I moved this to my Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings heading HERE.
I remember June 16, 2008, like it was seven years and a few weeks ago. We were in the middle of a year that would just get worse and worse and worse. The Mariners, coming off of a winning 2007 campaign, revamped their starting rotation with the Erik Bedard trade and the Carlos Silva signing. A would-be weakness for the team was bolstered by the addition of a second ace pitcher, and an innings eater who’d solidify the back-end of the rotation while pitching half his games in the spacious Safeco Field.
Those 2008 Mariners would go on to lose over 100 games, netting the #2 overall draft pick. On June 16, 2008, Bill Bavasi was fired after four and a half miserable fucking seasons. And we all rejoiced, for we all knew Bavasi was not only the face of Satan incarnate, but the most bumbling and inept motherfucker ever to be given the keys to a professional franchise (tell me I’m wrong, COME AT ME BRO; I will fight you to the death). Every year of his reign was another chance to reload. Re-BUILD? What does that even MEAN? The Mariners were coming off of their most fruitful seasons under Pat Gillick; but those veterans were all long dead and buried. Bavasi made it his mission to bring in veteran after veteran to try to right the ship, at the expense of our entire farm system and anything else he could get his hands on. He wasted money, he traded away superstars, and he brought us nothing but losses piled upon losses piled upon shit.
On October 22, 2008, the Mariners brought in Jack Zduriencik, and while we didn’t really know much about him, we knew he worked in the upper management in Milwaukee, for a Brewers organization on the rise. He was responsible for that team bringing in some of its biggest stars, and was the first non-GM to win Executive of the Year in 2007. This guy was a rising star in his own right, and it seemed like he’d fit into the GM world like a glove.
On August 28, 2015, the Mariners fired Jack Zduriencik. He’d been at the helm for a little over 6 and a half seasons. So, it was time. He’d out-lasted his predecessor and really wasn’t all that much better at his job.
Bill Bavasi’s Mariners record: 322-395, .449 winning percentage
Jack Zduriencik’s Mariners record: 506-595, .460 winning percentage
Over time, the Bavasi regime has become known for the Erik Bedard/Adam Jones trade, and the dual trades to the Indians in 2006 giving them quality All Stars Shin-Soo Choo and Asdrubal Cabrera for magic beans. Those are desperate moves no GM would EVER live down. The Zduriencik regime will ultimately go down for the Triad of Suck that was Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero. The Mariners gave up some legitimately great capital to bring in those guys (2nd overall draft pick, Cliff Lee, and Michael Pineda, respectively) and they all blew up in Z’s face.
Considering Jackie Z’s extensive history in scouting for Major League Baseball, that makes his transgressions all the more galling. He’d been here for over 6 years and all he had to show for his work was Kyle Seager. Anyone he ever brought in who was worth a damn was either an established free agent (Cano, Cruz) or some scrub who’d previously washed out of baseball either via injury or ineffectiveness, only to make his comeback with us for an anomalous year or two (Chris Young, Mark Lowe, Tom Wilhelmsen, Joe Beimel). I mean, will you LOOK at some of the bullshit that’s crossed our paths thanks to Jackie Z:
- Dustin Ackley, draft pick
- Chone Figgins, free agent
- Eric Byrnes, free agent
- Justin Smoak, trade
- The Entire Doug Fister Trade, less Charlie Furbush (a sometimes-okay lefty specialist out of the bullpen)
- Jesus Montero, trade
- Brandon League, trade
- Casey Kotchman, trade
- Mike Morse for John Jaso
- Logan Morrison for Carter Capps
- Mark Trumbo for Welington Castillo
- Mike Zunino, draft pick
- Danny Hultzen, draft pick
- Nick Franklin, draft pick
- Corey Hart, free agent
- Jason Bay, free agent
- Joe Saunders, free agent
- Hector Noesi, trade
- Miguel Olivo, free agent
- The Hitless Wonder That Is Brendan Ryan, trade
- Jack Cust, free agent
- Blake Beavan, trade
- Milton Bradley, trade
- Rob Johnson, trade(ish)
You could go on and on, and I know I’m just picking and choosing the most worthless piles of crap out there, but LOOK AT THAT LIST! Look at all those miserable bastards that have contributed to nearly 600 losses the last 6+ seasons! That’s Jack’s legacy! Did he give away studs on par with Jones, Choo, Cabrera, Tillman and the like? No. But, he did get PENNY on the dollar out of stud trade chips like Cliff Lee, Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, Brandon Morrow, John Jaso, and Carter Capps. He had three draft picks in the top 3 overall and we’ve yet to see any of them amount to anything more than somewhat quality defense. After this year, it’s highly likely two of those three draft picks won’t even be in the organization, with Ackley traded, Hultzen an injured free agent who should probably retire, and Mike Zunino fighting for his life somewhere between Tacoma and Seattle.
