Saturday, August 14, 2004

Let the Games begin!!! 

If one thing's good about the disappointing season the Mariners are having this year, it's that I can focus on watching the Olympic Games without having to follow my favorite team's play-off hunt.

It's a wonderful feeling that the Games get to return to its origin, Athens, after more than a century. I planned ahead to make sure that I would get to watch the opening ceremony last night (which was tape-delayed and there was no live broadcast at all in the NBC network.... Works for a prime-time rating, but truly odd for something this big and this important for the whole world...). For all the negative feelings I had and might have in the future for NBC, I'd have to at least thank them for showing the ceremony in its entity, especially during the Parade of Nations. Even though commercial breaks were frequent, I could take a step back and say that at least they kept the breaks relatively short instead of having us all wait around for a long time whenever they came on.... (I know, it's still too many commercials altogether, but I'm just seeing it in a realistic angle here... they're unavoidable in the current setup for TV broadcasting....)

The ceremony itself was very good to look at, with a wonderful display of drumming to start off. The rhythm that supposedly resembles heartbeat worked out great and it was rather involving. It was a nice touch in displaying a drummer at the historic site of where the first modern games took place on the big screen in the stadium and then have a drummer to respond to him, as if to relay the message and the spirit of competition to link up the past and the present.
Next came some symbolic theatrical performances with lots of extremely well controlled wire work, having objects and performers floated about in mid-air gracefully. Then, there was a parade that presented the gradual visual documentation of greek mythology and history of the culture and the Games. The makeup for the people were simply breath-taking, as they looked very much like statues, puppets, and still pictures coming to life, even from a close distance view. It's as if we saw a moving picture book that told the tale of how things went as years progressed.
After the fantastic theater and some well received lazer showings to compliment the presentation along the way, finally it was time for the Parade of Nations. The athletes from 202 participating countries took quite a while to enter the stadium, this time in an order that's different from most of the past Games. Instead of in English alphabetic order, they used the Greek alphabet instead. That made the US much closer to the front than the back, and somewhat difficult to keep track of who we were still yet to see, though it was nice in its own way. Just by itself, the Parade actually would tell us about how history has changed throughout the years, realizing the frequent thought in my mind of "another former Soviet Union/Yugoslavian State" represented some political changes and wars.... (14 countries from the former U.S.S.R. and 5 from former Yugoslavia) On the other hand it was interesting to see a unified Korean team with 2 flag-bearers -- one from the North and one from the South. I could also feel some national pride when the long awaited moment for me finally came. The 25 athelets from Hong Kong (where I'm originally from) made their entrance as the second last "nation" in front of host nation Greece. Even though they're not medal hopefuls, it was a heart-warming feeling to see that "my country" got represented in the game. (Maybe a bit similar to how the Bremertonians feel about the Kirk sisters, but without the chance for glory.)
The ceremony concluded after the lighting of the torch. (I feel for the last guy to have lit the flame as the last leg of the relay... all those people in front of him only had to run a short distance while he had to cut through the stadium from the far end, and then run up quite a few steps on the stairway to reach his destination!) I'm very happy to have witnessed something incredible as such. Beijing will be hard pressed to produce in 4 years' time to at least meet the standards of display we saw the previous day.

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It's yesterday's news, but... 

Even though I skipped a few days on posting yet again, I believe I should at least say something about the two big news about the M's that came out last week.

First, Edgar's retiring at the end of the season. Since I only came to the States in the summer of 96 and only started following baseball in 97, I wasn't fortunate enough to have witnessed the magic of 95 and the defining double that highlights Edgar's career. Though it's easy to see how much Edgar has done for this team, has meant for this team, and that "he is the Seattle Mariners" for almost 2 decades. I suppose his achievements and value to the baseball world have already been well covered by everyone, so I don't think I need to say any more about that. I do have a couple of things I'd like to say though, and these are by no means meant to be negatively taken....
Seeing how Edgar's performances are this season after posting fantastic and consistent career numbers year to year, it seems like maybe time and age has finally caught up with him, and it seems to be a good time at the end of this season for such a stellar career to conclude. Considering the aspect of him being a player this year alone, I actually believed that it might've been good for him to call it quits after last year. Though it made sense (and I wasn't aware of) that he would play on, and go on to collect milestone hits like his 300th HR and 500th double. It's just highly unfortunate that he has to play his last year on such a lousy team, while also seeing his numbers not measuring up to the "usual Edgar", as a way many has put. When all's said and done, I'm hoping hard that he'll be inducted to the Hall of Fame. Edgar Martinez is truly a special and unique player. I'm glad that I have the chance to have been able to root for one such as he on my favorite team in my time.

