Saturday, April 30, 2005

A week for the numbers, I guess

I admit I haven't been paying much attention to the Mariners games this week beyond checking the scores. It's so much more exciting for me when they're at home. Maybe I should actually subscribe to TV or go to a bar and watch some of the games.

I watched today's game on Gameday though, and it was somewhat heartbreaking. Jamie Moyer got pretty beaten up early; the Mariners at least did come back to tie it up, but the same Mariner that tied it up (Mr. Bloomquist) also hit into a double play the next inning, and then Ronnie The Bear gave up a run which lost us the game.

Anyway, the interesting game of the week to me was yesterday's Cubs-Astros matchup with Maddux and Clemens squaring off, making them the first 300-game winners to start against each other since 1987 (when my very own childhood hero Steve Carlton pitched against Don Sutton). Apparently it was the first National League 300-game-winner face-off since 1892 when Tim Keefe and Pud Galvin pitched against each other. Clemens got two hits off of Maddux, which I think is just super-cool.

It's funny that the articles about yesterday's game mostly focus on the question: Will there ever be another 300-game winner? I think it's possible, but there will be many more people added to the 500-homerun club before there will be many more added to the 300-win club.

Speaking of the 500-HR club, the inimitable Kazuhiro Kiyohara finally got there yesterday. (english version) Good for him! And in other milestones, the adorable elder statesman of the Yakult Swallows, Atsuya Furuta, got his 2000th hit last weekend as well. (english version)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Indians - Ode to Jamie Moyer

Ahh, what a great game. Mariners win 9-1. I could probably recap the game pretty easily in a song:

This old man, he fanned one
Victor got full count and swung
With a knick-nack, catcher-smack,
Throw the ball to Boone
This old man makes batters swoon.

This old man, struck out two
Casey at the bat would do
With a knick-nack, catcher-smack,
Throw the ball to Boone
This old man makes batters swoon.

This old man, got K three
Inning end for ol' Ronnie
With a knick-nack, catcher-smack,
Throw the ball to Boone
This old man makes batters swoon.

This old man, inning four
Made a double play, no score!
With a knick-nack, batter-smack,
Throw the ball to Boone
Sexson's tag killed that platoon.

This old man, inning five,
Ludwick K'ed, still shutout jive,
With that knick-nack, catcher-smack,
Throw the ball to Boone
This old man is no buffoon.

This old man, inning seven
Blake again in strikeout heaven
Well, the next pitch was a glitch
Homered Aaron Boone
Their only run all afternoon.

This old man, he pitched eight
And he got his fourth win straight
He's a no-balk, never-walk,
Jamie, way to go!
Just four more 'till two-oh-oh!

In other words -- Moyer - 8.0 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 0 BB, 5 K. Also his 130th win as a Mariner, and his 196th career win.

Highlights, and pictures...

That said, the highlights of the game were:
  • Ichiro's awesome baserunning in the first which got us off to a quick 1-0 lead. He was balked to second, then got the next two bases off sacrifice flies. Thing is, during Beltre's fly, Ichiro was so fast that he managed to be off second, then double back, then still run to third base and get there safely.
  • Jeremy Reed's stunning diving catch to grab Casey Blake's long fly ball to right center in the 4th. It was a really awesome play, and it's cool that he was up next so he got even more applause.
  • The explosive 6th inning rally. Ichiro singled, Reed walked, Beltre hit a long single which the left fielder flubbed, scoring Ichiro. Sexson was then intentionally walked, loading the bases. (It makes sense, since Bret Boone had done nothing but strike out so far.) Boone, instead of striking out, hit a long sac fly, scoring Reed. They changed pitchers, and Sauerbeck promptly walked Ibanez, so they switched pitchers again to Betancourt. Winn technically hit into a fielder's choice, except that somehow the tag at the plate was bad (he really was out by a mile -- I think they charged the shortstop with a bad throw, but I think it should have been a catcher error) so Beltre scored. Olivo then came up and hit a huuuuuuuuuuuuuge double to center, which scored Sexson, Ibanez, AND Winn. Good stuff, seriously.
  • The ridiculous 8th inning walk-fest. Davis walked five guys in a row, scoring two runs. It was amazing. See pictures below. The inning did end in an exciting 1-2-3 double play, which I don't think I've seen before.

I snapped a few pictures of the scoreboards because they were just so bizarre:

Someone please tell me how someone can pitch a negative number of balls? Thanks.

Yes, he really WAS that wild, and yes, he really did walk five Mariners in a row.

Woooo! Go Jamie!

Saturday, April 23, 2005


So I'm reading "The Baseball Hall of Shame's Warped Record Book", and I came across this entry:

Most games attended by a pet duck

6 games
Jarry Park, Montreal 1970

The way the last-place Expos played in 1970 was for the birds. Maybe that's why one of the team's noisiest rooters was a duck!

The feathered fan attended his first game when two humans brought the little guy -- their pet -- to Jarry Park and asked if they could take him inside with them.

"The team policy said no dogs or cats were allowed, but it didn't say anything about ducks," recalled promotions director Roger Savard. "So I told them to buy him a ticket."

"It was really funny because every time the duck quacked, you could hear him all over the ballpark, and the fans started to quack back."

After six games the duck stopped coming. Maybe he just got tired of seeing the Expos put so many goose eggs up on the scoreboard.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Athletics - Wherefore art thou, Jason Kendall?

I went to Safeco on Thursday night for the Mariners-A's game, which I had been looking forward to a lot, but due to some confusion over trying to get someone to go with me (Drew thought he could go, then it turned out he couldn't), and the cold weather, and the Mariners losing, it was actually relatively unfun. I did have the joy of getting into the park at 5:30pm, which means I saw the tail end of Mariners batting practice and all of A's batting practice. Jamie Moyer was playing catch with a guy in the outfield seats when I first got there... that was weird. The A's were very gracious with the fans asking them for autographs; Eric Byrnes, Mark Kotsay, Kiko Calero, Barry Zito, Justin Duchscherer, and some others all came by and happily signed stuff for people and got their pictures taken with fans and all. I actually was like, a few feet away from all of those guys, but I felt weird asking them to sign stuff, and I had nothing relevant to sign. I had brought an old Jason Kendall baseball card, and I was wearing my Pirates Kendall shirt, but alas, he never came out, so I didn't get him to sign anything.

The park was seriously empty. Our section was seriously empty. I ended up moving to the front row of it after a while because there was this seriously loud obnoxious drunken group behind me. The game was seriously empty as well. Franklin didn't pitch terribly, but he gave up an early home run which made the score 3-0, and the Mariners simply never scored any runs of their own. Harden got 8 strikeouts in 7 innings; the M's were just overswinging a lot, it looked. Jason Kendall made a pretty awesome play against Bret Boone in the 2nd, where Boone hit a ball towards second, and Ellis dove and stopped it in the dirt, but he overthrew first base, so Boone started running to second, kinda awkwardly. Kendall had gone up to back up the play at first, so he got the ball and threw to second base miiiiiles ahead of Boone. I'll chalk that up to "Jason Kendall rules" and not "Bret Boone sucks", for now.

Charlie Thomas came up to bat, having been 0-for-18 this year so far, but with a .217 OBP. The guy next to me was like "look at that guy's on-base percentage. I know Billy Beane tells those guys to learn to take a walk, but don’t you think he should tell them to learn to hit the ball, too?"

Speaking of Moneyball, it was neat to see Nick Swisher playing.

At one point they were playing the Phil Collins song "Susudio" or whatever, right before Marco Scutaro came up to bat, and I started humming, "Scu-scu-scutaro" to the music instead. Hee.

Duchscherer has too many redundant letters in his name.

Got to see Shin-Soo Choo in his first major league at-bat. He has the unfortunate quality where, when he is put in as a pinch-hitter, the note says "a-Choo batted for Olivo", which means that the scorer is sneezing.

