Today was the day! The first bit of televised Mariners baseball of 2013.
I have been tempering my excitement over the Ms recent hit parade with knowledge of the fact that yeah, this is only the start of a very long year. These games don’t count towards regular season numbers, and a lot of them are intermixed squads and/or split squads, and there are a billion other factors that contribute to why a player might do poorly or well during Spring Training and then do a 180 the second they step to the plate or the rubber for the regular season. But man is it difficult to watch a game like today’s, or hear a game like Saturday’s and not get totally hopped up on hope.
If it were not for Miguel Batista in the 4th or Parker Frazier in the 5th, this might have been a very different game. Or it might have been pretty much the same. Therein lies the torture and uncertainty of the game; is it bad pitching or good hitting that caused the Mariners win today? Does it matter? Why do we care?
Well I care because whether it counts or not, you cannot deny that Mariners fans have long been waiting for the team to start hitting – especially power hitting. And it’s suddenly coming out of places we haven’t really seen it before. Justin Smoak now sits at a comfy .533, with 8 hits in his 15 ABs. Two home runs for Mr Smoak as well! Franklin Gutierrez and Carlos Peguero have been mashing things up in grand fashion, and Peguero has even taken – wait for it – walks. Out of the 29 guys with offensive stats in camp right now, 14 of them have not hit home runs. I care because Casper Wells is out of options, and he’s got an average of .111, and I want Casper Wells to do better and be a Mariner in 2013. I care because it was fun to see Raul Ibanez back in a Seattle uniform, talking to Brad Adam over the bar in the dugout as if he’d never left and spent time in other places on better teams. And lastly I care because if there is anything better in the world of sports than seeing happy Mariners, I really just don’t know what it might be.
So the Ms now have their 10th straight Cactus League win; at I think 8, they had already broken a record from the early 1980s. I don’t know how to feel about that that is any way but pleased with what is going on in Peoria right now.
I find myself wishing that I had given more thought to next year’s trip to Arizona sooner, and tried to get down there this year instead. The skies are sunny in Seattle today, but seeing people enjoying this game and not wearing jackets at the same time is really making me jealous. So far I have $90 saved up for next year. It’s not much, but it’s a start. I will of course be posting that little adventure when the time comes; but we are far from that now.
The thing we are not very far from, however, is the WBC game this upcoming Friday featuring Team USA facing off against Team Mexico. I was planning on watching it anyway, but they upped the ante earlier today by announcing that RA Dickey will be taking the hill for the US team. I didn’t need more of an excuse to watch baseball, but I have just been given one. This should be great. Meanwhile, I’ll be watching bits and pieces of the WBC as time allows. Last night, I switched the channel to see China and Cuba playing in a stadium in Japan. There was literally nobody there to watch the game; the stands were virtually empty. The lack of a crowd must have been a great relief to Chinese player Fujia Chu, who got caught in a rundown during a steal attempt after he believed that the batter had hit a foul. There is video at the link, in case you didn’t see it when it happened. It is possibly the saddest, most mischievous, yet hilarious thing. The Chinese are new to baseball, and they have just learned a very hard lesson in a very public way; don’t simply trust what the opposition tells you just happened if you didn’t see it for yourself. Hopefully, their manager, former Mariner John McClaren (nope, not kidding) will help them learn so that things like that don’t happen again.
So the Ms get a break tomorrow from meaningless games. I am currently watching a Mariners All Access episode and trying to prevent my eyes from watering over clips of Felix’s perfect game last year. It’s not working. Only a little while longer, and baseball will be here!