The other piece of news was also bad news for the M's, as both Eddie Guardado and Rafael Soriano will go under the knife and miss considerable time. This topic has also been well documented as well, so no need for me to say much more. I only wonder out of the group of "youth" arms getting called up, if when Aaron Taylor pitches well with his comeback and if he gets called up in September, if he'd get some consideration for the closer role, since I believe he spent quite some time doing that in the minors....

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Saturday, August 07, 2004

Game of inches? Game of controversy! 

The first thing we think of regarding today's Mariners game must be the last play/call that ended the game, right? Well, I'm going to start off with the first at bat of the game. With the benefits of replays, we can clearly see Ichiro's fly to right was trapped by Jose Cruz Jr. The ball landed on a short hop about a foot or more before hitting Cruz's glove, but the umpire called it an out....
In the last play of the game, Carl Crawford was sent home because of obstruction by young shortstop Jose Lopez. After seeing the replay quite a few times, on both ESPN and FSNNW, it was evident that Crawford had a "fake going" type of a thing, breaking for home for a few steps and then retreating because he wasn't tryly trying to score on the not-quite-deep-enough-fly. (Tampa Bay's third base coach said after the game, "(Crawford) was going to bluff it, go down the line and the throw came in and he wasn't going. All of a sudden Paul (third base umpire Paul Emmel) yelled out obstruction.") He tagged up and took off from third the exact moment Ibanez caught the ball, which meant his view wasn't obstructed at all. That being said, I totally believe that it was a mental mistake by Lopez, who rushed over to third base from deep short while having no play at the ball and while there was already Bloomquist covering third base if the ball was to be thrown that way. (Jose said after the game, "I was doing everything all at once. I was looking at Raul, looking at home, seeing what was going to happen. I looked back and the umpires pointed at me. Everybody was in shock to see what happened." No way, Jose. Sounds like he looked everywhere but where he was going as he obviously "didn't see/notice" Bloomquist.) It was inexcusable, just like the other scoring play in the game where he ran into left field to catch a ball that Ibanez would've gotten to routinely, and which Raul would've had the momentum towards home to make a decent throw to prevent the runner on third from scoring. I think our young shortstop was somehow trying too hard, so much that it crossed the line between hustling and thoughtless play.... Good thing that this happened in an already lost season though.

Today was also a somewhat busy day on the trading front after the non-waiver trade deadline. Mike Myers was traded to Boston for a PTBNL or cash, while Larry Walker went to St. Louis for 3 minor leagers. The Walker trade was probably what we would've liked to see our team do back when the M's were contending (seems so long ago now...?), adding a big bat to win now.

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Catch the Mads-ness! 

A wonderful job by Bobby Madritsch in this first Major League start! He looks the most confident and mentally ready for the big leagues out of all the Tacoma call-ups this year. He also seems to have the best command out of the bunch as of right now. He should be here to stay in the rotation for a while. Good for him, after all the waiting he's done!

He may have his flaws, his bad moments, and may lean towards praising the team more than anything, but I'll take Bill Krueger in the broadcast booth over Dave Henderson or Dave Valle any day of the year. He's a lot easier to the ears, and when he's wrong about his analysis, the errors of ways are more techinical rather than plain stupidity that we've come to expect out of the other guys.
One thing for sure though. Today he had a comment that was in tune will what the USS Mariner talked about, power score runs. They had a list of the teams in the AL with the lowest batting averages, and the Yankees were 5th. (The M's were 3rd, while Tampa Bay were 1st.)

"It's strange to see the New York Yankess on this list..."
"When they get their hits, they get them in the 3-run homerun variety. That's how you score runs."

Finally, we get to hear it during a Mariners broadcast.

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Tuesday, August 03, 2004

But he already has a nickname! 

Looking at the piece by Joe Kaiser in the P-I today, seems like Felix Hernandez is making believers out of everyone. Though "King Felix," as touted by the USS Mariner (congrats on the new site and domain, btw!) has been used as reference to Hernandez by multiple bloggers already. I'll be looking forward to King Felix's reign in Seattle to begin in the not too distant future!

As the trade deadline passes, the roster should be generally set for the rest of the season. We get to see some of the "future" of the ballclub in the form of Leone, Bucky, Nageotte, Blackley, Thornton (*cough* walks!), Sherrill, Lopez, and even Atchison getting their chances in the bigs. Hopefully, A.J. Zapp and Jamal Strong will also have a chance in September, as I believe they've done enough in AAA to show that they at least deserve a chance. (Will we also see Luis Ugueto, the name that we dread but the club loves??) As for Jeremy Reed, I've only gotten to know him through reading the blogs, it sounds to me that the general take on him is that he should stay for the full season in Tacoma and then maybe compete for a job next Spring. Anyways, it's always good to have things to look forward to for the future.

I hope the M's AAA affiliate will move to Portland. Then I might even try to be a season ticket holder there and try to learn/practise to be a casual scout! Hehe.

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