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(Re)living the Felix Perfecto

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Shannon and Felix.
Shannon and Felix.
Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

MLB 2K13 proudly announces the return of the Perfect Game Challenge. Pitch a perfect game for your favorite team and you could win some serious money, including a top prize of $250,000. Go to facebook.com/mlb2k for details.

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Confession: As of this morning I hadn't seen Felix Hernandez's perfect game.

Embarrassing, I know.

I'm not sure how it happened. I missed it live, but had recorded it. I intended to watch it -- I even avoided reading too much about it -- but there it sat on my DVR for days, then weeks, before finally getting bumped by something else.

It made no sense. How could I let that happen?

Maybe I didn't feel like I deserved to see it after not caring enough to catch the game in real time. Maybe I resented those who got to experience it without knowing the result. Maybe I'm not much of a baseball fan.

Just pitiful.

About a week ago I signed up for MLB.tv for the first time and resolved to fix this. I couldn't live with this shame anymore. But I might have put it off until this MLB 2K13 promotion popped up in my inbox.

No more excuses.

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There's no substitution for seeing something like this live, but I was surprised by just how thrilling it was to relive the perfect game despite having seen some highlights and read a few accounts. In fact, knowing the result made the first few innings far more exciting than they would have been otherwise.

The perfecto was constantly on the verge of falling apart during the early innings. Sam Fuld led off the game with a rocket to the right-center field gap that Eric Thames barely tracked down. Several other hard hit balls managed to find gloves. The sun wreaked havoc on the outfielders. Felix struggled to hit his spots, and nearly beaned Elliot Johnson and Fuld. I was nervous despite a reassuring boxscore telling me he'd make it out unscathed.

And then something changed. Felix primed with strikeouts of B.J. Upton and Matt Joyce in the 4th inning, then took complete control of the game's outcome in the sixth. He struck out eight of the final twelve batters, and I found myself gasping with every perfectly placed pitch, every hopeless swing and miss. Curveball after curveball, changeup after changeup, every one of them popping the mitt and safe from solid contact.

I wouldn't have believed it beforehand, but watching a 7 1/2 month old game by myself on my laptop as I waited for Opening Day became one of my greatest baseball moments. It didn't matter that I screwed up by not seeing it live, or found reasons not to watch it back while the fanbase was still buzzing. I set out to see it just to say I had seen it, but I came away with an experience I thought I had passed up.