Sadly, I noticed that the Angels-Indians game had Kevin Millwood pitching against Jarrod Washburn, which makes the Indians games this weekend a little less attractive to attend, but we'll see.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Bye Bye, Blazer

I'm home in Seattle. I'll be at the Oakland A's game tomorrow night, wearing my Jason Kendall shirt in all its glory.

Don Blasingame apparently died last week. He was one of the first Americans to manage a baseball team in Japan; important enough to the history of gaijin-NPB relations to have his own chapter in Robert Whiting's book You Gotta Have Wa. I'm glad Rob Fitts got in an interview with him for "Remembering Japanese Baseball", which I really do need to go order a copy of.

The Fighters are in the top half of the Pacific League. Ogasawara's only batting .282, but with 9 home runs. Yow.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Game Report: Pirates vs. Cardinals -- The most spectacular 9th inning ever

I went to the Pirates-Cardinals game on Monday night. The funny thing about PNC Park being right on the river is that it's much easier to bus to downtown Pittsburgh and just walk across the Roberto Clemente bridge. I did that, meeting up with 4 of my friends by the Roberto Clemente statue, and we went to get tickets.

Here's the main difference between going to a game in Pittsburgh and a game in Seattle:

At 6:30pm before a 7:05 game, we were able to get 5 seats together, in row W, in field seating behind home plate, for $27 each. In Seattle, not only would these seats cost $50 each, but you would never be able to get 5 seats together in that location on the day of a game. I guess it's because the attendance was 11,220. Heh. It was a pretty nice day out, too.

We grabbed food and then sat down to watch the game. The funny thing is, PNC Park's slogan for this year appears to be "Come hungry", because apparently if they advertised "Come see the Pirates win," they'd be sued for false advertising. However, there are a ton of concessions stands all over the park. I was happy they had a Primanti Brothers sandwich booth.

The game was pretty normal for the first 8 innings. It was a fairly low scoring game for a while. Mark Mulder, our old nemesis at the A's, was pitching for St. Louis, and he had a perfect game going into the 4th, but then he walked Jason Bay and it all went away, the Pirates scoring their only run in the 5th on a weird error where David Ross hit what was supposed to be a sacrifice fly to left field, except when the throw to the plate beat Daryle Ward there, he ran into the catcher and knocked the ball out of his mitt, so they called it an E-2, not an RBI sac fly. Doh. They had a chance to score again an inning later, kinda -- with two outs and one man on first, Craig Wilson hit a long fly ball to left field, and the fielder didn't quite get to it -- so it should have been an easy double, but for some reason, the third base coach waved Lawton home... he was out by a mile. It was a really risky move with two outs, I think.

The Cardinals came into the top of the 9th inning leading the Pirates 2-1. They left the 9th inning leading the Pirates 11-1. Carl had asked me earlier in the evening what one does with a scorecard if the players all go to bat in an inning, and I was like "It's not going to happen, but you just kinda shift everything over a column." Well, oops. 12 Cardinals batted in the top of the 9th, and here's what they did -- ground out, single, double (RBI), single (RBI), single, walk (with someone scoring on a wild pitch), walk, pitching change, walk (RBI), strikeout, single (2 RBI), single, double (3 RBI), line to second. It was really pathetic. I would feel bad for Brian Meadows, but he really pitched like crap. The guys were knocking the baseball all over the place because he was just feeding it to them.

The Pirates have cute gimmicks for their scoreboards when they show the players. The first time through, they show these paintings the players have done of their names. The second time through, they have rebus puzzles for each player (like, Jack Wilson is a set of jacks - S + a will + a son. Or Ty Wigginton is a tie + a wig + IN + a 2000 lb weight. I wonder what they do for Rob Mackowiak). The third time through they show a treasure map with the player's head in phantom, and the fourth time they seem to show the photoshopped players' heads with an eyepatch and falchions crossed behind them. It's cute.

It was neat to see the Cardinals. They had David Eckstein, everyone's favorite little dude, as their shortstop and lead-off batter. They also have So Taguchi, who is reeeeeeally fast for a 35-year-old right fielder; he must be trying to live up to the Ichiro reputation. It was rad to see Pujols-Rolen-Edmonds, the heart of the killer Cardinals from last year. And whoa, Mark Mulder. It's a shame I didn't get to see them send up John Mabry to bat!

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Mariners @ Royals -- Low Pitch Count part 2

I'm in Pittsburgh now, so I wasn't able to watch today's game.

Shiggy got 4 batters out on 6 pitches.

That's awesome.

(Sele threw 79 pitches in 6.1 innings, that's not too shabby either.)

The Mariners are at .500 for the first time in ages.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

J-Ball: Ogasawara's stance

Tonight, and last night, I have been watching the Yahoo! Japan web broadcasts of the Nippon Ham Fighters as they play the Seibu Lions. I guess there's one advantage to being nocturnal -- 6pm Japan time is 2am Seattle time. I was partially just watching/listening to the games so I could hear some of the players' cheer songs for nostalgia, but really, when a baseball game is on, I can't help but really watch it.

There were many things to notice in the games -- today's game in particular was awesome, because the Fighters killed the defending Japan Series champions, 15-7. The starting pitcher for the Lions was Chris Wright, who used to be in the Mariners' organization until sometime in 2003, getting as far as Tacoma before he ended up being shipped off to the CPBL (Chinese Pro Baseball League) in 2004, and now he's up with the Lions. Anyway, he got ROCKED. He faced 8 batters, got one out, gave up 5 runs, struck out none, walked two. The Fighters were just on a hot hitting streak in general, and were up 8-0 by the end of the second inning.

I took a few screenshots from the video feed. I'm sure this is entirely illegal, but I wanted to point out the following things:

1) Shinjo is still loopy. Nice gloves, dude.

2) Michihiro Ogasawara, my favorite player on the Fighters, has the weirdest stance I've ever seen. Now see -- I've been to a bunch of Fighters games when I was over in Japan -- but, I usually sat in the outfield bleachers and cheered and sang my lungs out with the oendan. Therefore, I'd never really seen a lot of the players from the best angle, so all I knew was that he held his bat outwards while hitting. With the TV feed, suddenly I can see exactly how he looks, close up:

Something you have to understand. This is not him in the middle of a swing. This is him holding his bat out BEFORE he swings. When the pitch approaches, he just takes a lazy slight curve back and whooooosh, his bat comes forward really quickly and thwacks the ball. It looks so weird and so fragile, but he hit a home run in the third inning, his fourth for the year so far. The guy can hit for average (as seen by his two consecutive Pacific League batting titles in 2002 and 2003) and can hit for power. He's also an amazing defensive first or third baseman.

3) I have no point here, I just want to show a picture of the "Hokkaido Shinbun" ad on the side of Hiroshi Narahara's hat:

Anyway, it was a very exciting game, lots of scoring. It lasted over 4 hours, which is really long for Japanese games -- the TV networks will cut them off promptly at 9pm no matter what's going on, usually.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Mariners @ Royals

I should open this by explaining that I have a Ryan Franklin #45 t-shirt, among my other Mariners player t-shirts that I've gotten in the last few years. For some reason, I like the underdog sort of pitcher.

Ryan Franklin has been known to be an inconsistent pitcher in the past, and I won't deny it. The one good thing about the guy that most people have agreed with, at least, is that he eats innings.

Today, he put in a brilliant showing. 8.2 innings, a shutout for the first 8, 5 hits, 2 runs, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, no home runs. He threw 83 pitches, 64 of them for strikes. That's 77% strikes. That's awesome. Gil Meche was yanked with 89 pitches on him in the 4th inning yesterday.

Our rotation is having issues, with Madritsch recently out with a ligament tear in his shoulder, and Meche being moved back a day in the rotation with a sore elbow. Pineiro apparently did well in his recent rehab assignment in Tacoma, so it's looking like this week, we'll be getting:

Monday: Franklin. W 8-2.
Tuesday: day off, for some unknown reason. Tuesday??
Wednesday: Sele - let's hope he has a decent showing.
Thursday: Moyer again, right?
Friday: Piniero
Saturday: Meche

What a lot of people are failing to notice is that Franklin's done a great service to the Mariners' bullpen. Between his 8 2/3 innings today, and the day off tomorrow, there'll be a lot of rested arms incase Sele needs them on Wednesday.

