Results tagged ‘ Seattle Mariners ’
I know I was one of many of the Rays Republic sitting with a dazed and confused look on my mug when Seattle Mariners hurler Felix Hernandez thrust his arms up into the air following his Perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays recently. Not only did I feel a know in the pit of my stomach because of the process put a stumbling block into the road for the Rays with losing this series, but for the third time in as many years, the Rays anointed a new monarch into the ranks of pitching brilliance.
Then I saw a figure run out from behind the plate and join the mound festivities and a bit of the gut retching subsided as I saw someone jump into the celebratory impromptu team meeting who desired this kind of moment and who is quietly establishing himself as a great game caller behind the dish. And it seems in perfect ironic harmony that ex-Rays catcher John Jaso finally gets to celebrate a historic pitching moment by being the battery mate of a new pitching immortal.
Everyone always throws the accolades and praise towards the pitcher in these displays of perfection and finesse, and for a flamethrower like Hernandez it not only took a delicate amount of luck and precision, it possibly took a little fine tuning and graceful glove work by Jaso to bring perfection into a reality.
Jaso over the last few years has gotten really good at framing pitches, bringing wandering breaking pitches and border line called strike into the red so the Home Plate Umpire can make an easier job of having to bellow out a called strike to the astonishment of many a batter.
I am not pushing back the emerald green curtain and trying to tarnish an ounce of Hernandez’s brilliance on this afternoon, but Jaso definitely played a key role and deserves a little sunlight himself. This was a catcher shocked and a bit dumbfounded and possibly still has some abandonment sentiments after the Rays sent him to the Pacific Northwest late last November sending him from a contender to a team trying to find the right pieces to their own contending puzzle.
The mild-mannered Jaso took his change of scenery as a chance to again establish himself, put himself on the map in another locale possibly again having throngs of female admirers loving his facial hair and protruding dimples as much for his hard work and determination on the field. All # 27 has done for the Mariners in his 73 game is post a .292 average with 14 doubles, 8 HR and 3 stolen bases. And watching Jaso behind the plate taking each and every one of King Felix’s 113 offering and being a part of only the 24th backstop to help help monitor and achieve perfection for his pitcher.
I felt the trading of Jaso this past Winter was a bit premature, one of the handful of total glitches that have transpired since the dropping of the “Devil” from the Rays in November 2007. Possibly his ailing batting average and the hint of more production and long-term solutions from the bevy of Rays farmhand catching prospects made this deal not only warranted, but needed at the time. I am one of those who scratched my head and wondered what the Rays had in kind trading a proven component for a relief pitcher who was still trying to pitch his way out from under his own trouble cloud.
Most of you already know I glance towards the scoreboard a lot trying to view the Seattle scores, it is my adopted second home and holds my favorite stadium. In the end, even as I pondered and thrust my own arms into the air in frustration, it was with hidden admiration and joy to see our old former # 28 bounce and jump for excitement as he approached the King and his field court, finally getting that well deserved sunlight alongside a hurler who had just put himself into an esteemed and lofty pitching Fraternity.
This is the kind of player moment a hard-nosed guy like Jaso sweats and bleeds for. It has to be a bittersweet moment as he stood on the hill celebrating with his fellow M’s, then turn and see his former squad with their heads down possibly wondering if this was the first nail in their post-season coffin.
Jaso was catching at Triple-A Durham when Chicago White Sox Mark Buehrle handcuffed the Rays for their first perfecto in 2009 as well as May 9, 2010 when Oakland Athletic SP Dallas Braden duplicated the feat.
A minute after the wave of negativity washed off me concerning the event I found myself laughing a bit. The guy we thought was expendable, was a patchwork piece of our former Rays battery possibly got his career defining moment and even if they could not cheer for him, you know a few Rays inside were happy Jaso got to finally feel this kind of adulation. Jaso had a perfect angle to see and watch this historic event play out, and it couldn’t of happen to a better player or person.
By now most of you who have read any of my 1,111 posts know of my starry-eyed glazed look when it comes to Safeco Field in Seattle. It is one of my favorite all-time Major League Baseball fields. From the pure excitement of the breath-taking sight lines just beyond the top tier of the Leftfield bleachers that look out into this great city from the lifeline of the elevated Alaskan Way, to the pristine waves and vessels moving about on Puget Sound, outside of Tampa Bay, this is my paradise lost.
