Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Safeco Field Food Project, Part 1

(Hi, I'm back in town. I have some crazy news, but I can't share it yet.)

I went around the field level of Safeco before the May 20th game and took pictures of all the concessions price lists, and have been trying to figure out a good way to organize them. Any suggestions? I divided them into drinks, food, and snacks, and I have limited info on exactly which stands have what stuff, and I don't have the Terrace Club or upper deck prices yet, but, I figured that since I was bored and got this info, it should be useful to someone out there, right? Baseball is a numbers game, after all.

Personally, I'm still of the opinion that the best deals are the Ivar's fish'n'chips or the concession chicken'n'chips, and the Porter's BBQ stuff, in terms of amount of food you get for your dollar.

Specialty Draft Beer, large      $8.00
Domestic Draft Beer, large $7.50
Domestic aluminum bottle Beer $7.25
Mike's Malt Beverages $7.25
Specialty Draft Beer, medium $7.25
Bottled Beer or Sake $6.75
Bottled Beer $6.75
Bottled Beer - Sapporo $6.75
Domestic Plastic Bottle Beer $6.75
Malt Beverages $6.75
Sake $6.75
Specialty Bottled Beer $6.75
Wine $6.75
Domestic Draft Beer, medium $6.25
Specialty Draft Beer, small $6.00
Bubble Tea $5.50
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, large $5.50
Jumbo Souvenir Soda $5.50
O'douls $5.50
Domestic Draft Beer, small $5.00
Gatorade $5.00
Latte $4.75 (hot or iced)
Mocha $4.75 (hot or iced)
Starbucks Coffee, large $4.75
Kidd milkshake $4.50 (chocolate or vanilla)
Soda, large $4.50
Bottled Soda or green Tea $4.00
Bottled water - aquafina $4.00
Fresh Squeezed Lemonade, medium $4.00
Hot Chocolate $3.75
Soda, medium $3.75
Starbucks Coffee, small $3.75
Tazo Tea $3.75
Soda, small $2.75
Additional double shot $1.00 (with Coffee)

Big Bento                        $15.00  
Ichiroll Combo $15.00 (4 pcs ichiroll, 4 pcs nigiri, 4pcs calif.)
Super Combo $13.00 (three entrees with rice - thai ginger)
Sushi Special $12.50
Combo Plate $12.00 (two entrees with rice - thai ginger)
Nigiri Combo $11.50 (3 pcs nigiri, 4 pcs calif. roll)
Garlic Beef $11.00 (with rice - thai ginger)
Hot & Crunchy California Roll $11.00
Ivar's 5pc Fish'n'chips $11.00
Philly CheesesTeak & Fries $10.50
Bento Combo $10.00
Chicken Cashew $10.00 (with rice - thai ginger)
Chicken Curry $10.00 (with rice - thai ginger)
Phad Thai Veggie $10.00 (with rice - thai ginger)
Dixie Special $10.00 (hot link and BBQ Beef served with chips)
Grand Slam Special $10.00 (hot link and BBQ Chicken served with chips)
Porter Special $10.00 (hot link and BBQ Pork served with chips)
Salmon Caesar Salad $9.50
Salmon Sandwich $9.25
BBQ Beef Sandwich $9.00
BBQ Chicken Sandwich $9.00
BBQ Pork Sandwich $9.00
Buffalo Tenders & Fries $9.00
sushi Combo $9.00
Tonkatsu Pork $9.00
Ichiroll $8.75
Crispy Shrimp Roll $8.75
Seattle Roll $8.75
Tonkatsu Roll $8.75
Spicy Chicken $8.75
Teriyaki Chicken $8.75
Cheeseburger & Fries $8.50
Chicken Tenders & Fries $8.50
Chicken Tenders & Garlic Fries $8.50
Chicken Wings & Fries $8.50
Chili Bread Bowl $8.50
California Roll $8.00
Veggie Roll $8.00
Chili dog $8.00
Chili nachos $8.00
Chowder Bread Bowl $8.00
Ivar's 3pc Fish'n'chips $8.00
Nacho Supreme $8.00
Fresh Summer Roll $7.75
Thai or Mandarin Chicken Salad $7.75
Pot Stickers $7.50
Taco Salad $7.50
Clams & Chips $7.00
Big Kidd cheeseburger $6.75 (comes with "the works")
Big Kidd hamburger $6.75 (comes with "the works")
Burrito $6.75
Chili Fries $6.50
Ivardog $6.25
6" pizza - pepperoni or cheese $6.00
Footlong Hot Dog $6.00
Garden Burger $6.00
Major League Mariner Dog $5.75
Edamame $5.50
French Fries, large $5.50
Grounders Garlic Fries $5.50 (w/fresh garlic, kosher salt, fresh parsley)
Oberto hot link $5.50
Bratwurst $5.00
Curly Fries $5.00
Hot Link $5.00
Italian Sausage $5.00
Polish Sausage $5.00
Wasabi pea snack $5.00
Clam Chowder Cup $4.50
Corn Dog $4.00
Minor League Mariner Dog $4.00
Miso Soup $4.00
Veggie Dog $4.00
French Fries, small $3.75
French Fries $3.50 (at Kidd Valley)
Rice $3.00

Ben & Jerry's helmet cup         $8.00
Ben & Jerry's ice cream, large $7.50
Bulk Candy, prepackaged $6.00 (at Sweet Spot)
Dippin Dots ice cream, large $6.00
Soft Serve helmet cup $6.00
Ben & Jerry's ice cream, medium $5.75
Nacho Grande $5.75 (choice of 2: chili, cheese, salsa)
Shishkaberry $5.75
Cotton Candy - Tubby's $5.50
Elephant Ears $5.50
Snow Cone $4.50
Ben & Jerry's ice cream, small $4.25
Kettle Corn $4.25
Malt Cup $4.25 (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry)
Popcorn, large $4.25
Dippin Dots ice cream, small $4.00
Soft Serve ice cream, small $4.00
Cracker Jack $3.75
Peanuts $3.75
Pretzel $3.50
Cotton Candy $3.25
Bulk Candy $3.00 (per quarter pound)
Red Rope $2.50
Oberto's Stick $1.75
Cheese Cup $1.50 (goes with soft pretzels)
Shiskaberry toppings $0.75 (sprinkles, nuts, oreos, whipcream)

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Just a note

I'm in Canada for the weekend.

There will most likely be no updates to the blog until Tuesday.

I still like Gil Meche even if he sucks sometimes.

The Pacific League is beating the tar out of the Central League (14-7-1, assuming the Fighters win).

Oh, and I plan to go heckle DMZ at Third Place Books on Wednesday, and I'm trying to get another LL Night together for June 4th, Felix's next home start, if you want to come party with the party.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Random Babbling About Autographs

I've been meaning to write something about this for a few days, but still don't exactly have the right words in my head.

This article ran on the Fox Twin Cities website two weeks ago, about the crazy autograph seekers at the Metrodome. I saw it while skimming the forums on Twins pitcher Pat Neshek's website. (I've said it a hundred times, and I'll say it again -- Pat's awesome, read his blog, you're missing out if you don't.)

I've mentioned in a lot of my game reports the times when I've gotten stuff signed by random players after batting practice, just because it's a cool random little pre-game thing between picture-taking and other wanderings. 99% of the time, what I get signed is just the game's ticket. I bet a lot of players think that people getting their tickets signed just throw them out afterwards, but that's really not true in my case -- I've saved almost every ticket from the last few seasons, not even just the ones I get signed. I think it's really neat, and in most cases it brings back funny memories when I look through them.

I don't actually think I place that much value on actual signatures so much as on the experience. For example, I have several signed copies of books, but in almost all of those cases I think the story behind how I got them signed is a lot cooler than having the signature itself; the signature is usually just proof of the experience. I have some signed CDs and posters from various bands, but again, almost all of them have a funny story behind them as well. I have a Jamie Moyer signed rookie card, but to me, the awesome thing about that is just remembering the grin on Moyer's face when he was showing JJ Putz the card like "Look, that's me when I was your age!"

Originally, I think I started getting tickets signed after batting practice because I wanted to try to be less shy and actually approach players. Now, I'm a lot less shy about it, but I still just think it's pretty cool. Mostly, it's pretty interesting seeing some of the players close up, like how tall John Buck is, or how short Adam Kennedy is, or how blue Rich Harden's eyes are. I'd never sell anything I've gotten signed, nor would I ever actually buy anything specifically because it's signed. Like I said, the signature isn't worth as much to me as the experience, or the story. For my birthday last year, my dad went to a Mike Schmidt signing in Philly and got me a signed copy of Clearing the Bases. That's worth a lot to me just because I think it's awesome that my dad went to the trouble for a cool birthday present.

I don't necessarily think autograph hounds have ruined the experience for the rest of the fans, but they definitely can sometimes put a damper on it. One time in Philly, Cole Hamels was out signing things before a game, and he signed a jersey for a guy, who then said "THIS IS TOTALLY GOING ON EBAY TOMORROW!" Now, whether the guy was joking or not is irrelevant -- Hamels pretty much didn't sign anything for anyone else who wasn't a little kid for the rest of that time, and I had to catch him the next day. So the suggestion of "I just got this signed to sell it" actually did make things worse for other people.

I sometimes feel bad asking players to sign stuff just because there are so many people out there, and I would never get in the way of a little kid (quite to the contrary, I've often lent my Sharpie to little kids and told them players' names and such) but at the same time, I think that getting a ticket signed pretty much at least is the best indication of "This is for me", since it's not like people really want to buy a signed ticket.

Anyway, Pat Neshek had a pretty interesting reaction to the aforementioned article, which he posted on his forums:
That was a pretty brutal story, I think it's really good for everyone to see how the media can sway a certain topic to what they want to prove...Using shady video work, a catch phrase and player comments you can do a lot of stuff...they do these type of stories and can really mess up people's lives depending on the story...I wish they would've asked me about it but then again they would never understand the business and the point of graphing...What do I say...that story was a bunch of crap...I sign everyday before games for everyone that is there...everyday and everyone and I have never had a problem with anyone...I'm for the selling of my stuff or other players...I don't understand the big deal...If someone sells their item that means someone out there is willing to buy it that isn't able to get the autograph thereselves and there is a demand for your autograph...nuff said, terrible story!

