Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Great homestand for the Mariners

While it didn't end on a win, this was a very good homestand for the Mariners - especially following that miserable 11-game losing streak on the road.

It was great to see Jon Huber come in and get his first major league strikeout. That has to be a great feeling and I'm happy for him.

Going 7-2 this homestand was great as well. We won every series -- which I don't think the majority of people thought could be done, especially given that the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angels were the visitors.

Only 12 home games left, 29 games overall. Hard to believe we are that close to the end of another season. Where does the time go?

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The chill of fall is in the air

There are a couple things that happen every year that I'm just not a fan of. One of them is the day when we set the clocks back an hour, and suddenly the nights are that much longer, the darkness that much more invasive, powerful and present.

The other is when I feel that first touch of fall in the air -- the wind bites a little differently than it had the day before, the air smells a little different, and the body feels a slight twinge in the skin and in the bones.

Today, I felt that first touch of fall.

I walked into Safeco Field this evening like I had the evening before, went to my normal stops, sat in my normal place. I said hello to the same people I said hello to the night before, reminisced over the game that in time and memory was so recent, but in impact on the present so far it was if it almost never happened. And as I was making my rounds, I felt it jump up on me from behind at one turn -- at another, it snuck up on me from around a corner. I asked the worker who I have come to know by face and frequency, but unfortunately not by name if she felt it -- yes she did she told me, pointing at the sleeve of her jacket -- not the same one she wore the day before because it was part of the uniform, but the one she wore tonight because of necessity.

My hands felt different as I jotted down the plays in my scorebook and typed this message. The skin on my fingers felt thinner -- and not in the good way, the way that is achieved through healthier living. It was my bones gripping the pencil and pushing on the keyboard -- not the flesh that was there last night. Nature made my hands feel different tonight -- the nature that is bigger than any one of us, and bigger than all of us combined.

For the first time since April - at least I think it was April - I reach for hot coffee instead of cold soda. I regret not bringing a jacket with me tonight -- the jacket I was so happy to leave behind in April and May, as the nights warmed. It will be that same jacket that I'll grab when I head out the door tomorrow morning in preparation for the possible invasion of the fall winds again.

There is no mistaking what this means -- the end of baseball season is coming, and with it, the beginning of winter, with its cold, its rain, its darkness, and its absence of baseball. Like Rogers Hornsby, I will take refuge sitting by the window and waiting for spring to arrive.

Fall has made its presence known -- it may not reappear for a while, but it has announced that it is ready to descend upon us like a deep sleep after a long work day. Baseball is reaching into the final hours of another season -- with the blur that is the postseason occupying the final few minutes that has been the countdown clock, ticked down pitch by pitch, at bat by at bat, and out by out.

The cold bite of the first fall wind makes you appreciate how fast the season - and on a larger scale, how fast life, moves. You get the new pocket schedule from your favorite team, and ponder upon the big road trip in the middle of the season, or the homestand when the MVP or the future Hall of Famer comes to town, and you look at all those boxes and all those teams and all those days. But then you look at that same schedule one day and realize that somehow the days have gone by, the games have been played, and suddenly realize you only have a handful of opportunities to see your guys run out on the field this year with the enthusiasm of children, and for you to put the rest of your world on pause, and sit back, look at the green grass, soak up the summer sun, and watch the ball game, before it is shut down and put away for the winter.

And with the passing of each out, and each game, part of us passes into yesterday, swept into the past with the fall winds.

Monday, August 28, 2006


What a great night to be at Safeco Field! The streak of 20 straight losses to AL West opponents is over, Felix threw a complete game, and the Mariners won!

And it only took an hour and 51 minutes. Not a bad night.

While there aren't a lot of little positives, there is one big positive, and that is that the streak is over. On the individual side -

*Felix Hernandez gets a complete game win, throws only 95 pitches, and gives up 5 hits and no walks.

*Richie Sexson and Kenji Johjima each go 2-for-3 with an RBI, while Adrian Beltre, Raul Ibanez, and Ichiro Suzuki all picked up basehits.

