Today was kind of like that Simpsons episode where Marge and Homer tell the kids they're going to Disneyland, but then drive to the dentist. Only instead of thinking we were going to Disneyland we thought we were getting a day off from being lashed with a belt, and instead of a dental appointment we were taken to the friendly neighborhood colonoscopist. And the colonoscopist is Canadian and likes his new office and says he thinks he'll stick around for a while, and that you'll probably want to schedule another check-up exam in a few weeks. And all his instruments are cold and pointy and whirr like drills, and he can't wait to see how well they work on an actual human patient. Yeah, that's kind of what today was like.
Biggest Contribution: Ichiro, +0.1%
Biggest Suckfest: Miguel Batista, -36.5%
Most Important At Bat: Beltre DP, -3.2%
Most Important Pitch: Ellis double, -16.3%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -36.7%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -13.6%
One of the habits I've picked up over the past 3+ years of watching baseball and writing about it every day is keeping a pad of paper near my computer so I can jot down a lot of notes during the game to make the whole writing process a lot simpler later on. It's a good way to keep organized, remain interested, and make sure I don't forget anything funny or insightful that stood out to me during the broadcast. On a typical night, I cover one side of a page, and that's enough for a standard recap.
Today I wrote notes for all of about twelve or thirteen minutes before giving up and becoming resigned to the fact that this wasn't going to be much of a game to review. It looked like something straight out of 2006, the only difference being that at least this time we had an excuse for not scoring - Rich Harden was absolutely, 100% unhittable, almost as good as Felix was two days ago. That much was apparent as early as the first inning, and once Batista decided he didn't feel like participating in a pitcher's duel a little while later, all hope was lost. Harden stayed in a groove, Batista got smacked around, and the game got out of hand in the blink of an eye. Fairly standard, in the grand scheme of things. Ironic, really, that there wasn't any mystery to Batista's pitching. And yes, I'm 100% committed to running this joke so far into the ground that we bump into Vidro's batting average.
Look, on a night like this, there's only so much you can say about the game before you run out of material. The play was bad, the effort was worse, and the memorable moments were non-existent. The only thing that stood out was the seven-inning reminder of just how freaking good Rich Harden can be when he's not deliberately getting hurt to spite the organization (Rich Harden: not a team player. I'm just saying). I will maintain until my death that he's not as good as Felix, but those two guys are probably two of the top three starters in the American League, and if they're both able to stay healthy, this could be one hell of a Cy Young race. Given similar performances, it'd be a miracle for a West Coast guy to win it over Santana, but the potential for dominance just seeps out of these guys like bacon fat out of Vidro's pores, and on any given night you've got a chance of witnessing the best-pitched game of the season. We've all seen how many people there are out there who think Jered Weaver's a phenom, but he doesn't even compare to these two. Try to imagine a Harden/Felix showdown at the end of the summer with the division up for grabs. Epic.
Oh yeah, and the only other thing that really stood out to me during the game was the second inning, when a passing train laid on the horn for what felt like an eternity. It's one thing to hear a quick train horn once or twice; that's part of the Safeco ambiance, and everyone's used to it. It's quite another to hear the same horn for five or six consecutive minutes to the point where Jose Vidro can't even hear himself think about cheesecake. It didn't seem to elicit much concern on the part of the broadcasters, but for all we know, that train could've been in danger, the extended horn being its distressed cry for help. Attendance might've been down tonight because 20,000 people were run over on the tracks outside the stadium, but no one inside would've noticed, because at this point I'm pretty sure people just don't notice the horns anymore. I'm not sure what that means, but it can't be good news for the train horn manufacturing company.
In eager anticipation of a possible sweep to start the year, I decided to load up MLB.tv about 20 minutes early. Where a year ago that would've either (A) not been possible, or (B) led to a dull screen with muzak and nothing else happening, now it takes us to the set of a studio where a trimmed-down Andy Milonakis walks us through what happened the day before. "That's neat," I thought, until I started to get a little uncomfortable, because the guy seemed to be completely by himself, and he frequently made socially unacceptable eyes toward the camera. As if that weren't unsettling enough, the whole pregame deal started to loop, and every two or three minutes we were taken through the exact same highlights that we'd just seen before. You'd think it was a recording, but the guy in the studio seems just weird enough to be doing the whole thing live, deliberately looping his commentary and saying the same stuff about the same highlights over and over again because he's peculiar and tastes colors and has a running inner monologue that tells him to set things on fire. From this point forward I'm never loading my MLB.tv feed more than two minutes prior to game time.
And while we're on the topic of Things You Saw During The Pregame Show That You Wish You Didn't, I bring you Dave Sims' bike helmet/Kangol hybrid:
I hope to God it's a gift from one of his kids, because if he picked that thing out himself, we might actually have someone on the broadcast who's blinder than Niehaus.
Tomorrow's a travel day as the M's get set for a weekend series in Cleveland, which is borderline terrifying. Try not to let tonight's game get you down so early in the season, though. After all, there was a little good that came out of today - Sean White looked half-decent, Jose Vidro didn't trip and accidentally devour Felix Hernandez, and Yuniesky Betancourt got locked up crazylong-term, to the point where the team already has an option for his first year of free agency. Tonight was embarrassing, but you'd be surprised how good you can look after a while if you keep winning at a .667 pace against division rivals.
Happy off day. Ramirez and Byrd on Friday at 1:05pm PDT.