Was he as destructive as Bill Bavasi? No, he was not. That’s why August 28, 2015, came and went a little bit differently than June 16, 2008. I don’t feel quite the sense of elation as I did when Bavasi finally got the ax. That was on par with the Wicked Witch of the West getting assassinated; this is more like Old Yeller taking a bullet out behind the house. Could the Mariners afford to keep him in charge even one more year? Absolutely not. His rabies-infested mind would surely destroy us all; he NEEDED to be put down, for his sake as much as our own.
But, it’s not even like that. I have no real affinity for Jackie Z; it’s not like I’m going to miss him now that he’s gone. But, it’s still a bummer, because this isn’t supposed to be how it ended. There was a lot of flawed decision-making when it comes to Jackie Z’s reign; but, there’s also a lot of moves where you could see why he thought the way he did. A lot of moves that looked good on paper, and then that paper was set ablaze by a fucking cannon. Guys like Smoak and Ackley and Figgins and Montero – they all came highly touted and having produced quite a bit in their careers up to the point they arrived in Seattle.
In fact, you could say 2015 was a perfect microcosm of the entire Jackie Z era. There was hope – coming off of a year where the Mariners ended up 1 game out of the playoffs. There was a smart signing – Nelson Cruz, MVP candidate in 2015. There was flawed logic – trading away a professional catcher during Zunino’s worst year in the Bigs for a righty power bat who will never play well in Safeco (and who’s yet another DH who shouldn’t be playing out in the field to boot). And there was a whole lot of bad luck – Cano’s shitty start to the season, Ackley turning back into a pumpkin after last year’s bonanza second half, the bullpen absolutely falling apart after being one of the best units in the American League last year.
Like him or hate him, it’s just sad. This whole season has been depressing as shit! Jackie Z getting the boot is just the cherry on top.
The worst part is: what do we do going forward? When Bavasi was fired, there was a clear thought process: scrap everything and start over through the draft. It only got muddled when the Mariners had a winning record in 2009; that shouldn’t have happened, and it set things back in a lot of ways. The Mariners made “contending ballclub” moves when they should’ve stuck to the gameplan to keep rebuilding. It backfired in 2010, meaning we wasted two good rebuilding years thinking we were worth a damn. We started anew in 2011, built the club up into a winner in 2014, only to see it all bottom out yet again. Unexpectedly. Yet again. But, maybe we should have expected it. This city is cursed in a lot of ways, and it took one of the greatest football teams of all time to break that spell in 2013.
Now, like in 2008, the Mariners have no farm system. But, they’ve got plenty good at the Major League level. This team is far from great, but it’s also far from the worst. Will the organization be able to find the right guy to come in here and put all the pieces in place?
Because Howard Lincoln is still the man calling all the shots.
He’s an imbecile and he needs to go.
But, we’re stuck with him, and that’s why we’ll always be losers.
With all of these Quad-A outfielders being thrown around (Greg Halman, Mike Carp, Carlos Peguero, Mike Wilson, Michael Saunders, the newly acquired Casper Wells, Wily Mo Pena, and Trayvon Robinson), there’s been talk that Franklin Gutierrez needs to step it up or risk losing significant playing time (even talk of him being traded and becoming the next great defensive 4th outfielder).
I will grant you, Guti has been a huge disappointment. From whenever this stomach ailment first kicked in around midseason of last year, through the present, Guti has been very un-Guti at the plate (“Guti” being synonymous with all things awesome). But, if you’re thinking that this is the perfect time to unload a troublesome bat, I would pray you reconsider.
