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Humber's unexpected perfection inspires

Manny Fils

Manny Fils

I was channel surfing on Saturday since my wife and daughter, Meg and Aubrie, who was home for the weekend from college, were out shopping and I didn't have to watch anything that dealt with cooking or moving furniture around.

The channel ended on ESPN, by chance of course, and that was when I became a Phil Humber fan after he became the 21st player in major league history to throw a perfect game. At the age of 29, Humber was pretty much a nonessential pitcher who is not an ace or has had any staying power with any team he has been with.

He was drafted by the Mets in 2004 and after having Tommy John surgery in 2005, his rise to mediocrity began. After finally being brought up to the majors in 2006, Humber was part of a three-player trade with Minnesota as the Mets were trying to acquire two-time Cy Young Award-winning pitcher Johan Santana in 2008. After spending a year back in AAA, Humber got called up in 2009 only to be granted his free agency papers. After spending time in AAA for Kansas City, Humber was called up to the Royals in 2010 only to be let go in order to make room for Jeff Francoeur. Following an on-paper move to Oakland, Humber landed in Chicago.

Professionally, Humber has an overall record of 12 wins and 10 losses with an ERA of 3.90. Those are not numbers that one would expect out of perfect-game pitcher. Perfection for Humber began in his 30th professional start.

For me, throwing a perfect game is something that can never be matched in any other sport. That would be equivalent to a quarterback completing every pass on every down while taking his team down the field for a touchdown on every drive or a basketball player making every field goal and every free-throw while scoring every point.

Since they started keeping records, there have been approximately 350,000 professional baseball games. Of all those games, only .006 percent of them have been perfect, with Lee Richardson throwing the first one on June 12, 1880.

What makes Humber's feat so incredible is that it gives us hope. It goes to prove that if we keep trying no matter how hard the task may seem, that anything is possible as long as we don't give up.

It's times like these that make me glad that I'm a sports writer. Whenever there are two teams on the field there's always going to be a winner. And just like in life, it's not always the strongest or the best that comes out ahead. Just because a team is better on paper doesn't mean that they are going to win. Humber's perfect game goes to prove that heart and desire is sometimes better than raw talent, especially when you believe in yourself.

Manny Fils is a sports writer for The Citizen. Fils can be emailed at manny.fils@newtoncitizen.com.