Friday, June 29, 2007

Big News!

Craig Biggio got his 3000th hit!

Frank Thomas got his 500th home run!

Oh, and I'm moving to Japan in a month. I leave Seattle on July 30th. I'll be living in Tokyo, teaching English with GEOS. Come visit me!

(yes, that's the "crazy news" I had a month or so ago, but I couldn't make a real announcement until I told my boss and coworkers. No, I don't know what I plan to do with the blog. Any suggestions? Maybe it'll just have to become a different Marinerds of sorts...)

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Mixed signals

I promise to write an actual coherent entry one of these days. Honest.

For now, I have another "hey, this picture I took kind of sucks, but let me add a caption to it" candidate for you all.

Third base coach Demarlo Hale, in the Red Sox dugout Tuesday night...

manny can i has this dance?

I really was trying to come up with an "invisible something" one, but nothing seemed quite right.


The Mariners swept the Red Sox today, winning this afternoon's game in eleven innings, and managing to screw up rush-hour traffic something awful. Ryan Feierabend ("Fear is the mind-killer. Feierabend is the rally-killer.") played to Safeco's strengths and pitched 5 scoreless innings; Matsuzaka pitched 8 innings of one-run ball, and a Sean Green throwing error is what caused the game to be tied at 1-1 for an eternity. In a somewhat appropriate outcome, Ichiro scored the winning run on an RBI double by Jose Lopez... hit off of former Mariners enigma Joel Pineiro.

On a mostly unrelated note, while looking for something else, I found this fantastic article by Michael Lewis about Mark Teahen and Steve Stanley, from two years ago, but still totally worth reading. I say mostly unrelated because the Royals also finished sweeping the Angels this afternoon, causing me to notice that John Buck has been raking lately, so now the question becomes, which Royal is going to be the token KC all-star? Will it be Mark "McDreamy" Teahen, or John "McSteamy" Buck, or Gil "McFourSeamy" Meche?

(don't blame me for those nicknames, blame Royals Review. I've never seen Grey's Anatomy or whatever. I do, however, think that Mark Teahen is dreamy.)

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

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

Wow. Was that a crazy game or what?

Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

- Willie Bloomquist hit a home run!
- Richie Sexson hit a home run!
- Johjima had an RBI on a hit-by-pitch...
- immediately before Guillen also had an RBI on a walk...
- ...and so did Beltre...
- John Olerud threw out the ceremonial first pitch!
- Brandon Morrow struck out some people
- Sherrill struck out Big Papi
- JJ Putz struck out the other half of the team, including a pinch-hitting Manny Ramirez for the final out of the game

Poor Kason Gabbard. According to Baseball-Reference, Willie Bloomquist has only hit 6 career home runs, and counting Gabbard, 5 were against left-handers.

Two of my friends came and visited with me in the 6th inning, right about when Felix got taken out. We chatted for a while, and then they said "Well, it's tied, and last time we got up and walked around, a Mariner hit a home run, so we're going to go." Two batters later, Richie Sexson hit a home run, which brought the score to 8-6. You see, it's not all my luck, though this game did bring my personal Mariners won-loss record this year to 12-4.

This was also my first time seeing Hideki Okajima pitch since last year's Japan Series, which is where I fell in love with him, so I was psyched about that, and even wore my Fighters cap for the occasion. He gave up a single to Kenji Johjima, and before you ask, I don't think they faced each other much in Japan if ever. (Okajima was in the Central League with the Giants for most of his career before coming to the Fighters in 2006, Johjima was in the Pacific League with the Hawks for most of his career before coming to the Mariners in 2006. Interleague started in 2005, but I'd have to poke around a bit for whether or not they faced each other. If you're curious and don't know already, Johjima has faced Matsuzaka more than any of the other current Japanese major leaguers.)

There was a girl on the bus home who was wearing a Red Sox shirt and going on about some Sox player she used to like. "You know... that one with the beard, and shaggy hair, the caveman one? Damion something?" I didn't punch her, but maybe I should have. It's funny, Red Sox fans were kind of fun a few years ago, but now they mostly get on my nerves.

On the other side of the bus, a guy was singing to his kid "You've been Thunderstruck out, struck out by JJ Putz! ThunderSTRIKE THREE", and stuff like that. It was pretty funny.

As is typical when I can't think of anything to write, I'll just put up a few pictures I took today instead...

Ryan Rowland-Smith
It's portrait day in the bullpen, starting with Mr. Hyphenated Aussie, Ryan Rowland-Smith.

Chris Reitsma
Chris Reitsma hangs out in the bullpen too.

Jon Huber
Jon Huber always looks like a sad panda.

Felix Hernandez
Felix clears his mind during the anthem.

Kason Gabbard
I'm sorry, Mr. Gabbard, but you just aren't that scary.

Jason Varitek
C is for Catcher and that's good enough for me.

Joel Pineiro
Hey, I know that guy. Didn't he used to play for the Mariners?

David Ortiz, Jose Lopez
Hey keed, don't you mess with the Big Papi.

Kason Gabbard and Jason Varitek
Kason and Jason. Varitek is humbly pointing out that Gabbard
may want to actually, you know, throw a strike one of these years.

Jose Lopez
Jose Lopez makes an awesome diving catch of a Lowell liner.

Hideki Okajima
Hideki Okajima! Yay!

Oh yeah, and Brandon Morrow was rookie of the day.

I had fun taking pictures in the bullpen before the game, hanging out with Bretticus and Etowncoug from LL, showing off the bullpen pub view and stuff like that, but I also missed John Olerud throwing out the first pitch, so that was sad. Olerud's one of my favorite players ever, in case it wasn't obvious from the sappy message I put when I sponsored his baseball-reference page. It's hard to believe he's not even 39 yet, though it feels like he's been gone a while.

On the other hand, it was pretty funny when Brett yelled to Joel Pineiro, "I hope we see you pitch today!"

Seriously, this was a pretty good game to experience, lots of action going on at all times, without an obvious outcome either way, but it's hard for me to add to the box score. I can tell you that I thought it was funny how the seventh inning stretch started at about 9:45pm, when the last games I'd gone to were both over by that point.

Oh yeah, so my next game is going to be on Saturday -- it's trading card night -- if anyone else is going and wants to try to work out some trades in advance, let me know! I never seem to have time to actually make a complete set, sadly.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Back to Back to Back to Back

Nick Swisher would really like it if people voted for him on the all-star ballot. Or so he says. Something about his dad making fun of him for having less all-star appearances. Either way, Swisher's site is pretty fun to look through, regardless of whether you go vote for him.

(Me, I've already been just punching Ichiro-Swisher-Teahen in the AL outfield on all of my ballots anyway. Last year I used to write in Swisher. This year I've been writing in Ryan Doumit.)

I watched the second half of last night's Mariners game while I was at the gym, now that they've put in these awesome "treadmill theater" screens so you can watch whatever you want without annoying anyone else to change the channel. The good part is that I walked about 3-4 miles during the game. The bad part is that I literally could barely stand up by the time I got to the 9th inning, so I sat down on one of those inflatable workout balls to watch Ryan Rowland-Smith.

I missed the back-to-back RBI walks by Johjima and Beltre, but I did get to see the back-to-back FUNK BLASTS by Johjima and Beltre. (Is that the first time that there ever was a game where two teammates had back-to-back RBI walks AND back-to-back home runs?) And it was even back-to-back pitches on the home runs, too. Very cool.

J Lopez pitching to J Lopez was pretty neat. So was Coco Crisp's at-bat -- I didn't recognize him, and didn't have sound, so I'm thinking "who the heck is that spastic freak at the plate?" There's definitely some advantages to watching a game on TV instead of being at the park, but you miss out on things like seeing the Ortiz Shift and such on TV, I think.

I got to see a few innings of the Rakuten-Yomiuri game last night as well. It was actually the first time I'd gotten to watch Ogasawara since he went to the Giants, and it almost made me want to cry. I cheered for Masahiro Tanaka to strike him out, but I fell asleep before that was accomplished. I did see Yoshinobu Takahashi's home run in the third (strangely, I actually sort of expected it to happen), though I didn't see the one in the seventh. Naoto Watanabe continues to impress me as Rakuten's shortstop, too. Talk about a productive draft.

I'll be at tonight's Sox-Mariners game, but not Wednesday's, since between Sunday night and Monday afternoon, all of the decent tickets in the lower levels got bought up for Wednesday's game. Not sure whether it was genuinely a rush on tickets or whether scalpers think they can make a buck off of a Matsuzaka start, but whatever. I'm kind of psyched because I'll get to see Roy Halladay pitch on Saturday! Finally!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Know any Red Sox fans? Or Matsuzaka fans?

Specifically, any of them who live in Seattle and are going to the games this week and might want to buy this banner off me?

itadaki sanshin matsuzaka

I'm selling it for $25 or best offer. I bought it at the Seibu Dome during last season, even though I was already sick of the Matsuzaka hype, because I figured that if he did come to the Mariners it'd be something cool to wave around at the stadium, but now I've just realized there's no way in hell I'm going to wave it around when he pitches for the Red Sox, so I might as well get it to someone who will. I've basically taken it out of the wrapping it came in twice -- once to look at it after I bought it, and once to take the above picture.

It's made out of cloth, the pole is plastic, and it's about 20" x 20". It says "Itadaki Sanshin!! 18 Matsuzaka Daisuke", which means "Give us a strikeout!!", essentially.

I can bring it downtown on Tuesday or Wednesday during the day, I'm going to Tuesday's game and maybe Wednesday's, or someone can come get it from me in Ballard in the evening. The Sox are also coming back in August as well, so there's no real rush per se (and I'll be selling off more of my baseball stuff in a month or so, too).

Friday, June 22, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Pirates - Gone, but not Benschoten

Another night, another Pirates game, another Mariners win, 3-0. Happy Felix Day. Putz wooo. Kuwata ganbare. Golden Doughnut. Say Bay Eh. Whatever. For once I actually found myself regretting going to a game, which is sort of rare for me.

I didn't bother getting to this game all that early, basically arriving at the end of Pirates batting practice. I got Jose Castillo to sign my ticket and once more failed to get Masumi Kuwata. Jason Bay was out again continuing to be the nicest guy on the planet.