So, three cheers to Ryan Franklin. We salute you.

We also salute Beltre on his first home run of the year, and the rest of the boys for a damn fine rally in the 8th inning. Looks like everyone except Ibanez got a taste of being on base that inning, which is great. Now let's just hope that's not all the run support Ryan Franklin will be getting for the year!

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Rangers - All Drese-d up

Today's Mariners game was another 7-6 loss to the Rangers. Meche looked decent out there -- well, not great, but at least good -- for about three innings, and then he got ripped to pieces by the Rangers in the fourth. What was really kind of odd about it was the way the fourth inning went, making me wonder if Meche was tipping his pitches or something -- because every player that got a single that inning hit it to the exact same place -- right field. No joke. They were also really working up the pitch counts on him - he had 89 pitches on him when he got pulled with two outs in the fourth. He also either has slowed down his windup, or people were just stealing like crazy on him for no reason.

The Mariners had an awful time of baserunning in the 3rd inning. Winn walked, and then attempted to steal second, but he really didn't get a good jump on it, and was tagged out, in a rundown I wrote down as a 2-4-3-4-3-6 play. Dan Wilson, who was playing today mostly due to it being Dan Wilson Shirt Day, went 2 for 3 overall, starting off with a single after Winn got picked off. Then Willie Baseball followed it up with another single. If you're playing the home game, you may note that Winn would have scored by now if he hadn't been an idiot, as Wilson would have advanced him to second or third, and Willie would have batted him in. The weird part is, with two strikes on Ichiro, and one out, Wilson started running, most likely for a hit-and-run -- except Ichiro struck out (which he, and others, disagreed with; the pitch was really low) and the catcher threw to third to catch Dan Wilson "stealing" for a 2-5 double play, ending the inning. Ugh.

Then let's talk about that Meche-eating fourth inning. For the top of the fourth, Hidalgo popped out. Then Dellucci walked, then Matthews singled to shallow right, then Gonzalez singled to shallow right (nearly hitting Matthews with the ball -- I actually wonder, would he be out if the ball hit him?), scoring Dellucci. Barajas doubled to deep right, scoring Matthews. Dellucci, Matthews, and Gonzalez all went from first to third on Ichiro, which is something that would usually be unheard of, but they almost all got pretty good leads off the bag and were already in a hit-and-run sort of dash. Soriano hit into a 6-3... wait, no he didn't, because Willie Bloomquist ran up to scoop up the ball and missed it, and Gonzalez scored. Blalock popped out to shallow left field, which was actually pretty funny -- Winn ran up to catch it and Barajas actually didn't bother running home. On Randy Winn, who is certainly no Ichiro when it comes to throwing arm. Things could have been good then, and Meche got a 3-2 count on Young... who then proceeded to hit yet another single to right field, scoring the speedy Soriano, who had stolen a base, and the slow Barajas. With the score 5-0, Meche got pulled for Matt Thornton, which made us all go "Oh, great."

Thornton actually pitched relatively well, until he gave up a double to Teixeira in the 7th and a long 416-foot home run to Dellucci two at-bats later. This, sadly, lost him the game, as the Mariners had miraculously managed to come back and get the score to 6-5 by the end of the 5th.

Even their recovery was frought with stupidity, though. Reed led off with a ground rule double that bounced over Matthews's head into the beer garden, and Beltre walked, and then Richie Sexson came up and hit a home run... err... he hit the ball into the front row of section 107, where either a fan knocked it onto the field, or Richard Hidalgo jumped high enough and knocked the ball back onto the field -- I couldn't quite see, but either way, the ball ended up back on the field. Either way, Sexson stopped at second, Reed scored, and Beltre stopped at third. Richie just pointed at the right field wall, and Hargrove came out to argue with the umpires, and there was a pause for about five minutes while people argued, and all the umpires conferred, and it was decided that it was not a home run. Yeesh. After that, Boone and Ibanez both grounded into 6-3 plays, each one scoring a runner. So the net result was the same, except Richie's home run count isn't one higher. The score was 5-3.

In the fifth, Dan Wilson leads off with a single, and Bloomquist bunts into a fielder's choice. Or does he? The throw to second is off, and Wilson is safe, and Bloomquist is safe at first, except the Rangers are somehow never charged with an error. Ichiro hits into a real fielder's choice, as Bloomquist is tagged at second. Jeremy Reed, yet again, is the cause of a bizarre run-scoring play -- he hit what appeared at first to be a low pop fly to Mark Teixeira standing a bit in front of the first-second base line -- but the umpires rule it a fair ball because it apparently bounced in front of the plate first. So Reed gets to first on an "infield single", Dan Wilson scores, and Ichiro gets to second as Teixeira's just standing there holding the ball. Beltre hits a long fly ball to center field which is caught on the warning track; and then Richie Sexson hits a REAL double to right center field which bounces inbetween Matthews and Hidalgo, scoring Ichiro and Reed. 6-5, and nobody cares when Bret Boone flies out to third, even the kids sitting behind me who have been asking all game, "When will Bret Boone come to bat? What did Bret Boone do?" as if he'd managed to not make a bunch of bad plays and go 0 for 4 in his hitting.

Anyway, as I mentioned, Thornton pitched relatively well for him, but not good enough to hold a one-run lead, and the Mariners eventually lose the game 7-6 yet again. There were a few more fun moments in the game, such as Ichiro making a running leaping catch in the outfield, and Jeff Nelson putting in a pretty respectable late-inning appearance, going 1.1 innings, walking 1, striking out 3, and giving up no runs. And even Ronnie The Bear managed to come in for 2 outs and not blow it.

I wondered, after Meche spent a whole bunch of time trying to pick people off first base and failing: what's the official rule on what happens if a runner is hit by a thrown ball? For example, if Meche had just thrown the ball and hit the guy taking a lead off of first, would they be out? Or would they be awarded another base, like when a batter is hit? I should know the answer to this, I suppose, but I don't.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Rangers - Vendor's Game, by Orson Score Card

Brian and I went to the game today. He showed up at what would usually be the ungodly early hour of 10:30am to get me, except I was actually already up. We bussed from Northgate and got to the stadium around 11:30, which meant... batting practice was going on! Wheee! I have never seen batting practice before (well, not in this country. I had seen batting practice at Chiba Marine stadium in Japan).

It was pretty exciting, kinda. I mean, I got to stand there looking at the outfield and point out all the pitchers shagging fly balls... well, actually, mostly, they were just standing around. Like I saw Shiggy and J.J.Putz, and Gil Meche and Eddie Guardado, and a bunch of other random pitchers just standing there. Some other people went out to practice fielding, like Scott Spiezio, who really needs the BATTING practice, not FIELDING. We got to see Ichiro take a few swings, and Bret Boone came out for a while to sign autographs for people. The autograph thing is kind of confusing to me... it seemed like not many players actually came out to the stands to sign anything (well, none except Boone), and then when the players came in to the dugout from batting practice, people would hand stuff to the ushers like "Can you get [player] to sign this for my kid?" and such. Actually the weirdest was, one girl asked Miguel Olivo as he was coming in for a signed bat... he kinda nodded... and came back out and handed her a signed bat! The usher was like "Do you know him? Are you related?" and the girl's like "No, I just asked him for a bat" and the usher says "That's REALLY abnormal! You're a lucky gal!"

After that, Brian and I grabbed lunch and sat in the seats for a bit. I'd picked up these tickets after the game on Wednesday.. a season ticket holder returned them... so we were in section 116, row 8, seats 15-16. That's like, 2 sections into field seating, a couple sections beyond first base... and fairly close. Very good seats. I decided I wanted to wander over and take some pictures of Jamie Moyer warming up in the bullpen, because the game wasn't starting for another half hour. So we did that.

