Category Archives: MLB
On Opening Night, 1986, the Mariners tasted some of the rare success that year would bring. Mike Moore battled Mike Witt and the Angels for 7+, then the two teams headed to extra innings before Jim Presley – one of my all-time favorite M’s – delivered a Grand Slam to win it.
That was the last time I watched the Mariners on Opening Night.
Having relocated back to Silverdale, and having made sure that my DirectTV allowed me to get Root Sports (Channel 687), I made a giant plate of my famous Chili Cheese Fries, grabbed an adult beverage and plopped down in front of my 55″ HiDef TV to enjoy the pregame and nine innings of Mariner glory.
There is, of course, something special about Opening Day. If you win, it’s hopefully a portent of things to come. If you lose, well.. it’s just one game, right?
Over the past three or four Opening days though, I was able to share a good deal of the excitement and joy of Baseball with my friend and shipmate on USS Michigan, Curt. He worked for TV in Chicago, and was usually at the game. He always had something cool happening behind the scenes, and often I would get a text of a picture of something that never made the broadcasts.
A couple of years ago, he managed to get – I don’t know how – a hard copy of the Dodgers Media guide from Vin Scully’s last season. It’s on my shelf of Baseball treasures, now more because of how it got here than anything else. He set up a Facebook page where we could share – almost privately – baseball stories that were more than how our favorite teams did. It was about how great baseball is.
Curt passed away a few days before the season started this year, after an all-too-short battle with kidney cancer. The last text I got from him was a Thumbs Up reply to a message of encouragement I sent him as he went to the hospital back in January. We still weren’t sure how serious it was.
By the end of Spring Training, Curt was gone.
It’s going to be another great year of Baseball. Records will be challenged and even broken; games will be won in the last at bat; bases will be stolen; and TV’s will broadcast games. But the airwaves won’t be touched by Curt.
Yes, Baseball Does Not Suck.
But not having a friend with whom to to enjoy it, even if he is 2000 miles away, will.
Life as the season begins, is really kind of up in the air. We are in the final planning stages of our big move back to Tacoma, which most people assume is because we are bailing on the craziness which has taken over California (gas taxes, service taxes, other insanities, etc.) but it isn’t that at all. For all it’s wackiness, California still has five Major League Baseball Clubs, two AAA level teams and an entire league of high A teams, virtually all of which are within a few hours drive time.
Seriously, from where i sit right now, in 1.5 hours I could drive to two MLB teams, both AAA teams and at least three of the A teams, one of which is fifteen minutes away. The loss of the Bakersfield franchise after last season has left something of a hole in my annual trek to see my parents and catch a few games, but really, where else in America – except during Spring Training – is there so much baseball so close?
As I said though, we are leaving, by the end of June, to move back to Tacoma from whence my wife came to marry me and where our children and grandchildren still live. Obviously, Tacoma isn’t a bad place to be. The Rainiers are wonderful and the Mariners reasonably close. The Aquasox are a bit of stretch though and beyond that it’s all a bit barren.
So opening day and week was something that I was really going to savor this year. And of course, we were on the road so my wife could interview for a couple of jobs up north.
Meanwhile the Ports were at home, but the Rainiers and the Mariners were not. I ended up listening to the Ports on the stream, and watching a lot of games on MLB.tv.
Then the Ports and the Rainiers (in Sacramento) got rained out on opening day. I felt bad for the players and fans. It’s such a buildup and a thing to look forward too, and then it doesn’t happen. kinda like when your wife gives you that look – you know… that look – at 3 in the afternoon. Then when all the kids are in bed and the day is over, you’re both wiped out and just too tired to even think about going out for ice cream.
Or anything else.
The Ports made it up with a double header, which is great. In the minors that means two seven inning games which became almost magical when Stockton dang near no-hit the Quakes in the opener. In the night cap the Quakes said, “Hey, let’s give that a shot ourselves” and did no hit the Ports. Not a lot of hitting, but certainly fun and interesting baseball. Driving home I was able to listen to the Dodgers play the Rockies (and lose) and later the Ports beat the Quakes again. On Sunday, Skye “Usain” Bolt raced home on a bottom of the 9th hit to score the winning run which even Zack Bayrouty (Ports Announcer) insists was a blown call and he was out. Maybe the Umps wanted to go have an early dinner?
The 2017 season is off and running. Ports host Modesto before heading to San Jose for the weekend. with the Passover holiday i have time to take in a day game on Tuesday at banner Island, and with school out on Friday I am trying to convince the wife to go to San Jose. The Dodgers head to Chicago to be the victims of the World Series Banner presentation, which is fitting I suppose after the NLCS, and the Rainiers, after a rain soaked 0-2 start are still hanging gout for a doubleheader in Sacramento.
We’re off and running!
So I found this on eBay for $30 and free shipping. A 1979 Willie Horton throwback authentic.
Oh what times those were for the M’s! Terrible teams, but awesome double knit unis!
1979 was an all but forgettable 67-95 season. But the M’s finished ahead of the woeful A’s and had a few moments here and there including hosting the All-Star Game that year.
But those Unis! I still love the 1980’s set, from about 1982 through 1986, before the switch to the more traditional button downs, the horrific Circle M logo and the “S” on the cap. I always loved the Trident, not just because I was a TRIDENT Missile Fire Control guy, but because I felt like it was just a really awesome logo.
1979 was also the year Willie Horton, the great Tigers player for so many years came to Seattle and had decent but not great seasons in 79 and 80.
It was also a year before I really became aware of the M’s and the American League in general. I spent the summer of 1980 in the Seattle area, and there were opportunities to attend games that I did not take, but I did hear them on the radio for the first time and like most people, I fell in love with the way Dave Niehaus called the game. That team was even worse than the 79 Team, losing 103 games which seems all but impossible to do unless you are trying to accomplish it. Wayne Cody used to pop champagne whenever the 100 loss happened. He was probably drunk a lot in those days.
One good thing that happened to the M’s in 1979 that was a positive though, saw them draft a shortstop out of Pensacola by the name of Jim Presley. He would go on to hit the most amazing Home Run I ever saw in 1988 in Baltimore. He played six solid years, including one as an All-Star and MVP Candidate (1986) in Seattle and remains one of my all time favorites.
In the 17th Round that season they also drafted a crafty left hander named Bud Black. He would appear in just two games for Seattle in 1981, before going on to his long and famous career with the Royals, Indians and Giants as well as becoming a manager of some repute.
Even in the worst of seasons, there can be a positive thing or two!