Monday, May 30, 2005

Over our time apart...

I didn't have too much to say. But here's some of it.

--I'm going to be in Philadelphia in two weeks in my last official act as a debate coach. I already have my Phillies tickets...it is the only required activity for my students. They get to choose what to do with all non-competition free time after that, provided it is legal and they agree on it.

--My baby and I have spent most of today with -Whose Wedding Is It Anyway- on the tube. One woman, Kim, was the planner for a Muslim wedding. As the ceremony approached, she said: "I'm so glad to be a part of this culture." This might be in the top ten silliest things I've heard recently.

--I mulled over the following question: is it better to be a fan of a team that can't hit or a team that can't pitch? I've done both now. (Indeed, one might argue that the current Mariners are both.) Went back and forth, but I've decided it's better to be a fan of a team that can't hit. The games don't take as long...the frustration ends sooner.

--I received this comment on the original Air America post. In case you missed it, it appears here unedited:

***
robert said...
sorry for the rude awakening "liberal" putz but bush, according to the definition you provide IS a sociopath. he is also a war criminal. malloy speaks out as others must but don't or won't. what do we have to lose that hasn't already been stolen?! the spineless, chicken shit, unprincipled sell-outs (of both parties) are in bed with big business and equally guilty of making the world safer for fascists. the pious terrorists who have seized power in this country should be tried for treason. air america is a crucial force countering all the lies, propaganda and censorship reigning in this land. they are doing the job others in media have abandoned--for what, bogus civility? this country's reputation is being defiled by a bunch of dangerous hypocrites with blood on their hands. do you think kerry and gore, were reasonable, upright gentlemen for conceding like good sports, in the last two disasterous "elections"? how dare they not have insisted that every vote be counted--no matter how many months we'd get bogged down in such an investigation. exercising that right might have saved our democracy from the ruthless thugs some call elected officials.
i'm tired of the fraud and bloodshed!
***

I don't have a response to him--he's not looking for an exchange--but I would like to hear from Joe, Spoon, and pankleb. This man name-calls, has no real evidence, and suggests that I cannot be a liberal if I don't agree with any part of his fundamentalist liberal beliefs. In other words, he represents exactly the sort of stuff that happens on talk radio on both sides. Since we have this hard evidence in front of us, can you tell me precisely how this kind of stuff helps our political system?

--Oops. The bit about the wedding show shouldn't be on this blog--it should be on the other one. But I'm too lazy to go back adn change it now.

Hope y'all are well.

If you know where to find it...

I've just totally revamped my other website. Took a few days and a lot of profanity, but I did it. I can't believe some people do this for a living.

Check it out if you want. If not, no sweat off my nose.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Been busy...

Friends,

I know you're probably barely getting by without my insights on the world around me. I do hope you're able to struggle along somehow. But my computer time this week (and for a little while to come) has been spent updating the other website. It's undergoing a complete revamping. I hope to have it out in the World Wild Web in a week or so.

Meantime, read other stuff.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Today, I am angry at Donald Rumsfeld.

He said this in the face of the Newsweek retraction:

"People lost their lives. People are dead," Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Capitol Hill. "People need to be very careful about what they say, just as they need to be careful about what they do" (source).

Agreed, secretary. We need to be careful about the whole they-definitely-have-weapons-of-mass-destruction thing. Or the whole "axis of evil" thing.

Want more? From the same article, here's White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan:

"The report had real consequences," McClellan said. "People have lost their lives. Our image abroad has been damaged. There are some who are opposed to the United States and what we stand for who have sought to exploit this allegation."

Absolutely true, sir. But remember--all three of these consequences were well entrenched and established before the Newsweek report--as a result of the invasion of Iraq on either bad information or false pretenses. And the difference is that Newsweek has admitted its mistake and apologized. The Bush administration has done neither.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Spoon and Joe part III

If you're just joining us (and where have you been?), you'll want to read the two Air America related posts below for this to make any sense.

Spoon and Joe: We're more similar than different here. I still don't see why we need to act like assholes to make our point. The link Spoon sent me is a perfect example of the perfect way to handle an asshole commentator. Did Riemer call Medved any names? No. Did he attack Medved's character? No. He didn't have to. Medved managed to look awful on his own. You fight fire not with fire, but with flame-retardant material...and then you point out who the arsonist is. That "self-defense" (to use your term) is every bit as effective--I'd say more so--than name-calling. So your example of Riemer actually goes against yoru thesis (unless you're saying that Riemer would have been better off if he'd said "You're an asshole, Medved" instead of doing what he did). This past year, Kerry didn't fight back in either fashion, and that was the Democrats' problem.

