Tagged: Mariners

5/30/2018 Safeco Field

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

 

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5/16/2018 Safeco Field

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

5/4/2018 Safeco Field

Albert Pujols. A Historical milestone set to happen before my eyes, and I got to watch it. I have missed countless no-hitters at Safeco. I wanted to see history. I had to see history. I would probably never see anything like this again.

Albert Pujols is one of my least favorite players in the Major Leagues. I heard from a St. Louis Cardinals fan (on more than one occasion) that during their Winter Warm-up one year, he wouldn’t even look at fans when he signed autographs, and he had a terrible attitude. When the Cardinals won the world series back in 2011, Pujols, allegedly refused to sign a team ball so fans could purchase such items. In 2018, Pujols will make $30 million dollars. He drives a $250,000 Bentley, and his home in California cost $7.75 million dollars. He, more than likely, has a Hall of Fame career but does he have to be so disconnected from the fans? He works hard, I’ll admit. But when it comes to fans it seems like we are just peons that he can spit on.

One thing that Pujols has done for the community is his charitable organization.  It’s nice to see players (who make a ton of money) give back in various ways. I can respect a guy for that. There is an article, (click here to read) about how Pujols helps those out in his home country, typically the workers who tend to the sugar can fields. His organization brings medical care, education and basic necessities to those who live in poverty.

Attending this game and seeing The Machine hit his 3,000th hit was something very special. Mainly because I probably will never see something like that again. There aren’t many players who are close enough with both 3,000 hits and 600 home runs that’ll reach the record books anytime soon. Alex Rodriguez was the last player to amass 3,000 hits and 6000 home runs. Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano are the next two who are the closes but their age is of concern. Both are closing in on age 40.

The magical hit came in the 5th inning. Albert Pujols dug into the batters box. Mike Leake looked on, received the sign from his catcher. Into the wind-up Leake went, and Pujols drove bloop single into right field. Mitch Haniger quickly fielded the ball, and the celebration began. To my surprise, a lot of Mariners fans stood up and gave Pujols a standing ovation. I didn’t really think many M’s fans were that tuned in regarding the milestone. Although, a huge message was displayed on the jumbo-tron after it happened, and subsequently that’s when all the applause started.  There were quite a few Angels fans in attendance but they were mostly congregated along the third base side and behind the visitors dugout. The Angels dugout emptied and they all celebrated Pujols’ milestone near first base. Pujols removed his batting helmet and tipped it towards the crowd. For being 38, and having played in every season since 2001, it was really amazing to see such a milestone like this.

I remember Pujols as a hitting machine while watching games at Busch Stadium. Pujols was full of pop and energy during batting practice. He would slap hits into the gaps at the stadium and motor around first base with speed and tenacity. He was an ambitious ball player. Nowadays when I see him play, I can’t help to feel sorry for him. He smacks a hit and lumbers down the first base line with a slight but noticeable hitch in his gallop. He’s old. He’s beaten down but Father Time has been generous to him. He laces up those cleats every day, and gives it his best, and for that, I can respect the man. After all, he’s the Machine.

Final: Anaheim Angels 5 Seattle Mariners 0

 

Total Lifetime Games Attended: 138

Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 15

Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 373

Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1

Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0

5/3/2018 Safeco Field

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

 

4/19/2018 Safeco Field

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

 

5/28/2016 Safeco Field

During batting practice, it was all Nelson Cruz and Robinson Cano. In fact, Nelson Cruz hit a ball completely OUT of Safeco Field. Click this link to watch the video highlights.

Lots of baseballs were tossed up into the stands and due to it being “Salute to Kids” night at the ballpark, the majority of them were tossed to kids and most were either dropped or bobbled around. The ones were dropped were easily glove-tricked out from behind the walls…

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….I easily secured two balls during batting practice:

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One kid used a blanket tied to his glove but he forgot the most important element of his glove-trick: the rubber band. I literally watched this kid for 10 minutes trying to dangle his glove over a baseball but it wouldn’t secure into his glove because there was nothing to hold onto the ball. Ultimately, a security guard went down behind the wall and picked up the baseball for him.

I sat with my Twins rooting girlfriend, Alex in the outfield hoping to snag a home run ball during the game:

She isn’t really a Twins fan. I bring both visiting and home team hats for autograph opportunities. Lately, I’ve been striking out when it comes to autographs. I usually get my ticket signed by someone before the game. And for the last three games I’ve attended I’ve been trying to get a picture with former Mariners Dave Valle but he hasn’t been showing up to the Root Sports broadcast booth for some reason. Today was no exception. Again, a no-show.

