Most of the time I can't wait for Seattle's annual visit to the Bark Park, because it gives me one of my only opportunities to actually see my team in person. This year, though, with the Mariners sinking and the Padres also sinking at a rate that is similar to but less than that of the Mariners, I just couldn't get myself up. Going downtown felt like more of an obligation than a privilege, and for the first time in as long as I can remember I bought my ticket at the window rather than online a month or three ahead of time. I was just in no mood to pay money to watch Jarrod Washburn try to win a game for the worst team in baseball against one of the other worst teams in baseball.
But there's a funny thing about actually being inside a stadium. Maybe it was just because I was wearing the visitor's jersey and felt compelled to get a little competitive, but as soon as the game started, I was into it. Every last pitch. I haven't paid this much attention to a Mariners game in months, and you know what? Even though I knew the win jeopardized our standing in the Strasburg Sweepstakes, it still felt damn good. Baseball is baseball, and the league wouldn't be as popular as it is if one needed a successful team to enjoy it.
Biggest Contribution: Adrian Beltre, +19.4%
Biggest Suckfest: Yuniesky Betancourt, -12.3%
Most Important AB: Ibanez single, +12.9%
Most Important Pitch: Headley homer, -8.9%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +30.5%
Total Contribution by Lineup: +10.9%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +8.6%
(What is this chart?)
- The key to watching Jarrod Washburn is to watch him from afar. Up close, or on TV, or on Gameday, it's easy to see just how little stuff he has, and just how easy he is to punish. But he's not all that bad if you're watching from the right field bleachers - especially if he's facing a crappy lineup - because all pitches look good from a distance, and he throws strikes and works at a quick pace, so even when he's getting slapped around it never quite feels like he's laboring. I might even go so far as to suggest that Jarrod Washburn is HFFA. Miguel Batista is not.
- That said, Jarrod Washburn becomes considerably less appealing when it's a 4-2 game in the bottom of the eighth and there's a runner on third and he's being left in the game to face Adrian Gonzalez despite already having thrown 114 pitches. I was dumbfounded. RRS was warmed up and ready to go. It was a move so obvious even Jim Riggleman could make it, only Jim Riggleman couldn't make it, presumably for some super bullshit old-timey reason like "Jarrod said he'd get him" or "I saw the fire in his eyes". To Jarrod/the team's credit, they decided to intentionally walk Gonzalez after falling behind 2-1 (the league average .740 OPS hitter puts up an .851 OPS after a 2-1 count), but I couldn't believe they were at any point willing to take their chances. Impossibly dumb for a team that I can only imagine is far less enamored with losing than I am.
- The Padres PA guys play Come On See The Show by Emerson, Lake and Palmer before every game. You know, that one song that begins "Welcome back my friends/to the show that never ends." Padres fans can only hope this isn't a promise, but given the duration of some of their extra-inning contests so far, the team appears to take the lyrics rather seriously.
You could sort of make a table about this:
Good & Fast Good & Slow Bad & Fast Bad & Slow
Fans want their teams to occupy the upper left as often as possible. The upper right is okay, especially if you like the Red Sox or Yankees, while the bottom left at least saves you the indignity of committing yourself to a waste of time for entirely too long. The bottom right, though - that's the danger zone. You don't ever want to be in the bottom right. The bottom right is Miguel Batista vs. Steve Trachsel with Ichiro on the bench and rain in the forecast. Rather than a show that never ends, I think the fans in San Diego would be better off with pledges of intended brevity. Everybody just leaves in the seventh inning anyway.
- The national anthem was sung by Sha Na Na. I was going to make a joke about this until I realized they went ahead and saved me the trouble.
- Adrian Beltre: two weakly-hit groundball singles, one lineout. Even when his luck starts to turn he still gets it in the shorts.
- Brandon Morrow started three of the four batters he faced with offspeed stuff. Unfortunately all three pitches missed, but this still speaks to the newfound level of confidence he has in his non-fastball offerings. A year ago he started 73% of hitters off with the heater; this year it's down to 65%. It can't hurt that later in the count, even when the hitters are expecting a fastball, they still have that first pitch offspeed lingering in the back of their minds. With Morrow throwing as hard as he does, a split second of indecision is enough to cost a guy an at bat. Just ask Chase Headley.
- This was the wrong day to extoll the virtues of Randy Wolf. The Mariners worked him in a way that I don't ever remember them working another pitcher. In 3.1 innings, he threw 97 pitches. 97 pitches! There were baserunners and long AB's out the wazoo, and what's better is that the hitters kept it up even after the Padres went to the bullpen. Games like this are fun to watch at the time, although they become a curse when for 98% of the rest of the games all you do is yell at the lineup for not exercising the same level of discipline as you saw them do once. Granted, three of the nine walks were intentional, but still. From where I sat, the Mariners were making them work, which is most unusual.
- The Padres have a couple mascots. They of course have the one Big Gay Friar, who tries way too hard to make friends (possibly for big gay reasons), but they also have Red Ruff and Blue Mews, the anthropomorphic Petco mascots pictured below:
I'd never really paid them any attention before, because I tend to ignore things that I hate and think the world would be better off without, but in the bottom of the fourth I was forced into an encounter with Red Ruff from which there was no passive escape. Red Ruff came to my section to encourage applause and slap five with little kids, but after he was finished, he then proceeded to look at my Seattle jersey, put up his dukes, and stand directly in my way.
I feel the ensuing situation is best conveyed via MS Paint:
Fortunately Red Ruff's security crew wasn't as vigilant as Harry Canary's, but in my defense, both of those GED-having sons of bitches started it. I don't go to baseball games looking to be an asshole. I go to baseball games to watch baseball games. I'm usually rather quiet. However, I am apparently quite easily provoked, and, let's be honest - if you're some life champion in a mascot costume, and you see one guy in a section focusing intently on what's happening on the field, and you stand in his way, and you stare at him and put up your fists, what do you think is going to happen to you? People are often chickens around other people, but rarely do they feel particularly threatened by a professional nacho cheese bag squeezer in a furry suit. People are going to respond to you, and I'm no coward. If you want to stand in my way, be prepared to fight for your position. That's all I'm trying to say.
I don't go looking for trouble with mascots. Really, I don't. They seek me out like bugs to a zapper. Why blame the zapper for delivering a zap?