'Mr. Perfect' deals with media crush

'Mr. Perfect' deals with media crush

ARLINGTON -- Two days removed from officially entering baseball lore, "Mr. Perfect," Dallas Braden, took a seat in the basement of Rangers Ballpark on Tuesday, his tired eyes staring back at a couple dozen media members.

Just minutes prior, he had delivered David Letterman's Top Ten List via satellite. Hours earlier, it was announced that this face would greet millions of readers on the cover of Sports Illustrated. On Wednesday, he'll wake up with CBS for "The Early Show."

Braden is in demand. He's losing his voice. And his phone can't take many more messages. But he'll manage -- all while sporting a smile.

"It's a rat race," Braden said. "I've been pulled every which way, but it's been fun. It's a great experience."

That's what happens when you throw the 19th perfect game in baseball history, as Braden did Sunday in a 4-0 victory over the visiting Rays in front of his grandmother, Peggy Lindsey, on Mother's Day.

Lindsey, who raised Braden after his mother passed away when he was in high school, has quickly become something of a media darling since her grandson achieved perfection. Much like Braden, she is brutally honest and ever so witty.

"To sit down and talk with her for five minutes is truly to be enlightened in more ways than one," Braden said.

The A's pitcher admitted that Sunday's perfect game had not yet sunk in. It may never. After all, he's just getting used to the notion of being a household name.

"I'm not really that cool," he said, "so you don't understand why everyone wants to talk to you. I understand now. I've grasped it. I get it." Dallas Braden, Perfect Game

Still, that doesn't take away from the wow factor that comes along with sharing a sentence with Letterman or with playing the role of cover boy for sports' most famed magazine.

"Those are pretty ridiculous," Braden said. "That's when they say you've made it, when you've done Letterman or Oprah. I'm not jumping on any couches any time soon, but that would be cool.

"Sports Illustrated is a magazine you grow up reading. Well, I didn't really read it, but I thumbed through the pictures. It's pretty cool."

Dallas Braden's Top 10 List
Here are the Top 10 "Thoughts That Went Through Dallas Braden's Mind While He Threw His Perfect Game," as read by Braden on "The Late Show with David Letterman" on May 11.
10. "Grandma's right. Stick it, A-Rod."
9. "I did it! Oh crap, it's only the 4th inning."
8. "Seriously, how cool a name is Dallas Braden?"
7. "Now maybe Justin Bieber will notice me."
6. "I must not tell the world I'm Iron Man."
5. "This is something they can never take away from me. But for $50,000 you can have my glove."
4. "This next pitch, eyes closed."
3. "Even I've never heard of me."
2. "I should at least give up one hit so I don't have to do Letterman."
1. "Maybe I can give Kate Hudson a call."
Courtesy Worldwide Pants Incorporated

So is sharing the feat with 24 guys who Braden has always deemed more than just teammates.

"Baseball's been my safe haven, and the clubhouse has been my physical sanctuary," he said. "When I'm there, I share things with my teammates because I spend a large part of my life with them. They know my background, and we've shared things with each other, so they know what that day means to me.

"They're all ecstatic for me, which is really nice. I'm so happy for them to be able to share this with me. These are guys I've come up with. Guys I've bled and [sweated] with for five or six years. So to be able to share that with them is awesome."

Braden said he has yet to watch Sunday's perfecto in its entirety, but the 26-year-old southpaw has seen the last out -- a Gabe Kapler grounder to shortstop Cliff Pennington -- quite a few times. As a result, he's now thinking he would have done things differently had he another go at it.

"The last at-bat, it was a 2-1 count," Braden explained. "I threw a pitch for a fastball on the outside part of the plate that I thought looked good. The umpire disagreed. It was a ball. I thought it looked so good that I just kind of told myself it was a strike. I thought the count was 2-2, to be totally honest.

"So I threw a fastball, and it worked out. I didn't know until I heard [A's broadcaster] Ken Korach's replay, 'And the count, 3-1, Braden comes set,' and then I'm going, '3-1? I would have thrown the guy a changeup.' "

Maybe next time. The lefty will take to the mound again in Anaheim on Friday. Two days later, he'll return home with the team and, once again, reunite with grandma in Stockton, Calif., where the two live just five blocks from one another and leave all talk of Alex Rodriguez and the like behind.

"That's why I live there," he said. "I can go home and be me there. I'm not really worried about what anyone else thinks of me, or their opinions. My teammates, the guys I compete with and against, those are the guys I want the respect of, and I try to earn that daily.

"When I go home and take off the costume and get to be Dallas, the rest of the world kind of stops for me. I get to be me, play with my dog, feed my fish and just be me."

That's exactly what he did to celebrate Sunday's unforgettable series of events, which Braden insists "wasn't so much in the game plan."

"It's pretty ridiculous, when you think about it, to be in that kind of company with some of the people that I share this with," he said. "It's unreal. It's just weird for me because of my kind of approach. I'm a contact pitcher, and for no one to get on base versus a contact pitcher is pretty cool. I enjoyed that."

Braden's decision to make a career out of pitching pretty much came into fruition when he was 4 years old.

"That was the game plan," he said. "It was either that or asking you if you wanted to super-size. I've stuck with this, so it's worked out."

It's not over, either. The perfect game, Braden hopes, is just one of a handful of achievements with which he'll eventually walk away from the diamond.

"It's a great accomplishment that I've extremely honored to fulfill, but my team is my focus," he said. "A perfect game doesn't get us into the playoffs, so we can sit here and talk about it all we want, but there's still work to be done."

Well, maybe after Oprah calls.