So it goes. A new name, a new team, and a new feel. T-Mobile Park. In the heart of downtown Seattle. There’s enough pink in this stadium to choke a horse. It was heart-breaking to watch the letters of “Safeco Field” being peeled off the side of the roof letter by letter during the off season. It was gut-wrenching to see constant updates on social media of freeway signs being changed to “T-Mobile Field” from the local news outlets. Then came the inevitable gutting of the 2018 Mariners lineup. Player by player, the organization chipped away at our souls by trading away our favorite players and allowing free agency to swallow up whatever was left over. No more 425 foot bombs into the ‘Pen from Nelson Cruz. No more Robinson Cano dazzling us at second base with his nonchalant throws to first to get his man in the nick of time. No more Mike Zunino. No more.
The off season was brutal. It was a gut check to any die hard Mariners fan. And what made things worse was: no Mariners Fanfest during the most depressing, most darkest times in the Pacific Northwest. Winter. Mariners Fanfest was the beacon that lit up our dark days when the sun set at 4:33pm. Fanfest was the glowing marker that allowed us hope, that told us that spring training was nearly three weeks away. It was what got us through the winter. And that was gone, too.
They made us wait. They made us wait until the end of March for any kind of Mariners action. The Mariners put on a two-game series versus the San Diego Padres at T-Mobile Park. When I got to the gates, I could see that the batting cage was up and some of the Mariners were taking some cuts. I could hear the hum of the stadium, and smell the freshly cut grass. Baseball was back and it was truly exciting. When 4:30pm rolled around, I noticed some particulars. There weren’t any “Safeco Field” employees anymore. It was all people in yellow, dark green and black coats with the words “Staff Pro” written across the backs of the coats. Strange, I thought. When 4:40pm rolled around, and none of the gates had been unlocked, opened or even prepped for entry, I knew there were some major changes and not just with naming rights. The Mariners roster wasn’t the only thing gutted.
4:52pm ticked on the big clock in the outfield, and Staff Pro employees were finally able to get the gates open (12 minutes late). Throughout batting practice, I didn’t see much of Staff Pro so I assume that they’re just running the security operations at the gates. I hung out in the ‘Pen for awhile until about 5:10pm where I headed over to the lower third base seating bowl. The Padres were out doing their thing during BP-which was great to see even during an exhibition game. The Padres had a lot of young players on the roster up from triple A affiliate since this technically was a spring training game.
I caught up with Joey Lucchesi and got a quick picture with him prior to the game starting:
Since a whole 6,400 people showed up for this game, everyone’s’ tickets said GA on them which meant we could sit anywhere we wanted, (except in the Diamond Club, of course). I sat in foul grounds near the right field foul pole hoping for foul balls all game long. At the end of nine innings, nothing came remotely close to me.
The Padres came out swinging and routed the Mariners for six runs in the first inning with home runs from Franmil Reyes, (a three-run shot) and Austin Hedges. Hedges home run was a monster shot deep into the M’s bullpen. Manuel Margot homered in the 4th inning to make it 7-0 and then homered again in the 7th, (a 383 foot blast) to make it 8-0. The Mariners never recovered.
The Padres are rated to be very good this season, and with the additions like Manny Machado and a great farm system, I’d say this is a early reminder of how well the Padres might play this year. As far as the Mariners are concerned… stay tuned.
Game: March 25th 2019
San Diego Padres versus Seattle Mariners
Venue: T-Mobile Park
Have you ever dreamed of trotting up a set of stairs out of a dugout onto a Major League Baseball field? I have. Ever since I was a youngster, and attended my very first Major League game in the Kingdome in 1989, I dreamed of being a Major League Baseball player. Maybe it was lack of effort, or lack of support, or maybe I didn’t dream big enough or pursue my dreams hard enough. It never happened. Now I’m a thirty-something, die-hard baseball fan. I’ve played some organized scrimmage games of baseball with friends, and occasionally throw the ball around with buddies from work. That’s as close to the action as I’ll ever get.
