Goldman: Don Larsen and the system that worked

From SABR member Steven Goldman at Baseball Prospectus on January 3, 2020:

On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen had a very good day. Some say it was the best day. We would all like to live to at least 90 years old, as he did, and be able to look back on our lives and say we had at least one day that good. Yet, in a universe that dislikes extremes, there might be a cost: Larsen’s total days reached their conclusion on January 1, and it implies no judgment on the life he lived or the ballplayer he was to ask how we might respond if given a choice between having one great day and a collection of very good days. Larsen had a journeyman’s career but pitched a perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Yankee Stadium in Game 5 of the World Series. One might trade that perfect game for 100 days of perfect peace, or 50 days of unshakable self-confidence and another 50 of existential quietude. 

It’s a mirage: There’s no such thing as karma or balance so we can’t make that sort of deal. Days have no bearing on each other and each one decides for itself whether we’ll be perfect-gaming it or plunging away at clogged toilets. Larsen was often a good pitcher. Sometimes bad things happen to good pitchers, but sometimes good things happen to good pitchers. That was Larsen’s perfect game.

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Originally published: January 3, 2020. Last Updated: January 3, 2020.