Home > Uncategorized > Dallas Braden Turns From Abrasive, Confrontational Pitcher To A Sympathetic Figure As MLB Man Of The Moment

Dallas Braden Turns From Abrasive, Confrontational Pitcher To A Sympathetic Figure As MLB Man Of The Moment

In baseball, momentum is only as good as the next day’s starting pitcher. In the case of Dallas Braden, reputation can be made over in one performance.

On Sunday, Dallas Braden went from being known as that guy who A-Rod has a beef with to rightfully mentioned in the same sentence as Randy Johnson, Cy Young, Dennis Martinez and Sandy Koufax.

I didn’t have a problem with his protection of his mound when Alex Rodriguez trotted over it on April 22. Slamming his glove into the dugout after the on-field shouting match was a tad much, but a pitcher should feel like he owns the mound the same way a batter should feel at the plate.

It was all the overtime stuff that really made Braden look bad. No matter if he was asked the question, there was no reason for him to rehash the situation nearly two weeks afterward. Rodriguez didn’t do himself any favors by acting as if he was more important than Braden. At least he refused to bring the issue up again, but he should have found a better reason than he just didn’t want to “extend [Braden’s] 15 minutes of fame.”

Both players acted like jerks in their own way, but Rodriguez’s reputation among fans is solidly established. We know he’s not a role model. He’s moody, he’s a cheater, we got that. Whatever A-Rod had to say about this mound fiasco didn’t present new feelings for anyone toward him. He is who he is.

But Dallas Braden is a different story.

Sure, many people know of him. I know of him. I have for a few years, but that’s because I follow baseball. He didn’t really become a known figure until a couple of weeks ago. And on that stage, he came off as passionate and emotional about the game, but as the days went by and he kept resuscitating the argument, he came off as very abrasive and someone who was looking for a fight. That was Braden’s first impression for many people.

Well, you can pretty much forget about that. The beauty of Braden’s short, unknown tenure in the league is that he can change how people view him as a player and as a person with one heartwarming act . We saw that happen on Sunday but it had nothing to do with getting batters out.

After his perfect domination of the Tampa Bay Rays, Braden displayed many different kinds of strong emotions, but they weren’t one of aggression and anger. He pointed to the sky in honor of his mother who died of cancer while he was in high school. He saluted those in stadium section 209 — his hometown area code — where he bought tickets for family and friends. And then, for the scene that will be remembered forever, Braden embraced his grandmother. After accomplishing one of the rarest achievements on Mother’s Day, he openly wept in her arms.

If that scene had played out with Rodriguez as the triumphing player weeping with his grandmother, I don’t think it would have as much impact on his nationwide perception. Obviously, no one’s reputation is ever completely safe. But that’s drastic circumstances.

The fight with A-Rod is forgotten in an instant, at least until the A’s and Yankees meet again. Braden is still viewed as emotional and passionate, but for different, more uplifting reasons now. I guess it doesn’t hurt that he’s also upped his stock as a pitcher about 100 fold.


Of course, it doesn’t seem like Braden’s grandmother is ready to forget about Alex Rodriguez.

A.J. Burnett, that’s good comedic timing.


A couple more things about this perfect game:

There are some things you can’t explain. One of those is how in the world the Tampa Bay Rays have gone 27 up, 27 down in consecutive seasons. If you look at recent victims of perfect games, there are a lot of bad teams of which are being taken advantage. The ’99 Expos, the ’98 Twins, the ’94 Angels. Those teams went a combined 185-284. But this Rays team isn’t just average. Its offense has tremendous ability and has somehow been completely baffled by relatively soft-tossing lefties in back-to-back years. Bartlett, Crawford, Upton, Pena, Longoria, Zobrist. It’s hard to believe this can occur again so quickly with that lineup.

There was about a 10-month separation between this perfect game and Buehrle’s perfecto on July 23, 2009. But that’s nothing. The first two perfect games in major league history occurred four days apart, June 12 and June 17 in 1880.

Oakland has now thrown two perfect games as a franchise, joining the Chicago White Sox. The Yankees and Dodgers have notched three, as have the Indians if you count the one that Addie Joss recorded in 1908 for the Cleveland Naps. The Rays became the third team to be on the wrong end of a perfect game multiple times. The other two teams are the Twins and Dodgers.

Do you feel that we are getting a little spoiled with these perfect games? There have been 19 in the 130+ year history of baseball. But nine of them have come in the past 25 years. To put it in more perspective, there was only one perfect game thrown between October 1908 and October of 1956. In the past 48 years, there have been 13 perfect games

Since 1965, there have been 12 perfect games. A team from California has participated in seven of them.

Gabe Kapler grounded out to shortstop to end this game, much like how Jason Bartlett grounded out to shortstop to complete Mark Buehrle’s perfect game. Unfortunately, the names “Cliff” and “Pennington” doesn’t roll as great as “Alexei” when you scream it.

And while I don’t have the time to look it up right now, I would like to know where Braden’s 17 career wins — pre-perfect game — rank among the other 18. Also, how many of those pitchers pulled the trick while sporting a sub-.500 career record? If someone can’t find them first, I’ll try to inject an update into this post Monday with the answers.

  1. Scott
    May 10, 2010 at 9:02 am

    Murph, this was a Plaschke inspired speech.

  2. Anonymous
    May 13, 2010 at 1:11 pm

    American League regular season wins.

    Mark Buerhle had 132 wins at the time of his perfect game.

    David Cone had 177.

    David Wells had 110.

    Kenny Rogers had 52.

    Mike Witt had 37.

    Len Barker had 33.

    Catfish Hunter had 32.

    Don Larsen had 30.

    Charlie Robertson had 2 wins. Two. Dos. Duex. TWO! Now, he missed like three years because of the first world war, but it still counts.

    Baseball Reference doesn’t have game logs for Cy Young or Addie Joss, and I don’t really feel like finding that out through a simple Google search.

    I’ll do the NL later.

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