i left a perfect game early and that’s just fine

There is a great scene in “Good Will Hunting” where the soon-to-be Academy Award winning Robin Williams explains the first time he met his wife. He knew the actual date. The bar. What she was wearing. 

With his grizzly beard he explains the moment intensely to Matt Damon’s character, who can’t believe that Williams would leave one of the most epic baseball games in the history of the sport to have a drink with his future wife. 

"Wow… Woulda been nice to catch that game, though. 

I didn’t know Pudge was gonna hit a homer.”

Enter Wednesday night. TaylorMade, a golf company that is having the golf equivalent of the iPod boom right now for Apple, hosted some journalists at AT&T Park for a pre-game golf event where a six-time PGA Tour winner hit drivers over right field into the bay and members of both teams oohed and awed as his balls consistently traveled over 330 yards. It was really impressive and fun to watch, and after, we got wined and dined. We were at the ballpark at 4:00 PM. The game started at 7:15 PM. I had already spent a few hours at AT&T Park the night before, and to be honest, I fucking hate baseball. 

It isn’t anything about the game. I think baseball is beautiful and strategic and wonderful. But I just don’t care about it anymore. I don’t watch games on TV. I go to a few Diamondabacks games each year because one of my best friends can get us tickets and I enjoy that friend immensely. But I … I just don’t really like watching the game (and this is really something going from a golf writer).

But you know the rest of the story. Matt Cain took a perfect game into the fifth, and then into the seventh, and then into the ninth. I was on a bus back to my hotel when he retired the Astros in the eighth, and I sprinted out of the bus about six blocks from my hotel so I could catch the last inning. 

See, that’s the thing. I will never let myself live down the fact that I left a perfect game, but in the same sense, I still got to see it. I watched the last inning in a bar with a ton of baseball fans, and while the energy level was a glass of tap water compared to the 64 oz. Monster that was AT&T Park, I still got to see history. Yes, it is a watered-down version, but history is history. 

Never for a moment did I hope he wouldn’t do it. I’ve heard from some others that left early that they were rooting for a hit because they didn’t want to have to deal with missing such a monumental achievement. I never did. That isn’t me. 

Why didn’t I? Because baseball fans that really, really love the game deserved to see that in person. There were 30,000 people at that park that will relish in that moment for months to come. They’ll frame the ticket. They’ll tell their kids about where they were doing this inning or how high they jumped when Gregor Blanco made that improbable catch. It’ll be a moment most will never forget.

And for me? I’ll have my little “Good Will Hunting” story. Anytime someone takes a perfect game into the seventh, and I’m frosting my top lip with an IPA, I can tell the stranger next to me about my brainless decision years ago about how I broke the cardinal fucking rule of baseball viewing; “don’t leave a game until a pitcher gives up his first hit.”

There is really only one way to put this in baseball terms that make sense. On Wednesday, I was scored as E-10.