Your Seattle Mariners--with mixed helpings of optimism and gloom

I think that any fan of the Mariners is currently struggling on how to feel about their team right now.

On the one hand, they've got a winning record. On the other, they've only played 5 (well, 5 and a half if you count that terrible snowy abomination in Cleveland last Friday) with five games being canceled due to weather.

On the one hand, they've had brilliant games by Felix Hernandez and a decent start by Washburn. On the other, all their other starters have looked absolutely terrible.

On the one hand, the offense has found ways to win when the pitching is good. On the other, the team has a collective AVG of .187 and an OBP of .228. Not good numbers.

Geoff Baker has a pretty gloomy blog post that sums up the dire side of things. However, I think he may be jumping to conclusions that we simply can't come to until the Mariners play a few more games and get into a rhythm. I still think Wednesday's game gives fans a lot of reasons to hope: the Mariners got several hard hits against a difficult pitcher. They strung hits together. They took pitches--yes, they only got a couple walk, but I saw patience at the plate, and that's something they've struggled with. Ultimately, I think that while the numbers paint a pretty dim picture of this team, looking at the whole story makes it seem pretty silly to come to any sort of conclusions at this point.

I think the Mariners have a chance to win a series against a not very good Texas team this weekend. And then, they'll be up in the standings with a little breathing room, and who knows what they might come up with.

In the other news, Washburn is a funny guy and I have added him to my "players I like" list.

After yesterday's game got rained out:

Hernandez, who pitched in cold but completely dry weather Wednesday, looked at Washburn and started laughing at the lefty having had his start pushed back until tonight when Texas visits Safeco Field.

Washburn, not to be outdone, said, "Hey, Felix, I didn't give up any hits today."

A little more on the rain:

Washburn tried to make light of his situation.

“I’ve now prepared to face three teams for the same start – that has to be a record,” he said.

Scheduled to pitch in Cleveland, he didn’t. Scheduled to pitch in Boston, he didn’t. Tonight, barring an earthquake or some other natural disaster, he’ll face Texas in Safeco Field.

“The bright side is, they don’t have any recent video of me pitching,” Washburn deadpanned. “I haven’t pitched since April 3.”


Felix Hernandez just threw a one-hitter

The defense was outstanding, Felix was outstanding, the offense stepped up with a little run support. It's a good day to be a Mariners fan.


Daisuke Matsuzaka vs, Felix Hernandez and Ichiro. Boston vs. Seattle. Two young, possibly brilliant pitchers. Two Japanese superstars. Two American League powerhou-- oh, wait. Ok, so one good team and one possibly really bad team. Although it's hard to tell anything about the Mariners at this point after the long layoff and the abomination 14-3 whipping they took yesterday.

Doesn't matter. Tonight's game (on ESPN2 no less!) has the potential to be very interesting. If only because Felix and Ichiro.

And as much as I want our two key guys to go out there and impress in their little matchups--more than that, I want the Mariners to win. And I don't really care how they do it. 1-0 with an Ichiro homer and nothing but terrible hitting from the rest of the guys? Felix blows it but somehow the offense rallies? Those would be ugly wins, but I'll take 'em.

If I can't have a win, I at least hope that Felix can be impressive on the national stage. If the entire team can avoid looking like fools, that would be nice too. I have this hope--and it may be ridiculous--that the Mariners will come out fired up because of the matchup, because of yesterday's terrible game, because of a weekend of sitting around not being able to play.

We'll see what happens tonight.


professional sports players need your hugs: ARod especially

Sorry for the break in posting, I've been busy. And unfortunately, not with sports. Baseball in particular has been frustrating me: the Mariners opened the season with a couple wins, a loss, and then days and days of nothing due to snow in Cleveland. I was so desperate for baseball I was forced to watch the Braves on TBS. Hopefully the Matsusaka/Hernandez match up on Wednesday will make up for drought.

But today I have thoughts on another matter: Alex Rodriguez. In case you haven't been paying attention, A-Rod hit a bottom of the ninth game winning grand slam this weekend. Pretty cool. And as a local sports talk fellow on the radio noted this afternoon, he followed up that performance with another home run on the very first pitch he saw in the next game. This after receiving standing ovation from the Yankees crowd. But this fellow also noted that at his next at bat, Rodriguez popped up with men on base. And the crowd promptly booed him. They booed him! ARod has to do SOMETHING at EVERY SINGLE AT BAT or else he will be booed. Consider how crazy this is in a game where getting a hit one third of the time that you come to the plate is considered very good hitting. It's nuts! It's impossible! It's no wonder that ARod is a borderline nut case who needs a ton of therapy to remain semifunctional, and it's not surprising that he is my first official Sports Guy that Needs a Hug.

Look at him. All pouty and upset with himself after striking out and no doubt being booed strongly by the fans who oughta support him through a tough at bat. But look what happens when you give him a little emotional support!

He hits you home runs and scampers around the basepath like a happy puppy! Isn't that much better? Come on guys, you have one of the premier offensive players in the game today. Is it that hard to get behind one of your players? I know you want him to succeed in the playoffs, but he can't make October come any faster, so why not give him a little support now?

Think of it this way: ARod is like Tinkerbell in the stage version of Peter Pan. In the show, we learn that every time a person says "I don't believe in fairies" a fairy drops down dead. But we also discover that people's belief in fairies can bring them back to life. At one point, Tinkerbell is poisoned and dying, and Peter Pan urges the crowd to clap and say "I DO believe in fairies" and once they do that with enough enthusiasm, Tinkerbell is restored.

So treat ARod like Tinkerbell. Especially if you're a Yankee fan. Because wouldn't you rather he do great things than drop dead?

My girlfriend Jaci happens to be a Yankee fan. I don't like it but part of liking someone is accepting their flaws. We'll be going to the Seattle/Yankees games this May. And while we'll be cheering for separate teams, we've decided that we'll both cheer for Alex Rodriguez. And I urge you, if you should ever find yourself at a Yankee game--no matter what team you're cheering for, give ARod a little love. The man needs all the hugs he can get, stat.