Game Recap — 4/12/2010

Since we were all at the Mariners home opener today we’ll give you all our own perspective.  Enjoy!

Andrew’s Perspective:  This was the first home opener that Ive ever been to and the excitement leading up to the game was something I’ve never experienced at a Mariner game.  I went over to Ivar’s on the waterfront with my parents and then walked over to Safeco from there.  The atmosphere at 1:30 was great and it only went up from there.  Excitement built and built all the way to Randy Johnson throwing out the first pitch.  Wow, what a moment.  When I get really excited my knees start to shake and while the Big Unit was walking in from center field my knees shook as much as I can remember.  Seeing Buhner, Wilson, Edgar, Johnson, and Griffey all together on the field before the game was a great move by the organization.  Those are the guys who made me a Mariner fan and to see them standing side by side gave me goosebumps.

As for the game… Well, yeah.  In the early innings I thought for sure we were going to win.  Hyphen looked very good and I thought the Mariners were going to get some runs off Duscherer.  I kept waiting for something good to happen; I think the entire crowd was thinking something good would happen but it didn’t.  The big turning point of the game was when Guti got a double to start the inning and got to third with one out and then the middle of the order couldn’t drive him in.  That would have tied the game but it just wasn’t meant to be.  The game was the same story as the past week:  bad offense, mediocre pitching, and some spectacular defensive plays but you can’t score runs on defense. 

The game was something to be forgotten but the event wasn’t.

Matthew’s Perspective:  I’d probably go to opening day even if there was no game.  The whole experience is just special for a baseball fan.  My wife’s a school teacher in Bellevue, so I picked her up about an hour before game time and we took off for the bus stop, hoping to make it in time for most of the festivities.  There’s always something fun about riding a bus where you know you’re all going to the same thing, even if you don’t talk to anyone.  We got off the bus east of the stadium, and after navigating the newly constructed and surprisingly long new walkway down Royal Brougham (it seriously adds 10 minutes to the walk), we made it into the stadium during the line-up introductions.  After stopping at an overlook to watch, we joined some family and friends (and fellow Good Guys Andrew and Dan) at our seats just before the national anthem.

In my opinion, there were two special moments before the game.  Randy Johnson’s First Pitch has been well-covered and was every bit as great as everyone has said.  Seeing him throw one last time and the great ovation he received was wonderful.  But just before that they had the annual first run around the bases, which is a tradition I hadn’t known about.  A kid chosen by the Make-A-Wish people gets to be the first one around the bases each year, and this year was a 12-year-old boy who is recovering from kidney failure after a transplant.  I’m kind of a sucker for moments like these, especially involving kids, but seeing this little guy running to home with Ichiro, Griffey and Felix waving for him to slide, and then popping up to high fives from three of his heroes was probably the highlight of the day for me.  Those kinds of dreams and realizations are what make baseball special.  Each player out there is every one of us sitting in the stands, if only we had a little stronger arm or quicker bat.

Unfortunately, the pregame stuff was the highlight of the day, as the Mariners’ offensive woes continue.  RRS looked good all day, except for a few losses of his control.  I thought they should have pulled him after the sixth, but it didn’t really matter much then and ended up not mattering at all later.  I still think an offensive breakout is imminent, but it certainly wasn’t last night.  Any other game, this performance would have been tough to take, and it still was.  But the beauty of opening day is that we’re just happy to be back in the ballpark, and there’s still a whole season ahead to worry about wins.

Dan’s Perspective: I’ve had the joy of being at a few recent opening days in Seattle sports. Last year I welcomed the MLS to Seattle and was overwhelmed by how fun and the Sounders inaugural game was. It felt just like how I imagine being at a champion’s league game in Europe is. A couple weeks later I welcomed Griffey back on an amazing opening day. The M’s won and I got a sun burn in April. Yesterday was another special day because of the pre-game festivities, but certainly not because of the game. I had high expectations for yesterday, and while the sun didn’t shine too bright, Cliff Lee wasn’t pitching, and the game sucked, I still got my money’s worth. In fact, the price of admission was well covered after watching Randy jog in from centerfield, only to be joined by the other 4 Mariner greats from the ‘90s. It was awesome, and I remember thinking, without those 5 guys, we aren’t sitting in Safeco Field, and it’s likely that we don’t have baseball in Seattle at all. I wouldn’t have opposed retiring all 5 of those guys jerseys right then and there. That’s how much they have meant to baseball in Seattle.

