The History of the Seattle Mariners: Supercut Edition

the story of the seattle mariners is extraordinarily weird and it takes a very long time to tell so let’s not waste any time this story begins the only way it ever could have begun with 140 acts of arson robert bruce driscoll seen here in handcuffs after he was finally caught in 1935 was a transient who had struggled to find work in the wake of the great depression this sarah engendered hatred of the rich and capitalism in general in many people including driscoll in the new deal 1930s while those in power were busy trying to cobble together a kinder gentler type of capitalism driscoll took a more direct approach setting stuff on fire one official described him as quote the most dangerous pyromaniac ever known on the pacific coast over the course of several years he destroyed at least 18 million dollars worth of property in today’s money indiscriminately setting fire to factories lumber mills churches and a baseball stadium doug dale field was a small but adequate ballpark that served as home to the minor league seattle indians late at night on july 4th 1932 driscoll gathered some game programs that were lying around used him to set the grandstands on fire retreated to a nearby hill and watched the whole thing burn down when it did the team is forced to relocate to civic stadium the thing to know about civic stadium is that it couldn’t really be called a field because the term field implies grass which civic stadium didn’t quite have the playing area was almost entirely dirt it was described as a mud hole everyone hated it attendance cratered and the indians were in serious financial trouble the person who kept the team in seattle was emile sick a local beer magnate who bought the team in 1937 and renamed it the seattle rainiers among the promises he delivered on was the construction of a brand new ballpark built right on top of the burned down dugdale field it was described as one of the finest on the continent in other words it was a sixth stadium it was named sick stadium we moved forward now to the 1960s when major league baseball is playing musical chairs of american cities it’s the perfect time for seattle to try and lure a major sports team and thanks in part to our arsonist friend sixth stadium is there to serve as the bait the cleveland indians milwaukee braves and kansas city athletics all express interest but plans to expand the ballpark to major league capacity fall through and discussions stall out the kansas city a’s end up moving to oakland instead which makes a very important person very upset missouri senator stuart symington is furious over losing the aids and demands that the american league put a team back in kc as soon as possible in 1960 he lost the democratic presidential primary to jfk and it’s been alleged that kennedy was all set to pick symington as his running mate until lyndon johnson again allegedly blackmailed his way into the position whatever the case symington ultimately receives a consolation prize in the founding of the kansas city royals after symington threatened to pursue legislation that would jeopardize major baseball’s precious anti-trust exemption which essentially allowed it to operate as monopoly this could have cost mlb tons of money so they caved in and the royals were born now the royals were scheduled to begin play in 1971 since the american league wanted to expand in pairs they awarded a second expansion franchise to seattle with the estimation that three years and change was enough time to renovate sixth stadium into a major league park but symington raised hell he didn’t want to wait three years for the kansas city royals he wanted them now desperate to escape his wrath ale owners met in the middle of the night and bumped up the royals opening day by two years and the same applied for seattle’s new team in the strangest way it had all happened a serial arsonist necessitated the construction of a new stadium that decades later served as the bargaining ship necessary for seattle to land a major league baseball team in 1969 the seattle pilots were born pilots are gone so after their maiden voyage in the pacific northwest the pilots took off and headed east to milwaukee to become the brewers which is completely asinine and nearly unprecedented in the four major american professional sports leagues but not completely unprecedented and in fact ironically enough the lone other instance of an mlb team up and leaving their original city after a single year also involved an organization known as the milwaukee brewers they were mlb’s

worst team struggled to draw fans and incurred massive debt so they were sold for 40 grand and moved to saint louis for a while before eventually settling in as the baltimore orioles over in pro football the chargers spent their debut season in los angeles in 1960 and simply couldn’t generate enough fan interest as the la coliseum was generally about 90 percent empty for their games when san diego swooped in and offered a temporary place to play for free the chargers packed their bags and headed two hours south to forever make moot the issue of no one in la caring about them meanwhile the dallas texans won a championship in just their third year of existence in 1962 but hated sharing a market with the cowboys so much that they still bailed immediately after that to kansas city and renamed the chiefs the closest anyone came in the nba was when the team now known as the washington wizards kicked off their first couple years in chicago before relocating to baltimore and adopting the bullets moniker while the rockets only made it four years in san diego before shoddy attendance resulted in a sale that had in houston bound in 1971 which given their astronomical name i could have called from day one the tri-cities blackhawks did move to milwaukee after two years in the nba but they’ve been around for a few years prior in a league known as the nbl and in the nhl after just two seasons the kansas city scouts were hemorrhaging money which led to their sail and moved to colorado before ultimately becoming the new jersey devils so the seattle pilots becoming the milwaukee brewers joined just the chargers and milwaukee brewers as truly changing markets after their initial season they were the last ones to do it and now more than a half century removed it’s hard to imagine they won’t remain that way forever the reason they left really wasn’t that complicated as a minor league park sixth stadium was fine if they’d had enough time to prepare they probably could have built it into a serviceable major league stadium they did not have enough time and sick stadium was an absolute hell hole thanks to senator symington’s impatience and a rough winter the renovation project derailed they’d managed to slap together some bleachers but builders were still scrambling to put them together on opening day fans were lined up waiting to get in and once they finished building a row of bleachers they bled a few more of them through the visitor’s press box had an obstructed view of left field and whenever a ball was hit there announcers had to turn around and watch the game through a mirror there was nowhere for photographers to set up so they had to take all their photos while sitting way up on the grandstand roof which probably explains why there are so few photos of seattle pilots home games but what really did them in was the plumbing which worked pretty well when it accommodated around 10 000 people over the years whenever it drew sellout crowds of around 14 000 it typically had a little trouble with overflow but at its new 25 000 seat maximum capacity the stadium became a biohazard the whole place completely lost water pressure players had to go home or head back to their hotel rooms just to take a shower concessions workers couldn’t wash their hands toilets wouldn’t flush and since the toilets wouldn’t flush they had to lug in portable toilets the pilot’s former pr director bill sears once recalled a story the morning after a night game a team employee walks past in porter john’s and he hears pounding he unlocks the door and out runs a terrified man stadium workers had locked the doors not realizing he had passed out inside he’d been trapped there all night sick stadium was torn down just a decade later and the place where it once stood is now occupied by lowe’s out front near the loading area there’s an unceremonious little monument to the pilots the stand up of a batter propped up next to the original location of home plate holding eternal watch over a flock of lumber carts it’s so obviously in everybody’s way it’s got to be a matter of time before some fed up employee rips it out and throws it in storage but for the moment it’s here and it’s all that remains of the one and only season of the seattle pilots one of the worst ideas in the history of major league baseball let’s take one last moment to appreciate that this stadium is literally named sixth stadium and then closed the door on this chapter forever as quickly as the seattle pilots came they were gone however anticipating the arrival of the pilots the city had in the late 60s already allocated funding for a brand new stadium seattle was so determined to land a baseball team and an nfl team that they broke ground on the site before the city was promised either one the kingdome was a cavernous all-purpose indoor arena with about three times as many seats as sixth stadium ever had it wasn’t blind faith though a lawsuit