History is riddled with guys whose teams gave up on them too soon. Hell, right off the top of my head I can think of any number of Mariners – David Ortiz, Shin Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, Raul Ibanez (the first time we let him go in free agency), Carlos Guillen, Mike Morse – ALL of those guys have gone on to bigger and better things for other teams. I fear, if we end up trading Guti this offseason, he’s going to bulk up, get stronger, and be a better-than-average-at-the-plate centerfielder (to go along with his top-of-the-line defense). I DON’T want to see that happen.
I’m no doctor, but I gotta think that these stomach things (IBS or Crohn’s Disease or whatever) don’t just fix themselves overnight. Not only do you have to overhaul your entire dietary way of life, but you have to give these changes time to stick. You don’t go from feeling like utter shit, to feeling like a .300-hitting Major Leaguer just like THAT. And, I imagine, making all these changes during the middle of a baseball season isn’t exactly conducive towards a speedy recovery.
Like, imagine if you’re a baseball pitcher, and you find out just before the season starts that you’ve got diabetes … are you REALLY going to snap back to being a Cy Young candidate just because you have your illness diagnosed? Of course not. Shit like that takes time to come to grips with! Then, after you’ve mentally girded yourself, you’ve still got the long process of normalizing how you feel. So you can go out there every day and play the game of baseball!
Guti is a huge talent. He’s shown that he’s able to handle American League pitching. He’s CERTAINLY shown he’s a better hitter than what he’s been so far THIS year! He’s not old, he’s not fat, so you can’t say he’s simply losing his ability like every Major Leaguer eventually will. He’s just been weakened by this debilitating disease and it’s going to take him some time to get back to full strength.
If he’s not already turning it around in the month of September, then I would fully expect him to bounce back better than ever by next spring. He knows what he has to do to get better and get stronger, he will have survived this punishing 2011 campaign, and I bet he’ll be more motivated than ever to turn it all around and give this team the centerfielder it deserves!
Besides, there are defensive 4th outfielders, and then there’s Guti. His defense is special. His defense is something you don’t give up on just because of some woes at the plate. He’ll turn it around. You’ll see.
I just hope he’ll turn it around while he’s still a member of this team.
Editor’s Note: This is the original blog post. If you want to see the comprehensive list, click HERE. I update the master list semi-regularly, whenever I can find the time.
You don’t become a city that’s gone 32 years (and counting) between professional sports championships without a little help along the way. I don’t know everything there is to know about all the other cities with pro teams; hell, I don’t even know everything there is to know about Seattle’s sports history … but I have to figure we’re at least in the top two as far as player personnel incompetence is concerned.
The following is a timeline of all the botched trades, busted draft picks, and lousy free agent signings that have befallen this city, at least since I started becoming a sports fan. I’m gonna throw this thing in the ol’ menu bar at the top and the plan is to update it continuously. Obviously, it’ll never be complete, so I thoroughly encourage any suggestions.
April 28, 1987 – (Seahawks) – Brian Bosworth, 1st Round Supplemental Draft Pick: the Seahawks went big on the defensive side of the ball in this draft, highlighted by the pick of Brian Bosworth out of Oklahoma at the end of the 1st round (I don’t know what happened to the Supplemental Round draft picks, so don’t look to me for an explanation here). I don’t know what it says about Bosworth, but the Seahawks also went after the linebacker position right before and after The Boz, with Tony Woods and David Wyman. It says all that needs to be said, however, that both of those guys would have better professional careers. But, did either of those guys star in “Stone Cold“? I think I rest my case.
April 23, 1988 – (Seahawks) – Undisclosed Draft Picks to Phoenix Cardinals for Kelly Stouffer: it’s difficult to peg down exactly which picks we gave up to get this stiff, but rest assured that Kelly Stouffer was the beginning of the end for the Seahawks. We got a taste of glory in the 80s under Chuck Knox, with Dave Krieg at the helm and Steve Largent breaking all the receiving records later to be broken by Jerry Rice. But, as we looked to a new decade, it was apparent that Quarterback would be a position of need that we needed to fill. Starting with Stouffer, culminating with Rick Mirer, and still unsettled until Matt Hasselbeck took charge late in the 2002 season, the Seahawks were a blind franchise in an unforgiving wilderness for the entirety of the 1990s. All you need to know about Kelly Stouffer is that he held out his rookie season with the Cardinals due to a contract dispute. Then, the Seahawks tried to trade local legend Kenny Easley to get him, except Easley couldn’t pass the physical due to failing kidneys. We finally got our man, only to find out our man was good for a mere 2,333 yards in 22 games over 4 seasons, with 7 touchdowns and 19 interceptions.
