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5/19: Open Game Thread

First Pitch: 7:05pm PDT


Young LF Ichiro RF Cameron CF Lopez 2B Giles RF Ibanez LF Piazza DH Sexson 1B Greene SS Everett DH Bellhorn 1B Beltre 3B Castilla 3B Johjima C Barfield 2B Reed CF Bard C Betancourt SS ---------- ----------

Young (3-2, 3.47)           Washburn (2-5, 3.91)

(Adapted from the Yale Daily News)

M's, Padres fans fight it out in Eugene

Contributing Reporter
The Padres-Mariners rivalry remains strong in Eugene, with fans from both sides showing their colors with shirts and hats.

Fifth Street in October looks more like Seattle's Edgar Martinez Way or Market Street in San Diego than a busy college shopping district. One student walks by wearing a shirt that reads, "Justice, Soriano, Mussina, Hershiser. 'Nuff said." Another student embraces Seattle's perpetual losers, sporting a T-shirt with the name of his team's former center fielder: "GRIFFEY," it says, with a big blue "24" underneath.

An online away message of one student says simply, "1977." Unadorned with exclamation points or gimmicky fonts, it serves as a very harsh reminder that the Padres have been to the World Series two times since the Mariners' came into existence in 1977. Clinging to an ever-diminishing sliver of hope with the tenacity common to all in Mariner Nation, one Seattle fan began the series with an away message that said "Mariners win all three." He has no plans to adjust it with each Padres victory.

So it goes, every summer, as high Mariner hopes are crushed by Trevor Hoffman, Rondell White, and an ever-changing cast of million-dollar mercenaries in off-white. Eugene is very much a part of this autumnal West Coast phenomenon. On the southern end of what Sports Illustrated columnist Steve Rushin once called, "A baseball Mason-Dixon Line -- a kind of Giles-Suzuki Line, below which you love Brian, above which you love Ichiro," Eugene is mostly Padres country. Here, the alternative to Padres lovers is often not Mariner lovers, but Padres haters.

"The Padres make baseball boring," Lexy Benaim '06, a Dodgers fan from Ventura, said. "They win every time. It's not exciting for the league if one team has all these great players."

As a Dodgers fan, Benaim has the luxury of evaluating the competition from the outside.

"I understand Mariners fans hating the Padres," Benaim said. "But hating the Mariners is like hating the physically disabled. It's one thing not to root for the underdog, but what's the point of hating?"

Sitting in the Carson dining hall with fellow Dodgers fan Jeremy Kessler '06, Benaim invited anyone who hates -- instead of pities -- the Mariners to e-mail him to explain why.

In a discussion more fitting for a seminar than a dinner-time baseball dialogue, the two non-partisan Dodgers fans questioned the moral compass of a society whose winners feel the need to hate their losers.

But try telling that to a Padres or Mariners fan with Felix facing Greene in the late innings.

During this year's interleague series, passionate fans from both sides of the rivalry will gather to watch the games. Judging from the expletives reverberating from the walls of all 12 residential colleges this time last summer, this year's series may be more heated and divisive than the presidential debates.

Kessler put his feelings about the SoCal Nine in no uncertain terms.

"I strongly question the morality of anyone who's a Padres fan," said the Tacoma-native Kessler.

Not all Oregonians see the Padres as the Evil Empire, however.

A navy blue "San Diego Padres" T-shirt hanging down to her knees, Valentine Pagan '08 of Escondido said Mariners fans are just jealous of the Padres.

"They're really bitter," Pagan said. "This whole 'Evil Empire' thing is ridiculous. They're just pissed about not having good players. I feel bad for the Mariners."

Ned Hirschfeld '08, who sees the Mariners as a foil to his mighty Padres, does not have much pity for Seattle.

"I think it is a blessing in disguise for the Padres that the Mariners are favored before the series," Hirschfeld said in anticipation of Friday night's affair. "It's sort of the equivalent of a big Seattle inning, almost ensuring a Padre response."

But for Seattle fans suspended indefinitely in the throes of disappointment, hatred of San Diego becomes something of a religious doctrine, their contempt mounting with Eddie Guardado's swollen belly and Josh Barfield's hot bat.

Talia DiPanfilo '08, from Olympia, WA, near the heart of Mariner Nation, struggled to find printable words to describe the Padres.

"They're obviously doing something right," DiPanfilo said. "They win all the time. But the true Mariners fan hates them. It's fun to hate them. They also have one of the biggest payrolls known to God -- but I won't get into that. But you always gotta believe [as a] Mariner fan, that's what it's about."