Thursday, September 28, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. A's - Gone With The Windsor

I didn't bring a camera to the game today, and I didn't even really hang out for much of BP at all. However, let me posit a question to you: which person do you think it'd be harder to get an autograph from -- a bullpen catcher, or a star pitcher?

The answer: the bullpen catcher.

I printed out a few of the pictures from the Huston Street dummy incident a few weeks ago, and I really, really, really wanted to see if I could get Brandon Buckley to sign one, since he had instigated it all.

So I get to the park around 6:15, and some pitchers are playing catch on the field, but that's about it. Haren's tossing in the bullpen, and finishes, and Buckley comes out with him. The guy next to me yells, "DANNY! HEY DANNY, WILL YOU PLEASE SIGN?" but Haren completely ignores him and goes by. So I start yelling too:

Me: "Hey! Brandon! Buckley!"
Buckley, jogging: "What?"
Me: "Will you sign something?"
Buckley: [shakes head]
Me: "No, I'm dead serious!"
Buckley: "Yeah, I KNOW you are!"
Me: "Awww, cmon?"
Buckley, already past: "I'm not a player, I don't sign stuff."


The guy next to me was like, "Whoa, what is that from?" and I showed him the pictures, and some of the other people around, and they all thought it was really funny.

Well, Rich Harden was standing one section to my left, and he didn't seem to be in any hurry, so I went over to him -- I still had a Harden baseball card in my bag. When he was signing something for another guy, he was saying how awful he thought he did yesterday, so when he got up to me, it was like:

Me: "Ummm, Rich, you only gave up two hits in five innings yesterday..."
Harden: "Yeah..."
Me: "...and you're calling that bad?"
Harden: [sheepishly] "Oh man, you have no idea, I felt terrible."
Me: "You looked awesome from the stands."
Harden, looking up, smiling at me: "Well, hey, thanks!"

I must admit that a smile from Rich Harden is more than enough to cancel out any grumpiness I had over being dissed by Brandon Buckley. Harden just seems like such a sweetheart, sort of a Dan Wilson type of guy.

Anyway, I ended up sitting in Terrace Club today, and they only seem to have four kinds of mustard instead of seven, which was a letdown. I did, however, find what may be one of the best food-to-money-ratio items in Safeco, namely the sauteed pasta sold behind section 216 or so. It was $9 for a GIGANTIC bowl of sauteed pasta with chicken, vegetables, and alfredo sauce; I couldn't even finish it. I don't think there's EVER been a time that I got food at the ballpark and it was too much; usually it's more like they're charging too much for way too little.

Of course, I can't really recommend the pasta in my "ways to eat cheap at Safeco", because you have to be in Terrace Club in the first place to get it, so I think I'm still going to say that my top three food items I generally get at Safeco are:

1. Ivar's Fish'n'Chips, $7
2. BBQ Sandwich from Dixie's/Porter's/whatever, $8.75
3. Bullpen Bratwurst, $5

(The third item has mostly come about during my new camera days -- after BP ends at 6:20-6:25ish, there's at least 10-15 minutes before pitchers start warming up, and the bratwurst is relatively cheap, relatively filling, pretty tasty, and best, I can eat it with one hand and not worry about making my camera all greasy. It's more for the days when I don't expect to leave the bullpen until about 2 minutes before the first pitch and still need to get up to section 334; otherwise I duck out before the national anthem and buy one of the first two choices and am in my seat for the first pitch anyway.)

When I said at the bottom of my last game report that "maybe we'll get to see some players we wouldn't otherwise, like Jeremy Brown or Hiram Bocachica," I had no idea how accurate that prediction was going to turn out. The starting lineup for Oakland was Bocachica CF, Scutaro 2B, Kielty RF, Swisher LF, Johnson 1B, Melhuse C, Jimenez SS, Brown DH, Perez 3B. Jason Windsor got the start instead of Barry Zito, too.

And yet, the Mariners still found a way to lose the game 7-6 in the end.

I don't feel like writing a long entry, so what you need to know is:

1. On the very first play of the game, Hiram Bocachica (!) hit the ball to third base. It was a sort of difficult play to make, and Beltre got the ball and threw it to first, only it didn't quite go to first, and Richie didn't make the catch. Bocachica had already overshot the bag when the ball rolled wild, and he tripped and fell over on the ground, but managed to get up and dash to second while Jose Lopez was recovering the ball. Lopez threw to second to get Bocachica there, and the ball and the Bocachica arrived at about the same time, only Betancourt didn't make that catch either. Fortunately, in the end, Bocachica only ended up getting to second. This play should have really been indicative of the way the Mariners were going to be that evening -- nothing was going to go their way, and they were going to find some way to lose the game no matter what.

2. Meche threw 125 pitches in 6 innings. Something tells me they don't really care about whether his arm falls off or not anymore. To be fair, though, he struck out 4 of the last 6 batters he faced, all after hitting 100 pitches. The thing is, he gave up 6 hits, and 3 were doubles and 1 was a triple. And the triple was to Antonio Perez, too.

On the other hand, tonight I wore my Meche #55 shirt that I bought in early 2003 back when the Mariners didn't suck. I've worn it a lot these last few years; I've been to a lot of Meche starts, it seems. It's sort of weird to think that it might be the last time I wear it for one of his games.

3. On Monday, Ichiro tied Harold Reynolds's club record for career triples with 48. Today, after Nick Swisher couldn't quite recover a hit to left field, Ichiro ended up on third base for his 49th, which means he's now the club record-holder.

4. Dan Johnson looked like he was ACTUALLY trying to knock Kenji Johjima down when he was running home during that disastrous 9th inning. I mean, the ball was grounded to third, Beltre threw to Johjima, and Johnson just barrelled down the baseline with his arms up like he was blocking punches, and ran hard into him. I thought that was sort of uncool.

5. Yes, turnabout is fair play. It's funny that on Monday, Huston Street imploded and JJ Putz was the one to get the win in extra innings, whereas today, JJ Putz imploded and Huston Street picked up a save in extra innings. Worse, Street struck out the side, and Jay Witasick struck out two out of the three guys he faced in the 9th. Yawn.

Woo, off day tomorrow, then Fan Appreciation Night on Friday. I almost feel like I need the off day more than the team does.

The Phillies won after a long and grueling 14-inning game tonight, but I'm sort of worried for them. I don't think the Dodger juggernaut is going to slow down, and the same "must-win" situation as last year feels really precarious to me. Ironically, just like last year, a late-season game with the Astros seemed to determine their fate. Well, whatever happens, I still love those guys. Utley, Howard, Hamels, and especially Chris Coste -- who would have ever expected this year to work out this way?

The Fighters have digest movies up of the last two Hawks games, with Shinjo's retirement ceremony and the crazy beer-pouring first-place celebration. I love these guys too, of course.

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