If you’re not in Seattle (and I can’t imagine that anyone would read this who isn’t, but you never know), it has been miserable and will continue to be miserable weather-wise for the next few days. This is part of what makes nights like tonight so exciting; seeing sunny baseball after a winter of suffering through football and a little hockey, and the light amount of news coming from the Mariners during the offseason, this is like getting a nice glass of water handed to you after a marathon. Or beer after a hard day’s work. Your mileage may vary. Whatever the case, while the handful of games on the radio have been nice, to actually be able to SEE what’s going on is so very marvelous…I don’t even have words. So after a nice dinner of homemade pork pho to ward off the weather, here we go!
I spent a lot of the first half of the first inning looking for my friend Jen, but to no avail. She was sitting down front tonight, but not close enough towards the area of TV camera concentration to be visible. She said that a lot of the seats around the plate were taken up by scouts. Just as long as they look and don’t touch, they can scout all they want. I can’t handle any more deals just yet.
Tonight was my first opportunity to actually see Ichiro’s new batting stance. He was holding his knees slightly farther apart than normal, and his foot remained planted for at least his first at-bat, but any other changes are surely far more subtle than I can immediately detect. All of it translated into an infield single, because it really shouldn’t translate into anything else. You can toss a dialect on a language, but it’s still the same language. Ichiro is rocking a .286 average and a .746 OPS (which will have likely changed for better or worse by the time this post goes up), so I will continue to roll with it. Ichi’s fielding last year started to venture into horror movie territory, but I think that with his new position as third hitter and stance change, we’ll see a little more refinery from the King of Refinement. He was the first run in during tonight’s game, on a Miguel Olivo sacrifice fly. I feel like all is as it should be here.
I am not sure how I should feel about Kevin Millwood’s start. A lot of it looked like this:
Aaron Crow didn’t last as long in the game as Millwood did (3 innings vs 4), both of our early runs were charged to him, and he allowed one more hit than Millwood did. I don’t know right now what all of this means. Would I trust Millwood to start an actual Game That Counts in a major league setting? I don’t know. I get the distinct impression that Millwood’s starter days are pretty much behind him. And right now, that’s neither good nor bad, it just is what it is. Based off tonight’s performance, I’d be alright with him in a long relief position, which I know is probably a terrible thing to say, because he’s probably battling for a starting slot. I’m a jerk.
In the bottom of the 6th inning, Miguel Olivo did this:
Paulino hung everything right in there, and Olivo ignored all of it and took a walk. Pitches 5-9 were in the upper 90s, and were all 2-seam fastballs. It seems that after three changeups and a slider, Olivo figured Paulino and his fastballs out; either that or Paulino just got tired of trying to be clever. Mr Paulino needs to go back and put some work into his two-seamer, because throwing that to Michael Saunders resulted in a double, which sent Olivo and Carlos Peguero, who was already on base, home.
After the middle of the 7th inning, I tried to just relax and enjoy watching baseball. I feel very rusty, like I’ve lost what little analytical skill I ever had, so there is no need for me to even try to push it, since everything above this paragraph has likely failed miserably. Tom Wilhelmsen finished up the 9th beautifully in front of a thinning late-night crowd (I am so envious of all those people in their t-shirts with no jackets, scarves, layers or umbrellas in sight), and the final tally for this one was 2-6 Mariners. As I mentioned on Twitter multiple times tonight, I’d be a massive liar if I said that this wasn’t gratifying for me, even though it doesn’t count.
It’s just nice to know that baseball is finally back. I am even more excited now for the games tomorrow and Sunday afternoon, and the early morning games on TV that will start the season with the Oakland A’s. Speaking of early morning games, I am probably fighting a losing battle here, but I am going to be waging a Twitter campaign towards MLB Network and ROOT Sports, to beg them (not too proud to use that word, incidentally) to show the early morning games against the Hanshin Tigers and Yomimuri Giants. It might be a contractual deal for ROOT to not be able to show them, but what the hell else is the MLB Network going to show at 3 in the morning on a weekday? Or at 8pm PST on a Saturday? So I’m going to try and come up with a Tweet a day. Feel free to re-tweet me if you follow me, or please make up your own. I may never get to Japan; this may be my only chance to see something like this, and I WILL get up and watch it. I know that this will probably fail and that anything I could possibly do is akin to yelling at a brick wall here…but I didn’t love those gladiator helmets and 300 attitude from the 2009 bullpen for no reason.
As you were. Baseball is here.