prove Matt Cain's, well, mattcainness. Tonight wasn't the proof, it was the reward.

Thank you, Matt Cain. You deserve it.

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