It's interesting, because I mean, I never thought about it that way, but he's right. Different people place different values on different things. I'd never pay $50 for a signed baseball, but I could see why other people might. And if there's someone out there who really wants a Joe Mauer signed baseball and can't get to a Twins game or signing event, then why would you want to stop them from being able to buy one from someone else who can? And if you're Joe Mauer, and everyone adores you and wants your signature (and sideburns), isn't that good for you too?

I think there's nothing wrong with players who decide not to sign things, but at the same time, it's those little interactions with fans that make them into bigger fans. Something I noticed about Japanese people is that they'd often rather get their picture taken with someone famous than get something signed, which makes sense if you don't have a whole lot of room to keep collections of signed stuff, and makes even more sense in the cellphone-picture generation -- if you're having a conversation with someone at a game, you can't exactly whip out your signed baseball collection out of nowhere, but if you've got a picture of you with Bobby Valentine on your cellphone, you can show that off pretty quickly. On the other hand, if everyone wanted to get pictures with players rather than getting things signed, that actually would take longer in the long run. Plus, I don't know about you, but I don't really like pictures of myself all that much, even if it's with someone famous. I'd rather have an autograph!

(A week or so ago I discovered a guy's page titled Baseball People I Have Met. It's pictures of him with a crazy range of various baseball people over the years, and pretty cool in general. The funny thing is, when I found it, I was like "well... wait a minute, shouldn't this just be called 'Pictures of me with Baseball People'? It's pretty obvious that most of these are just at signings and such -- is that really "meeting" someone?)

In the old days, players weren't all that lofty compared to normal people, in terms of salaries and whatnot, but nowadays there's a pretty big celebrity gap thing that goes on. So it's cool to have a moment or two to see that the guy in uniform really is just another random dude, except he happens to get paid a lot of money to play baseball. Or, if you're really lucky, you might get Scott Kazmir to come hang out at your elementary school. Either way, it's about that little bit of interaction that brings fans and players a little closer together.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Marinerds All-Star Ballot

This would be the most awesome team ever.

C: AJ Pierzynski, CWS
1B: Doug Mientkiewicz, NYY (write-in)
2B: Mark Grudzielanek, KCR
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, COL
3B: Kevin Kouzmanoff, SDP
LF: Ryan Langerhans, WAS
CF: Scott Podsednik, CWS
RF: Rob Mackowiak, CWS (write-in)
DH: Jarrod Saltalamacchia, ATL

SP: Wes Obermueller, FLA
SP: Enricus Vanden Hurk, FLA
SP: Tom Gorzelanny, PIT
RP: Scott Schoeneweis, NYM
RP: Justin Duchscherer, OAK
CL: Jason Isringhausen, STL

And of course, it would have to be managed by Carl Yastrzemski.

The jersey sales alone would keep the lettering companies in business!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Padres - SODO VIDRO!

Okay, to be perfectly honest, Jose Vidro had very little to do with the actual outcome of this game, but someone sitting behind me yelled "SODO VIDRO" during his first at-bat and it cracked me up. Plus, I don't really have a better clever title for this game. I suppose "Gonzowned" or "Germanowned" might be appropriate, as they were the key contributors for the Padres; Adrian Gonzalez going 3-for-4 with a walk, and Justin Germano for helping the Mariners make sure they didn't score any runs over his 6 innings. Either way, the Mariners are now back into part of the standings where the cup is half-empty rather than half-full.

I really need to stop taking pictures at games, because putting together photo sets makes me forget about the whole game-summarizing gig.

Beltre headfirst
Giles: "Dude, that's what you get for sliding headfirst."
Beltre: "Hey shorty, help me stand up."

"Marcus-sized" version: Felix Day started off in a sort of crazy way, with Mike Cameron singling and then getting himself picked off first base to end the top of the first. It continued being strange with Ichiro getting caught stealing third after successfully stealing second, in the bottom of the first. In the second inning, Felix notched three strikeouts, but also gave up doubles to Gonzo and Bard, resulting in a run for the Pad People. The Mariners managed to get a run in their half of the second despite Adrian Beltre getting himself thrown out at second sliding headfirst (see above picture); Betancourt singled to Khalil Greene, who threw the ball over first baseman Adrian Gonzalez's head; it bounced into the stands. Jose Lopez then hit a single to drive in Betancourt, tying the game at 1-1.

Sloppy seconds gave way to sloppy thirds as Marcus "Little Brother" Giles led off the inning with a double down the right field line. Felix struck out ex-Mariners Cruz and Cammy, but threw a wild pitch during Cruz's at-bat which moved Giles to third, so Adrian Gonzalez, who I may have mentioned was owning Felix, singled to center, scoring Giles, making the score 2-1. Khalil Greene subsequently hit a big bouncer to third which Adrian Beltre did a splendid job snagging and throwing, but it was just unfieldable in time. A wild pitch moved the two guys up, and then Josh Bard walked, loading the bases, but Kouzmanoff grounded out to first.

The Padres also threatened in the 5th inning, where Felix again managed to both load the bases and notch three strikeouts and come out of it run-free, bringing his strikeout count for the day up to 9. Since he was on a pitch count, he was pulled after 5. Sean White followed That Felix Show again, and almost finished out the game. Strangely, he actually struck out 4 guys in almost 4 innings. He was pulled with 2 outs in the top of the ninth with Adrian Gonzalez on third, Kouzmanoff on first, and Russell "Three Outcome" Branyan due up to bat. Eric O'Flaherty came in to pitch, and Geoff Blum pinch-hit and struck out.

The Mariners suck, so the score stayed at 2-1 Padres from the third inning onwards. I mean, really, they only had 5 baserunners after the second inning, and two of those were futile singles off of closer Trevor Hoffman in the ninth; with runners at first and second and no outs, Adrian Beltre wavered between bunting or not bunting and eventually just popped out foul, and that was sort of the deciding point, as the next two batters went down meekly and ended the game. Frankly, Hoffman scares me because he doesn't seem overpowering. He's sort of like a Mad Mex margarita; you drink it thinking "I don't see what the big deal is, I can't taste the alcohol in this at all," and just when you're thinking, "I might as well have another," it knocks you flat on your ass with a killer Cuervo-ball.

Eric O'Flaherty
It was Little Leaguers of Washington Day, and Eric O'Flaherty was representing Walla Walla.

I got on the bus this morning wearing my Johjima jersey and a Phillies cap. The driver was like "Are you a Jamie Moyer fan?" and I'm like "I'm from Philly. I wear the cap when they need extra karma, like on Moyer starts, or when they're re-enacting the 1993 World Series against Toronto, like today."

I showed up at the park at about 11:30am, which was pretty stupid on my part, for two reasons -- one, there was a bit of rain falling, so the roof was up, which makes the light terrible for taking pictures. Two, it was Little League Day, and a Sunday morning at that, so there was no batting practice. There was no fielding practice. There wasn't much of anything except approximately fifty bazillion little leaguers in a "parade" where they all walked around the perimeter of the field. Occasionally a couple players would breach the parade and go play catch on the field. Chris Young was actually out there for a while, and later on Heath Bell was, and a couple various Mariners played catch as well; Baek and Weaver (?!) and Sherrill and O'Flaherty and such were out on the field, and at one point Davis and Batista were in the bullpen throwing a bit. Totally exciting, I know.

Instead, I went around doing some research for my Safeco Field Food Project. I'll put up some preliminary stuff here in a few days.

I got lunch, went to my seat, and a bit later Matthew Carruth dropped by to say hi, which was pretty cool; I hadn't met him before, but he just graduated from Penn, and he spotted my Phillies cap. We hung out and talked for a while, pretty much until halfway through the first inning, when enough people showed up in my row that there were no empty seats anymore and they kicked him out. We watched Cla Meredith and Justin Hampson throwing a baseball around before the game, which is always fun since sidearmers are neat. When they were done, Cla actually went out of his way to go to the stands and find a little kid to give the baseball to, and then signed stuff for people, both of which are gestures that earn him major brownie points in my book. I was pretty tempted to run down and get him to sign my ticket, but I figured that'd make me seem like an even bigger dork.

(My section was packed, though two sections over it was pretty empty towards the back. Bretticus also stopped by later in the game like "THE KING IS BACK! AND YOUR SECTION IS TOO FULL TO STOP AND TALK TO YOU!" And then the woman sitting to my right, who is part of the stuffy older couple that I'm pretty sure has those seats on the same 16-game plan as me, said "Why, YOU'RE an awfully popular young lady, aren't you?")

The couple on my left were a lot more into the game, although when Sean White came out to pitch, we had a conversation that went like:

Him: "Sean White? I've never heard of this guy."
Her: "It says he pitched four perfect innings on Wednesday!"
Him: "What's his strikeout pitch?"
Me, butting in: "He doesn't have one, exactly."
Her: "Oh... maybe that's why he's walked 10 and only struck out 6?"
Me: "Bingo."
Sean White: "I think I'll make Deanna look bad by striking out Terrmel Sledge." [CLANG!]
Him: "No strikeout pitch, huh?"
Me: "Uhh... I think I'll talk more trash about Sean White so he'll strike out more guys."

You know, the Mariners pitchers notched 14 strikeouts in this game total and lost. The Padres pitchers got 2 and won. This would seem strange to me if not for the fact that I have guys like Erik Bedard and Johan Santana on my fantasy team. Though, on the other hand, several Mariners hit warning-track shots that happened to get caught; a few more feet and they'd be home runs. So. Blame Safeco.

Something you all should know is that I don't hate Willie Bloomquist, although I'm not necessarily a fan, either. Either way, I have to say that he flat-out sucked today, in the field and at the plate. You know that when a guy hits a ball to left, and Willie's jogging towards it, and he misses it and it bounces into the bullpen for a ground-rule double, and you're thinking "Ibanez makes that play," then it was a BAD PLAY. BAD WILLIE. ROLL OVER. PLAY DEAD.

I SAID WILLIE! NOT YUNI! ARRRRGGHH. Yes, while Lopez actually seems to be getting better at second base, Yuniesky Betancourt seems to be getting worse at shortstop, which is really sort of a problem.

The AM-PM "too much of a good thing" today was 1600 Tootsie Rolls. If I'm calculating this correctly, that's 25 pounds of Tootsie Rolls. My theory is that Heath Bell actually stole half the supply, though.

