Firstly... I'm probably moving this blog off Blogspot within the next month or two. Just a heads-up, for the two or three of you out there who read this regularly. I'll post again when I have it all figured out. Quite frankly, I want to use something like WordPress or whatever that actually lets me filter things into categories, etc, so I don't need to like, make a separate post to sum up, say, my postseason humor columns. Or whatever.
Secondly... the Japan Series Game 3 is on and the Marines are already up 1-0, but I'm not posting any more about that until tomorrow. Shimoyanagi predictably starts for the Tigers back home at Koshien, and the Marines put up Hiroyuki "the other" Kobayashi.
Thirdly, goddamnit, I've wanted to talk about Bobby Madritsch for a few days and haven't gotten around to it yet. So here we go. I'll probly edit this down in the morning since it's getting long and nostalgic.
In case you don't already know -- and if you don't, you must either be fans from another team, or living on another planet -- Bobby Madritsch was claimed on waivers by Kansas City on Friday.
It's funny. I remember when Madritsch was first called up. I knew very little about him. What I did know about him was that they DFA'ed Hiram Bocachica to call him up. That made me bitter. I really liked Hiram Bocachica. What wasn't to like? He was a nice guy, amazing defensive outfielder, and had a really fun name to say. Whereas this Madritsch kid, well, he sort of sucked. At first, at least.
The first game I went to where he played, I think it was his second game for the Mariners ever. July 23, 2004. It was already a landslide win for the Angels before Madritsch came in, but it didn't help that practically the first thing he did was hit Vladimir Guerrero with a pitch, which led to a benches-clearing rumble on the field. I remember that pretty well - the friend who was at the game with me couldn't stop laughing as he watched Shigetoshi Hasegawa bouncing around the rumble putting up his fists and pretending he was going to hit people with this big grin on his face. Anyway, Badass Bobby gave up 3 runs in the 3 innings he was there, and I came home thinking "BRING BACK BOCACHICA!"
I kind of forgot about this Madritsch guy for a month or so after that. I started a new contract job out in Kirkland that August anyway and didn't get to go to any games outside my season ticket plan. I have no idea how anyone manages to work on the east side and attend games without wanting to kill the other ninety billion people out on I-90.
Fast forward to September, where my 16-game-plan happened to have three consecutive Bobby starts, September 9th, 14th, and 19th. (This happens a lot when your plan ends up getting you a streak of every 5th or 6th game; this year I think I had four consecutive Moyers.)
Now, September 9th I actually showed up rooting for the Red Sox -- as you'll remember, this was that turning point where suddenly people realized that the Sox might actually make it all the way this year. So, of course, Bobby thwarted that. Infact, the friend I went to the game with pointed out that at the rate the Mariners were going, they should have scored 8 runs in the 7th inning for 15 overall, given that they scored 1 in the 1st, 2 in the 3rd, and 4 in the 5th.
And of course, Bobby shut out the Red Sox for the 8 innings he pitched. Scott Atchison came in for the 9th inning and let up a home run to Orlando Cabrera, who made faces at his brother Jolbert, who was still around here then. So, dammit, Bobby. You had to shut out the Sox, didn't you?
Guess what happened next? The September 14th game was against the Angels... and uhh... my favorite blue-eyed lefty pitcher Jarrod Washburn. So I wasn't sure who to root for. I figured I could be happy either way -- either the Mariners would win or Jarrod Blue Eyes would win, and it wasn't so bad. And yet again Bobby held the other team scoreless for 8 innings. That day, I began to think that hey, this Bobby guy, he might really have something.
Especially because by then, we'd re-rescued Bocachica from Triple-A.
I also discovered that day that Safeway had discontinued their "8 K's for a Pepsi" promotion (if the Mariners pitchers combined for 8 strikeouts or more, you'd get a voucher for a free 2-liter of Pepsi products at Safeway) because of the poor attendance at games. That sucked. I had a nice scam going where I'd pick up a few Pepsi coupons per game by going to different exit gates asking "Can I trade you for that player? Mine has Freddy on it" and they'd usually just give me another one.
I found myself at the September 19th game with an Oakland-hating, Ichiro-adoring friend. It was a pretty tough time for him, since Ichiro didn't get any hits AND the Oakland A's won. By this time, we were already in "Sisler Watch" mode for Ichiro; I think he was up to 230 hits or so by that game. We went down to the bullpen to watch Bobby warm up, and decided he was just too cool for words. My friend remarked as we were getting to our seats, "Did you see the look on that guy's face? I would NOT want to run into him in a dark alley. He'll cut ya. He'll cut ya GOOD."
That game was also memorable to me because of Hiram Bocachica. I forget who was on second at the time, but someone hit a long fly ball to right field, which was caught and thrown infield to third REALLY hard and fast and accurate, enough so much that the person on second actually decided to stay there instead of running. Everyone in our section was all like "yeah! Rule #51 - Don't go on Ichiro!" etc etc. Infact I wondered why they didn't put that up on the board, until about five minutes later I realized...
"...WAIT. Guys... remember that AWESOME Ichiro throw? That wasn't Ichiro! That was HIRAM BOCACHICA!"
Bocachica was playing right field and Ichiro was DH. It's funny how we're just so used to Ichiro in RF that if we see an amazing catch and throw from there, we just assume it was Ichiro. Hee. We had a good laugh over that one.
Anyway, I only made it to one other Mariners game in 2004 after that -- Fan Appreciation Night, October 1, 2004. And well, we all know what Ichiro did that night, and it had nothing to do with Bobby Madritsch. But, I was sold. This Bobby guy, 6-3, 3.27, his attitude, power, and all his tattoos, was cool.
The 2005 season started. I decided to go to the game on April 6th on a complete whim. It was Bret Boone's birthday and Bobby Madritsch's first start. I was really excited -- and really devastated when I found out why he was taken out of the game.
Sometimes we just decide we like players because of who they are. Bobby Madritsch was one of those guys. He had fire -- the kind that made you want him on your side in a pitching duel -- or in the next world war. You wanted to see him snarl. You wanted to see him smile. He was interesting, and not just because of his Lakota Indian heritage and the tattoos. He had a history, he had overcome a ton to get where he was, both in terms of social status and in terms of things like driving 1500 miles to try out in various semipro baseball leagues.
I don't know if he'll make it back from his injury. Maybe he tried too hard. Maybe the Bowflex was a bad idea. But either way -- hats off to you, Mr. Madritsch, for the entertainment you provided me through the magical month of September 2004.