Nowadays, when I go to baseball games, I’m generally the first one in when the gates open. I always bring my glove, and I patrol the outfield bleachers waiting on my chance to catch a batting practice home run ball. I scavenge the foul areas looking for any baseballs missed by stadium employees, and I almost always get my ticket signed by any baseball player willing to sign it. I’m a baseball fanatic, I’ll admit. I love the game. I read the box scores nightly, and I’m a statistics nerd. It’s my passion to connect myself to such a wonderful sport. Over the years, I have amassed quite a collection. I have one of Dustin Ackley’s batting gloves, I have nearly 400 (375 to be exact) Major League Baseballs that I have caught at over 150 live MLB games (including a foul ball caught at the Oakland Colliseum) I have over 25 autographed tickets, I have countless bobbleheads, three signed baseball bats, (Eric Davis, Miguel Olivo and Jay Buhner) and many, many autographed baseballs. Plus, I have a wide collection of specially used commemorative Major League baseballs.
I’ve always considered myself decent at playing baseball. Once you step onto a Major League Field, and try to invest yourself in what some of these baseball players do day in and day out, you’ll find that your average, soft bodied baseball ego is nothing but sub-par. It takes an incredible skill to be able to hit the way some of these top hitters have crushed their way into the record books. It takes dedication, a premium work ethic to be able to pitch the way some of these athletes have pitched. The conditioning, the work outs, the drive and the sheer dedication to succeed just to make it to the Big Leagues is harder than you think.
The Kansas City Royals were gracious enough to allow a small group of eager fans like me to get out on to the field and partake in some batting practice. It was surreal. We met up with a small group of Kansas City Royals former players; Jamie Quirk, Dennis Leonard, Al Fitzmorris, Jerry Terrell, Greg Pryor, Les Norman, Shawn Sedlacek and John Mayberry in the Diamond Club suites. All this was set up by Mrs. Dina Blevins (Manager of Media Relations and Royals Alumni). We received a briefing and introduction of what to expect for the next four hours of our lives and then we were brought out onto the field through the Royals dugout.
From the bleachers, the field looks small. From the field, the field is enormous. I got to walk down the warning track out to right field with Al Fitzmorris as he told me a quick story of his playing days. He told me how his trainer (back in the day) use to run them from foul pole to foul pole. It doesn’t seem that far. When the Royals trainer came out and started to warm us up, he had us pick up a light jog from right field to left field. I decided to run it out. It’s actually pretty far. After our light warm-up, we paired up and took to the foul line in shallow right field and played catch for about ten minutes just like the Big League pitchers do before every game. After that, the first group lined up around the batting cage.
I jogged out to left field to shag some baseballs. Most of the hits barely made it out of the infield. We were a sorry bunch of amateurs in that batting cage. Some guys were able to smack some flares that would probably count for singles in a real game but most hits were swallowed up by the batting cage. I ran for just about everything, and I soon found out that the field is more than huge. It was massive. I sprinted after a line drive hit towards the corner, and as I was approaching the ball I thought I might have a chance to catch it. It seemed like I would run forever and still come up short. I soon learned that either A) I would somehow have to get faster or B) learn to read the ball off the bat sooner. That’s a skill I never acquired, and it is essential to running down well hit baseballs. Outfielders spend countless hours studying other players, watching videos, reading scouting reports, watching the pitch and watching the batters’ swing. Having all that knowledge on top of knowing where to stand and having great speed will bring you great success to running down line drives into the outfield. By the end of the day in the outfield, I had managed to remember who hits what and where, and I was able to make one running catch at Kauffman Stadium. It felt awesome to make that running catch. I looked up to the empty seats pretending I had just caught an inning ending catch and the crowd was cheering me on.
