Hey A-Rod, who's this Dallas Braden guy? You might want to pay a little more attention now. Less than a week after the verbal volleying restarted in Braden and A-Rod's mound-crossing incident, Braden made a little statement.
With his grandma in the stands, Braden tossed a perfect game- the 19th in major league history and the second time in two years the Rays have been on the wrong side of a perfect game- on Mother's Day. Braden's mom passed away when he was in high school and his grandma has always been the most important figure in his life. After Braden gave the crowd of 12,228 a scare by running the count to 3-1 with two outs in the ninth inning, he calmly induced a groundball to shortstop Cliff Pennington who took care of the final out.
Daric Barton pumped his fist after catching the final out at first and met an ecstatic Braden between the mound and first base. The two embraced as the rest of the team streamed off the field and out of the dugout to envelope Braden in glorious hugs. By the time Braden made it out of the crowd of his teammates and hugged his coaches, his grandma had made her way down to the field. Braden pointed to section 209- the Stockton area code, where he grew up and still resides- before embracing his grandma with a scene that drew tears from eyes. I'll admit it, I still well up when I re-watch the scene of the two entangled and crying, Braden's grandma loudly sobbing with happiness and what one can only imagine as great love and pride.
Two thoughts on the last at-bat:
- Braden sure seemed composed on the final pitch, even though he was one ball away from walking Kapler and losing the perfect game. It appeared, though, that Braden just threw the ball over the plate. Kind of wound up and just made sure the ball went over for a strike. I can't imagine Landon Powell (who caught a great game) letting Braden go with anything else in that situation. Braden's mantra had to be, "Here's the ball, get a hit if you can, but you're going to have to earn it."
- How nervous is Pennington at short? What's racing through his mind? I bet in the two seconds the ball took to reach him, Pennington was praying for no tricky hops. Then, he fielded it cleanly- but he has a history of being just a little wild with his cannon- and he still had the throw to make. Luckily, no double-clutches or anything and Braden didn't have to hate Pennington for life.
Back to A-Rod. During this whole back-and-forth A-Rod has repeatedly stated that Braden is a nobody who should essentially shut up because if the Yankees would have tried they could easily wipe away the A's. Uh-huh, the Yankees just don't try some games since they're that cool. Well, A-Rod, start learning what A's fans already know. Dallas Braden might not be a CY Young candidate, but he's someone who deserves the respect of the league. I think Braden's grandma stated it perfectly: "STICK IT A-ROD."
Congratulations to Dallas Braden for the game of his life. Let's see how A-Rod responds.