You don't really hear the complaints about baseball abandoning its roots anymore. I'm not exactly sure why, perhaps I'm just not listening to the right people, or maybe they all died because they were old, and complain is what the olds do best. Except for Buck O'Neil, that guy was the shit.
But hell, when George Will comes to town, you know that something is going to be afoot, despite no cries to the contrary. So when the Mariners took the field last night, they decided it was time for an old-timey, thirteen run, three error, nine walk, seventeen strikeout affair, just like the good old days. Also Willie Bloomquist played, so I don't need to provide you any further evidence of my thesis here.
I mean seriously, back when people used to be complaining about power hitters this and coddling pitchers that and idolizing the sanctity of the game, what they were really pining for were the days when the Tigers could throw out Hooks Dauss for thirteen innings during game one of a doubleheader and watch him give up 14 hits and eight walks in a game that had 32 total hits and seven errors, because they were playing with dented baseballs and tiny gloves made out of that same thin leathery material they now make dog toys out of.
So line on up boys, we've got an old fashioned base ball game down in the swampy tidelands by the Jackson Regrade, and nobody gives a damn if what you really wanted was for the 2015 Seattle Mariners to beat one of the worst teams in baseball on the way to what is supposed to be their best season in franchise history. Nope, instead we've got Beer Belly Paxton up on the mound throwing a blistering fastball from the left side at 134 feet per second, topped only by the great Walter Johnson and Smoky Joe Wood! Put that in your pipe and smoke it ya dollywolloped palooka!
Unfortunately for James Paxton, and you, it is no longer 1914. 134 feet per second translates around to about 91, 92 miles per hour, which is not where our Canadian left-hander is supposed to be sitting if he wants to be as effective as he has suggested he can be. Want to feel good about having a pitcher like that in 2015 rather than 1914?
Yeah. Now on one hand it's pretty wild we even have this technology to analyze pitchers today, considering they used to just rub some castor oil on your elbow and give you three Aspirins after complaining of soreness following a 214-pitch affair. And, we can't forget that Paxton got a late start this spring, and his velocity has been rising gradually over his recent starts. Still, you know what velocity discrepancies like this can mean, and now I'm going to stop talking about it because I don't want to get blamed again for hurting one of my favorite pitchers in the game.
So if we ignore this newfangled technology here in our postgame analysis, we can be just like your great grandfather and go off that most accurate of barometers in memory. And if memory serves, Paxton has been the recipient of his fair share of bad luck in his past couple of outings. There were the unearned runs in Oakland that were later charged back to him that probably weren't all his fault. Last night there were two errors in the first from Kyle Seager and Austin Jackson that effectively loaded the bases for Paxton to walk in the first run of the game. Maybe it really is 1914.
Paxton settled back in and had his first clean inning in the third, hitting 95 and getting some great swinging strikes on curves in the dirt. But after a dinger off the bat of Eduardo Escobar in the fourth and an untimely car accident in the fifth, Paxton was looking like he had one too many bathtub gins while out doing the Charleston down at the Black and Tan. Here's a walk to Joe Mauer.
And here's where Mauer scored a few moments later.
Gassed, physically and mentally.
I don't know what any of this means for James Paxton going forward, but clearly he has been quite a bit different from the guy who repeatedly tore through an Angels lineup containing two first-ballot hall of famers last season. And if he was just trying to give George Will some back-and-forth rip-roarin' old-timey baseball action like the old days of lead changes and crafty baserunning, then dammit, knock it off because it's the twenty-first century.
The good news was that the Mariners hitters took it back even further as they have been so inclined to do this season. Despite having a bit of trouble from Washington native Trevor May, the M's bats had themselves a competent game, putting up 5 runs of their own on eight hits and two walks. Of course, they also struck out seven times, a number which was boosted by the assistance of Mike Zunino adding two K's of his own, which...boy this is starting to get problematic.
Still, it wasn't all doom and gloom. Nelson Cruz notched a 2 RBI double in the first on a ball that could have taken the exact same trajectory from just about anyone else on the team and dribbled into shallow right, because Nelson Cruz is probably the strongest person alive on planet earth right now. Cano had two hits of his own, and Austin Jackson even hit a dinger again. Again! I got to use the word again in a sentence that said Austin Jackson hit a dinger!
Still, you can't help but be frustrated that the Mariners have been just about the complete opposite team from the near-playoff bound 2014 club that gave Jack Z the idea to keep on keepin' on with his roster. Rather than a bad-to-mediocre offense countered by terrifyingly consistent pitching, the bats are alive while supposedly good pitchers either have the worst luck or decide this is a good idea. And in a sense, that's the most antiquated part of all of this. Runs after runs after runs. From both sides, just one more than the other. Baseball apparently has an offense problem right now, but for once it appears the Mariners are simultaneously on the side of progress and history in trying to provide a solution. I for one wish they'd knock it off and just start winning.
And if it's all too much for you you can just stay there in your jittery, sepia-toned America and watch a round of boxing or something. It will get better, but damned if you don't want to plant one on his here jaw in the process.