first threatened in 1970 as a means of keeping baseball in seattle had spent all decade looming over the american league it finally went to court in 1976 and for the second time in 10 years the league responded to a lawsuit with a resounding fine whatever and granted seattle a brand new baseball team to name the team they turn to the public and ask for submissions the winning entry mariners was submitted by a bellevue man named roger smodus the team announced that in recognition samodas would be awarded season tickets but they couldn’t find him they went to his apartment they left him messages after several weeks nothing roger smotis had vanished so far we’ve been unable to dig up any evidence that he was ever found but thanks to him we have a word for whatever it is the last 43 years have been this team was delivered to us through arson political strong-arming poopy toilets a lawsuit and a missing person every team has a ties and lows frustration heartbreak greatness and confusion but no other team is like this one the seattle mariners are eminently lovable profoundly human and stunningly outrageously weird you may not buy this yet but believe us when we say it there is no more fascinating team across the entire history of american [Applause] sports [Applause] those mariners began play in 1977 and i love their first year so much here we see their game by game timeline in game number five they fell to a losing record and never again made it back to 500 and thanks to a late season slide they finished their first campaign with a 64 and 98 record but my favorite part about it is how often they just laid down for their opponent on nine different occasions they lost by double-digit runs when no one else in mlb that year outside atlanta absorbed even half as many bludgeonings five of those nine seattle disasters came in august too meaning they accomplished within a single calendar month what 24 of the other 25 teams didn’t throughout the entire season a season that set the tone for their first decade of existence which by the way featured 40 such whoopings they lost at least 95 games in six of their first 10 seasons and were on pace for a seventh were it not for a strike shortened 1981 season altogether they lost 924 games in that period over 60 more than anyone else a look at run differential is an even scarier sight powered by five dead last and mlb finishes in their first 10 seasons they allowed nearly 1400 more runs than they scored in that time which is over 70 percent worse than the second worst team needless to say they never even sniffed the top of the als to gain entry into the postseason this green bar indicates the record of the division winner that season in other words the number of wins the mariners would have needed to reach the playoffs excluding the strike campaign they finished an average of 26.7 games out of playoff position each time the curtain closed on a season year after year their september games were about as meaningful as the human appendix even worse whereas plenty of teams at least have some star power or reasons for excitement the first era of mariner baseball lacked in all that in none of those 10 seasons did the mariners have a starting pitcher with an era under three they didn’t have a player reach even 30 homers in a season until year 9 when gorman thomas hit 32 the very best players that had come through their organization were pretty anonymous names that would have been merely run-of-the-mill players on virtually any other team their top pitchers were guys like floyd bannister and jim beatty their best bats during this time were perhaps bruce bachdy and even though he didn’t even peak for them until later on alvin davis if you’re familiar with them you know they weren’t exactly folks that put asses in seats if you’re not familiar with them well they weren’t exactly folks that put asses in seats so

why in the world would anyone watch this team if you choose to appreciate sports simply in terms of winning and losing there is nothing for you here if it’s meaningful drama you want you’re out of luck even if all you’re after is a narrative arc of any kind i’m sorry we’re sold out all the early mariners have to offer is a scattering of bizarre stories most of which involve some form or another a fraud toward the tail end of the 1980 season mariners pitcher rick honeycutt had a once promising season spiraling away from him through 10 starts that year he was one of the league’s best pitchers had an era under two and a half but then by late september he was really his era had ballooned to nearly five across starts 11 through 29 leading up to a ball game in kansas city in the third inning of that one royals left fielder willie wilson tripled off him and while standing on third base noticed some happenings on the mound that smelled fishier than a stroll through pike place market wilson urged the umpire to check out both the ball and honeycutt’s hand sure enough in an effort to combat his recent struggles he was discovered to have taped a dang thumb tack against his finger to cut the baseball that’s gotta be one of the stupidest most obvious ways to cheat just even in a vacuum but honeycut made it worse so much worse honeycutt somehow just totally forgot about the presence of said thumbtack rubbed his face and in the process lacerated his forehead almost poking his eye out and leading to a 10-game suspension naturally once his playing days were done honeycutt would eventually go on to have a lengthy second career as a pitching coach the next mariner season the strike short in 1981 is one of the dumbest seasons imaginable at first they’re managed by mari wells who has parlayed an excellent career as a shortstop into one of the most disastrous managerial careers in the history of baseball mari wills was baseball’s equivalent of the modern day venture capital startup guy despite never having managed a baseball game he wrote a book claiming that he and he alone was going to disrupt baseball and guarantee that he would turn a last place team into a world series champion in just four years well you can see how that went among all those who have managed at least 50 games he has one of the worst winning percentages we’ve seen since world war ii and among those who began their careers in the 80s and 90s he’s the worst by miles in terms of strategy managing a baseball team is far less complicated than coaching a football or basketball team so what does it mean then to be a bad manager leave the demonstration to mari wills who found every conceivable way to be bad at his job for one he was always full of it when rick honeycutt was thrown out of that game after the thumbtack incident will said he didn’t understand why he was ejected because the explanation was confusing there is no way that was a confusing conversation it goes something like your pitcher taped a thumbtack to his finger and you’re not allowed to do that but wills never seemed to own up to anything everything was always someone else’s fault usually his players they couldn’t stand him and they were only kinda joking when they suggested that they should start losing games on purpose to get him fired sooner wills was this odd combination of authoritarian and checked out the authoritarian side of him would wake up his players in the middle of the night to make sure they were in bed and chase after kids who caught home runs during batting practice the checked outside of him would talk about starting players who had been traded away a month ago and head for the airport in the middle of a spring training game as skipper will’s made so many tactical errors that it would take another 10 minutes to go through them all but one stands alone as the most thunderously stupid idea of his managerial career prior to a home game against the oakland a’s on april 25th wills pulls aside the team’s groundskeeper and tells him to illegally paint the batter’s boxes longer than the rulebook specifies it now sticks an extra foot toward the field the alleged benefit is that one of will’s hitters tom churrick will get a little extra room to step forward as he swings the drawback is that during a baseball game there is a person whose job it is to stand right here and stare at the field he’s known as an umpire and he’s been standing here for three hours a day for many many years if anything looks different he will immediately recognize it so in will’s desperate effort to keep the mariners from getting caught for something he 100 percent guarantees they will get caught for something else when they do and he’s suspended he says he’s shocked and dumbfounded yeah man me too i thought that was gonna work for sure he’s fired a few weeks later ending one of the funniest managerial stents ever he’s dumb says brad golden the mariner’s journeyman catcher who by the

way is traded to the yankees shortly thereafter golden ended up in seattle in the first place because the yankees traded in there for a player to be named later which is a fairly common practice in baseball it turns out the player to be named later is brad golden who returns to the yankees and becomes the second player in baseball history to be traded for himself also in that 81 season more fun stuff in a mariners royals game in the sixth inning of their may 27th affair kc centerfielder amos otis hit this little dribbler up the third base line then seattle third baseman and part-time stand-up comic lenny randall did something you don’t see every day something completely awesome this that’s right he got down on all fours and began furiously huffing and puffing and blowing at the ball in an effort to send it foul and it worked well sort of his three little pigs routine did indeed manipulate the ball over the chuck and initially it was ruled a foul ball with the home plate umpire unable to think of any specific rule against blowing the ball but for the second year in a row royals manager jim fry was unamused by more mariner ball altering shenanigans voicing his displeasure to home plate umpire larry mccoy unfortunately mccoy then changed his mind refusing to just be cool and appreciate randall’s goof instead awarding first base to otis this is something i’ve definitely thought about as it pertains to golf if a putt stops just short settling on the lip of the hole i want to see golfers get down and blow it in randall for the record claims innocence that he was merely yelling at the ball to go foul oh and a quick note on lenny randall who was a pretty weak hitter in his major league baseball career after retiring in 1982 he resurfaced in italy a year later hit 502 and became the god of italian baseball but 1981 isn’t through with the mariners yet just a few days after randall’s heroics we see seattle right fielder jeff burroughs being tagged out at home by the rangers larry cox cox is wearing the ranger’s logo burrows is also wearing the rangers logo two teams with the same hats it’s probably the only time this has ever happened and i think it’s great always makes me cringe a little whenever i see two baseball teams playing against each other because they would accomplish so much more if they were all on the same team and they work together to achieve their goals but sadly the reality is a little bit more mundane the mariners caps helmets and jerseys were stolen from the rangers stadium they did at least have their practice jerseys but they had to borrow some of the rangers batting helmets to wear to the plate they also threw a third team into the mix by hitting up the stadium gift shop and grabbing milwaukee brewers caps to wear in the field choosing them because they closely resembled the mariners color scheme this of course is because the brewers stole the color scheme from seattle in the first place when they packed up and left town anyway freed from the oppression of being the seattle mariners for one night they win 5-3 in the standings 1981 was yet another genuinely meaningless season of seattle baseball but it was a big year for a couple of mariners believer larry anderson had languished in the miners for an entire decade before pitching well and finally securing a permanent roster spot in the next season he finally got his very own major league baseball card whoops they spelled his name wrong 1981 was also the year manager renee latchman took the reins from mari wills and although the mariners finished well below 500 he earned the respect of his players and was kept on as the permanent manager for 1982 this of course earned him his very own baseball card whoops they spelled his name wrong too now both of these cards were from the donrest card company’s 1982 set i looked through this entire 830 card set and i didn’t find misspellings of players on any other team only mariners this was no coincidence even to those in the baseball business these guys were strangers but not to us under latchmen the mariner 6 season was their best yet they had managed to take a winning record all the way into august which they’d never before come anywhere close to doing but who cares there were greater matters at hand because for renee lachman this was the summer of mr jello news of the incident hits papers nationwide on july 4th 1982 exactly 50 years to the day after robert bruce driscoll’s act of destruction set this endless chain of events into motion the night prior laxman returns to his hotel suite in chicago it’s a luxury suite complete with two bathrooms and quite well furnished but when lachlan enters he finds that everything has disappeared the paintings are gone from the walls the furniture is missing he reaches to turn on a light nothing the bulb has been removed latchman stumbles in darkness to the bedroom

