KANSAS CITY — Upon seeing the final out, a load roar boomed from the big room inside of the visitors clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium. And smiles permeated several faces on the Oakland Athletics, many of whom had gathered around the TVs to watch a game being played nearly 2,000 miles away. Collectively, they seemed pretty happy to watch another team's ace, Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners, throw the 23rd perfect game in Major League Baseball history Wednesday afternoon.
"Now let's go get us one of those. All right, Big Mac!" A's outfielder Jonny Gomes said, looking over at teammate Brandon McCarthy, Oakland's starting pitcher for their game against the Royals later on. (Does that count as a jinx, two hours before the game? Because the Royals' first batter of the game, Alex Gordon Jarrod Dyson, singled to right field.)
The A's did have a dog in the hunt, so to speak — they're probably going to be jockeying with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Mariners' opponent, for a spot in the AL playoffs come September. But that's not what this was. This was just a bunch of guys watching a ballgame on TV, cheering on history — and maybe feeling happy for an ex-teammate or two. A lot of major league clubhouses probably offered similar scenes.
On a related note, here's video of the Jackson (Tenn.) Generals — Seattle's Class AA minor league team — celebrating on the field as King Felix gets the job done (H/N: SB Nation). One of the Generals is Moises Hernandez, a brother of Hernandez. (What is the royal succession, anyway?)
Gomes, not surprisingly, had been boisterous in the ninth inning as the tension built for Hernandez.
• Mocking indignation on every close pitch: "He's squeezing him!"
• Tossing out declarations about unwritten rules and no-hitters that Bob Brenly and Curt Schilling would appreciate: "If someone tried to bunt on me, I'd just forget the ball and go tackle the [so-and-so]."
If Gomes wasn't the class clown growing up, surely he sat next to the class clown and studied him.
As Dave Sims described the action on the M's broadcast, other A's players did impressions of Will Ferrell doing Harry Caray doing play by play. (Unless they were doing impressions of Ryan Dempster doing Ferrell doing Caray doing play by play.)
Gomes and A's reliever Grant Balfour have Rays connections, one of which is being former teammates of Mariners catcher John Jaso, who found himself on the receiving end of history.
And several of the A's were on the field when their own pitcher, lefty Dallas Braden, tossed a perfect game in 2010. Oakland's Cliff Pennington joked that perfect games were becoming too common. And it's true, in a way: Hernandez's perfecto is the sixth since Mark Buehrle's in 2009. Before Buehrle's, the previous perfect game had come in 2004, and the one before that came in 1999.
Perfectos won't come around this frequently forever. You've got to cheer on history while you can.