Later today, we’re having my friend Craig over for a going-away party of sorts. He and his wife are back from their year-plus stint in Africa, where she was working, and he’s coming here to get some things from storage so he can drive back to Boston, where they will live now. So because our house was in a state of chaos, we’ve been busy cleaning it, and while I was doing this, I managed to break our IKEA table, and had to take it apart to fix it. It’s one that has a storage inside the table, and top swings and folds over to make the table larger or smaller. I had to take stuff out of it to un-do the bolts inside, and while I was doing that, I found this:
I had completely forgotten about this, and it was something that I spent a lot of time on – a scrapbook of the 2008 season, my first season ticketholder season with the Seattle Mariners. In this book are the beginnings of me as a baseball fan, and actually me as a sports fan in general. So I went through it to take some photos (there are going to be a lot posted here, but not the whole book) so I could post them here and take a little walk down the Saddest Memory Lane. This post may be amusing to the reader, or it may just make you mad, but I figured that it was worth tossing up here while I’m taking a break from vacuuming and cleaning things. So here we go; feel free to leave your dignity here, because you are a Mariners fan, and at one point, this was our team.
My original section and seats, the game plan I chose. I don’t know why I chose to cross off some of the games, but if I know myself, it was likely as a marker for when and where I was going to be at the Safe. The cessation of crossing off mid-season probably had something to do with my disbelieve at how badly things were going. Either that, or I finally decided to use a calendar.
An article about JJ getting better and prepared for 2008, and my Opening Day ticket. Erik Bedard, our new Canadian star, was announced as the starter. We won the game, and Putz got the save. Final score was 2-5. In retrospect, I should have known something was wrong. Texas used three pitchers to lose, we used five to win. One of those was Eric O’Flaherty. Eric O’Flaherty. Yep. This win would set it in my head, however, that the Mariners should always win their home opener. I would later find out that that is simply not the case, but I still sort of feel that way every year. I was with Tom, and the other thing I remember is that it snowed.
Ah, Richie Sexson. When this season started, I had not quite found out about places like Lookout Landing or USS Mariner. Twitter didn’t really exist. I was still writing about baseball on LiveJournal, and didn’t have a FaceBook account. My connection with other people about the game of baseball was limited to the Seattle Mariners MLB.com message board. And those people did not like Richie Sexson. But I did, because he was a Mariner. So when Kason Gabbard threw a pitch up and in towards Sexson’s head (a pitch that would be argued about via Pitch FX examples and slow-mo replay numerous times over the remainder of the season), and Sexson went after him on the hill, clearing the benches, I was, of course, on Richie’s side…
And when Gerald Laird came out to the mound to defend his pitcher, in what I eventually became aware of as proper player etiquette, I decided that I was many things, but one thing I was not was a fan of Gerald Laird. If anyone remembers, this was Sexson’s first game after coming back from southern Washington State, where he had gone because one of his children was sick and had to go to the hospital. So, being human, I completely understood the pressure Sexson must have felt; his batting average was awful, his strikeouts were increasingly more frequent, the crowd booed him every time he came up to the plate, and now Gabbard threw a pitch – on purpose or not – up near his head. I might have thought twice about it because undoubtedly Kason Gabbard is bigger than I am, but I might have at least flipped him the bird, if not charged the mound. And of course I know that when baseball teams fight, there are roles for certain players, and things that are just done. But I still do not like Gerald Laird.
I didn’t know what this meant when it happened. The concept of a baseball Hall of Fame was cloudy to me, and I didn’t understand why an announcer would be inducted. Little did I know that the HoF would become a really big deal to me, and that eventually I’d go there myself. It’s probably a good thing I didn’t – it might have overloaded my brain at the time.
This photo is on the left side of the book. The photo on the right side is of a very sad Erik Bedard. The photo above is one of the saddest photos in my personal history of baseball. It was the beginning of the end, and my realization that my ability to see JJ be awesome was slowly dying. Ugh. Next…
Ah yes. Remember this one? When John McLaren finally got so angry at the team that he opened up the SwearMobile on the press? I don’t think he had anything to apologize for. The rest of us were swearing too.
Ah, sweet relief. The next page has an article about the Mariners not blaming Bavasi for the teams’ flaws, but I think the rest of us know that was all smoke and mirrors. I remember a lot of happiness online.