Pop quiz: Marcus Giles is shorter than
A. Most of the little leaguers at the stadium
B. Most of the groundskeepers at the stadium
C. Deanna the Marinerd
D. All of the above

Jose Cruz wears stirrups. That rocks almost as much as high socks. I think the last player I saw wearing stirrups in a Mariners game (aside from Pilots/Rainiers throwback days) was Jamie Moyer. I may just be misremembering, though. Josh Bard, on the other hand, wears actual high socks.

"Ask the Mariners" today was "What actor would play you in a movie?" I think I'd seen several of them before -- Ichiro's answer of "Brad Pitt" was expected, and Kenji Johjima's answer of "Tom Cruise" was funny but not that far out there. Accurate ones included Broussard wanting Harrison Ford and Ibanez wanting Vin Diesel. They got weirder and weirder as it went on. Felix said Will Smith. JJ Putz said Will Ferrell. Chris Reitsma said Rodney Dangerfield. Jarrod Washburn was like "My favorite actor is Al Pacino", who totally doesn't resemble him. Richie said he always wanted to be a movie star, so he'd play himself. George Sherrill also said he'd play himself... "I'm a great actor. Did you see my commercial?" Going further out there, Jose Vidro said he wanted to be played by Sean Connery. I'm sure there's plenty of great Celebrity Jeopardy potential in that one.

There was a random guy in my section who kept running up and down the aisles waving a Mariners flag and yelling "LET'S GO MARINERS!!!! WOOOOOOO!!!!!" The reaction, of course, was people laughing, not people cheering along with him. Ahh, Seattle. It really WAS a subdued crowd, considering the sheer number of kids there, including that Felix kid, who you'd think would elicit more cheering.

I checked out the team store after the game for once, and the player-issued jerseys are now back up to their normal $150-200 price tags, on a rack on the second floor. Also, they didn't have any Pat Borders jerseys anymore. I'm heartbroken. On the first floor, they switched the kids' and women's clothing sections, and added the Alyssa Milano "Touch" clothing line, but only in Super Small Sizes, apparently. And for those that want $95 replica jerseys, the only ready-made player numbers they had were Ichiro, Johjima, and Felix, though there was a wide selection of ready-mades for the authentic jerseys, which cost a lot more.

Oh yeah, and I saw something amazing before the game. I mean, something I'm not sure any of us have ever seen before:

Cha Seung Baek
This is Cha Seung Baek's smiling doppleganger.


And speaking of which, the Mariners are heading off to Cleveland to make up a game with the Indians from the Great Blizzard of '07. Cha Sizzle takes on Captain Cheeseburger Sabathia now that Ohio has finally thawed out. However, if I was in Ohio and wanted a good rollercoaster ride, I think I'd head to Cedar Point instead of Jacobs Field.

As an aside, on Saturday evening (or the afternoon of the 20th in Japan) I got to watch the Hawks-Fighters game over the net for once, which was nice. It was Hawks manager Sadaharu Oh's 67th birthday, and Fighters second baseman Kensuke Tanaka's 26th. The Hawks lost and Kensuke hit a triple. It was also my favorite catcher Tomoya Satozaki's 31st birthday, but he's on the DL currently. Sort of like that punk Kazumi Saitoh, who didn't even show up at the stadium for Kazumi Saitoh Day on the 19th.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Angels - Lackeydaisical

(This is really about the May 16th game, just super-belated.)

I wish I had more to say about this game, but I really just don't. I went to it mostly because it was on my 16-game plan and because it was a sunny day, so it'd be good for picture-taking. As you can see from the other entry, the picture-taking worked out pretty well. I saw a whole bunch of players all over the place, caught Bartolo Colon and Scot Shields clowning around pretending to be infielders, and eventually got third base coach Dino Ebel to sign my ticket stub (since I was too far over to get Tommy Murphy).

I stationed myself at my normal spot in section 149 and chilled out for a while, and was eventually found by "two-rs-and-two-ls" from Lookout Landing, who put up with me taking pictures and babbling for a while. I did attempt to steal John Lackey's soul, but I think I failed miserably, given the way he pitched later.

John Lackey
Strangely, "The Angels" anagrams to "He Tangles". And "Strangely" anagrams to "Try Angels". I don't know where I'm going with this.

For a change, I decided to go down to the bullpen and catch the Many Faces of Cha Seung Baek warming up. We also got to see George Sherrill flicking sunflower seeds, and the appearance of The New Guy, Jason Davis. Lots of people congratulated Johjima on his home run from Tuesday night, and as Baek and Johjima left the bullpen to go to the field, there was a neat mix of encouragement being shouted out in both Korean and Japanese.

On the other side of the bullpen, Scot Shields was having quite a dialogue with some fan up in the stands. He really cracks me up.

Dan and I watched the first inning from the overhang over the bullpen in left field, and it was a pretty annoying inning at that. Reggie Willits led off with a double and advanced on a wild pitch to Vlad, who eventually walked. Matthews hit a single into center, and everyone ran wild, Willits scoring and Vlad going to third. For whatever reason, Sexson was staying at the bag to hold Matthews, and so Kotchman was able to hit a single to right through where he usually would have been; Guillen's throw in wasn't bad but was too late to get Vlad at the plate, so the score was 2-0 Angels by the time the dust cleared and Jose Lopez caught the next two pop flies.

Ichiro led off with a single, which was something like his 6th or 7th consecutive single, and then stole second, which was his 45th consecutive successful stolen base. Vidro grounded out and Ichiro went to third, but Ibanez hit the ball into the ground in front of home plate and it didn't go much of anywhere, so Ichiro couldn't score as Lackey charged in to field it and throw Ibanez out at first. Sexson grounded out and that was it for the Mariners baserunners until the 5th inning, as Lackey retired 14 in a row before Johjima managed a single off Lackey's shin.

I went to my actual seat after the first inning ended, and then sat there for a long string of batters being retired on both sides in mostly boring ways.

Baek settled down after the first inning, and only allowed one baserunner from the 2nd inning until the beginning of the 6th. Orlando Cabrera led off the 3rd inning with a broken-bat "single" where Ichiro ran halfway across Seattle and ended up dropping the ball. Cabrera advanced to third eventually but did not score.

The "Fact or Fiction" gimmick for the day was "MLB Player Names". The names given were Dallas Braden, Shane McShovelhead, Boone Logan, Nook Logan, Toast Friedrich, and Boof Bonser. I sort of assume most of the readers of this blog could identify who all of the real players in that list are...

A guy came up to me to ask about my camera somewhere around the 5th inning, so my notes are a little bit sparse at that point. Also, Dustin Moseley started warming up in the bottom of the 5th after Lackey took the grounder to the shins, and that distracted me as well. (In case you don't know, Dustin Moseley is my new Angels crush for the year. He's a good compliment to Rich Harden as my A's crush; now I just need a good counterpart on the Rangers. CJ Wilson, maybe. Hmm.)

Baek got out of the top of the 6th inning with a decent amount of luck. Vlad singled, and then Casey Kotchman hit into what should have been a fielder's choice, but Betancourt dropped the ball, so Vlad was safe at second and Kotchman at first. Fortunately, Erick Aybar grounded to Lopez, who was right by Kotchman at the time, and tagged Kotchman and threw to first to complete the double play.

Lackey also had a decent amount of luck in his half of the 6th. Jose Lopez started off by running out an infield bouncer to short, and then Ichiro singled to center. Vidro grounded out, advancing both the runners -- and then they did the tried-and-true approach of walking Ibanez to get to Sexson, loading the bases with one out. Usually Richie Sexson would punish someone who tried that by hitting a grand slam, but it was not to be, and instead he grounded to third, where Figgins threw the ball home to get Jose Lopez out by a mile on the force. Jose Guillen then struck out on an extremely noisy 3-2-2 pitch to end the inning, and that was pretty much it for the Mariners offense for the evening, not that there was that much of it to begin with.

The Angels added a few runs to their side in the 7th. Shea Hillenbrand led off with a single to Jose Lopez in shallow center, he just couldn't make the throw in time. Mike Napoli laid down a sacrifice bunt, but Baek astutely fielded the ball and threw Hillenbrand out at second. At this point, Eric O'Flaherty came in to pitch, and the first thing he did was walk Chone ".125" Figgins, which is never a smart thing to do, and thus it was easy for Reggie Willits to single in Napoli from second, making it 3-0. Chris Reitsma replaced O'Flaherty at that point, and I swear on the very first pitch to Orlando Cabrera, Figgins and Willits both took off for a successful double steal. Cabrera, of course, singled to left, scoring both of the aforementioned Haloheads to make it 5-0, but then Vlad hit into another one of those Jose Lopez Double Plays where he tagged up the bag and threw to first.

Lopez made a few more sweet plays, and George Sherrill pitched the 9th, and nothing much more happened -- not even for the Mariners offense, as the last 9 batters were retired by the Angels bullpen, Dustin Moseley taking the 7th and 8th and Scot Shields taking the 9th. Although, one funny play happened when Vidro grounded to Erick Aybar, who dropped the ball, and scrambled for it, and picked it up and threw it to first, and Vidro was so slow that he still didn't beat the throw. Contrast that with Jose Lopez diving to make a stop on a Gary Matthews grounder, then pretty much turning and throwing to first from his knees and making a perfect peg to beat a running Matthews. That play even became the final clip on the Great Plays Video Vault reel.

And yes, the final score was 5-0 in favor of the Angels. All in all, it really wasn't a particularly exciting game, and the field box area was so empty by the 8th inning that I ended up moving all the way to something like section 138, row 20, in the bottom of the 8th. It turned out to be a fantastic vantage point for taking pictures, but it was pretty dark by then, alas.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Welcome to the Meikyukai, Yukio Tanaka!

It seemed fairly likely that Yukio would get his 2000th hit last night, as he was getting a start at first base and had 1999 career hits before the game. He had even said previously that he wanted to get it in the Tokyo Dome if at all possible, since that's where he played with the Fighters for 18 years before they moved to Sapporo. Heck, that's where I first saw him and became a fan.

