Los Angeles Cumplen Con El Diablo

Tonight was the start of a series against the Angels, and a weekend to honor Ken Griffey Jr’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. And what a night it was!

I met Su at FX McRory’s for a quick post-work drink and some water, and we departed to go get into what we knew would be a pretty long line to get in. What we didn’t know was exactly how long that line would be. Coming from the north along Occidental, the line to get into Safeco Field extended to almost where the Elysian brewpub is. By the time we’d been on line for 10 minutes, the crowd in back of us had grown past that. Another 20 minutes, and it looked like it wound all the way to King Street! I have never seen such a thing; not on Opening Day, not for a Yankees game, never. I was fortunate enough to have remembered my small umbrella to block the sun, and there was a breeze so we weren’t suffering too badly, but it was a much longer line than I’d thought we’d be in. I feel I also need to give the residents of this city massive credit for good behavior. Nobody cut in front of us or even attempted to, nobody raised voices at anyone else, nobody complained. The family of four in front of us smeared sunblock on themselves and granted us the scent of pineapple for a good half hour, and when the gates opened at 4.40PM, the line moved at a decent enough clip that all told we were in line for maybe 45 minutes or so. Not too shabby, and everyone played nice.

Once inside the park and with our bobbleheads secured (and a warning from one of the door staff to not sell any photos I might take when she found my camera), we got ourselves some food and drink and stood around in The Pen people watching. We decided to visit Edgar’s, too, which wasn’t too crowded, and chatted with the bar staff and then with Shannon Drayer briefly about her trip to Cooperstown to cover the induction before she had to go do her job elsewhere in the stadium. Around 6PM, we decided to head upstairs and grab some icy soda and find our seats.

The weather was fantastic today, and the grounds crew was decked out in some fancy new duds:

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.14.47 PMThe players for both teams also chatted with each other and warmed up, and the bullpen took their walk to their center field gate.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.17.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.17.19 PMI read on Twitter that Felix Hernandez showed up in center field taking his practice tosses with his cap on backwards, but did not see it for myself. A good choral group did a fantastic arrangement of the National Anthem after the Angels’ lineup was announced, and then it was time to get things started. Felix’s song started, the All Rise signs came on, and we all stood up and cheered as he walked across the field with Mike Zunino and Mel Stottlemyre.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.18.07 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.18.17 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.18.31 PMThis part always makes me choke up a bit. Felix is so, so awesome, even when he’s not. The sign should be gold, but refresh rates between my 5-year-old Canon and an HD video bar are not compatible.

The game did not start well, and for a fleeting half-inning, I was wondering if things were going to go poorly again for us, after last night’s brutal extra innings loss to Boston. The Angels put two on in the first and then Felix let Mike Trout have a home run to plate three. After that disheartening start, they rolled out a red carpet and brought Griffey out, all suited up, to wave to everyone, which caused a massive roar from the crowd, of course.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.18.46 PMIt must have also lit a bit of a fire under the Mariners, who came back with three runs of our own against Tim Lincecum, who has been battling in recovery from major hip surgery, and who simply didn’t have anything going on tonight. I am a fan of Lincecum’s; have been since the first time I saw him throw a game with the Giants a while back. I can’t really speak for anyone but myself, but I get the impression that Tim is beloved by many other fans in Seattle; he’s a local, and a fantastic pitcher, and he’s the one that got away so many years ago when our scouting department shrugged and said “meh, he doesn’t really looke like a baseball player, let’s go with Brandon Morrow instead“. That sound you may be hearing is my brain silently screaming at a long distant memory. But I digress…

Timmy just couldn’t figure us out tonight and by the time we were done with him, we had six runs to the Angels’ three, and Lincecum didn’t even so much as get a chat on the mound; he just gave up his ball and went back to the dugout after 3 & 1/3 innings of singles and doubles and a Mike Zunino home run, and sat, looking dejected. I took a bunch of photos, because I fear that tonight may have been the last time I will see Lincecum throw a major league game. I hope that’s not the case and that he can bounce back. But tonight was not his night.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.19.11 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.19.29 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.20.09 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.21.00 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.22.31 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.22.45 PMI watched and thought at first that Lincecum’s teammates had not acknowledged his removal from the hill; but clearly in that photo above he got a consolation butt patt from one of the guys. A rough night for a great player.