A semi-stupid thing happened: while waiting in my usual spot in section 148 for the pitchers to come out and do long tosses, I got stopped by an usher. Most of the ushers recognize me and my camera by now and know that I have a 16-game ticket plan in section 143, and I always move to my seat by game time, but this guy actually wanted to see my ticket and was going to kick me out of the section... and unfortunately, this time my actual ticket was in the upper deck. For some reason, I never seem to get asked for my ticket when I actually have one in Field, and do get asked for it on the rare times when I don't. I told him I was just going to take pictures and would leave by 6:50, but then John Van Benschoten ended up throwing towards the field instead of the stands anyway, so I just got up and wandered down to the bullpen. The Mariners' side of the bullpen was horrendously crowded for the Felix, so I went over to the bullpen pub instead, and this is what I saw:

Doumit Hole
Through the Looking Glass, or is that a Doughnut Hole?

John Van Benschoten is one of those guys you've probably heard of if you follow the Pirates minor leagues, mostly for being what Chris Snelling would be like if he was a pitcher, since he's spent most of his time having reconstructive surgeries done on his shoulders and rehabbing from them. Once upon a time, though, he was a first-round draft pick, back when I was still living in Pittsburgh and didn't really pay attention to the draft. Hopefully he'll manage to accomplish something at the major league level before he gets traded to some other team and becomes awesome, which is the typical fate for Pirates players.

John Van Benschoten
Much like the rest of the charming young men playing for the
Pirates these days, this guy looks too nice to defeat you.

I didn't even spend that much time in the bullpen, going up to the 300 level during the national anthem. I bought garlic-free chicken tenders and fries from Grounders, which was a patently bad idea -- I think they sort of depend on the overwhelming garlic to distract patrons from noticing that the chicken strips are dry and tasteless while the fries are soggy. Blech. I think next time I try a food experiment at Safeco, I'll go for the Mexican food, which I've been curious about but not adventurous enough to try yet.

I was sitting in row 9 in section 329, with a gigantic family all sitting to my left and a bunch of loud blonde girls sitting in the row behind me. One section over there were a few people with Pirates hats in row 9, and a whole bunch of loud Japanese people in row 11. I wasn't actually wearing a Pirates shirt at this point, since it was too hot out to wear two shirts. I just sat there quietly with my scorecard, watching the game unfold. Sometimes I wonder why I go to the park now that I have cable at home and can actually watch the game on TV; though I was right behind home plate, I was way too far up to get any sense for how Felix was pitching besides just watching the batters and some of the radar gun readings.

The Pirates went down 1-2-3 in the first inning on 6 pitches. The scoreboard informed us that we could get "Griffey Returns" commemorative baseballs for $100 starting at 10am Friday in the team store, autographed by Griffey, with proceeds going to Children's Hospital.

The Mariners also went down 1-2-3 in their half of the first inning, though it took 20 pitches, with at least 10 of them being taken by Jose Lopez, who fouled off a bazillion pitches, including one which bounced in a large section of empty seats in left, and ended up back on the field, much to Jason Bay's surprise.

The Pirates also went down 1-2-3 in the top of the second, this time on 9 pitches, Ryan Doumit striking out for his first time of the evening. After the inning, they had a salute to the US Army up on the board and had all past and present Army members stand up and be applauded.

Jose Guillen led off the second with a single, and even got to second on a Beltre groundout that was executed a bit like a hit-and-run, since it would have been an easy double play otherwise, but he was stranded there.

In the top of the third, the Pirates finally got a hit when Jack Wilson hit a ball that hooked fair, then ended up in the corner along the foul line, for a double. The rest of the inning was outs and still only took 7 more pitches for a total of 22 through 3.

Ichiro, wearing high socks, had the sole Mariners hit in the third, a double to left. In comparison, Van Benschoten threw 49 pitches through three innings.

Nate McLouth led off the top of the fourth with a single and was advanced by a Freddy Sanchez groundout, but Felix struck out Adam LaRoche and Jason Bay after that, this inning taking 16 pitches. After that half of the inning, they played yet another Quick Flix spotlight on Ken Griffey Jr, eliciting more cheers from people who actually lived here in the 90's.

Kenji Johjima, NOT wearing high socks, had the sole Mariners hit in the fourth, a single up the middle. After the fourth inning, they showed Today's Groups up on the scoreboard, and I finally remembered to take pictures of a few choice ones that had been there all week. In case you were wondering where half of the Pirates fans in the stadium came from, these might give you a good idea:

Groups: Doumit/Bloomquist family and Say Bay Eh
Friends, Cousins, Canadians, lend me your ears...

Ryan Doumit led off the 5th inning by striking out for the second time of the day, in front of his extended family. Poor guy. After that, the Pirates actually managed to chip into Felix for a bit. Xavier Nady hit a ball towards second, and Lopez charged it but the ball took a weird bounce and rather than him grabbing it, it rebounded off his legs, so Nady got an infield single. Jose Castillo singled cleanly to right, advancing Nady. Jumpin' Jack Wilson hit into a fielder's choice which he ran out and minorly escaped being a double play. With runners at first and third, Jose Bautista walked, but then Felix struck out Nate McLouth to end the bases-loaded threat. Despite all of this action, it only took him 22 pitches to get through that inning, putting him up to 60 through 5.

At this point the blonde girls behind me, who had been yelling "GOOOOO HERNANDEZ... COME ON HERNANDEZ, YOU CAN DO IT, SHOW US WHAT YOU'VE GOT, HERNANDEZ" and other various things all inning, started yelling "HEY CAMERAMAN, WE WANT TO BE ON TV", and so they ended up on the big screen. Immediately after that, they called their friends like "Are you watching the game? Were we on TV? We were on the board here! Were we on TV?" I almost turned around to point out that there'd be commercials on TV between innings, but didn't bother. It was kind of weird to me since I'm pretty sure I've rarely ever heard anyone yell anything other than "Go Felix" at the park, anyway.

Since the Pirates had a "big inning" in the top of the 5th, the Mariners had their "big inning" in the bottom of the 5th, only they were a bit more effective. Richie Sexson started off with a walk, and Vidro hit a fly out. Yuniesky Betancourt singled to left, and then so did Ichiro, scoring Richie. 1-0. Right when I was thinking that Jason Bay did a really good job fielding the ball and holding both Ichiro and Yuni to only one base on the play, Jose Lopez hit a shot to left field which took a really weird bounce off of the wall and so Jason Bay had to go chasing after it, and by the time he got the ball back in Lopez had managed a bases-clearing double. 3-0. Raul Ibanez walked after that, but Jose Guillen and Kenji Johjima both popped out after that to end the inning. Van Benschoten threw 35 pitches that inning alone, and was up to 95 through 5.

Freddy Sanchez hit a long fly ball to right which was caught by Jose Guillen in a dramatic running catch, and Jason Bay singled in-between Adam LaRoche and Ryan Doumit striking out (his third of the day, if you're counting). Masumi Kuwata started warming up in the bullpen during that inning, and when the Japanese people sitting one section over saw that on the board, they all started yelling excitedly in Japanese about it. Some of the non-blonde people behind me were like "What are they making such a big fuss about?" and I turned around like, "Do you know who Greg Maddux is?" They replied in the affirmative, and I said "Imagine if you were stuck in Japan for several years, and you were at a baseball game, and suddenly Greg Maddux was coming out to pitch. You'd be pretty excited too, wouldn't you?" "Well, yeah..." "That's about the equivalent of what's up with Kuwata. He's finishing up a long and illustrious career here."

Kuwata came out to pitch the bottom of the 6th, and he started out by striking out Adrian Beltre for his first MLB strikeout! After that, Richie Sexson grounded out, at which point Kuwata had thrown 9 pitches, all strikes. Jose Vidro hit the ball up the middle, and Jose Castillo made a diving stop, but couldn't get up in time to throw to first, so he flicked it to Jack Wilson, who made the throw, but it wasn't in time even to get Vidro. Kuwata struck out Betancourt after that, though, throwing 2 balls and 14 strikes on the inning.

What's funny is that I'd brought my Kendall #18 Pirates shirt with me, and right as Kuwata came out I realized it conveniently doubled as a Kuwata shirt, from the front at least, so I put it on during that inning, right as Betancourt was coming to the plate.

Masumi Kuwata
K is for Kuwata and that's good enough for me.

Felix set down the Pirates 1-2-3 in the top of the 7th. He was up to 91 pitches.

Ichiro led off the bottom of the 7th, and Kuwata struck him out swinging, which I'm sure caused about a hundred Japanese journalists to burst with joy over finally having their headlines for the evening. Jose Lopez also struck out, and then Raul Ibanez hit a buntish sort of ball that bounced towards the mound; Kuwata charged towards the baseline, scooped up the ball and threw it to Adam LaRoche who made the out. I know that Gold Gloves are mostly popularity contests in Japan as well, but there's a reason the guy won eight of them, and this showed it. Kuwata threw a total of 26 pitches in 2 innings and struck out 4. Not bad for an old rookie!

Freddy the DH Sanchez got a single in the top of the 8th but that was it for the Pirates in that inning. LaRoche's strikeout to end the inning brought the strikeout count up to 9. Felix threw 107 pitches through 8 innings.

Jonah Bayliss came in to pitch the bottom of the 8th, and despite his cool high socks and all, he was a little wild, though only Beltre managed a hit off him, a huge shot to dead center which missed clearing the fence by about 5 feet, and instead bounced in for a double. LL hero "Red" was shown on the scoreboard with his "I ♥ Beltre" poster. A wild pitch advanced Adrian to third, but Richie Sexson popped out to end the inning.

Putz in, game over. Jason Bay singled, much to the joy of the Trail BC clan, but Ryan Doumit struck out (for the FOURTH time, if you are counting, in front of all of his friends and family), and then Xavier Nady grounded into a really anticlimactic double play to end the game.

The scoreboard operators were running out of room to add K's.

You know what kind of sucks? They made such a big deal over how Ryan Doumit is Willie Bloomquist's cousin, and thus the Bloomquist-Doumit clans were out in force at the stadium cheering them on, but Willie basically only saw one inning of action for the whole Pirates series, as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning on Tuesday. I'm not necessarily arguing that Willie deserves more playing time, but I bet it was sort of disappointing for him and his family. Putting him in against the Pirates is at least a better bet than putting him in against a stronger team.

