Category Archives: Mariners

Clear the F*** Out: The Mariners Are Here

mariners

If it was a person, it would have a driver’s license.

It’d be wrapping up eleventh grade, might have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, may have just gone to prom. It’d be concerned about little more than finishing the penultimate year of high school before transitioning to a carefree summer filled with friends and fun. It’d be quite convinced it knew all there was to know in the world, yet still naïve to the reality that awaited later in life. It’d be a pain in the ass at times, an endearing goofball at others.

But it’s not a person. It’s a 17-year-old curse. A shadow that has loomed large, if not visible, over Safeco Field for nearly two decades. It has sucked the life out of a fan base that has become increasingly absent as time has passed. It has plagued a franchise and burdened a city.

Seventeen years without a playoff appearance. The longest drought of its kind in American professional sports. Even the Cleveland Browns have been to the postseason more recently than the Seattle Mariners. The biggest laughingstock in football somehow plays second fiddle to our baseball team.

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A Precursor to Greatness

One of my very first sports memories is the very first no-hitter in Seattle Mariners history. June 2nd, 1990. Randy Johnson, against the Detroit Tigers.

I was five years old and quite possibly the biggest little Mariner fan in the world. I wore a royal blue cap emblazoned with the team’s familiar gold “S” every single day (seriously, there are very few pictures from my childhood where I’m without that hat). The M’s were my entire being at that point in my life. I could name all the players on the team right down to the most obscure: Bryan Clark, a veteran relief pitcher; Dave Cochrane, the ultimate utility player; Jeff Schaefer, another utility man who was so irrelevant he would later be replaced on the front of his 1992 Donruss card by a picture of Tino Martinez. And of course I had my favorites, too: Ken Griffey Jr., Alvin Davis, Edgar Martinez, Omar Vizquel, and yes, the six-foot-ten-inch southpaw, Randy Johnson.

We didn’t always stay all nine innings back then. I was young enough to necessitate an early bedtime and my brother was even younger, so attending a full game was, for us, as rare as a no-hitter. But on that particular day I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the ballpark along with my dad. And we weren’t leaving until the final out was recorded.

Through the fog that shrouds the memories of childhood, I remember standing and cheering during the ninth inning. We were in our usual spot in the Kingdome, 300 level, first base side. When Tigers catcher Mike Heath swung at a high fastball to end it, everyone on hand went nuts. There hadn’t been much to cheer about in the annals of Seattle Mariners baseball and this was one of the franchise’s first noteworthy triumphs. It was a memorable evening, one nobody in attendance would ever forget.

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Mariners Fans Don’t Deserve This – But the Franchise Does

Mariners fans know aggravation.

With every ill-advised decision their favorite baseball team makes, the frustration boils and festers until it can’t simmer any longer. It’s the kind of maddening anger that widens the eyes and quickens the pulse and feels as if it can only be satiated with destruction and rage. Unleash a fury of haymakers upon a punching bag. Smash a Louisville Slugger upon the ground until splinters fly in every direction and sweat drips to the earth. Throw a TV out a window, scream to the heavens, sprint until a lung bursts, whatever it takes to ease the angst. And yet the angst never eases.

The club’s latest maneuver has nearly everyone wondering whether the brass on the corner of Edgar and Dave have any clue what they’re doing. On Sunday, the M’s optioned outfielder Guillermo Heredia to Triple-A Tacoma to make room for the activation of pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. In doing so, they elected to keep outfielder Ichiro Suzuki on the big league roster – despite the fact that Heredia had outplayed Suzuki in every facet of the game to begin the year.

Though any of number of excuses could be conjured to justify keeping the 44-year-old future Hall of Famer around, the reality is that the organization chose to honor a legend rather than invest in the on-field success of the ballclub. Anyone with two eyes and a passion for the game could see right through the front office’s intentions – and that, above all else, was incredibly irritating to a fan base that has suffered long enough.

Continue reading Mariners Fans Don’t Deserve This – But the Franchise Does

The Addicts

They slowly wither away in dark rooms illuminated only by the iridescence of a television set, mainlining ROOT Sports coverage of Seattle Mariners baseball like heroin junkies slumped upon the dusty plywood surface of a neighborhood drug house.