With its massive roof mechanism and wheels that churn and burn to open and close their massive roof, to the amenities aimed at the fan’s enjoyment of the ballpark, Safeco is the model I conjure up as a foundation for any future Rays stadium plans. Sorry but the sail idea has left for a port of call somewhere else…possible Japan.
Everywhere within this stadium is a swirling dervish of beauty. From the “Bat in Motion” sculpture above your head as you transcend into the ballpark, to the imprint of signed baseball from the Mariner’s team permanently placed within the points of the marble compass in the floor, Safeco was built for visitor’s and locals alike to gawk and remember forever.
Within the hallowed walls of the exclusive Diamond Club sits a classic photo of Yankee greats Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth poised at the back of a fishing boat just beyond the shores of Pass-a-Grille, Florida. It is one of the only photos of the two legendary stars off the field, even though they both lived in the penthouse apartments at the Ponce de Leon Hotel on Central and First Street just to the West of the old Waterfront Ballpark. Funny how a small sliver of Tampa Bay slipped into the magnificent Pacific Northwest achievement.
From a concourse that runs a full 360 degrees around the stadium, that always gives guests a clear visual sight lines to the playing field to witness a play unfold while standing in line for Rally Fries or a cold Red Hook.
I often daydream that this should have been the stadium style originally set upon the tract of land at 16th Street and First Avenue South in St. Petersburg, Florida, but the Tampa Bay community leaders called for a futuristic and modernistic ballpark.
Rays Manager Joe Maddon recently cited during his banter about the Rays needing a new abode/stadium that it should feature a roof system that could be opened on sunny Florida days and evenings, and provide possible shade or comfort from the Sun and elements for a baseball complex or park just beyond the ballpark walls. Seattle has that feature, but it is not a park that is covered when the roof is open, it is the staff and player’s parking area. But I like Maddon’s thought process here.
It shows again how someone within the Rays organization might have the same affection for this ballpark style that I do. Even in the crowded SoDo neighborhood where Safeco Field is located, sometimes parking is a premium. But the Mariners helped relieve this burden by building a 6-story parking facility just to the South of Safeco, which also has its own pedestrian bridge to stadium gates.
Did you know original drawings for Tropicana field also had 2-3 story parking garages to help eliminate parking hassles. Wonder when and where that idea got flushed out into the bay?
If the Rays truly want a 1-stop shop of stadium ideas and great features to incorporate into their future plans, Safeco has 60 % of their “wish list”. From the ample suites that ring the upper core of the stadium, to the old time ballpark feel of the Press Box area complete with roll-up windows, This stadium has something for everyone.
Ironically, the Mariners played in a dome a bit similar to the Trop a long time ago, and I still at times go and check out the video of the Kingdome’s final implosion.
I still think in the deep recesses of my soul if the Tampa Bay community did not act with premeditation and “build it and they will come” mentality, this stadium design might sit in front of us nightly for Rays games. Everything about Safeco could be retrofitted or designed to conform with the Florida’s fickle weather.
Humor me here for a moment and day dream on how he National media would not be calling out the catwalks, giggling about lamps busted by foul balls, or Bullpens in the field of play. Safeco somehow magically has taken the Trop’s visual faults and made them simply mute for the media fodder. Only thing the media can complain about is if they jaywalk on their way out of the building. Seattle doesn’t take kindly to jaywalkers. Just ask Chicago White Sox GN Ken Williams.
Even with the Rays Fan Host doing a superior job compared to so many other MLB ballparks, Safeco’s ushers do something I truly find remarkable, and warranted for fan enjoyment. When a hitter plants his toes in the batter’s box, the ushers in unison hoist up a placard prohibiting the disturbance of the fans by walking in the aisles. At Safeco, you are not allowed to walk up or down the aisle to or from the concourse while a hitter is in the box.
Brings about a different take knowing Joe Schmoe is not going to walk in front of you with his nachos or beers and you miss a swing, a hit or possibly a historic moment. Instead you have to stand at the top of the aisle with the rest of the Safeco faithful hoping for a quick at bat, pop-up or 6-4-3 double play.
The modernistic stadium design and motif of the Trop never caught on after Major League Baseball went suddenly into a revival of traditional ballpark styles right after the completion of the Florida Suncoast Dome The wide-eyed vision of a modern design ballpark fell sudden to a untimely and painful death.
Safeco Field should be a constant reminder that local styles, influences and weather conditions can produce a stellar ballpark that even 25 years later people walk in a gawk at the visual eye-candy. I miss Safeco some times, especially since I truly feel that if it was built in 1991 or beyond, I would have been sitting in its majestic splendor for the last 14 seasons.