April 21, 1991 – (Seahawks) – Dan McGwire, 1st Round Draft Pick: 17 picks later, the Atlanta Falcons would select future Hall of Famer Brett Favre. Little known fact: Seahawks head coach Chuck Knox WANTED to draft Brett Favre. Unfortunately, the Seahawks brass couldn’t be bothered with such matters, instead finding McGwire’s 6 foot 8 inch frame to be simply irresistible. Our “Quarterback of the Future” ended his Seahawks career after the 1994 season having thrown for 745 yards in 12 games with 2 touchdowns and 6 interceptions.
April 25, 1993 – (Seahawks) – Rick Mirer, 1st Round Draft Pick: we’ll always remember this as our golden opportunity to grab Drew Bledsoe first overall. Unfortunately, in week 3 of the 1992 season (on our way to a 2-14 finish), the Seahawks just HAD to go into New England and beat the Patriots 10-6 (who would also go on to finish 2-14). The Pats had the Number 1 pick as a result, and we settled for Rick Mirer. It should be noted that this was a particularly brutal year for incoming quarterbacks; though if we’d been a little patient, there was a 5th rounder by the name of Mark Brunell who was grabbed by the Packers and went on to bigger and better things with the Jaguars. Rick Mirer, on the other hand, ended his 4-year Seahawks career with 41 touchdowns and 56 interceptions, getting worse each and every year. On a positive note, one of the best trades in franchise history involved us unloading Mirer to the Bears for a first round pick we would use to trade up and get Shawn Springs. So, it’s hard to hate on the guy TOO much.
December 10, 1993 – (Mariners) – Mike Hampton & Mike Felder to Houston Astros for Eric Anthony: think Mike Hampton would’ve been a nice pitcher to have on all those pitching-starved teams of the late 90s? No, I don’t remember Eric Anthony either.
December 20, 1993 – (Mariners) – Omar Vizquel to Cleveland Indians for Felix Fermin & Reggie Jefferson: honestly, I don’t know WHAT we were thinking on this one. But, just 10 days after we made Mike Hampton a throw-in to a deal, we gave up Little-O for the equivalent of TWO throw-ins. Neither of whom would ever make a dent. That’s a bad fortnight for the Seattle Mariners.
February 25, 1994 – (Seahawks) – Nate Odomes signs 4-year, $8.4 million deal: I know the money doesn’t sound like a lot NOW, but back then that was a hefty price, especially for a cornerback. But, Odomes was one of the best while he played for the Bills. He was a Pro Bowler in ’92 and ’93, he had 19 interceptions from ’91-’93, and he was a guy other teams had to throw away from! Then, a few months later, he blew out his knee in a charity basketball game, missed all of 1994. THEN, he re-injured the same knee in training camp and missed all of 1995! We had him for 2 seasons, he never played a down for us, and ended up walking away with $4+ million. The long, lost, forgotten Seahawk Nate Odomes might go down as the worst free agent signing in team history.
December 7, 1995 – (Mariners) – Tino Martinez, Jim Mecir & Jeff Nelson to New York Yankees for Sterling Hitchcock & Russ Davis: *sigh*. So, we traded a first baseman in the beginning of his prime, and one of the best set-up men of the next DECADE for a couple of AAAA guys with huge flaws to their game. Hitchcock would forever be a disappointment, and Russ Davis would go on to be one of the worst defensive third basemen I’ve ever seen. I don’t care what anyone says, ultimately for what we gave away, this trade only rivals the Lowe/Varitek debacle for most completely idiotic in team history.
September 13, 1996 – (Mariners) – David Arias to Minnesota Twins for Dave Hollins: we all know him as David Ortiz, and in 1996 we had him in our farm system. I guess we all know what the Twins saw in him; too bad we didn’t see the same, otherwise maybe we wouldn’t have had this revolving door at first base and DH ever since Edgar and Olerud retired.
