Seattle Mariners postsWednesday April 12, 2017
Mariners 40th-Anniversary Season Tickets Honor Darnell Coles, Spike Owen, Not Alex Rodriguez
A week ago I got together with our Mariners season ticket group to divvy up the 2017 tickets: two seats in section 327, row 9. There was one game everyone wanted: Saturday, Aug. 12, the night the Mariners do what they should've done 10 years ago—retire Edgar Martinez's #11. That went with the No. 1 pick. I got the eighth pick (out of eight guys) but I still got good games spread out over the season. When I picked last night's game, I made a joke about the second game of the season being when true fans showed up, and our host, without missing a beat, said, “Say hello to the other guy for me.” Laughter all around. Good group.
This being the 40th anniversary of the beginning of Mariners futility, each season ticket is decorated, not with one of six current decent players repeated ad nauseum throughout the season as we usually get, but one-shots of current and historic players. So Ken Griffey Jr. appears once (on Ken Griffey Jr. replica statue night this Friday) and Edgar appears once (on Aug. 12) and Robinson Cano once (last night), and so on. I got 10 tickets total and wound up with a pretty solid 3/4 of an infield:
- Robinson Cano - 2B
- Omar Vizquel - SS
- Adrian Beltre - 3B
I also got Jeff Nelson, Mike Jackson, James Paxton, Dave Henderson, Kenji Johjima, Darnell Coles, Danny Meyer.
Who wasn't on any of the tickets? One of the greatest players of all time: Alex Rodriguez.
The next day, I searched to see if any of the Mariners blogs or The Seattle Times or somebody had commented upon this snub but I couldn't find anything. Nobody cared. Last night, I found one guy who did: Jon Wells, publisher of The Grand Salami, the Mariners fan magazine sold outside the stadium. In this month's issue, he's got a short column on the topic, titled “Was Spike Owen a Better Player than Alex Rodriguez?” Here's its sweet spot:
I get it. His departure was messy. Most Mariners fans hate him. He was suspended for steroids. But really? Celebrating lousy players like Mickey Brantley and Spike Owen but ignoring A-Rod? It makes the franchise look rather petty.
I'd be curious to hear a rationale from a Mariners official.
On the first pitch of the game last night—my first game of the season, and that game for true fans—Houston's George Springer homered to left off the M's Ariel Miranda. Not a good omen for the year. But Miranda pulled himself together. The M's were actually leading 3-2 in the 6th, when, with two outs and nobody on, he seemed to tire. He walked one guy, then another. He was pulled for reliever James Pazos, who gave up a high infield chopper. Based juiced. Houston went with pinch-hitter Evan Gattis, who looped a fading fly ball to right, Mitch Haniger slid to catch it, and ... the ball bounced off his glove. Three runs scored. The Astros added another that same inning. M's lost 7-5, to go to 2-7, the second-worst record in baseball. Announced attendance: 18,527. Hello, other guy.
A-Rod in '94: the cleanest of slates.
My All-Time Seattle Mariners Team
The other day, via social media the Seattle Mariners organization encouraged fans to vote for their all-time Mariners team as the 40th anniversary of the team that has never been to the World Series nears.
So I bit.
Right away it was tougher than I thought. We got four options for 1B and none were overwhelming choices:
- Bruce Bochte
- Alvin Davis
- Tino Martinez
- John Olerud
I suppose if I was going off the Mariners-only record, I would go with Davis, since he was with the team the longest. He was also before my time. I arrived in Seattle in '91. I might also go with Tino for his fierce determination to win—a determination which wound up benefiting our enemies. But in the end I went for the calm grace, good glove and high OBP of Washington's own Johnny O.
Second base wasn't any easier:
- Bret Boone
- Robinson Cano
- Joey Cora
- Harold Reynolds
Reynolds was with the team the longest, Boone had that suspect Rogers Hornsby-esque year, but I had to go Cano. I figure he'll make up any difference in a year or two.
I'll cut to the chase: Here's my lineup:
- Ichiro Suzuki (LF)
- Robinson Cano (2B)
- Alex Rodriguez (SS)
- Ken Griffey Jr. (CF)
- Edgar Martinez (DH)
- John Olerud (1B)
- Jay Buhner (RF)
- Kyle Seager (3B)
- Dan Wilson (C)
- Randy Johnson (LHP)
- Felix Hernandez (RHP)
The biggest internal debate was third base: Seager vs. Adrian Beltre. Adrian's going in the Hall, Seager most likely no; but Adrian had his worst years here. Couldn't do it.
Then I got to closer. Good god. The options:
- Norm Charlton
- J.J. Putz
- Kasuhiro Sasaki
- Mike Schooler
I wound up tossing in the towel. I couldn't in all conscience choose any of them.
Closer nothwithstanding, I'd put this all-time team up against many. That one-two punch on the mound? The top five in that lineup? That's impressive. And makes the zero pennants flapping in right field all the more dispiriting.