The game was pretty entertaining. The Twins beat the Mariners in the end by a score of 6-5 and we left towards the top of the ninth to beat traffic. Aoki smacked a home run in the first inning to give the Mariners the lead but the Twins managed to rally back and hold the lead.

Next month I fly out to Romania so I’ll be busy trying to keep up every day with daily blog entries on the trip.

Total Lifetime Games Attended: 121

Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 9

Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 343

Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1

Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0

 

 

5/14/2016 Safeco Field

For the better part of the afternoon, I watched the security guards fumble with the table at the gate…

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….priorities, I tell ya. Today turned out to be a gloomy, raining, wet day at the ballpark. I bought the cheapest tickets possible ($26.00) which put my seats up in the 300 level of the stadium. I wanted to spend the majority of my time in The ‘Pen. Today’s goals seemed simple enough: snag a bunch of baseballs, get a picture with Dave Valle, get Jose Mota’s autograph and snag a home run ball during the game.

Being that it was Kyle Seager bobblehead night, I figured it would be a sold out game. It came close. 42,687 showed up and I’m assuming 3-5 thousand probably left after they got their bobbles because while I walked around the stadium, it didn’t feel like a capacity crowd. During batting practice, it wasn’t that bad. I snagged my bobblehead and glove tricked my first ball out of the bullpen. My second ball came by just leaning over the railing and picking it out of the bullpen after it was hit into there and rolled around for a little bit. I made my way across the seating bowl securing my third ball that I picked out of a cup holder (put there by an usher) and my fourth and fifth balls came bouncing into the stands; one on the third base side and one on the first base side.

After BP I set up near the Root Sports broadcast table and I waited and I waited and I waited some more for Dave Valle to show up. I checked his Twitter and found out that a new ice cream machine was placed up in the broadcast booth and I suspected that’s where Valle was at. Getting ice cream:

By then it was too late to run down to the Angels dugout to get Jose Mota’s autograph. My night was slowly falling apart. If you’ve never been to Safeco Field and have never experienced The ‘Pen (on College night or any other night for that matter) you aren’t missing much. It usually gets overly crowded full of drunk people and the music is so loud you can barely hear the person next to you. So after about the 2nd inning, I made my way up to my seat to watch the game from there…

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…of course when I bought my ticket, I forgot to buy the one without the “obstructed view” warning.

I watched the game from my seat for a few innings and then I wandered the stadium. I actually got up close and personal with the new timer that was installed last year in all of the stadiums…

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…and the premise behind this new addition is to attempt to speed the game up. Ever since Manfred took over from Selig as baseballs Commissioner, he’s been doing everything in his power to speed the game up. He’s told the players that they have to keep one foot in the batters box at all times and if they don’t they could receive a fine. Then they installed the timer which gives pitchers two minutes between innings to get ready. Now I’ve been hearing that intentional walks will be changing. The batter simply takes his base. Along with that, the umpires are enforcing shorter mound visits.

I understand that games can be long and lack action and excitement. The game I attended yesterday lasted over three hours.  And I didn’t stay for the whole game, either. I don’t agree with changing these little things about the game. I don’t agree with the Manfred era of baseball. I don’t agree with the netting in front of the dugouts and down the first and third base lines in an attempt to “keep fans safe”. These rules where the catcher can’t block the plate and late slides into second base have become illegal take away so much from the game. I think there needs to be some level of fan accountability where the fans who attend games should have some reasonable expectation of a game that might last longer than anticipated. I also think that fans need to be more alert and provide safety measures for themselves instead of relying on Major League Baseball to keep 35,000 people safe. If you can’t stay alert during play or can’t stay off your cellphone for two minutes during a game, maybe the outfield seating is best for you.

Going into the ninth inning, the Mariners were holding on to the lead 7-6. Steve Cishek came in to close out the game and left a pitch over the plate for Albert Pujols. He hammered a 3-run home run and the Angels went on to win the game 9-7. Final.

Cishek later posted this one Twitter…

 

 

…he receieved plenty of support, there were still many nay-sayers. The Mariners have never really had a successful closer since I’ve been a fan. And I’ve been a fan since 1989.

Total Lifetime Games Attended: 121

Total Baseballs Snagged This Season: 9

Total Lifetime Baseballs Snagged: 343

Total Lifetime Foul Balls Snagged: 1

Total Lifetime Home Run Balls Snagged: 0