They find comfort in Brad Adam, take solace in Angie Mentink. This is what they know, what they crave, what they need to survive this day and the next. They know they should quit, but how does one loosen the firm grasp of addiction?

They are lifers, these people. They bleed every shade of Mariners blue that can be bled: royal, powder, navy, teal. They’re in it for the long haul, despite the utter misery of the situation in which they find themselves.

For the most part, they are passionless, barely functional, hardly human. Losing is what they’ve come to understand, and each subsequent loss registers no more than a facial twitch or a shrug of the shoulders. Wins, those fleeting moments of abbreviated happiness, result in tempered celebrations that only serve to worsen the dependence upon this poisonous chemical.

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Mariners Memories

I remember being four or five years old and dragging my dad into our front yard to teach me how to do a leg kick like a big league pitcher. Like Mark Langston and Mike Moore, two of Seattle’s very best, whose games I had actually seen with my own eyes. I could already swing my red plastic bat like Alvin Davis and could throw and catch a little bit. But now we needed to step it up. I wanted to bring the heat.

I failed at first. Where Langston and Moore stood poised like cranes on the front of their baseball cards, the rendition I put together, in retrospect, probably looked more along the lines of a miniature Chris Farley doing a karate kick, then chucking a tee ball with all his might. But I kept practicing and eventually got the motion down. Shortly thereafter, my parents stuck a pitchback screen on the lawn and let me while away the afternoons tossing to a net, whispering the names of all the great hurlers I knew as I fired fastball after fastball into a red rectangle.

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2017 Seattle Mariners Preview: Felix Forgets 30

felixIt was a year to forget for Felix Hernandez. The regression he endured in 2016 was so abrupt and so sudden that even casual onlookers couldn’t help but raise an eyebrow at his performance.

The 30-year-old was far from regal, despite a nickname he’d earned years prior. As his pitching suffered, he began to look less like King Felix and more like John Goodman’s King Ralph.

The Felix Hernandez we saw in 2016 was the product of a decade of indulgence, one that any athlete or ex-athlete over the age of 30 knows all about. There’s even a saying that sage veterans of sport will pass along to naïve young bucks, full of boundless energy and equipped with perfectly adept bodies: “Wait ‘til you’re 30.”

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The Seattle Mariners All-Headshot 40th Anniversary Team

The Seattle Mariners are celebrating their 40th anniversary this year and are honoring some of the greatest players in franchise history as a result.

To keep things interesting, the M’s are requesting your help in picking their 40th Anniversary team. From now until April 2nd, fans can vote on their favorite players here.

I’d certainly encourage anyone to go vote and help select the all-40th Anniversary squad. You wouldn’t want to miss out on the democratic process and witness Richie Zisk get elected Best Designated Hitter in franchise history, would you? Although I heard something about Edgar Martinez’s emails the other day, so… you know what, it doesn’t matter, just vote.

We went through and made our selections, stopping to enjoy the many photos of current and former M’s in their heyday. Some of the pictures were just too good to be ignored, so we decided to pay homage to the very best photos with the following selection of the greatest Mariners in history as selected by their ballot headshot.

If you find yourself stuck on who to vote for, always use the mugshot as a tiebreaker. That’s our theory, at least.

1B – Bruce Bochte

40thannballot_bochte

Bruce Bochte is probably best remembered for becoming the first Seattle Mariner to record a hit in an All-Star Game (at the Kingdome, no less), which makes him a worthy addition to the 40th Anniversary ballot. The photo, though? That’s another story.

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Hot Mic Catches Mariners Broadcaster Speaking the Truth


aoki

It’s not often during a ballgame you hear a broadcaster say exactly what every fan happens to be thinking.

Lucky for us, a hot microphone and an abrupt return from commercial break caught Mariners announcer Dave Sims in a moment of sheer honesty.

Shortly after M’s left fielder Norichika Aoki unleashed a hideous throw to home plate that sailed all the way to the backstop, Sims had this to say on the ROOT Sports broadcast:

Aoki’s defense rivals that of only James Harden, and his throwing arm would play better at the Little League World Series, so it isn’t surprising to hear someone lament his shortcomings in the field.

