Yep. Ties Koufax for most K’s in a perfect game.
And the Win Probability Chart given Matt Cain throwing a perfect game (if only the Astros had known):
I wish you a quick recovery from the hat attack.
Thanks to Craig Robinson of Flip Flop Fly Ball for initial idea.
Welcome to the “My Thoughts About” series. During these posts I’ll talk about my history with, and views about, a certain team. I’d love to break up this post, and subsequent other posts, into sections and sub-sections that clearly organize my thoughts about the team in the spotlight. However, I really just feel like writing and seeing where that leads. So let’s get to it.
Kicking off this series with the Mariners is going to be easy and difficult at the same time. Easy, because I’ve got a clear idea of how I view the team. Difficult because my history with the team is complicated. Basically my whole Mom’s side of the family lives in the Seattle area and she grew up there. So, I spent a couple weeks each summer up in the Pacific Northwest surrounded by family, some of which were die-hard M’s fans. My early youth was one without a ton of baseball influence, so the Mariners were really my first exposure. You could almost say the M’s were my first favorite team. Don’t get me wrong, I’m an Angels fan through and through, but one of the reasons I’ve got so much respect for the Mariners is because I grew up with them.
My uncle Vinnie always hyped up the games before we got there. He’d talk about how Ken Griffey Jr. had the sweetest swing, how Randy Johnson had the fastest fastball and how Jay Buhner had the shiniest head. We’d be in the car and he’d pretend to be the PA announcer, “NOW BATTING, NUMBER 24, KEN… GRIFFFFFFY JUNIORRRR.” He’d say it in an exaggerated and almost goofy tone, but as a 7 or 8 year old kid it got me more pumped than going down Splash Mountain at Disneyland. I don’t remember many specifics about the Kingdome, or really any of the games I attended back then, but I do remember the stadium being massive. Concrete. Long walkways that circled the stadium. Looking up and seeing a huge roof. To a young kid, it became the gold standard of architecture.
I don’t know how I feel about the Mariner Moose. He kind of creeps me out. I understand that it’s the Pacific Northwest, and there are many moose in the surrounding area, but I guess I just don’t get it. I guess one of the things about the Mariners I don’t care for too much is their name. Maybe not so much their name, but possibly their lack of a solid symbol. The compass just doesn’t do it for me. However, when it comes to hats, and if you know me you know I love my hats, their navy top with the teal brim has got to be one of the prettiest objects I’ve wanted to place upon my head. But, when it comes to their all navy home cap, it leaves something to be desired. Loved that teal though. They need to bring it all the way back.
Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson were two of my favorites growing up. When Griffey Jr. left the Mariners, and by then I was well into my Angels fandom, it just hurt the soul. The Kid in a Reds uniform just made me angry. At first, and I hate saying this, I was happy he got injured and kept getting injured. “It serves him right, leaving the M’s like that,” I would think to myself. Not anymore. Now, I feel bad for Ken, all he wanted to do was go home and break records there. You can’t blame a man for wanting or pursuing that.
Randy Johnson had the mullet. I believe it was more important to his identity as a pitcher than his fastball, nasty slider or height. It wasn’t that long ago, so I’m sure you can imagine this clearly. It’s the 8th inning, The Big Unit has got his sweat going. He’s also go his fastball working and in a close game he has got his focused, dream haunting stare, as he receives the sign from the catcher. In the windup, he steps to the side, sets his right foot and whiplash 3/4 sidearms a 97 mph fastball. But… but. This description is missing the most important part. The mullet! Sweat beaded. Curly. Whipping around at the batter just like that fastball. That was Randy Johnson. And, that’s what made him awesome. I’m still kicking myself for not buying his Nike Hair-itage Shirt (sold out in my size!?!).
All of a sudden this guy named Ichiro [Suzuki] (with no last name, or a last name, I’m really not sure) burst on the scene. To this day the guy is still incredible. Way back in 2001: AL Rookie of the Year, AL MVP, Gold Glove, All-Star, Silver Slugger, all in the same year… blah blah blah blah blah. Amazing, we know. What’s equally amazing is that the Mariners were willing to take a chance on a position player from Japan to give them a new identity. Remember, Griffey is a year removed from Seattle, Randy Johnson 2 years, and Alex Rodriguez just cashed in his paycheck for a pallet full of syringes to play for a division rival. So with their three best players gone, the Mariners go and win 116 games. I’ve got nothing but respect for the Mariners in this regard, playoffs flop or not.
I was there for the ribbon cutting of Safeco Field, although no game was played that day. When I finally did get to see a game there it happened to be a Cliff Lee complete game shutout. The next day I got to see Felix Hernandez go all nine while only giving up one run. I also got to see the roof close mid-game. Fantastic stuff, quality park. For a stadium that plays big, it feels small and intimate.
Jay Buhner owns my favorite M’s defensive play of all time. I saw it live on TV and I can’t remember what stadium it was in (Fenway maybe?) but there goes Buhner in right, crashing into the wall, flipping head over heels, disappearing into the bullpen. A second goes by and then up pops Jay, looking over the fence, lifting up his glove, he’s got it. Wish I could find a video of this somewhere.