I'll give some credit to Escobar from the Angels for a well-pitched game as well -- although I don't feel bad for the guy.

Finishing at or above .500 is still a very realistic possibility -- let's hold that in our sights and help these guys make it happen!

See you at the Safe on Tuesday -- GO MARINERS!

Great Red Sox series, why can't Larry Stone say anything good?

I didn't get a chance to see Saturday and Sunday's games in person, but I did watch Sunday's game on TV - what a great series. I hope everyone took note of how loud the Red Sox minority was this weekend -- great to see and hear Seattle fans step up and drown them out -- they sure looked like a sorry bunch on Sunday.

Now here's my gripe -- the Mariners sweep the Red Sox, and take two out of three from the Yankees, and what does Larry Stone from the Seattle Times write about? How bad the Red Sox are and that these aren't the same Red Sox from a year or two ago, and as such, the wins aren't that good.

You can read the article at:

Now - I appreciate the article. It's true that the Red Sox are struggling this year, and they are hardly the team that won the World Series two years ago. But as soon as I read the article, I immediately picked up the vibe that he was discounting the wins by the Mariners. I don't know if he's not a Mariner fan, or just enjoys writing anything except positive stuff about the team.

Now I've never talked with Larry Stone, and I'm not going to call him a bad writer or a bad person. I don't think he is the former and I have no basis to call him the latter. But I would hope that he could spare some positive ink on the Mariners when the situation warrants it.

With that being said, get out there in that Mariners gear and help the M's beat the Angels. That red sticks out -- so help shut it down!!!

Go Mariners!!!

Friday, August 25, 2006

What a great victory against Boston tonight!

Lots of good things to talk about:

*Jake Woods pitches a fairly solid 5 innings, yielding just three hits, and holding David Ortiz to a lone single in the first inning.

*Chris Snelling goes 2-4, with a single, double and 2 RBI.

*Raul Ibanez goes 2-3.

*Willie Bloomquist had a big RBI triple in the 5th.

*Julio Mateo and Eric O'Flaherty pitched 4 strong innings of relief.

Not as big of a crowd as was here for the games against the Yankees, but solid nonetheless - 40,817. And while the Red Sox fans seemed a bit more vocal than the Yankees', the Mariners fans and play on the field kept them at bay.

Let's do it again tomorrow and Sunday! Go Mariners!

Halfway through game 1, and I'm proud

It's the middle of the 5th inning of game 1 between the Mariners and Red Sox, and I'm proud of these fans. There are a lot of vocal Red Sox fans, and everytime they start up with a "Let's go Red Sox" chant, the locals smother them with "Let's go Mariners!"

Way to go Mariner Nation -- I'm proud to see you waking up and supporting the home team!

Go Mariners!

Where is the cohesiveness of Mariner nation?

For the most part, I love Mariners' fans. I really do.

But I think we still have a way to go to becoming a real force.

For instance -- if you watch Angels' games and Cardinals' games, you see this sea of red throughout the stadium.

Likewise -- if you've ever been to New York, you see the Yankee logo almost everywhere.

I would love to see the Mariners' logo more places, and on more people when they come to the game.

If we could get everyone wearing a navy blue shirt to a game, I think the visual would be amazing. It would be like looking out onto a stormy ocean -- or at least Puget Sound on a windy day.

What do you say? Get yourself a Mariner t-shirt, or one of the navy blue jerseys, or a navy blue jacket, or something - and wear it to the game. Get your friends to do it as well. Almost everyone looks good in navy blue. And even if you don't, you'll look good wearing navy blue and being surrounded by people wearing navy blue.

And while I'm making the request, let's hear some "Let's go Mariners - clap, clap, clap clap clap" a little more throughout the game. And if someone tries to start it for another team -- smother them with our noise. This is Safeco Field - home of the Mariners...and cheering for the other team should not be an allowed activity. If we can't wear "Yankees Suck" t-shirts, then Yankees fans can't cheer over us.

Go Mariners!

The Yankee Series

What a great series -- sure game 2 wasn't great, but who wouldn't take 2 out of 3 from the Yankees any day of the week?