(I guess this is one time it's nice to figure that nobody actually reads these long game reports, because there's some unwritten rule in the blogosphere that you're not allowed to ever insinuate that Willie Bloomquist should get to play more.)

I kept my Kendall #18 shirt on while walking out of the park. I got to the bus stop at 1st and Union, where I waited for my bus back to Ballard, and an older guy says to me, "Now, see, to me number 18 is Andy Van Slyke," and I'm like "Heh, well, that's slightly before my time, I moved to Pittsburgh in 1994," and we get into a conversation about the Pirates of the 90's, and it actually comes out that he was originally also from Philly, and was a kid back in 1964, and was even at the game that Bunning lost to drop the Phillies out of first place, and it turns out we were both at a game of the 1983 World Series, and we talked some about the Pirates-Braves debacles of 91 and 92, and the Phillies in 93, and then my bus showed up.

I get on the bus and I hear some guy saying something about "that loser Kendall", and I'm like "What?" and it turns out the guy's from near Torrance and says he played baseball for some rival high school when Kendall was there. Strange world.

In case anyone's counting, not that I am, of course, the Mariners are now 11-4 with an ERA of 2.60 in games I've attended. No, I'm not making that up.

I don't expect to go to any of the Reds games this weekend; I'm not really part of Griffeymania, and I'm a little burnt out after going to three games in a row this week. We'll see.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Pirates - Leave it to... Weaver?

In lieu of a "short version" recap, since the game really was amazingly short, I'll just mention several awesome things about this game:

1) Kenji Johjima wore high socks

2) Jason Bay complimented my photography, proving he is the nicest guy on the planet

3) Ian Snell said his hand is fine

4) Richie Sexson hit a home run into the left-field bleachers

5) Raul Ibanez hit a home run INTO THE HIT IT HERE CAFE

6) Oh, and uh... Jeff Weaver got his first win as a Mariner. A complete-game shutout. Where the heck did THAT come from?

There was something pretty odd while watching warmups. Weaver and Maholm have both sort of sucked this year, and they also both sort of have about the same pitching repertoire. But did you know that they even both wear the exact same glove model by Rawlings? I only noticed this afterwards while looking at pictures, that the lefty-righty mirror image might have been even more uncanny than I realized:

Weaver, Maholm
Maybe two pitchers wearing the same model glove meeting each other is like two
wizards with the same wand core in Harry Potter, see. One's got to give.

I think that explains everything. One or the other of these two was going to pitch a complete game shutout today, and the Mariners happened to luck out in that it was Jeff Weaver.

I got to the game pretty early again, wearing my Bay #38 shirt. I managed to find the Say Bay Eh? group down by the front row, and I decided that there was no way I'd miss Jason Bay if he came out to sign stuff again, because that would make me sad. I'd actually printed out on photo paper a few pictures I took on Tuesday; namely the Kuwata and Bay ones, hoping to get them signed.

So we watched Freddy and Jason and Doughnut take batting practice. Some guy tells me that Brandon Morrow is signing stuff over on the Mariners side. I go over and look; I get halfway there and realize that it's actually Willie Bloomquist. I wonder if the guy was pulling a prank or just honestly didn't know. Pretty funny either way.

I go back and stand amidst the Jason Bay fans. We've actually got a pretty large contingent of crazy people wearing Bay jerseys and shirts, holding up various signs.

#38 is #1!
This is the kind of new math they teach in Pittsburgh nowadays.

Jason eventually finishes up his batting practice and sees the huge group of fans there. I half-expect him to get scared and run away, but no, he comes over with a huge smile and just starts signing things and shaking hands and posing for pictures and talking to kids. Now, I've observed a whole lot of teams in batting practice before, and usually the biggest star on a team is going to be the hardest one to get to sign stuff, or will seem impatient with fans and all. But no, the reputation Bay has as being one of the nicest guys in baseball is for real. Maybe it's just because he's a local guy (lives in Kirkland, grew up in BC, went to Gonzaga), but I swear he stayed for at least 10 minutes going down the line talking to people.

When he came to me, I had just lent my pen to a little kid to get their glove signed as usual, and then I got Jason to sign my picture.

Me: Can you sign this picture of mine?
JB: Sure. This is a really nice shot! Did you take this?
Me: [babbling] Yeah, I took it of you during warmups yesterday, actually, and printed it up...
JB: [smiles] Wow, that's a quick turnaround!
Me: Thanks so much, Jason! Good luck today!

I get out of the way and step up a few rows waving the picture to let it dry, and I've got this gigantic grin on my face like "Jason Bay just complimented my photography! Holy crap!" Yeah, I'm a dork, and I'm sure he was just being nice, but that made my day. Seriously. I've been a Jason Bay fan for several years and had never met him at PNC Park, so this was pretty special.

This actually helped me a lot when Kuwata came over to sign stuff and yet again he just stayed in one spot so the only way to get to him would have been to elbow into the big throng of people and thrust stuff at him, and I just don't do that. I was sad, but then as I replaced the picture in my scorecard I saw the Jason Bay picture again and started grinning like an idiot.

Ian Snell was over by the dugout signing things so I got him to sign my ticket. After he threw it back I called out, "How's your hand? Are you okay now?" and he just said "don't worry, it's fine." In my brain I was yelling "THEN WHY WERE YOU NOT PITCHING HERE IN SEATTLE, YOU MADE ME SAD", but outwardly I just said "Thanks Ian," and walked off.

Oh, and speaking of "by the dugout", here is a picture I took of Ryan Doumit. Does he look like Chris Snelling or what?

Ryan Doumit
I may have to start calling him Doylenut instead of Doughnut.

I watched Maholm and Weaver warm up, as I mentioned. It seems that in the last few days, rather than doing long tossing out by the bullpen in center field, the Mariners starters are now doing long tossing over on the grass by first base, nearer to the dugout and the stands, which is why the opposing pitchers have been warming up in center field. Maybe they've seen me taking pictures over by the foul pole and are now on to me, and that's why they moved over. Hmm.

An usher actually came up to me and was like "Are you sitting here?" and I explain that I have a ticket for Field, but not here, I'll move over after the warmups are done, really, and he's like "Oh, no, that's not why I'm asking. If you really ARE sitting here, I have to explain to you all of the rules about interfering with balls in play. Are you aware of them?" and I'm like "Oh! Actually, yes, I know the rules, but I'm not staying here during the game, honest, so don't worry about me."

The Mariners' side of the bullpen has really become the place to be for both current relievers and DL'ed relievers, I think. I swear I saw Chris Reitsma, Jon Huber, Arthur Rhodes, and even Mark Lowe hanging out there. I took a few pictures there too, but then Brandon Morrow spied me and my Pirates shirt and actually pointed at me and shouted something, so I ran off. Oh, and Eric O'Flaherty carried the pink backpack to the bullpen, if anyone's counting.

The Pirates relievers are sadly nowhere near as interesting.

Bobby Cuellar
Bobby Cuellar probably wishes he was a Mariners coach again.

So yeah, there was a game. Freddy Sanchez, in case you are wondering, is pretty good. Infact, when you think about it, the Pirates actually do have several good players, and one wonders why they lose so much. It's probably due to the pitching; the four guys who have started most of their games average 24.5 years old and are mostly left-handed. On the hitting side, Adam LaRoche has been pretty bad this year relatively, and Xavier Nady still can't hit righties. Jason Bay has been down a little from his normal awesomeness but is still pretty awesome, and Ryan Doumit has been hitting more like a catcher ever since he started getting a lot of playing time at that position, but yeah, in general, it's not like this lineup is regularly starting a whole bunch of .150 hitters like certain other teams I could name.

Which of course, makes it all the funnier that they were four-hit by Jeff Weaver, I guess.

But yeah, since there's not much to talk about on the Pirates offense for the evening, let me give props to Freddy for getting two hits when nobody else could muster any aside from the 8th and 9th hitters, Ronny Paulino and Jack "You can't bench Jumpin' Jack Flash" Wilson. And Jumpin' Jack Flash got himself picked off first base, too.

The Mariners, on the other hand, started laying into Paul Maholm in the second inning. Johjima singled to third, kind of, and Bautista made a crappy throw that bounced off into the stands, so Johjima took second. He faked a steal or two, and then Adrian Beltre singled to left. Johjima ran home on that, and the ball got away from Paulino at the plate, so Beltre kept running. Adam LaRoche had come around to back up the play, so he got the ball and threw it to third, where Jack Wilson was covering, but Beltre slid in safe and Wilson didn't get the ball anyway. Bautista was backing up the play though, and so that's all that happened. I marked it down as Beltre taking third on a 7-2-3-6 play.

I also couldn't help but notice that Johjima was rockin' the high socks. When he was at-bat I couldn't quite tell because he had a shin guard on, but then standing at second it became a lot more obvious. And then when he ran home he looked just like Ichiro in a flurry of dirt!

Kenji Johjima
Johjima slides into home plate with his high socks for the first Mariner run.

Ichiro wanted to score a run too, so when he singled in the 3rd inning, he ran to second on a wild pitch, immediately stole third, and then was able to score on a Lopez groundout. Ibanez added another run that inning to make it 4-0, and when Richie Sexson slammed a funk blast into the leftfield bleachers to lead off the 4th inning, that made it 5-0.

The music trivia of the day was Flashdance, by Irene Cara, which I immediately got (and the year, 1983 -- which isn't hard to remember if you know when the movie came out). So they ask who won the World Series that year and I very bitterly say, "Baltimore ORIOLES," and the lady in front of me is like "Sounds like you really know that one, huh?" and I explain that it was the only World Series I ever got to go to.

In the meantime, the people behind me have been talking about Jeff Weaver the whole game, saying how sucky he is, things like "Give me 8 million dollars and I'll go out there and be that bad too," and such. Suddenly, it dawns on them that Weaver hasn't actually given up a run yet.

The top of the fifth starts, and one guy's like "So do you think today it'll happen? Jeff Weaver's first win of the year?"

I turn around like "Hey, do you guys think it'll happen right now? Jeff Weaver's first strikeout of the game?"

About 10 seconds later Xavier "I can't hit righties, even bad ones" Nady struck out. And then Paulino whiffs two batters later. And then somehow Jeff Weaver goes on to get 5 strikeouts in the last 9 innings and get that complete-game shutout after all, getting through most innings 1-2-3, allowing 6 runners all game.