Joe..."some people deserve to be yelled at." Who? When? Who gets to decide? How much verbal abuse is okay? What kind? Is it acceptable for those at the Republican Convention last year to wear banjd-aids with purple hearts on them? Can anti-abortion protestors call patients and doctors at clinics "baby killers"? If not, why is it okay to call Pat Robertson a Jesus killer? I am simply not with you here, and need more explanation. It seems to me that, rather than drawing these sort of murky lines in our political discourse, we ought to say "be civil with people, and show your passion and anger toward issues and not towards people." What's wrong with that? When faced with silence in the face of Matthew Shepard's murder (or other examples you cite), why not quote Matthew 25 to the silent fundamentalists? Won't that work better--and reach Christian fence-sitters--better than third-grade-level name-calling would?

Spoon..."A lefty Karl Rove" might give us the win, sure. Let's go a step further. Would you like a lefty Lee Atwater? Atwater, I might argue, did more to harm our democracy than any individual in the twentieth century. If we could warp the election with the lefty version of Willie Horton--and win--would you do it? Would you like someone to research, find, and play a Gennifer Flowers card against the president? I don't. It'd mean that no issues would really be addressed anymore. We'd have both parties working towards the lowest common denominator. And when our party took over in Washington, it'd be considered acceptable to oppress anyone who disagreed with us every bit as much as the entrenched Republican majority does now. In other words, we'd still have an oppressed political minority in this country, rather than a political minority that the majority values and works with. Meet the new boss--same as the old boss.

Help me out here, guys. Am I getting anything wrong?

Today's the day

Brother quoted a comedian the other day about birthdays, saying: "There's an age after which people shouldn't be expected to give a shit about your birthday. That age is 11."

It is with this sentiment in mind that I say that tonight is the end of my rookie year, game #162. I celebrate here by giving my top three games I've ever had the pleasure of attending:

Game #3: October 3, 1995. Braves 5, Rockies 4 (Game 1, ALDS).

My only experience with scalped tickets...a work buddy from the dog track (yes, I sold bets at a dog track for a year or my life) picked up tickets for us at a very inflated price. But it was worth it...it was a hell of a game.

My first playoff game. It was intense, back-and-forth all day. My Then-Beloved Rockies took a 3-1 lead when Vinny Castilla homered off of Greg Maddux, but when Chipper Jones hit his second homer of the day, the Braves came back to take a 5-4 lead in the 9th. The Rockies loaded the bases in the 9th with one out when Andres Galarraga struck out. Two out, and the pitcher spot due up...but dammit, Don Baylor had so overmanaged the game (loads of earlier pinch-runners, etc.) that the bench was empty. He pinch hit a pitcher, Lance Painter, because he was left handed. And what do you know, he struck out. Big let-down for the ending, but there were so many intense moments that my heart nearly stopped.

GAME #2

June 28, 1994 (first game) at Mile High Stadium. Rockies 10, Padres 9.
Dad and I. Doubleheader. Really cool.

The Padres took an 8-0 lead after three-and-a-half innings, but anyone who has ever seen a game in Denver knows that early leads aren't safe...no matter how big. Homers by Derek Bell, Eddie Williams, and Melvin Nieves (the latter back-to-back) made it look like it'd be a boring day...but by the end of the fifth inning, the Rockies led 9-7 (thanks to a two-run blast by Galarraga and a grand slam by a still-alive Howard Johnson). Tony Gwynn homered later to make it 9-8, but amazingly, the Rockies held them scoreless in innings 7, 8, and 9. I'll never forget the last inning, when the Padres got Brian Johnson on with a leadoff double. If he scores, we're screwed. Pinch-hitter Phil Clark...flies out. Leadoff guy Bip Roberts...struck out. That put Craig Shipley up with Tony Gwynn on deck. It was IMPERATIVE that we not face Gwynn. Shipley was rung up on strikes, much to his displeasure. Game over. Everybody going crazy. It has been matched, but not surpassed, as the biggest comeback in Rockies' history.

GAME #1

August 29, 2000 at Safeco Field. Mariners 5, Yankees 3.

With my baseball buddy David and, if I recall, the then-girlfriend, this night included the loudest I've ever heard a ballpark. And it starred my favorite ballplayer of all time, Edgar Martinez.