For a while Jamie and Olivo were just tossing the ball back and forth in the outfield. I was worried they wouldn't actually come into the bullpen. So they did, and I got this great picture of Bryan Price blowing his wad. I took a whole buncha pictures of Jamie Moyer pitching, but they mostly turned out boring. A few: Jamie ponders. Jamie gets ready. Jamie goes into his windup! Olivo catches. Olivo throws!

Oh, I went over to the Texas Bullpen for a bit too. Here you can see the bullpen catcher, bullpen coach Mark Connor, and pitching coach OREL HERSHISER! I took that picture mostly for my mom, who adored Orel Hershiser back in the 80's. Hi Mom.

The rest of the game report...
The Game!
Well, so anyway, we had these fabulous seats, except for one problem -- the angle we were at, if anyone was standing in the aisle nearby, it completely blocked our vision of home plate. This became fairly obvious early on, as about ninety people walked down towards their seats during the first inning. When Moyer struck out Teixeira in the first inning, the only way I found out was because I heard the clang KO sound -- there was a guy standing right in my line of sight, motioning towards someone (and looking really mad at me when I waved him to sit down). The first inning was pretty typical Moyer -- Soriano led off with a double, and Blalock walked, but Young popped foul and Richie took a good run for it and caught it, and Moyer struck out Teixeira and Hidalgo. Fun stuff. Our side of the first inning was pretty bland though, three up three down. We noted that Ichiro entered the game batting .533, and batting second was Jeremy Reed, with his whopping .071 batting average. I suppose between the two of them they were hitting .300.

In the second inning, we get a few close calls. After a pop out by Mench, Allen, batting .000, comes up to the plate and whips a 2-2 pitch to the shortstop, who grabs it on the bounce and BARELY beats Allen to first base on the throw. Matthews hits a ball into Adrian Beltre's stomach, who looks none too pleased about it, and he's so pissed he fires the ball to first base for the third out. After a parade of cotton candy and soda vendors come by in our half of the inning, the most colourful vendor in the world blocks my vision as Ibanez is called out on strikes. At least, I don't think he swung. It was hard ducking my head around to try to see.

I noted that a train came by at 1:29 during Allen's at-bat, and a plane was flying very low at 1:30 during Matthews's at-bat. All we would have needed is a car to go across the field and we'd have a Steve Martin film!

The third inning is where Sandy Alomar started to have his great day. You see, he hadn't been in a game yet this season, so he came up to bat with a .000 average the first time, and he smacked the ball into center; both Boone and Valdez moved towards it, but were too far away, for his first single of the day. The cotton candy vendor blocked me from seeing most of Soriano striking out on a 73mph Moyerball. Blalock almost hits a home run into the right field stands, but is a few feet foul, and promptly strikes out on a speedy 74mph Moyerball right after that. As Young steps to the plate, we hear echoes of "Cold Beer Here!" from our section and the next one over. He eventually walks, only to have the inning end a little bit later as Teixeira grounds out to second. Our team, wonderful as they are, mostly strike out this inning. Winn strikes out trying to bunt. Olivo strikes out as a plane flies by AND a train goes by. Valdez comes up to bat with a theme that I swear they were using for Olivo or Cabrera or someone last year, and as a vendor marches down the aisle yelling "BEER TIME!", Valdez grounds into a 6-3 play.

The grounds crew puts on my-my-my-my-my boogie shoes.

Between the third and fourth innings, I get this great idea that I'd love to get a picture of someone standing next to Richie Sexson at first base who is considerably shorter than he is. However, all of the players on the Texas Rangers are over six feet tall; Kevin Mench comes in at the shortest at 6'0 exactly. So after Hidalgo grounds out to third, I'm all psyched to get a picture of Mench at first next to Sexson, which means that he pops out to second. Two outs and Allen comes up. Unfortunately, he is not particularly short, and he hits a single. Matthews doubles to right field after that. Ichiro zaps the ball to the infield, and Boone misses the cutoff, but Allen stops at third. With runners at second and third, Sandy Alomar continues to have a great day, banging a single to center. Boone dives for the ball and misses, and by the time Jeremy Reed retrieves it, Allen and Matthews have scored. 2-0.

Soriano pops out, and I have to settle for a picture of Boone and Sexson for my "picture of an incredibly short guy standing next to an incredibly tall guy". Appropriately, the music trivia song for the next inning is "Wannabe" by the Spice Girls, and they want you to remember that Junior was the AL MVP in 1997.

Ichiro doubles to left center to start off the next half inning. In true Ichiro form, the hit would have been a single for any mortal player, but as we all know, Ichiro is a demigod, who was already around first base by the time the ball was retrieved, and gets a stand-up double. He also, predictably, is the first Mariner to reach base, against Pedro Astacio's excellent pitching. Reed grounds to first, where Teixeira makes an unassisted putout, but in the meantime, Ichiro gets to third. As a guy walks down the aisle in front of me selling lemonade, and another train goes by, Beltre belts a ball to center to score Ichiro. 2-1. Sexson grounds into a double play to end the inning.

In the fifth, Moyer and Beltre run down and catch Blalock's third-base-side foul as a new vendor walks down calling simply "Beer! Beer!" I think he's run out of steam. A lady asks him, "When are you going to have some of that hard lemonade stuff?" and the guy explains, "Lady, I'm going to be selling ice cream after this." Young is walked, as the weird beer dude with the colourful hat and outfit comes back. Teixeira strikes out on a fast 79mph ball, and Hidalgo grounds out to second.

Brian keeps laughing; now that I've pointed out how short Bret Boone is, he can't help but notice Sandy Alomar towering over him during his at-bat. The "Cold Beer Here" dude comes back, and someone's like "Hey Lance!" at him, to which he replies, "Howdy, partner!" Must be special for the Texas team. This guy, however, has hard lemonade, and the people behind us are placated. During the intra-inning gags, the Moose puts pies into the faces of two supposed Rangers fans in the stand, but I'm fairly sure this is staged.

The sixth inning starts off normally, with Mench popping out to Ichiro (as one of his young fans stares on intently). Moyer hits 100 pitches during Allen's at bat next, who singles, and moves to second on a wild pitch. Moyer's starting to look tired, but we know he'd love to stay in in the hopes that the Mariners pick up some runs in their half and give him a chance at a win. Unfortunately, he promptly walks Matthews, which leads to a conference at the mound. Sandy Alomar, batting ninth, hits a single which drives in Allen. 3-1. Alomar is now 3 for 3, and Moyer is now gone for gonzo. Okay, not Gonzo, but Shiggy. Brian points out that I've already scribbled in the runs for Moyer on my scorecard, which I explain as "wishful thinking". The cotton candy guy blocks my view again of Ichiro running in to catch Soriano's shallow pop fly. Blalock grounds to Boone, who jump-fires the ball to first for the third out, and I don't have to scribble out my run tally after all!

The Mariners' half of the inning is mostly punctuated by vendors. First the parade of soda and water come by, and then frozen lemonade, and Valdez gets a single, finally having Ichiro up to bat with someone on base. However, the beer guy and the peanuts guy get into an argument as Ichiro pops out to right field -- an odd thing here, but Texas also has their team's #51, Richard Hidalgo, playing right field. Weird, huh? Over a case of peanuts, Cracker Jacks, and kettle corn, I see Reed hit into a 1-3 play for the final out of the inning.

Shiggy hustles for a nice 3-1 play on Teixeira in the top half of the seventh, and then there's a stretch which involves even more vendors blocking our vision, in addition to the folks sitting next to us, who came back from some silent auction thing where they won a Dan Wilson bat for $400. Yeesh. As the bottom half of the seventh gets underway, the beer vendors start coming out even more in force. Beltre singles, and then Richie strikes out and Boonie pops to right field. The cries turn to "Last call! One more out until no more beer!" I think, "Well, better not get another out, then!" Sure enough, Ibanez singles to move Beltre to third, and then Winn drives Beltre in with another single, moving Ibanez to second. 3-2! With two men on, and the start of a vague rally, Hargrove decides to pinch-hit Scott "Sandfrog" Spiezio for the low-hitting Olivo. Spiezio strikes out, ending beer time for all.

