Over the last eight weeks, this series has encapsulated everything from the M's first win in the Kingdome to Kyle Seager's historic grand slam. This week, it's your turn. While we share a couple of our favorite memories with you, tell us what moment in Mariners history made you succumb to the inexplicable, often weird brand of Seattle baseball.
Jesse Knutson: Any game that can have me hopping up and down in my living room for four innings is probably a favorite Mariners memory. But I know you know that I know that Felix's Perfect game was amazing and I know you also know it was amazing. Something more personal would probably be the first game I took my daughters to and them instantly knowing who "the bad guys" were, but the per inning concession run makes it a little less of a baseball memory. Nah, I'm going to go with something that is hazy, confusing and representative of my Mariners fandom. Another perfect game, in fact, kinda. The Ryan Franklin Perfect Game that wasn't.
It was a day, in a year, some year, and I'm definitely sure it was in San Diego. And Ryan Franklin was pitching for our dear Mariners. It's not as horrible as it sounds, I promise you, it was pretty great. I also know it was a beautiful day, whatever day it was. Was it in Petco or...errr Qualcomm? Day game for sure. The important takeaway from this memory is that a baseball season is a long and effervescent thing and you never know what things are going to stick in your brain when the bubbles stop bubblin'. You also never know what mediocre pitcher is going to possibly throw a perfect game on any given day.
I just remember sitting there on the 3rd baseline in the middle innings and thinking "Ryan Effing Franklin" is throwing a perfect game. In the 4th he gave up a walk, but he still had a no-hitter in the 6th inning! Ryan "Homer-Prone Steroid-Turd" Franklin! No hitter!
About half a pitch later some Friar hit a double and then there were a couple doubles by the Padres and the weird magic was over. The Mariners went on to lose the game by way of solo home run in the 7th... or 9th, but hey, good game. (It was June 22nd, 2003 in Qualcomm, by the way, just looked it up.)
Ashley Varela: My favorite Mariners memory begins with the story of Brendan Ryan's sanitary hose.
I think the gist of it was that Ryan wore authentic high socks, the kind with stirrups that wrapped around the feet, over the socks, and tucked into the cleats. I didn't particularly care for the details of Ryan's wardrobe peculiarities, but I could've listened to Rick Rizzs wax poetic on footwear for hours.
To explain why, I might need to go back a little further. I woke up late that morning, spoiling my plans to spend a Wednesday afternoon at the ballpark. By the time that I turned on the TV, Felix Hernandez had just breezed through the first inning on seven pitches.
By the 6th inning, it was apparent that this was more than a routine start for the King. Instead of elation, however, I felt increasingly agitated. I had attended over 40 games at Safeco that year, including Phil Humber's perfecto and Felix's 12-strikeout, 7-0 shutout against the Rangers. I didn't doubt Felix's ability to execute a perfect game -- I only regretted my decision to stay home on what would likely be the most significant event in Safeco's history.
When Rizzs began dissecting the fashion habits of Ryan and his teammates, I was sitting in traffic on I-405. Thoughts of jinxing Felix didn't concern me; making it in time for the end of the game did. On the seat beside me, Twitter was exploding. "Felix is perfect through 7 innings," one read. "How could you mess with Felix's perfecto?" another said, that one directed at me.
I did everything I could think of to stall that final inning. I broke the speeding limit. I prayed to the baseball gods as Dustin Ackley stepped up to the plate, then Michael Saunders, then Jesus Montero. Please. A walk. A hit. Anything. It was the bottom of the 8th inning, and the light was red at the intersection of 1st Avenue and Edgar Martinez Way.
As the broadcast stopped for its final commercial break, I ditched my car on the side of the road and started sprinting to Home Plate Gate. The gates were wide open, the ushers waving every stray fan into the concourse without a ticket. I bolted up the stairs to the outer rim of seats behind home plate. Felix was warming up on the mound.
The rest, as you know, is history. Felix Hernandez became the first pitcher in Mariners history to throw a perfect game. And, in the most unlikely and stressful way imaginable, I was there to see it.
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