I divided my time and attention yesterday by watching the Mariners game on TV, and Stephen Strasburg’s first start with the Nationals on some ESPN sharelink thing (which I’m not 100% sure was actually legal, but I’m alright with that). After Felix Hernandez gave up two runs in the bottom of the first inning, I’m afraid I lost a bit of interest in the Mariners game. He would give up three more runs in the 6th and two more in the 7th (homer by Vlad Guerrero with Ian Kinsler on) before being replaced by Garrett Olson, who didn’t give up anything but a walk. Chad Cordero gave up a single and three (three!) fly outs to retire the side in the 8th inning, and our offense lived up to its reputation in the 9th. Final score 7-1.
Stephen Strasburg, meanwhile, finished up his 7 innings by striking out 14 batters. Fourteen! One could, however, make the argument that they were Pittsburgh Pirates batters. I’d like to see him try to pull that against the Yankees, instead of the Pirates, a team that is currently rivaling us in the standings. But you know, I’m not going to complain. One thing I noticed about Strasburg’s pitching was, well, his pitching. Usually, I require some degree of replay to see pitch movement, just because everything happens so fast, and I’m usually waiting to see the batter swing, rather than watching the ball. But Strasburg’s pitching was absolutely destructive, and it was obvious to the eye, even at 98MPH. Watching the Pirates batters swing at something they so clearly weren’t going to hit was jaw-dropping. That, coupled with Strasburg’s crazy face is making me finally wish that maybe we hadn’t swept Oakland back in 2008 for that last series. It’s one thing to hear about it, another entirely to see it in action at a major league level. It’s only one game, of course, but it was stunning to watch.
There has been a lot of concerning talk lately over whether or not Don Wakamatsu should be fired. After the first initial rumblings, I thought it might die down, but it keeps gaining a bit of momentum. Dave at USSM has some words of wisdom here, and Steve Kelley at the Seattle Times also chose to write about it. They’re both right. I’d like any pro-firing-Wak people to explain to me how firing the manager is going to bolster our offense? We built a team on pitching and defense – and that’s exactly what we have. Burying the ostrich’s head still leaves the body vulnerable. Firing our manager makes zero sense. Zero. Wak isn’t the one not hitting balls. He’s not the one griping about being put 9th into the order, and he’s not the one whinging about not being able to fan batters. There are some grown men in this organization that need to stop acting like spoiled little children. I love these guys, and hearing them pin the blame for their shoddy performances on the manager or other players is just disheartening. And don’t even get me started on any recent Griffey rumors – at what point do members of a team start taking responsibility for their individual actions? Frankly, I’d like to see the Mariners behaving a little more like the Sounders, who recently gave ticket refunds to all fans in attendance after a miserable blowout of 4-0. Sure, there are fewer soccer games per season than there are baseball games, but would a show of understanding hurt the organization that much? It’s like baseball can’t admit when it’s wrong. This is the worst relationship I’ve ever been in.
Jeff Sullivan wrote a little bit about hope vs. realistic hope, and where we should be at the moment. I think I passed this point a while ago, and at the moment, I just treasure a win when it happens, and remain unsurprised when a loss occurs, or when we turn a possible win into a loss. It’s not a very uplifting article, but it’s a little dose of realism for a fanbase that likely doesn’t want to hear it. There will still be believers, sure – certain aspects of the organization’s past have set expectations weirdly high for most people, and I’m guessing quite a few folks are still refusing to lose – but really, we need to start setting our sights lower. Technically, this whole season works out well for me; being unemployed and student-y as I still am, I really don’t have any money set aside for any sort of World Series Mariners-honoring tattoo work. So really, the Ms have simply saved me from myself.
Ian Snell vs. CJ Wilson tonight at 5pm. I weep for our future.