Prepare For Yu Darvish

nice face, stupid

Back in 2007, the Seattle Mariners didn't face Daisuke Matsuzaka in his Major League debut. In his Major League debut, Matsuzaka struck out ten Royals in seven innings, although in fairness that was a Royals offense with Emil Brown batting cleanup. The Mariners faced Matsuzaka in his Fenway debut his next time out, and I think we all have fond memories of that evening. Except for that one memory of J.D. Drew being a party pooper lil bitch. In front of so many millions of eyes, the story went from being about Matsuzaka vs. Ichiro to being about Felix Hernandez. The story actually remained about Matsuzaka vs. Ichiro overall, but for us, it became about Felix Hernandez. He was so good!

You may prepare for a very similar experience. By the skin of his teeth, Yu Darvish qualified for the Texas Rangers' starting rotation, and he's going to make his regular-season Major League debut on Monday, April 9. More importantly for them, that'll be a Rangers home game, and more importantly for us, the Rangers' opponent will be the Mariners. In a way, the Mariners got to break in Matsuzaka; now they get to break in the latest Japanese hotshot.

There won't be quite the same level of drama, because Ichiro and Darvish were never opponents in Japan, the way Ichiro and Matsuzaka were. Ichiro probably won't come out with another classic quotation about fire and zeal. But the game's going to get...a lot of attention, here and elsewhere, as people will want to see how Darvish handles himself, and as they'll be curious about the Ichiro showdown.

With luck, the Mariners will once again steal the show. They probably will not. I'm pretty sure the plan is to start Felix against the A's again next Friday, and that would leave him unavailable for the following Monday. Which would mean it would be a non-Felix starter opposing Darvish and the Rangers, which would put the M's at a colossal disadvantage. But it's one game, and you never know when Chone Figgins will hit his home run. The odds are against the Mariners here, but the odds aren't close to zero.

If you want to make too much of too little, Darvish has seven walks in nine spring innings, so he might be wild. He has better control than this, though, and against the Mariners I'm not sure how much that matters anyway. I'm counting on Darvish to be fantastically good, and the Mariners just had trouble with Bartolo Colon. The Darvish debut has the potential to be a special outing, if not a historic outing. If I always tell myself ahead of time that the Mariners will get no-hit in theory that should make the no-hitter less unpleasant.

I suggested on Twitter that the Mariners should just bunt against Darvish. Everybody, all the time, they should all just bunt. Totally spoil the evening. Sure, Darvish would probably end up with a no-hitter, but it wouldn't be a real no-hitter or a no-hitter anyone would celebrate, and God knows how many throwing errors he and the infield would commit. The Mariners might score more runs only bunting than if they swung away. Fans would hate it, viewers would hate it, umpires would hate it, the Rangers would hate it - in a way it would be like the Neil Hamburger of baseball strategies. "Oh, you want to enjoy Darvish's debut and evaluate his stuff? Too bad, we're bunting all of his pitches."

The whole bunting idea comes out of the fact that I don't expect the Mariners to be able to do anything. I'm resigned to the certainty that the game will be bad for us. The only way out is for the Mariners to try to make the game bad for everyone else and they presumably can't do that by hitting normally. Hence bunting. Alternatively they could all try standing obnoxiously close to the plate with their hands choked up to the middle of the bats. Something farcical.

I've been sleep-deprived for long enough that I don't know if this whole post is genius or terrible. In conclusion, the Mariners will face Yu Darvish in Yu Darvish's Major League debut, so you should prepare for that.

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