Think back to yesterday morning, when the Mad Max world we now inhabit was yet nascent. Recall Chicago, where there were severe thunderstorms and flash flood warnings and tornadoes galore, and where the game scheduled for 11:10 our time was pushed back to 12:15, purportedly to wait out the rain. Remember how for about 45 minutes, in a brief reprieve from the tyranny of the elements, the game was played. In the face of climatological hazards in both the homeland and the enemy’s territory, baseball was played yesterday.
The rain, as anyone could have foreseen, came raging back in off Lake Michigan, putting yet another pause to the game in the middle of the third inning.
By that point, the Mariners had failed to collect a hit off of Lance Lynn’s heat through their three frames, and the White Sox had been stifled by Logan Gilbert’s changeup, with merely a bloop single by José Abreu to show for their two times up.
In the sweltering, unconditioned heat of homes around the Northwest, Mariners fans sweated out the hour and a half long pause, brains melting into mush. Perhaps in an attempt to stifle this game entirely, the weather in Chicago did not hold back. Thanks to the covid protocols that remain in place, the game remained official despite being postponed and only 2.5 innings into play, and was slated to pick up where it left off the next day, with a 7-inning officially official-yet-unofficial game to follow.
Northwesterners turned off their TVs and radios and braced for the still-climbing temperatures through the afternoon hours, heat which their homes would retain through the warm night. If others in the Mariners home domain are like me, they spent the night awake and covered in sweat, with the third inning of a Mariners game hovering in suspended animation above their heads.
When morning came and the game began again, soon-to-be local folk hero Hector Santiago took the mound for a clean bottom of the 3rd.
The 4th inning saw the return to the devilish form of the game with Dallas Keuchel on the mound for Chicago, with singles from Haniger and Seager stifled by a force at second, a bunt that popped into the pitcher’s glove, and a bizarre bobbled leaping force at second that went unchallenged. The bottom of the inning was less eventful, with just a single off the bat of Moncada that Santiago was able to work around.
Mother Nature had more to say about the game, when Trammell’s fly ball to right got lost in the sun as Gonzalez waited for it to drop into his glove, only for it to sail over the fences and put the Mariners up 1-0. JP continued his hit streak and Haniger got a second single, but that was all the team could muster. The White Sox responded almost immediately with a Grandal drawing a leadoff walk, a Yerminator single to push him to second, and an RBI single from Garcia. With a base on balls given up to Gonzalez, Servais made his way to the mound to relieve Santiago of his duties.
Upon request, Hector handed over his hat and glove, wearing his joviality on his face. While his hat was returned promptly, he inquired about the hold-up on his glove, which umpire Phil “Not A Real Cop” Cuzzi indicated had something on it. The shock was evident in Santiago’s demeanor as Cuzzi indicated to Scott that he had been ejected for “use of foreign substance,” the first player in MLB to be accused of such cheating via an in-game check.
Naturally, the ever-rabid baseball fanbase and media leapt to condemn him online, all as the umpiring crew passed the glove to a bare-handed “official MLB representative” who unceremoniously dumped the “tainted” glove into a garbage bag to be shipped off to New York for “further inspection”.
In a day of Manfred-ball, this was the Manfrediest, and an event that could potentially alter the course of Santiago’s career over little more than a hunch from an umpiring crew that is likely untrained and inexperienced with such checks.
Nevertheless, the pitching change to Shaggy (aka JT Chargois) continued, and Tim Anderson promptly grounded into a double play to end the inning and leave us all wondering what in the hell kind of circus sideshow, kangaroo court, sham MLB is running.
As vengeance for his fallen teammate, Ty France hit a leadoff homer to begin the 6th and return the lead to the Mariners. A slow jog to first by Shed on a misplay of a routine out eventually led to Long Jr.’s benching due to “not hustling out of the box,” meaning Santiago did not face the only kangaroo court of the day.
The bottom of the 6th of this miserable, rotten, no-good game was lowlighted by a pitch that hit reigning AL MVP José Abreu and forced him out of the game with a bruised left knee (thankfully, X-rays were negative for a fracture). Steckenrider came into the game for the Mariners, giving up a game-tying sac fly to Grandal that scored Brian Goodwin, but getting the final two outs without much ado (an admittedly rare feat in this game).
The 7th and 8th innings were notable only for 5 quick outs in a row from one-time relief ace Anthony and some nasty pitching from Sewald to get the final out and send the game tied into the 9th.
Taylor Trammell, the initial hero of this game, proved that it was fully his hell to rule over as he hit the ultimately game winning home run (with a flip so cold it could have cooled the entire PNW) and a leaping catch on the warning track for the first out of the inning, holding a runner on first that may have otherwise been able to score. Seager-Moore-France double play brought a 27 hour marathon to a close with a hard-fought, yet profoundly pyrrhic victory.
As I write this, there is yet another game between these teams being played, one that has Manfred’s sticky fingerprints all over it as well. No relief from the heat, no relief from a league that is hellbent on running the game we love deeper into ruin.
Guess I better go and watch it.