Picking VP nominee has evolved
Has the vice presidential nominee always been selected by a party's presidential candidate?
No, that's a relatively recent development. Back when the country was started, the man who finished second in the Electoral College vote became vice president. That led to a few uncomfortable pairings, and the 12th Amendment was passed in 1804 that called for separate ballots for president and vice president.
For most of the 1800s, party officials chose vice presidential candidates, with the party's nominee sometimes having little input into the choice.
By the 1900s, presidential candidates started influencing the choice, though it wasn't until 1940 that a president candidate, Democrat Franklin D. Roosevelt, chose his own running mate instead of leaving it to the party delegates at the convention.
The last convention at which delegates chose a vice presidential candidate was 1956, when Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson surprisingly threw the decision to the delegates, who selected Estes Kefauver on the 12th ballot.
By 1960, the presidential candidates alone chose their running mates, with delegates at the convention rubber-stamping the choice, and that pattern has been followed for every election since.
Record year for perfect games
When the Rays had a perfect game thrown against them earlier this month, I heard it was the third in baseball this year. Aren't perfect games rare?
Yes, they are very rare, and this has been a record year. There have been more than 200,000 MLB games played in 137 years, and only 23 of them have ended with a perfect game by a pitcher — no hits, no walks, no baserunners. And no pitcher has ever thrown more than one.
Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners is the latest name on the list, mowing down our Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 15 in Seattle, striking out 12.
On June 13, Matt Cain of the San Francisco Giants got his perfect game against the Houston Astros.
And on April 21, Phillip Humber of the Chicago White Sox was perfect against the Mariners.
The three perfectos put 2012 above the two thrown in 2010: one by Ray Halladay of the Philadelphia Phillies and one by Dallas Braden of Oakland A's. No other year has more than one.
The list of perfect pitchers includes some of the best pitchers in MLB history, like Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Randy Johnson, Jim Bunning and Catfish Hunter. It also includes some good, not great, pitchers such as Dennis Martinez, Mark Buehrle, David Cone, Kenny Rogers, David Wells, Addie Joss and Don Larsen, and some guys you've probably never heard of, such as Tom Browning, Mike Witt, Monte Ward, Charlie Robertson, Lee Richmond and Len Barker.
The Rays, in just their 15th season, have had three perfect games thrown against them — by Hernandez, Braden and Buehrle in 2009 — the most of any team.