I stayed up long enough for his first at-bat, where he struck out. I expected to wake up in the morning and find that he'd gone 1-for-4. Boy, was I surprised to see that he went 3-for-4 in an 11-6 loss to the Eagles, though! Of course, he was upstaged by Rakuten's Takeshi Yamasaki, who hit THREE home runs. The 38-year-old Yamasaki is a year younger than Yukio and experiencing the craziest late-career surge EVER, I swear.

(picture from Nikkan Sports)

Yukio's 2000th hit was a single to right off of Hiroki Yamamura in the 4th inning. And just for completeness, his other two hits were a single to center in the 7th inning and a single to left in the 8th inning.

He is the 35th player in Japanese baseball history to get to the 2000-hit plateau, and is the first member of the Meikyukai whose entire career was spent with the Fighters. Isao Harimoto spent most of his career with the Fighters and reached the 2000-hit plateau with them, but went on to play for the Giants and Orions before ending his career with 3085 hits. Yasunori Ohshima spent the end of his career with the Fighters and reached the 2000-hit plateau with them (he was also the manager before Trey Hillman). Katsuo Osugi left the Fighters before getting to 2000. There are no Fighters pitchers in the Meikyukai, although 200-game winner Yutaka Enatsu, who played for the Fighters for a few years as their closer in the early 80's, had been a member before getting involved in a drug scandal.

On the Fighters' official team website, there's already a Yukio Tanaka 2000 Hits section, with an AWESOME photo retrospective of him going all the way back to the godawful 1980's Fighters uniforms, some commentary from various bigwigs in the organization, and some really neat commemorative merchandise. By "neat", I mean "stuff I actually kind of wish I could buy", especially the t-shirt.

Anyway, I actually don't have any pictures of my own that I've taken of Yukio, mostly because when I've gone to Fighters games I've always sat way out in the outfield, and he's always either been in the infield or a pinch-hitter. So instead, here is a 10-second video clip that I took of the crowd doing the Yukio Tanaka cheer song in the Tokyo Dome back in September 2003, complete with the jump. This was one of the first player cheer songs I ever learned, because it was so fun!

Hmm. Now I guess the next Fighters-related thing to cheer for is Hichori Morimoto's current 21-game hitting streak...

My Camera Went To The Ballgame, And All I Got Was These Lousy Photos

I'm a complete idiot and spent so long playing with the photos I took at the game tonight that I'm now dead tired and unable to write a game report right this second. You can click on any of the above little pictures to go to the photoset I put together (the first page or two is mostly Angels, the last page or two is mostly Mariners)

Note: The guy in the upper right corner is Jason Davis, who just joined the team a day or two ago. Looks almost like John Cusack, doesn't he?

I'll write more tomorrow, though to be fair, there isn't that much to say. John Lackey is really a pretty good pitcher, but we knew that already. Scot Shields still cracks me up. This was my 8th Mariners game of the season so far, and with tonight's loss, my record is now 6-2.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Angels - Return of the King!

A couple of days ago, I had this great idea that we should get a bunch of Lookout Landing folks together at tonight's game, because

1) Felix was going to be pitching again after his stint on the DL
2) EnglishMariner, a semi-regular commenter on LL, was going to be in town from England and going to the game
3) It was "BECU Family Night", meaning the normally-$18 tickets in View Reserved would cost only $10

In reality, #1 should have been all the motivation necessary to get people to come to the park, right?

The plan was to have people buy tickets in section 320, around row 15 or so, and we'd all congregate together. And fortunately, this plan even actually worked, except for one small detail -- EnglishMariner never showed up, as far as we know. Or at least, he never sought us out. My theory is that he did show up, saw our group, and thought "Oh my gosh, I don't want to be associated with those weirdoes!" and kept to himself.

We ended up with a group of around 15 people -- PositivePaul, Marc W, Gomez, me, Bretticus, Katal, Katal's girlfriend ("Chopped Liver"), Conor Glassey and his wife Cheryl, Robert-aka-KnightofKingK, Etowncoug, and Goose. Jtopps was also there with some of his friends, and Paul's brother was also sitting in our row, and Brett's dad hung out with us for part of the game too. And amazingly, we had a great time and didn't get thrown out of the stadium or anything.

I skipped batting practice and all of my normal pregame stuff and just came straight to section 320. Yes, that's right, I actually spent a game WITHOUT MY CAMERA, just keeping score and hanging out with people.

They announced the lineups, and we spent most of the Angels lineup yelling "WHO?" at half the players. It was half a joke, and half-serious -- I mean, come on, Reggie Willits? Tommy Murphy? I later joked to Gomez that Tommy Murphy sounds more like a type of alcohol -- "Can you gimme a 40 of Tommy Murphy and a pint of Kotchman?" I think we saw about 50% of today's lineup last time I was at a game with both Marc and Paul -- in Tacoma last April when the Rainiers played the Bees.

And of course, we instantly noticed one gaping hole in the Angels lineup: no Vladimir Guerrero.

I had joked that people should "BYOK" -- bring their own K signs to hold up when Felix struck out batters -- but only Conor actually did so. He and Cheryl had Kellogg's K signs, which were immediately put to good use when Chone Figgins, the second batter of the game, was struck out.

We were all sort of apprehensive about Escobar (and I think half the gang had started him on their fantasy team that day), but apparently he didn't bring his best stuff -- or really much of any sort of stuff -- to the game today. Ichiro led off with an infield single, and we all started cheering "LET'S GO TURBO!" for Vidro's at-bat. But Vidro hit a nice line drive single into center, getting Ichiro to third. Ibanez hit a big foul fly ball caught by Figgins, and then Richie Sexson struck out, at which point I got a text message from Jeff Sullivan that said "Hi guys. Richie blows."

Jose Guillen in his Rage Against The Angels routine singled home Ichiro after that, and Paul started singing "JOSE, JOSE JOSE JOSE. JOSEEEEEEE JOSEEEEEEE" to the Ole Ole tune. And after that, Beltre grounded to third, where Chone Figgins got the ball on a bounce, pondered for a second, and then threw it over Casey Kotchman's head, so Beltre was safe at first, and Vidro even had enough time to waddle home from third. And to add insult to injury, Escobar threw a wild pitch during Johjima's at-bat, so Beltre got to second and Guillen scored, meaning it was a nice 3-0 when Felix took the mound for the second inning.

The second inning was largely uneventful game-wise, aside from Ichiro getting his second single of the night and getting his 44th consecutive stolen base. Paul and Marc disappeared for the inning to go down to the bullpen to talk to George Sherrill, and the LL guys were basically having a game thread in real life, making inappropriate pink bat jokes and such. To change the subject, I spotted a woman wearing jeans with "10101010" printed on the pockets and said "Hey, does she have binary on her butt?"

The top of the third was remarkably lame. The first two outs came pretty quickly, but then Chone Figgins walked. Orlando Cabrera hit a semi-legitimate infield single, and then Gary Matthews Jr. hit a completely retarded "single" where the ball rolled weakly up the third-base foul line and eventually just stopped in fair territory, at which point Adrian Beltre angrily picked it up (and I made a comment about how the Safeco groundskeepers weren't doing their job properly). With the bases then loaded, Felix got two strikes on Kotchman and we hoped that'd be it, but no, Kotchman hit a grounder up the middle that was deflected off Felix and that Yuniesky Betancourt got and then dropped and completely couldn't make a play on it. The Safeco scorer ruled it a single, as Shea Hillenbrand followed it up with a grounder to third and Adrian Beltre fielded it and faked a rundown with Matthews and just tagged third base for the forceout.

The bottom of the third was entirely not lame, although Kelvim Escobar might see it differently. Ibanez led off with a single to right which was first ruled an error (as it went through Maicer Izturis first). Richie walked, although Ibanez had already advanced on a wild pitch. Jose Guillen then further Raged against the Angels and doubled into left, scoring Ibanez and getting Big Richie to third. 4-1. Beltre then singled to center, scoring Richie and advancing Guillen to third. 5-1. Johjima hit a sac fly to center, scoring Guillen. 6-1. Beltre had stolen second during Johjima's at-bat, and stole third during Betancourt's, sliding headfirst into the base, so I jokingly got everyone to yell "STEAL HOME! [CLAP CLAP] STEAL HOME! [CLAP CLAP]". Of course, that wasn't necessary, as even Betancourt could hit Escobar, and singled to bring Beltre home. 7-1. And that was it for Escobar, routed after only two and a third innings.

Hector Carrasco (whose name still invokes the Rakuten Golden Eagles mascot to me) came in to pitch after that, and Jose Lopez takes the first pitch he sees and wallops it into the Angels' bullpen. I mean, like, we all get up at the first crack of the bat and watch that ball sail out there, over Reggie Willits's head... and I'm just standing there in disbelief with my hand on my forehead like "I BENCHED HIM TODAY ARRRGGGHH", while everyone around me is celebrating as the first strains of Parliament Funkadelic come blasting down from the speaker right above us. Eventually I realize that it's okay to be an idiot in this case and we all start high-fiving each other (and virtual high-fiving guys like Jeremy and Marc and all who are sitting a few rows away). Besides, a 9-1 lead is pretty sweet.

Ichiro singled after that, making him 3-for-3 on the day, and at that moment Bretticus realizes that 1) there's only one out and one batter left before the Mariners bat around, and 2) he has one of the stupid vertical scorecard books where they don't have a tenth inning to extend into when your lineup bats around. So he's like "It's okay, Vidro's going to ground into a double play," but, no, Vidro walks. With Ibanez up, everyone's like "Well, maybe Ibanez will ground into a double play?" and then someone, I forget who, came up with the brilliant idea of The New Double Play Twins, Vidro and Ibanez -- that is, the Ground Into Double Play Twins.

Unfortunately, Ibanez grounds into what looks like a 4-6-3 double play, only it turns into a "4-6-E" play instead, as Orlando Cabrera basically eats the ball at second and makes a wide throw to first. Since a double play is not assumed, that's really not an error. Richie Sexson strikes out after that, though I wrote it down as "K?" because he pretty much watched that ball go by like "What?"

I helpfully point out that Brett doesn't actually have to worry about the scorecard not having a 10th inning, because there's no way the Mariners will lose this game at this point, so he doesn't actually need the 9th inning column for the home team. Then I realize that I've probably just jinxed the team horribly, and perhaps I shouldn't have said that, except the reply was "No, I mean, what will we do if they bat around again?"