I finally slapped on a batting helmet, grabbed some lumber, and dug in inside the batting cage. I used a Jorge Soler bat to take my cuts. Al Fitzmorris was tossing BP to my group. The first pitch thrown to me, I made good contact and sent a short flare to left field. The next few were either fouled off or completely missed. I made excellent contact on the sixth pitch that boosted my confidence. I got a couple good compliments from Les Norman who was standing behind the cage giving pointers. The eighth pitch I fouled off. The ninth pitch was in on my hands but I drilled it out of the infield, and the tenth pitch I absolutely crushed it. And by “crushed it” I mean it landed about 15 feet shy of the warning track. I could feel how well I connected with the bat which prompted me to watch it fly which further prompted me to strut out of the batting cage like I had just taken Fitzmorris deep into the Royals bullpen. Such was not the case, though, and Les Norman rightfully put me in check:
“Hey, Fitzy! Did he just watch that one?” Norman yelled.
“Yeah, I think he did!” I started laughing as Fitzmorris and Norman ribbed me over my showboating. I was proud of myself. I hit that ball farther than expected, and it felt good to crush a baseball like that on a Major League level. Fitzmorris and Norman made it fun. They joked with us, told us stories and they really made it a special day. To have played as long as some of these guys have, to retire and still come back to the stadium to hangout with some fans was very commendable, and to me, it meant the world.
After taking some cuts in the cage, I trotted to the infield where Jerry Terrell and Shawn Sedlacek were hitting infield fungos. Fielding grounders looks like the easiest thing to do as a professional baseball player. I am here to tell you that it is not. It is probably the most difficult thing to master. Not to just master it but make it look easy. I tried to field the baseball my way. The way I have seen Major Leaguers do it for years. My fielding percentage was around 20%. I missed a lot and bobbled a lot of grounders. Jerry Terrell gave us pointers and brought us back to the basics and my fielding percentage climbed to about 60%. Still not good enough to be a pro player.
After failing miserably in the infield, I joined a small group who were busy taking fly ball fungos from Jamie Quirk. He would smack those baseballs with the fungo bat farther than most of us could hit out of the cage. He hit them over our heads, we’d chase them down, and try to throw the ball back to him. From center field to right field was quite a distance. After about three throws, my elbow started to hurt. The trick to fielding a fly ball is to turn away from the ball and run back a few paces until you get a good read on where the ball is projected to land. The wind started to pick up considerably so that impacted the trajectory quite a bit. Jamie Quirk was good, though. He could smack that ball with the fungo bat and drop the ball directly into your glove without you taking one step forward or one step back. It was incredible.
I have major respect for baseball players. These guys are tremendous athletes. When I’m at baseball games, I routinely hear from fans (mainly the drunk ones) that baseball players just “stand around a lot” and aren’t very physically active. These four hours on the field at Kauffman with the Royals alumni proved those statements to be very false. I already knew it took a lot to make it to the Big Show but after spending some time on the field shagging fly balls, taking grounders and getting a few cuts inside the cage, I understood that it takes a lifetime of determination, dedication, countless hours of work and there is constant failure looming over their heads. It is not an easy task to make it to the Big Leagues, and it’s an even harder task to stay in the Big Leagues. These guys have sacrificed a lot to make it to the pros, and that is truly defining what it means to gut it out. Thank you to the Alumni for being available to us dreamers of being on The Stage, a special thanks to Mrs. Dina Blevins for making this happen and a big thank you to the Royals organization, the grounds crew on hand and the trainers for taking care of us while we played Major Leaguer for a few hours. It was pretty cool.
The Mariners finished the month of March/April 17-11. They finished the month of May 17-11 and they currently sit one game back from first place in the American League West. Despite early injuries and losing Robinson Cano to an 80 game suspension, the M’s have literally surprised everyone. Houston has held their ground, though. With a two game set in Houston in the first week of June, that could easily be the momentum Seattle needs to catapult themselves into first place.
The Cano suspension has me thinking. I’ve talked to numerous baseball super-fans regarding the issue, and asked them what the M’s should do when Cano eventually comes back in August. Transitioning Dee Gordon to the outfield was a solid approach Seattle used to fill the needs of the team at the time. Without Cano being suspended, the Mariners would’ve not needed to pick up Denard Span. He has worked out so far in platooning the outfield. Heredia is solid and Haniger is coming around. So the question remains: where will Cano fit when he comes back?