And despite the Mariners getting hits, Paul Maholm actually works fairly fast and there's only one pitching change for the Pirates, when Danny Kolb comes out for the eighth, and Raul Ibanez launches that aforementioned monster of a home run which actually goes into the finally-aptly-named Hit it Here Cafe. The 7th inning stretch started at 8:44pm and the entire game is over at 9:20pm.

Jeff Weaver got a standing ovation when he left the mound in the 8th and an even bigger one when he came out to pitch the ninth, with strains of "Stayin' Alive" playing in the background. Despite that I'm sitting there in a Pirates shirt and cap, I've got this dorky grin on my face as I'm watching Jeff Weaver actually finish out the game, and I even stood up for the last out as I usually do, thinking how ironic it is that I had been joking that my winning record at Mariners games (now up to 10-4!) was mostly due to having skipped all of Weaver's starts. The board briefly flashes "Leave it to Weaver" and they play "Dream Weaver" as well as Mariners are high-fiving on the field. I'm sure the scoreboard folks have been waiting ALL YEAR to use that!

Afterwards one person, the lone female in the group sitting behind me, is like "Why were you guys saying Weaver was so bad, if he just pitched a whole game shutout? Was that really his first win?"

I'm packing up my scorecard and camera and I look up and remark, "It's 9:20 now? I think this is the first time this season he's left the mound with an ERA lower than the time."


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Pirates - Dunkin' Doumit

I spent 8 years living in Pittsburgh, from 1994 to 2002, before I moved to Seattle, and man, did the Pirates suck when I was there. People here talk about 2001 with a tone of wistful awe, and I think of 2001 as the year we got that amazing new stadium and then proceeded to lose 100 games in it.

Either way, last night my college (Carnegie Mellon) had organized an alumni event at Safeco, and despite that I had a feeling it wasn't going to be a very good alumni event (it wasn't), they'd gotten a block of 40 tickets in Field Seating, and I couldn't really turn down a $24 ticket to sit in a $38 area -- especially since at the time I thought Ian Snell was pitching, but then he had to go burn his hand grilling over the weekend.

I showed up around 5:50pm, wearing my red Sunday Pirates shirt, with a big Sanchez #12 on the back, carrying my camera. I started running around taking pictures immediately, of course, watching some batting practice, watching the relief pitchers warming up, etc. There was a SURPRISING number of Pirates shirts around, mostly Bay #38, but also a lot of Clementes, and even a couple of Doumits.

This isn't such a weird thing when you realize that Ryan Doumit is from Moses Lake, is Willie Bloomquist's cousin, and grew up watching the Mariners in the Kingdome and was a gigantic Buhner fan. Jason Bay lives in Kirkland, is from Trail BC, and went to Gonzaga. Both of these guys had huge groups of family and friends at the stadium for the game apparently (I am pretty sure I saw part of the Doumit-Bloomquist family by the dugout, and in left field there was a huge section of fans with signs like "Trail BC Loves Jason Bay", "Say Bay, Eh?" and such).

I was standing with a whole bunch of people along the left field line when the relief pitchers came by to do some running, and about five of us spotted a particular Japanese pitcher and all shouted "KUWATA!!! GANBARE!!!!" at about the same time. I doubt he was all that surprised at the number of Japanese fans in the stadium, but he looked up and smiled and waved at all of us.

Masumi Kuwata
Masumi Kuwata

That was pretty cool. It had occurred to me a few days ago that the Pirates pretty much called him up just in time to face the AL teams with Japanese players on them. Given the big deal that the media made over Kuwata chatting with Ichiro after BP, or just the sheer number of Japanese fans that were there watching him warm up, I think it was a good call on their part, regardless of whether it was done deliberately.

Conveniently, Jim Colborn is currently a pitching coach for the Pirates, and he used to be the Japan scout for the Mariners, and supposedly speaks fluent Japanese. (Reportedly, Kuwata's English is really good, though I haven't actually heard him speak.)

After BP, three Pirates came over to sign stuff. I didn't even catch who one of them was because I was more interested in trying to get Kuwata, who was one of the others. Chris Duffy was the third. Sadly, Kuwata signed for a while, but he never actually moved down the wall, he just stood there and so people kept coming up and pushing in and shoving stuff out to be signed, and those of us who waited patiently for a while got screwed. I was standing with a guy with an oldskool Yomiuri jersey, a lady with a Japanese autograph paperboard, and a guy with a "桑田がんばれ" sign. Alas. Kuwata ran off, apologizing as he went, "gomen ne, gomen ne". Duffy, on the other hand, was having a long conversation with some guys in the stands, so I ended up getting his autograph instead.

Masumi Kuwata

Chris Duffy
Chris Duffy!

The odd part was when some guy got Duffy to sign a Freddy Sanchez card. No, I'm not making that up. I wonder if it was the only Pirates card he had.

A little while after that I saw a few people who were there for the alumni event, but I was wearing my big camera and running off towards the field corner, so I didn't stick around. I ran into Bretticus, who had put a "Free Adam Jones" sign up in left field. And then I sat around watching Tom Gorzelanny warm up. Sadly, unlike most visiting pitchers, who pitch towards the infield stands during warmup, Gorzelanny threw towards the outfield, mostly doing long tosses. I'm not even sure I saw Miguel Batista warming up at all on the field before the bullpen, and maybe that's why.

Tom Gorzelanny
Tom Gorzelanny, one of the Pirates' many lefty starters

I took more pictures and then I finally went to sit up with the CMU group. I really thought it wasn't such a great idea for an alumni networking event, and if they were going to do it as such, they should have either gotten seats in the upper deck where it's okay to goof around and switch seats, or maybe gotten the beer garden, or something like that. But no, we were in Field on the third-base side because the lady in the alumni office at CMU insisted that "it's where foul balls go". I didn't even bother trying to explain how where foul balls go mostly depends on the handedness of the pitcher, but whatever.

The group was about half people who graduated in 2006-2007, and then a couple of us people who graduated several years before that. As a result, I don't think anyone actually talked to anyone who they didn't already know. I pretty much spent the whole time talking to two of my friends who sat next to me, and to another friend and his family who were sitting behind us.

So, we were all cheering for the Pirates, due to the Pittsburgh connection.

Surprisingly, so was a lot of the rest of the stadium, relatively.

The Trail BC Jason Bay fan club was sitting in left field. Unfortunately for them, Jason Bay was DHing, and so they were treated to an evening of Xavier Nady fielding instead.

In the left-field bleachers, I saw a whole bunch of guys in Steelers jerseys waving Terrible Towels. That was pretty funny. In our section we saw a few more Steelers jerseys, even a Roethlisberger. I swear that I don't even remember seeing that many Phillies fans out when the Phillies were here two years ago, honestly.

Also, while I don't think this was the first time they've played it before a game, it was particularly ironic that they were playing the Pirates of the Caribbean music in the time space between the national anthem and the game beginning.

Oh, so the game. The Pirates mauled Miguel Batista in the first inning. Batista struck out Bautista (heh), but then Nate McLouth reached base on a fielding error by Richie Sexson. Freddy Sanchez popped out foul to Beltre, and then Adam LaRoche, who hasn't been hitting significantly better than Richie Sexson, singled to right to bring in McLouth. 1-0. Jason Bay singled to left to advance LaRoche, and then Xavier Nady walked the bases loaded. And then... Miguel Batista also walked Ryan Doumit, scoring LaRoche. 2-0. Ronny Paulino struck out, but Batista threw 34 pitches in a ridiculously long inning. I realized there was a pretty good reason I had not been to a Batista start yet.

Gorzelanny let up a few scattered hits in the first few innings, though the Mariners only scored a run in the second, when Johjima was hit on the foot by a pitch, advanced by Beltre, and singled in by Ichiro. Xavier Nady also made a "web gem" diving catch of an Ibanez hit to left field, though it's unclear whether he would have had to dive if he'd gotten an earlier jump on the ball. Still, it looked cool.

Amidst my jokes of "Hey, remember when Jack Wilson was good?", the score stayed 2-1 until the top of the 5th, when Bautista singled off Batista, stole second on a close call, and was doubled in by Freddy Sanchez, making it 3-1. They added another run in the top of the 6th, when Nady walked and Doumit singled. Paulino hit a long fly to right, and Nady tagged up and ran to third, also on a close call, which then turned out to mean nothing as Jack Wilson walked to load the bases. After 105 pitches the Mariners finally took out Batista and threw in Sean Green, and Bautista immediately grounded out but scored Nady. 4-1.

The top of the 7th was pretty crazy. Freddy Sanchez singled, and Adam LaRoche walked. That was the normal part. After that, Jason Bay hit the ball up towards the left side, and Betancourt managed to stop it, but his throw to second was either late or timed poorly, either way when LaRoche got there the ball bounced away from Lopez, so when the dust cleared, Bay was on second, LaRoche was on third, and Sanchez had scored. 5-1. Xavier Nady struck out, and then Ryan Doumit was intentionally walked, loading the bases for a double play. And then the Mariners pulled off a 5-2-3 double play. I'm not making that up. Paulino grounded to third, Beltre threw home for the force on LaRoche, and then Johjima threw to first in time to get Paulino, who just isn't all that fast.

Despite the fact that Gorzelanny was up to 100 pitches at the end of the 6th, they didn't take him out, and the Mariners scored a run in the 7th, Betancourt leading off with a double into the gap that McLouth had trouble chasing down, advancing on an Ichiro grounder and scoring on a Vidro sac fly to right, which Doumit actually fielded pretty well and it was a close play, but Yuni was safe. Gorzelanny was up to 121 pitches after that, and they still had him go out in the 8th inning to retire Raul Ibanez, before finally pulling him after 123 pitches. Yow. I looked it up and Gorzelanny's been averaging 111 pitches his last 7 starts.

Jonah Bayliss (high socks!) came in to pitch, and Richie Sexson took the second pitch he saw and BASHED it 404 feet into the left field bleachers. It was just a monster of a funk blast. Bayliss did manage to strike out Johjima, but after Beltre singled and Lopez walked, the call went to the bullpen again, for Masumi Kuwata! Kuwata got a pinch-hitting Ben Broussard to ground out, and that ended the inning. It was only one batter, but it was still really cool to get to see Kuwata pitch a little.

JJ Putz struck out the side, LaRoche/Bay/Nady, in the top of the 9th. He is good.