It looked like a typical BS Yankee-Mariner matchup when Andy Pettitte started the game with 5 2/3 no-hit innings. In fact, he had faced the minimum...a double-play had erased his only walk. And since the Yankees had scored 3 early, it looked over. But oh, that bottom of the eighth. Singles by David Bell, Carlos Guillen, and Rickey Henderson. Stan Javier's single makes it 3-1 with one out. Jeff Nelson comes on in relief, and strikes out Alex Rodriguez for the second out. Edgar is up, and he pounds a grand slame deep to right field. After the intensity of the no-hit bid, the place absolutely went bonkers. Not just because of the grand-slam homer. Because it was the Yankees. And because it was Edgar.

I loved Edgar. He is the most unassuming guy ever. Because of his less-than-stellar looks, thick Puerto Rican accent, and god-awful stage presence, he never had any big national endorsement deal. His local endorsement deals, with places like Eagle Hardware, were hilarious because Edgar was so terrible on camera...he couldn't deliver a line to save his life, and you could see the coaching he received on exactly where to look and what to say for his few lines. I think this combination of foibles made Seattle love him more than good-looking guys leading charmed lives like Griffey and A-Rod. He just felt like one of us, except he could hit the damn baseball so well. Man, I hope he gets into the Hall of Fame, but I don't think they'll take him.

This sounds funny, but I already miss Edgar terribly. Whoever thought I could get so emotionally attached to a ballplayer.

Those of you who read these game summaries...thanks! We now continue with our regularly scheduled second set-of-162-games. Expect a new top 20 in another 8-9 years or so.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Responses to the Air America post

This probably would be better placed in response to the comments on my “Air America Is Hurting America For The Same Reasons Jon Stewart Pointed Out Crossfire Is Hurting America” post, but the comments I received were so thoughtful that I think it’s better placed here where more folks can see it.

Alison—Wow. Hadn’t thought of that. Incendiary rhetoric is good for centrists because it gives us something to rebel against. It makes me think of Malcolm X, who was incendiary but got us talking. But I don’t believe that this is the current status. As Stewart pointed out on Crossfire, the incendiary rhetoric has replaced civil discussion rather than promote it. I’d invite you to prove me wrong, though. Can you give me an example of when Malloy, O’Reilly, or Limbaugh has actually generated legitimate exchange or improved the country through their bullshit exaggeration and name-calling?

Spoon—I appreciate and understand your comments, and recognize that different folks like different kinds of radio.

I guess hold our own party to a higher standard than the worst elements of the other for a number of reasons.

If I understand you, you’re saying that revenge gives us the right to be buttheads in our rhetoric. I’ve never believed that revenge is a good basis for a decision. An eye for an eye leaves us blind and all of that. The kind of “resolve” that the shit I heard Malloy spouting might “steel” isn’t the kind I want in our political discussion.

I take pride in being a Democrat because I honestly believe our policies show more empathy for others. Empathy is something I value…and that means that we as Democrats need to respond to verbal abuse against any human being equally. We need to cringe when Pat Robertson is attacked as a probable Jesus-murderer the same way we respond to a similar attack on Clinton or Kerry. We can’t hold a double standard.

Where do we draw the line? Do we respond to Willie Horton with our own racially insensitive attacks? Can we use racial epithets if they do? Because they call us elitist egghead buttheads who hate our country, does that justify the Democrats’ equally ugly response of calling Republicans stupid, inbred, and racist? That would “steel the resolve” of the extreme factions of our party, yes, but the negatives outweigh the positives. If we win an election that way, and had to kowtow to that kind of constituency, the new administration would be a case of Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss.

I think we have different goals (and correct me if I’m wrong): yours is to get the Republicans out of power, and mine is to improve the quality of discourse in our democracy. I value our system over my party by a longshot. Improve the ideas and trust the people. Don't add a lefty Karl Rove to the mix.

Joe: My reading of the Gospels is different from yours. Didn’t everybody call for Barabbas instead of Jesus to be released? As Catholic youth, weren't we taught, at least implicitly, that we all were shouting "Crucify him"? It wasn’t the conservative religious people of Jesus’ day who had him executed, even if they were glad it happened. It was a government that didn’t like his popularity. I hate Robertson just as much as you do, but I don’t see them murdering those that disagree with them. Can you show me that he does or would in any unique way? Mike Malloy sure couldn't.

Lemming—I, too, matched all descriptions of Liberal—except for the fact that I go to church almost every week.

Game #4

October 14, 2000. Yankees 5, Mariners 0 (Game 4, ALCS).

Of the 162 games I will have attended (as of this Saturday), 5 have been playoff games (no World Series games yet...and the way the M's are playing, it'll be a helluva long while). A good playoff game trumps a good regular season game. I watched this ballgame from the center-field bleachers with the then-girlfriend, my dad, my brother, and his wife. Alas, I saw my Mariners shut down by one of the best pitching performances in playoff history.