and feels for his bed it isn’t there the walls are empty here as well how is this possible perhaps the bathroom light works all his furniture is piled up in the bathroom he turns to look at the toilet the toilet is full of jello latchmen races to the other bathroom the other toilet is also full of jello he finds that the wall telephone is still there he attempts to call his fellow coaches and players he can hear them but they cannot hear him the mouthpiece has been removed from the phone no one can hear his screams latchman sleeps on the floor that night the next day he dedicates himself to bringing the perpetrator to justice offering a reward of hundreds of dollars for information leading to the culprit this week the mariners will go seven games above 500 which the mariners have never done and will never do again until 1991. but who cares about that there is toilet mystery afoot at first lachman suspects ex-mariner tom bashurik who now plays with the nearby white sox and lives in the area when pashurik supplies a convincing alibi the trail goes cold the remainder of the season latchmen is taunted by anonymous room service orders for plates full of jello that are delivered to his suite who would do this to the team’s manager surely not a player who has every incentive not to get on his bad side and yet when the chief collaborator reveals himself a season’s end it turns out to be someone who had everything to lose larry anderson one of baseball history’s all-time greatest pranksters had talked his way into getting latchman’s room key and orchestrated the entire thing after finally clawing his way into the bigs anderson is having an awful 1982 on the mound at the time of the incident his era is 5.91 absolutely bad enough to get him sent back down to the miners and if that happens at age 29 his career is just about done why in the world would he give latchmen any more reason to ship him out well listen you’ve got to occupy yourself with something and that something cannot be baseball because baseball is really boring let’s move forward a few years to 1985 going into july 9th the mariners were 41 and 40 entering the second half of the season with a winning record an extremely rare feat for this ball club they hosted toronto that day in what was the 622nd game they’d ever played in a season’s back half but it was just the 26th that they entered above 500 the previous 25 coming in that 82 season and as we’ll see they clearly had no idea how to conduct themselves in such unfamiliar territory they got a rally going in the third inning with phil bradley in scoring position and less than two out for cleanup hitter gorman thomas who banged this hit to right jesse barfield fielded it and fired a beautiful throw home in time to get bradley but this one resulted in a massive collision with blue jays catcher buck martinez who shattered his leg and dislocated his ankle thomas a good pal of martinez’s from their three years as teammates in milwaukee try to take advantage of that incapacitation by advancing to third base martinez still noticed and was able to get a throw off to third but it sailed into left field where george bell scooped it up and launched a throw home where thomas was attempting to complete the 360 foot jaunt around the base path and who was on the receiving end of that throw home why it’s the catcher who’s still writhing around on the ground completely and literally broken no matter he’s got a job to do martinez hauls in the throw and applies the tag to his buddy who mercifully took his foot off the gas to avoid another collision thus mlb’s first ever 9272 double play was born the mariners had done the seemingly impossible they figured out a way to get multiple players thrown out at home by multiple different outfielders on the same play astonishing stuff from the m’s who would go on to lose 9-4 in the process kicking off a new multi-year drought of not entering any second half game with a winning record a 1985 survey asked seattle area residents to name their favorite mariner the vast majority responded that they didn’t know any every mariner’s retrospective has to find something from this era to talk about as much as we wish we could begin the story in the 90s usually the greatest achievement we can

come up with is gaylord perry’s 300th win in 1982 even then perry was a journeyman who just happened to be a mariner the day he did it oh but lest you doubt he was a real mariner he’d be ejected and suspended a couple months later for doctoring the ball with vaseline alongside alvin davis the most recognizable player of the early years is probably harold reynolds a two-time all-star who was one of the best defensive second baseman of his era he was also known for being thrown out on the bases which he can’t really be blamed for entirely the mariners utilize reynolds a very fast guy as a very very very fast guy in 1988 the consequence was the most counterproductive stolen base campaign of the last 90 years here is every player who’s ever been caught at least 25 times in a season plotted as a percentage of their stolen base attempts in the 1910s players went for steals with reckless abandon before everyone seemingly realized at the same time that it was a really bad idea about 50 years later stealing came back into vogue before everyone realized this again exhibit a was 1988 harold reynolds who was caught 29 times against just 35 successful steals in fact reynold’s top youtube search result from his playing career is a clip of him being thrown out it’s one of the most memorable clips in bo jackson’s endless highlight reel from the warning track he ignores the cutoff man entirely and fires an impossibly perfect strike into home after the game reynolds was reportedly sitting in front of a vcr watching it over and over again trying to figure out how the hell it happened this is how it was for the mariners back then they just kind of experienced the baseball other teams were playing they weren’t anyone’s rival they weren’t even a national laughing stock in the way some other teams were they simply did not register as it concerns the mariners the only real important story was beginning on the other side of the country in the bronx the year is most likely 1983. the yankees manager is billy martin over the course of his managerial career martin got into a bar fight with one of his own players on multiple occasions he busted a reporter’s face open because he wouldn’t show him his notes he fought a stranger at a hotel bar after he insulted what the man did for a living which was entirely inappropriate there’s absolutely nothing funny about being a marshmallow salesman you go from town to town probably have a suitcase with a bunch of marshmallows in it point being billy martin was perhaps the most difficult person in the modern history of baseball on this particular day as the story goes a lot of the players kids are running around the clubhouse but two kids are singled out in particular martin sends one of the team assistants to tell their father the star first baseman that his kids need to be quiet the player naturally takes it as an insult so does his oldest son who would be about 13 years old at this time this kid will hold a grudge against the new york yankees for decades to come you know his name [Applause] the son of ken griffey is the most beloved baseball player of the last 50 years fans were worried that they wouldn’t ever get to see a player make it into the hall of fame where the mariners had on his plaque not because junior wouldn’t get in everyone saw that coming 20 years before the fact but because it was rumored that his plaque would be sculpted with his hat on backwards he’d always worn it like that not as any kind of statement but because he was always wearing his dad’s reds hat as a little kid and it kept falling in his face unless he turned it around the public image of junior was one of a guy who on top of being astounding at baseball had more fun than anyone always laughing starring in funny commercials pulling increasingly ingenious and elaborate pranks on his teammates the story of the real ken griffey jr was incompatible with what we saw the mariners made junior 1987’s number one overall draft pick signing him right out of high school he became a celebrity very quickly tearing through the minors and receiving a spring training invite with big leaguers in 1989 he played so well that manager jim will fieber had no choice but to start him at center field on opening day he’s shown us he can do everything the fever said there isn’t one thing he can’t do others agreed in their 1989 set the brand new upper deck baseball card company reserved their number one slot traditionally reserved for a superstar for a 19 year old who had yet to appear in a single major league baseball game