We got All-Star Ballots sometime around then, which was of course a lot of fun to joke about with the group. Gomez was talking about the WPA All-Stars ("Does that mean we have to vote for Barry Bonds?"), while I was meanwhile filling mine out with various themes, such as "The 15 worst players on the ballot, and Sal Fasano", or "Names ending in -er and -y", which actually gets you a decent lineup.

The Angels did some run-scoring stuff in the top of the 4th -- Felix ended up loading the bases on an Izturis single and a Napoli double, then walking Willits after striking out Murphy. So he struck out Chone Figgins (as we're all yelling things like "COME ON, YOU CAN STRIKE OUT A GUY NAMED CHOWN-EE, GODDAMNIT"), but then Orlando Cabrera hit a single up through Betancourt's glove, scoring two runs, and Felix got taken out of the game after 78 pitches, with the score 9-3. We all got up and applauded. Sean White came in to pitch for the Mariners.

It was already quarter to 9pm at that point, and we hadn't even gotten through 4 innings, so I was almost worried that we'd all be stuck at the stadium until 11pm.

I shouldn't have worried.

Sean White literally retired 13 batters in a row. Infact, I sort of zoned out for most of his time pitching, because well, the Angels weren't doing much, and to be fair, neither were the Mariners. The LL crowd were using most of that time to actually just talk about random crap, as if we were in a game thread wasting time while a boring part of the game was happening. Which is exactly what we were doing, as it were. Infact, the most exciting thing that happened during White's turn on the mound was a Casey Kotchman infield fly to the mound, which White caught barehanded and threw to first. It was cute.

Meanwhile, Kenji Johjima served up another FUNK BLAST for us all -- I'm almost thinking we should rename Section 151, Row 35 as "Kenji's Korner", because goddamn, every home run he hits at Safeco seems to go to that very spot.

Ichiro got up to 4-for-4 during his next at-bat. Vidro walked. There was yet another wild pitch during Ibanez's at-bat -- the third one of the evening for the Angels, and at this point I was vaguely wondering whether some of those weren't really passed balls on Napoli. I don't really trust the Safeco scorers in general. Raul struck out and Richie grounded out to end the inning, and then THE HYDRO RACES STARTED OH BOY OH JOY! I hate the Hydros (Gomez noted, "It's Deanna's favorite part of the game!"), but Paul basically spent the entire race yelling "YELLLLOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW" right in my ear. I don't even remember what won, to be honest.

The Angels and Mariners both swapped out most of their lineups between the 5th and 7th innings. The Angels basically put in the rest of the Salt Lake 2006 lineup in the bottom of the 5th; Willits moved to center, Erick Aybar came in at short, Robb Quinlan (!) came in for left field, and Kendry Morales replaced Kotchman at first. The Mariners followed suit in the 7th, with Ben Broussard coming in for left field, Jason Ellison coming in for right field, and a bit later, Willie Bloomquist replaced Ichiro in center field. (The speaker announced the "defensive replacement" and we all started booing loudly, much to either the complete amusement or chagrin of the surrounding fans.) Ellison and Broussard even actually got at-bats later on! Wow!

There was some more White ownage, and Chris "Booty Check" Bootcheck, another guy I was pretty familiar with from the Salt Lake team, came out to pitch, and he was just a strike-throwing machine in the 6th, though he started off the 7th by hitting Lopez with a pitch. A wild pitch during Ichiro's at-bat (Goose said, "Was that the FOURTH one tonight?") moved Lopez to second, where he scored when Ichiro singled, amidst our cheers of "FIVE FOR FIVE! FIVE FOR FIVE!" Vidro, the GIDP Twin, grounded into a fielder's choice after that, and some fly outs to Tommy Murphy's high socks in right field ended the inning. In the meantime, people had started doing the wave, and Conor, whose blog is called "Stop The Wave", made a point of sitting there very grumpily, as the rest of us were yelling things like "ANGELS FANS LIKE THE WAVE" and "JEFF WEAVER LIKES THE WAVE" and stuff like that.

Towards the end of the 8th inning, we all noticed there was a guy warming up in the bullpen, but we couldn't quite tell who it was. I have fairly good vision, so I was like "Huh... tall right-handed guy with a uniform number ending in 0?" But we knew it wasn't Putz -- too skinny -- so we figured it had to be the new guy, Jason Davis, just acquired from Cleveland. An 11-3 lead was a pretty good place to try him out, too. What was sort of surprising to all of us was that he was wearing #50, Jamie Moyer's old number. I think a lot of us have different ideas about which numbers are sacred on the Mariners -- like #11, and #24, and maybe even #14 -- but I guess if Dan Wilson's #6 could be re-issued, then so can Jamie's #50.

Either way, the ninth inning went pretty quickly. Napoli hit a pop fly out to first, and Tommy Murphy hit a "double" up the left field line, which basically barely bounced fair, then almost bounced into the stands, where a fan failed to grab it, and it rolled back on the field. I'm not sure whether it was called a ground rule double or not, but Davis struck out Reggie Willits after that, and I stood up.


Everyone's like "Oh yeah. Huh."

I mean, usually the last out of the game involves lots of music over the loudspeaker and a big "UP ON YOUR FEET!!" on the left-field scoreboard, but I guess even the scoreboard operators hadn't noticed. (They didn't actually reflect the defensive changes until a half-inning later earlier in the game either, so.) So we all got up and pretended to sing Zombie Nation, and then Chone Figgins grounded out to first, Davis covering the bag, which was about as anti-climactic an ending as one could possibly imagine.

But hey, the Mariners won 11-3, Felix is back, and we managed to get a whole bunch of Lookout Landing folks to the game and we all had a blast. A funk blast, even. The funny part is that we still have absolutely no idea what happened to EnglishMariner. But either way, we're surely going to do this again sometime, because it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

And Tanaka hits a home run off of Tanaka...

You remember how about a month ago I translated some Japanese player blog entries, and one was crazy Rakuten closer Kazuo Fukumori writing up his fake hero interview after a game?

Well, I'm proud of him for finally actually getting to be the real game hero last night finishing out the 12-inning game, even if it came at the expense of my Fighters. Sadly, comments seem to be disabled on his blog, so I can't go leave my "本当のヒーローインタビューをおめでとう" there.

This was actually a pretty big game for people named Tanaka, though. Rakuten rookie phenom pitcher Masahiro Tanaka went 6.2 innings, walking 5 and striking out 6. Despite that, the Fighters only had men in scoring position twice during that time period; in the first inning Hichori Morimoto was bunted to second, and in the third inning the bases were loaded after Hichori singled, Atsunori Inaba walked, and Fernando Seguignol was intentionally walked to get to catcher Shinji Takahashi, who grounded out to end the threat.

Fighters starter Ryan Glynn, who used to play for Rakuten, wasn't too bad for his 6 innings either. The Eagles scored an unearned run in the first inning by getting their first two batters, Naoto Watanabe and Yosuke Takasu, on base off of consecutive errors by Kensuke Tanaka and Ryan Glynn. Koichi Isobe flew out to right field and Watanabe advanced to third, and during Takeshi Yamazaki's at-bat, Takasu and Watanabe pulled off a double steal of second and home to score the first run of the game, but Yamazaki struck out and Rick Short grounded out after that.

Glynn ran into a jam in the 4th; with two outs after a double play, Rick Short hit a double. Kevin Witt walked and Kenshi Kawaguchi was hit by a pitch, but Motohiro Shima struck out to end the inning. In the 5th, it was back to small ball as Akihisa Makida singled, Watanabe bunted him over, and Takasu hit a line drive single to left, scoring Makida to make it 2-0.

Yukio Tanaka now needs 2 hits for the big 2000. And even more incredibly, the hit he got in this game was a home run into the left field seats! Yay! And yes, "Tanaka homered off of Tanaka" -- he led off the 7th inning with that shot, hit off a hanging slider. Masahiro Tanaka was taken out of the game a few batters later -- appropriately, right before he would have faced Kensuke Tanaka. Either way, Yukio's solo shot made the score 2-1.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Fighters caught up. Shinji Takahashi walked, and was pinch-run for by Toshimasa Konta. Makoto Kaneko hit a single to right, and Konta was running on the play and made it to third; while Isobe was throwing to third, Kaneko made it to second. A pinch-hitting Eiichi Koyano hit a sac fly to right after that; Konta tagged up and scored from third on the play, but Kaneko tagged up and got caught in a rundown between second and third on the play, and that ended the inning at 2-2, where it would stay until the 12th inning.

Hisashi Takeda pitched the 11th and 12th innings for the Fighters. In the top of the 12th, Yamazaki led off the inning with a walk, and was replaced with pinch-runner Tatsuya Shiokawa. Shiokawa stole second, and then Rick Short bunted him to third, but Takeda booted the ball and so Rick was safe at first and Shiokawa was safe at third. Even Kevin Witt could manage a sacrifice fly after that, and Shiokawa tagged up and scored. Teppei grounded into a fielder's choice after that and went to second on a wild pitch, but Akihito Fujii struck out after that.

Kazuo Fukumori was pitching the 11th and 12th innings for the Eagles, and so he just needed to hold the lead in order to get a win in the bottom of the 12th. Tomoyuki Oda pinch-hit and singled, and Naoto Inada pinch-ran for him, and Hichori bunted him to second, but that was it as Kensuke Tanaka hit a pop fly out to left and Atsunori Inaba grounded out to first and that was it as the Eagles won 3-2.

This was one of those games where the Fighters were using the Tokyo Dome as their home stadium -- they still do this for about three series per year, since moving from Tokyo up to Sapporo -- and so it's kind of sad that there were only about 16,000 people there. On the other hand, it's cool that the Tokyo Fighters fans got to see Yukio hit a home run there and get closer to the big 2000-hit mark.

Fukumori was the game hero for Rakuten, and his hero interview is up on the Eagles' site with the rest of the game details. I'm doing a half-baked quick translation here, but since I translated his "fake" hero interview I thought I should get his "real" one too --

Q: Going up to the mound in the 11th and 12th innings, what were you feeling like?
A: Eh, recently I've been disappointed in myself, so I wanted to throw some good pitches. Our team winning 5 games in a row would be awesome, I thought.