Roger Clemens pitched a one-hitter...struck out 15, walked two. He held onto the no-hitter through six innings. I don't talk about no-hitters in progress until the end of the sixth, and this was the only time I got to mention it. I turned to my dad and said: "I'm ready to talk about it now." He actually said "What?" "The no hitter, of course." Al Martin ended it with a double to lead off the seventh inning...but it was a liner to the left-field wall that either nicked or just missed first baseman Tino Martinez's glove. In other words, it turned out that Clemens was only an inch or two from pitching a playoff no-hitter. The M's were only trailing 3-0 at that point, so when John Olerud walked, they actually had the tying run at the plate...a big deal late in a playoff game against a hot Clemens. But Mike Cameron struck out, just like everyone else had. Then Dave Justice homered to make it 5-0, and it was all over. Yeah, I was sad and disappointed, but still, it was incredible to be there for that kind of pitching.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Game #5

July 19, 2004 at Wrigley Field. Cardinals 5, Cubs 4.

Fun day with my buddies Kristin, Rob, and about a billion geographers Rob was working with. My first night game at Wrigley Field...and for a Cubs/Cards matchup! Great atmosphere.

This game was mostly about Carlos Zambrano and Jim Edmonds.

First inning: Zambrano hits Edmonds with a pitch. Apparently there was bad blood between them in the past.

Fourth inning: Edmonds hits a monster home run to straightaway center. I love it when guys do that after getting hit by a pitch by a guy who's clearly not playing with a full set of tiddly winks and whose behavior is erratic enough that you think he may explode at any moment. After Edmonds rounds the bases, there are words exchanged between dugouts. Then gestures. Then both dugouts empty...no punches or even pushing, just milling around. The divided Cub/Cardinal crowd is up in arms. I can't say I'm a big fan of potential street violence, but the energy was marvelous. The benches re-fill up without issue.

My favorite part of the game...after finishing that inning with a strikeout, Zambrano pumped his fist, and pointed to the sky in triumph. Carlos??? What's up with the victory dance? You just gave up a homer that went at least 430 feet! Rob and I decided that Carlos's point to the sky meant "That home run was WAY UP THERE!!!"

Eighth inning: The Cubs have tied the score at 3. Tony Womack makes it to third on a walk, passed ball, and sacrifice bunt. There are two out, and the tying run 90 feet away, when Scott Rolen hits one out to give the Cards what turn out to be the winnign runs . Guess who's up next? That's right...Jim Edmonds. And Jim gets plunked again. Umpire Joe Brinkman does a great job of ejecting Zambrano without fanfare...he leaves without even complaining or challenging the call. He looked like a dangerous idiot in the midst of a meltdown...

but it was a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

Air America

Today, while enjoying a delicious Schlotzky's sandwich after a long day of professional development, I read an interview with Al Franken in which I learned that Seattle now has an Air America affiliate. I dislike talk radio, but am liberal. (In fact, I just confirmed that I'm actually liberal through the Pew Research questionnaire. Take it. It's a worthhile pause to consider your beliefs.) I figured, what the hell, I'll give Air America a listen on the way home to see if I might be able to tolerate a little liberal yakking.

It takes about 4 minutes to get to my place from Schlotzky's, and in that course of time, I twice heard host Mike Malloy make breathtakingly inflammatory, disgusting, bating, uncivil, down-and-out shitty remarks. I exited the car feeling just as icky as I feel when my dial somehow lands on a conservative call-in show. Here are the two things he said:

THE VERY FIRST COMPLETE SENTENCE I heard Malloy say was this (paraphrased from memory): "If Jesus came back today, and told [Pat] Robertson and [James] Dobson that they were totally wrong, they'd kill him. They'd put ten bullets in Jesus' head." What the hell? I intensely dislike Robertson and Dobson, and feel they personify most of the dangerous conservative Christianity which is hurting our country. I even agree--and passionately--that many of their beliefs don't gibe with Jesus' beliefs. But I don't believe they'd put ten bullets into anyone's head. If it's wrong when a conservative commentator uses personal attacks and inflammatory rhetoric to make a point, why do liberals get to do it?

Right at the end, Malloy called Sen. Joe Biden a "thug" and a "punk" for voting for Bush's bankruptcy law. Gimme a break. Your point, that Delwarian Biden receives loads of money from the credit card companies whose Wilmington, DE postmark is on the five-to-ten credit card offers I get per week, is well taken. But how is your name-calling different from that practice by Karl Rove? And how will name-calling help produce any of the much-needed dialogue about any issue?