July 31, 1997 – (Mariners) – Derek Lowe & Jason Varitek to Boston Red Sox for Heathcliff Slocumb: here we are, the mother of all bad trades. Now, these two may not have been hall of famers, but they’re legends in Boston since they both helped to bring a world championship to town in 2004. Meanwhile, Heathcliff Slocumb was the BEST we could do at the time? We knew he was crap when we got him, yet HE was all we could get??? My fondest memory of Heathcliff Slocumb was when I was in the Kingdome as we clinched the AL West later that season. My least fond memory of Heathcliff Slocumb was every time I saw a Red Sox game with Derek Lowe & Jason Varitek.
July 31, 1997 – (Mariners) – Jose Cruz Jr. to Toronto Blue Jays for Paul Spoljaric & Mike Timlin: do you know what kind of disaster area the Seattle Mariners bullpen was in 1997? It single-handedly caused Woody Woodward to lose his fucking mind at the trading deadline. On the same day he would make the single worst Mariners trade ever, he also shipped off highly-touted prospect (probably the highest touting since A-Rod) for two pieces of dog meat. On the one hand, could you blame him? I mean, Norm Charlton and Bobby Ayala led the team in appearances that year with 71(!) apiece. Of course, on the other hand, Woody Woodward was a huge dope on this day, a day that will live on in infamy.
2000 – (Seahawks) – Ahman Green & 5th Round Pick to Green Bay Packers for Fred Vinson & 6th Round Pick: can’t seem to lock down an official date for this one, but figure it was sometime before April 16th in the year 2000. The late-round picks were a wash; neither worked out for either team. However, Fred Vinson was a total bust while Ahman Green would go on to lead the Packers in rushing. Granted, we still had Shaun Alexander, but we still should’ve gotten more for such a stud.
July 31, 2000 – (Mariners) – John Mabry & Tom Davey to San Diego Padres for Al Martin: this trade isn’t necessarily bad for the guys we gave away; neither meant all that much to me personally, nor did they go on to have outstanding careers after they left. But, this trade was the epitome of the Pat Gillick era in Seattle. Pat Gillick was a brilliant baseball man who did wonderful things in Toronto in the early 90s (2 World Series championships) and he would go on to do wonderful things in Philly (2008 title). But, in Seattle, it wasn’t in the cards, and it was because of trades like this. Or, more accurately, the LACK of trades period. I don’t hate Al Martin because he sucked. I hate Al Martin because he wasn’t someone better. Pat Gillick needed to go out and get us a quality bat, consequences be damned. Instead, he got Al Martin and in the year 2000, the Seattle Mariners went nowhere.
December 16, 2001 – (Mariners) – Brian Fuentes, Jose Paniagua & Denny Stark to Colorado Rockies for Jeff Cirillo: a couple months after we finished the regular season with the most wins in the modern era, we felt it necessary to keep on tinkering. Forget the fact we probably could’ve used a starting pitcher more; we had to go out and get Jeff Cirillo – a guy who had shown he could hit in Coors Field and nowhere else. A guy who, in spite of playing in such a bandbox, had a career high of only 17 homers the year before he came here. What happened next? Well, we stuck him in Safeco Field and he hit .234 over two seasons. Just one of many National Leaguers we’ve brought to the American League over the years who absolutely fell off the map.
April 20, 2002 – (Seahawks) – Jerramy Stevens, 1st Round Draft Pick: a loaded draft for the tight end position … and the Seahawks got Public Enemy #1. Jerramy Stevens was a bust because you could argue he was the biggest reason we lost Super Bowl XL (I know that’s what I would argue, anyway). But, forget all that. He’s a bust plain and simple because he probably had more God-given ability than any other tight end in that draft (with Jeremy Shockey and Daniel Graham going before him; Chris Baker and Randy McMichael going after him), yet he squandered it all away because he couldn’t stay out of trouble and had the work-ethic of a wino on skid row. He’s the only Husky I’ll forever hate, and on this day the Seahawks made a tremendous mistake.
March 4, 2004 – (Seahawks) – Grant Wistrom signs 6-year, $33 million deal: and out of that we got 3 seasons before biting the bullet and cutting him. He “earned” $21 million in that time; for our trouble we got back a whopping 11.5 sacks. Or, just a little under $2 million per sack. This was a signing you could easily loathe from the beginning. After it was all said and done, we traded in for a younger version of the white defensive end: Patrick Kerney. But, Wistrom was by FAR the worse of the two.