The rumor has mill spun up around this one quickly. Nelson Cruz is a free agent after this season so that leaves the DH spot open. Ryon Healy is a solid hitter with exceptional first base skills. If Gordon goes back to the OF, someone has to leave. Will it be Span? He’s not a long term player for the Mariners, anyway. So there’s that option. Heredia will more than likely stay as will Haniger. Seattle might go to a Cano/Cruz DH spot for the remainder of the ’18 season, and put Cano in the DH spot and not re-sign Cruz. Those all seem like viable options. The Mariners will obviously be in the market for a slugger to fill the void that Cruz leaves if he doesn’t come back to Seattle.
A key point to keep in mind is that Cano is ineligible to play in the postseason. So that puts the Mariners in a severely tight spot. Cano has sort of flushed his leverage down the toilet with the suspension, and gives the Mariners every right to use him to their benefit and not really taking in consideration of what he wants. His Hall of Fame plaque hangs in the balance of the skeptics, and his future with the Mariners is uncertain at this point. So when he does come back to the team, depending on how the season is shaping up and how their playoff hopes look, Gordon just might stay at second base.
James Paxton was approaching a very important milestone of this career tonight. Coming into tonight’s game, he was sitting at 499 strike outs. He K-ed Nomar Mazara in the bottom of the 1st to record his 500th career strikeout. The James Paxton Maple Grove couldn’t have been more excited. All through the game I got to listen to the infamous “eh! eh! eh!” chant as Paxton sat on a two strike count. It was beautiful.
The Mariners drew first blood on a sharp ground ball to left field. Segura scored on the play giving Seattle the 1-0 lead in the top half of the third inning. The Rangers quickly answered back in the fourth with a Jurkison Profar triple that scored Mazara. Bad things and poor calls by the umpires during Mariners games seemed to always decide the outcome of the game resulting in a M’s loss. In all the games I’ve been to, it’s always been that way. Nothing ever went the Mariners way. So when Matt Moore threw a passed ball and then a wild pitch (both thrown while Gordon Beckham was batting) resulting in two runs for the M’s, I was dumbfounded. Seattle has always been on the receiving end of this sort of stuff.
The Mariners expanded their 4-2 lead after the crazy wild pitching bottom of the fourth and continued to beat on the Rangers through the sixth inning. Seattle took a 5-3 lead going into the seventh inning but the Rangers quickly started making progress to an eventual win. Tied at five apiece in the seventh, Robinson Chirinos doubled on a deflected ball by Ryon Healy that scooted into right field. That scored two runs making it 7-5 Texas. In the bottom of the ninth, Ben Gamel scored on a Nelson Cruz single putting the M’s within one to tie the game, but Healy grounded out to third and that was the ball game.
Texas Rangers 7 Seattle Mariners 6
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 165
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 19
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 383
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
One day ago Robinson Cano was suspended from playing baseball for 80 games. A few of my followers on Twitter claim to have not been surprised by the recent news. New reports have surfaced saying the Yankees declined to re-sign Cano because they may have known he was using steroids. Perhaps the most surprising news (for me anyway) is that Cano was not exactly suspended because of testing positive for steroids. He was suspended for testing positive for using Furosemide, a diuretic sometimes used to hide the presence of other banned substances. Cano stated that he had taken the drug inadvertently and noted it was not a performance-enhancing drug. Major League Baseball does not care.
“I would never do anything to cheat the game I love”, Cano said in a statement. Players are commonly labeled “cheaters” by fans after testing positive for anything on the banned substance list. It doesn’t even have to be a steroid. Cano has already started his 80 game suspension and he will do some of it while on the disabled list (fracture finger). His tentative return date is August 14th. He is also ineligible for the All-Star game and can not play during the postseason (these rules were implemented in 2014). Cano joins the long list of players who’ve tested positive for banned substances including current Mariners Nelson Cruz and Dee Gordon. Some notable former Mariners who’ve tested positive are: Michael Morse, Jesus Montero, Ryan Franklin and Mike Cameron.
