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Your quick Friday night recap...

Biggest Contribution: Jamie Moyer, +27.9%
Biggest Suckfest: Jose Lopez, -4.6%
Most Important Hit: Dobbs single, +12.9%
Most Important Pitch: Chavez popout, +10.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +30.0%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +18.4%

(What is this?)

When it's this late in a terrible season, you don't so much watch the games to see the team win as you do watch for specific events that make it all worthwhile. 364 days ago, I stood alone in my dorm room, applauding Ichiro for his 258th hit of the season. Two days later, I stood and applauded again, expressing my gratitude and appreciation for everything Edgar did for Seattle. Today, I gave my third standing ovation to Dan Wilson, whose Mariner career came to an emotional end in the top of the second inning.

I don't remember the final score of either game I mentioned from last October. Nor, I imagine, will I remember how tonight's game ended in a few weeks. That's not what I'm going to take away from all this. What I'll remember is how Dan Wilson, fighting back tears, slowly walked to the mound to give Jamie Moyer a hug before leaving the field, with nary a dry eye in the house. I'll remember all the handwritten posterboard signs in the seats thanking Dan for everything he did. I'll remember how he tipped his cap to the fans on his way to the dugout, and how he responded to his curtain call without lingering for a second too long. That Dan Wilson was never one to hog the spotlight. And lastly, I'll remember Dan and his son congratulating the team on the field after the victory, knowing that I'd never see Wilson as a player again in my life, and knowing that it must have been a thousand times harder for him.

It's funny - you can reduce a guy to a simple series of numbers all you want, analyzing his performance on the field to your heart's content, but when the time comes for him to call it a career, you can't help but get sentimental. We saw it with Edgar, we saw it with Boone, and we're seeing it with Wilson. Show me a guy who's able to completely separate human emotions from baseball, and I'll show you a guy who's missing out on the central enjoyment of the game. We can do as much analysis as we damn well please, but when it comes to be gametime, we all turn into rabid fans. Nobody's talking about VORP or EqA or Win Shares when Richie Sexson comes to bat with the bases loaded - all anyone's thinking is that Richie hits a ton of home runs, and that this would be a good time to hit one. And these are the moments that stick in peoples' heads. You can talk about the numbers all you want, but if you meet a guy who thinks that Yuniesky Betancourt is one of the most exciting players in the league because he tripled in his ML debut, that's what he's going to keep on thinking.

So it is with Wilson. He may not have had a particularly stellar career, but people will always remember him for the things he did - a few clutch singles, a few caught basestealers, a few blocked balls in the dirt, and so on - rather than for the things he didn't. And it doesn't hurt that Dan was one of the kindest, most genuine people in baseball. We can make fun of how the Mariners seem to consider fan-friendliness when they build their roster, but that doesn't take away from the fact that guys like Wilson, Moyer, Edgar, and others really are good people who deserve to be recognized as such. I couldn't tell you what percentage of the applause tonight was out of reconigition of Wilson's being a good person, rather than a good player, but I'm sure that neither fraction is very small.

A brief career retrospect:

  • .262/.309/.382 batting line

  • 1299 games played

  • 1996 American League All Star

  • 42 career passed balls

  • 33.5% rate of basestealers thrown out

  • Four .400+ SLG seasons

  • Top fielding percentage (.995) by any catcher in league history

  • 312 career extra-base hits

  • Most games played by any Mariner catcher in team history

  • Best overall catcher in Mariner team history
I'll miss you, Dan. You were the last remaining link to the Mariner team I grew up following. I remember hitting 43 home runs in a season with you in World Series Baseball '94. I always knew you'd never turn into some crazygood masher, but that was part of the fun - you'd just quietly go about your business and chip in big hits when the other team least expected it. You've caught some of the most important games in franchise history. And hey, you were the only way I could get my mom interested in watching a game without falling asleep (I suspect you've heard this one a lot). You were the total package, Dan, and a class act to boot. Thank you.

There was more to the game, but who cares? This was Dan Wilson's night. There are still another two games left for everyone else. That said, I will mention that the following was overheard during the feed:

And now it's time for the Jack Daniels seventh inning stretch.

They aren't kidding.

Joe Blanton and Jeff Harris tomorrow at 1:05pm PDT.