That game brought to you by sweet lady booze.
Biggest Contribution: Jose Vidro, +1.0%
Biggest Suckfest: Ryan Feierabend, -38.9%
Most Important At Bat: Ichiro strikeout, -1.8%
Most Important Pitch: Gonzalez double, -20.8%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -39.5%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -10.8%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +0.3%
46,340 people scrambled to buy tickets to see the Griffey ceremony today, and God bless 'em, that's all they got, and nothing more.
There ceremony itself was nice, and it was good to see Edgar again (along with Buhner, who seems to have a pretty free calendar this year), but given all the attention and the huge crowd, the Mariners couldn't have chosen a much worse day to put forth quite probably their most pathetic display of the season. The Cincinnati Reds are the worst team in baseball. They came into our house on what was an emotional night for the organization and the fans. And they beat us. By fifteen runs.
It's funny - I've been steaming mad all night long since the game got started, but my reasons in the first inning were completely different from my reasons towards the end. Due to a great deal of things going wrong, this was the most unwatchable first inning we've had in a long long time. To run down why:
(1) Awful, unforgivably bad umpiring. Ryan Feierabend was getting squeezed right off the bat, while Aaron Harang got to pitch to a zone twice the size. Aside from not giving Feierabend a single borderline call all day, Mike Winters decided to change things up and call balls on a few obvious strikes for no apparent reason other than to fuck with a youngster. As just one example, the second pitch of this sequence to Adam Dunn was determined to be high and away:
Again, that's one of many. Meanwhile, when the Mariners came to bat in the bottom half, Ichiro was called out on a slider that both Gameday and FSN's Pitch Tracker or whatever put as being several inches outside. That was the most egregious example, but the running theme seemed to be that Harang got the benefit of the doubt on borderline pitches while Feierabend didn't. Later in the first, third base umpire Bruce Froemming ruled that Raul Ibanez went around on a third strike when replays clearly showed that he held up without even coming that close to breaking the plane. The umpiring in the first was as bad as I've ever seen it, and the sole reason for Hargrove's dismissal. He, and we, had a legitimate beef.
(2) Awful, unforgivably bad defense. I'm not even talking about Sexson letting Griffey's grounder get under his falling colossus of a body. No, I'm talking about Ibanez again, the guy who seems to come up short on at least one or two catchable balls every game. With the bases loaded, two down, and a 1-0 score, Feierabend got Alex Gonzalez to hit a fly ball to left that for all intents and purposes should've gotten him out of the inning. Instead, Raul's bad jump and worse legs turned an out into a bases-clearing double. I assure you that I don't have some irrational bias against Raul Ibanez; I still believe in him as a hitter, and think he'd make a decent DH. But he is very clearly killing this team by taking the field every day and hurting a pitching staff that needs all the help it can get. Whatever range Raul used to have has completely deteriorated, to the point where I'm struggling to prove that he's even better than Manny freaking Ramirez. No fan should ever be put in that situation. Please, for the love of everything holy, get Adam Jones up here and push Raul to DH. You won't be sorry. There's just no possible way for that to make things any worse.
(3) Unusual and disagreeable fan behavior. I understand that the majority of people were there to see Griffey, and I'm glad that they were able to get their hands on tickets to see him in person. I'm totally fine with the signs, applause, and several standing ovations. That's all kosher. But booing Feierabend when he tried to pick off Brandon Phillips during Griffey's first at bat? Twice? And cheering when Griffey singled? Okay, I guess the latter makes a little sense - it was just the first inning, after all, and no runs scored on the play - but the booing really shouldn't have happened. It was very clear and very loud on the broadcast, and that's where I draw the line. No matter how many times Feierabend throws to first, Griffey's still going to get his at bat. Considering these people had been waiting eight years for Griffey to come back, you'd think they could've waited another ten seconds. And this was an anxious situation for Feierabend, too, and I can't imagine that having 46,000 fans in your own park boo your ass is very good for the ol' confidence. The booing was needless, and even worse, it left people less likely to boo Feierabend later on when he actually deserved it.
So that was our first inning. The whole thing put me in the foulest of moods, and watching the frame end with a swinging strikeout that wasn't only made it worse. With better umpiring and better defense, the worst-case scenario is that it's 1-0 Reds and the M's are still batting. Instead, it was 4-0, and we were off to the second.
And the second inning will henceforth be known as The Inning Where Excuses Stopped Applying. No matter how poorly you thought of our umpiring tonight, it just didn't make sense to complain about it anymore once it became abundantly clear that Feierabend had little interest in keeping it close. First Inning Feierabend got hosed. Second And Third Inning Feierabend was as bad a pitcher as any we've seen all year. It was 9-0 Cincinnati when Feierabend finally got pulled in the top of the third, and for as mad as I was at a few people in the first, now I was every bit as mad for different reasons. You know, the usual reasons for anger in a blowout. Angry at the pitcher, angry at the hitters, and angry at yourself for sticking around so long. No longer did it seem permissible to blame everything on Ibanez and the umpires because no longer were they the big contributors to the utter clusterfuck of a ballgame. They sucked, and we knew it, but by that point our anger at their suckage was old hat. The Mariners just weren't destined to make this a ballgame.
Somewhere around the third or fourth I wound up dozing off, waking up later to the sound of David Ross' second home run. In retrospect I should've turned off the volume before taking a nap, but if ifs and buts were candy and nuts, and all that. Instead of sleeping through the rest of the hilassacre, I paid for my mistake by waking up to one home run and soon thereafter watching another. The only consolation in the whole deal was watching Ryan Rowland-Smith make his Major League debut and strike out Griffey in his first at bat. Yeah, by that point it was 16-1, but I guarantee you the score was the last thing on Ryan's mind. That encounter's going to be replaying over and over in his head for as long as he lives, and I'm happy for him.
That turned out to be Griffey's last at bat, as the Reds pulled him from the game and sent most of the crowd back home. Going 1-5 with a trio of strikeouts probably wasn't the homecoming anyone had in mind, especially in a game like this; if the Mariners are going to lose by 15, they might as well have let Griffey go deep one or two times. God knows they pretty much let everyone else. Alas, it didn't happen, and since the next two games will presumably be closer, if it does happen, then that's going to get a really weird response. If you're a Mariners fan who's cheering for Griffey this series, how far do you go? What do you do if Griffey gives his team the lead in the eighth? I'm sure he'd understand if the fans turned hostile, but I don't know if this crowd has is in them. I'd be lying if I said I weren't curious, though.
When you send an unproven young lefty who's not yet ready for the Majors (although I assure you that Feierabend is better than this) up against one of the best pitchers in the NL, you're probably going to lose. So with that in mind, here's to forgetting all about the final score and going into tomorrow with a clean slate. The Reds are 18-40 in non-Harang starts for a reason. Washburn, Lohse, 7:05pm.