Q: And you were out there for extra innings... [not sure if they meant that he threw 2 innings or just that it was an extra-inning game]
A: Yeah, well, that's my job! I just try to be the same no matter what the situation, not tense, just pitching from the heart. I'm not a great pitcher but I just stick to it to the end.


Q: And today was your second win of the season.
A: Heh, in order for me to get a win the team is usually in a tight situation, but my job is just to fight hard and do my best like the starting pitchers do.


Q: This is the first time the team has won 5 straight in a row.
A: We have some great young players and veterans too. And tomorrow I think we'll also do our best.


Q: You think you'll continue the winning streak tomorrow?
A: Yeah, we're planning on it! (laughs)


Q: Please give a message to the fans.
A: From 5 in a row, I want to work hard so all the fans can enjoy a 6-game winning streak! Thank you!

(Thing is, I'm not really sure what the hell he meant by thinking his pitching's been bad recently or whatever -- he's been pretty damn good, with three saves and a win in the last week. I guess maybe he meant his last game on the 12th, where he hit a batter and walked a batter and still came out with the save. Hmm.)

I feel like there are a whole bunch of random things going on in Japanese baseball that I probably would have bothered writing stuff about at this point last year, but this year it feels like most things get covered either in the news feeds on, or on Gary Garland's site, or elsewhere, so there's no point in me just linking random things unless I have something useful to say about it. Like, "Sucks to be Serafini", or "it's about time the PL got its act together", or "Damn, Nagisa Arakaki has 13 wild pitches so far this year ALREADY- that's more than he had last year total!". Huh, I didn't realize Arakaki had his own website, I'll have to go look through it more later.

Other fun things going on would be that Yokohama's actually doing really well this year, which makes me happy, because I like rooting for underdogs, and they've been in the CL cellar for quite a while. I'll be interested to see whether Hayato Terahara actually gets to pitch against the Hawks when they play the Bay Stars during interleague next month, too -- he's been doing great so far with the Stars.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Yankees - Wonderfully Washburn

(This is actually about Friday night's game -- May 11th -- but I have been so busy this weekend that it's been written in bits and pieces.)

I first want to make an announcement: if you're going to wear Japanese baseball shirts or caps around Seattle, could you please at least know SOMETHING about the game, or even about the team you're wearing the hat of? Or at least not give me funny looks when I ask you about it?

(Walking to Safeco Friday night I ran into a guy wearing a Tigers #39 Yano t-shirt, who literally didn't even know he's a catcher; I asked "Uhh... that's interesting, why Yano?" and he was like "Uhh... well, this was the only Hanshin Tigers shirt I could find when I was in Osaka, I don't even know who Yano is". Then, walking back uptown after the game I see a guy wearing a Yomiuri Giants cap at an intersection, so I'm like "Oh, you like the Giants? I'm sorry," and he says "well, it's the TOKYO Giants," and I'm like "I know, dude. They're as bad as the Yankees. I mean, what did you think of the Ogasawara signing over the winter?" and he looks at me completely blankly, and I'm like "It was as bad as Johnny Damon with the beard and all, y'know?" and I get the same blank look, and I just continue walking when the light changes. Sigh.)

Anyway, Yankees games always sort of suck for me. There's too many people around to get around during batting practice to take pictures, and then there's too many people to go get food quickly, and then there's too many people yelling at each other during the game. I know it's more exciting to be at a full stadium than a half-full stadium, but I'd rather be at a stadium full of 45,000 Mariners fans, rather than the normal 18,000 Mariners fans, another 16,000 Yankees fans, and then 11,000 people who were brought along by one group or another and are really just there for the beer.

pitcher? or catcher?
Who's the pitcher? Jorge Posada, or Darrell Rasner?

"Short" version: The Yankees were totally Washburninated. End of story. No, really. In eight innings, he struck out 6 batters, almost all swinging (save Melky Cabrera's called third strike to end the 2nd inning). There were many split bats and flying bats, and the Yankees were just plain off guard. Only a few balls were hit out of the infield, and almost all of them were pop flies to shallow center (or something resembling shallow center, ie, somewhere Ichiro could get to). Hell, the Yankees didn't get a runner past second base all night. That's pretty goddamn good. And after being Washburninated for 8 innings, they were Putz0red in the 9th for the shutout.

As for the Mariners, it wasn't like this was a landslide game or anything, but they did just fine. Ichiro doubled in the 3rd inning past a diving Phelps, and Raul Ibanez singled him in a little while later. Sexson singled as well, but Guillen grounded into a fielder's choice to end the inning. But that's okay, as Beltre led off the 4th inning by walking, and then Kenji Johjima took one of those right-in-that-perfect-spot-to-hit-a-home-run pitches and hit it over the leftfield scoreboard for a 371-foot Funk Blast, bringing the score to 3-0, where it would actually stay for the rest of the game; the Mariners stranded two runners in the 5th and then Scott Proctor shut them down on six straight flyballs in the 6th and 7th innings. High-socks Brian Bruney came out to pitch the 8th, and Guillen walked, and was replaced by Jason Ellison, who got caught stealing a little bit later. Beltre doubled, which was sad, because Ellison may have scored on that anyway if he hadn't tried to steal. Unfortunately Johjima lined out and Betancourt struck out to end the threat, but hey, that's okay, as the Mariners still won 3-0, and the score allowed Putz a save chance and all.

Jessica Mendoza and JJ Putz
JJ Putz: Man, you sure don't throw like a girl!
Jessica Mendoza: Thanks! Neither do you!

Jessica Mendoza, an outfielder for the women's national softball team which won a whole ton of stuff in 2006, threw out the ceremonial first pitch, which was pretty cool. I mean, it'd be even cooler if it was Jennie Finch, but that'd also run the risk of half the stadium pleading with her to join the Mariners rotation.

The Yankees booing squad was sort of wacky this year. Johnny Damon was booed a lot. Bobby Abreu was booed by me, and nobody else. Derek Jeter got some booing, and then the typical A-Rod booing happened, although this time it was also interspersed with people cracking up about it.

Robinson Cano is wearing #24 now, which bothers me, because I associate that number with Tino Martinez. I realize he probably switched to make room for Jolly Roger, but still.

Watching Yankees batting practice was kind of funny. Despite the fact that the stadium was crazy crowded, I still had a decent time running back and forth taking various pictures of players, such as Mientkiewicz and Pettitte, A-Rod, Matsui, Nieves, Wang and Rivera, and Professor Farnsworth.

I also saw former Mariners and Yankees relief pitcher Jeff Nelson wandering around on the field during batting practice. I guess he's got a pretty good excuse to come out for a game like this one!

I managed to still get a decent spot to watch Rasner warming up, but ended up mostly being fascinated by Jorge Posada instead, because Rasner is boring as hell to watch. No, really, I just didn't find anything interesting about him whatsoever. Posada, on the other hand, is expressive and flexible and was actually playing catch with another random Yankees staff guy rather than warming up with Rasner, which should have probably been a sign of something, though I'm not sure what.

(You know, the more I think about it, I've actually kind of been a Posada fan for a while. Since he's not as flashy and hyped as most of the other long-time Yankees, nor as flashy and hyped as his Red Sox counterpart Jason Varitek, I guess I just don't think about it that often. But he's a pretty good player and seems like a pretty good guy, too.)

Jorge Posada

Oh yeah, the guy who replaced Dominic Woody as the Mariners bullpen catcher, Brian Schweiger, finally has a real jersey, and is wearing Woody's old #87. Schweiger was drafted by the Mariners in the 2003 draft, same year as Adam Jones and Ryan Feierabend and Eric O'Flaherty and all. I suppose it's great for him that he's suiting up in a Mariners uniform several years before some of his draft classmates, and yet, at the same time, I'm sure this isn't what he had in mind originally.

Some Blake Lewis guy sang the national anthem. I was told that he is a famous local boy, but since I actually don't really watch any TV that doesn't involve baseball, I have no real idea who he is. He had a nice enough voice, I guess.

Not only was the stadium full of people, but I happened to have one of those Token Drunk Guys in the row in front of me. You know the type -- early-30sish, yuppie-looking, has no idea what's going on in the game and is pretty much just at the park to yell and drink beer. I don't think he shut up for the whole game. It started out innocently enough, and just kept going. "COME ON KENNY! AUNT JEMIMA! CMON!!" "YEAH RAUL, WHY DON'T YOU BUNT IT, COME ON JUST GET THE BAT ON THE BALL, GET ON BASE WHY DON'T YOU." "A-B! HEY YEAH A-B! YOOOOO ADRIAN!" and so on and so forth. Token Drunk Guy also tried to become friends with the whole section, so when the guy next to me got pizza, TDG's like "HEY BUDDY HEY NEIGHBOR, WHY DONTCHA SHARE SOME OF THAT PIZZA!" or when a ten-year-old kid in my row caught a foul ball, TDG made a big show of taking a picture of it, then asked if he could hold the ball and took a bunch of pictures of himself with it.

The Yankees Fan gag on the screen this time involved a dude in a Yankees jersey waving a Yankees flag up in the Lookout Landing area, and then he gets DEVOURED by Mega Moose. I suppose I prefer that to the actual Mega Moose bouncing around on the field.

I have to admit that with A-Rod kickin' the high socks and playing third base and being godly at the plate this year, plus that he was generally smiling and laughing the entire game, makes it really hard to dislike him for anything else he may or may not have done recently, such as wear a uniform top that says "New York" on it.

I'm betting the Japanese broadcasters had a ball with this game, since Ichiro got on base three times and stole two bases and scored a run, and Kenji Johjima hit the game's only home run. Hideki Matsui didn't do anything at the plate, but a lot of stuff was hit his way in the outfield, so he got a chance to at least show that he can throw a ball much better than Johnny Damon. And then the umpire at third base was none other than Bob Davidson, who was referred to as "aitsu", or "THAT guy", in the Japanese press for quite a while after he made that ridiculous reversed call against the Japanese WBC team. Though, it's been a year, maybe people have forgotten about that by now.

I'm glad Washburn kicked ass. I hope he continues to do so. Oddly, this was my 6th Mariners game of the year, and they're now 5-1 in games I've attended. I've seen two Felix starts, three Washburn starts, and one Baek start. Go figure.

