It 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.”
Guess what, kids. You’re probably not going to grow to be 6’10” like Chris Young, or even 6’3” like Felix Hernandez. More than likely you’ll stand about 5’9” or so, which is both the average height of the American male and the exact listed height of reliever Danny Farquhar. We’re not here to lie to you or falsely inflate your hopes. Instead, we’ll just give you this disappointing Farquhar growth chart and watch you blossom into a really mediocre adult.
21. Cole Gillespie “Guess Which of These Guys Is Actually A Mariner” Night
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.”
The 2013 baseball season is underway and you don’t know how you should feel about our beloved Seattle Mariners. Fear not, M’s fans. I’m not here to tell you how you should feel (that’s no one’s place), but I can give you 11 reasons why you might be able to shed some cynicism and believe in this year’s team.
Without further delay…
11. Chone Figgins is gone.
Lest you think three years of vitriol directed towards the Mariners’ sometimes-third baseman was unwarranted, consider this:
In between Sunday afternoons spent watching Nickelodeon Guts and Family Double Dare and all the other kid shows that permeated every kid’s existence in the kid-friendly, kid-centric Nineties, I was a baseball fan. My summers were punctuated by bruises and scuffed knees and mosquito bites that only seemed to multiply each time I scratched them. I had a glove with Ken Griffey Jr.’s name burned into the pocket, a wardrobe full of blue and yellow Mariners apparel, snapback caps with an “S” on the crown, and this belief, however foolish, that I would one day grow up to be them.
Throughout the duration of every season, I would type up, print out, and maintain a list of each player on the Mariners’ active roster. Jersey number, name, and position. If Dann Howitt got called up from Triple-A, then by god you’d find me in front of a Macintosh Classic typing Howitt’s information into Microsoft Works. And if I went to a game to discover that Howitt’s jersey number had inexplicably been switched from 23 to 44, upon arriving home that edit would be made, saved, printed, and kept. I could give you the details on every single player, from No. 1 (Greg Briley and Brian Turang) all the way to No. 96 (Mak Suzuki).
In the summer of 2003, I was a proud high school graduate with little in the way of responsibility and all the time in the world to contemplate my future.
I was 18 years old and would be headed to the University of Washington come autumn. I had a job working retail at the mall, but my concerns rarely lent themselves to selling shoes or folding t-shirts. I’d rather hang out, watch baseball, listen to music, go to movies, impress the opposite sex, or work out — all of this according to my AOL Instant Messenger profile, of course.
I was still very much a kid back then, one who had never really emerged from the cocoon that seems to envelop the Greater Seattle suburbs. I was naive, goofy, quiet, innocent, and all the things you tend to be before you settle into adulthood.
In that final summer before college commenced, I just wanted to hang out with all the other kids that I’d grown up with. Kids who would move on to different schools in different towns. Kids I might never see again. Kids that I enjoyed being around. I think we knew back then that life would never really be the same for any of us. And for the final few months of our adolescence, it was important that we embrace the memories we had in our past, as well as those we would create over the following weeks.
When Jose Lopez tomahawked the living piss out of a chest-high fastball from Yankees relief pitcher Joba Chamberlain on Saturday night, well I’m not gonna lie to you, I nearly exploded all over rows 36 and 37 of section 132 at Safeco Field.
That would have been bad news for a bunch of self-proclaimed New York fans, who had been deposited in the seats in and around me by the Yankee bandwagon which happened to be rolling through town. Of course, knowing how classy most Yanks fan truly are, I’m sure most of those folks are used to getting jizzed on. And yes, I said jizzed. It’s my blog, I’ll do what I want.
Even in the midst of a lost season, the isolated incident that was Lopez’s game-winning grand slam home run could not have felt much better. That moment right there is what makes sports amazingly fantastic. It’s what we, as fans, live for. The unprecedented comeback, the euphoric celebration. It was great, just effing great.
A complete game, two-hit shutout against the weak-hitting San Diego Padres had to get him thinking. And it just as easily had the rest of us questioning his future, as well.
What would it be like if Felix Hernandez pitched in the National League? Last night may very well have been a preview of that distinct possibility.
In nine innings of work against the Pads, Felix allowed two singles — one to Tony Gwynn, Jr., another to Kevin Kouzmanoff — struck out six, walked four, and threw an ace-like 117 pitches. He dominated from start to finish and not only displayed his full range of ability, but also the stark contrast in talent between the hitter-friendly American League and the pitcher-friendly National League.