Damaso Marte came out to pitch the 9th for the Pirates, and wasn't as good, walking Ichiro, but then Vidro hit a pop fly to center. Shawn Chacon, much to my friend's family's chagrin, came out to pitch after that, but he struck out Guillen and Ibanez and that ended the game, the Pirates winning 5-2.

I don't know whether to count this as a win or a loss for my record, since technically, I went to the stadium, rooted for a team, and they won, except it wasn't the Mariners.

We started calling Doumit "Doughnut" about halfway through the game. It was kind of funny. I ask, does this guy look like he's related to Willie Bloomquist? He's too cool to be, honestly.

Ryan Doumit
Dunkin' Doumit!

And while I'm at it, here's an adorable smiling Jason Bay. I love Jason Bay.

Jason Bay
Say Bay, Eh?

I'll put up a photo set after the series, I think, since I intend to go at least tonight and take more pictures, and then possibly on Thursday as well, we'll see.

Monday, June 18, 2007


Dear Ian Snell,

I was really looking forward to seeing you pitch in Seattle on Tuesday, especially since I didn't get down to PNC Park when I was in Pittsburgh this weekend. You're one of my current favorite Pirates, partially because I drafted you on my fantasy team on a hunch and you've worked out rather well, and partially because you're a complete dork.

But now I find out that you're not going to be pitching because you have a blister on your finger because you had a grilling accident. And apparently the grilled chicken caesar salad you were making wasn't even that good.

I hereby ban you from grilling for the rest of the summer. If you really insist on trying to make another grilled chicken salad, get Zach Duke to do it instead. He could use the rest.

Deanna the Marinerd

Friday, June 15, 2007

Friday Foto: Bat Macros

Okay, this is not my fault. Blame MetsGrrl for planting the idea in my head.

See, for the last two years I've been doing Friday Fotos by putting up random neat baseball pictures that I'd taken but that I hadn't had an excuse to put up before. NOW, I am armed with a mission of finding pictures that I hadn't put up before because I didn't think they were worth it... and adding silly internet meme captions to them. Ahh, Yuni and your invisible golf cart, you had no idea what you started.

This is a picture I took on May 1st when the White Sox were in town. It is Rob Mackowiak, which makes it even funnier, because it is a MACK-ro!

I have to admit I'm not entirely sure I get the meme, so I tried two separate tactics. Which do you think is better?

wat u mean it not baturday?

my bat.  let me show you it.

Yeah, so anyway, I'm heading to Pittsburgh later tonight, and I'll be back here on Sunday night. My trip is mostly for the purpose of watching my cousin get married. The Pirates are in town playing the White Sox, but my guess is that I'm not going to go to a game for two main reasons: one, some big golf event is going on right outside the city and it's supposedly sort of a mess around town, and two... the Pirates are coming to Seattle next week and I'm probably going to all three games of that series anyway. Three, I'm also betting my family will probably keep me pretty busy. Alas.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

When Vidro Takes The Stand

See that Turbo guy
Make that baseball fly
When he takes a run
He's gonna get 'em goin' till he's got it done

Two of my friends were moving to Seattle this week, driving up from Austin. They arrived this afternoon, so a bunch of us made plans this evening to get together for dinner. We chose Hale's Ales as a gathering place, because one of my friends really digs the chocolate porter cheesecake, and another digs the beer.

As we walk in, a bit after 8pm, one friend looks at the TV and says, "Oh, and Deanna can watch the Mariners game, while we're at it, too. Are they winning?"

Me, I'm figuring that they're actually just showing game highlights or something, since I didn't know it was still going on. It had been 3-2 last time I'd checked the score, around 7pm. "They're in Chicago, so the game started at 5, it should have been over by now... wow, extra innings? They're in the 11th, it looks like. Holy crap."

We get seated at a table; I can see the TV to my left, but not directly in front of me. One of my friends looks up at the screen. "Who do the Mariners have pitching? Lefty, number 59?"

"Oh, that's Eric O'Flaherty," I say.

"Is he any good?"

"He's not bad."

The game goes on. We order our food and drinks. I can't help but look at the TV. "Hey, wow, THAT's crazy... Jose Vidro's playing second base."

Our drinks show up. "Zambrano's pinch-hitting? What? I guess he's a righty and Jason Marquis bats lefty, but still..."

The game goes on. We get our food. "Ha, look at that, they're intentionally walking Yuniesky Betancourt... OH, to get to Willie Bloomquist. That makes sense."

I finish my food, and I'm staring at the screen during Willie's at-bat, and that's when I see the funniest thing I've seen in a baseball game in a long time. I start cracking up.

"What's so funny?"


I'm explaining about Vidro and how he's kind of fat and slow, and they show the replay. It's even better the second time. Willie Bloomquist hits a single to right, and then they show Vidro rounding third hesitantly. Garcia's waving him on nonetheless, and so Vidro kinda "runs" for it, looking doomed the whole way.

Unfortunately, the throw from Jacque Jones gets to the plate before he does.

Fortunately, he avoids the tag.

Unfortunately, he avoids the plate.

Fortunately, Michael Barrett drops the ball.

Vidro runs back and touches the plate and the umpire signals safe, and by that point my entire table of friends, even the ones who don't like baseball, are also cracking up. Our plates get cleared and the waiter asks whether anyone wants anything else. By that point Burke's singled in Betancourt and the game is 5-3. Lou comes out in a fury to change pitchers.

I'm not hungry at all. "Can we see the dessert menu, please?" I ask anyway. I'm trying to stall everyone so I can see how this all ends up.

We order a three-berry crisp to split, and my porter-cheesecake-loving friend orders the porter cheesecake.

"Putz in! Game over!" I say, despite that I know it's a reference that won't go anywhere. Half of the people at my table aren't even aware that we have a pitcher named Putz, and they start giggling over that.

Sadly, it suddenly doesn't really look like Game Over after all. There are runners on first and second with Alfonso Soriano at the plate, and our desserts arrive. "I have a feeling this is going to have one of two outcomes," I'm saying as I grab a spoon. "Either Soriano's going to hit a 3-run homer and the game will be over, or he'll strike out and the game will be over."

The count gets up to 3 and 0. "Or they could WALK him, huh?" says one of my friends.

At this point we realize that the three berry crisp we ordered is totally burnt, not just on the surface, but the entire thing tastes kind of charred. So that sucks. And JJ Putz is out there with the bases loaded and only a two-run lead, and he's nibbling the corners, only they're burnt too. That also sucks. I try to call our waiter over to complain about the burnt berry crisp, except he's staring at the screen watching the game as well.

And then Koyie Hill -- whoever he is -- grounds out towards first, JJ Putz running to the base to make the play. And the game is over. And the Mariners win!

The waiter apologizes for the burnt dessert and takes it off our bill.

Good times.

Now I just have to convert my newly-Seattleite friends to become baseball fans...

(To see the video of the play in question, go to the game recap and click on "Bloomquist's RBI single". I laughed. I cried. It was better than Chicago. I wanted to watch it again and again...)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Mini NPB Roundup: Mister 3-Run, Kuwata, and Crazy Cromartie

I don't think this has shown up in English anywhere, but it totally cracked me up -- my favorite Chunichi Dragons player, Masahiko Morino, who I fondly refer to as "Dragonbutt", has been given a new nickname, apparently -- Mister 3-Run. At the time that article was written, he'd hit 6 home runs, 4 of which were 3-run homers, and now he's hit 9, 5 of which are 3-run homers. Morino's been driving in so many runs that he's currently second in the Central League in RBI -- the leader being his teammate Tyrone Woods.

Atsuya Furuta, player-manager of the Yakult Swallows, may or may not have retired as a player yesterday. He's only appeared in two games this season due to problems with his right shoulder, so he basically deactivated himself as a player for now, possibly forever, and will concentrate on his duties as Yakult manager instead. Regardless of whether he ever does play again, he'll definitely go down in history as one of the best Japanese catchers ever. On the other hand, I wonder if this means I'll never get my hands on a Daida, Ore t-shirt (with the excellent slogan "Time! A pinch-hitter is me.")

In other news, Masumi Kuwata got called up on Saturday! And in what became even more of a crazy media circus, I'm sure, he actually went in to pitch against the Yankees on Sunday. I absolutely love this picture that the Japanese press got of him:

From Jiji press: Two former Yomiuri Giants players, now-Pirate Masumi Kuwata
pitching with a walked now-Yankee Hideki Matsui looking on from from first base.

Unfortunately, in his major league debut, he gave up a two-run homer to Alex Rodriguez. But, hey, for a 39-year-old guy finally living his dream, occasionally there's going to be a few sneezes.

It also dawns on me that Kuwata has been called up just in time to hopefully make it to Seattle with the Pirates next week! If he stays up even just for the next week or two, he'll be doing a gigantic favor to the Japanese press assigned to the Pirates, as they're now facing the Rangers (and Akinori Otsuka), then the White Sox (with Tadahito Iguchi), and then the Mariners (with Ichiro and Johjima), all in interleague.

On the other hand, former Seibu closer Shinji Mori has been released by the Devil Rays, from the minors this time.

Munenori Kawasaki has finally returned to the Hawks lineup after being out with a broken finger for a while. That should make an awful lot of people happy.

The Fighters are apparently trying to acquire Mitch Jones from the Dodgers. Jones has been pounding the ball this year at Las Vegas, though his overall minor league career isn't particularly spectacular. Either way, hopefully he'll work out better than Andy Green.

And in completely bizarre news, I thought I'd been reading all the Japanese articles wrong when they mentioned that former Montreal Expos and Yomiuri Giants player Warren Cromartie was in Japan to become a wrestler. I thought he was just around for the Giants promo that was going on last week. He's 53 years old now, but still pretty large (as shown here with Fighters manager Trey Hillman), and as I finally found some articles in English confirming, no really, Cromartie is in Japan to participate in a wrestling event.

All I can say is wow.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Book Review: Beyond the Boys of Summer, by Roger Kahn

When I was growing up, I always hated history classes. History, as it was presented in school, was just a bunch of names and numbers; a bunch of uninteresting words on a page that we had to learn in order to pass exams, nothing more. In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue. You got the dates, you got the grade. It wasn't until college, when history papers required a little bit more thinking about who was behind the historical events, and what were they like, rather than just when did this happen? that history classes started becoming interesting rather than drudgery.

