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10/8/95, Revisited

After all, what better way is there to pass an off day than by reminiscing about the better days of yore? Especially with this being the 10th anniversary season and all. I'd be remiss not to post this chart. And so, your ALDS Game 5:

(Box score)

Biggest Contribution: Ken Griffey Jr., +41.7%
Biggest Suckfest: Andy Benes, -21.7%
Most Important Hit: Martinez double, +38.6%
Most Important Pitch: Velarde single, -26.7%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -25.2%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +58.9%

It's funny: everybody remembers this game as the one with The Double - y'know, that hit that might've saved baseball in Seattle - and as the one time where the lineup got Randy Johnson off the hook, instead of the other way around. What a lot of people don't remember is Randy getting out of a two-on-no-out jam in the ninth without allowing a run, or Doug Strange standing still to draw the game-tying walk off David Cone an inning earlier, or even Joey Cora hitting just his fourth homer of the year to give the Mariners a slim early lead. You probably also don't remember just how close the M's came to losing this game - after Don Mattingly's two-run double in the sixth, Andy Benes intentionally walked Dion James to load the bases with one out, but got Mike Stanley and Tony Fernandez to pop out to end the inning without any further damage. Later, in the 11th, Cora came remarkably close to running out of the basepaths in order to avoid a tag on his leadoff infield single, and Griffey's single that followed might've been a double play on natural grass.

The Double, on the most basic level, was a big series-winning hit that sent the Mariners to the LCS for the first time in franchise history. More than anything else, though, it remains a symbol of the Refuse to Lose attitude adopted by the team and the city during the miracle late-summer charge. It's what turned Edgar Martinez into a local hero and a national name, something that would've stuck with him even had he spent the rest of his career as an average player.

Some people will tell you that the Mariners need to stop thinking about the past and start looking to the future, that parading a bunch of members of that '95 team onto the field before a game is more of a ruse or a distraction than anything else. However, The Double, and the context of the season around it, is something to be celebrated - we may never have another Double, or another Edgar Martinez, so it's important to recognize the achievements of that team and the impact it had on the city before it's forgotten.

The Double was, and remains, a franchise-defining event, unparalleled by any other play. The shock, the excitement, the chills you still get to this day from listening to Dave Niehaus' call - after all, it wasn't The Sac Fly, or The Hit By Pitch. It was Edgar doing what Edgar did best at a time when the team needed it more than ever before.

The Double is why we still watch a miserable team play miserable baseball 162 times a year.

Never forget.