I've been trying to write this game report all weekend when I have bits and pieces of time, and it's simply not happening, so I'm going to hit "publish" and just add to this as I think of things. I'm sorry it sucks. If you're at Tuesday's game, by the way, we're trying to get a bunch of the Lookout Landing regulars to sit together in the upper deck, section 320, so come say hi or sit with us if you're there. It should be interesting, but hey, Felix and crazy blog people, what could be better?

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Numbers Post: Complete Games

When Cha Seung Baek pitched the entirety of Wednesday night's rain-drizzled game against the Tigers, winning 9-2, he finished the first complete game of his career.

And, interestingly, since Felix and J-Rod had pitched complete games as well, that vaulted the Mariners into leading the AL in complete games with 3. Toronto's next with 2, both pitched by Roy Halladay.

I know that complete games have been going extinct over the last 20 years or so as bullpen roles become more defined and teams become less likely to let their starters throw a ton of pitches and risk injuring those multimillion-dollar arms, but it was kind of fun to run the numbers and see how Seattle's complete-game win totals have compared to the rest of the league, and since I generated this for myself, I figured I might as well share it with you all:

Year AL CG PCT CG AVG Leader Seattle Leader CG STS CG PCT
1977 586 25.9% 41.9 BAL (65, 40.4%) (18, 11.1%) Glenn Abbott 7 34 20.6%
1978 645 28.5% 46.1 BAL (65, 40.4%) (28, 17.5%) Glenn Abbott 8 28 28.6%
1979 551 24.4% 39.4 MIL (61, 7.9%) (37, 22.8%) Mike Parrott 13 30 43.3%
1980 549 24.2% 39.2 OAK (94, 58.0%) (31, 19.0%) Rick Honeycutt 9 30 30.0%
1981 334 22.3% 23.9 OAK (60, 55.0%) (10, 9.1%) Floyd Bannister 5 20 25.0%
1982 445 19.6% 31.8 DET (45, 27.8%) (23, 14.2%) Gaylord Perry 6 32 18.8%
Jim Beattie 6 26 23.1%
1983 469 20.7% 33.5 NYY (47, 29.0%) (25, 15.4%) Jim Beattie 8 29 27.6%
1984 398 17.5% 28.4 BAL (48, 29.6%) (26, 16.0%) Jim Beattie 12 32 37.5%
1985 360 15.9% 25.7 MIN (41, 25.3%) (23, 14.2%) Mike Moore 14 34 41.2%
1986 355 15.7% 25.4 MIN (39, 24.1%) (33, 20.4%) Mike Moore 11 37 29.7%
1987 372 16.4% 26.6 BOS (47, 29.0%) (39, 24.1%) Mark Langston 14 35 40.0%
1988 352 15.6% 25.1 TEX (41, 25.5%) (28, 17.4%) Mark Langston 9 35 25.7%
Mike Moore 9 32 28.1%
1989 265 11.7% 18.9 ANA (32, 19.8%) (15, 9.3%) Brian Holman 6 22 27.3%
1990 229 10.1% 16.4 TEX (25, 15.4%) (21, 13.0%) Matt Young 7 33 21.2%
1991 216 9.5% 15.4 CHW (28, 17.3%) (10, 6.2%) Brian Holman 5 30 16.7%
1992 242 10.7% 17.3 ANA (26, 16.0%) (21, 13.0%) Dave Fleming 7 33 21.2%
1993 209 9.2% 14.9 tie (26, 16.0%) (22, 13.6%) Randy Johnson 10 34 29.4%
1994 153 9.6% 10.9 CLE (17, 15.0%) (13, 11.6%) Randy Johnson 9 23 39.1%
1995 151 7.5% 10.8 BAL (19, 13.2%) (9, 6.2%) Randy Johnson 6 30 20.0%
1996 163 7.2% 11.6 tie (19, 11.7%) (4, 2.5%) Bob Wolcott 1 28 3.6%
Matt Wagner 1 14 7.1%
Bob Wells 1 16 6.3%
Salomon Torres 1 7 14.3%
1997 123 5.4% 8.8 TOR (19, 11.7%) (9, 5.6%) Randy Johnson 5 29 17.2%
1998 141 6.2% 10.1 NYY (22, 13.6%) (17, 10.6%) Jeff Fassero 7 32 21.9%
1999 108 4.8% 7.7 BAL (17, 10.5%) (7, 4.3%) Jamie Moyer 4 32 12.5%
2000 107 4.7% 7.6 TOR (15, 9.3%) (4, 2.5%) Aaron Sele 2 34 5.9%
2001 103 4.5% 7.4 DET (16, 9.9%) (8, 4.9%) Freddy Garcia 4 34 11.8%
2002 115 5.1% 8.2 tie (12, 7.4%) (8, 4.9%) Jamie Moyer 4 34 11.8%
2003 110 4.8% 7.9 OAK (16, 9.9%) (8, 4.9%) Joel Pineiro 3 32 9.4%
2004 79 3.5% 5.6 OAK (10, 6.2%) (7, 4.3%) Ryan Franklin 2 32 6.3%
2005 85 3.7% 6.1 tie (9, 5.6%) (6, 3.7%) Ryan Franklin 2 30 6.7%
Joel Pineiro 2 30 6.7%
2006 66 2.9% 4.7 CLE (13, 8.0%) (6, 3.7%) Felix Hernandez 2 31 6.5%
Jamie Moyer 2 25 8.0%

The first three columns show the number of complete games pitched per year in the American League, the percentage of complete games overall, and the average expected number of games per team (ie, the number of complete games divided by 14 teams). The next column shows the team with the most complete games for that year (and the percentage), the next column is Seattle's number of complete games and percentage for that year, and the last part is who led the Mariners in complete games each year, with how many complete games they pitched, how many starts they had total, and the percentage of starts that they pitched complete games in.

I just thought it was kind of interesting that 15 years ago or so, 10 complete games by a pitcher would lead the Mariners, and now 10 complete games by a team would probably lead the American League. Compare that to 1980 and 1981, where the Oakland A's rotation (Langford, Norris, McCatty, Keough, Kingman) pitched complete games in over half of the games the team played!

It's also kind of funny that the Mariners twice had a 43-year-old pitcher tie for the CG team leader, with Perry in 1982 and Moyer in 2006.

In case anyone's wondering, now that Roger Clemens decided to keep playing (I hope you've all heard that by now), he's the active leader in career complete games with 118. Greg Maddux is the only other one over a hundred, with 108. (Randy Johnson clocks in at 98 after that, Schilling at 82, and Mussina at 57.)

Also, there have already been 33 complete games pitched in Japan this season so far, spread among 12 teams. Compare that with the 16 complete games pitched in the MLB this season so far, spread among 30 teams...

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Hey, Ho, Let's Go

I have to admit that I wasn't so keen on the nickname "Ho" for Horacio Ramirez at first, but he sort of earned it with today's outing against the Tigers. Richie Sexson even bothered to wake up long enough to hit a home run to bring the Mariners up 3-0 in the first inning -- against Jeremy Bonderman no less -- but then the Tigers just clawed back to stay on top and win the game, making it eight straight wins for them.

Of course, it could be worse. A certain other somewhat sucky pitcher named Ho might not even make it back up to the majors this year, although his ERA of 15.75 is even slightly worse than Jeff Weaver's current 15.35. Ouch. Whether or not Weaver should also have the nickname "Ho" bestowed upon him is another story.

In other news, Vernon Wells has a pretty good sense of humor.

And John Lackey has a blog.

I've meant to say something here about Alyssa Milano's mlblog at some point, but it hasn't really been relevant. (No, I'm not counting her as part of this entry's title.) Thing is, I don't really know how to categorize her. It's not a player blog, but it is a celebrity blog of sorts. Of course, as MetsGrrl also mentioned a few weeks ago, Alyssa has this "Touch" baseball clothing line out on the site -- and most of it is stuff that I would pretty much never, ever wear. I have two reasons for this: first, it's all too damn expensive; second, it's all too damn girly. I mean, come on, rhinestone-studded jerseys and spaghetti-strap tank tops? It's not quite on the level of pink caps, but it's close -- something along the lines of, "I'm not wearing this to show my support for the team, I'm wearing this to look good and get guys to buy me beer." Though, to be fair, at least her clothing line incorporates team colors and the team logos, which is more than I can say for 90% of the women's clothing in the Mariners Team Store, most of which is in various pastel colors and covered in flowers and peace signs and such.

Perhaps the real issue here is that I don't drink beer.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the upcoming Mariners homestand quite a bit - nine games in ten days between May 11th and 20th. I'll definitely be at the 11th (Yankees), 16th (Angels), and 20th (Padres) games since they're on my plan, so I'll have some game reports then. (I haven't been able to see any of the current east coast trip games, because they start while I'm still at work and end by the time I get home.) I'll probably also go to the game on the 15th because Felix is supposed to come back and start, and it's a BECU night so tickets in View Reserved are all $10 instead of $18.

(Oh my -- I just went to look at the Rainiers schedule because I should go down there one of these days as well, and there's a big headline of "Go to the games Nick Lachey recommends! Check out Nick's Picks!")

Monday, May 07, 2007


"It's like a haiku that forgot to stop."

Today's my birthday.
Sherrill and Putz are my age.
How'd I get so old?

Unfortunately, I was up in Canada all weekend and completely ignoring baseball, so I really have nothing useful to say, except maybe that Julio the Horrible is even more horrible than before. Beating up your wife is just plain not cool. It's even less cool than getting beaten by the Yankees, which is what the Mariners were doing all weekend after that crazy-ass Friday night game of "Who can suck more?" starring Kei Igawa and Cha Seung Baek.

As always, if you want humorous and incisive recaps of the games, go check out the verbal stylings of Jeff Sullivan.

Yukio Tanaka countdown: 3 hits left to 2000. He got another home run on Saturday, too!

Though, speaking of records, apparently Masaichi Kaneda (!!) was at the Mariners-Yankees game today to recognize Hideki Matsui's entrance into the Meikyukai, giving him an official jacket. How awesome is that?