I think Cano is getting a raw deal. 80 games plus forfeiture of pay along with no All-Star game or postseason? I think that’s ridiculous. The average fan knows so little about steroids. Somehow taking steroids makes players increase their hand-eye coordination so they can swing the bat perfectly to record a hit. Steroids, of course, makes players stronger and faster but in no way do they increase skill. Steroids are not a magical pill where a player can inject steroids and all of a sudden become this super player. It takes hard work, dedication and discipline. Players who use steroids often spend more time in the gym, they eat healthier and work harder then players who are not using. Steroids basically assist with the recovery process so muscle groups can be worked out more frequently. This helps build bigger muscles in a shorter amount of time. Dee Gordon was taking testosterone and Clostebol, which helped reduce the amount of estrogen in his body as well as helped increase his testosterone levels. It gives athletes a slight “edge” as it’s a mild form of steroid and leaves minimal traces in the urine. Testosterone helped increase strength and for Dee Gordon that is essential on the base paths. But that doesn’t discount the amount work he has to do to gain that strength.
If you’re interested in learning more about steroids, and how they benefit athletes you can always watch this documentary called Bigger, Stronger, Faster. It’s the tell-all regarding steroids, the side affects, and how many sports athletes have been using them for decades. Steroids are obviously a taboo but being naive about them is ludicrous. Educating yourself on steroids will certainly open your eyes and get you to understand them a little better. You don’t have to change your opinion about them; if you hate them you hate them. If you think players are “cheaters” then so be it. I’m not here to try and change your mind. But if we dive deep into the heart of baseball and dissect the late 90’s (The Steroid Era) you have to admit that steroids saved baseball. The 1994 strike flat lined the sport, it decimated attendance and if it weren’t for Sammy Sosa, Mark McGwire, Jose Canseco and countless other players who used and slugged home runs, where would baseball be today? The war on steroids is pointless.
My last point and then I’ll wrap this blog entry up. Athletes are trying to go the distance in a sports career. The average Major League Baseball career is roughly 5.6 years. A player has about an 11% chance of continuing on from his first year in baseball. Those odds are heavily stacked against him. These guys are fathers, husbands, sons, etc. They have families and bills and mortgages just like the rest of us. They are trying to compete in one of the most fiercest profession there is in the history of the human race. If you put yourself in their shoes, they are only trying to get the edge up on the next guy. They are only trying to stay competitive to continue their career. There is nothing dishonorable about that. Look at your own life and really think about all the short cuts you’ve thought about taking or all the times you’ve tried to get a leg up on your classmates or coworkers to earn the next promotion or score higher on a test. You’ll see that you and me and all these ball players are all one in the same. We are trying to survive the inevitable. But i digress.
This was the second time I saw Bartolo Colon pitch. And he pitched a gem. 7.2 scoreless innings at the age of 44. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The last time I watched Colon pitch was in 2012 when I went and saw the Mariners and the Athletics play in Japan. The Rangers were able to beat the Mariners by a score of 5-1. Typical of the Mariners to have sleepy bats until the 9th inning. Kyle Seager bashed a home run in the bottom of the 9th but it was all too late to start a rally by then. The Rangers had their number from the start. Colon was locked in and if it weren’t for the miscue at home plate, it would’ve been a solid 2-1 win Texas. That is all from Safeco Field.
Final: Texas Rangers 5 Seattle Mariners 1
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 139
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 16
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 374
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
I hate to be the guy who said “I told you so” but I told you so. Ichiro Suzuki is no longer on the Mariners active roster. Instead, he has been “promoted” (?) to some assistant front office job. The caveat is that he will still be able to suit up for batting practice on both home and road games but will not be allowed to sit in the dugout during the games. He’s been put in charge of helping manage and develop players in the clubhouse and there has been talk that he will be playing Opening Day in Japan next season when the M’s play the A’s in the Tokyo Dome. We will see about that. I have my doubts.