When the 8th inning starts, I see Ron Villone warming up in the bullpen, and I groan. Brian asks me why, and I point it out, saying "Please let Shiggy get through this inning so we can just go straight to Eddie." Unfortunately, the first thing Shiggy does is walk Kevin Mench, which looks unfortunate. But! All is not lost, as Dan "The Man" Wilson, who replaced Olivo as catcher after the PH, comes in to save the day, throwing Mench out at second when he tries to steal! Yay! After that, we get a ground to third and a ground to short and the inning's over. A lovely Villone-free inning at that.

Now here's where the game got better AND weirder. The bottom of the 8th inning, where the Mariners blew it all open.

Valdez starts off with another single to right -- great! Ichiro, being Ichiro, also singles to right. With men on first and second base, Jeremy Reed comes up -- and I make a comment to Brian like, "He might be a good fielder, but if he wants to stay up here, he's got to do something NOW." Brian replies, "I think he knows that." So Reed tries to do a sacrifice bunt. Everyone starts running before he hits the ball, and Shouse, the pitcher who has come in for Astacio, fields the bunt. He turns to throw to third, but is too late, so he decides to throw to first instead. Teixeira had run in to try to field the bunt, so Soriano is covering first. The pitcher's throw is wide, and Soriano moves to try to get it... into the basepath, which has a Jeremy Reed currently barrelling towards first base at full Jeremy Speed. Soriano gets knocked flat on his ass, the ball keeps going, and so does Jeremy Reed, running to second, as Valdez runs home and Ichiro runs to third. Shouse, predictably, gets pulled, having notched no outs, and inflates his ERA to 10.12. Brocail comes in to pitch, and Beltre also hits a single, driving in Ichiro, and putting Reed on third.

Now here's the weirdest at-bat of the game (Reed's not being weird enough). Sexson hits the ball, and technically gets a fielder's choice because the ball is thrown towards third instead. Reed starts running towards home, and gets into a rundown between third and home, which is a little odd because usually weird base rundowns buy time for others to score, but in this case he's the one trying to score, so instead, Sexson moves up to second during the chase, and Beltre to third, and eventually Reed is tagged out. Boone gets a double, which scores Beltre, and Ibanez grounds to second -- they throw him out at first, so Sexson scores on that. 6-3! What a great comeback by the Mariners! Everyone is feeling pretty happy about this, even as Winn lines out to Teixeira to end the rally.

Wouldn't it be great if I could say that we had our closer, Everyday Eddie Guardado, come in and finish off the game for a neat Mariners win?

Yeah, it sure WOULD be great. However, a few things happen at this point.

First, it starts raining.

Second, with one out, Soriano hits a routine ball towards second base, which on any normal day, Bret Boone would scoop up, fire to first, and Soriano would be out. However, this day is not a normal day, apparently, and the ball goes right through Boone's legs to center field.

So instead of 2 outs and nobody on, we have 1 out and a runner on first.

Then Hank Blalock comes up. He's been having awful luck hitting today, which has actually surprised me; I was expecting him to get a home run off Jamie Moyer. Well, he's never one to let me down, and instead he gets a home run off Eddie Guardado a few feet past the foul post in right field. This scores Soriano too, so it's now 6-5. I guess that's okay. Young gets a single, but Teixeira strikes out again after that as the roof is closing, making it two outs.

"Up on your feet!" cries the scoreboard, traditional for the last out of the game. So we stand up for Hidalgo's at-bat. And he takes the 0-1 pitch and BLASTS it to deep center field, way back. Jeremy Reed chases after it, but to no avail, as it goes over the fence for another 2-run homer. Goodbye baseball, and goodbye game -- it brings the score to 7-6 Rangers. And BOY does Eddie Guardado look pissed.

Mench pops out to end the inning, which should have been out long ago. Brian and I argue over which runs were earned and unearned, and I'm wrong - I counted 3 out of 4 as earned because only Soriano was an unearned runner, but Brian later points out that the inning should have ended with Teixeira's strikeout, and therefore Hidalgo's 2 runs are also unearned.

I get the hiccups at this point, which get in the way of me seeing the bottom of the 9th inning now that the vendors have all stopped coming around. It's pretty hopeless anyway. Dan Wilson strikes out, and Greg Dobbs strikes out for Valdez. Ichiro walks, and Jeremy Reed gets a single, sending Ichiro to third, but Beltre hits the ball hard and high, not hard and far, and it's caught for the third out.

It's such a heartbreaking loss. At least Jamie Moyer put in a good showing - I was feeling pretty good about the game even when he was still losing 2-1 for a while.

This is super-long, so I'm going to edit it down later, but for now I've got to get to sleep -- I didn't mean to spend 4 hours transcribing my notes and working with pictures. Tomorrow's game's writeup should be shorter.

A new place to babble.

I feel like this post needed to be edited to explain the current situation. (Edited on September 25, 2007)

This blog used to be known as "Seattle Marinerds". It was started in April of 2005 following a series of events that mostly can be blamed on a blog called the USS Mariner, and covered the 2005 and 2006 seasons of the Mariners, and about half of the 2007 season. In an attempt to be a little bit different than the plethora of other blogs out there, I tried to take lots of pictures at games, and write humorous stories and song lyrics and other random things about baseball, as well as some serious articles and book reviews and the like. Since I'd been avidly following Japanese baseball for several years, it also often had random tidbits about the Nippon Ham Fighters (my adopted Japanese "home" team) and other stuff; I'd been using baseball as an excuse to keep up with my Japanese language studies.

At the end of July 2007, I quit my cushy engineering job in Seattle and moved to the Tokyo area to teach English. I have a bizarre work schedule, but I still make it to at least one baseball game per week here. I'm terrified of figuring out what to do with my weekends once the season ends.

The name of this blog refers to three teams:
Marinerds -- the Chiba Lotte Marines (formerly, it referred to Seattle)
Dragonbutts -- the Chunichi Dragons
Hokkaidorks -- the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters

The problem with living in the Kanto area is that the local teams are the Yomiuri Giants, Yakult Swallows, and Yokohama Bay Stars in the Central League, and the Chiba Lotte Marines and Seibu Lions in the Pacific League. My Fighters moved to Hokkaido in 2004, so I only get to see them when they are playing against Lotte or Seibu.

I inadvertantly adopted the Yokohama Bay Stars as my "local" CL team -- I love Yokohama stadium and I think the team has a lot of potential. The Chunichi Dragons became my other team thanks to the fact that the friends I talk to about Japanese baseball most often are gigantic Chunichi fans; I really got to know the team during the 2006 Japan Series. (Much like Yankees/RedSox, I refuse to cheer for Yomiuri or Hanshin.) My favorite Chunichi player is a guy named Masahiko Morino, who I nicknamed "Dragonbutt" after a photo I took in Hiroshima last fall; I always joked that my Chunichi friends were Dragonbutts, and so... here we are.

Conveniently, the fact that I still love some Marines players like Shunsuke Watanabe and Tomoya Satozaki means that I can keep the "Marinerds" sub-name, even if now it's pronounced a bit more like "Marine nerds"...

Also, I feel a need to make a disclaimer: I love Japanese baseball for what it is. I'm not a scout and I will not help you drool over NPB players for your future fantasy baseball teams or whatever. If you email me asking "who's coming to the MLB in 2008?", I will probably send you a pointer to or something else smartassed like that.

Anyway, that's about the story at this point. Happy reading!

Original post follows this break:

Long-time readers of my normal web journal have become increasingly annoyed that a good 50% or more of my posting for the last year or two has been strictly baseball.

Therefore, I figure it'll be a good exercise for me to try to keep all of my basebabble in one place.

A brief intro: I'm Deanna. I grew up in Philadelphia, and my mom had season tickets to the Phillies, and her father did before her (they won their only World Series 3 weeks after he died), so I went to many Phillies games as a kid. The only World Series game I ever attended was in 1983, and the Orioles beat the Phillies, which has scarred me to this day. I went off to college at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh in 1994, and attempted to follow Pirates baseball when they weren't making me want to blow up the stadium *with* the team inside. I moved to Seattle in 2002, and now the Mariners suck too. Go figure! I must just be bad luck. I still follow the Phillies and Pirates as my "other" home teams, but the Mariners are my primary these days.

