20 years from now, anyone who is a Mariners fan will remember how they watched Felix Hernandez dispatch the final 3 Tampa Bay Rays to pitch the 1st perfect game in team history. This video from the Jackson General, the Mariners AA team, is tough to beat.
Archive for the Category Mariners
Later tonight or tomorrow, I’ll get around to editing some of the notes I wrote from the game. Here are some pics in the meantime. Very surreal.
Ok, this graph took longer than I expected to pull together. So I hope everyone appreciates it.
The question is whether Ichiro has ANY chance at getting to 200 hits. By my count, as of Sunday 8/14, he has 133 hits thru 119 Mariner games, an average of about 1.12 hits per game. That pace gets him to about 181 hits total.
So, my math says he has 43 more games to get 57 hits, an average of 1.56 hits per game. For comparison, if you got 1.56 hits per game over a 162 game schedule, you’d end the season with 252 hits. Now, he’s been averaging 4.18 AB per game, so at that same rate, he’d need to hit .373. So, it is a doable feat for someone like Ichiro.
However, here’s the bad news. In 2011, the highest hits per game he’s averaged is about 1.4 per game. So, he basically needs to have a traditional “Ichiro-like” stretch for 43 games, in a season when he has never been “Ichiro-like.”
In the charts below, here’s what you get:
- Green line is the day to day pace anyone would need to be on to get to 200 hits.
- Red line is his actual day to pace thru 2011 to date, and then the pace he needs to accelerate to.
- Blue line is his projected season hit total over 162 games, calculated by the number of hits he had at that point in the season.
- Ichiro’s Average hits per game.
- What Ichiro needs to accelerate to on a hits per game basis in order to get to 200.
Let me know if you have any questions. Math is hard.
Last Friday, a Major League Baseball team did an unprecedented thing. They celebrated another sports franchise. Even odder, in this case, it was a former franchise.
The Seattle Mariners didn’t make any new friends in David Stern’s office by providing the city it’s first chance to collect 16 legends from a team that no longer exists, and get them together for a tribute. And odd as it may seem, the Mariners may have been the most logical host for this type of party.
The Mariners were just entering Major League Baseball while the Sonics were having their first glory days in the late 1970′s. And then the two teams shared the job of electrifying the sports community in the mid 1990′s.
So for 30 brief minutes, a baseball stadium full of Green and Gold celebrated what we miss about the Sonics. We miss the people, the characters. We miss guys with nicknames like The Glove, The Reign Man, Slick, X-Man, Sleepy Sam, the Hawk, and Downtown. Guys who were recognizable by first name only – Nate, Lenny, Detlef, Dale, Bernie, Vincent and Desmond. We miss Michael Cage’s giant afro, Jack Sikma’s freakishly large frame, and George Karl’s Space Needle tie.
I appreciate what Jack Zurencik and Pete Carroll are doing by flipping over the entire rosters of the M’s and Hawks. But a team achieves cult status and hero worship when there’s a core group of players that you root for. You wanted Gary to get a ring. You knew that Hersey Hawkins could score 6 more points a night if he played somewhere else, but you loved he was bombing three’s for us. There was something about George and Nate that made you think you could ask them to dinner and they’d say yes.
The Schultz led Sonics never quite got that. And tellingly, no one from the last 5 years of the franchise were represented as a Sonics legend. It’s true, we didn’t adore the 2003-2008 versions of the Sonics that got rid of Gary. Ray Allen is the best 3 point shooter of all time, but he wasn’t Det. Nene, Robert Swift, Jermoe James, insert big stiff here….. none of them were Cage, Brickowski, Sikma, Lister or Perkins. When they left for OKC, we mourned the loss of the guys who didn’t actually play anymore.
I still don’t think we care all that much about bringing back a generic NBA Sonics club that looks like any other NBA club. But that doesn’t make us miss “Our Sonics” any less. Ask any sports fan in Seattle, and they can tell you where they watched Game 5 vs Denver, Game 7 vs Houston, Game 7 vs Phoenix and Game 7 vs Utah. You don’t even have to say the year. We all just know what games you’re referring to. There was a connection to those guys – not to the franchise, but to the guys – that made you happy when they won, hurt when you lost, and want to fight anyone from Phoenix.
So good for the Mariners for bringing back those guys. I hope their front office took note. It’s not about rally fires or a moose. Bring in players who are also great characters, let us connect with them over a long period, and we’ll come back to Safeco.