Felix, on the other hand, settled down after his rough first inning, and dealt to the Angels like he was on fire.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.21.36 PMWith the help of a swiftly-improving Mike Zunino, of course…

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.21.48 PMZunino has been great since coming back from Tacoma, and this makes me very very happy because Felix loves him; their teamwork is amazing and heartwarming, and I’m so glad to see Zuni back here in an Ms uniform. And it was a pretty spectacular uniform tonight, odes to throwbacks with special patches on the sleeves.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.23.22 PMOn the way back to West Seattle from taking Su home, I got treated to 710ESPN absolutely oozing praise over Zunino’s improved bat and always-awesome pitch framing. Nobody is happier for this guy than I am; I mean, unless you count this guy, of course. The work he’s been doing in Tacoma is clearly paying off, and I hope it continues to do so.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.21.22 PMMore fancy groundkeepers!

The Angels would only get one more run, a solo shot from Jeff Bandy in the 5th inning, and Felix pitched 8 innings before delivering the game to the darkened stadium and way-too-short strobe lit entry of Edwin Diaz, who took the field while Felix watched from the dugout, shirt untucked, bleached hair slicked back. Diaz was, as Dave Niehaus might say, DIABOLICAL. And I haven’t seen the stadium go that nuts for a closer in…a very long time. We’ve had years of vague cheers as really loud music plays and lighting and art direction happens all over the stadium while Brandon League, or Brandon Morrow, or David Aardsma set foot onto the outfield grass and trot to the diamond, proceeding with their warmup tosses. During a lot of those games, I might have been the loudest one. But tonight was different. Tonight was…electric. People stood up. They screamed. They clapped, they made it known that they knew who Diaz was and what he was about to do. And wow did he do it. On 13 pitches, Diaz took out both Mike Trout and Albert Pujols, then Andrelton Simmons, all three swinging. And while I have seen Diaz clocked at around 100MPH, his pitch speed was anywhere between there and 85. Absolutely, undeniably, diabolical.

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.23.49 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.23.59 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.24.35 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-05 at 11.24.47 PMThe crowd went nuts, the Mariners congratulated themselves on a job well done, and Su and I filed out into the night with thousands of other people who had packed the stadium for a fantastic game.

It is now technically Saturday as I write this, and I am looking forward to getting some sleep and doing this all again…later today? Tomorrow? Saturday evening, in any event.

And even though I doubt anyone is still up, please feel free to join a small crowd of us at FX McRory’s on King and Occidental starting between noon and 1pm for some pre-game drinks and/or food. We’re going to sit around and socialize for a few hours and then head to the stadium for the game. I am shooting to be there by 12.30PM to get a table for at least 10 of us, since we have no formal headcount. Come on down and talk baseball and whatever else with some good people in a casual atmosphere before we all scatter to the corners of Safeco Field to watch Taijuan Walker take on Los Angeles and Tyler Skaggs, and  see Ken Griffey Jr’s number 24 be retired next to Jackie Robinson’s (newly-cleaned and shiny) number 42! It’s going to be a great day for a baseball game!

Oh, and here’s your moment of zen…

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Fridays At Safeco, In Cooperstown

So many things I want to address with the Mariners lately (I have a whole essay on closers I desperately need to work on, after Monday night’s Steve Cishek incident), but work and life are still happening, and lately I’m lucky to be able to stay up for an entire game on TV, let alone actually going to one.

This weekend, however, there will be a lot of baseball. Tomorrow night, of course, starts Ken Griffey Jr Weekend, with a Hall of Fame bobblehead night tonight, then his number retirement ceremony tomorrow (and by the way, if you’re reading this and going to Saturday’s game, join us at FX McRory’s for some pre-baseball shenanigans with Lookout Landing. Details here.) So because the Hall of Fame is a Pretty Big Deal(TM), I thought I’d reshare my favorite plaques from the winter I was there a few years back. I don’t need to caption any of these, they easily speak for themselves.