Hopefully the Rays front office will take hundreds of photos of this landmark ballpark, make inquires into its design cost and realistic structural possibilities within the scope of the harsh Florida Sun and weather. Possibly one day we could see a future Tampa Bay ballpark being built with the similar fan-friendly quality’s and retracting roof of this exciting park nestled some 3,125 miles to our Northwest. Or maybe I am still daydreaming.
Every time I see the Seattle Mariners as they take the field, I think of what could have been. Their teal, royal blue and white team colors could of easily transferred into the Tampa Bay color scheme. Funny how the arrogance of one person cost Tampa Bay a team for so long.
It seems like so long ago, but it was only 1992 when the Tampa Baseball Group led by Tampa businessman Frank Morsani almost pulled off their own baseball miracle. Say it with me for a second, Tampa Bay Mariners. It had that perfect nautical sitting on the Gulf of Mexico ring to it.
19 years ago the Tampa Baseball Group was poised and ready to help subsequently pack up everything Mariners related and move it 3, 125 miles to the hamlet of St. Petersburg, Florida. The Tampa group thought they had a clean-cut solid deal in place knowing that a majority of the American League franchise ownership was poised and ready to approval their deal and move to Florida.
The Mariners current majority owner, Jeff Smulyan could easily visualize that he could be just as rich and remain in an ownership position if he sold his team and also moved along with it to Tampa Bay. There was solid evidence that if Smulyan wanted to relocate his team to Tampa Bay, the American League would vote the franchise move in a landslide.
Former St. Petersburg Times columnist Hubert Mizell wrote back in 1992: “ Smulyan doesn’t expect a Seattle angel. If the Tampa Bay deal become reality, the man from Indianapolis absolutely wants to be a majority owner. He would steadfast oppose a lame-duck season in Seattle”
As we all know an angel did appear….from the far away island of Japan.
The video game giant Nintendo firmly put themselves at the forefront, hoping to stave off the shady doing of Smulyan. Suddenly a local business savior had emerged with a solid reputation, and very, very deep pockets. Smulyan was blindsided by the move that showed the region’s tenacity and resilience. This was the same SoDo community leadership group that he secretly scoffed about in private, and never saw imagined this type of ownership coup would materialize.
Smulyan immediately started acting like a spoiled child. Smulyan, who was a sitting member of the American League ownership committee shunned his apparent responsibilities of his post, basically refusing to even acknowledge the sale much less endorse the Japanese business Godzilla.
Instead of being in Seattle side of the issue, Smulyan vowed that he would not vote on the sale if there was a vote, depriving Seattle community of a automatic “yes” vote for the sale. Smulyan even went as far as to not recognize or give his blessing in any shape or form regarding the Nintendo offer.
I still love this quote by Smulyan: “I have read the application, but I am not going to comment on it I don’t want to give my opinion on it or any way influence the committee. The Best thing about the process is it’s out of my hands”.
Got to love the arrogance and spite riddled within those words. Here is a owner who put his club up for sale, and a local buyer did not materialize, so he sold it to the Tampa Baseball Group that would move the franchise cross-country in a heartbeat. Little did the public know at that time in 1992 that Smulyan refused to sign a local cable television deal that would have brought the Mariners between $ 3-6 million dollars just for 1992 season.
You had an owner who wanted to act like an absentee landlord hoping his nonchalant attitude would get his traveling papers stamped and approved by his fellow American League owners so he could motor on down to St. Petersburg. Smulyan had full intention of the 1992 season starting in the then named Thunderdome in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Smulyan tried to bluff the table by acting like a dis-concerned owner and it ended up backfiring in his face and wallet. The Nintendo offer brought to the table the MLB prerequisite of a local Seattle ownership group with considerable wealth and a long term commitment of providing a future investments to the team.
What was so funny about all of it was earlier in the sale process Smulyan had gone on to tell the Seattle community, “ This was Seattle’s chance to step up and save baseball for the community.” 19 years ago Tampa Bay almost got their prized baseball team, but with it might have come the owner from h-e-double hockey sticks.
So the next time you are in the stands and hear a fan rant and rave about this ownership group, or even the Vince Namoli era, maybe you should tell him about the owner we almost got saddled with. The guy who turned his back and ears on his community and tried to pack his team up for Florida without any regret. Still like the sound of Tampa Bay Mariners, but Tampa Bay Rays does have a better sting to it.
