One of the great things about baseball is that in any given game you have the potential to see something you’ve never seen before. I experienced a Never Seen Before moment on Monday as I sat huddled against the brutal cold of Opening Day at Safeco Field. In the fifth inning it started to snow. I’ve seen snow delays early in the season in cold winter cities such as Detroit, Boston, and Cleveland, but I don’t think it has ever snowed during a baseball game in Seattle.
Mind you, when we parked it was a lovely warm and sunny day, probably about 50 degrees. I decided to leave my sweatshirt in the car thinking it would stay warm. Bad decision. Somehow we survived nine long frigid innings (with the help of copious amounts of hot chocolate) and it was worth every bone chilling moment.
Erik Bedard got some heat (ha, ha) from callers to the post game show for his “poor” showing. I thought he did fabulous when you take everything into account. He allowed 1 run in 5 innings, striking out 5. Yes, he also walked 4 but he was able to minimize the damage and not a single one of those walks scored. As I mentioned above it was COLD. It can be difficult for pitchers to grip the ball effectively and get good movement under those conditions. Plus, spending the last month and a half in Arizona isn’t exactly realistic preperation for beginning of the season weather. Kenji Johjima mentioned that he warmed up well and they thought he was going to have his A game, but the bullpens are heated and the field is not. All in all, I thought it was a promising start.
Adam Jones went 0 for 3 in his Orioles debut. So far, the trade is a draw but expect comparisons to continue all season (oh, if only we could be so lucky that it will stop then!).
I loved how during the post game ceremonies Safeco Field announcer Tom Hudyler made sure to mention that J.J. Putz is the first Mariner reliever to win the Rolaids Relief Man Award. J.J. was his dominant, electric self in the ninth innning. Although, I think he was toying with the fans a bit and stretching it out to prevent us from seeking shelter from the cold. I’m afraid I still bear the psychological damage from the Oh No Bullpen Boys days. As soon as the starter leaves, no matter what the score is, I feel that familar lurch in my stomach. Jake, who came to be a Mariner fan after Ayala and Co. had made their exit, has none of those problems. Mariners managment should offer some sort of trauma counciling to fans so we can move past those days.
Speaking of Mariners relief pitchers, I was heartened to hear the round of cheers Norm Charlton received. Yes, he was a member of the Oh No Bullpen Boys, but let’s not forget he was also a Nasty Boy. He had his problems for sure. I remember Dave Niehaus (soon to be Hall of Famer Dave Niehaus) commenting that the Sheriff had perhaps fallen off his horse and into some excrement on the side of the road after a particularly bad game. Despite his problems, I could never muster up revile for him the way I did Bobby Ayala, Healthcliff Slocumb, and Mike Timlin. Charlton always had such a passion for the game and his heart was in every pitch he threw. Very few players give 100% day in and day out he way he did.
The team played Mac Ball yesterday and I hope they can keep it up. I’ve always thought manufacturing runs led to more exciting innings than solo homeruns, but maybe I’m just old school. I heard a suggestion that the Mariners pick up Barry Bonds later in the season to help with their power production. If they do, I swear before you all right now that I will never watch another Mariners game ever. That would be such a horrible, horrible move and I’m pretty sure it would alienate a good percentage of the fans. So, to prevent such a travesty, Richie, please, please, please starting hitting this year!