Sports fans can definitely sometimes end up reducing their sport's history to the same thing, in the end. Given baseball and other sports having a tendency towards statistics and numbers, there are times when all we really can do is describe a man by he hit sixty-one home runs in 1961, he hit 755 career homers. And sometimes you wonder, I know what he did, but who was he? What was he like?

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Babe Ruth. Bobby Thomson. Roger Maris. Hank Aaron. Willie Mays. Duke Snider. Mickey Mantle. Eddie Mathews. Whitey Ford. Joe DiMaggio. Catfish Hunter. Pete Rose. Jack Dempsey. Muhammad Ali. Reggie Jackson. George Steinbrenner. Jackie Robinson. Roberto Clemente. Ring Lardner. Pee Wee Reese. Robert Frost. Stan Musial. Carl Furillo.

No, these aren't even all athletes. But feel free to pull up a chair and visit with them for a while through the eyes of Roger Kahn as he captures these men at various points in their lives and careers in Beyond the Boys of Summer. It's all about painting portraits, and casting off numerical anchors, and I for one really enjoyed reading this book, getting to know more about the people behind the names and numbers. There's even a bit of non-sports writing mixed in from time to time for variety.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Friday Foto: Free Feierabend!

I swear, there are actually very many players featured in this photo set, but I really liked this sequence of Ryan Feierabend warming up, so I figured it'd make a nice preview. Those are not all from the same pitch, but were different shots of his throwing motion from various pitches. Click on any Feierabend to see the full photo set, or you can just click here.

These are pictures from Sunday, June 3rd, Mariners vs. Rangers. Lots of Rangers bullpen guys, a whole bunch of my "portrait" shots, and some other fun shots of the Mariners beating up on the Rangers in general.


While I'm at it, happy 31st birthday to Kenji Johjima! お誕生日おめでとうございます!

I am mostly going to be ignoring baseball again this weekend, though at some point I need to rant about the Japanese all-star game voting results. And I need to talk about how awesome Hichori Morimoto is. (I am avoiding talking about certain other things.) Also, Tomokazu Ohka was DFA'ed. I wonder if the Mariners could trade Jeff Weaver for him? Something tells me even the Jays aren't dumb enough to do that...

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Great day for a draft, eh?

So, yeah, today is Draft Day 2007, and the first couple rounds have already gone by. The Mariners first-round pick is a super-tall (6'7") right-handed pitcher from Quebec named Phillippe Aumont, who will undoubtedly confuse the press for ages when trying to figure out how many L's and P's are in his name.

Mariners draft Canadian Phenom []
Phillippe Aumont Draft Bio []
Phillippe Aumont [USS Mariner]
2007 Draft Spotlight: Phillippe Aumont [interview on Baseball Analysts]
Aumont [Lookout Landing]
Big kid... big dreams [Ottawa Sun]
Teams throw heat at prospect [Slam! Sports]

I was working from home this morning while waiting for a package to arrive, so I managed to watch a little bit of the draft coverage on ESPN, up to the Mariners' pick. When they selected Aumont, I actually yelled "YEAH!" at the screen, mostly because I was glad they took one of the only top picks I was somewhat familiar with. I'd read up on Aumont a little bit for two reasons; one, because he was the M's pick in the mock draft Conor Glassey was in, and two, because... well, because he's a super-tall Canadian boy with brown hair and high socks. He definitely seems like an interesting person if nothing else, and as a high school pitcher with no high school team (he pitches in showcases and on the Canadian National Team), he'll definitely be a project for the next few years to turn raw talent into major-league pitching.

His short interview on the ESPN coverage was sort of strange; it's pretty obvious English isn't his first language, and his accent sort of reminds me of a friend of mine from Quebec. He didn't seem too excited about the Mariners, but my guess is that it was a combination of the language and of the effort to stay calm through such an event overall. Personally, the funniest part was probably when he went up to pose for a picture with Bud Selig, and just TOWERED over the man:

(picture from

I don't think I really have anything useful to add to what those other excellent sites linked above have said. It's interesting how the M's didn't really draft pitchers in the first few rounds for a couple of years, then went pitching-heavy with the draft last year and then took a pitcher in the first round this year as well. We'll have to see how they fill out the rest of the draft -- and then go up to Everett to see the kids play in a few weeks, hopefully!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Orioles - There Is No "Out" In "Bloomquist"

Astute viewers may note that the title of this post is actually false.

Today I went to Safeco for the second Lookout Landing night of the year. We had about 10ish people; offhand I think we had jtopps (and his wife), fett42, edgar for pres, gomez, bretticus (and a friend), etowncoug (and a friend), garces, me, and then one other guy whose handle I forgot and I feel dumb. To be honest, the game sort of sucked for the first 7 innings, and then the Mariners exploded and so did our group.

This is kind of what the eighth inning was like for our group:

"Our Hernandez is much cooler than their Hernandez!"

[Ramon Hernandez strikes out]

"Did you notice Sean Green is throwing sidearm? It seems to be helping him..."

[he walks Corey Patterson]

"...maybe not."

[they bring in Sherrill]

"I like George Sherrill. I took him on my fantasy team because he strikes out guys."

[Roberts strikes out]

"Like that?"

"Yeah, like that."

[inning changes, Chad Bradford comes out]

[Sexson pops out]

"Richie can't handle submariners because he's too tall to see the ball."

[Johjima strikes out]

"Dammit Kenji. Now we're going to make another out and Ichiro won't be up again until there's 2 outs in the 9th."

"Why are you so sure they're going to be automatic outs just because their names begin with B and end in T?"

"WHAT? That makes absolutely no sense."

"There's no 'out' in Betancourt."

"Yes there is."

"Hey, there's also an 'out' in Bloomquist."

"There's also umm, 'Boo', and 'lost', and 'bust'..."

"...and 'quit', and 'loot', and 'boom', and 'must'..."

[Yuni singles]


[Bloomquist singles]


[Broussard is announced as a pinch-hitter for Ellison]


[pitching change, John Parrish comes out]

"Rally lion dance!" [we flail arms]

[Vidro is announced as pinch-hitter for Broussard]


"Guys, this isn't so bad. We have two dudes on base and two outs, he can't possibly ground into a double play. Infact, exactly what we NEED is a patented professional Vidro single."


"Wait a minute, who's going to play centerfield now that Ellison's out and Ichiro is the DH?"

"Hey, are those guys over there ALSO yelling 'Turbo'? I think they are!"

"Maybe Bloomquist will go to center and Vidro will play third. Ha ha."

"Maybe VIDRO will play center. Ha HA!"

[Vidro singles, Betancourt scores. Beltre comes in as a pinch-runner]


[Ichiro doubles, Bloomquist scores]

[Lopez hits a shot up the right field line, everyone else scores]

[Lots of high-fives]

"Gahh, if Raul doesn't strike out here, I'm going to have to go to a new line on my scorecard and mess it all up."


[Raul grounds out]


[strains of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck" start playing over the speakers]



"HA, my luck is much better than Bretticus's luck. And even better, I just got a nice vultured win off George Sherrill. Wooooooo!"


Since the the Mariners won 7-4, that also brought my personal won-loss record this season up to 9-3.

Ichiro led off the bottom of the first inning with a home run over the 385 sign in right-center. That was cool.

Sean Green is throwing sidearm now. I swear he wasn't last year. It's neat, though I don't know if it's any more effective per se. But, I remember it worked for Ronnie The Bear in the past, so who knows.

I saw Mark Lowe walk into the bullpen before the game. Dunno what's up with that.

Crazy play in the top of the 6th with runners at first and second. I didn't see exactly what started it, but suddenly Kenji Johjima was RUNNING from behind the plate out to second base with the ball for some reason, and Brian Roberts found himself caught in a rundown between second and third. I marked it a "CS 2-4-5" but that doesn't even begin to capture how nuts it is to see your catcher suddenly running like mad towards second.

Honestly, it really was just a very boring first 6-7 innings or so. What we were mostly concerned over was the sheer number of line drives people were getting off of Felix, marked by the 11 hits in 5.2 innings, where even guys like Aubrey Huff and Corey Patterson were getting doubles, and Brian Roberts infact got three.

Yuniesky Betancourt now has a 16-game hitting streak. Cool.

Willie Bloomquist went 3-for-4. It really shouldn't surprise anyone, though, since he always picks some completely random lefty in the AL each year to own. Bedard is just another in the grand tradition of Washburn, Zito, etc.

I still hate the Orioles.

No pictures today, either. The stadium roof was open when we got there, but the sky was already sort of gray, and it started "raining" in the 4th inning or so -- more like a weird sprinkling. The roof closed and solved that. Either way, I decided not to bring my camera because of the poor lighting and being in the upper deck.

Still, in the end I think we all had fun hanging out, and hopefully we'll do another one of these in a few weeks!

Monday, June 04, 2007

Random links post

Geoff Jenkins has a blog. Cool. The funny part is that he mentioned that Chris Capuano, JJ Hardy, Bill Hall, and Jeff Suppan filmed a segment for The Young And The Restless. That's just hilarious. More details on that here and here. Considering JJ Hardy already looks like a soap opera star, this isn't too far out there.

Kevin Youkilis is also going to try out the mlblogging thing. The first sentence on his blog is "Maybe we can finally put all of this 'Kevin Youkilis can't run' stuff to rest now", about his inside-the-park homer the other day. Hmmmm.

MetsGrrl made me aware of two things, one funny, one sad. The funny is in theory lolyankees, which I hadn't seen before making my silly lolmariners of Betancourt. I have a feeling that I don't get some of the Yankees jokes, but hey, that might not be a bad thing. And the sad thing was that Bat-Girl is retiring from blogging, which is pretty crazy. I would not be lying if I did not say that at one point -- mostly around the 2005 Postseason -- I was basically just a wannabe Bat-Girl. Very sad.

If you haven't seen it yet, Mississippi Braves (AA) manager Phil Wellman went nuts the other day in a game against Chattanooga. See the video of it on YouTube. Funny part is, the Braves are playing the Mariners AA team right now. Crazy, huh?

The Pacific League is now beating the Central League 34-22-1, if I counted properly. The Fighters are... I'm not jinxing them. They are doing well, that's all I'll say. Seibu is sucking, and are 2-8 in interleague so far, while even Rakuten has a winning record at 6-3 and has been dancing with .500 for a bit. Baseball is great.