He has appeared in over 1,500 television programs and 100 films, but the one scene that still means Leslie Nielson to me is the scene at old Angels Stadium in the comedy “The Naked Gun :From the Files of Police Squad“. You know the scene I am talking about. Nielson is playing Lt. Frank Drebin in the classic comedy scene and he is at the Angels versus Mariners game looking for the man that is going to try and assassinate British monarch Queen Elizabeth.
Drebin(Neilson) wanders into the Umpire’s Room at the stadium and don’s the uniform and pads of the Home Plate Umpire for that afternoon’s contest. What transpires, from the moonwalk to the constant body frisking during the course of the game is comedic gold. From the point of watching Neilson’s straight man George Kennedy eating multiple types of food just beyond the field level to the final climatic moment where Baseball Hall of Fame member Reggie Jackson becomes a transfixed killing zombie.
The film itself is one of those classic tongue-in-cheek comedies that you see something different every time you watch it . But the baseball scene is one of the best comedic filmed moments since Abbot and Costello’s “Who’s On First“. No other clip, not even during “Major League ” did I find myself laughing so much and wishing I could personally see even a fraction of the great stuff shown on that big screen. It was one of those movies I did go and watch inventively more than once when it was originally released in 1991.
It saddens me today to hear the news that Leslie Neilson has died in his sleep recently in the Florida community of Fort Lauderdale because of complications from a bout with pneumonia. The duo comedic masks must all have frowns today as we lost a true giant of a man who could do the pratfall and slapstick style of comedy with a expression and a demeanor that showed his versatility as an actor.
Even though this was the only film Nielson did with baseball ties, his portrayal in this first installment of “The Naked Gun” trilogy was one of the moments that got me hooked on the former Canadian disk jockey. Some might say his acting on such classics as the “Poseidon Adventure” or even “Airplane” should be more remembered than his slight foray into the comedy realm. “The Naked Gun” trilogy based on the short-lived television series “Police Squad” became an instant classic.
Not sure how to really take the news yet. Might be a bit difficult for the next few days, but time and the countless video and tributes popping up on the Web from his countless legions of Nation-wide Baseball buddies and true fans of the game might ease the pain some what by the end of this weekend. For there is no more joy in SoDo, for the mighty enigma that was Junior has taken off his baseball uniform for the last time.
And as a Rays fan, I should hate Ken Griffey Junior and his Seattle Mariners, but they hold a special place in my heart. Seattle is not the city of my birth, but it was the city of my early youth, and a time when Tampa Bay was only a Spring baseball haven. I should hate Griffey Junior and what his Mariners’ team mate accomplished in the mid-1990’s , their insurmountable wins, the playoff fever, and even the final betray.
How many people outside of this two locales remember the bitter in-fighting for control for their lovable Mariners. How many remember the strife and quick search for a corporation to buy this cherished local icon and keep it in the Emerald City. And how incredible it was that a Japanese company that was based on the video game craze came to their rescue, along with emotional pleas from this great giant Junior who wanted the team to stay in this other “city by the bay”.
I could go on for pages and paragraphs for days on the heroics and the accomplishments of this icon of my generation. Be it his diplomatic mission for the United States, or maybe his ventures back to the city of his birth (Cincinnati) that formulated his middle years. It was this region of teal waters and blue skies that he made his mark. It was here in the Pacific Northwest that Griffey Junior moved out of his father’s giant shadow and brought his own flavor and panache to the game of baseball.
Always playing the game like he was still in his teens, even with countless injuries for reasons to slow down and take it easy. But he did not rest, he did not pout, he just threw out that million dollar smile and that splendid swing to take our breath away when we least expected it. Junior always seemed to keep that little boy in him, and that made him respect and honor the game.
I remember seeing him on the Visitor’s bench at Tropicana Field on May 14th and I called to him for an autograph. He looked tired, a bit drained but I told him it was my 50th birthday and the only thing I wanted was the signature of my generational hero. He chuckled and a friend who works in the Visitor’s clubhouse told him I was alright and he came over bouncing like a kid, smiling and happy at the praise that was raining down on him from the stands.
He did me a square solid, and now it is my turn to return the favor of him taking his time out for me. I propose that we, as a MLBlogs.com community unite and cast numerous ballots between now and the end of the voting period for Ken Griffey Junior for the 2010 All-Star game in Anaheim, California. What better way to show the National respect and honor he has shown us than to get him elected to the 2010 American League All-Star game squad.