he didn’t let him down wins above replacement is a metric that attempts to estimate a player’s overall value to his team in terms of wins junior’s mark in 89 was just over three the best baseball had seen from a teenage position player in over 60 years his season could have been even better had he not missed a month of action after slipping and falling in the shower junior was already becoming the first great seattle mariner the first era the era of forgotten bums piecing together losing season after losing season and a far-flung corner of the country was over and junior ended it most have no idea of what he went through at age 17 he was shipped off from a cincinnati home to play minor league ball in bellingham washington he literally could not have been sent any further from home ken senior a three-time all-star knew what it was to be a baseball star but his son’s journey was something else entirely junior was saddled with massive expectations before his 18th birthday the pressure coupled with the loneliness of being so far from home weighed on him enormously he struggled with depression and years later he would disclose that he once made an attempt on his own life in this time at that time and every time senior was there helping him navigate an experience that no one can truly be ready for what was once a combative relationship between the two faded as senior came to recognize the burden his son was carrying sometimes he said the only privacy he gets is out in center field here’s junior during a game in 1990 chasing down an outfield fly his dad is in the building looking on when junior pulls a classic junior move and steals the catch from the left fielder all senior can do is laugh there he is the 40 year old griffey was teammates with his 20 year old son not only that the two were neighbors in the outfield and batted right next to each other in the lineup in one of baseball’s best known pieces of trivia they became the first father-son duo to hit back-to-back home runs sure acquiring senior in the first place was probably a publicity stunt but you’re going to hear these words from me quite often who cares in 92 thanks to unreliable pitching they followed up their first ever winning season by dipping far into the red seemingly undoing years of positive momentum they had now finished dead last in the standings for the sixth time in their 16-year history for reasons we’ll eventually get into this wasn’t such a bad thing meet jay buener in one of the great heists of the 1980s the mariners had fleeced the dreaded yankees out of the power hitting right fielder giving up only greg phelps in return okay so here’s my chance to solve a decades-old mystery for people who watched seinfeld but didn’t watch baseball remember the episode where frank costanza starts yelling at george steinbrenner out of nowhere about some guy named jay buehner what the hell did you trade jpuna for you don’t know what the hell you’re doing and steinbrenner goes on instead about some guy named ken phelps my baseball people love ken phelps bat they kept saying kent felt kent phelps well this is what frank was so mad about unlike griffey buner is not a 5 tool player he doesn’t steal bases hit for average or feel all that well he is however a master practitioner of blurping blurping is a term buhner himself came up with and it refers to the act of vomiting on cue for the purpose of eliciting pukes from nearby sympathy vomiters why these are the seattle mariners we’ll never be able to answer why questions when what who sure we can help you those questions but not why buyner demonstrated his true mastery of the craft during a game in 1992 in right field buhner executed a blurp spilling his lunch on the turf it must have been a remarkable performance because when left fielder kevin mitchell watched from about 200 feet away he became queasy and began puking as well finally griffey jr looked over from center field he couldn’t hold it in and began to vomit the entire seattle mariners outfield was vomiting at the same time jay buener had just executed the triple blurp in the middle of a baseball game by the time 1993 rolled around griffey’s game reached new heights and at age 23 was making history to be as great as he was as young as he was on july 25th after homering in each of the previous five nights this shot off jose mesa made him the youngest player to ever go deep in six consecutive games then he did it again in the game after that

then he did it again in the game after that first pitch from banksters there it goes see you later i predict griffey has tied the major league record holy cow the kid has done it tying the all-time record at eight straight that to this day has only been done by two other players regardless of age when the dust settled on that season he’d topped a batting average of 300 to go along with 45 homers it all led to the most total bases by a 23 year old since hank aaron back in 1957 at that point griffey’s career totals included 132 homers 1428 total bases and 453 rbi that was the most career dingers anyone his age had hit since frank robinson only mel ought over 60 years prior had accumulated that many total bases while a player so young hadn’t driven in over 450 runs since ted williams prior to departing mlb to fight in world war ii combined with his fourth straight gold glove if it wasn’t clear before 1993 removed any and all doubt that we were witnessing a once-in-a-generation talent blossoming before our very eyes just like the 1981 season 1994 was shortened by labor dispute and just like 81 94 was monumentally weird for the mariners one of the most sought after records was the single season home run mark of 61 set by roger maris in 1961 in the three plus decades to follow only three guys 1965 willie mays 1977 george foster in 1990 cecil fielder came within even 10 of that number and those guys lost pace with them before the season was even half over but in 1994 griffey who we see here in green helped to lead an armada of players in pursuit of marist in his record matt williams jeff bagwell frank thomas barry bonds and albert bell were bum rushing the history books but it felt like junior who of course was capable of going on home run tears without warning had the best shot the strike wiped out the season in august and ever since we’ve been left to wonder what would have happened i’m left in a state of personal conflict here on one hand collective action is good and labor strikes are cool on the other hand i was looking forward to seeing where the squiggly lines were going to go on my computer screen the strike also denied us a chance to witness some history that was headed in the opposite direction over the years there had been seven teams in the aost with that much competition the mariners had no chance of contending but in 94 the american league was realigned they were now only four teams and as luck would have it all four were garbage the strike mercifully abbreviated what probably would have ended up as the worst division in baseball history at the end of it the rangers were leading the west with a 52 and 62 record the mariners despite being as bad as ever were only a couple games out it was the closest they’d ever come to first at the end of a season and if everyone else getting worse is what it took to get the mariners into contention so be it forget their win loss record though who cares the seattle mariners seemed like the team of the future they were wearing new uniforms now with a redesigned logo and an electric blue jersey in a time when domes were still cool they played in the kingdome which sat in the shadow of the cascades and in the middle of a mysterious distant city whose cultural exports were computer stuff and nirvana and the space needle around this time i was growing up in places i found ordinary because you always think the place you live in is ordinary it was easy to assign a mystique to this far away futuristic paradise and the superhero who lived there after some early 90s rumblings of a potential move to florida the anxiety of keeping baseball in seattle vanished as well in a turn of events that sounds made up by an eight-year-old a majority stake in the mariners was bought by hiroshi yamauchi the president of nintendo yamauchi was a billionaire who had never been to a baseball game didn’t know who ken griffey jr was and seemed to be more interested in expanding nintendo of america’s footprint than actually turning a profit he wasn’t prepared for how happy the mariners actually made people as he put it he was as though the money he spent was alive throughout its history seattle baseball was regularly in trouble and its only victory was in simply being allowed to exist now they had real identity they had their superstar they were the coolest team in baseball somehow things had come together it was the perfect time for things to fall apart while the team was warming up on july 19th four of the kingdome ceiling tiles fell and collapsed into the seats nobody was hurt but mariners games were immediately relocated to other venues and the players strike ensured that

