Was Friday Night's Angels Game The "Greatest" Ever Played?

Two pitchers, wearing uniform No. 45, in tribute to Tyler Skaggs, combined to pitch a no-hitter against Seattle

Hyperbole gets tossed around like chicken feed these days and it’s easy to get caught up in the exaggeration of our lives and times.

Words like “greatest” and “incredible” and “unbelievable” are often overused and misappropriated, especially in sports, used by announcers and writers for ratings and clicks to enhance their own existence and self-importance.

If I’m here, well, that MUST have been the greatest infield single ever recorded.

Brent Musburger is guilty as charged of doing this, in a mostly benign, fun, convivial, Las Vegas, over-under odds sort of way--but he’s hardly alone.

I used to get caught looking early in my career, before learning later, even on deadline, to take one deep breath of context before diving like Grantland Rice into my keyboard.

Where, really, should the bar be set?

Somewhere along the way, a “quality start” for a pitcher in baseball became six innings with three earned runs (or less) allowed.

“Quality start?” Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan once chuckled to me over the phone. “In those days (the 1970s), if I had pitched only six innings and gave up three runs I had a bad outing.”

Pitchers today can earn millions by just reaching the sixth inning.

All that said, Friday night’s meeting of the L.A. Angels and Seattle Mariners in Anaheim may have been the most remarkable baseball game ever played.

Forget "may have."

From where I stand, far as I can tell, start to finish, there has never been anything like it—especially in the regular season.

--Kirk Gibson’s home run in 1988 was a show stopper but that was also a World Series game.

--Ted Williams hit a home run in his final at-bat for the Boston Red Sox.

--Babe Ruth hit a home run for sick kid in the hospital.

You may have your own favorite.

Yet, Friday night’s game in Anaheim encapsulated and extracted every ounce of raw, human emotion and sporting drama.

Friday marked the Angels’ first home game since the tragic death of pitcher Tyler Skaggs on July 1.

That fact alone was going inflame a still-open wound.

Then, in the pregame, Tyler’s mother Debbie stepped to the mound to throw out the first pitch.

She tossed a perfect strike to home, caught by Angel pitcher Andrew Heaney, who was Tyler’s best friend.

Open the floodgates.

The Angels, all wearing uniform No. 45 in tribute to their fallen teammate, scored seven runs in the first inning. Seven!

Mike Trout hit a 454-foot home run on the first pitch he saw. That’s 45 forwards and backwards.

The Angels scored seven runs on 13 hits.

Tyler Skaggs would have celebrated his 28th birthday today, July 13. That’s 7-13 on the calendar.

“You can’t make this up,” Trout said after the 13-0 win.

That wasn’t even the half of it.

Two Angel pitchers, Taylor Cole and Felix Pena, both wearing uniform No. 45, toeing the same pitching rubber Skaggs used two Saturdays ago in his final MLB start, combined for a no-hitter.

After the final out, the Angels removed their jerseys and placed them on the mound, then stood behind in a crushing remembrance.

It was a numbing, frankly chilling, scene.

The Seattle Mariners looked on, almost just as moved.

“If you don’t believe in God, you might want to start,” Seattle second-baseman Dee Gordon told reporters after the game.

Three years ago, as a Florida Marlin, Gordon hit a lead-off home run in the first game after teammate Jose Fernandez was killed in a boating accident.

Gordon made the second-to-last out in Friday’s combined no-hitter.

According to StatsbyStats, the last combined no-hitter in the state of California occurred July 13, 1991 in a game between Baltimore and Oakland.

That was the day Tyler Skaggs was born.

Ok, agnostics, heathens, pagans and non-believers, you want to chime in?

Was God really using a baseball game at Anaheim to send a message to the world?

Or was it, simply, a bizarre set of circumstances and coincidences similar to the assassinations of Lincoln and Kennedy.

Lincoln was elected to Congress in 1846, Kennedy in 1946. Both were shot on a Friday, in the head, by killers who used three names. Both presidents had successors named Johnson.

Contrary to urban legend though, while Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln, Lincoln may not have had a secretary named Kennedy.

Still, pretty creepy.

Many Boston Red Sox fans swore the “Curse of the Bambino” kept them from winning the World Series. Now Boston seems to win it every other year.

I don’t know if Dee Gordon is right about God putting his thumb stamp on a Junior Circuit game in the middle-of-July.

I hope it was God.

Yeah, yeah, I got the memo: HE works in mysterious ways.

I only know what I saw Friday and that it was NOT normal. Something very weird happened and I can't explain it.

They made a baseball movie once called “The Natural.”

This was pure fiction, made-up, fabricated.

What happened Friday was Not Natural, maybe Super Natural.

No one can say for certain, but know this: I recorded the game and have no plans of deleting it.

And if you see me at 7 p.m. Mass on Sunday, come by and say "Hi."


Chris Dufresne
EditorChris Dufresne
Chris Dufresne
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