I'm going to get this out of the way right now. I love Willie Bloomquist. He is a local guy, plays with the heart of a champion, does everything he is asked to do on a team, and ends up being one of those all-around glue guys. As an entirely nonathletic individual, if I were ever able to play any sort of sport with any sort of competency, this is how I would make my living.
So I feel bad for Willie. He was a Mariner for a long time when the Mariners were very bad. Then he went off to the greener pastures before coming right back to a senselessly expensive deal. That deal, and the fact that he clearly wasn't worth it, were unfortunate, because it wasn't Willie's fault that the Mariners offered him a full $2 million more than he was making in his last contract. WFB became an easy scapegoat because he represented the faults of the franchise so easily.
But if someone comes along and offers you too much money, what do you do? Stay humble and say, no I am not worth that much, I'll take $500,00 please? Or if the coach continually puts you in the lineup despite more and more diminishing returns on results each time, what do you say? Thanks coach. But I'll sit this one out on the bench. It was never Willie's fault that he was put in the position of having to justify his massive contract, but in the world of sports, that is how it goes sometimes.
So let us look back on the life and times of Willie Bloomquist in a positive light, by taking a trip down memory lane on his best game in a Mariner uniform.
September 22, 2002
Seattle Mariners 3, Los Angeles Angels 2
In 2002 the Los Angeles Angels would go on to win the World Series. Towards the end of September, they rolled into Seattle needing to win one game to clinch their first playoff appearance in 16 years. The Seattle Mariners weren't having any of it, as Lou Pinella said best.
We didn't want the Angels and A's to celebrate on our field," Seattle Manager Lou Piniella said. "We held off the Angels, now we get the A's.
On September 22, 2002, a young Willie Bloomquist, appearing in his sixth Major League game, had the biggest game of his life, and in doing so, kept the Angels from celebrating on the fields of Seattle. On that day, Bloomquist accomplished something he would do only once in his career with the Mariners -- he went 4-for-4, and his at-bats went as follows:
- Bottom of the 1st: doubled to right, Ichiro Suzuki scored
- Bottom of the 3rd: singled to center
- Bottom of the 6th: leadoff double to deep center
- Bottom of the 7th: singled to right, Dan Wilson scored
Willie's final line on the night: 4-4, one run, two doubles, two RBIs, and a WPA of .343. It was a career night for Bloomquist on all levels. It also turned out to the night of his first major league hit, and therefore his first major league run, his first major league double, and his first major league RBI. He started at second base in place of a sore Bret Boone and would move to left field to close out the game. In the true storybook fashion of baseball, the young rookie would catch the last out of the game. Willie Bloomquist gave the most Willie Bloomquist answer when talking about the out.
"It was slicing away into the corner," Bloomquist said, "but I would have run through the wall to catch that one."
The easy joke is that the high point of Willie's career came early, but he was perfectly serviceable for much of his career. Bloomquist was Mr. Utility, the kind of player that is willing to play wherever the team need him to play. Sometimes, in sports, and baseball especially, emotions trump what the statistics say is logical and the way it should go.
Statistics say Willie shouldn't have been a Mariner. Emotion says it is nice to see that Willie, who made his name as MLB's do-it-all guy, ends his career as a Mariner. And just like you'd expect Willie to, even though it wasn't necessarily on his terms, he's heading out with a smile and a wave.
Just want to thank all of you Mariner fans for a lifetime of memories in a mariner uniform. Can't thank you enough for 7 1/2 memorable yrs!— Willie Bloomquist (@williebloom) July 2, 2015