Fast forward a decade from the record 116 win season and you’ve got quite a different team. Besides Ichiro, the only real star the team has had over the past 10 years is the home grown Felix Hernandez. It’s still hard to believe that he’s currently playing in his 8th season at the age of 26. The Mariners’ dip in to the free agent market has been a rude awakening. Players like Chone Figgins and Adrian Beltre failed to live up to hype, while trades such as the one Eric Bedard have ended horribly. The result is a team that has not made the playoffs since their record setting 2001 season. A far cry from the Griffey, Edgar, Buhner, Big Unit days where there was a show to see every night in Seattle. The Mariners have flat out lost their way.
There is always reason for hope. A young nucleus of players are currently developing and could one day rekindle the spark that made 90′s Mariners baseball a thing of beauty. The Jackson Generals, the M’s double-A affiliate, has three of the most promising young pitchers in the game in James Paxton, Taijaun Walker, and last year’s 2nd overall pick Danny Hultzen. Throw in Felix Hernandez and in two or three years you’ve got potentially the most dominate rotation in the league. Potentially.
Despite the Mariners being the in same division as my team, I’d truly love to see the team improve. Right now, at this very instance, the M’s are boring and have been for a while. I’m a fan of my team winning, but I’m also a fan of entertaining ball games and currently it’s just not something the Mariners are producing. Beside Felix Hernandez, there are not many reasons to go watch this team, unless of course you count going to see Ichiro play before he retires.
To the Team: Alright guys. It’s not as bad as it could be. I spend a lot of time swearing at my computer screen, or in the car, or in bars while watching and listening to your pathetic excuse for a start to the season.
Let me direct the rest of this
rant post to individual people:
Mike Scioscia: Let me let you in on a little secret. Players who get regular playing time get in a groove and start hitting. I know you don’t realize this when Pujols is only person actually playing everyday. Small sample size. P.s. I’m mad at you for maybe the first time as a fan. *Cough* Play Bourjos not Wells.
Albert “No El Hombre” Pujols: Envisioning your first season with the Angels I thought about the worst case scenario and imagined this season. Only thing, I imagined it happening 4 years into your contract. This is beyond worst case right now. Get your act together. You deserved to get booed at home.
Bobby Abreu: Thanks for leaving (whoops you didn’t have a choice)
Vernon Wells: Break something, please. Please. PLEASE.
Mike Trout: Thank you. Thank you for being decent so far. Thank you. I don’t think the fan base could have handed you struggling too. While you’re at it, could you lead our offense as a 20 year old? Yes a team with Albert Pujols is asking you to be burdened with this task. But, I think you’re up to it.
Dipoto: You chose the right player to extend in Howie, then you got all extension happy and Aybar’s gonna be here too long. If you trade Bourjos I will disown you.
Peter Bourjos: It’s not your fault. Peter, Peter listen, it’s not your fault. It’s not your fault. Peter, it’s not your fault.
Erick Aybar: Start hitting, you’re better than this, not much, but you are.
Mark Trumbo: You are in one hell of a crappy situation. You should get everyday playing time with the rest of them (except Vernon).
Torii Hunter and Howie Kendrick: You’re doing your job and that’s all I can ask.
The Bullpen (not Scott Downs): You sons of *#I)#(*&)%&)#. Sorry. Didn’t mean that. Frustration took over. Working on the temper these days.
Scotty Downs: Can you pitch three consecutive innings after Haren or Wilson extend their pitch count please?
Mickey Hatcher: Please see Mr. Trump in his office.
Jered Weaver: Straight up ballin. Keep it going, Cy is calling, I can hear him down the road. I like you even more because you’re not Jeff and if you were Jeff right now we might be the Twins.
Arte: Almost time to go all Steinbrenner on these guys.
Chris Iannetta: I hate you for getting hurt. An offense catcher with regular playing time, never thought I’d see the day with Scioscia at the helm. Now its gone again…
Bobby Wilson: You look like a power hitter, but you’re not. What’s up with that?
John Hester: I don’t know much about you, but I’d recommend trying to draw a walk during your AB’s. Someone has got to make up for No El Hombre.
C.J. Wilson: Living up to every bit of the hype and I’m diggin’ it.
Ernesto Frieri: We need you to be something that no other Angels relief pitcher has been this year. Semi-decent and healthy.
Ervin Santana: You didn’t expect this team to score runs for you, did you? *Scoff*
Jerome Williams: You’ve shown enough good to have a spot until at least the All-Star break. Seriously, there’s no one down there going to take your spot.
Alberto Callaspo: Dude you’re probably the most underrated lower-tier player in the league. Sorry there’s no space.
To the Team #2: Gotta say, it could be worse. Surprised to look at the standings and see we’re 3rd in the West. Things are looking up, and there’s time left. However, you can only say it’s early for so long. I’m still cheering, and I always will, you guys just need to start justifying it this season.
Check out the interactive chart over at FanGraphs.
Jim Abbott has got to be one of the best stories to ever grace a baseball field. A man with one hand won a Gold medal in the Olympics and was drafted in the first round the following year. He completely skipped the minor leagues. He went on to throw a no-hitter and pitch for 10 seasons. He just wrote an autobiography with Tim Brown. He was my favorite player growing up and stories like his got me started in loving baseball.