there would be no more mariners home games throughout the rest of the season the team’s ownership group leveraged this to demand public money for a new stadium to replace the kingdome which wasn’t yet 20 years old if they didn’t get this funding they would sell the team likely to someone who would move him out of town there was no way no way this was happening again not now not the minute seattle baseball finally found relevance after all these decades it wasn’t fair in a different more normal world a baseball team would build a baseball stadium and play there and that would be that it’s as though seattle baseball has to perpetually fight simply to exist as though it’s running afoul of the order of the universe it’s determined that a special election will be held in september of 1995 the public will in effect decide whether an increase in sales tax is worth keeping the seattle mariners the mariners themselves who have never reached the playoffs or even finished better than third in their division have no choice but to convince the public by making their case on the field they’ll be led by lou pinella now three years into his decade-long career as the mariners manager and beloved by players and fans alike pinella had been ken griffey seniors teammate in new york and when he became manager of the yankees senior was traded away a couple years later senior was playing for the reds who hired pinella to be his manager again and under pinellas watch senior was traded away again regardless senior always liked pinella and so did junior no one in recent memory can throw a more theatrical temper tantrum than lou he’ll deliver his magnum opus in cleveland a few years from now in which he enters a sort of fugue state and doesn’t even remember everything he said or did after arguing a call and getting thrown out of the game he indignantly throws his hat into the infield he spends another moment in the empire’s face then spins around and kicks his hat he kicks again more angrily this time and just about misses his hat entirely loose switches course after this punting the hat into shallow center and jawing with the umps some more he stomps over bends down flips the hat back in the infield and squares up for a kick this time punting it further 5 kicks 6 kicks 7 until he navigates back into the dirt finally he picks up his cap and makes his exit but not before he throws it into the crowd with one final flourish a helpful cleveland fan throws a back at him which lu seemed to appreciate after the game point being lou pinella is the appropriate man to lead this team the mariners start the season 14 and 12 the evening of may 26th the orioles kevin bass smacks one deep into right center it’s the seventh inning of a regular season baseball game in may griffey doesn’t have to do what he’s about to do but ken griffey jr can only be great he has no other choice he sprints about 20 miles takes off throws himself at the wall makes one of the most iconic catches of the 1990s and hits the ground 10 feet away from his hat it’s estimated that the mariners who haven’t done much of anything in six seasons with their superstar will be without him for three months meanwhile the mariners and the california angels are fighting for the division lead while the mariners spend june trading wins and losses at an even rate the angels are positioning themselves for a run which they finally begin in mid-july in this span they go a remarkable 17-3 and even those three losses were squeakers one was a one-run loss one an extra innings loss and one walk-off those 17 wins more than half came by at least five runs the angels are clobbering the american league in fact up to this point in the season they have far and away the best run differential in all of baseball the mariners all the way down here at plus three almost the definition of mediocre throughout the angel streak they’ve gone nowhere and are now 13 games out of the lead time is running out griffey actually returns to the field a few games ahead of schedule but nothing much changes california is holding steady as a rock at about 25 games over 500 and seattle is just lying there like a beached whale this is all they’d ever done even now with a public vote less than a month away in the people of seattle to impress the mariners had failed to present any other version of themselves it seemed as though they had no other version of themselves across their entire 19-year history

they’ve experienced one day at 10 games over 500 approximately 24 hours in august of 1991 that’s it suppose they somehow rally in this very short window and get there again great they’re less than halfway there this is a team with no meaningful pass to speak of and in all likelihood no future there is only the present there is nothing to do but march whoa something terrible has happened to the california angels they’re getting ejected they’re fighting with each other in general they’re starting to lose it and it’s easy to understand why losing nine games in a row while holding the division lead is horrifying enough but this one is like no other over these nine games they’ve been outscored by 48 runs or just over five per game they’ve gotten absolutely thumped now it’s true that up to this point there have been 36 nine game streaks in baseball history that were this bad but look at who they happened to almost all of these teams were way under 500 they were already totally cooked by the time the losing streak began and in fact a good number of these streaks belong to some of the worst teams in the history of the game the only team anywhere near the 95 angels is the 1957 red legs who were 61 and 49 but they were in fourth place and a post-season appearance was pretty unlikely for them these angels were in first place by a huge margin they were cruising in what feels at first like too little too late the mariners finally smell blood in the water when they wake up on the morning of september 19th they’re suddenly only two games behind it’s their big day that evening they rally from a four to one deficit to take the rangers into extra innings in the bottom of the 11th griffey finds himself down to his final strike what’s important to know about junior is that he’s far more than just a power hitter most pitches aren’t home run opportunities but many including some well outside the strike zone our chance to slap one through and with a man on [Applause] down south the angels lose again then they watch the news and wait with most of the ballots counted the measure to fund a new mariner stadium thereby keeping them in seattle currently leads by a thin margin but these are just the voters who showed up today around 45 000 absentee ballots are still out there and they were cast some time ago by voters who hadn’t yet seen the lunacy that’s currently unfolding these voters have been watching these mariners the miracle mariners the votes yet to be counted are from people who know nothing but these mariners the counting continues the next day it’s announced that with close to half a million votes counted the lead has shrunk to 300. there are still 15 000 votes yet to be counted that night the mariners come from behind again to knock off the a’s 10-7 down in texas the angels answer with another loss this happens again and again the seattle mariners are now leading the american league west if they hold on they’re headed to the playoffs for the first time in their history it all happened so quickly it’s disorienting the angels cheated fate by dropping nine in a row down the home stretch and keeping a comfortable lead but then after briefly gathering themselves they dropped nine in a row again losing streaks of this size are extraordinarily rare in baseball since the angels were founded 35 years ago they’ve only suffered a handful and typically during seasons in which they were way out of the playoff race and didn’t have much to play for now at the worst possible time they’ve suffered two in the space of a month no new results from king county votes since the 21st it’s time to meet two more heroes first tino martinez just another of the mariner’s seemingly endless supply of power hitters his career will be defined by memorable clutch home runs although many of them come after he leaves

seattle and then there’s dave niehaus have zero emotional investment in the mariners but the way their long-time broadcaster dave niehaus would call big moments still made my goosebumps get goosebumps and whether it was his trademark phrases like breaking out the rye bread and mustard for a grand salami or just his overall infectious enthusiasm that made a random tuesday night in august feel like game seven of the world series he simply had a unique way to connect with fans and bring the game to life tragically nihaus was taken from us far too soon shortly following the 2010 season leaving a void that’s truly impossible to fill for so long through years and years of misery the one thing mariner fans could take solace in was knowing they’d be treated to niehaus’s pure brilliance for three hours night after night starting with their first pitch in 1977 and continuing for 34 years and nearly 5 300 games thereafter it’s a wild back and forth game between the mariners and athletics down by a run in the bottom of the ninth tino martinez steps in with a man on first listen closely here as dave niehaus’s voice momentarily fades out before returning closer to the mic here comes the pitch totino swung on and melted deeper right field and that will be [Applause] he was probably spinning in his chair i asked in part one why anyone would want to watch the mariners in those atrocious early days well there’s your reason regardless of the quality or lack thereof of the product put forth on the field niehaus always always always provided an a plus plus broadcast bad news comes on the 26th the measure has for the time being lost the lead but it’s still alive there are still about 3 000 ballots yet to be counted after weeks of sniping at one another from different parts of the country the angels finally have to drag their sorry asses up to seattle and meet their conquerors in person they get thumped ten to two thanks to homers from griffy and jay buener it’s their seventh consecutive win and the mariners now lead the west by three games with just six to play the next day it becomes clear the vote has failed the mariners lose to the angels that afternoon win their next two games against the rangers and end up splitting the series in texas after getting thumped 9-2 and 9-3 they left exactly enough room for the angels to catch up to him and the angels did their 144 games schedule ends in a tie it necessitates something major league baseball hasn’t seen in 15 years a special one-game tiebreaker between the mariners and angels to decide who goes to the playoffs what comes next for the mariners and where they end up playing next year no one can really say but if nothing else this much is guaranteed the seattle mariners will play one more baseball game the final game of an absurd season will turn out to be its most absurd for one the timing is odd this is without question the most important game the mariners have ever played and yet the first pitch is at 1 pm on a monday afternoon well at least it was the biggest story of that monday afternoon right no it wasn’t it’s time to meet randy johnson who at six foot ten became the tallest player in the history of major league baseball when he entered the bigs in 1988 everyone thought he had greatness in him it showed up in flashes most notably in 1990 when he threw the first no-hitter in mariner’s history but he led the league in walks three years in a row and his era hung around four placing him around the middle of the pack and then nolan ryan came to town before a mariner’s rangers game in 1992 johnson ran into the future hall of famer and confessed that something in his mechanics wasn’t working ryan said hey try landing on the front of your foot instead of your heel randy listen and just like that his numbers drastically improved and he was well on his way to becoming one of the most accomplished pitchers baseball has ever seen he was also among the most intimidating he had a 102 mile per hour fastball but his most devastating pitch was a 90 mile per hour slider that had so much on it that it looked like a fastball it was almost unfair it was called mr snappy so with the future of the organization

