http://content.usatoday.com/communities ... ect-game/1
Dallas Braden's perfect game looks simple enough on a scoresheet -- 27 Tampa Bay Rays up, 27 down. But an event so stirring and unlikely as this one -- Braden had 17 career wins entering the game -- provides glimpses into it from so many angles.
By late Sunday afternoon, Dallas Braden was regaling the news media with tales of his teenage foibles.
Let's start with Grandma.
One night after Betty White pumped some life back into the Saturday Night Live franchise, Peggy Lindsey became, perhaps, the second most-beloved grandma in the country after she told a news reporter, "Stick it, A-Rod," a reference to her grandson's well-publicized feud with the New York Yankees slugger.
By evening, "Stick it, A-Rod" was a trending topic on Twitter, adding an unlikely spice of trash talk to what was a sweet Mother's Day tale of Braden spinning his perfecto in front of the grandmother who has been his rock ever since his own mother died in high school.
The San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser added some context to the "Stick it, A-Rod" bomb, noting that teammate Eric Chavez hoped the narrative would be dominated by Braden's relationship with his grandmother, and not A-Rod:
His grandmother at first agreed with Chavez that it's time to move past the Rodriguez business.
"I'm thinking, 'Let's forget it, let's forget it,' " Lindsey said.
But then she paused and said, "Stick it, A-Rod."
Just couldn't resist.
Meanwhile, Braden was regaling the news media with further details of his Cinderella story, with specifics that seemed, well, the exact opposite of athletic mea culpas we've come to expect. He said he missed "79 of 81 days of school" at one point in his junior year of high school.
He only pitched two years of high school baseball. And even before his mother, Jodie Atwood, passed away from melanoma, Braden noted his grandmother was his "rock of Gibraltar ... who knew I was going the wrong way."
Now, he's so well-regarded that even A's general manager Billy Beane got caught up in burnishing his club's first impressions of Braden.
When asked by the Chronicle's Scott Ostler if Braden's past growing up in rough-hewn Stockton, Calif., concerned him before the 2004 draft, Beane said, "Not really ... when you draft a guy in the 15th round ..."
Well, it was actually the 24th round. But who's counting now?
Then, there was A-Rod. Not only did he pick the wrong pitcher's mound on which to trespass, he only made things worse by going to the "I don't know who that guy is" card. So naturally, Braden pitches his perfecto while the Yankees are playing the Red Sox, which meant Rodriguez had to face about 15,000 members of the news media looking for him to eat a little crow.
He was gracious before the game, tipping his cap and sounding like a team guy. When the herd descended upon him postgame, well, let's let ESPN's Gordon Edes, via Twitter, take it from here:
When A-Rod was asked another round of questions about Braden, he literally said "Uncle," to which someone cracked, "No, the grandmother.''
Finally, for every hero there needs to be a goat. Sunday, the Rays played the patsy for the second time in less than a year, as they were perfect-gamed by the White Sox's Mark Buehrle. Perhaps desperate to avoid such ignominy, slugger Evan Longoria attempted to bunt for a base hit leading off the fifth. Once again, a Braden start was marked by a potential breach of baseball's alleged unwritten rules.
Braden was too giddy for the subject to be broached, but the Rays defended Longoria's moxie.
Hard to blame them. Once again, the Rays felt helpless as bit players in someone else's unfolding drama. And long after the game ended, the A's were willing to pay extra in electricity costs to revel just a bit more.