And in the end, the terrible throw proved fairly inconsequential, as the Mariners were shut out by the New York Yankees 5-0.

Still, it was pretty awesome hearing a guy paid to watch the team speak the truth, if even for a split second.

Go Sims. Go M’s.

The Mariners’ Gameday Etiquette Dilemma

usher (2)

It has been fifteen years since the Mariners were really, really good, so forgive us for not knowing how to act in the wake of the team’s recent success.

On Saturday night, as the M’s were on the verge of beating the Milwaukee Brewers, television cameras captured an encounter between a Safeco Field usher and one such member of the Mariners faithful who happened to be cheering on the hometown nine. Video was shared online, and inquiring minds began immediately asking questions and recapping personal accounts of similar brushes with stadium staff.

The organization quickly responded to the uproar, and on Sunday a member of the team’s front office reached out to share details of what took place before and after the recorded incident.

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Usher Silences Fans As Mariners Silence Brewers

usher

It’s rare for the Seattle Mariners to find themselves in a playoff race, but here we are nearing the end of August and the M’s are in the thick of the postseason hunt.

What should be cause for celebration is apparently being muted by Safeco Field’s ushers, many of whom have worked hard over the years to stifle fun in the ballpark.

One such usher went rogue on Saturday night, in the midst of the Mariners’ 8-2 win over Milwaukee.

With two outs in the top of the eighth inning, the tying run at the plate, a full count on batter Chris Carter, and Felix Hernandez on the mound, one would reasonably expect fans to come to their feet and cheer on their ace. Not in this usher’s section, though:

Okay, get past the fact that the fan in question looks like he got lost on his way to The ‘Pen, and focus on his behavior. He’s doing nothing wrong. He’s standing and cheering for his team in a close contest. Why any usher would choose to reprimand the actions of a fan doing exactly what he’s supposed to is a bit confusing.

If anything, the seemingly indifferent crowd around this side show could use a bit of a pick-me-up.

It’s a pennant chase, people. Enjoy it.

Beware the Unstoppable Force

walkoff

In beach towns the world around, towering wooden posts affixed with oversized speakers dot the coastal landscape. Blending in beneath the mercurial skies that quickly shuttle across their seaboards, these manmade edifices serve as gentle reminders of a possible storm that could arrive at any moment.

Should these speakers ever sound a siren, those who call such hamlets home know that the unstoppable force of a tsunami heads their way. With waves that enact true natural disaster, the sirens act as a warning to all who lie in the path of imminent devastation. The force cannot be stopped, of course. But those who may meet its violence head-on have one final opportunity to take cover.

Perhaps it is a unique coincidence that Seattle’s baseball team chooses to employ a nautical theme. Mariners, navigators of the open water, don’t often leave destruction in their wake, however. Mariners, 25-man compilations of ballplayers, rarely wreak havoc, themselves. In this particular season, though, that seems to be changing. So maybe it’s time we let everyone know about these guys.

The patriarch is a king, both by nickname and reputation. Armed with the nastiest of change-ups, he has sat atop a veritable throne as one of the game’s best pitchers for more than a decade. Even the most average of fans has probably heard of him.

There is a second baseman, cool as an autumn breeze, who blows pink bubbles as he deftly destroys baseballs hurled in his direction. And should a batter mistakenly hit a ball his way, it will be scooped up and used to spell one’s very demise before ninety feet have passed, don’t you know.

His partner in crime, a barrel chested behemoth they call Cruz, effortlessly pummels pitches with the confident authority of a veteran pugilist. His batting practice sessions might as well be promotional giveaways – thousands of fans have surely left the park with a souvenir on his behalf.

The first baseman wears a silver charm necklace and beams ear to ear with the cherubic grin of a toddler who just discovered his favorite toy. He is plush, like a teddy bear, beneath the billowy draping of his oversized uniform. But don’t let the look fool you. At the plate, he coils like a rattlesnake, kicks, and unleashes venom upon the most unhittable of heaters.