Speaking of name-calling, on his website, Malloy refers to President Bush as a "sociopath." Nice, Mike. "A personality disorder marked by antisocial behavior," says Dictionary.com. Um, where's the evidence of that? Don't get upset, Mike...I also asked for backing when the Clinton-haters called him nasty names. Do you want me to hold you to a lower standard? I won't do it, but is that really what you want?

I'm liberal, yes. But I am staunchly pro-civility, pro-discourse, and anti-asshole-behavior. In four minutes, Mike Malloy convinced me that both he and his radio network are on the wrong side of each of these three platforms. The net result is that I can't listen to Air America anymore. Through his create-heat-rather-than-light rhetoric, Mike Malloy has shown me that his network is gleefully contributing to the depressing problems of our political climate.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Game #6

July 1, 1993 at Comiskey Park. Orioles 1, White Sox 0.

Quite easily the best pitchers' duel I've ever seen. Jack McDowell was absolutely masterful, pitching a complete-game three-hitter and, incredibly, retiring the last 20 Orioles he faced in order. He lost. The O's scratched out a run in the third--Tim Hulett walked, Harold Reynolds singled him to third, and Marc McLemore scored him with a sacrifice fly (the first of McDowell's 20 consecutive retired). But that was enough. Jamie Moyer, long before I grew to love him as a Mariner, won. Gave up four hits in eight innings, but only one after the second. Gregg Olson came on for the save in the ninth, and gave up a two-out single to Ellis Burks. Robin Ventura came up to pinch-hit. The crowd was loud, the situation intense, and Ventura absolutely drilled one that was headed for the right-field corner. Would have tied the score easily--except first baseman David Segui reached up and stabbed it for the final out. An awesome, awesome game.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Game #7

August 29, 2003, at Safeco Field. Mariners 3, Orioles 2.

A cool summer night--I was taking my nephew to the ballpark for his 9th birthday. I taught him how to score, and turned over the scorebook to him while he diligently marked every inning.

It was quite easy for him, actually, since this was a couple of weeks after the Mariners began a massive hitting slump that continued...well...until the present day. The net result is the Mariners made rookie Oriole starter Eric DuBose look like a freakin' hall-of-famer. He gave up only one hit--and three baserunners--through eight innings. Solo homers by Jay Gibbons and Tony Batista certainly looked like they'd stand up for Baltimore. But suddenly, in the ninth inning, it all ended. A single and a walk chased DuBose. Then Oriole relief let Eric down...a walk and two more hits--including the game winning single by John Olerud--gave the Mariners a highly unlikely win.

On the way out, my nephew said that he was impressed with how the Mariners didn't give up, saying "they decided to listen to the crowd cheering and keep trying." Man, I wish I could part with my cynicism every now and then, just to feel what life is like without it.

Some guy stole Mitch Lyden from me!

I visit baseball-reference.com often enough that I feel the need to donate good money to them for site upkeep. I sponsor a few players every year. I don't sponsor the best players--Randy Johnson, perhaps my favorite pitcher ever, costs $195, and while I might shell out the bucks for Edgar Martinez, he's perenially taken. So my strategy is to go for low-budget guys I have some connection to. One such gentleman is Mitch Lyden. I was at Wrigley Field on June 16, 1993, when Mitch became something like the 68th guy in Major League history to hit a homer in his first major league at-bat...a towering shot onto Waveland Avenue. His major league career wound up lasting about a week (ten at-bats), but still, I felt connected to him. Worth the five bucks.

I got lazy and let my page subscriptions lapse a few weeks ago, and only today got around to re-upping. Two of the three pages I wanted back were available...but what the hell? Mitch Lyden was sponsored two days ago! And it's by the guy who CAUGHT that home run ball! How bizarre is that? Of all the pages that I thought someone would take from me, that's the last I would have predicted. I thought he was mine--all mine. But no. Turns out I'm in a non-sexual baseball love triangle with a guy who chases balls on Waveland Avenue...and over a cup-of-coffee backup catcher for the expansion 1993 Marlins.

By the way--if you know my last name, search baseball-reference on it. I've sponsored my namesake with a brief and embarrassing career.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Game #8

August 1, 2000 at Qualcomm Stadium. Padres 10, Phillies 9.