Mariners on Top Again! (In Years Since Postseason)
It's time for this again. I would've posted a few weeks ago but I've been distracted by the end of American democracy.
Mariners on top, Cubs on bottom! Except you want to be on bottom. It's the list of teams who have struggled the longest without a postseason berth. For most of this period, eight of out 30 teams made the cut, so in an ideal situation, you think you'd go every four years? On average? Then it became 10 out of 30 teams. A 33% chance! Yet my M's have still been postseasonless for 15 years; 16 next year.
And really there's no one close. Marlins,sure, but the last time they went, in 2003, they actually won the World Series. The Mariners have never even been.
Really, only the San Diego Padres comes close to us: nothing for 10 years, and just two LDSes this century. Maybe that's why they're our natural rival.
Why Felix is King
After today's game, in which Felix threw 2-hit ball and the M's won (finally!) in 12 innings, 2-1, in front of a mostly Toronto Blue Jays crowd at Safeco Field:
“I want to be there so bad. We still have a chance at the playoffs. I’m going to do my best to make sure we get there. My show of emotion (“It’s my house!”) has been building since two days ago when I saw all those (Toronto) fans in here (Safeco Field). You know what, it’s still my house!”
Cf., my post about the frustrations of Monday night's game. Love. This. Man.
Stuck Inside Safeco with the Toronto Blue Jays Fans
(With apologies to Bob Dylan.)
I went to the Mariners game last night to show some support for the local team. I had tons of reasons for not going: I hadn't felt well all day, I couldn't get anyone to go with me (although I hadn't tried that hard), and it was hardly “Boys of Summer” weather: low 60s dropping into the 50s. But the team had won 9 of 11, we were 2 games back in the wild card hunt, Taijuan Walker was pitching. Plus around 4:00 the sun came out. So why not? It was the last of my season-ticket tickets. C'mon! Use it. Send them off. Show you care.
Turned out to be one of the worst games I've been to.
It wasn't the M's fault—although, to be honest, they quickly fell behind 3-0 and didn't manage a hit until the 7th inning. No, it was the crowd at Safeco. It was loud, boistrous, involved. The stadium rang with cheers.
For the Blue Jays. The stands were packed with Canucks down from Vancouver, et al.
Walking to the park, I'd seen a lot of Blue Jays unis but hadn't thought much of it. You always have opposition fans. Besides, I didn't mind the BJs. I'd rooted for them vs. Texas in the ALDS last year, then rooted against them vs. Kansas City in the ALCS, and they were nice enough—Canadian enough, you might say—to grant both my wishes.
But this? This was awful. The fans were everywhere. They took over our house. They made it their stadium:
“MVP! MVP” they chanted when Josh Donaldson came to the plate.
“Ho-ZAY oh ZAY-oh ZAY-oh ZAY...” they chanted when Jose Bautista followed.
“Let's go, Blue Jays! [clap clap clapclapclap]” they chanted throughout.
All the time. It was awful. It felt like a home invasion by a Glee Club.
Afterwards I figured it out. Before last season, the BJs hadn't been to the postseason since '93, and winning seasons always create new fans. A lot of these were that. They had that kind of enthusiasm and cluelessness.
I tried to make noise against them. I kept cheering on Taijuan, as I do; I cheered on Robby, and Nellie, and Kyle; but I felt drown out.
Before the game even started I had a confrontation with the row of people behind me. One guy in particular. He yelled something against Robinson Cano and I shot him a look. He immediately backed off, which is funny since I'm about 100 miles from tough, but I think I already looked pissed off. I came to the game pissed off and none of this was helping. And the chants continued.
I tried to ignore it. I tried to just be in my head. Between innings, I got out of the iPhone. I tweeted:
These Blue Jays fans have WAAAAYYY too much enthusiasm. It's like a high school pep rally. #GoMariners
Two innings later, I tweeted:
Wow, who knew Canadians were such assholes? #GoMariners
But my rage kept building. It was *I* who was the asshole. I shouted at odd times. I flipped off high-fiving Jays fans. You know the scene in “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” where Steve Martin shouts impotently at the sky, “You're messing with the wrong guy!!!”? Like that, but at the ballpark. Finally, to prevent anything worse happening, I left after 5 innings. I left during a no-hitter (broken up by Robinson Cano in the 7th). I felt bad about leaving, about not sticking around for the team, but I was worried I would do real damage. To myself.
Some part of me wonders if the M's had trouble hitting because their stadium was filled with opposition fans, or if that's just water off their backs. Either way, we got our first extra-base hit with two outs in the bottom of the 9th: a 2-run homer by Leonys Martin to make it 3-2. But then Ben Gamel struck out. Right: Ben Gamel.
It's been a fun year. The M's power the ball, they hit walk-off homeruns, they are strong up in the middle. But that was not a fun game.
ADDENDUM: After 7 scoreless innings on Wednesday afternoon, leaving with a 1-0, Felix shouted at the Blue Jays and/or their fans, “It's my house!” Damn right. Could've used that spirit on Monday. Shut them up.
Next year, we build a wall.