There is something very unique about being a Seattle sports fan. For me, the best way I can describe it, is that even in the rare moments of greatness, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s like finding a $20 bill on the sidewalk, and after picking it up, you’re just waiting to get jumped. I guess that’s just how it is when you’ve yet to see your team hoist a championship. I’m fairly certain my local teams have lowered my life expectancy. And so, I’d like to offer a glass 1/2 full thought, which I for one could use, especially following an evening of flipping between the painful World Series (Lee vs. Lincecum) and the torture chamber that was the NBA opener for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
So, ever wonder how the M’s landed Felix Hernandez? Well here’s the jist, thanks to the always reliable Wikipedia-
Felix Hernandez was first spotted by Luis Fuenmayor, a part-time Mariners scout who saw him pitching at age 14 in a tournament near Maracaibo, Venezuela. Fuenmayor recommended Hernández to fellow scouts Pedro Avila and Emilio Carrasquel, who were impressed with the youngster who could already throw 94 mph. The Mariners continued to follow Hernández for over a year, but baseball rules prohibit teams from signing players to contracts until after they have turned 16.
After graduating from high school, Hernández finally agreed to his first professional contract. Mariners director of international operations Bob Engle signed Hernández as a nondrafted free agent on July 4, 2002. Hernández received a large signing bonus of $710,000, although he said the Mariners were not the highest bidder. Other teams trying to sign him included the New York Yankees, the Atlanta Braves, and the Houston Astros, with the Braves reportedly offering the most money.
One reason Hernández chose the Mariners is because his idol, fellow Venezuela pitcher Freddy García, was pitching for the team at the time.
Much has been made of the Mariners drafting Brandon Morrow in 2006, rather than picking the hometown boy, Tim Lincecum. A lot of fans count to this instance as another example of the curse of Seattle sports. I agree that watching Lincecum pitch stings a little, but keep in mind, 9 teams passed on him that in the 2006 draft, Seattle of course was one of the teams. But how do the Orioles feel picking Bill Rowell just before Lincecum? Or how about the Rockies selecting Greg Reynolds in front of Evan Longoria!
Actually, I find the 2005 draft much more painful as a Mariners fan. Seattle took Jeff Clement with the 3rd pick overall, and the next 4 picks were Ryan Zimmerman, Ryan Braun, Ricky Romero, Troy Tulowitzki. Wow! But hey, that’s baseball. It’s easy to remember these instances, and forget how we came to have studs like King Felix and Ichiro. Without having Freddie Garcia on our roster, it is very possible that Felix would have taken higher money and landed in New York, Houston, or Atlanta. So maybe we do catch some breaks! And that, is my glass 1/2 full thought today.