Tim Lincecum, the #1 draft pick of the Giants last June, made his MLB debut tonight on national TV. His opponents were the Phillies, led by Cole Hamels. Old King Cole totally Felix'ed the spotlight, except that everyone already knew how awesome he was, so it wasn't entirely unexpected. The Phillies won the game 8-5, without the presence of You-Know-Who. Still, it's kind of funny thinking about how a year ago, I could have gone over to the University of Washington to see Lincecum pitch, and tonight he was the starter for the Giants. In comparison, a year ago Cole Hamels was about to get called up from AAA, since they figured that a guy who's kicking enough butt in the minors to strike out 36 and walk 1 in 23 innings is probably ready to kick some bigger butt. They were right, of course. And I'm still pissed off that I had waiver claim #2 at that point in my fantasy league...

Friday, May 04, 2007

Friday Foto: Burke and Stock

I haven't put descriptions in yet, but here's a pretty big photo set from that nice sunny Royals-Mariners game last Sunday that my camera attended and was kind enough to bring me along.

Jamie Burke
Jamie Burke!

Click on the photo of Burke to get to the big photo set, or click on this link right here, or whatever. Lots of fun shots of Mariners (particularly Morrow, Burke, and Betancourt) and of Royals (particularly Grudzilla, Teahen, and DeJesus).

This has nothing to do with this post, but Yukio is down to 5 more hits. I suck at predicting. Also, Yu Darvish is ours, and you can't have him.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. White Sox - Play That Funky Music, White Boy

I am sure that by now everyone has heard the news that Chris Snelling has been traded to Oakland for Ryan Langerhans, who was traded to Oakland literally like three days ago. Man, how the hell am I going to stalk Doyle AND Swisher and Harden and the rest of the A's? Damn you, Billy Beane!

Anyway, this is a day late report about Tuesday evening's game, because for whatever reason, I got home from the game on Tuesday night and fell asleep immediately. It really wasn't a boring game or anything, though it was pretty quick. I got there fairly late since I was stuck at work, and completely missed BP, getting there in time for pitcher warmups, basically.

The game actually started off with a pretty neat ceremonial first pitch -- some guy who used to be a hotshot high school baseball player in Hiroshima until a shoulder injury ended his pro ball aspirations and he became a sushi chef instead:

Masaharu Morimoto serves up the first pitch
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto serves up a ceremonial first pitch.

Actually, to be fair, there were two ceremonial first pitches. James Sun, a UW alumni and entrepreneur who was apparently on The Apprentice, also threw out a ceremonial first pitch after Iron Chef Morimoto.

"Short" version: Javier Vazquez only let up one hit in the first three innings, a double to Jamie Burke; in the meantime, Jarrod Washburn gave up a home run to Luis Terrero (!?) in his first at-bat with the White Sox. Just as I was thinking Vazquez was a pretty good pitcher, he fell apart, giving up consecutive singles to Beltre and Vidro. Ibanez hit into a fielder's choice which scored Beltre, but it barely mattered as Richie Sexson hit a FUNK BLAST to dead center, 418 feet, bringing the score to 3-1 Mariners at the end of the 4th. The bats quieted down on both sides again until A.J. Pierzynski hit a ball into the foul pole in right field for a bare-minimum 335-foot homer in the 7th inning, making it a closer 3-2.

Brandon Morrow came in and shut down the White Sox in the top of the eighth (two pinch-hitters, three strikeouts, one walk), and in the bottom, Burke started things off by working a walk; Ichiro hit a line drive to centerfield which was luckily caught, and that was it for Vazquez. Mike MacDougal came in literally only long enough to let Beltre hit a double to left, which didn't quite score Burke. Then everyone's favorite ex-Mariner, Matt Thornton, arrived on the scene and struck out Vidro. Then it came to Ibanez, who said, "Screw you, Thornton" and hit a single to right, scoring Burke and Beltre. Earned runs for everyone! Except Thornton, of course, who struck out Richie Sexson to end the inning.

JJ Putz came in and it was a nice quick 9th inning as the Mariners won the game 5-2.

Javier Vazquez
Javier Vazquez is no match for a good FUNK BLAST.

Something I noticed when the bullpen guys were walking out before this game that I had also noticed during the Royals game the other day is that Sean White seems to be the "rookie relegated to carrying a pink backpack" for whatever reason. I know this is a common form of rookie hazing, and I saw it done by a few teams last year as well, but why on earth is White the one with it instead of, say, Brandon Morrow? (Photo proof from the Royals game, which I need to finish my photo set from: this is clearly White, and this is clearly a pink backpack).

I was direly disappointed that Joe Crede was DHing in this game instead of playing third base. He's one of the third basemen in the AL that's truly fun to watch, and not just because he wears high socks and always smiles.

The scoreboard had Jose Guillen listed as the Mariners right fielder, even though they had announced it as Ben Broussard during the pregame show. I could clearly see that Broussard was out there in right field, and even when he first came to bat, they had his name and stats up on the main part of the screen, but the lineup still said Guillen. It wasn't fixed until somewhere around the second time through the order.

The other funny scoreboard snafu was that when Richie Sexson hit his home run in the 4th, the boards actually started doing the Funk Blast thing before the ball actually cleared the wall. It has grown now to the point that the left field board still flashes "FUNK BLAST", the centerfield scoreboard flashes "FUNKY", and then the boards which usually show pitch speed and current batter statistics, alternately blinked "GIVE US THE FUNK" and "WE WANT THE FUNK".

Music trivia was "Call Me", by Blondie. I even guessed 1980, knowing that they'd never ask a question about the Phillies. Sure enough, it was "Who was the 1980 AL MVP?" and I'm like "Oh, this is easy, George Brett," and nobody believed me.

Digital Dave Trivia was "Who got the first Mariner hit in Safeco Field?" Answer (highlight to see): David Bell. I actually didn't know that, but then again, in 1999, I lived in Pittsburgh and didn't pay much attention to the AL. The dumb part was where Digital Dave's like "And I'm going to run off and have a Shishkaberry!" Around then, the roof started closing due to rain, too.

There were a lot of calls where I could have sworn the ball was fair, and the umpire called it foul, and they were all against the Mariners. The most notable was one that Adrian Beltre hit down the left-field line in the 8th -- I mean, Alex Cintron even touched the ball. Maybe I've failed the Hample Test or whatever, but by the last one I wasn't the only one booing the decision.

Oh yeah, so home runs. Richie's was by far the biggest. Terrero's and Pierzynski's were both dead pulls -- Terrero's had some pop to it, and it landed near the back of section 151, but as I said, with AJ's, I actually thought Ben Broussard was going to catch it, that's how close it was. The ball even bounced back on the field after hitting the foul pole, and I thought it was just a really long foul ball.

Jermaine Dye fouled a couple of shots into the upper deck on the third base side. They were kind of scary.

I have to admit I didn't see what the hell actually happened in the 6th inning with Beltre and Ibanez. Basically, Beltre started the inning by singling to left, and during Raul's at-bat he stole second. Raul singled, and that advanced Beltre to third, but they held him up as Dye fired the ball back in. So, Richie comes up, and he basically hits a looooooooong fly ball to center field, the kind that you know everyone WANTS to put "FUNK BLAST" on the scoreboard for, but which is actually caught near the warning track. So, I look down and start writing "SF8" on my scorecard, expecting Beltre to tag up and score. But what happens? Ibanez, instead, tags up and takes off for second, and Terrero throws in the ball, Uribe is cutoff and he fires to Iguchi at second, who makes the play and Ibanez is out. I don't even have the slightest idea whether Beltre ran, because I simply didn't see it and there was no replay. It's one of those cases where seeing the game at the ballpark is more confusing than watching it on TV. Either way, it seemed like a pretty dumb move on Ibanez's part.

Tadahito Iguchi had several distinctions for the evening: first, he left absolutely none of his at-bats to the whims of fielders, being hit by a pitch, walking twice, and striking out once. He was, infact, the only White Sox batter to get on base via anything other than base hits.

Tadahito Iguchi
Iguchi says, "I'm down with OBP! Yeah, you know me!"

Kenji Johjima, Iguchi's former teammate in Japan with the Fukuoka Softbank-formerly-known-as-Daiei Hawks, was out on Tuesday with back spasms, though he was back in the game on Wednesday. It's pretty awesome that we have someone like Jamie Burke around, so it's not like "Oh god, Johjima's out? That sucks!" and more like "Hey, Johjima's out, no biggie, hope he's better soon."

I would like to take a second to talk about Brandon Morrow again. When he came out to be the setup guy in the 8th, the score was 3-2, and I know Washburn probably didn't want to hand off such a close match, but he had just hit 101 pitches and was obviously sort of losing steam. I was actually pretty excited since I'd just seen Morrow pitch on Sunday, and I also thought it was great he'd be facing Terrero and Ozuna and all, except Ozzie chose to go ahead and put in Mr. High Socks Darin Erstad to pinch-hit for Terrero. Fine. Morrow got off to a slightly shaky start, but then it was whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, HE GAWN. So of course, instead of Ozuna, out came Alex Cintron to pinch-hit. One or two pitches broke a little wild here too, but Cintron couldn't catch up with Morrow's 95-ish fastballs either, and he also got to sit down.

I don't think the Sox had anyone to pinch-hit for Iguchi, but oddly, Morrow seemed to be more unsure of himself pitching to a right-hander, and Iguchi walked on four straight pitches. The crowd seemed sort of annoyed with that and rose to a low murmur.

So up comes Jermaine Dye, and the second pitch just KNOCKS HIM FLAT ON HIS ASS, at which point the crowd's getting excited, expecting to see Morrow blow by Dye with some more heat. Except Morrow ends up throwing two more balls and gets up to a 3-1 count. So I can hear the people around me booing; some little kids a few rows back are yelling "TAKE HIM OUT, TAKE HIM OUT" and whatever.

Me, I just sat there calmly, watching. "I believe in you," I think I murmured.

And sure enough, whooosh, ball comes in twice, ball gets swung at twice, Dye is out!

Lots of pumped fists, lots of happy kids. The Mariners managed to get a whole bunch of runs in their half of the 8th. It was all good.

The Mariners next get to play a whole bunch of Yankees games, interweaved with some Tigers, Angels, and a make-up against the Red Sox. While all of those teams have a few slow starters, I think they'll provide more of a challenge and let us see what Morrow really can handle. I know a lot of people would like nothing more than to see him strike out Alex Rodriguez. We'll see, I guess.

But for now, hey, the Mariners are two games over .500. Who knew?