The game is actually very simple to recap. Just read our previous 5 posts on Mariner losses! Solid starting pitching was the highlight. But no offense (2 hits!) and a couple timely hits by the opponent spelled the loss for Seattle again. It’s starting to get pretty tough to swallow these games with no offense, and while the law of averages tells us the M’s won’t hit .200 all year, you start to wonder if a 2008 type year is in the making. The ’08 team had high expectations as well, but it was a house built on sand. I really don’t think this team will replicate the failure that was 2008, but as a fan, the thought keeps creeping in my mind, and the only solution is more cowbell!…or some wins.

Also, I will take the honor of selecting the hero/goat from yesterday.

Hero: RRS. He had a no-hitter through 5 innings, and despite 5 walks, he pitched well enough to keep us in the game. Tough to find a bona fide hero from yesterday though.

Goat: Rob Johnson. Most will point to Bradley and his horrible error in left field. But the truth is, that 2 run base hit never would have happened if Johnson could have just caught the foul tip for strike 3. Milton’s play looked worse, but both runs were going to score anyway, and the real culprit of those runs was Robo Rob (because his glove is made of steel). Clever huh?

Joe’s Perspective:  This opening day was special for me personally; it was the first I have attended at Safeco Field. Back in the good old days at the Kingdome, I went almost every year. Since Safeco opened though, not so. I was understandably excited. My brother and I got up to the field early and took in the sights and sounds. Despite the 2-5 start, there was a buzz in and around the stadium. Seattle truly is a baseball city. People love this team.

The pre-game festivities were memorable. Having one of my heroes Randy Johnson throw the first pitch to Dan Wilson, and then Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez show up along with Junior was a trip down memory lane for me. Those guys are legends to me. I was a teenager in the 1990’s, I grew up with them, and they are heroes. I can’t count the number of times I emulated their stances and swings in backyard wiffle-ball games. The buzz in the stadium was palpable. People were excited, we wanted to believe, we want to believe big, as the slogan goes. We were jacked up. Then, the game started…

The other Good Guys undoubtedly have better summaries than I do. So I will keep this somewhat short and to the point.

The biggest thing I noticed and observed is something you can only do if you are at the game: Watching defensive positioning. The Athletics absolutely have the Mariners figured out. My broither and I made a pact to simply watch the A’s defense all game because frankly nothing else was exciting. I kid you not: There was not one play the A’s were not in good defensive position. Every ball the Mariners hit, with the exception of Gutierrez’s double, was covered by Oakland defense. I was thoroughly impressed. They had Figgins shaded shallow left center, Guti straight away, Ichiro shaded to left, Bradley, Kotchman, on and on, they had the Mariners figured out. I give a ton of credit to Bob Geren for his prep. In the post game news conference Wakamatsu commented that the Mariners had been working on taking the ball the other way, working counts and going with pitches. The problem is for the Mariners the A’s knew this and played defense accordingly. I know this sounds like a minor point, but defensive positioning in baseball is vital to a teams success, and I thought the A’s put on a clinic.

Other than that, there really wasn’t much to say. Ichiro and Figgins were terrible at the plate (I love both of them, they are far from the teams biggest problems…), RRS pitched well, Bradley showed he has a cannon arm from left, (what a throw), but then made the blooper reel misplaying a routine ball in left.

As an aside, again, something you’d only see if you were at the game. Later in the game, Bradley fielded a routine base hit to left and threw the ball in, no big deal right? Well after he threw the ball in, some fans down the left field line stood up and gave him a Bronx cheer, mocking his fielding. I told the guys around me that’s a bad sign. First home game and the fans are already mocking him. You know Bradley saw and heard those cheers. He won’t forget. I didn’t like to see that, it’s already starting here. Very bad sign.

Overall, a great day. Loved seeing the Mariner legends, will always love those guys! Also, I trust Jack Z to make the right calls on this team, so all in all I am not worried, I know changes will come.

Thanks for stopping by and reading!!!

–Joe

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