By day I'm a Perl programmer for a medical software company in downtown Seattle, and by night I'm a gamer-musician-writer-athlete-etc. I'm a nerd, and I like the Mariners, and therefore, this is Seattle MariNERDs. Nice to meet you.

My favorite Japanese baseball team is the Nippon Ham Fighters (and my second-favorite is the Chiba Lotte Marines). The Fighters were the first team I ever went to a game of, back when they shared the Tokyo Dome with the Giants. I bought cheap seats in the outfield, right in the middle of the Fighters cheering section, and I was hooked! I kept following the Fighters even after they moved to Sapporo. I can even sing several of the players' cheer songs now. Then I went to a game at Chiba Marine stadium in 2004, and while they were just a team with potential then, it became really interesting to root for the Marines to topple the Hawks in 2005. Along the way, I learned more about the team and the players, and really grew to like them, and I even stayed up all night several times to follow the 2005 PL playoffs and Japan Series :) This year, I'm staying up all night to watch my Fighters take the championship!

(I speak and read Japanese, yes, although I'm rustier than I used to be. I passed the JLPT 3-kyuu in 2001. I read Japanese boxscores quickly and articles slowly.)

Anyway! Babbling aside, here's what you can expect to find here:

1) My reports from baseball games I attend (most of which will involve the Seattle Mariners).
2) My reviews of baseball books I read (I've been wanting to get my thoughts on several books down, so this'll be a good excuse to.)
3) My reviews of baseball movies (again, these won't be strictly new movies, but occasionally I'll just decide to watch Mr. Baseball or something again and babble about it.)
4) Parody lyrics about baseball that I write.
5) Random links to baseball stuff I find interesting, which may or may not be interesting to anyone else. I mostly tend to keep up with the Mariners, the Phillies, and various parts of Japanese baseball.

Here's what you will NOT find here, most likely:

1) Tons of stats and analytical stuff. While I read sites like USSM, and stuff like Baseball Prospectus, and things written by people like Bill James, I will fully admit that I don't know as much about the stats as the other people do, so I'm not going to even try to break any new ground there.
2) Real inside connections and other such scoopy stuff, although I occasionally might spot something interesting in a Japanese paper that doesn't make it into English. I'm just a girl who loves baseball.

There's not even a guarantee I'll actually really continue with this. Let's call it an experiment.

Oh yeah, and I'll get around to editing this template and making it look less stupid someday. Really.

Play Ball!

(this is undoubtedly out of date)

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Twins - Bret Boone's Birthday!

Today I started off the day with even more bad timing. I meant to go to GI Joe's in Northgate and get a scorecard book, and then take a bus to Safeco from Northgate, and get to the game a few hours early and photograph batting practice! Then two things happened -- one, I forgot the battery for my camera and didn't notice until I was at Northgate -- and two, the GI Joe store didn't actually have a reasonable scorecard book. Grr. I drove home, seeing the 5 bus up Greenwood, and when I got back, I realized that I could either go straight to the bus stop and catch that bus, not grabbing the battery, or I could grab the battery and probably miss the bus. I chose the latter. It's okay, it was a gorgeous, sunny day in the mid-60's; not at all bad for standing outside or walking.

It all worked out okay, I guess. I ended up getting there early enough to be one of the first 20,000 fans, and got a calendar. I was too late to see batting practice, but I was early enough to get pictures of Bobby Madritsch and Carlos Silva warming up. I also ended up getting a seat in section 106, in the right field stands. Usually, these are good seats, except I had the fortune to be sitting between an extremely loud drunk mulletted guy, and an extremely stinky and large teenage boy. The joys of the game started when the team had barely taken the field and the drunk guy yells out, practically in my ear, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BRET!"

Yeah, okay, it's Bret Boone's birthday, but can he really hear you from across the field, jerk?

The first inning goes by fairly quickly, from the playing standpoint. The twins are 3 up 3 down, and the Mariners are almost so, save Beltre smacking a line drive through Castro's glove for an infield single.

In the second inning, Cheering Drunk Guy (henceforth referred to as CDG) feels that it's necessary to shout "WAY TO GO, BOBBY!" after every pitch. It is, infact, even necessary to yell "WAY TO GO, RANDY!" after Randy Winn catches a ball that pretty much came right at him. Bobby Madritsch gets the only Twins strikeout of the game, fanning Jacque Jones on a 75 mph changeup.

Bret Boone, Birthday Boy, comes up first in the bottom half of the inning. He watches a few pitches go by, even fouls off a few, and then really lays into a 1-2 pitch, blasting it into the left field bleachers for a 387-foot home run. Not a bad way to start off your 36th birthday. 1-0. Everyone goes wild, including CDG, who's up to a 3-0 count on his beers, and knocks the current one into the row below us. It spills all over some poor lady's jacket, who freaks out, and CDG doesn't even lose his cool, he's just all like "Hey, ah got so 'cited by the home run that ah couldn't hold mah beer!"


The rest of the Mariners' hitting in this inning is entirely handled by Juan Castro and Justin Morneau, as Ibanez pops up to Castro, Winn grounds to first for Morneau's unassisted putout, and Wilson grounds into a 6-3 play. At this point I discover that CDG has a daughter or two sitting further down the row -- as they come up and ask him for money to go get ice cream. CDG gets his buddy, ODG (Other Drunk Guy) to take one of his daughters up for ice cream ("Hey, gemme another brewski while you're at it?"). He bounces his other daughter on his knee like "You thirsty, punkster? We gonna win? We better! We didn't drive no 500 miles to see them lose!"

Hmm, that explains it all, although I'm vaguely doubting this guy can actually count to 500. I start scouting out seats nearby; there's like five empty seats in the row right behind me. CDG yells "GET EM, BOBBY!" in my ear as the third inning gets underway.

Valdez decides to prove he can, infact, play shortstop, as he snags some pretty good grounders for a set of 6-3 plays. The Mariners don't manage to do much in their half of the inning. Between the third and fourth innings, I hop up a row into an empty seat, asking the nice couple sitting there whether anyone's been there. They say no, and commend me on my fine choice of escaping CDG. Wheeee.

The game gets a lot better for me at that point. Well, no. It gets quieter. The fourth inning is when the Twins start blowing apart Bobby Madritsch, which is decidedly not better.

Stewart sends a long pop fly into Jeremy Reed's glove, a routine play. Then it all starts. Nick Punto bunts past Madritsch, and Boone falls flat on his face trying to field it (flat enough that Richie has to help him stand up). CDG starts yelling, "YOU'RE A BUM, PUNTO! YOU SMELL! P-U! PUNTO!" Hmm, that's almost clever. Hunter flies out to center, and then Punto and Morneau execute such a perfect hit-and-run that I can't help but break out into a grin. Punto starts running as the pitch comes in, and is already halfway to second by the time Morneau hits the ball out to right field, getting to third before even Ichiro can throw it in. I'm still admiring the beauty of the perfectly played hit-and-run when LeCroy, one of the Twins's spare catchers who happens to be playing DH today, whacks a nice home run into the Twins' bullpen. 3-1.

Boone makes a nice spinning catch to retire Jones and end the inning, but the damage is done.

Between halves of the 4th inning, the music trivia song for the day is "Burning Down the House" by Talking Heads, which came out in 1983. The music trivia on Monday was "Tell Her About It" by Billy Joel, which also came out in 1983. Yet there was no mention of the 1983 World Series in the sports trivia half of either of them. Grr! 1983 is the only year I got to go to a World Series game! (Orioles vs. Phillies) Yet, they ask questions mostly about Gaylord Perry. What, am I in Seattle or something?

The bottom of the fourth has the Mariners basically get a few singles and then ground into a double play, looking like the 2004 Mariners again.