And this action might not take much more than being a bit more consistent with our voting power between now and the end of the voting period. Junior is already in second place in the American League Designated Hitters spot for the All-Star game, and our critical votes might just boost him into that coveted slot. Some people say that since he has “retired” he cannot be considered for the position, but I have it on great authority that he can still be selected, and accepted onto the squad.
Can you think of another player in the last 10 years who at the end of his career was still not a pleasure to see on a baseball field than Griffey Junior. The guy is a classic example oft he word “sports icon”. He has been graceful, spirited and totally a true ambassador of the game from Day One to the End. I should have a level of hatred or solid reasoning for not liking Junior because of what he did to ruin a chance for us to field a baseball team before 1998.
But I can’t hate a single bone in his body. Can’t find the reasoning or the seasoning to push him into the dark without wanting to see him again on top and get to say a formal goodbye to 30,000+ of my friends in Anaheim during All-Star week. In an era where cheating took a chemical advantage, his name was never mentioned or spoken about. In a time when distrust and hurt feeling centered all out hearts after the baseball strike, he just stepped to the plate and hit.
Junior is my Michael Jordan, he is my Tim Tebow, he has been that force in the game of baseball that seemed to remain pure and rightious for the sake of the game. Griffey Junior to me for so many years was the game of baseball, but the games will still go on without him.
And the American League pitchers’ no longer have to fear him standing in the On-Deck circle. But I think he needs to put that baseball uniform on one more time, just to see how it feels….during the 2010 All-Star game….Batter up!
According to the Seattle Times reporter Geoff Baker, after the Seattle Mariners played their worst defensive game of the season Mariners slugger Milton Bradley was no where to be found (at least by the media) in the Mariner’s clubhouse little did he and the other media members know that Bradley actually left the stadium after the sixth inning of the game against the Rays after a brief confrontation with his Mariner Manager Don Wakamatsu. Wakamatsu clearly was seeing tell tale signs of Bradleys mental and emotional deteriorating state right after Bradley returned to the bench after his second trip at the plate and immediately Wakamatsu decided “go another direction” for the rest of the game. But unknown to Rays fans viewing the game on television, Bradley had begun a constant barrage of comments and accusations towards Home Plate Umpire Kerwin Danley. Bradley felt Danley was expanding the strike zone a bit too much vertically for Rays starter James Shields.
Bradley instantly took it upon himself upon his return to the M’s bench after striking out with the bases loaded, to unleash a verbal battle with Danley from the Mariners bench. Bradley violent fuse might have been compounded by Wakamutsu refusing to become a part of this venomous verbal barrage towards Danley. Bradley quickly escalated his vocal bards towards Danley until a dazed and confused Bradley finally mentally deteriorated to a point where he fumed he was ” packing my stuff, I am out of here.”
Maybe the trigger moment for this behavior came during Bradleys second trip to the plate that night. Bradley seemed in a daze as he watched that third called strike all the way from Shield’s hand to Rays catcher Dioner Navarro’s glove without a hint of swinging at the ball.But we can only guess what has been building up in Bradleys frustrated mind during the first month of the M’s disappointing start to the 2010 season, and with the M’s currently compounding the frustrations with odd defensive miscues, Bradley might have simply given up inside himself at that moment last night.
But what is at the forefront of all of this is the fact that Wakamatsu had replaced Bradley with recently called-up outfielder Ryan Langerhan before Bradley even began to berate and badger Danley and then uttered he was leaving. Subsequently the Mariner’s Manager had done the right thing considering the quickly deteriorating mental attitude of his Leftfielder, who could of taken that mental state to the outfield with him and compounded the problem with an interaction with the fans.
Wakamatsu quickly used his managerial hook and replaced Bradley for both the betterment of the team and Bradley at that point in the ballgame. According to people within the Mariner’s clubhouse, Bradley became instantly upset with the decision adding on to his fury at Danley, and he instantly became vocal about being pulled in the game after the sixth inning, for a “defensive replacement”.
But the reality of the whole situation is that Bradley was probably not pulled just for the fact he stood there staring at Shield’s pitch down the heart of the plate without a swing. Especially in a baseball game that was still close, and when even a 4-run lead by the Rays at that point is not a safe margin in Safeco Field. The first warning sign of impending Bradley disaster might have been right after Bradley came back to the dugout after his first strikeout of the night and he flung his Seattle batting helmet at the ground and it bounced up violently before coming to rest near the dugout.