Game Report: Mariners vs. Rangers - There is Nothing To Fear But Feierabend

I'm sunburnt and exhausted and really should be sleeping instead of going over photos and writing a game report, but dang, today's game was really pretty cool. Well, or hot. It was something like 80 degrees and sunny the whole time. I lasted approximately one inning before moving back several rows into the shade, and still got baked a nice shade of red.

Of course, I also had a pretty fantastic pre-game, getting autographs from CJ Wilson, Akinori Otsuka, and Joaquin Benoit. That was pretty awesome. I also took about ninety thousand photos of Ryan Feierabend warming up. He rocks the high socks.

The Mariners winning the game brought my personal record for the season up to 8-3, too!

Ryan Feierabend
The few, the proud, the young, the left-handed.

"Short version": Victor Diaz hit two home runs for 5 RBI and Mark Teixeira hit one solo home run, and that pretty much sums up the Rangers' offense. Ryan Feierabend stayed out there for seven-and-a-third innings, and basically threw a whole lot of strikes, and occasionally some of them got pounded. Jon Huber actually gave up Diaz's second home run in the eighth inning, as he finished out the game.

The Mariners, on the other hand, managed to capitalize on poor pitching by Robinson Tejeda and poor fielding by most of the Rangers' infield (which had Matt Kata at third and Ramon Vazquez at short, as Blalock is out with a rib operation and Young was DHing) and despite no home runs still scored 11 runs along the way.

Jose Lopez scored a run in the first inning after a throwing error by Tejeda and an RBI single by Guillen. With the score 4-1 in favor of the Rangers in the fourth, the Mariners batted around the order to remedy that. Ibanez singled, Broussard walked, and Willie Bloomquist was hit in the back by a pitch. Jamie Burke "singled" to Matt Kata, who dropped the ball, scoring Ibanez. 4-2. With the bases loaded, Tejeda walked Ichiro, bringing in another run. 4-3. Jose Lopez then hit a scorching line drive that nearly cleared the left-field wall, scoring everyone else, and reaching third base himself on the throw. 6-4.

Yuniesky Betancourt led off the 6th inning with a double, and stole third, and THEN DID A SQUEEZE PLAY, taking off for home as Jamie Burke bunted. It was awesome. 7-4. Ichiro walked, and Tejeda walked off the mound and into the dugout. Sidearmer Wes Littleton replaced him, giving up an "infield single" to Lopez when Kinsler overthrew, and then Jose Guillen doubled both of them in. 9-4. Ibanez singled in Guillen, before accidentally getting himself caught in a rundown. Whoops. 10-4.

The Mariners added another run in the 8th off lefty CJ Wilson, who was all over the place, walking two, striking out three, and giving up one hit. Unfortunately, when Ibanez struck out with the bases loaded, catcher Chris Stewart didn't get the ball, and so everybody advanced, which brought in another run, a run that was neither earned nor batted in. Either way, by then Diaz's second home run had happened and this cemented the final score with the Mariners winning 11-6.

Akinori Otsuka
Akinori Otsuka!

Okay, so I wasn't originally going to show up early because I knew it was a Little League Day and so that meant there'd be tons of kids out in a parade and no batting practice or even much of any sort of practice going on. Also, the Rangers are a notoriously bad team for signing anything. For some reason I decided to show up around 11:45am anyway. If nothing else, I figured I could just do some more food price research, and at least that'd keep me out of the hot hot sun.

But when I got there, much to my surprise, the Rangers bullpen guys were all out there with a trainer doing exercises! Whee!

So I took some pictures, and then followed them back towards the dugout, where some people were getting CJ Wilson to sign stuff. I've been following CJ's blog for a while and think he's pretty neat, and so as he turned to go into the dugout I yelled "CJ!" and he looked up, and some other people were like "Hey CJ!" and so he ended up signing some more stuff, but when he got to me I smiled huge like "I love your website! It's so awesome!" He signed my ticket and was like "Hey, thanks."

I guess I could have stopped there and been happy enough, but then I remembered that I brought the tickets from the other two Rangers games I'd gone to this year, and Joaquin Benoit was over by the first row fence, so I caught him too and got him to sign my ticket, and then a couple of little kids who were part of the Little League parade were all sad that they didn't have a pen, so I let them borrow mine and he signed their stuff too. I know, the kids just love me for my Sharpie.

And I could have been happy enough then, except I noticed that AKINORI OTSUKA was signing stuff for a couple of Japanese people about halfway up the infield line!

Let me stop and explain for a second that I was actually wearing a Chunichi Dragons Kawakami #11 t-shirt, because I thought it'd be funny, especially since Otsuka pitched for Chunichi for a year before coming to the MLB. Yes, I actually sort of intended to try to find him, even though I didn't really expect to. So, imagine my surprise when I go up to him and he signs my ticket, and continues talking in Japanese to this other girl (who had a CD and some other things for him), and suddenly he looks up like

Otsuka: "OH! Chunichi!" [points at my shirt]
Me: "Hai... er... yeah! I remembered it was Otsuka-san's old team."
Otsuka: "You from Nagoya?"
Japanese girl: "You like Chunichi?"
Me: "No, er, umm, I was in Nagoya last year, went to a Dragons game..."
JG: "Wow! Can I take picture of you?"
Me: "Errr... sure?"
JG: "Hai... cheeeeezu."
Me: [poses and smiles, remembering I'm supposed to do that]
Otsuka: [signs for a few more people, then walks off, shakes hand of Japanese girl, waves at me]
Me: [notices Chunichi jersey in Japanese girl's bag] "Oh, you have Chunichi shirt too, what player is yours of?"
JG: "Ochiai. Number 26."
Me: [looking confused, thinking Ochiai is the manager, forgetting about Eiji]
JG: "The pitcher, he retired last year."
Me: "Ohhhhh. So you ARE from Nagoya?"
JG: "Yes, I am from Nagoya. Do you like Kawakami?"
Me: "Actually my favorite Dragons player is Morino, but I have the Kawakami shirt... Kawakami's pretty good though."
JG: "Kawakami, Kenshin, he is very nice pitcher, he is our ace."

About half of that was in Japanese and half in English. I swear I felt like such an idiot trying to talk to Otsuka in Japanese that my brain just sort of melted. I'm pretty bad at speaking any language at all when I'm nervous, I guess.

But still, I was pretty happy about it. After all, I can't remember the last time, if ever, that I managed to get any Rangers to sign anything, and today I got three. Sweet.

I went and got food and tried to hide out in the shade for a while, since it was so hot and sunny out. Eventually I headed back out to catch Robinson Tejeda's warmup, but then got out of the sun yet again and went down to the bullpen, where I took about a bazillion pictures of Ryan Feierabend.

Ryan Feierabend
Ryan Feierabend rocks the high socks.

Seriously, just wait until I put up my photo set from this game, I really did take a ton of pictures of him. Much like last year when I felt there weren't enough pictures of Eric O'Flaherty around, I seek to remedy the deficiency of Feierabend photos as well.

In the meantime, George Sherrill was also doing his normal routine of amusing the beer garden kids by flicking sunflower seeds, and Sean Green was watching him, while Brandon Morrow was acting amused but mostly yawning. Suddenly, George got choked up in a bear hug from behind by somebody, and I was confused for a second, until suddenly I realized that the bear-hugger was actually someone quite familiar...

Arthur Rhodes
Look, Arthur Rhodes came by to say hi to everyone!

Funny part is, when I think about it, Rhodes was last on the Mariners in 2003, and the only players left from that year now are Ichiro, Willie, and JJ Putz.

Still, it was neat to see him, though a lot of the fans around didn't actually seem to have any idea who he was, which was sort of odd to me, given that I keep seeing lots of throwback old player shirts most of the time at the stadium. Heck, today I even saw a "Joey Cora Memorial T-shirt". I'm not making that up.

While I was watching the antics in the bullpen, I saw Eric O'Flaherty walk across the field. It appears that he was carrying the pink backpack today:

Eric O'Flaherty
Rookie Of The Day, Eric O'Flaherty

I fail to understand why Jon Huber or someone else more recently called up was not carrying the bag, though.

Anyway, that was enough adventure and excitement for me for one day, so I made my way to my seat, at which point I realized I hate sunlight. But, I did at least stay there long enough to see Jose Lopez hit the grounder back to the mound which Tejeda booted into Mark Teixeira's foot, allowing Lopez to get to third. Maybe it's just me, but Jose Lopez seems to really kick butt on Sunday afternoon games.

I moved back to row 30 or so to be in the shade after the first inning. I sat down saying to the people around me that I already felt burnt (which I was, though it hadn't reddened yet) and then literally a moment later Mark Teixeira launched a home run onto the Mariners bullpen ramp to lead off top of the second. Sheesh. To lead off the bottom of the second, a bunch of ladies behind me were singing Happy Birthday and giving flowers to one of their friends, during Ben Broussard's at-bat. That was sort of surreal.

"Ask the Mariners" today was "What video games are you good at?"

Reitsma: "None, I'm not very good at video games."
Jose Lopez: "I like soccer."
Sherrill: "I play the football games."
Raul, Ho, J-Rod: "Madden football."
Jeff Pentland: "The only video game I ever played was Donkey Kong..."
JJ Putz: "Navy Seals!"
Bloomquist: "Mike Tyson's Punch-Out. Yeah. I did beat Mike Tyson... regularly..."

The third inning ended with Jose Guillen hitting the ball to Matt Kata, who sort of sucks at the whole aiming-at-first-base thing, and overthrew. Guillen took off for second, except Gerald Laird had actually astutely been counting on Kata screwing up and was running around to back up first, and recovered the ball in time to get Guillen in a rundown, Kinsler eventually making the tag. The people across the aisle from me saw my scorecard and were like "Uhh... how exactly do you score THAT?" I was like "I dunno, I'm just going to write down what happened. E5, 2-4?"

The Safeco scorers were really pretty generous with not calling an error an error, though, since Kata booted a play in the 4th inning as well, and then in the 6th Betancourt hit the ball to center, and Marlon Byrd lost it in the sunlight and that was called a double. And again, I have to stress that it was pretty super awesome seeing Betancourt take off for home plate with a pitch to Burke. I can't remember the last time I've seen a squeeze play like that at Safeco, but two things are notable to prove that it's the kind of thing that happens when Hargrove goes away for the weekend:

1) Betancourt's a fast runner, so he's one of the sorts you'd try it with
2) Burke is a decent hitter but Bloomquist is not, and they tried it with Burke after Willie struck out

If Grover was doing a squeeze play I'd almost expect Vidro to take off from third with Bloomquist at bat. Well, maybe not quite that bad, but you get the idea.