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.23.39 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.23.51 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.25.46 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.25.56 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.26.06 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.26.18 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.26.28 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.24.08 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.24.22 PMScreen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.24.38 PMAnd of course:

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.24.52 PMAll of these players were fantastic, and the Hall of Fame is a great and somber place if you’re a baseball fan. At least it was in the cold month of December, when it was very sparsely populated and easy to see everything without obstruction or lines. And this year, all of these baseball players who have made up the great history of this game will be joined by one more:

Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 8.31.55 PMWell, two if you count Mike Piazza, but this is a Mariners blog, and we won’t be getting Piazza bobbleheads tonight.

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend since they announced it was going to take place when the schedule was released. I think I have sunglasses that are large enough to hide any tears that might leak out of my face on Saturday, but I imagine the chorus of sniffles will be pretty loud all around me. The weather is also looking like it’s going to be just perfect for the occasion, so as things stand, I don’t think we could ask for anything more.

See you at the ballpark!

 

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The Village of Cooperstown

At the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony last Sunday, they announced that some 50,000 people had descended on Cooperstown for the party to honor Mike Piazza and Ken Griffey Jr. Cooperstown, in case you weren’t aware, has a listed population of 1,834, so suffice it to say that things were pretty tight.

If you want to go to the Hall of Fame to visit the museum and check out the plaques and such, I don’t think I’d recommend going on Induction Weekend. Even though my folks and I had come in as part of a trip sponsored by the Hall and therefore got to avoid the long lines to go inside, it was still too packed to really enjoy poring over the artifacts and enjoy the exhibits. I’d been to the Hall and Museum back in 2009, so I spent most of my Museum time trying to catch up on a few things that I had missed and the new exhibits that were out there.

Ultimately, the Hall of Fame is not everything I want it to be. There’s far too much talk for my liking about celebrating the character of the ballplayers who played the game. I’m not sure how they can say all of that with a straight face when you’ve got Ty Cobb in there who was by all reports an absolute demon on the field, sliding into bases like Chase Utley did in last year’s NLDS; Cap Anson, who is often credited with playing a large role in the Gentlemen’s Agreement that segregated the top levels of white baseball until Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson; and even more recent players like Roberto Alomar who recently got in on his second ballot in 2011, despite his spitting on umpire John Hirschbeck during and argument in 1996.

I think the Hall is missing something. For example, there are several Ichiro artifacts around the museum, including jerseys and Amy Franz’s “Ichi-Meter” sign from 2004 when he collected 262 hits in a season to break the record set by George Sisler in 1922, but there wasn’t much to explain the cultural significance of him as the first Japanese-born position player in MLB. The omission of that story is nearly criminal in my opinion, because without that, Ichiro is just another player. The Hall does a poor job advocating for why the players and executives enshrined there are important. I like to think I know baseball pretty well, but I couldn’t tell you what makes Paul Waner compelling.

I digress. I was there for Griffey, as were some tens of thousands of other Mariners fans, and with the Hall of Fame and Museum being pretty well backed up, I took to Main Street to check out some of the other attractions in town like the “Heroes of Baseball” Wax Museum. Much less crowded, and certainly worth our while, it was a good hour-plus of entertainment as we walked by recreations of certain scenes and culturally important players like Roberto Clemente and Jackie Robinson before winding up in front of a wax statue of Griffey in the follow-through of his swing.

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Even if you’re not going to visit the Hall itself, there’s plenty to do in Cooperstown for Induction Weekend. If you’re an autograph seeker, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to stand in line and have a retired player sign for you. Cooperstown shops also have plenty of gear for each team and its Hall of Famers if you want a memento. In one of the newer traditions, they have a parade on the Saturday night before the ceremony where the previous inductees who are in town each ride in on the back of a Ford truck and wave to the crowd and accept the cheers of fans. Everyone had their phones and/or cameras out, myself included, so I’ll share some of my favorite shots:

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Rickey Henderson

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Frank Thomas

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Pedro Martinez

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Ken Griffey Jr.