These were two terrible teams, but it was a weird, wild, fun ballgame on my 2000 West Coast baseball trip. San Diego jumped out to a 9-1 lead after six, roughing up Robert Person. That's when things got weird. Padre relief gave up five runs in the seventh...two runs scored when Kevin Nicholson dropped a fly ball that should ahve ended the inning--and one in the eighth, to make it 9-7 for Trevor Hoffman to close in the ninth. Hell's Bells playing. Game over. One out. Two outs. And then...almost unbelievable. With two outs, the Scott Rolen and Pat Burrell hit back-to-back homers off of Hoffman to tie the score. It was unbelievable to the point where you could actually hear shock in the crowd. San Diego left two men on in the ninth inning, but came around to win in the tenth, where Nicholson redeemed himself with a game-winning single. It was one of the most complete and bizarre shifts in fortune I've ever witnessed.

Happy Haiku Day

At the bank today
On deposit slip I write
Five-Seven-Oh Five

Driven to great glee
By my sweet discovery
Happy Haiku Day

I sincerely hope
You celebrate with haiku
Calm and in solitude

Once my brother asked
What haiku was. I told him.
He immediately wrote:

You are so stupid.
I really, really hate you.
You are a moron.


Not exactly what
Purists call traditional
Still, a great poem

So thanks for reading
I await your brilliant comments.
(In haiku form, please.)

Friday, May 06, 2005

Game #9

April 9, 2005 at Dolphins Stadium. Nationals 3, Marlins 2 (10 innings).

Yup, just last month. My baseball trip. Highly memorable.

The fans in Miami were incredibly kind and welcoming...talking to me all night long. So while I went to the game alone, I certainly left with a few friends.

There was fine pitching by Livan Hernandez and Brian Moehler. There were some near-miss rallies. There were back-to-back homers by Ryan Church and Vinny Castilla. And then it was the bottom of the ninth--the Marlins down 2-1. Carlos Delgado up. Carlos Delgado, although he has never met me, loves me. He ALWAYS has monster games in my presence. Indeed, he leads the league in "Home Runs In My Presence By A Non-Mariner"...with SIX. I point this out to the guy next to me, and on the NEXT PITCH, Delgado went yard, tying the score. Then, Paul Lo Duca nails one that looks like it could be the game-winner...but it bounces off the top of the left-field scoreboard. Single. Washington wins it with a Jose Guillen homer in the tenth. A wild emotional ride.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Game #10

June 12, 1997. Mariners 12, Rockies 11.

I was with my now bride-to-be (during the first installment of our dating lives), my brother, and some friends. Swankette was upset that I couldn't really pick a team to root for...I'd just moved to Seattle a year earlier and couldn't choose between the two teams I liked most.

This game was weirdly and wildly played. Rookie Derek Lowe started for the Mariners, and lasted only one and two thirds. Manager Lou Piniella publicly upbraided him in the dugout after pulling him...he's never been good with young pitchers. That's why we got rid of the guy, along with Jason Varitek, for freakin' Heathcliff Slocumb. How stomach-churningly bad...I'd have liked to have had those guys for the last decade or so. Has there been a worse trade ANYWHERE in the last decade?

But I digress. Lowe and Mariners' "relief" pitching (most notably Mike Maddux) had the Mariners trailing 6-0 and 10-6 during the game, but the M's gradually worked back and took the lead in the 7th inning on a Jay Buhner double. No pitching to be had at all...the Rockies batted around in the second and fifth innings, and the Mariners batted around in the fourth. But it was a bizarre play that decided it...a 7-2-4-6-8 double play. This will be hard to follow, but bear with me:

Quinton McCracken is up with one out in the 8th inning with his Rockies trailing 12-10. Walt Weiss on first. Harvey Pulliam on second. McCracken smacks a single to left. The left fielder, Rob Ducey, tries to gun down Pulliam at home. Too late. He's safe. But Weiss makes a big turn at second, and is trapped in a rundown. The ball goes from the catcher to the second baseman to the shortstop covering third, where Weiss is tagged out. McCracken has advanced to second, but he either forgets to call time or thinks that there are three out. He steps off the bag and dusts himself off. Ken Griffey Jr., who was headed into the infield to be in the rundown anyway, sneaks in behind McCracken and signals shortstop Brent Gates to toss him the ball. He does. McCracken is tagged out. Rally over, and an inning later, game over.

Terribly wacky and low-quality baseball. But man, was it ever fun to watch.

The Right Answer

I watched the Mariners put forward another boring, uninspiring, anemic, sad performance yesterday. If free agents Sexson and Beltre don't stop sucking, and if we don't get either a shortstop or a catcher who can hit the ball from time to time, it's gonna be a long, long year.