hanging in the balance seattle skipper lou pinella had the ultimate ace up his sleeve as he was able to give the ball to johnson on short rest and it’s completely clear why that seemingly risky move wasn’t so risky but was in fact the obvious call the big unit wasn’t just the team’s top pitcher but he was the very best in the entire american league by miles in terms of both ops allowed and era no one was close to him he notched at least 12 strikeouts in nine games existing on his own stratosphere relative to the rest of the league on his way to fanning nearly 300 batters despite an abbreviated mlb season so while seattle had the runaway saiyong winner on the hill the angel’s ace was out of commish with all-star chuck finley having tossed over a hundred pitches the prior afternoon to get him to this game that meant that angel’s hopes rested on long time mariner mark langston who seattle had traded to montreal in the deal that landed him johnson the mariners were oozing confidence in a game that they got to host based on the flip of a coin pinella saw a win as a foregone conclusion so did left fielder vince coleman and randy was indeed an untouchable force of nature for the first six innings of this one retiring each of the angel’s first 17 batters before his bid for perfection was broken up by his ex-roommate of all people langston was pretty good too allowing just one run through six but then things got away from him in the seventh the mariners loaded up the bases with former angel luis soho at the dish who then punched a grounder to the right that probably should have been an ending ending 3-1 put out but that instead first baseman jt snow flubbed snow could only watch as the ball blooped into fowl territory and underneath the angel’s bullpen bench by the time right fielder tim salmon dug it up two mariners had scored an unfortunate set of circumstances turned disastrous when langston’s throwing error allowed for the ultimate embarrassment four runs scoring on a ball that touched an infielder’s glove for what has to be the first and only time in the history of organized baseball thanks to the fielding work of two angels that would each win gold gloves that season that is baseball for you with the game now blown wide open the m’s could just sit back and ride johnson to the als title well now the seattle mariners are guaranteed to exist for at least a few more days as they move on to make their first ever playoff appearance in the 1995 alds and if this were a work of fiction this is exactly the way we would ride it management has made it clear that if there’s no stadium deal by the end of the month they’re selling which virtually guarantees moving washington governor mike lowry begins to arrange a last-ditch effort to fund a new park but as it stands it’s kind of a long shot for one politicians are generally hesitant to counteract a public vote for another were less than one year removed from the republican revolution of 1994 washington state served as ground zero as the spending of his gop saw more house victories here than anywhere else in the country the on-field performance of the mariners seems to be the only variable left if they squeak into the playoffs only to be immediately snuffed out

is that enough to move the needle probably not this team which had never seriously contended in their entire history until about a month ago has to win something five games first to three takes it and again this could not have been written any better to this point in history the new york yankees had been to the world series 33 times and won 22 of them they were everything the mariners were not the yankees played in a storied stadium that lasted nearly a century the mariners played in a concrete dome built on the cheap that started falling apart in 20 years time the yankees were a mainstay of american culture the mariners had to fight for the privilege of existing yankees got married to marilyn monroe and hung out with a rat pack mariners made toilet jello and threw up because it was funny in recent times the yankees had emerged like locusts surfacing to contend every 10 or 15 years in 94 the strike may have been the only thing keeping them from another world series as they had the best record in the american league they decided that once again it was their time the yankees were an arch enemy to many but few if any share the animosity held by ken griffey jr the 1983 incident wasn’t a simple clubhouse misunderstanding the griffey family had been disrespected and for junior a family man who famously preferred spending time with his wife and kids to living their celebrity lifestyle it was not a forgettable offense in ken senior’s autobiography big red he wrote that junior carried this grudge against the yankees throughout his entire career adding that he played his best games against them he was right in fact despite all the premiere pitching the yankees threw a junior over the years he hit better against them than any other team seven years into his career baseball’s biggest superstar is finally in the playoffs here is his opportunity to save the future of his team and exact revenge on another junior and the mariners entered the first ever alds game fighting an uphill battle for starters after punching their playoff ticket with that win over the angels they didn’t get into new york their third time zone in three days until after four in the morning on top of that they were without the services of their superstar ace at the beginning of the series thanks to johnson’s heroics the day before to even get him here but buck showalter’s yankees had the luxury of being able to send their top pitcher to the mound on full rest mid-season trade acquisition and reigning al scion winner david cohn cohn’s been red-hot having allowed just four runs across his final 25 innings of the regular season and he got an early lead with a two-run wade boggs homer but as jon mentioned having a star pitcher on the mound didn’t matter when it came to griffey no matter how good any pitcher was if he was wearing the pinstripes junior was going to dole out the punishment and sure enough to lead off the next inning he cut the deficit in half with a single gorgeous swing of the bat sending a cone split finger to the upper deck later on trailing by two with a man on griffy again took a cone splitter deep to right that tied the score he has done it again goodbye home run but alas the yanks pulled away with a late inning onslaught against m’s reliever bobby ayala and took game one by a score of nine to six for game two pinella gave the ball to andy bennis in an all andy pitching duel against 23 year old yankee rookie andy pettit making the first start of his mlb record 44 career postseason starts and they took a third inning lead when left fielder vince coleman a man who was an all-time great when it came to swiping bases but had come into this game with just 27 homers through his first 11 big league regular seasons sent a 3-2 fastball soaring the opposite way that new york right fielder paul o’neill could only watch sail over the fence to give seattle the early lead they trailed for the first time when ruben sierra and don mattingly let off the bottom of the sixth inning with back to back dingers and even though they retook the lead on a seventh inning griffey sac fly o’neal hit a blast of his own to tie it back up necessitating extra innings to decide this one and a couple minutes after wednesday became thursday that sure appeared to be the mariners when griffey facing new york closer john wetland against whom junior’s six weeks removed from hitting a walk-off homer launched this 12th inning fastball into the series he drills it deep to right field towards the gap 385 my goodbye homerun he has done it again griffey had put seattle on the brink of tying the series at a game of peace further validating the enormous praise lobbed his way by mr october himself reggie jackson but in the yankees last chance at the dish

wade boggs drew a walk to reach base before jorge pasada pinch ran for him it was posada’s maiden voyage on an mlb base path and he was representing the tying run in extra innings of a playoff game pinellas summoned starting pitcher tim belcher out of the pen who promptly allowed a two out ruben sierra double that brought pasada home to stay alive after failing to score in the next three innings against mariano rivera belcher capped what had now broken the 24-hour old record for a longest playoff game in mlb history by allowing a 15th inning walk off home to yankee coucher gym ladies [Applause] giving the yankees a commanding 2-0 series lead in compelling the m’s to win three in a row as the series shifted to the kingdom the morning of game three an update from governor lowry hits the papers and it’s not good negotiations still aren’t going anywhere republicans are maintaining a hard line no taxes for a new park and if the mariners get unceremoniously swept out of the playoffs well that line is probably all the easier to hold baseball isn’t like other sports one player can’t carry his team to greatness the greatest hitter can bat every nine times and that’s it it’s why in junior’s first few great seasons the mariners were mediocre at best it’s why in his historically great 93 and 94 seasons you could look at their win loss record and never even know he was there and it’s why game three on october 6th 1995 could very well be the last game the seattle mariners ever play coming off two games in the bronx with a rabid yankee fan base that was constantly throwing garbage on the field and hurling objects at mariner players seattle was very much looking forward to returning to the kingdom and at least in game three with their backs completely against the wall in their first ever home playoff game they got to climb on the giant shoulders of randy johnson who in 95 we know was seemingly indestructible untouchable and automatic all year for the first three no hit innings it was more of the same until bernie williams’s crushing homer in the fourth put the yanks up even with the m’s deity on the mound it looked even more grim with johnson’s new york counterpart another recent al cy young winner in jack mcdowell in an absolute groove having faced the minimum 12 batters through floor innings however that mistake to williams was johnson’s only real blip with seattle taking the lead back on a two-run bomb in the fifth off the bat of tino martinez and a monster sixth inning returned the baseball world to the normalcy of being able to ride a brilliant gem from the big unit when they needed it the very most to a huge win for the second time that week the entire season and maybe the entire existence of the franchise came down to randy johnson’s left arm on three days rest for the second time that week even without his best stuff randy johnson delivered season still alive but to keep the plug from being pulled seattle would have to win another two games starting mere mortals at pitcher and game four starter chris bazio wasted zero time showing just how mortal he was three batters into the game three yankees were aboard they all eventually scored putting the mariners way behind the eight ball just minutes in another o’neill homer a couple innings later buried the mariners into a dreadful five-run hole hope was just about gone and it may well have been completely gone if not for the presence of one edgar martinez their third baseman turned designated