For the folks who didn’t line up for autographs, this is the closest proximity you’ll probably get to these guys, and it was fun seeing them soak up the spotlight and entertain a little – especially those more-recent inductees whose on-field exploits are more fresh in the memories of the attendees. I mean, it’s a great accomplishment that Jim Palmer got a Pitcher Win in World Series games in three separate decades and won three Cy Young Awards, but his career ended in 1984 and I just can’t speak to his career like I can to Randy Johnson.

I’m not a big autograph seeker; there are few players who I would just want to have sign for the sake of signing, but I did get one. As I walked down Main Street on Sunday, heading to lunch before the ceremony, I happened upon a card table where Dolly Niemiec sat. Dolly played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, featured in the film “A League of Their Own.” This was one autograph I couldn’t pass up, and it struck me as somehow more historic than chasing after Hall of Fame ballplayers. She was gracious enough to take a picture with me, which was one of the cooler moments I had in town.

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On a crowded weekend, it felt good to just keep soaking up experiences and avoid long lines. There’s enough to keep you busy for a day in town even if you don’t spend much time in the Museum, but if you want to go for the Hall itself, you’re going to need a couple of days at the least. I’d suggest going up for the ceremony, visiting New York City, and then coming back a few days later once things have calmed down a little bit. You won’t be the first to see the plaque that way, but I think it would be a much more pleasurable experience.

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On Fenway Park (and the Yankees)

Fenway Park bills itself as “Americas Most Beloved Ballpark,” but I’m just not sure that’s true. That said, it’s probably number one in the American League. I’ve got to think that Wrigley Field in Chicago has it beat, but that could be changing depending on what you think of the big video screens installed at the Friendly Confines.

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What I will say, though, is when you’re sitting in the seats watching a baseball game at Fenway (and at Wrigley, too), you definitely feel like you’re watching a baseball game. Perhaps the cost of this is that you’re not going to be watching the game from the concourse. For what it’s worth, I haven’t quite put my finger on what it is that makes a ballpark feel like a baseball park.

I’m spitballing here, but it could be the shade of green.

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That green is on the facades, the outfield walls, and the bleacher seats (except one, where Ted Williams famously hit a 501-foot home run), and it’s almost a defining characteristic of the park.

In some ways, though, Fenway wasn’t so great a place to watch a game. Their scoreboards and video screens were hard to read at times and didn’t always give particularly relevant information. In particular: Red Sox players don’t wear names on the back of their uniforms, but there wasn’t really anywhere to look to see the players’ numbers listed. Their lineup on the scoreboard above the right field bleachers only listed the players’ names and fielding positions.

That being said, the Red Sox did a good job of maintaining the old-time style with their presentation. The font in that first photo above does a nice job matching what’s posted on the scoreboard on the front of the Green Monster in left field, and making it feel more human. I didn’t have a good shot of the hand-operated board, but you can click here to check out a still of one of their scoreboard operators updating National League scores back in 2010.

What surprised me the most, I think, was how excited I was to see the Citgo sign beyond the Green Monster.

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It’s difficult to see since the start of the 2003 season when they added a couple hundred seats on top of Major League Baseball’s tallest outfield fence, but it was a staple of watching night games played at Fenway for generations. You should be able to get a good look at it if you watch, say, the 1999 Home Run Derby, so long as you’re watching a righty take aim. I guess it didn’t quite hit me that I was in Boston until I saw that sign walking around the neighborhood around the park.