Ian Kinsler and Willie Bloomquist
Bloomquist: I'm scrappy and white and everyone in the Mariners blogosphere hates me.
Kinsler: I'm scrappy and white and everyone except Deanna hates me too.
Bloomquist: I wonder why? We are both fantastic major league baseball players, aren't we?
Kinsler: No, I rock the high socks. You need a shave.

I guess Kinsler had to atone for forgetting how many outs there were at a point in Friday's game, where he could have gone for a double play but just went for the force-out. This time, he booted a throw into the stands, turning the third out into a runner on third base. Whoops. And yes, I still like Ian Kinsler, even if Jeff will pick on me forever for it. I also like Jose Lopez, after all.

Victor Diaz's second home run actually went into the concourse in left field and was measured at 428 feet. You have to understand that getting a home run into the concourse on purpose would actually be a fairly tough task for a hitter; if the home run has any arc at all it's either going to land in the bullpens or in the left field bleachers. So this was a line drive that flew out fairly flat with a slight rise, and didn't bounce on the scoreboard or the front of the bleachers or anything, just shot into the concourse. It was pretty cool. I bet it was even cooler for those in the concourse.

The AM-PM "Too much of a good thing" was 112 bags of potato chips.

Okay, and well, this is the last part of the post, and completely silly (not like the rest of this isn't completely incoherent as well), but when going through my pictures I came across this one I'd taken of Yuniesky Betancourt in the second inning and couldn't help but think it lends itself well to a "baseball macro" sort of Photoshopping...

I can has doublez plz? DO WANT.

Real photo set will come along in a day or two. I'm going to tonight's game though for the Revenge of Lookout Landing Night, so if you feel like sitting up in section 340, row 15, come join us! It'll be King Felix pitching vs. Erik Bedard (who is, sadly, another one of my All-Cute All-Stars). It should be an interesting game nonetheless, though I also believe it's supposed to rain, which kind of sucks. It's better than more sunburn, though.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Game Report: Mariners vs. Rangers - Baek and Call

I think the first thing I need to mention is that two Mariners-related things are going on this Saturday, June 2nd, which were mentioned at the game tonight.

First, there's a fundraiser for Esperanza at Bellevue Square in the morning. The website says there are sessions from 10-11:30am and 12-1:30pm; each session costs $50, which gets you an 8'x10" photo and autograph from each player in attendance. (It says the first session has Morrow, Putz, Reitsma and Washburn, and the second session has Batista, Betancourt, Felix, and Jose Lopez. I guess it's white boys vs. latino boys or something.)

Second, the evening's game is another Edgar Martinez Day, this time to induct him into the Mariners Hall of Fame. The ceremony starts at 6:30pm before a 7pm game, and the first 20,000 fans get a commemorative placard. Also, FSN will be showing various things on TV if you can't make it. 5pm is a rebroadcast of "Edgar: Before the Bigs", 5:30pm is a show called "Edgar Martinez: In My Own Words", and at 6pm the pre-game show will start and go on for an hour and include the ceremony.

Anyway, I went to tonight's game mostly because it was really nice out, sunny and 75 degrees. I went with my best friend, who spent half of the game hunting down the candy store and the other half correcting my kanji writing. I'm kidding, mostly, but I did miss a whole bunch of plays while we were talking and such. It's sort of a novel thing for me to go to a game without a camera and without the intent of really paying attention beyond keeping score. We didn't even get into the stadium until 7pm.

The scoreboard folks originally had the lineup as Victor Diaz batting 5th and playing right field, and Matt Kata batting ninth and playing third, and Marlon Byrd playing left field. It took them an inning or so to correct all of that -- Frank Catalanotto was actually batting 5th and playing left field, Byrd was in right, and Ramon Vazquez got the start at third. Me being unfamiliar with the current stRangers lineup, I didn't even know who #12 was, though I knew it sure as hell wasn't Matt Kata.

This game was definitely a product of "the big inning", as the Mariners batted around their order in the 1st and 3rd, and the Rangers almost did in the 4th, and both starters were victimized, Cha Seung Baek for the Mariners and Vicente Padilla for the Rangers.

It was Mark Teixeira's 500th consecutive game, apparently. And just as I was pondering that streak, Ichiro led off the bottom of the first with a single, a stooper to center, which extended his hitting streak to 24 straight games, tying Joey Cora's team record in 1997. I call it a "stooper" as in a "stupid blooper", where three fielders all run for it and it falls in the middle of them. Vidro grounded out, advancing Ichiro to second.

Then, about ninety years and two pitches later, Jose Guillen ran out an infield single and Raul Ibanez walked, and another fifty years later Richie Sexson was at the plate, and I'm telling my friend that "This is Richie. He's our 'big' hitter, by which I mean he's 6 foot 8," and Richie chose that moment to hit a single to straightaway center, scoring Ichiro and Guillen. We would also learn in the next inning that it ACTUALLY BROUGHT HIS BATTING AVERAGE UP TO .200 WOOOOOOO. Johjima also singled to center, scoring Raul. Beltre popped out to first in foul territory, and then Yuniesky Betancourt hit a hard grounder towards Vazquez at third, which bounced into his glove and then waaaay up in the air, and suddenly Vicente Padilla found himself stuck with the bases loaded again. Lopez hit a grounder off the third base umpire's shoe which was declared foul, and then ultimately grounded out to end the inning. By this point, 43 pitches of Padilla's outing and 43 minutes of the game had passed, and the Mariners were up 3-0.

Baek kept the Rangers hitless in the second and third innings, mostly by way of a fantastic play by Yuniesky Betancourt, where he was crazy deep in the hole and made a huge throw to first base to nail Gerald Laird by a few feet. It really does seem like Yuni's problem this year isn't the tough plays, it's the EASY plays that get him all messed up.

The Mariners hit approximately fifty singles in the bottom of the third to bring the game to 7-0. Some of them were kinda dumb and some of them involved Ichiro barely beating out a throw from Mike Young. And somewhere in there Kenji Johjima got hit by a pitch, which was sort of funny to me because I was like "Man, you've got to be a moron to be throwing Johjima high and inside, he pounds those over the scoreboard," but I suppose actually hitting him only limits him to getting one base at a time, and that's pretty standard fare for the Padilla Flotilla, especially now that he doesn't have to get up and bat himself.

Cha Seung Baek plunked Mark Teixeira to lead off the top of the 4th, right in the side, and the umpire came out to yell and wave and point voraciously at both dugouts. Unfortunately, things only got worse from there. Sammy Sosa (my friend said, "Hey, I know who he is!") even hit a weak single to center, and then Frank Catalanotto hit the ball up the right field line into the corner for a double which scored the aforementioned runners. Marlon Byrd popped out, but then Ian Kinsler drew a walk, and quicker than you could say "How the hell did Catalanotto get a double anyway?", Gerald Laird hit a ball right into the Mariners bullpen for a 3-run homer, scoring Catalahotornotto and Kinsler and bringing the score to a much closer 7-5.

"This is the part where the Mariners suck, right?" my friend asked.

Fortunately, no, it wasn't. Infact, despite the fact that only 4 innings had passed and it was already getting up towards 9pm, things actually sped up a lot at that point, as the Rangers called on their bullpen, bringing out Willie Eyre (which led to us debating which Bronte wrote Jane Eyre), Frank Francisco (at which point he left to go find the Sweet Spot), Joaquin Benoit ("Wah-what?") and then Akinori Otsuka (which led to an impromptu kanji lesson. Would you believe that I have been missing two strokes from his name and Tomokazu Ohka's when writing them? I am so terribly careless).

Of all those, only Otsuka really ran into any trouble. Betancourt almost led off the bottom of the 8th with a home run, but thanks to that meddling scoreboard in left field, it was only a double. Lopez bunted him up and then Ichiro brought his tally for the evening to 3-for-5 by singling, and stealing, because he's Ichiro and he does that. By then it was 8-5, and Vidro also singled, moving Ichiro to third, and BEN BROUSSARD came in and pretty much just hit a loooooong fly ball to left, allowing Ichiro to tag up and score, and the Mariners did ultimately win the game 9-5.

Baek eventually did end up staying out there until the 7th inning, coming out of the game after he hit Kenny Lofton in the foot. Brandon Morrow came out to replace him.

I have to stop for a second because you all know I'm a surprisingly big fan of Brandon Morrow, so what happened next was pretty sad. He threw a ball, and another ball, and a ball, and a ball, and a ball, and HEY, KID, CAN YOU SPARE A STRIKE? Michael Young walked on four straight pitches, and even the next two pitches were balls, before Kenji Johjima came out to the mound like "I would like it very much if you would please throw a fastball in the strike zone, okay?" And well, that's kinda what Morrow did, getting up to a full count on Teixeira, who flailed at fastballs and fouled them around before ultimately walking and loading the bases. Sammy Sosa, on the other hand, came up hacking, and went down hacking. I have to admit that it was pretty nerve-wracking for a bit there, and by the time Catalanotto grounded out to second, Morrow had racked up an even 10 balls and 10 strikes. It's crazy watching him pitch, and at the same time, I somehow know he's going to get out of these messes, and it's still crazy to think that a year ago he hadn't even been drafted by the Mariners.

Jason Davis came out and was kinda iffy, and then George Sherrill came out and TOTALLY KICKED ASS -- two batters, two strikeouts -- making it almost anticlimactic when JJ Putz came out with what was no longer a save opportunity at 9-5, and also got two strikeouts. I suppose that once upon a time striking out Sammy Sosa to end the game would have been a big deal, but alas, that time has passed.

I don't really have a lot to say about this game. Despite college night, it was pretty sparsely attended, and most of the student groups we saw were actually high schoolers, so I'm not really sure what was up with that. The weather was really pretty fantastic. The Rangers really kind of sucked. It brought my personal attended-games record for this season to 7-3 -- and I still have yet to see a game started by anyone other than Baek, Felix, or J-Rod, although that will change this Sunday when I get to see Feierabend and his high socks, which I'm looking forward to.

Padilla Padilla Padilla, that's all folks!