June 27, 2004 – (Mariners) – Freddy Garcia & Ben Davis to Chicago White Sox for Jeremy Reed, Mike Morse & Miguel Olivo: it was the right time to trade the Chief, his stock would never be higher again and we were in the midst of a total organizational meltdown. 2004 was the beginning of a long slide into futility for the Mariners; what we needed at the time were some prospects who could come in and lift us back to prominence. Olivo was supposed to be our catcher of the future, Reed was supposed to lock down left field for the next decade, and Mike Morse should’ve been a solid utility guy. Instead, Olivo was (and still is) a dud, Reed never panned out, and Morse has always turned into a pumpkin whenever the calendar flips to April.
February 23, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Steve Hutchinson assigned Transition Tag: this was the beginning of the end for Tim Ruskell. The Seahawks saved a little less than $600,000 in cap room, but in the process initiated one of the most notorious swindles in recent memory. One month later, Hutchinson would be a Minnesota Viking thanks to their Poison Pill-laced contract, and the Seahawks would descend into the abyss thanks to a below-average offensive line. For a team that had just made its first Super Bowl thanks to that very amazing offensive line, losing Hutch would be heartbreaking. And it would also lead to one of the more hilarious retaliatory signings ever.
March 20, 2006 – (Mariners) – Matt Thornton to Chicago White Sox for Joe Borchard: an eye for talent: Bill Bavasi lacked it. Joe Borchard sounds like a name that would suck at baseball. Matt Thornton, meanwhile, has been a pretty lockdown reliever for the Sox ever since. Too bad he never made good on any of his promise while a Mariner.
March 24, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Nate Burleson signs 7-year, $49 million deal: granted, it would turn out that Burleson never got anything approaching $49 million (that was the Poison Pill number we put on to rub it in Minnesota’s face), but essentially Burleson was a huge trade-down compared to what we lost in Steve Hutchinson. It’s not an unforgivable signing; Nate was a highly productive return man and a moderately productive receiver. But, we’ll never be able to separate Nate’s signing from Hutch’s loss.
June 30, 2006 – (Mariners) – Asdrubal Cabrera to Cleveland Indians for Eduardo Perez: BAVASI!!!! Hold on, it gets better …
July 26, 2006 – (Mariners) – Shin-Soo Choo to Cleveland Indians for Ben Broussard: my best guess is that Bavasi was secretly on the Indians’ payroll in 2006.
September 11, 2006 – (Seahawks) – 1st Round Pick in 2007 to New England Patriots for Deion Branch: the draft pick turned into Brandon Meriweather, who made two Pro Bowls. Deion Branch signed a lucrative 6-year, $39 million contract with the Seahawks and proceeded to be a collosal disappointment until he was finally traded back to the Patriots in 2010 and everyone in Seattle rejoiced. End result: a 1st round pick for a 4th round pick, ye gods!
December 7, 2006 – (Mariners) – Rafael Soriano to Atlanta Braves for Horacio Ramirez: just a stellar cap to a 2006 calendar year for Bill Bavasi. Why he was allowed to run the club for the next season and a half is beyond me.
February 8, 2008 – (Mariners) – Adam Jones, George Sherrill, Chris Tillman, Kam Mickolio & Tony Butler to Baltimore Orioles for Erik Bedard: at the time, I could defend this one; then we realized what we got in Erik Bedard. So many injuries. So many millions for nary a game played. Somehow, Bedard is still here, but he’ll never be the guy who was worth five prospects. Meanwhile, Adam Jones looks like he’s got a long, successful career in him. Still, this isn’t the worst trade ever – as it’s said to be in many circles. But, it’s pretty bad.
March 2, 2009 – (Seahawks) – T.J. Houshmandzadeh signs 5-year, $40 million deal: and by September of 2010, T.J. Houshmandzadeh was cut. What we’ll always remember about Housh are his 3 touchdowns over his lone season with the team, and of course, his tantrums and tirades over not getting the ball thrown his way enough. Of course, there’s the $6+ million we paid him just to go away. We signed him in hopes of getting a Number 1 receiver, failing to recognize his declining skills and utter inability to go down and catch the deep ball. Live and learn, I guess.
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?