Lloyd McClendon emerged from the depths of Globe Life Park’s third base dugout and strode purposefully across the playing field. As they so often do when McClendon visits his pitcher, the entire Seattle infield converged upon the mound and their suddenly-embattled closer, Fernando Rodney.
Having recorded a pair of quick outs to the first two batters he faced in the bottom of the ninth, Rodney appeared on the verge of his fourth save of the season. But then the 37-year-old right-hander relinquished a single up the middle to Texas third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff. Minutes later, Rodney issued a walk to designated hitter Mitch Moreland. The tying run moved into scoring position. The winning run stood perched on first base. McClendon got up.
In all likelihood, the team’s first-year manager probably reminded his players that they needed just one more out to secure a victory, that they had a force available at any base, and that this was their game to win. But based on the events that immediately followed the brief get-together, McClendon may very well have said something along the lines of, “Guys, let’s do everything we can to fuck this up as spectacularly as possible.”
For last week’s recap, click here.
Week’s Win-Loss Record: 3-3
Overall Win-Loss Record: 7-5
Winning Percentage: .583
Division Standing: Second place
Week’s Opponents: Los Angeles Angels (2 games) – Home; Oakland Athletics (3 games) – Home; Texas Rangers (1 game of a 3-game series) – Road
Playoff Status: Not mathematically eliminated
Team Morale: Alright, alright, alright
Hector Noesi is only 27 years of age, so in fairness his career might not be dead yet. But as a right-handed pitcher who reluctantly boasts a 5.64 career ERA, a trade to Texas and the Rangers’ hitter-friendly ballpark seems as close to capital punishment as Major League Baseball will allow. So in anticipation of Noesi’s impending demise, I offer up this preemptive eulogy to mark the brief life and times of Hector Noesi, professional baseball player.
Oh, Hector. Sweet, incompetent Hector. Your time with us was short, yet the impact will last a lifetime. You may be gone now, but you will never be forgotten. As a member of Seattle’s unofficial Ayala-Figgins Hall of Infamy, your legacy will live on for eternity. But before we bid adieu, let’s remember those special moments we shared together.
Acquired from the Yankees following the 2011 season, you came to Seattle touting a 95-mile-per-hour heater that convinced so many of us that you might just be something special. You were only 25 years old at the time, young and virile, with enough promise and potential to titillate more than a few onlookers who wanted so badly to believe in you.
You don’t want to read about the Mariners every single day. It’s not good for your health. For the same reasons, no one really wants to write about the Mariners every single day, either. Frankly, if someone were to chronicle their thoughts on the M’s on a repeating 24-hour basis, the log of emotions would read like a crazy person’s diary. For evidence of this, go scour my Twitter account at any point in time.
To combat the daily bipolarity of the baseball team you and I choose to both love and hate, we here at Seattle Sportsnet have decided to bring you a comprehensive week-to-week recap of the 2014 Mariners experience, which in itself is sure to be a roller coaster ride of emotional proportions. While we’ll fill the remaining days of each week with more pointed discussion of the M’s – trade suggestions, Hector Noesi minor league updates, Top 11 lists, half-brained promotional ideas, et cetera – you can count on this weekly look at the team to quench your thirst for all things Seattle baseball.
Without further introduction, let’s get to the update.
Win-Loss Record: 4-2
Winning Percentage: .667
Division Standing: First place
Week’s Opponents: Los Angeles Angels (3 games) – Road; Oakland Athletics (3 games) – Road
Playoff Status: Not mathematically eliminated
Team Morale: Decent
What the hell is going on? That’s a question many of us were asking ourselves on Wednesday evening, shortly after the Mariners completed a season-opening three-game sweep of the Angels. The Angels were supposed to be okay. The M’s were supposed to be less than okay. All things considered, a trio of wins for the boys in blue was wholly unanticipated.
Remember 2010? It will forever be etched in time as the Seattle Mariners’ “Believe Big” year. Believing big didn’t really work out the way everyone hoped, but the optimism was warranted. Coming off a promising 2009 campaign in which the team posted an 85-77 win-loss mark, the ’09-’10 offseason was full of giddiness and excitement.