I should dig up all my tweets that I tweeted about Ichiro and being off the roster by the All-Star break. In one of my previous blog entries, I talked about him being off the roster before too long. I think it was this blog entry. Maybe this one? I’m not sure. Anyway. If you’d like to follow me on Twitter, you can. Here’s the link to my Twitter. I tweet a lot about baseball, obviously. But sometimes I can go on a political rant, too.
The thing I didn’t like about this whole Ichiro thing is all the fluff and empty promises that came with all the announcements and advertising over the last couple of months. Even during spring training when the M’s first started talking about signing him it was all make believe. Any self respecting baseball fan who knows an iota of knowledge about the sport knew that this was a publicity stunt to get butts in the seats. Seattle sports have always been dramatic venues with hype and feel good stories. When Ichiro signed with the Mariners it brought all those memories of Ken Griffey Junior back. Like, someone had opened the flood gates to memory lane. They should rename Edgar Martinez drive to something like, Nostalgia Avenue or…We Sign Old Players to Sell Tickets boulevard.
I don’t want people to think I’m a hypocrite. I loved watching him play. I still love to watch him play. His role on the team just wasn’t conducive to his playing spirit. Or his work ethic. He needs a full-time role. The Mariners couldn’t give him that because Ben Gamel needs playing time. Heredia needs playing time. Haniger needs playing time, and Dee Gordon certainly isn’t going to be benched so Ichiro can play. The question is: what are the Mariners intended plans for Jayson Werth? If they call him up and use him the way they intended to use Ichiro, what’ll be the reaction from Mariners Nation? Will anyone even care? Jerry Dipoto needs to stop leading people on with false hopes and promises. They way I see it Jayson Werth serves no real positive role for the Mariners. He’s a spot starter. A fill in. A guy who’ll ride the bench until late June and then be let go. He’s in his late 30’s, he’s old, and he’s hitting .220 something in Triple- A. But hey. I’m just a fan of the game, and Ichiro will be playing next season in Japan (for the Mariners). Insert eye-roll gif here.
The Mariners quickly got on the board with a Robinson Cano single that scored Dee Gordon. Seattle continued to add to their lead with another Cano single, and you guessed it. Gordon scored again. Two nothing Seattle. The Athletics struggled to keep the M’s bats down and the M’s never looked back. Nelson Cruz cracked his seventh dinger into the center field gap, and Edwin Diaz came in and slammed the door for his 13th save of the season. Ball game.
Seattle Mariners 4 Oakland Athletics 1
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 137
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 14
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 367
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
The Seattle Mariners are doing surprisingly well so far through the month of May. I’m not shocked but I’m certainly looking ahead in the season for maybe some playoff games this year. I know, I know. Optimism at it’s best. And although I’m not a huge “Mariners make the playoffs” kind of fan, it would be exciting to have October baseball in the Pacific Northwest. My bold prediction for this years World Series is the Houston Astros and the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Aside from Mariners baseball, I’m equally excited to attend some Tacoma Rainiers games (Triple-A affiliate of the Mariners). Tacoma has some big league names right now that I would be willing to go watch play. Jayson Werth signed a minor league deal with the Mariners with an extended spring training assignment. Gordon Beckham (who I watched play in Chicago when Griffey was a Whitesox) and Cesar Izturis Jr , who is the son of Cesar Izturis. Izturis Jr is currently in Double-A but was signed by the Mariners. I’m anticipating what the Mariners are going to do with Jayson Werth. I think he can provide every day offense for the club but I’m unsure about his defensive capabilities. Furthermore, I don’t know where they will put him in the line up. Platooning the outfield doesn’t seem to work this year because Seattle has a pretty healthy line up out there.
My gut feeling on Werth is they signed him because of all the injuries that have plagued the M’s throughout the years. I think they anticipated more injuries so they signed Werth due to his veteran status. It’s always nice to have a guy like him on your roster for a “just in case” scenario. Chances are Werth will probably be designated for assignment by the All-Star break (or sooner).