hitter who was coming off a couple injury-plagued seasons but in 1995 stayed healthy and had been mlb’s top batter even though he was widely underappreciated outside of seattle edgar never got the enormous amount of credit he deserved largely because he spent most of his career as a designated hitter well this is the guy we were ignoring if you want to know how good a hitter is and you only want to look at one number ops or on-base plus slugging is the number for you in 95 edgar’s ops surpassed 1100 a mark that even the best hitters rarely approach in a full season up here is a jumble of seasons owned by the likes of babe ruth ted williams and mickey mantle in 94 three guys reached the mark but because of the strike they only had to maintain the number for two-thirds of a normal season edgar’s up here playing damn near a full season from the early 60s up until this season his only neighbor is barry bonds the arc of edgar’s career is as fascinating as its apex it was the precise opposite of griffey’s ironically when scouts came to watch edgar in puerto rico they liked his fielding but they saw him as a weak hitter without much potential at age 20 junior was already an all-star with two seasons under his belt at the same age edgar was working days at a furniture store then working nights at a factory as a last-ditch effort he dragged himself to a mariners tryout after a grueling night shift played on fumes and somehow managed to show enough flash to earn an offer from the team he didn’t even play his first major league game until age 24 and didn’t play his first full season until age 27 at which age griffey had already played so much great baseball that he could have retired on the spot and still probably made the hall of fame edgar was 32 now in his ops of 1.109 across his entire career junior never did that it’s impossible to overstate just how great this guy was and when the next opportunity to hit for seattle rolled around they got two men on before edgar strolled to the plate it was time for this superhero to put on his cape and bring the kingdome to life with a towering three-run shot [Applause] that cut the deficit to two they eventually took a six-five lead behind uh and forgive me if i’m starting to sound like a broken record ken griffey jr home run in the roller coaster that is mirroner baseball they allowed the yanks to pull even heading into the bottom of the eighth with edgar do up fourth the first three all reached base which is a pretty good way to tee up the hale batting champ a meatball was served right down the middle of the plate by poor john wetland and if you make a mistake like that to martinez he’ll rip your heart out with the grandest [Applause] [Applause] to not only become the first player to ever drive in seven runs in a playoff game but also bust the game wide open almost not wide open enough though as bernie williams nearly hit a miraculous game tying homer when the yankees were down to their last out only to settle harmlessly into junior’s glove outside of a compound ankle fracture suffered by their mariner moose mascot it was a magical evening against all odds the mariners had tied the series at two games apiece to force a winner-take-all game five the following evening the eyes of the entire country descended upon the kingdome for this one the first day with but a single nationally televised game since joe carter’s world series winning walk-off about 23 and a half months earlier unlike seattle new york got to rely on their ace for the do or die affair though even he knew no answers existed for edgar the first couple innings were scoreless thanks in large part due to the bottom half of the second frame when seattle had a runner in scoring position with none out then two in scoring position with just one out only for david cohn to escape the jam by striking out the side but then in the third just like vince coleman’s remarkably unlikely homer in game two thirty-year-old mariner second baseman joey cora opened the scoring by going deep for just the eighth time and more than 2 000 career at bats

o’neill answered the next inning to put the yankees on top with the m’s trailing by two in the bottom of the sixth a lead-off double by edgar again gave seattle a runner in scoring position with none out and again cone struck out the side to neutralize the threat more deja vu for junior’s next time at the plate in the eighth when his third homer of the series off cone was also his fifth overall matching reggie jackson’s record for the most in any postseason series and pulling the mariners within one as the inning drew on a completely gassed cone lost any semblance of control as his pitch count approached 150 he issued a couple walks to help load the bases before yet another freebie to pinch-hitter doug strange capped seattle’s two out rally and tied the game heading into the ninth where the party was just getting started the yankees were on the verge of dealing a death blow when they got two on with none out and the top of the order due up against mariner reliever norm charlton in other words desperation time and we all know who’s risen to the occasion time and time again when it’s desperation o’clock less than 48 hours removed from throwing nearly 120 pitches with over 240 across the previous six days for a very limited appearance johnson was somehow available out of the pen his legend grew when he sat down the heart of the yankee lineup in order getting the m’s out of that bleak situation unscathed the bottom half of the ninth was the mariner’s turn to reach the doorstep of victory knocking mariano rivera on the ropes with the series winning run in scoring position and just one out new york responded by calling on mcdowell for his first career relief appearance and he likewise rose to the challenge to keep the game tied as the game three starters were now dueling in extras to decide the fifth game for all the marbles and they stayed dueling with johnson pitching another inning and striking out the side in a herculean effort that left every ounce of everything he had on the field the tenth inning turned into the 11th inning and what was initially supposed to be a break glass in case of emergency situation to get on out maybe two had now turned into a third inning on the mound and finally at this point the effects of his monstrous workload started to cause some cracks with this randy velardi go-ahead rbi single a brutal punch to the gut sending the mariners into the bottom of the 11th three outs away from utter heartbreak and devastation joey cora was set to lead off and at that point he’d attempted 36 career bunts with the bases empty 15 of them resulted in a hit including one the day before now make it 16 out of 37 time run aboard griffey continued his torrid stretch by singling him over to third time run 90 feet away alds winning run aboard into the batter’s box stepped edgar martinez a dozen years ago when he was working the night shift at a general electric factory in san juan edgar never could have imagined himself in this moment he doesn’t even need a hit to tie the game with the speedy core at third any outfield fly should do just fine and even with one out they still have junior on base for ken gruffy jr to score the run that ends the new york yankee season well that’s the type of moment he’s been waiting on for 12 years and the opportunity to call a moment of this magnitude is something dave niehaus has waited for since the very beginning nearly 20 years ago this moment belongs to these three men they would love a base hit into the gap

