Worst Opening Day For Mariners In 35 Years

We’ve had 35 Home Openers in Mariners history, and if you add it all up, we’ve been fairly successful.  As a franchise, we started out 10-3 in Home Openers before going 5-5 over the next decade to close out the Kingdome’s Home Opener Record at 15-8.  In Safeco (not counting the mid-season Home Opener which was blown by Kaz Sasaki), we’re only 6-6, bringing our overall Home Opener Record to 21-14.  Still respectable, but I have a feeling most teams have winning records for their Home Openers.

12-3, a 9-run differential.  No other Home Opener shapes up.  Back in 1987, the Mariners lost to the Twins 8-1 for a 7-run differential.  Back in 1990, the Mariners lost to the A’s 15-7 (an 8-run differential and the most runs given up by a Mariners team in their Home Opener; a feat we somehow didn’t have shattered last night).  As a point of reference, the 1987 Twins won the World Series that year; and the 1990 A’s lost in the World Series to Lou Piniella and the Cincinnati Reds.

So, if history holds serve, either the 2011 Indians will win it all this year, or they will lose in the World Series to our future Hall of Fame manager.  Either way, go to Vegas and put your money on the Tribe; you’ll still get good odds, I guarantee it.

Until last night, I had never been to a Home Opener.  My record in Home Openers is 0-1.  Next year, I’m going to Night 2.

I’ll try to set the scene for you:  the weather was absolutely sparkling yesterday.  The sun was out, there was a nice crisp breeze blowing ever so slightly; it was a perfect night for baseball in April.  I got off work and went straight to Sodo for a Louisiana Red Hot with grilled onions and a Sprite.  Next on my agenda:  I wanted to buy a Mariners hat.  Classic navy blue with the S and the Mariners star on the front, size 8.  Then, it was over to Pyramid where it was jumping with M’s fans; I promptly left when I saw the line for the beer garden was nearly as long as the line to get into the stadium.

They were handing out “Go Mariners!” signs outside Safeco, so I picked one of them up.  They were also giving away magnetic Mariners calendars inside Safeco as well as a green Mariners Opening day bandana.  Met up with a couple of friends and we headed over to our seats.  Section 115, row 15 on the first base side in Right Field.  Bought a beer, a souvenir soda, and a couple more Sodo Dogs before settling in with my scorecard and my glove.

At 6:30, the festivities started.  First, they announced the entire Cleveland Indians team, including equipment managers.  Then, it was our turn.  Fireworks!  Explosions!  The red carpets rolled out for every Mariner announced!  They presented Gold Gloves to Franklin Gutierrez (not in attendance as he’s still working to make it back to the big club in Arizona) and Ichiro.  They also gave Ichiro a ceremonial plaque since he recently became the Mariners’ all-time hits leader.  This got the biggest ovation of the night as the previous Mariners’ all-time hits leader walked out of the dugout to present it to him.  Oh Edgar, how we miss you so!  Finally, Felix got his Cy Young award and we were almost ready for the first pitch.

But first, one more tribute to Dave Niehaus.  Dave Niehaus Way – the ceremonial street named after him along 1st Ave next to the stadium – as well as having the broadcast booth named after him.  Of course, there’s still the Dave “My Oh My” patches the players are wearing (as well as the statue that’s going to be build sometime in the near future).  Then, local white rapper McLemore Macklemore came out to perform his Dave Niehaus song; he was about as good as you’d think a local white rapper would be.  Finally, Marilyn Niehaus – widow of Dave – threw the ceremonial first pitch to Felix who was catching.

Then, around 7:20pm, it was Game On.

Jason Vargas took the hill and promptly gave up a solo homer to Asdrubal Cabrera, former Seattle Mariner (a prospect traded to the Indians under Bill Bavasi for a handful of magic beans).  The second inning went 1-2-3 thanks to a double play, and the third inning went almost as easily.

The Mariners were down only 1-0 when the dancing morons showed up after the 3rd inning.  You know who I’m talking about:  they’re local favorites who always get the biggest cheers because they’re uncoordinated white people dancing with rakes.  The fucking groundscrew dancers, how I hate them so!  They did their thing, then the 4th inning happened.

Five straight hits, punctuated by a double from Austin Kearns.  Then, a sacrifice fly knocked in another run before one final single knocked Vargas from the game.  By that point, he’d given up 5 runs in the inning, then Tom Wilhelmsen entered and gave up 1 more for Vargas and another 4 more for himself.  14 Indians went to the plate, 10 runs scored – it thoroughly made me question why I ever decide to keep score at baseball games; my scorecard couldn’t look more abysmal.

Wilhelmsen gave up another unearned run in the 5th inning to close his book.  We were down 12-0 at the time, with the fans streaming for the exits.

I’ll say this about Wilhelmsen:  either he was nervous AGAIN – this time being his first in front of the home crowd – or he just isn’t ready for the Major Leagues.  My guess is, he will be in Tacoma before the month’s out.  Maybe even before the weekend’s out.

As for Vargas, this just looked like a bad day.  I couldn’t tell what the Indians were hitting – if they were good pitches down and away, or meatballs up and over the plate – but I’m generally not too worried about our Number 2 starter.  I think he’ll turn it around as early as his next start.

Aaron Laffey went the next 2 innings, giving up only a hit and a walk (seemingly cementing his status as our bullpen lefty); that brought us to the end of the 7th inning.

The time when me and my friends decided to leave.  We were down 12-1.  They could’ve given us 27 more innings and we probably wouldn’t have scored the 12 runs it would’ve taken to win that game.  Apparently Lueke and Wright shut the Indians down over the final 2 innings, and apparently we scored a couple of runs in the bottom of the 9th to make it less dreadful, but really, who cares?

This was an onslaught.  This was NOT the way we needed to start our season at home.  How are the Mariners going to hold onto the casual fans they have left if they’re throwing out duds like this?

This was CERTAINLY not the way to honor Dave’s memory.  What a joke.  My prediction of 65 wins is looking more like unrealistic positive thinking than a lowball guess made by the jaded.

Once again, Chone Figgins went hitless in 5 at bats, lowering his average to .100.  Once again, we were totally incompetent with runners in scoring position (1 for 8), but what did THAT matter?  If we don’t have picture-perfect pitching from our starters, we don’t have a chance in Hell of winning ANY games this year.  Our offense couldn’t overcome a measly 2-run deficit, much less a 12-run deficit!

I just don’t know what to say anymore.  We’re going to lose 100 games again, Jackie Z will be shitcanned, and we’re going to start this whole fucking process all over again.  Luckily for the Mariners, the world is going to end in 2012, so all the losing in the world doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things, does it?

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