But Bradley did not stop there as other batting equipment was tossed when Bradley finally entered the M’s dugout, and was a sure signal of Bradley’s internal combustible frustration. Bottom line, Bradley was not in a mood, or a positive position to hold a meaningful and articulate conversation at that tense moment with everyone on the Seattle bench weighing the considerable boiling emotions churning within Bradley.
But when Wakamatsu was asked post game about Bradleys absence in the clubhouse, Bradley’s Manager’s silence might have spoke volumes to the assembled media corps. When Wakamatsu did not have idea or a comment to the media, it truly sent a signal of detachment by both parties in even discussing the events in a civil manner at this time.
Could Bradley have “exited, stage right” to keep from fuming or bring this episode to an instant boil when he showed his frustrations and violence to his own batting gear then learning Langerhan was taking his spot in the top of the seventh inning? Could this one action by Wakamatsu set in motion the turbulence within Bradley to begun the cycle of a total mental implosion by the volatile outfielder?
The Mariners insist that Wakamatsu had replaced Bradley before the all too surreal scene began to play out within the Mariners dugout and clubhouse. At this moment it is unclear as to the extent of any actions or reactions from both sides prior to Bradley leaving after Wakamatsu expressed his stark opinion to Bradley to cease antagonizing the Umpires following Bradley direct barrage on Danley.
This is also a Seattle team that has been mired recently with a bit of a confidence problem, and this latest episode by Bradley will only throw more kerosene on the fire until something can be done to restore some good vibes within the team.
Bradley was brought into the Seattle Mariners fold this off season with the hopes that calmer veteran teammates like Ken Griffey Junior and Mike Sweeney might be able to nurture and massage the volatile Bradley and give him a more calming and soothing veteran sounding board for his outbursts before exploding and escalating into verbal or temper tantrums with fans or the Umpires.
There must be an immediate meeting between Wakamatsu and the Seattle Front Office with Bradley to either hash out this particular incident, or form the beginning of a “parting of the waves” might be in order for both sides to heal from this situation. Bradley could either be suspended or disciplined for his outburst, or the team might make it instantly known throughout the MLB that Bradley is a trade piece right now .
But if Bradley’s baseball talents outweigh his emotional outbursts, then a viable solution or resolution should be made to make both parties again respect themselves and their mission this season. And maybe that is the key to this situation.
In the past teams have discarded him as quickly as possible without finding a common ground or instituting financial penalties or discipline for Bradley. Maybe he is just acting out as a form of releasing his stress and tension and has not been instructed or advised of more positive ways to reduce or eliminate these pressures in the past.
Bradley will not be the first, nor will he be the last Major League Baseball player who has let an “on-the-field” situation internally destroy him during the course of a season, and possibly destroy the rest of his career. But you really regret seeing his baseball talent and his game-changing abilities get consumed by Bradley’s frantic and volatile actions that continue to ruin what could be a highly productive and fulfilling career. We have seen videos of players meltdown before, and even totally get physically sick from the outpouring of mental and emotion toxic materials within them.
Seattle is a pretty laid-back place in comparison to some of Bradle’s stops on his MLB career. And hopefully the locale will help mellow and entice Bradley to remain cohesive with his Seattle teammates and serenity will in the future, rule one day for Bradley. It is either that or we all will have to be ready to witness one of the most intense explosion since Mount St Helen’s in the Pacific Northwest when Bradley finally hits his breaking and boiling point. Hopefully, this will not happen during the next two Rays and Mariners games because I personally would hate to see the last images of Bradley be being pulled from the field, or escorted out of the stadium.
Oh Well, You knew something had to go wrong with the the whole scenario with the possbile swapping of “bad contracts” scapegoats between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Chicago Cubs. We all had that vivid daydream of the Rays effectively erasing their Winter 2008 decision of signing their current Designated Scapegoat Pat Burrell. And maybe the Cubs kept the Rays from making a hugely volatile Public Relations nightmare by trading Milton Bradley…..but not to the Rays.
And maybe the predictability of this deal finally cracking in half and sinking out of sight was actually in the cards the whole time, but we all just did not want to see it. Could there have been a possibility that the Rays were more than happy to take one season of Burrell at $ 9 million instead of the distinctive possibility of having Bradley in their system for two seasons. Could that wise decision by the Rays to act like a steel beam and not flex at all in their demands actually end up as a good thing?
More and more it is looking like Rays Vice President of Baseball Operations, Andrew Friedman again drew an Ace from the deck filled with Jokers in standing like a guard at Buckungham Palace and not flinching at all to any change in the course of the deal. Sure the extra influx of capital might have helped put a temporary seal on the leaking piggybank of the Rays salary splurge for closer Rafael Sorano.