As I watched the M's strand yet another runner, I asked the question I often ask in these situations: "Why must God mock me so?"

My buddy Andrew gave the best answer I've ever heard.

"He's jealous of you, TRP."

Donovan McNabb

Just saw an add for "Donovan McNabb: Behind the Glory" on FSN. They're going to focus on the "black quarterback" angle, as I guess can't be avoided...the perception that he wasn't smart enough to QB, the whole Rush Limbaugh fiasco. So, after saying all of that, why did the ad close by saying "The Darker Side of Donovan McNabb"? Eeugh. Someone should have caught that.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Game #11

May 30, 1997. St. Louis 2, Los Angeles 1.

My dad and I parked ourselves in the second-from-the-top-row directly behind home plate on a cold night. I was vacationing during one of the worst years of my life...this in and of itself made it a wonderful night. Parents were living in Missouri at the time. I visited my grandmother in Illinois and met my dad at the ballpark.

Andy Benes and Ramon Martinez had a pitchers' duel. Every baserunner was critically important. Each pitcher had a critical hit for his team...Martinez's broken-bat, down-the-line double eventually scored the Dodgers' only run, and Benes's two-out double to the left-center field wall scored the Cardinals' first run. Both were brilliant, and neither figured in the decision. That's because the winning run was scored in the bottom of the ninth. After Gary Gaetti almost ended the whole thing with a homer (it died on the warning track) to start the 9th, John Mabry doubled. After a walk, Royce Clayton singled weakly to left, and Mabry was cut down at the plate by Todd Hollandsworth. Two out, runners on second and third. The Dodgers walked pinch-hitter Willie McGee to get to Delino DeShields. Two down, bases loaded, tie score, bottom of the ninth. Awesome! And...Mark Guthrie, new relief pitcher, came on and walked DeShields on four pitches. Game over. Tiny bit of a letdown, but a helluva lot of fun getting there.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Things I hate

You know that 4-7 PM nap?

I hate that. It ruins me for days.

I really thought it would just be a 20-minute catnap.

Game #12

April 3, 2002. Mariners 7, White Sox 6.

A cold night in the upper deck with a buddy. Paul Abbott gets roughed up early...six runs on five hits, including a Royce Clayton homer, in four innings. But that ninth inning...wow. Mariners trailed 6-3 going into the ninth, then hit six singles to score four runs to win it. Keith Foulke Foulked it up. It was really fun to watch.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Game #13

March 31st, 1996 at the Kingdome. Seattle 3, Chicago White Sox 2 (12 innings).

Opening night at the Dome! My first of many, many Mariners games. My brother and many friends along for the ride.

It was a good one, too. Frank Thomas hits a two-run dinger in the first, but that's all the Sox can manage against Randy Johnson and four relievers. The M's inch back. Darren Bragg (Darren Bragg???!!) hits a homer, then Edgar Martinez knocks home the tying run with a one-out double in the ninth. Second and third, one out...but the M's squander it. We go to extras. Finally, in the 12th, the M's get things going with an error and a double. The Sox intentionally walk Dan Wilson to get to Alex Rodriguez. You read right...but remember, this is a 20-year-old Alex Rodriguez starting the first game of his first full season...batting ninth, starting the game 0-for-5. He singles in the winning run. I've often wondered if A-Rod's career trajectory would be different if he hit into a double play then instead. As it is, he hit .358 with 36 homers that season.

A News Broadcast.

Heard on the local all-news radio station the other night: a report that Tom Cruise is dating Katie Holmes. The anchor noted: "Cruise is known for his high-profile relationships, including a marriage to Nicole Kidman and a long-time relationship with...(pause)...(panic)...with Penny-Lope Cruz."

Penny-Lope. C'mon. That one isn't that hard.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Sometimes I think about things like this.

Who has the cooler name among current relief pitchers?

Ambiorix Burgos?

Or Yhency Brazoban?

Game #14

Continuing the countdown...

#14: April 30, 1999 at the Kingdome. Seattle 11, Toronto 9.

I have a knack for going to good games in celebration of my birthday (see #17 below). I gathered about a dozen friends and headed out on a Friday night back then and saw a fairly lousy Mariner team scrape back from a deficit. Nine home runs in the game...five by Toronto (two by Carlos Delgado, who always has monster games in my presence) and four by Seattle. After trailing 8-3 at one point, the Mariners still came back and won it with a grand slam in the eighth by Ken Griffey, Jr. Robert Person had walked the bases loaded with one out Graeme Lloyd came on in relief to face Griffey, and Griffey cracked one over the center field wall. One non-baseball-fan friend thought that the whole thing (walking the bases loaded so Griffey could hit the big homer) felt suspicious. Too perfect as theater. She honestly thought the fix was on. Even if it was, it was a helluva lot of fun.