Boston’s fans were pretty active in the game; I don’t think I heard a single clap prompt from the stadium PA, but people got jacked up for a few key at-bats, especially if David Ortiz was set to hit. He put one in the back of the Red Sox bullpen early in the game and had a chance to win it in the 9th with Boston down one and a man on first, but he grounded into a double play to end it. At one point in the game, a guy sitting near me said to his kid that he should remember this game because two Hall-of-Famers, Ortiz and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera, homered in the same game. I told him, “Sure, but you’ve gotta get my boy Edgar in first.” His response, “Edgar who?” nearly made me a Yankee fan. Perhaps I was a little hyped up after taking the tour of the ballpark that afternoon and being reminded that Mo Vaughn won the 1995 AL MVP, though he registered just 4.3 WAR per Baseball Reference (Edgar Martinez had 7.0 WAR, Vaughn’s teammate John Valentin had 8.3, and Randy Johnson had 8.7 in the strike-shortened season; 11 of the 19 players receiving a vote for the award earned more WAR than Vaughn), but maybe give it up for the best DH to ever play the game and the guy who helped keep a team in Seattle (which I’d argue is bigger than any championship)?

I was a Red Sox fan for 2003 and 2004, until they actually won the World Series and everybody jumped on that bandwagon like they were long-suffering from the ’75 World Series or the ’86 World Series or the ’41 MVP vote or what-have-you. It seemed like all of the Yankees fans turned in their gear and became Sox fans overnight.

I’ve come to appreciate Yankees fans because they’re mostly self-aware. They know they have their ownership can go out and get any free agent desired, they’ve won a ton. They understand they’re the bad guy and they seem to enjoy that role (though I still can’t get over the fact that their PA used the Imperial March from Star Wars to introduce the Orioles instead of the home nine). Red Sox fans seem to still think everyone loves them, like Red Sox Nation is still a thing with meaning.

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Thursdays at… The Bronx?

It’s a common goal to see all 30 Major-League ballparks, and I suppose it’s a goal for me as well, though I’m in no rush to plow through all of them. By my count, I’ve visited 12 ballparks; the Kingdome, Safeco Field, the Oakland Coliseum, AT&T Park in San Francisco, Coors Field, Wrigley Field, U.S. Cellular Field (Comiskey Park), Wrigley Field, the Metrodome, new Busch Stadium, Miller Park, old County Stadium (Milwaukee), and would have gone to Jacobs Field in Cleveland had it not snowed in 2007. Lucky number 13 is the new Yankee Stadium up in the Bronx.

In the fine Section 331 tradition, I have pictures for you! There are a handful of trains that send you to just outside Yankee Stadium, and my folks and I caught the D Line train up to about two blocks from the ballpark. We were a little surprised to see so many Orioles fans on the train, but perhaps it was no coincidence, as the train platform was decked out in Orioles colors:

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Like Wrigleyville in Chicago around the home of the Cubs, the neighborhood around Yankee Stadium certainly was aware it was next to a ballpark. Take for evidence this storefront roll door featuring Satchel Paige:

 

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After we walked a block and got under the elevated 4 train, we were in clear sight of the ballpark. We entered in through Gate 6 and the ballpark’s “Great Hall.”

 

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Though you can’t see the game from here, it’s a nice wide concourse to meet up with folks pregame, and it’s open to the outdoors, which makes it feel even larger. After milling around there for a bit, I took some video so you could see what it’s like to enter the ballpark:

 

 

No batting practice was taken in advance of the afternoon game, so we walked around to Monument Park. Located in center field, you need to walk around and into a concrete tunnel under the bleachers in order to access it. The Yankees honor all of their players with retired numbers there, and the ownership from early on which transformed the Yankees into the Yankees in the 20s and 30s.

 

Here’s the thing, though: the monument for George Steinbrenner is larger than any three of the players’, and it just reminds you of how much you hate the Yankees if you’re not a fan of the team. A Steinbrenner memorial also stands above the right-center-field bleachers.

 

I was actually really pleased with the upper-deck. The upper level is split so you get a really open feel when walking around the concourse, though you can’t exactly see the game from the concourse since the game is so far below you. The tickets I had were below the split, which were nice for view of the game, but offered no protection from the sun.