Neglecting the various warts in a lineup pockmarked by over-performers and aging veterans, the M’s front office pulled off two major moves that offseason. The first came on December 8th, 2009 in the form of diminutive free agent infielder Chone Figgins. The Mariners inked Figgins to a (ugh) four-year contract that day, then waited just eight more days before pulling off their next big move. On December 16th, the team acquired starting pitcher Cliff Lee from Philadelphia for a hodgepodge of middling prospects. The move was heralded as a franchise-changer, the type that would take the organization from okay to great. With Lee and Felix Hernandez, the Mariners would be unstoppable. Never mind the fact that, assuming both aces stayed healthy, the duo would appear in just 40-percent of the team’s games. This was it! This was the Mariners’ year!
Geoff Baker, that rascal. He retires from his job as Mariners beat writer to take a new gig as The Seattle Times’ Chief Investigator, Pain In The Ass division. All that stuff he could never say about the M’s when he was an objective reporter? It shall now flow onto the interwebz like champagne in a nightclub frequented by Pacman Jones, splashing liberally onto the breasts of intrigued onlookers who soak up the spillage with smiles on their faces. This is a new era of badassery in local sports media, an era punctuated by whatever Baker shall uncover when he is not sailing the skies in hot air balloons or sampling fine cabernets in exotic locales.
As you may have read over the weekend, Baker’s inaugural foray into the world of sports business reporting (or whatever that title he’s inherited proclaims he does) was a bit of a ground-breaker, an earth-rumbling piece about the Mariners’ front office and their unique brand of dysfunction, the kind that paralyzes fans everywhere into a veritable dumbfounded/angry/terrified hybrid of a stupor. Sure, we’ve known for years that the Mariners were run by a bunch of bumbling idiots. But Baker’s piece not only highlighted the stupidity of the team’s decision-makers, it got reputable sources to speak on record about that stupidity in expansive detail.
Screw reality. This is everything we’ve ever wanted rolled up into a single moment in time and it’s goddamn beautiful. You want Chris Petersen? You got Chris Petersen. You want Robinson Cano? You got Robinson Cano. You want the best team in the NFL? You got the best team in the NFL. If you have a wish to make, a prayer to be answered, a request you absolutely must have fulfilled? Today is your day.
You and I, we aren’t conditioned for this. This is sleet in November, triple-digit temperatures in July. We aren’t used to what this feels like. Happiness? Euphoria? This is Seattle. Seattle. When it comes to sports, we’re the perennially disappointed, the consistently underwhelmed. We live in a snow globe where it simply rains all the time. We fall short of expectations, come up empty-handed at year’s end, tank the off-season, blow the big game, flub every opportunity at every single turn, and wallow, miserably, wretchedly, in the cynical aftermath of the emotional nuking our psyches continually endure.
They’ve called us the Worst Sports City in America. On multiple occasions, no less. It sucks to be us, they’ve pointed out. And for the most part, they’ve been right. It has sucked to be us. We haven’t done shit. We haven’t won shit, we haven’t achieved shit, we haven’t been shit. We’ve been nothing. Some cities fly under the radar; we haven’t been on the radar.
Depending on how you look at it, this day was either supposed to belong to the Seahawks or the internet. It was Monday. Cyber Monday, the day the masses descend upon the world wide web for bargains. But Cyber Monday mattered little to those of us in the Emerald City. The Seahawks had a football game on this particular evening. That meant they were playing on Monday Night Football, arguably the biggest regular season stage in all of professional sports. They were already relegated to sharing a pseudo-holiday with online retailers. And yet their civic brethren across the sports landscape were not content to let them have even half the spotlight.
It started with the Mariners, those assholes, constantly fighting to stay relevant in a town where their irrelevance reigns supreme. They woke up on this chilly, sun-soaked morning and decided to sign Willie Bloomquist. Yes, the Willie Bloomquist. To a two-year, $5.8 million contract. It’s been five years since Willie last played for his hometown Mariners and he’s 36 years of age now, so why not sign him, right? Makes perfect sense. Anyway, they did it, they really did it. Ordinarily, this wouldn’t register on our radar – we’re talking about an aging utility player, after all – but this was no ordinary situation.