Games #20-#15

This is the beginning of the countdown of the best 20 major league games I've personally attended. See below for an explanation.

#20. September 8, 1995 at Coors Field: Rockies 10, Reds 5.

My Dad's testosterone got the best of him at a charity auction, so he, my mom, a buddy of mine and I were in the second row behind home plate for three innings (awesome), in the restaurant down the right field line for three innings (dumb), then back to the second row for three innings. This was a game with a little bit of everything...pitching for a few innings (Pete Schourek was on his game that night, in the middle of his career year for the Reds), then a nip and tuck few innings, before the Rockies blew it open in the seventh, which I watched through a headache because I had a very rare glass of wine in the fifth inning. Reds relievers were roughed up for a single, a walk, a John Vander Wal triple, a double, and a walk followed...and then they hit Larry Walker, my favorite Rockie with a pitch. We were mad. The bases were loaded, and Andres Galarraga, my other favorite Rockie, apanked a grand slam. The Rox hit for a cycle in the inning. It was almost unbelievably fun.

#19. July 30, 2002 at Safeco Field: Mariners 5, Tigers 4 (10 innings).

Other than the company of about a dozen fellow teachers on a summer weekday afternoon, I only remember one thing about this game: it featured a pinch-hit walk-off suicide squeeze single. How can that not make the list? Marc McLemore pulled it off, scoring my fiancee's beloved Desi Relaford. I remember pitcher Jeff Farnsworth desperately lunging towards the ball, trying to scoop it to the plate...no avail. I remember nothing from the nine and a half innings that preceded that, but seriously, that one play is sufficient for me.

#18. July 3, 1995 at Coors Field: Rockies 15, Astros 10.

A typical Coors Field deal. Five Rockies homers. Two Astros homers. Constant action. It's fun to watch guys hit the ball a billion feet. My dad was out of town, and I took my high school honey and her soon-to-be-husband, (and later-to-be ex-husband). A warm, dry Colorado night. The Rockies had 21 hits, the Astros 15. The score went back and forth, but Rockies' relief held them scoreless after the sixth. Yeah, I'm usually a purist...but this was damn fun to watch.

#17. April 23, 2000 at Safeco Field: Mariners 8, Royals 5.

A Sunday afternoon...my parents take me here for my 30th birthday. Cold and overcast...I think the roof was closed. Jermaine Dye homers to tie it up in the top of the ninth. Ricky Bottalico came on in relief--and gave up a walk, a walk, and a John Olerud home run. Game over. I dance in the upper deck.

By the way, Bottalico made a million and a half that year. Divide that by 62 appearances, and he made $24,193.55 for that appearance.

#16: June 29, 2003 at Safeco Field: Padres 8, Mariners 6. A gorgeous Sunday afternoon with my honey. The Mariners blew a 6-1 lead, giving up 6 runs in the ninth, blowing it all when Arthur Rhodes gives up a grand slam to Rondell White. Yeah, it bugged me, a lot, but you can't much beat a decisive 9th-inning grand slam.

#15: July 18, 1997 at the Kingdome: Mariners 5, Royals 4.

A mid-week night with a bud from the crappy job. He wasn't a fan, but I convinced him to head to the ballpark with me after work. As I recall, it was on a whim because my favorite pitcher of all time was pitching that night.

And, in fact, this game makes the list because it is all about the performance of that pitcher, Randy Johnson. I loved watching him pitch. I loved Randy Johnson when he was an Expo, for God's sake. And I've seen him pitch better than he did this night...but this night he didn't have his best stuff and had to gut it out. Seriously, Randy wasn't stellar. Case in point: a rookie, Shane Halter, hit his first career homer in the first inning (although a pissed-off Randy struck him out four times after that). Still, the crowd, recognizing that (A) he didn't have his best stuff, and (B) on his worst-ever day, the Unit was better than the '97 M's breathtakingly bad bullpen (look at those stats only if you dare), chanted his name. We yelled for the guy on a bad day. We begged Lou Piniella to keep him in through rough innings and high pitch counts. He finished. A complete-game victory--16 strikeouts, still the most I've ever seen a pitcher throw in a game. It was a wonderful night and an amazing performance, somehow made all the more impressive because it was such a struggle.

We're doing this Casey Kasem style...from here on we'll count down one game a day until we get to the top.