The top of the fifth is where things get really weird. First Cuddyer hits the ball to Madritsch, who fields it to Sexson, but is a little bit off with his throw, and Sexson has to jump in the air to get it. "I THINK WE NEED A TALLER FIRST BASEMAN!" yells a guy in front of CDG. Richie Sexson, at 6'8", three inches taller than John Olerud, is easily one of the tallest first basemen currently in the game, if not in all of MLB history. Well, it's still sort of amusing. Mike Redmond, born in Seattle (what an unfortunate last name), hits a double. Juan Castro comes up to the plate, and something's kinda off with Bobby, as he works Castro to a 3-1 count. After he throws a ball, Madritsch motions for Dan Wilson to come out to the mound, and next thing you know, the whole dugout, and the pitching staff, and the grounds crew, and the ushers, and everyone and their mom are out at the mound talking to Bobby. He gets pulled with an injury, though no details are given, and Ryan Franklin is put in, in the middle of the at-bat.

Franklin is given a while to warm up, since he pretty much was called in out of nowhere. He pitches a fourth ball to Castro, who walks. Stewart singles to load the bases, but it works out okay as brilliant-hit-and-run-man Punto grounds into a double play.

In the interim, while we are all wondering what on earth happened to Bobby, we get today's Ask the Mariners, which is "who would be most likely to end up on the cover of GQ?" The overwhelming response is for Ichiro or Pineiro. Oh, and Shiggy, of course. Personally, I'd go with Gil Meche, but I've got weird taste in looks, I guess.

After the startling top of the fifth, the Mariners attempt to start some offense, as Randy Winn leads off with a double. Unfortunately, he gets caught stealing third on the very first pitch to Dan Wilson. We are all, of course, wondering "WHAT? Dude, you were already IN scoring position!" Two 6-3 plays later the inning is over.

Ichiro leads off the bottom of the 6th with a really sweet single. Have we mentioned that he's still batting .500 overall? He's well on track for getting 300 hits this year! This would be, again, a great start to an offense, if Jeremy Reed hadn't dribbled the ball into a 3-4-3 double play, which I haven't seen in a while. (For those who don't know what that means, it means he hit the ball to the deep-playing first baseman, who threw to second base rather than tagging first base. Having successfully gotten the forced runner at second out, the second baseman throws the ball back to first base, since the first baseman has run back there in the meantime, and they get both runners out.)

At 5:06pm another train goes by while Castro is at bat. The lady in front of me, who is wearing a hat adorned with years of Mariners pins, writes "5:06 Train" on her scorecard. I am stymied by this and make a note. Unlike Lew Ford, Castro hits a single during the train horn.

The Mariners start looking even more like last year's team when they hit three consecutive singles in the 7th inning. Boone (who is now 3 for 3 on his birthday, and will ultimately end up being 3 for 4), Ibanez, and Winn, all in order. Winn smacked a good single into center, and Boone could have maybe possibly scored on it, but he ended up staying at third to keep the bases loaded, and Wilson hits into a double play to end the inning. If you're counting, this is the third inning-ending double play against the Mariners.

I guess desperate times call for desperate measures, because Hargrove pulls Franklin with a walked Punto on base and one out in the 8th. He brings in Ronnie the Bear! Oh, how we all just love it when Ron "What's a strike? I've heard of those" Villone comes in. Soon the count is 0-2 on Morneau, though, amazingly, and we're again wondering how Villone suddenly has come to pitch strikes, when he beans Morneau in the head, who crumples to the ground. I think everyone in the stadium cringed -- it looked almost as painful as the rest of the game combined. Again, the dugouts, medical staff, grounds crew, ushers, bat boys, beer sellers, and scalpers all run out to home plate to crowd around the fallen form of Justin Morneau. The stands are silent.

After a few minutes, Morneau stands up, and is helped off the field to applause from the crowd. Luis Rivas goes in to pinch run for him.

Villone is so shaken he promptly walks LeCroy, loading the bases. Unlike the Mariners, the Twins manage to score someone with the bases loaded, Jones hitting a long sacrifice fly to right field. Villone gets pulled at this point and WHOA NELLIE! Jeff Nelson comes in to finish off the game for the Mariners. Cuddyer grounds to first, and the inning's over.

Juan Rincon strikes out 2 Mariners in the bottom of the 8th, except Ichiro, who gets another wasted single, bringing the Mariners' run-hit count to 1 run, 10 hits, as opposed to the Twins' 4 runs, 7 hits. Hmmmm.

It's time for a new gag on the big screen, apparently -- "Spot the Moose!" The Mariner Moose is hiding behind a newspaper up on the right field deck, so most of the people sitting in the outfield bleachers notice the Moose way before the video crew finds him. Or is it a conspiracy? Who knows. Who cares. The Mariners are losing and we're coming up against Joe Nathan. I'd like there to be a happy ending to this story where the Mariners blow Joe Nathan apart like a printer in Office Space, but alas, it is not to be.

The game ends pretty much exactly at 6pm, and the 25,580 fans who came out slowly filter back to their cars and buses. The bus driver downtown sees my shirt and asks me who won. I say "Twins," and he says "Who wins?" And I'm like "THE TWINS", and he's like "Oh, not the Mariners, huh."

Dave Cameron points out later on that day that we really shouldn't be bummed that the M's dropped 2 out of 3 to a team that has essentially made it to the postseason every year for the last 3 years. Now if we drop the weekend to the Rangers, then it might be cause for worry. It'll all depend on our pitching, I think -- our defense has looked really solid.

I did actually try to take a bunch of pictures, but I really wasn't sitting in an ideal spot. Hopefully I'll get better ones this weekend. Yay for having a new camera.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Game Report: Opening Day at Safeco Field

It was a nice, but chilly, day today. I decided to take the bus downtown rather than trying to park or drive anywhere near Safeco. The luck of the day seemed to start when I ran into my apartment building's office, like "Do you guys have change for a dollar? I only have 17 cents and I need a quarter." Upon finding out I needed the change to take the bus, my building manager gave me several free bus tickets.

The bus was late, and I arrived at the stadium at about 1:40pm for a 2:05 game. They had just set up a carpet in the outfield surrounded by balloons and flags, and were announcing the staff and players, who ran in from the outfield amidst fireworks. I made my way to my seat, watching and listening to the festivities. I heard the opening lineup and thought to myself: "Who's Wilson Valdez?" I wasn't the only one with that thought, as I reached the merchandise stand in the 300 level, to buy my scorecard. The lady in front of me said, "I'd like to buy a scorecard and program -- I haven't been following the team lately and I don't know who's on the roster!" I muttered, "Lady, I *have* been following the team lately and *I* don't even know who's on the roster!"

I got some fish'n'chips and settled into my seat right as the Star Spangled Banner was finishing. They presented some awards -- Golden Gloves to Ichiro and Boone, and the Silver Slugger to Adrian Beltre. After that, they introduced Edgar Martinez to throw out the ceremonial first pitch -- but first they showed clips of the 1995 Mariners, to make people forget that 2004 sucked. Edgar threw a ball to Dan Wilson, and the stadium went wild.

The Mariners took the field. The Mariners took the field! Opening Day! Play ball!

Opening Day...

Shannon Stewart stood at the plate. Jamie Moyer held the ball. Everyone in the stadium held their breath waiting for the first pitch. Were we going to get our old Moyer back, or were we just going to be stuck with an older Moyer? The first pitch was a ball, as was the second one. Things didn't look good -- but the third pitch was fouled off, a few feet shy of a home run, and the next two pitches were strikes. Jamie Moyer struck out the first batter of the season! It seemed like a good sign. Three up, three down.

And then the Mariners started off the season with a bang. Ichiro led off with a single. Some people were joking, "Hit count: 1 out of 300". Jeremy Reed popped out, and then Beltre belted a ball towards Radke, who fumbled it on a fielder's choice, allowing Ichiro to reach second, and Beltre to reach first.

Richie Sexson strode to the plate.

Richie Sexson, the local boy who we've been panning all winter as an awful gamble, a health risk, etc.