This was the fourth game of the four game set against the Astros. This was a critical series that the Mariners should’ve won to stay ahead of the Astros in the division. Servais made the decision to pull Marco Gonzales in the top of the fifth after Alex Bregman scored on a Josh Reddick fly out. 1-0 Houston. The game quickly came apart for the M’s after Dan Altivilla took the mound and allowed a Jose Altuve double which scored three runs. 4-0 Houston. The Mariners never really recovered after that. Max Stassi homered off of Rzepczynski, (his second on the season) in the 7th, and Josh Reddick homered in the top half of the 9th. The Astros scored two more runs in the 9th off of Wade LeBlanc to make it 9-2, and that was pretty much the ball game.
Houston Astros 9 Seattle Mariners 2
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 136
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season:
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 366
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0
The highly anticipated return of Ichiro was witnessed by thousands of Mariners fans. As the season progressed, more and more fans are now under the impression that Ichiro should be let go. Fans have even gone as far as saying he needs time in Triple A. Laughable, at best. First of all, Ichiro can not be sent to Triple A. A lot of fans do not understand contractual commitments and rules set forth by the team and the player. Players with five years or more in service can not be sent down to Triple A without the players consent. And if the team does intend to try, the player can option out and become a free agent.
I’ll admit. I sucked back tears when Ichiro return to the Mariners when I saw him run out on that red carpet on 3/29/2018. It was nostalgic. It was surreal. It was pure excitement. But it’s become old. And tired. And boring. Ichiro is just another public relations stunt whether the Mariners organization wants to admit it or not. He is. Period. Bottom line. He’ll be gone by the All-Star break. If he isn’t, I’ll buy my friends a seat in the outfield and I’ll wear an Ichiro jersey or a Jack Cust jersey or something else equally embarrassing. Mariners fans are tired of the same old rhetoric by the top brass. I remember when Ken Griffey Junior returned to Seattle. Previously, I had watched him in a game when he was with the White Sox. He was a beaten down old dog that needed to retire then. Two years later? My oh my. He was slightly overweight and slow. But I put those feelings aside and applauded his return like a good little M’s fan.
Griffey didn’t do well in those remaining seasons with Seattle. He batted a .184 his final season (down from .214 in 2009), there were rumors he was sleeping in the clubhouse during games and he was gassed running the bases. His bat speed was down and he couldn’t play defense. It was a sad sight to be had, and the upper management preached on about how he was a role model, a great clubhouse leader and a great influence on the younger players (probably true). Fast forward to 2018. Here we are again. Jerry Dipoto said the same exact things about Ichiro a few weeks ago. Ichiro this, Ichiro that. Blah, blah, blah. I will admit. Ichiro can still hit and run and play some defense. The problem is; there are too many young guys that the Mariners have placed all their hopes and dreams into and those guys need playing time. For Ichiro to make an impact on the season, he too needs playing time. Lots of it. He’s a regular, veteran player and he needs a full-time gig in right field. He isn’t a utility guy. So I stand by my prediction. By the All-Star break, he will be gone, and there will be a wonderful “Ichiro Retirement” party at Safeco Field. Mark my words, Seattle.
Mike Leake was on the mound for the Mariners, and I thought it was going to be a good pitching game but the Astros came for blood right out of the gates. George Springer roped a sharp single to center field, and Dee Gordon had to do everything in his power to keep it from reaching the wall, (which he did beautifully). The Astros failed to score, though. In the top of the second, McCann doubles off the wall to score Marwin Gonzales to get things going for the Astros.
The Mariners tied things up in the 3rd one apiece. Then the wheels start coming off in the 7th. Leake gives up a walk to Josh Reddick, (who I saw before the game in an immaculate maroon suit). Yuli Gurriel hits a ground rule double into left field and then Gonzalez singles which scores both Reddick and Gurriel. McCann follows up with a double and that would end Leake’s night. Nick Vincent replaced Leake, and soon after the Mariners committed a fielding error which scored a run. Houston 4, Mariners 1. George Springer doubled to break it wide open scoring two base runners. Houston leads 6-1.
Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager both struck out swinging to end the game.
Final Score: Houston Astros 7 Seattle Mariners 1.
Total Lifetime Games Attended: 130
Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 5
Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 363
Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1
Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0