Now, to understand where this article comes from, you’ll probably have to have known me for a few decades. So if you didn’t know me in 1988, you’ll need to imagine two high school kids going to a Mariners game, buying $3 GA tix, going up those big grey ramps at the Kingdome, and climbing the fence that separated the good ramp from the bad ramp. Fast forward a few years later, when a friend (who I won’t identify) created fake press passes. We were able to get into Mariners games for a few years before the jacka$$ screwed it up. (And that’s a different story.)
So what I’m saying is, I believe that a team should let its real fans support it, even if they can’t afford to. And the entire experience about attending a ball game should be about FAN EXPERIENCE. No more no less.
Now, baseball is kind of unique because it is something passed down from generation to generation. People like or dislike baseball when they are 3 years old because their parents like or dislike baseball. And their parents like or dislike baseball because of their parents and etc… In the grand scheme of things, the Seattle Mariners marketing department has really had little impact on whether I like baseball or not.
Which leads me to my issue.
I’ve shared season tickets since 1996. I really don’t care that much that the team has stunk for 10 or 11 of those 15 years. It’s just something I pay each year, like insurance, energy bills and gas. I own a little piece of real estate inside Safeco Field. I go to my little 2 seat condo every 6th game, pay too much for a beer, and just enjoy my 3 hours. And for 15 years or so, it’s been realtively peaceful.
So enter 2011. On one hand, I’m excited again. I’ve seen Pineda and Felix throw gems. I’ve watched the Yankees and Phillies. Dustin Ackley hit a home run. Life is exciting. What could I possible complain about?
Ushers. Yes ushers. Or more accurately, ushers crushing fans. Ushers becoming part of MY game experience. Ushers who seem endorsed by the Mariners to make the ballpark experience kind of stink.
We sit right next to the VIP section – scouts, wives, execs, etc…. And most of the time, NO ONE sits in these seats. I mean, no one. Mariner wives seemed to be on a collective cruise in April and May, because they sure weren’t at Safeco. And you didn’t see many scouts around charting Milton Bradley, Ryan Langerhans, or Michael Saunders.
Now the last 3 games I’ve attended, I’ve lost at least a half-inning each game as the same Mariners usher booted people who were minding their own business. Incident #1: A group of 10 boisterous fans who were spending a fair amount of money at the concession stand on beer. I give them full credit. They recognized that there were a bunch of kids sitting near them in their assigned seats in Sec 128. So as a group, they moved ONE section over to Sec 129, where there were 80-120 empty seats, so they could enjoy themselves without disturbing the kids. I think that’s heads-up fan behavior. And for this act of courtesy, they got booted. For being in the wrong seats. Because in the 7th inning, there was still the chance that one of the wives would be showing up.
Incident #2: Two fans are discussing the poor performance of Chone Figgins in 2011. I’m not sure this is really a debatable point. But there was one woman who took offense – Figgins’ fiance. Not his mom, not even his wife. His fiance didn’t appreciate that someone who was actually at the game, had noticed that the guy wasn’t exactly earning the money he was spending on her Gucci purse. So, the fans got booted. Apparently, you aren’t allowed to talk poorly about a player having a poor year if his fiance is in the same section as you.
Incident #3: 4 Phillies fans have tickets in Sec 129, row 30. Now, that row is super cramped, so they shoot forward 4 rows to Row 26, where only a couple of people are sitting. One of the Phillies fans starts a debate with a Mariners fan about how much better the Phillies have been since 2001 than the Mariners. Again, I’m not sure how this is debatable. The best response from the Mariners fan should have been, “But you live in Philadelphia. I’m actually glad the Phillies exist so you have a reason to get up every day.” Instead, they got booted. Apparently debate between fans isn’t allowed at Safeco either.
So my question… I love baseball. I like to go to a game and experience it the way fans in other cities do. But, do I need to just accept that the Mariners VIP’s have thin skin? Or is this uber-usher out of line for continually looking for people to boot?
For all you M’s and Niehaus fans.
It’s a cold, miserable gray day, which is fitting given the reason we are all congregating together.
I’m not sure what to expect when I park my car in the Mariners lot south of the stadium, walk down the stairs, and cross the street to the southwest corner of the stadium.
We’ve all been to this place a hundred times, but never with our heads full of these emotions or these thoughts. We’ve never entered this place without knowing what to expect, or not knowing how to act.