It's great to see Safeco Field full of people -- even if there were too many Yankee fans there. Both games 1 and 3 were outstanding on so many levels. If you didn't have a great time at either of those two games, you seriously might want to question your love of baseball.

I think game 3 was particularly interesting because we won without Adrian Beltre and Raul Ibanez in the lineup, and without Sexson at first. I'm not going to say we should run that lineup out there everyday, but I bet there were a number of people who didn't think we would stand a chance without those two in the lineup, regardless of the fact that we were facing Randy Johnson, who I must say pitched a great game from the fourth inning on.

Washburn really ran the show tonight, and the bullpen did their job. Good show tonight guys -- good show!

I also am beginning to get more convinced that Ichiro should be in centerfield. If absolutely nothing less, it gives the Mariners more options in the free agent market this offseason. The reality is that he has been here for 6 years now, and we haven't made it past the ALCS. He wants to win as much as anybody, and I think moving him to CF makes the most sense to help the Mariners win. He's a great right fielder -- but I think he can cover center well enough to give us the option of shopping for corner outfielders.

Great catch by Ichiro in center tonight -- and a great pickoff of Robinson Cano by Johjima in the fourth. After the Seattle Times ripped his defense the other week, that play seemed to vindicate him a bit. Not that I consider the Yankees a great base stealing team, but they were sure conservative on the basepaths in the two games I was there for.

We've got to keep the energy up for the Red Sox series this weekend -- there are still tickets available M's fans -- so get out there!

Go Mariners!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

What is considered a successful season?

On the heels of my last post, and at the request of the same co-worker, I stated the obvious, but which bears repeating every so often:

No matter what, only one team out of 30 wins the World Series, two teams make it to the World Series, and only 8 of the 30 make it to the playoffs.
According to the logic that playoffs = good season, every year 22 teams have a bad season. But clearly, not every year is a "bad season" for all of those 22 teams.
Some years are rebuilding years -- you spend several years locked up in contracts with veterans trying to win a championship, and then have to rebuild when they retire or go to a different team.
Other years are just not your year -- injuries, a tough division, bad luck, you don't get some calls, etc.
And remember -- there's no recipe for a team that would win the World Series.

So here's my question to you: what makes for a successful baseball season? If it's World Series or nothing, that's fine -- it's your opinion and you're entitled to it. But seeing as how only one team wins the World Series, I don't think baseball would endure if it was an all-or-nothing investment for fans.

I look forward to your posts -- go Mariners!

2006 has been a pretty good year, at least in my book

A co-worker asked me if I had any way to put a positive spin on the 2006 Mariners' season. Not to sound corny, but of course I did!

-Raul Ibanez' next home run will be his 25th, giving the Mariners two players with 25 HRs for the first time since 2001 (Boone + Cameron).
-The emergence of Yuniesky Betancourt as one of the top defensive shortstops in baseball, and his outstanding offense this year -- he's currently batting .300 on the season. Several publications have mentioned him as the best defensive shortstop in baseball.
-The development of Jose Lopez as our everyday second baseman.
-The development of JJ Putz into the everyday closer.
-The pitching staff ranks 6th in the American League in ERA, sixth in saves, second in complete games, and fifth in strikeouts.
-We are the 2nd youngest team in baseball currently.
-The solidification of the catcher position - with Kenji Johjima ranking in several Top 10 offensive categories among rookies. (Last year we had 8 different catchers.)
-The continuing development of Felix Hernandez -- he leads the team in wins currently.
-Ichiro is on pace for well over 200 hits this year - marking the 6th straight season to do that.
-Our bullpen has the third best ERA in baseball - George Sherrill, Mark Lowe, and Rafael Soriano have become some of the top setup men in the league.
-Prior to this past week, we had only used 5 starting pitchers while every other team had used at least seven.
-Injuries have been very low this year.

So it hasn't been a perfect year, and we won't make the playoffs, but clearly it hasn't been without some good things. And when you focus on the good things, more good things tend to happen.