 

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My mom was pretty well affected by the 80-degree heat and humidity, so she staked out a spot above the split, where I joined her late in the game after I’d spent two-plus hours getting burnt and talking to Yankee fans. I was glad I did, though, since it led to this shot:

 

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When walking the concourse, though, the Yankees were pretty regularly letting you know that other people were paying more money for a more exclusive experience at the game, like this terrace in the upper concourse that was only available to suite ticket holders:

 

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As far as the game was concerned, I couldn’t believe I didn’t see a home run in a ballpark that was so small. Baltimore scored two in the first and wound up with a 4-1 victory, beating CC Sabathia on his birthday. The first inning took 30 minutes as a total of 12 batters came up to hit between each side. Only five batters reached base in the second-through-sixth innings, which got us back on track for a 2-hour, 50-minute game.

 

I was also interested in seeing how the Yanks’ game operations manage their inning-breaks and entertainment. It struck me that they couldn’t decide if they wanted to be serious or play by the Rule of Fun.

 

The Yankees had several pregame presentations, but despite the fact that one of them involved honoring two of the Tuskegee Airmen, there just wasn’t a lot of fanfare about them. In fact, the Yankees didn’t even have a solo singer or musician come out for the National Anthem; instead they used a recording of the U.S. Army band, and I was shocked. I haven’t been to a pro game where that’s happened before, but the fans behind me told me it was a common occurrence.

 

All told, I was pretty happy with Yankee Stadium even for some of its faults. I was probably a bit lucky to go on a Thursday afternoon when there was a ticket discount, since cost has got to be the single-worst part of The Stadium: even discounted upper-level tickets were still $24 each.

 

In the next few days I’ll be sure to give you some more on Yankee Stadium, Cooperstown, and Boston, where I’ll be visiting Fenway Park.

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Fridays At Safeco

The Mariners have made a deal with the Cubs that send our reliever Mike Montgomery to Chicago for a 1B/DH type named Daniel Vogelbach and a someone named Paul Blackburn. Rainier Jordan Pries also was sent to the Cubs. I don’t have much in the way of anything constructive to say about this move, other than that it doesn’t seem that the Mariners are in a huge hurry to move any more players, with the end of July trade deadline fast upon us. I’m disappointed that I won’t get to really watch Mike Montgomery assist us in the bullpen anymore (and a little perplexed as to why that was the guy they chose when our pitching has been so weird lately), but I have also learned not to get too enamored with the bullpen guys anymore; 2010 was a blow for me. The decimation of the 2009 bullpen taught me to deny myself the attachment to relief pitchers, and I never have really paid as much attention to them since. It’s just too much heartbreak. Montgomery will be missed.

Speaking of bullpens, here’s one now!

PENTom Wilhelmsen and BFF Charlie Furbush hanging out together, with Wilhelmsen entertaining the others, naturally.

GONEIt’s always a hard call when choosing throwback-style photos to post here. I don’t want to bum anyone out. This picture is full of harshing your mellow. Sorry.

SUNSETAnother fantastic night on the upper floor of Safeco.  I refuse to sit in the upper deck over right field because of the way the sun sets here, and I often wonder how much of the game the people that do sit there miss due to having to look into the sun. Sunglasses and hats with brims might help, sure; but the glare is so obnoxious, and I have found my eyes getting far more sensitive to light the older I get. Having had sat in the lower deck below that area a few times this year (not my ticket choice), I can’t imagine how it would be farther away from the game. So I make sure and get tickets where the sun doesn’t shine.

Ken Griffey Jr is going to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame this weekend, of course, and Ichiro Suzuki is four hits away from reaching 3,000 between MLB and the Japanese league. There is a pretty decent chance that both of those events may happen on the same day. I was thinking the other day how appropriate it would be if they did; a lot of these throwback pictures remind me of the 2009 season, and how much goodwill and positivity was floating around in the air here with those two on the same team. It seems only right that two of the greatest baseball players that Seattle and the world has ever seen should both reach these massive milestones on the same day. I don’t want to start sounding like all the fans who cling onto the 1995 or 2001 seasons, but there are just some memories that are too good to stop remembering, aren’t there?