As of January 31, 2014, Chuck Armstrong will no longer serve as team president of your Seattle Mariners. That fateful date is just 66 calendar days away and frankly we could not be happier.
The end of Armstrong’s 28-year reign of terror is nigh and it’s time to celebrate. Rather than give you hundreds, if not thousands, of words on why this news is so glorious, we’ve put together the following presentation for you below.
Before you scroll through our celebratory visual aids, however, please turn up the volume on your speakers and press “Play” on one of the two videos below, Vengabus or Zombie Nation, whichever you feel best captures the essence of your Mariner fanaticism. Then, without further ado, enjoy.
Imagine you’re a parent and you’re in a bind. You have a kid that you need to get rid of for an hour and there is nobody who can watch him for you. You don’t have a choice, either. You have to go do this thing without your kid, no matter what. You’re stuck, and now you’re sitting here hyperventilating with a child screaming in the backseat of your car, wishing you’d never procreated in the first place.
And then, all of a sudden, you get a call back from a trusted friend who’s willing and able to spend an hour with your kid. Saved! You rejoice. Everything has worked out for the time being. You leave the little one with your friend, go live up to your obligations for sixty minutes, and then return…to find…disaster.
A few weeks back, I casually mentioned to a Twitter follower that he should buy a Chone Figgins jersey shirt and set it ablaze. This came shortly after a photo of a pair of misguided individuals wearing Figgins jersey shirts (later dubbed “Figgins Couple”) was released unto the interwebs.
The Twitterer, one @WilliamKHolland, decided to take my offhand comment at face value. Thanks to deep discounts on such Figgins-related items at just about every local fan apparel shop, Will went out and bought a jersey shirt of his own. He then subsequently recorded himself lighting that jersey shirt on fire.
Here’s the result of Will’s pyromania, complete with a wonderful soundtrack.
Twitter, I love you.
Blue Jays fans. What the hell, man. I don’t get you. You make very little sense to me. First of all, your team is in Toronto. And yet you all show up in droves every time this team of yours plays in Seattle. Seattle! Do you know how far it is between Seattle and Toronto?! I do. It’s 2,068 miles, according to the internet. That’s roughly the same distance between Seattle and New Orleans. New Orleans! LOUISIANA!!
Look, I get it. Many of you make the trip south from Vancouver, B.C. to cheer on your favorite team. But shit, Vancouver is no closer to Toronto than Seattle. In fact, it’s farther. As the crow flies, 2,089 miles separate the two cities. Yes, that’s even greater than the distance between Seattle and Toronto. It makes no sense. It’s like if Seattleites became unabashed supporters of the New Orleans Saints, the Pelicans, or…what other teams do they have…the Zephyrs! We would never do that. Because it’s crazy. And not fun crazy, either. Alex Rodriguez crazy.
Every year, clothing companies mass-produce replica jerseys of some of the biggest names in sports. Every year, sports fans the world around purchase these jerseys. And every year, without fail, a handful of the men who inspire these jerseys fall farther and farther out of relevance, spiraling downward into a pit of despair filled with bitterness and loathing.
We buy the jerseys of players that have been great leading up to this moment or may be great later on. We buy knowing that we’re making an investment in the future that may not pay off. We buy because our fanaticism overtakes our ability to make rational decisions.
Replica jerseys have really only been relevant for about two decades. Prior to the early-’90s, the jersey fad had yet to catch on. But with the advent of cheap polyester and screen printing, lifelike uniforms could be had by the vast majority of us. And thus a movement was born.
This past weekend, I went on a road trip to Eastern Washington with my buddy, Matt, and my girlfriend, Andrea. We kept ourselves entertained by assigning non-sensical nicknames to all the current Mariners.
Most of these nicknames are completely ridiculous and have absolutely no significance. If you can find meaning in the aliases, more power to you. But in general, these are simply the products of boredom and dry heat. If any of these nicknames stick, it may signal the downfall of society. God help us all.
Dustin “Potato Chip” Ackley
Jason “Stovetop” Bay
Blake “Windmill” Beavan
Henry “Taco Bell” Blanco
Carter “Catnip” Capps