Richie Sexson hit a three-run home run on the first pitch. It wasn't a particularly good clobber, or a really far home run (it hit the scoreboard in left field), but it scored Ichiro and Beltre. 3-0.

The rest of our lineup passes uneventfully, as does the Twins lineup for the most part for the next inning or two. At 2:39pm, the first train of the game goes by. (Safeco field is right next to train tracks, and very near King Street Station; it's common to hear train whistles during a game about once an hour.) Lew Ford looks at a called third strike from speed demon Jamie Moyer that goes by at a whopping 71 miles per hour; I'm betting the train is moving faster than that.

The jokers who make up the inning intermission entertainment seem to have caught on to the fact that some of us really get bored of their schtick after a while. The grounds crew has a new dance routine, of course, and this year, rather than the normal old Hat Trick, we have EXTREME HAT TRICK! Which is, of course, three hats and a baseball under one of them, with -- oh, the suspense -- slightly faster graphics! Around this time I decide it is rather chilly outside and I put on another jacket rather than watching the hat trick.

During "Ask the Mariners", we find out that half the team would want to be played by Tom Hanks in the movie of their life. The other half wants to be played by Wesley Snipes. There are exceptions, of course. Some are reasonable, such as Shiggy being played by Jackie Chan, or Mike Hargrove by Jim Belushi. Some are unreasonable, like Ichiro being played by Brad Pitt. The best of all is Raul Ibanez, who suggests he bears a likeness to Yul Brynner. (The scary thing is: He does.)

The third inning for the Mariners lineup is almost a repeat performance of the first inning. This time, Ichiro strikes out (!) though the catcher drops the ball and has to throw to first to get him. Reed also strikes out. Beltre hits a single, and then Richie Sexson comes up to bat.

I bet you're all wondering, what did He-Whose-Last-Name-Lends-Itself-To-Way-Too-Much-Innuendo-Sexson do this time?

He belted another home run.

This time, it was a real belt. It was 418 feet, way over the centerfield wall. The score is now 5-0.

The crowd goes wild. The crowd, infact, went so wild, that none of us actually saw what Bret Boone did on the at-bat afterwards (he grounded to third into a 5-3 play for the third out on the first pitch), and were like "The inning's over? What?"

Richie, unsurprisingly, gets a huge round of applause when he walks out to his position at first base.

I note that the Twins' new catcher, Joe Mauer, is a real cute kid. He's also a real fast kid, stealing second once he gets on-base with a single to lead off the 4th inning. Unfortunately for him, nobody else manages to really get anywhere. Morneau strikes out when Jamie Moyer throws him THE HEAT, otherwise known as his 83 mph fastball. Gotta love Jamie. Boone and Beltre show off their golden glove stuff, Beltre snagging a line drive from Hunter, and Boone stopping Jacque Jones's shot up the middle.

The next few innings aren't particularly interesting from the side of the Mariners' batting, honestly.

Around this point, I get bored and read the rosters. Hey, both teams had #5 playing third base! Even odder: our #5 3B, Adrian Beltre, born April 7th, 1979, and their #5 3B, Michael Cuddyer, born March 27th, 1979. Both right-right, both listed at 220 pounds. Spooky!

Lew Ford, who came up last time to the sounds of trains, is prone to distractions, I suppose, striking out to lead off the 5th inning as the grounds crew closes the retractable roof over Safeco due to possible bad weather. Speaking of Cuddyer, he becomes the only Twins player to score a run in the game. He hits a low fly ball to shallow right-center field. From my angle, it looks like it's too short for Ichiro to get to, and too far back for Boone to get to; this'll probably be a routine single. Boone makes an astounding run for the ball, leaping to catch it, and we're all amazed by his skill -- until he drops the ball and is credited with an error, which sucks, because I'm betting most second basemen wouldn't have even reached the ball. Stewart gets a single, moving Cuddyer to second, and then Bartlett smashes the ball into right field on a nasty angle, and even Ichiro can't beat Cuddyer to the plate, throwing to second instead. Mark up one unearned run for the Twins. Mauer flies out to deep left field on a nice running catch by Randy Winn, and we end the inning with a score of 5-1.

Ichiro gets single #2 of the year, hitting the ball about 3 inches above Morneau's glove, and that's the last time a Mariner gets on base.

In the 6th, we get two nice pop flies to Ichiro, Jones hits a double, and then Lew Ford is up to bat -- the Lew Ford who Jamie Moyer has already struck out twice today -- and Hargrove pulls Moyer to put in Julio Mateo as pitcher. Whoa, okay, whatever. Fortunately, Ford grounds into a 4-3 play to end the inning; and Jones is infact the last Twins player to get on base.

After another boring inning or two, the cameramen decide to scan around the stadium for more former Mariners to make everyone happy. We see Edgar sitting in some nice box seats with his wife, and then a bit after that, they pan in on the ESPN announcers, where, whaddaya know, there's Mark McLemore! I briefly wonder if they've somehow hired John Olerud to help out somewhere. Or whether anyone's hired him at all, anywhere. It makes me sad.

Then the next inning starts, and after one batter, Hargrove pulls Mateo and puts in Ron Villone. I can almost hear the collective groan from any other USSM readers in the stands. We all hold our breath as Ronnie The Bear throws his first pitch to Joe Mauer. Amazingly, it's a strike. So are the next two. Joe Mauer is as dumbfounded as the rest of us as he's called out on a third strike. The skeptics wonder, "Who is this guy and what has he done with the real Ron Villone?" Morneau pops out foul to third base and the side is retired.

I note that the way the roster is now, if we had J.J.Putz as our closer, it would be amusing to see a game where Moyer opens, is relieved by Mateo, who gives way to Aaron Sele as a setup man, and then Putz closes, which would put the pitchers in the game in uniform order 50-40-30-20.

Bottom of the 8th, Radke is out, and the pitcher replacing him is... Terry Mulholland. Yes, the same Terry Mulholland I used to watch pitch in Phillies games back in high school in the early 90's. I guess it must be Old Lefties From Pennsylvania Day at Safeco or something. (No, I don't mean me!) Mulholland is a whole 4 months younger than Moyer, having only turned 42 a month or so ago, and they both had their MLB debut about a week apart from each other in June of 1986. Mulholland retires the side, and it is now the top of the 9th.

Everyday Eddie is back! He also apparently has his stuff, as he strikes out Torii Hunter and Jacque Jones in rapid succession, Jones taking a particularly impressive swish at a 81 mph change-up. And as if by reflex, the whole crowd stands up, as the speakers start playing the "oh-oh-oh-oh-oh" song and the boards all flash, "Up on your feet!" It almost feels like... like 2003 or earlier again. It's the 9th, we have a good closer on the mound, and a 4-run lead.

And Ford hits a pop fly to Randy Winn in left field, and that's the game.

I'm sure the other 46,248 people had as good a time as I did.

Let's hear it for, ladies, and gentlemen, YOUR 2005 SEATTLE MARINERS.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

J-Ball: Kokubo broke the Java app

I listened to the replay of Michael Westbay's broadcast of yesterday's Hiroshima Carp vs. Yomiuri Giants game, and it got me all excited about this season, so I looked for a webcast of today's game, but alas, all I could find to watch is their Java web app that updates the game. However, amusingly enough, it has a couple errors in it... look at Hiroki Kokubo's first at-bat of the game:

For those that can't read it, that's an INSANE pitch count for one at-bat:

1. Ball (straight 141km)
2. Minogashi (called) strike (sinker 131km)
3. Ball (sinker 132km)
4. Ball (sinker 130km)
5. Foul (sinker 130km)
6. Foul (sinker 131km)
7. Foul (straight 142km)
8. Foul (sinker 133km)
9. Foul (straight 143km)
10. Foul (straight 142km)
11. Foul (slider 116km)
12. Foul (straight 144km)
13. Foul (slider 115km)
14. Foul (sinker 134km)
15. Foul (sinker 134km)

On the 16th pitch he was walked. Oi.

Still, I find it amusing that their stats-stringing program doesn't account for there being more than 9 pitches in an at-bat :) That's precious! They should hire me to fix it.