Across the diamond, his corner counterpart is a matter-of-fact model of consistency. From his golden glove to a swing that pounds out singles and doubles with a steadiness aligned with his everyday approach. His alias is as simple as his ever-reliable grasp on success, Simply.

The closer is devastatingly filthy, so sick he’ll make you sick, his fastball hot as habañero ipecac, his slider seemingly doused in tainted mayonnaise. The best hitters will look physically ill flailing at even his worst stuff; his best stuff will crush one’s hopes and dreams.

There’s one southpaw from up north who throws one-hundred miles per hour. Another who dazzles with more casual stuff, whose name literally translates to “Wade the White,” mystical in nature, not unlike his potential distant ancestor, Gandalf.

There is a bear with a no-no to his credit, a center fielder allowed to fire a bazooka on unsuspecting opponents, a catcher with Herculean power, and an arsenal of hard-throwing rejuvenated renovations in relief.

A backup first baseman who hits walk-off dingers, a utility man whose name an entire stadium chanted in unison, a handsome devil who spurns the advances of left-handed pitchers, and a dad who serves as a surrogate father to all the righties he’s owned.

This is it.

This is the team.

They’re scraping and clawing their way towards a postseason berth for the first time in fifteen years and it’s time the world took notice.

It’s Seattle’s time now. The Mariners are coming.

Consider this your siren.

Beware the unstoppable force.

Go For It, Jerry

Jerry DipotoSports fans are inherently selfish. If it was up to us, rebuilding years wouldn’t exist and every single season would involve a championship pursuit. Money would be no object, and like monopolizing board game tycoons we’d buy everything in sight and kick our competition’s ass all up and down St. Charles Place.

We are never satisfied, sports fans. We want it all and more. We want the rings and the trophies and the gaudy commemorative gear. We want our guys to be the best and your guys to be the worst. We actually yearn for wins with our tangible promotional giveaways, and we crave the taste of success, not sorrow, amidst the bubbles of our ten-dollar stadium beers.

This is the backdrop for our 2016 Seattle Mariners, who have pieced together the type of campaign that warrants a serious decision in the coming days: win now at the expense of later, or win later at the expense of now.

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Thank You, Ken

CoJwCboXgAAWVteI will start with my family.

Ken Griffey, Jr. has no idea what he has done for my family, so let’s begin there.

We love baseball, my family. When I was little, my dad would take us to games at the Kingdome a few times each year. We would get there two hours beforehand, as soon as the gates opened, and race up the concrete ramps until we reached the first base side of the 300 level.

It made little sense, arriving so early to take in batting practice from a location where not a single batted ball would travel, but we did it anyway. We liked being up there and soaking it all in.

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Karate Emergency Ep. 28: Vacate This

Sonics Rally

We’re in mourning over the death of Sonics Arena this week, at the hands of the evil Seattle City Council. In the aftermath of the execution, reaction has been decidedly negative. Is the vitriol warranted?

Seattle’s favorite quarterback weighs in on the arena news, but does he really deserve praise for backing the movement?

And the first place Mariners, winners of 14 of their last 19 games, are finally refusing to lose. What’s next for the hometown nine?

All of that, plus Slickhawk tries his hand at glamping on this week’s Karate Emergency!

You’re Wrong About Mariners Fans

couchguyAn hour after you told yourself you’d go to the gym, you slouch chin-to-chest in the recesses of a couch that, pray to Jesus, never sees the glow of a blacklight.

Fully ensconced in the bowels of an impending loss, you watch in the silence of your own bitter misery as the Mariners bullpen pisses away a lead like a terrible parent draining their child’s community college fund at the nearest tribal casino.

This is shit, you think. Why am I sitting here? When did I take off my pants? Do I have any beer left, or is this the last one? I should eat dinner soon. No, I still need to go to the gym. I’ll wait until after we hit. The bottom of the order’s coming up? Fuck, I might as well leave right now. No—the bottom of the order has been killing it lately, and there’s no more Zunino. Okay, I’ll stay. The gym is open 24 hours anyway.

“God damn it, what the fuck?!”

The silence is broken by your own tenor, you realize, as a barrage of incoherent frustration escapes you in a moment of mental fragility.

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