By Colin O'Keefe | May 22, 2012
Normally when I write articles, I have to have the hook first. It’s weird, but I have to have the intro before I write anything else. But with this post, which I’m writing in the morning, I’m a bit disconnected from the events’ prior. Of course, I can still remember everything that happened from last night’s glorious Mariners victory over the Rangers, but I can’t quite recall the specific emotions they evoked.
See, I was planning on writing a full post last night but the evening got away from me and I ended up passing out almost immediately following the game. But, as I was planning to write that post, I have some notes. Here are quick thoughts from those notes:
- The Mariners came in knowing Yu Darvish has not been the same Darvish since he debuted against them in early April. He’s been phenomenal. Ackley’s lead-off at-bat against Yu gave us a look at how he’s been so successful. When he’s spotting that fastball, he’s impossible to touch.
Tailing 93 MPH fastball on the black , tailing 94 MPH fastball on the black, 82 MPH slider with two feet of break at the knees. Looked like it was going to be a long night for the Mariners. Instead, it wasn’t, for the Mariners or Darvish.
- In that same inning, Ichiro came up with one out and Michael Saunders on first,and ripped a ball right down the first-base line. It screamed past the tarp and got jammed underneath the padding just enough for it to stick and force Nelson Cruz to run over and get it—allowing Saunders to score and Ichiro to end up on third base.
This whole time I’m yelling “Don’t touch it!” at the TV. Is this normal? I don’t know. Ever since this game—no, I’m sorry, that’s wrong, every game—I have to question the baseball intelligence and general awareness of M’s fans. Luckily, no one touched it. And, as Root Sports showed us later, one guy even held up his hands acknowledging he wasn’t allowed to touch the ball. Later in the game, he got hit right in the head by a ball he was allowed to grab. We know this because he went up to the TV people to tell his story. I don’t know why, but I found the whole backstory on this fascinating. Anywaay.
- In the bottom of the third, Eric Wedge had Michael Saunders bunt with a man on first and second with nobody out, following a Dustin Ackley walk. Of course, Mariners fans hated it. I don’t hate bunts as much because I always assume players can make the routine play and not screw it up, but whatever, not the point here.
One of the cardinal sins an online baseball fan—and especially a Mariners fan—can commit is results-based analysis. Have to wonder if this is what Eric Wedge was doing here, looking at Saunders recent results and not seeing that he’s scorched the ball the past few days. This is nit-picking, but that was my immediate reaction upon seeing the bunt.
- Josh Hamilton’s throw to third on the Ichiro single was hilarious. I don’t know where it came from but people love using Mickey Mantle as a comp nowadays. Maybe it’s just the crop of players around—Hamilton, Bryce Harper, etc—but it seems as though we never heard this in the past few years. Probably because no one’s Mickey Mantle—or Bryce Harper or Josh Hamilton for that matter—but it’s fun to jokingly think “Oh he’s Mantle, really?” when Hamilton lasers a ball into the back wall of the dugout.
- Following that big inning, Felix got a Hamilton groundout, an Adrian Beltre fly-out to right field and a Michael Young strikeout. After a very rough inning, Darvish was given the smallest of breaks and proceeded to walk the first three guys in the following frame. “Help his own cause” is a tired cliché used only when referring to offense, but this seems to be a time when Felix did just that.
- In the bottom of the fifth Justin Smoak faced off against Texas reliever Mark Lowe. These players were traded for each other. Or, more accurately, they were in the same trade.
If someone were to ask you now, if you’d trade Justin Smoak to get Mark Lowe back, you wouldn’t do it. But you’d think about it for longer than you’d like to as a Mariners fan.
- As many people have already said themselves, the Felix/Beltre banter is one of my very favorite things in the game. Most baseball writers, or many of the more advanced thinkers, despise narratives. So many times they’re forced, or adapted based on the results (I usually don’t mind this, most do), but sometimes they’re really there—and they’re great.
This friendly Felix Hernandez/Adrian Beltre rivalry is a narrative, and it’s one of the very best in baseball. And, honestly, narratives are why I enjoy baseball and other sports as much as I do.
Later today it’s Hector Noesi against Matt Harrison. Noesi’s a crapshoot but I just had to click on “M. Harrison” on the Mariners website to be sure his first name was Matt, so I’m not hating our chances.View comments