Maybe the simple fact that the Rays and their boy genius sticking to their guns turned the Cubs to looking in other directions and not only saved the Rays some possible problems in the future, but actually showed they would not be bullied just to complete a deal. Again, I have to say that the stolic mindset of the Rays boy genius might have been the main reason to celebrate right now.
Even if the Rays did take the Cubbies money and run with Bradley, you could already envision the teams trying to tweak the system to find an out clause somewhere within Bradley’s 2011 contract. And how soon tdo all of us who follow the Rays forget how all of us gushed back in the Winter of 2008 about the possibilities of the Rays entertaining a contract to bring then free agent Bradley into the Rays fold. I know I can admit it now, that at the time,I thought it was a great thing….yep, he even had me at hello.
So maybe the Rays trade cards are not coming up perfect for the team right now. But I am actually glad that this deal went down the tubes and that Bradley is heading somewhere else now. And maybe it is by the sheer maddness of the Rays not backing down,or even caving in a inch that we got excluded out of this Bradley final equation. Maybe for one of the first times, the hard line by the Sternberg administration/front office to standing tall and not budging worked in our favor to get 86’d from the Bradley resolution.
But now that Bradley is headed for the Emerald City of Seattle from Chi-town, you have to wonder just when did the deal turn towards the Mariner’s favor. I hate to tell you this, but it really doesn’t matter now. Bradley is out of sight out of mind in both Chicago and Tampa Bay right now. And I do hope that he can find some level of peace within the Pacific Northwest, but right now I am glad to be Bradley-free.
Some around the Rays Republic might view today’s trade news with some sense of sorrow and dismay of not getting the trade done. But in reality, the Rays standing firm in their trade negotiations might have actually saved the Rays clubhouse and the fan base a load of trouble if Bradley had found fault within the Rays system. Maybe we dodged a bullet by this deal falling through the way it did….. We might not know the real outcome of this “success or failure” until next September.
The Bradley/Silva deal is done and headed for Commissioner Bud Selig’s seal of approval. Maybe for this one instance the fact the Rays did not act or react might end up being the best decision of the 2009 off season. We dreamed of this deal going through. Maybe the reality of it failing will actually be the best case scenario for everyone involved.
Today is the first day in almost two weeks that the Rays can officially sit back and relax a bit while jetting on to the West Coast for a road trip to visit one of my favorite spots and stadiums in baseball. Since it is an off day, I am not going to talk Rays baseball. I have been thinking this past off season that on true “Off Days”, I am going to try and find something outside of the Tampa Bay area to enlighten and bring to light for fans around the country. My first one has to be my favorite place to visit both for baseball and for relaxation.
I have to start by saying I am not impartial when it comes to my favorites. If I like something, I will proclaim it to be the best, and I will not back down from that until something better has moved it down on the list. But my favorite stadium will not ever be moved down the list. It is in a town that has had my mind and heart since 1976 when I first came out here as a child during a summer vacation. My uncle used to be a Navy submarine commander and he had a place in Coupeville, Washington that took my breath away from the get-go.
For that reason, it is going to be the place where I call home in my golden years ( which are not too far away some days). I love the smell in the air, and the fact that if I look east I see the beauty and elegance of Mt. Rainer in the backdrop. And if I glance to the west I see the expansive waters of Puget Sound. I forget about the smell of the paper plants and the strong aroma of coffee houses that line the streets and cobblestone paths of this great town. For it is here that I have enjoyed numerous exciting games, and some of the greatest stadium foods..Yes, I am talking about the town that funded a monster stadium after their team went to the playoffs. Where Ken Griffey Jr. used to smile as a wide-eyed kid under the dome and where the turf was as rough as sandpaper with small rolls and hills in it at field level.
I love Seattle with every bit of my being. Sometimes it might be for the awesome seafood and delicacies you can get in this region, like the royal and Bing cherry. But then other times it is the 12-egg omelete at Beth’s that still boggles the mind that people even try such a gastronomical malfunction for fun. Safeco Field has so many great qualities to it that I might have to do a two-part blog to truly get everything on the blog. But here we go with some of the wild thing I have seen, heard and also been told while sitting in this palace of baseball. When you first drive into Seattle you see to your west side of the car a set of while roofs that poke their way out of the tall buildings and watery backdrops to let you know you are close. One of the greatest functions of this stadium is their retractable roof, and the ceremonial music that goes along with it opening. The music streaming from the speakers, “Flight of the Valykries” is amazing while watching it either open or close…….breathtaking.
