The last couple of days have displayed—in extremis—why we at Right Off the Bat love cricket and baseball so much, and why they will never stop pitching us curveballs or bowling balls that rear up from a good length. On Wednesday, Matt Cain threw a perfect game for the San Francisco Giants against the Houston Astros. It was only the twenty-second time in Major League Baseball history that a pitcher had lasted a full nine innings and no batter had reached first base—no hits, walks, nothing—and Cain had to throw 125 pitches (the most ever in a perfect game) and rely on two astonishing catches in the outfield to keep it perfect. Even more remarkably, it was the first time in the Giants’ 122-year-history that anyone on their team had ever thrown a perfect game, even though the Giants have won the most games and possess the most hall-of-famers of any team in the history of American baseball.
Now we come to the game of cricket. Yesterday, a man involved in the noble sport scored 110 without ever coming out to bat. R. Allen (formerly Sir Allen) Stanford, Texan billionaire and erstwhile financier of Twenty20 cricket in the Caribbean, was sentenced to 110 years in prison for a $7 billion Ponzi scheme. As ESPN Cricinfo reports:
Stanford was hailed as cricket’s American sugar daddy when he bankrolled an international cricket tournament in Antigua that promised to transform cricket finances in England and West Indies and, in the eyes of ECB [English Cricket Board] executives, provide a rival to the burgeoning Indian Premier League.
In the end, however, the crock of gold proved to be a crock of something else, and Mr. Stanford (stripped of his knighthood and not a few of his assets, we imagine) will now have plenty of time to play Howzat! and consider the stunning success of the IPL in prison.
Of course, baseball has had plenty of scandals and cricket continues to throw up astonishing records, so we’ll probably have to wait only a few months for the ignoble/noble facet of each game to be reversed. But, you gotta love sports that continue to surprise you after 150 years of competitive play.