Go Mariners!

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Moyer Trade

I promised you that I'd make a post about this - and since it's fresh in my mind, I might as well.

While I'm not dancing in the streets about Jamie Moyer being traded, I think that overall it's a great move for the Mariners. Here's why:

1) No matter what Moyer might have done for the team this year, it wouldn't have mattered in the big picture.

2) One of the nicest and classiest guys in baseball gets a chance to pitch for a team where it matters. I really don't care who wins the World Series this year, but as of now, I'm pulling for the Phillies.

3) The Mariners get two young arms - I'm not going to delve into stats and whatnot to try and convince you that these guys are sure things to make it to the major leagues. But I will say that it adds more options and possibilities to the mix, which overall is a good thing. And while they might never make it to Safeco Field, they might help us get a player that will have be on the big league roster -- maybe we'll get some other team's Jamie Moyer.

4) We can still go out and try and get him next year if it makes sense for the club. I'm not saying we will or that we should - but the option is out there. And if Moyer ends up staying with the Phillies, at least we won't have to face him more than once next year, if we get the Phillies in interleague play.

5) We get to see some younger pitchers like Cha Seung Beck - who pitched well tonight against the Yankees - which will make us that much better informed going into the offseason.

So don't look at it as a bad thing -- look at it as an opportunity, a seed planted that we eagerly await to sprout.

Go Mariners!

Baseball first, teams second

Let me start by saying that I love baseball first and foremost.

No disrespect to the Mariners, but if they went away, I'd most likely still enjoy the game. There is an inherent beauty to it that I don't find anywhere else in life.

Why? Because I love the game. I enjoy playing it, watching it, reading about it, and talking about it.

For me, baseball is a year round deal. There's almost always something going on, and if there isn't, you can talk about what went on, what might go on, or what you want to go on.

There's a rhythm to it, a pace, and a mindset that is in sync with my own rhythm, pace, and mindset.

My earliest memories of baseball go back to watching Mariners games with my grandma in the back room of her house; she'd make Jiffy Pop on the stove and I'd get the game on. We'd spend the hot summer days watching the Mariners struggle against whomever they happened to be playing at the time. It was in that room with her that I watched the earthquake strike prior to the 1989 World Series between the A's and Giants, and the worry we felt because my uncle - her youngest son - and his family lived in Oakland and we couldn't get a hold of them.

I never played baseball competitvely, for reasons I'm still not sure of. I had a glove and a bat, I dressed up as a ballplayer for Halloween a couple of times, I played catch in the yard, but I think that since my grade school didn't have a team like it did for basketball, soccer, and volleyball, for some reason playing baseball didn't get on the radar.

Side note -- I may at some point try and have a sit down discussion about why I didn't play baseball as a child. I've tried to discuss it, but coming from a family rooted in conflict avoidance, I can't say I've gotten a satisfactory response. Stay tuned for an update.

Nevertheless, I've come to the point where I think I should stop this post -- my mind is drifting, and as I am writing this while I watch the Mariners battle the Yankees in a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the 8th with T.J. Bohn pinch-hitting for Chris Snelling, which means that Bohn is making his major league debut trying to drive in the go-ahead run against Ron Villone and the Yankees in front of 42,000 people. No pressure. What happened? You should have been watching or listening.

Let's start at the beginning

I decided to start writing this about an hour and a half ago, as I was at Safeco Field before the Mariners-Yankees game. The Mariners were in the middle of an 11-game losing streak, and the press had beaten them up pretty good.

Jamie Moyer had been traded a couple days earlier, and fans were pretty upset about it. I'll put some thoughts down on that in a little while.

Those around me are frustrated, angry, befuddled, and more about the play of the Mariners. And to be honest, so am I.

But I figured that if someone can write negative things about the team, I can write positive things. I haven't cancelled my tickets, I haven't stopped watching on TV and listening on the radio, and frankly, I still love the Mariners and baseball in general.

And I think this team is getting better. I look forward to the upcoming seasons of Mariners baseball. And hopefully through this blog, you will too.