Sometimes-writer-here Daniel Carroll and his family are currently in New York state on a tour package with a bunch of other Mariners fans to go to the induction ceremony for Mr Griffey.  I am jealous, but I am saving my pennies for a similar set up when Ichiro goes in.  Since I am unable to attend the real thing, I am very much looking forward to the games on the weekend of the 5th and 6th. If you are looking for something to do before the game on the 6th, there is an all ages gathering at FX McRory’s on King and Occidental starting between noon and 1pm that day (other details at the link and in comments). Join us for some food and snacks, then go get your miniature HoF plaque and watch Junior’s jersey get retired!

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Felix Hernandez’s Everett Rehab In Pictures (Better Late Than Never?)

Two Sundays ago, Felix Hernandez had a rehab start up in Everett with the Aquasox. I had tickets for that game for ages, because a a very old friend of mine from Portland was coming up for a few days, and I took an extended weekend so we could hang out. I wanted to take her to a Mariners game, but both the Ms and Rainiers were out of town before the All Star break, so I went to the next best option: the always-enjoyable Everett Aquasox. Then, the day before she was supposed to be up here, the Sox announced that Felix was going to have a start up there on his way back from injury, and suddenly, this casual little game we had planned to go to became a Very Big Deal. So Sunday around 2, we loaded up on iced coffee, hopped into her mini Cooper, and took a drive to Everett.

After parking and being told we couldn’t bring food in (a rule I don’t remember being in place, but that is neither here nor there), we managed to get in the gates and were greeted by a massive throng of people just inside, all waiting for Felix and the Sox to hit the field. The team lockers are in the building below, and the players have to walk out of this and across the end of a football field, and then through a set of gates to get to the field. Normally, this isn’t such a big problem for anyone, but that day, it was Felix, and people were waiting.

IMG_7905IMG_7907Felix braved a massive crowd to get through. You can see K cards the team had made up just for the occasion. It was also WSU day, so there were K cards in red and white as well.

After Felix was safely on the field and the guard rails were pulled back, my friend Wendy and I went to find our seats, and I was a bit dismayed to find out that I had overestimated the reach of the press box’s shade; we wound up sat in the sun. Fortunately, it wasn’t too hot, but we still had a bit of a challenge keeping ourselves shaded. Wendy loves the sun and was mostly fine. I wore my light sweater over my head and shoulders, taking it off occasionally when the clouds obscured the sun. I managed to avoid sunburn, thankfully, everything but my eyes (I kept having to take off my sunglasses to take pictures). The team on the field, from our seats.

IMG_7908And Felix taking some warmup shots.

IMG_7909IMG_7910The grounds crew comes out to make sure the mound is in good condition.

IMG_7911IMG_7912Because the team had printed out so many K cards, the entirety of Everett Memorial was the King’s Court. Even people who were sat out on the right field berm were waving them around.

IMG_7913And more photos of Felix in an Aquasox uni…

IMG_7915IMG_7916IMG_7917Felix strolls back to the dugout prior to the 4th inning…

IMG_7918Throwing some more…

IMG_7919IMG_7920And finally, leaving the game after pitching 3.2 innings, doffing his cap and waving it to the crowd. And yes, we were all standing.

IMG_7921IMG_7922Felix was, to be quite honest, a little creakier than I had hoped. I figured he’d just mow over single A bats, but he struggled and gave up three runs. I don’t know if he was attempting to take it easy in his 59 pitches, or if he was truly having some problems, but he assured everyone after the game that he was ready to come back on the timetable he was given. He also had a start in Tacoma, but I didn’t hear how that went.

But it doesn’t matter! Felix comes back today, for a matinee game against the White Sox, and a game that it has apparently gotten increasingly more difficult to get tickets for after his return was scheduled. I myself will not be there, though I did give some thought to showing up; but a mid-day game is a no-go for me and the job, so I’m just going to have to live vicariously through Twitter and friends. Let’s hope the King is back.

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