July 7th: After tossing eight innings of two-hit, no-run ball against the A's, Felix gives credit to Dave's open letter to Rafael Chaves for helping encourage him to mix up his pitches.
I was at a wedding in Boston and drunk off my ass on the dance floor when I got a text from Dave. Felix shut out the A's. And he thanked the Internet for helping him do it.
At first, I stared at my phone all squinty-like for a few minutes, trying to figure out if the text really said what I thought it said at first reading. You know how it is when you've had a few drinks and you're faced with tiny letters. It's kind of like a Magic Eye puzzle, only with words instead of trees or a battleship.
My first reading turned out to be right. It's difficult to convey how I felt when the message finally sank in. What I can say for sure is that I sobered up quicker than Player A didn't. But that was only temporary, and on a bigger scale it was more like I went from a trance of inebriation to a trance of novel delight, wherein I could hardly wrap my head around what had taken place. I found this whole situation to be nearly unfathomable. Really? I mean, really?
There's a whole story in here about how this was the first case of a Major League Baseball player giving credit to a blog, and what it could mean for the future of the medium. But that's not why I find the moment to be so memorable, and I'm sure the same goes for Dave. Rather, the reason this is so high on the countdown is because Dave and I just found it to be so unbelievably awesome. We'd been trying for ages to get Dave's research in front of the right people, but I don't think we at any point imagined that it'd get anywhere. So for Felix to come right out and give credit to the Internet for helping...it was a feeling like none other that we've ever had. To pour your heart and soul into analyzing a team for years and years, expecting nothing in return, and then to learn that you've actually made a tangible impact is unthinkably incredible (and please note that I'm referring mostly to Dave here, since this could've happened without me, but couldn't have happened without him).
Talk about an effective way to rejuvenate a blogger's driving spirit.
Obviously, there's an important question here regarding the precedent this sets. If the door's been opened even the slightest bit for Major Leaguers to start listening to blogs, is that actually a good thing? I'm not sure. In certain situations I can see how it could help, but it's a dangerous slippery slope. There's a reason bloggers are writing as a hobby instead of a job. I'm not even sold that Dave's open letter necessarily had a positive long-term impact, since last year Felix went from throwing his fastball too much to not throwing it enough. There may be merit to the idea that professional concerns are best left to the professionals paid to handle them.
But regardless of what this means for the future - if anything - we'll always have the memory of July 7th, 2007. For one day, the Mariner blogosphere was the center of attention. For one day, the Mariner blogosphere made a difference. For one day, the Mariner blogosphere helped Felix find his crown.
And I think that's pretty cool.