It doesn’t take very long to realize this is going to be a tough environment to maintain composure. Right at the front gate, a small memorial has been created. Notes and flowers from fans, a few rye bread, salami and mustard sandwiches, and some handwritten notes from fans to Dave Niehaus, the man they are here to pay respects to. There’s a large posterboard from Seattle’s biggest fan, Big Lo, “I put away the Mustard, I put away the rye, I put away my Mariners shirt, and now the My oh My. Thank you Dave. You will be missed.”
It’s hard to stare too long at any one item, or even the shrine, for fear of losing it. And so I go inside the stadium, foolishly thinking it could possibly be less emotional inside the actual temple of the game itself.
Inside it’s dark, and just as cold. The roof is closed. There’s really only one thing to see – the line. A single file line starts at home plate, extends on the edge of the field parallel to the first base line, makes a right turn at 1st base and heads up to the concourse, where it makes another right turn and goes back toward home plate, then down the 3rd base concourse, and all the way down to left field.
The crowd is made up of fans of all ages. 60 year olds who saw the first game in the Kingdome, 7 year olds who don’t know why their parents have brought them. Men, women, couples, they are all represented.
The place is pretty quiet – it’s hard to talk when you are biting on your lip. You hear a few memories being shared. But mostly we all just wait in line. It gives us a lot of time to reflect. There’s no rationale for the 2 hours we’ll meander in line, just to get a few seconds in front of a makeshift memorial at home plate.
But this death is bigger than a memorial for a single man, a single icon. It’s an inflection point in the lives of all baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest. Baseball is unique, because when we walk in a stadium to watch a lousy 2010 Mariners team, we’re not really there for Michael Saunders. We’re there to remember and share stories about the time we saw Ken Griffey’s first Mariners at bat, or when we jumped fences to get out of the $3.00 General Admission section, or when we ignored our dates the last 3 innings of Randy Johnson’s no-hitter.
When we weren’t at the game, listening to Dave reminded us that we needed to get back to the stadium soon, that we were missing out by doing whatever else we were doing.
But more importantly, listening to Dave put us back in a place when it was ok to bring our glove to the game. Because we listened to Dave when a 7pm game meant having your mom pick up your 3 friends at 4pm so we could be there for batting practice at 5pm.
And so now we’ll have two eras – Dave and Post-Dave. The Post-Dave era begins now, a definitive moment on a timeline that we hoped would be infinite. We all had to grow up a little while we stood in that line. For folks my age, our baseball grandfather had passed away. The connection between us and the grand old stories of baseball past.
We don’t get to pretend we’re young anymore. The grand old stories of the past now include 1995, Gaylord Perry and Diego Segui, and we’ve suddenly become the caretakers of them. We’re not learners anymore, we’re teachers, and I’m not sure I was ready for that switch.
But back to Safeco for a moment, where nearly 2 hours after beginning my trip in line, I get to the makeshift shrine. It has some fantastic pieces of history, including the scorebook from the first game, and Dave’s Hall of Fame plaque. And I don’t know what to do. Do I take a picture? Do I smile? What’s the respectful thing to do? what I want to do is just stand and absorb everything I’m feeling, and channel it into some sort of productive emotion. But there are another 1000 people behind me in line, so I have but seconds, not the hours I would need.
Dave’s family stands next to the shrine, along with his long-time broadcast partner Rick Rizzs. I can’t even imagine what it must be like to stand there for 4 hours and shake hands with 3,500 people you’ve never met, all of whom want to share the pain of your loss, even though they’ve never met the man themselves. It must be the most complex, insane, yet gratifying feeling to see how many people cared about a person you were so close to.
The whole of the two hours was too much for me, and while I don’t break down inside the stadium, the sheer force of trying to control those emotions probably wrecks my psyche for a week. But it is clear I am not alone in my struggles. Everywhere I look, grown men are looking away at walls or the ceiling, in an obvious attempt to hide their wet eyes from their wives, sons and grandkids. Women are more willing to let the tears flow.
And then it is time to leave. I want to stay longer, because the next time I enter the stadium it will feel different. It won’t be the same safe house from my memories, and all connection to the Kingdome will be lessened. The next time I come in, it will be someone else’s house, with a different spirit, a different feel.
Eventually, reluctantly, slowly, I walk out of the stadium. I pass the shrine again. And I cross the street without looking back.