Even from miles away on Alaskan Way you can see the white monument. I always stay at a hotel in the Queen Anne district right across from the Sir Mix-A-Lot famous Dick’s hamburger ( Yes, I stay on Broadway ) stand just a stone throw from the Key Center and the Space Needle. The sight of that roof is a reminder to me of great baseball in this country. But it is not only the baseball that makes me yearn for this city. The fans are some of the best in the league, bare none. I am saying here that they are the friendliest and most open fans I have ever met in my baseball travels. Because of the businesses in this region, people from all over the globe have been called to Seattle. Be it American, Japanese, Korean or even Canadian, these fans respect the game and make you feel at home in their house.
No disrespect to Boston or New York here who defend their home. It is just a different way to approach the visiting fan. Both have their meaning and objectives, but Seattle fans want you to come back again and again. And there is so much interesting things around this stadium. From the Bullpen areas that seem to showcase the visiting team like livestock above the left field outfield walls, to the grassy and wooded terrain of deep center field. Even when you arrive at the stadium you get a different vibe when you enter it. The baseball bat structure positioned over your head is an example of art coming into play with baseball. The sculpture shows the classic baseball swing from start to finish and is an interesting sight to take in and follow to the end.
But then you take the first set of stairs up into the ballpark and you can finally see what all the fuss is about. 360 degree viewing, and you walk down into the lower bowl area. The concourses are huge and laid out in an expert way to invite you to chat with the regulars and take in the sights of the game from a high vantage point. If you wander to the north end of the park you can take in the breathtaking sights of the city and Puget Sound to the west. Take a few sets of stairs up into the upper regions of the stadium to really get a feel for life in Washington. At game time you might have on a light jacket and there might be a hint of coolness in the air. By the sixth inning, you are seeking a blanket or someone to keep you warm as the chilly breeze rips through the stadium, which is actually a great way to meet women ( hehehehe).
But if you have to get out of the cold, you can always go to the Diamond Club and see some amazing photos on their walls. They even have a picture of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig fishing together on the Gulf of Mexico in Tampa Bay. I was intrigued by this picture and was told it was one of the only times that they are photographed outside of a baseball uniform and in public together. Then your attention wanders to a photo of Babe Ruth in a Red Sox jersey throwing off the mound. And all of this is in a club section of the stadium that would rival any 5-star restaurant in town. I did not get to eat in this splendid setting, but it made me yearn to be a big wig for one night.
But some of the true treats in this stadium is the odd things that make it special. Things like that wind that comes in and engulps you during the late innings, or that almost haunting but comforting train whistle that blows from beyond the right field tracks during the games. I found it quite inviting and comforting myself to hear that whistle blow as the trains were whisking themselves past the outside of the stadium. It brought a small town feel to the stadium, and a comfort level of small time living in the big city. But something that caught my eye while strolling in the center concourse behind home plate might be the true test of being a Mariners’ fan.
The compass laid into the flooring of this stadium was also a work of art that must be seen if you ever get here. With every member of the original team that first played in this stadium immortalized in the compass points, it is a thing of beauty and elegance to view from above. From the Press Box area with their gas station type roll up windows, to the usher not letting any one sit down during the innings, this stadium is my top pick in this league. I know there are better places to different people, but the elegance and the baseball legacy here is still unfolding daily.
Every time I have come back to this Safe haven, I have found something new and exciting to see or hear. The last time was going into the Louisville Slugger shop in the gift area and watching them make a bat from a lump of wood. All the way to the engraving of the name and the branding of the bat are done on site, and can be completed during the game. Or maybe it is the huge mural of Ichiro on a building near the Space Needle that rises up out of the ground to make you take in this 20 story masterpiece. Most people come to this town for it coffee and it’s seafood. I came here for baseball and regain some of my youth.
I really do plan on spending my older days sitting in that ballpark looking up as they close the roof after a night game and seeing the star disappear for a few moments. I might not be as thrilled to come back for the sushi, but I am glad to take a sip of that Pyramid beer brewed not over 50 yards from the front gates. Seattle has a feel both in their baseball culture and city personality that makes you forget you are in a hub city for travel to Alaska, or even your hometown. It is my perfect home away from home, which is over 3,597 miles to my northwest right now, but I can travel there in seconds.
Photo credits: 1) Tartlime@Flickr.com