Jim Riggleman, the Everyman. I sort of miss him, but not enough to trade Eric Wedge. Riggleman has a sweet gig over in DC now, and the Nats came in 3rd place last year in the AL East, so I think he’s probably doing OK. Meanwhile, 2008 was the year that George Sherrill got an All-Star nod. And now we have him back! Looking forward to seeing him on the hill again.
Good news, bad news! This game against the Mets was the highlight and lowlight of the season. I have since seen TV clips of the hit and following ankle injury, but I was only able to hear the actual hit on the radio, announced of course in stellar fashion by Dave Niehaus.
I went to a Rainiers game that year, with my friends Brandon and Jessica, and their son Orion. Matt Tuiasosopo was sitting on a tall stool signing things for people. Normally I’m not much of an autograph seeker, but he was just sitting there and there was no line, so I figured why the hell not.
This was a great game, the likes of which we may never see again. Seeing Jamie Burke throw a respectable mid-80s pitch in a 15-inning game was a lot of fun. I miss Burke, too. He just seemed like a good guy, and I liked his catching far more than anything we would have to deal with in the following 2-3 years.
The end of Richie Sexson. I remember stopping off at the Diva Espresso down the street to grab a coffee before driving to work, and the Seattle Times having this story on the front page, a photo of an angry, frustrated and done Sexson taking up most of the top half of the page. Sexson was released by us, and picked up by the Yankees for some of the remainder of the season before they decided to release him, too. No formal retirement was announced, Richie Sexson just sort of vanished into the ether, like so many other ball players do. Wherever he is and whatever he’s doing, I wish him well.
This was a fun game, too, even with the loss. And of course even though the season was definitely over around this point in the season, I was still trying to pull whatever good I possibly could out of Mariners games. This was one of those. Ichiro got his 3000th hit in Arlington Stadium, and Jarrod Washburn wound up pinch running for Jamie Burke, coming out of the dugout with a batting helmet on, lacing his belt through his uniform trousers. I miss Washburn, too.
I included the page about Hyphen because it’s Hyphen, but I had completely forgotten about Riggleman defending Ichiro in Michigan and getting tossed from the game. Maybe because Riggleman, like his successor Don Wakamatsu, did not seem to be easily-riled.
More stuff happened! Matt Tuiasosopo’s first opportunity in the majors, and Adrian Beltre hitting for the cycle in Texas. Only one of these things would be recognized the following year during Opening Day ceremonies.
How much fun was this game? Well, let me tell you – it was Terrace Club seating, warm-weather, giving the Yankees fans in front of me a hard time kind of fun. It was the first opportunity I’d had to use my then-new Canon camera kind of fun. Morrow owned the Yanks, and he owned them good. And a lot of Mariners fans undoubtedly breathed a sigh of relief because finally, Brandon Morrow had come into his own…except he hadn’t, of course. But that doesn’t prevent me from remembering this as one of the most fun games to be at.
Bad news, good news. Or good news all around, depending on how you look at things. I liked Jeff Clement, but he was not a major league ball player. He may, too, disappear into the ether. Poor guy. Ichiro, meanwhile, did what we all knew Ichiro to do up until last year.
The more things change, the more they stayed approximately the same for several years. Erik Bedard is with the Pirates now of course, and I hope he continues to do well; especially since I will have a photo I took of him published in the Pirates Prospects printed annual this year. But mostly because I like Erik Bedard.
I am ending on a high note. Not only because it seems to be the right thing to do, but because this is literally the last news article I bothered to save in the book. Of course I am still enjoying Putz’s career with the Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that also now features Willie Bloomquist, and some other favorites traded or acquired from other teams around the American League. JJ is at 151 saves now. May he continue to keep saving.
I’m going to keep this book in a more public place from now on. I think I actually still have some things to add to it that are sitting somewhere in our spare room, and it might be nice to dust it off occasionally and keep my memory fresh on how excited I was during this year, in spite of the failure. If we continue to have seasons like 2010 or even last year, I will need to maintain some perspective. I don’t ever want to lose the butterflies I get when I know I’m going to a ball game, or the feeling of little-kid awe I feel when I’m walking on the Safeco side of 1st Ave S down towards the Bullpen entrance. I was new and naive to the game once, and even though the team lost 101 games the first year I held tickets, I cared enough about that to maintain this book. I don’t ever want to forget that.