In an attempt to keep morale high, I'd like to begin here:
In 4th grade my mother decided that I should sign up for some etiquette classes being offered at my elementary school. The reasons were multiple, but I am deciding not because I was lacking in social decorum. It was more like I was in 4th grade and I'm sure my parents needed the extra 90 minutes off from my shit while also I was being taught to set the table. You know how moms can be. Now, I don't remember much from that class except how set a table (it's easy, I'll show you), that whenever you drink (eat?) soup you should whisper, creepily, "out to sea and back to me" because soup and decorum are illogical, and finally some of the aspects of being a good host. I would say that the first rule of being a good host, if my memory serves me correctly, is that you should acquiesce to the social norms, wants, and desires of your guest. Despite this, the incredibly rude Los Angeles Dodgers insisted that their guests, the Seattle Mariners, be beaten while playing National League rules baseball tonight.
Now, the National League is often referred to as the "senior circuit" because it is the older, more arcane form of baseball. However, I think it is more because it is literally like comparing the amount of entertainment you would get from being forced to watch seniors play baseball over juniors. I would much rather have a nice, frosty brew on a grassy knoll over-looking a little league game than feel guilty watching an elderly gentleman being carted off of the infield after breaking his hip while sliding in to second. Arcane things are not necessarily more fun. Wizards of the Coast is gone, you losers. Like the cavemen and women who discovered fire and threw their cubeb berries onto those early, burning coals, eventually we designed the barbeque grill, and then the Green Egg. The Green Egg is a fantastic way to enjoy cooked meats. The NFL invented the forward pass, mainly to keep Tim Tebow from playing in the NFL but also because "three yards and a cloud of dust" is what much of their viewership was seeing on a daily basis at the family pig farm. In fact, National League style play is a bit reminiscent of the modern NFL, if every ninth offensive play was a forced passing down and your right guard had to play quarterback. Sure, once every decade Felix will hit a grand slam with his eyes closed, but more often you get about six tries per game where JR Sweezy is lobbing a duck to Doug Baldwin.
What I'm trying to get at here is that baseball has evolved from pitchers needing to hit. Our lineup cards simply don't have the space for the scratches and replacements we need to keep up with the game. People don't even really use pencils anymore. I do, a Dixon Ticonderoga with a glass of Lagavulin Sixteen and some Parisian stationary, but that's beside the point. You can do that kind of stuff on a computer, or so I hear. Baseball invented the DH so that the fans could see more "offense" and less "defense", or something like that. Baseball also invented Astroturf so that fans could see less "baseball players with functioning knees." Baseball then un-invented Astroturf only to declare, "IT'S BACK AGAIN, BABY!" Because the 90's are kinda hot right now and have you seen how Kanye dresses himself these days? But the 90's aren't actually back because the Supersonics aren't. Lastly, baseball invented a rule where you can't ever leave the batter's box even if you're being thrown at and a freaking crevice to the center of the Earth opens up, splitting the catcher's legs. This was done both so that Brendan Fraser could have a career reboot but also to forcibly get Nomar to retire. Despite even new, extreme rules such as these, tonight's game lingered in a special, non-American League way. It's high-time the National League looked themselves hard in the mirror. I think what they'd see are the deep wrinkles of a by-gone era. You're gettin' old, losin' touch. Get off the field, Gramps. Get some Botox. Botox is fetch.
Despite common social decorum, Hisashi Iwakuma was asked to swing a bat tonight. In a game. For keepsies. He essentially refused. What he did do however, was go five-plus innings allowing two homeruns, and four earned runs. He managed five strikeouts, and I'm doing this off-hand, but something like 56 at-bats where he threw at least 8 pitches. His fastball was sitting low 90's, he worked out of a bases loaded spot in the bottom of the first. That's right, spotted a 3-run lead by those back-to-back jacks up there courtesy of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, The Bear still managed to find himself in a fair bit of trouble right off the bat. This should have been my warning sign, however I never heed omens which is why I'm sure I'll die an early death. He did a fairly nice job keeping his sinker down, yet every so often did something like this:
See that right there is what we in the biz (Vin Scully and I) call a 'true, Italian meatball."
Speaking of Vin Scully, even a man of his considerable age and wisdom commented on the length of the game. You heard it here first, a man who has no broadcast partner, just him and Jimbob doing the stats in the booth while he speaks about old-timey players he makes up on the fly, commented on the length of the game. Vin was kind enough to illuminate the fact that there were thirty-plus foul balls on two-strike counts, a stat I am forced to believe and not fact-check as he is my grandfather (on my mother's side). A man who is so deeply versed in baseball knowledge that he could put the Baseball Almanac to sleep, so proficient at painting pictures that Bob Ross listened to him while he painted, noticed that the game was wearing on. He is still flabbergasted by the notion of the defensive shift. National League Baseball, ladies and gents.
For his part, David Huff looked every bit like the pitcher we thought would lose the game. Except, once again I failed to heed the omen. The dude wears "sports glasses" and likely is a stand-in Oakland Athletic and as such, capable of being just horribly annoying enough to ruin an evening of wine, cheese, and Twisted Sister. Huff only lasted four-full innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, and also giving away his entire allotment of two homeruns. Huff managed to get Robbie to sacrifice himself to the BABIP gods in the 4th, where with runners on 2nd and 3rd, Cano launched a shot just not quite gap-happy enough to plate another two runs. Juan Nicasio would spell Huff in the 5th, walking the bases loaded, but the Mariner's would only come away with one run. It would be the last run they'd score.
Medina came in late, and it has to be said, looked relatively strong. Just strong enough that Lloyd may yet use him to break our hearts in some other, tragic way. Mike Zunino might have needed a topographical map to find his locker post-game because he looks just tragically lost. The worse part is that when he finally found his locker he would have seen there a Golden Sombrero as the kid struck out four, whimpering times tonight. I'd say hit the cages but we may need to find him something even larger to swing at to start. It's early, but the bendy things are still causing him nightmares. Strikeouts still look to be a problem early on, as the M's fell victim to twelve of them (two being Iwakuma's). Austin Jackson is getting really good at grounding out.
However, the offense did a decent job of manufacturing runs early in the game, always staying ahead of the Dodgers on the scoreboard from the first inning. Rickie Weeks had himself a nice day at the plate, singling in Willie Bloomquist in the fourth. Will Ballgame also managed to push Cruz across in the 5th on a fielder's choice. Weeks, Cano, Bloomquist, and Kyle Seager all checked in with two hits apiece. Cruz also deserves kudos for showing the patience to take his two walks when the Dodgers staff clearly was no longer wanting to throw baseballs close to his body. It's a weird feeling with this team, being unsettled with the pitching staff and pleased with the offense.
Part of me wants to believe that the bottom of the ninth didn't actually happen, but let me try to remember. Let's see, it was 5-4 M's, the bases were loaded with one down. Oh yeah, Fernando Rodney totally Brandon League'd it with assist from Howie Kendrick.
Despite their record, you can see how this team is a good one. Tonight just wasn't their most-shining moment.