POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Jun 29, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 2:34 a.m. HST, Jun 29, 2011
It's not really supposed to be this way, but in most cases perfection is relative. We already knew it was fleeting.
Especially in sports, especially in baseball.
It's universally accepted that pitching what's called a perfect game is 27 batters up, 27 down. In other words, no one reaching base.
But perfect games are not created equally. For example, as extremely unlikely as it would be (most would say impossible, unless it were, say, a major leaguer pitching against high school players), wouldn't 27 strikeouts on 81 pitches be "more perfect" than other perfect games? Or — if you're a fan of the efficiency of the pitch-to-contact paradigm — maybe 27 outs on 27 pitches would be your idea of perfecting perfection.
There's a sliding scale for hitters, too. I heard someone describe Kolten Wong's performance in his pro debut at the plate Monday as "a perfect 2-for-2." Well, OK, I guess; but if you're using perfect as an adjective in this case, the 2-for-2 should be two grand slams. This is not meant to denigrate Wong, who performed superbly. Maybe not perfect at the plate, but certainly flawless. In addition to his two singles, the sacrifice fly, hit batsman and walk were all productive plate appearances.
Call it splitting hairs if you like ... and it works the other way, too. Wong went 0-for-3 on Tuesday in his second game. Oh, no, a disaster! What's wrong? Relax. Two of the outs advanced runners and he walked once. Zero strikeouts in his first nine professional plate appearances? That's very good, and you can bet the Cardinals brass noticed.
A COUPLE of time zones west of Wong and Davenport, Iowa, another Hawaii athlete — yes, bowlers are athletes — was crafting perfection Tuesday.
And this is one of my favorite things about bowling (perhaps second only to it being a sport you can play while eating and drinking pretty much whatever you want). You either knock every pin down 12 times or you don't.
OK, a perfect game in bowling is not that big a deal compared to pitching a perfect game, as imperfect as they are.
Several of you reading this may have even achieved one or two 300 games between chugs of beers in your weekly league — while few if any could imagine shutting down a lineup of big-league batters for nine innings.
Well, here's the special thing about Jarret Mizo's performance: He nearly did it twice in a row. The 24-year-old Roosevelt High and recent University of Hawaii grad followed a 300 with a 299 at the United States Bowling Congress Open Championships in Reno, Nev.
"Only one bowler in 108 years of this event bowled back-to-back 300 games," Matt Cannizzaro of the USBC said. "And just two others got two 300s in the same event."
He said there were 52 perfect games among the approximately 64,000 bowled at the USBC Open this year. That's a high percentage, even for the avid and elite competitors in this event, Cannizzaro said. As pin placement can alter things at the U.S. Open, oil patterns do at the USBC Open.
Even though Mizo came up one pin short of a Johnny Vander Meer moment he still said it was special. But not ahead of making Team USA earlier this year.
"That was awesome, so far the highlight," he said. "I had to beat the top pros."
He represents the country for the first time next month in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., at the Tournament of the Americas.
MIZO'S BEEN bowling since he was 10, when his dad, Clayton, introduced him to the game at Kam Bowl. He got his first of five perfect games at age 14 and was one of the country's top youth bowlers.
At his level, bowling is more of a mental sport than some think. "Strategically you set up stuff and make adjustments," he said. "You have to try to make a move before you make a mistake."
Mizo credited his doubles partner, longtime Hawaii standout Daniel Miyamoto, with suggesting a hand-position move that kept him firing strikes even after they moved for the second game.
He didn't blame luck; Mizo said he was just a little bit off on the 12th shot of the second game, leaving the 4 pin standing. He didn't seem too bothered by it later.
"I'm going to go have some fun with my friends. Play some table games, whatever's open," he said.
Maybe pull a few timely blackjacks.
Now that would really be perfect. Or close enough.