and they could win it with junior speed the stretch and the 01 pitcher on the way to edgar martinez swung on a line down the line for a lot more visit here comes joy here is junior the third base they’re going to wave him in the throne of the plane will be late the murders are going to play for the american league championship i don’t believe it it just continues and your martinez with a devil rip down the left field line and they are going crazy at the kingdom it’s so beautifully obnoxiously fake the superstar slides into home to beat the bad guy fireworks are lit off indoors above a nylon field the team just played for its life and won there are two mobs here one swarms around edgar who will spend his entire career in seattle this is the hit that will one day push him over the top and get him into the baseball hall of fame and it’s popular to consider it as the hit that saved baseball in seattle as overdramatic as that might sound it’s probably accurate in the aftermath opposing politicians lamented that the public’s excitement for the team was putting them over a barrel a couple weeks later funds for the stadium were delivered edgar’s double into left field is likely the reason the seattle mariners are here today somewhere in the other pile of bodies is junior who did it with his legs this time flying in all the way from first base almost no other power hitter of his arrow would have been able to leg that one out when he did he exacted revenge on a team that he’d resented since he was 13 years old and he helped to save the future of his own team junior is barely visible within this tumbleweed of mariners on the abc broadcast he emerges for just a handful of frames the images we’ll always remember him for yelling like an idiot in pure disbelief that he slain two dragons at once this is a moment that belongs to another world one where cycles close and stories end where there are heroes and the heroes win a moment like this has no business in our world so after taking down the yankees the mariners ultimately fell to the indians in the 1995 alcs four games to two but as always who cares we’ll stop just long enough to note junior’s weird feud with cleveland pitcher dennis martinez in which the two were constantly pausing play out of nowhere to throw one another off when seattle was sent home after a brutal shutout loss in game six griffey was crushed but he still found it in him to pay a visit to his opponent’s locker room and congratulate martinez no one ever does that ultimately the mariners got what they came for a senseless season one in which a thousand different things went exactly right permanently settled the existential threat that had plagued seattle baseball throughout its history now the team of the future was graduating into the team of the present now the stadium funding was coming in mariners fan’s remaining source of anxiety was the threat of griffy leaving in free agency for years he’d spoken idly about someday heading for cincinnati where his father played for so many years and the reds had been talking to his agent for weeks but ultimately griffey decided to sign a four-year deal to stay in seattle and unbelievably his best years were still ahead of him in 1996 ken griffey jr ran for president of the united states as part of a promotional stunt with nike what started as a goof quickly got a lot less fun for griffey who was suddenly fielding political questions from beat reporters though he would later become perhaps the first superstar athlete to say he would gladly play alongside a gay teammate he found himself well out of his depth in the political arena junior definitely had a cranky side and it was coming out he hated the whole thing the merits of his candidacy are for political historians to decide but whatever the case it ended in september he found that life

on the campaign trail was vicious and kept him from sleeping until noon and watching ricky lake forever proving the axiom that someone who’s obsessed with television can never be president on the field the mariner’s absolute embarrassment of talent was about to get even more embarrassing you see in this time the mlb draft had a pretty strange format in even numbered years the worst nationally team got the number one pick and in odd numbered years it went to the worst american league team when the mariners finished 67 and 95 in 1986 it wasn’t the very worst record in baseball but it was the worst record in the al lucky for them the following draft was in an odd numbered year allowing them of course to spend the top overall pick on junior now remember that 92 season when they kind of crashed and burned out of nowhere following a couple years of positive momentum well here they go again once again the number one pick was waiting for him in the following odd-numbered year last time they rolled the dice on a 17 year old and it worked out pretty well for him so they did it again if you’re not a baseball person you know alex rodriguez as jlo’s husband and the guy you’ve seen on 37 000 different cnbc shows on mute in an airport bookstore let’s catch up on all the weird giggles you’ve been missing here he is on uh closing bell access here he is on something called squawk alley yeah just together right and here he is on squawk box which is different from squawk alley somehow i think that’s how we’re going to try to catch i’m still mad about that and here he is on mad money by the way and here he is on cnbc make it i’m exhausted god he’s such a herb i love him as a rookie a-rod was a perfect mark for a legendary prankster like griffey griffey was once in the habit of betting manager lou panella a steak dinner that he could hit home runs in batting practice at some point in 95 junior hit a cold stretch losing bed after bed he now owed pinella an enormous amount of beef one day pinella opened his office door and found his winnings a live 1200 pound cow junior had borrowed from a nearby farmer and smuggled in pinellas wasn’t as bothered by the cow as he was by the absolutely biblical dumps it had already taken on the floor this stunt though was even funnier when a-rod was just 18 griffy tried to convince him that all the stars on the team were plotting to monetize their genetics by selling their sperm even bringing in a buddy to pretend he was a doctor junior asked him if he wanted in and he ended the goof once it was clear that a-rod was actually starting to believe him but like griffey arod is a far more interesting person than he’s typically given credit for in this pantheon of baseball gods the legacy of a-rod is by far the most complicated right now though the year is 1996 a-rod is 20 years old and his greatness is bewildering so let me start by saying this throughout the first 49 years of the integration era a period starting in 1947 neri a single infielder had ever whacked 90 extra base hits in a season not even anyone that played the classic slugging position of first base then came year 50 and in a-rod’s very first full season as a big leaguer he racked up 91 as a short stop in his age 20 season which is the most stunning part of all to be that good that young it goes without saying he broke all sorts of youth records there are a million different things 96 a-rod was the youngest player to ever do but irrespective of what a neo-fight he was he still clobbered more baseballs than any other infielder of any age since jimmy fox 58 years earlier through the 2019 season that remains the lone instance of a short stop hitting 90 and in fact let’s even expand the scope a bit to all left side of infield players to even incorporate third baseman still atop the leaderboard that brings me to edgar martinez staying on that extra base hit theme edgar kicked that season off taking it to a whole nother level here are each of his first 311 at bats of the 1996 season that’s a whole lot of baseballs given a good ride 66 to be exact allow me to repeat myself in 1996 edgar martinez recorded an extra base hit on 66 of his first 311 at-bats and this was by the time the m’s had played just 84 games barely half the season historically that stacks up pretty well in the modern era no one’s even come all that close with the 60 threshold remaining otherwise unreached combined with griffy who had a typical peak season that gave the 96 mariners

three players who topped an ops of a thousand sorta cornering the ale market of those guys and becoming the first team with such a trio since the 1929 cubs oh and all their fourth best bat did was mash 44 dingers while driving in 138 runs with an embarrassment of riches up and down their lineup the 96 m’s offense soared to near unprecedented heights in becoming the integration era’s first squad to ever produce a team wide ops of 850 they also scored at least 5 runs in 107 games if that sounds like a lot to you you’d be right they were the first team in 46 years to have even a hundred such games a feat that remains exceedingly rare in modern times add it all up and they scored nearly a thousand runs at a time when no one prior to that season had even reached 900 since the 1953 dodgers and yet somehow someway this team found a way to miss the postseason sure their pitching was lousy reigning cy young winner randy johnson missed three months in the middle of the season due to a bulging disc in his back returned in august with six appearances out of the pen then was shut down for the season but that’s still quite spectacular for that lineup to spend all of october on their couch or like drinking coffee at grunge concerts maybe that would have been a bit more understandable in the pre-1969 days when the entire postseason was just the world series or even up through a few years prior when the postseason included an lcs and thus just two teams from each league made it but this was year two of the implementation of the lds thus producing four playoff teams per league somehow it still didn’t matter fantastic work ems um how many years have we been trying to sell you on the idea that the mariners are the future of baseball this will be year six right come on guys don’t make me look stupid thank you these four first played together in 94 but the strike wiped that season out griffey was hurt for most of 95 randy was hurt for most of 96 but in 97 all four stayed healthy for just about the entire season a-rod didn’t quite set the world on fire like he did the year prior but he did have a terrific season randy served up the best season of his career to that point and almost won another cy young award the rock solid edgar was one of the best hitters in baseball again but it was junior the 1997 american league mvp who found his zenith three years after the strike ended his pursuit of roger maris’s single-season home run record he once again took a shot at the most obsessed over record in american sports he went yard in his first at-bat of the season and belted the right center field and we are [Applause] both were given up by the same david cohen who gave up three dingers junior in the 95 alds buddy i’m sorry near the end of april junior was on pace to hit upwards of 90 home runs everyone knew that would cool down and it did but even as his pace slowed he was still on track to break the record halfway through the season and then came an excruciating 25 game stretch in which he hit just one home run like most baseball slumps it seemed to happen for no real reason griffey wasn’t terribly bothered because the team was winning and he suggested that sports writers were overly obsessed with stats and charts i have absolutely no idea what he’s talking about anyway junior ended up with 56 homers while he did miss the mark by five he still produced one of the greatest power hitting seasons of all time along with mark maguire who finished with 58 over in the national league griffey accomplished something that no one but maris had since the outbreak of world war ii i’d like to take a moment to appreciate the fact that these four were playing in their peak years on the same team at the same time the argument could be made that all four of them were the best ever to play their respective position is it a winning argument maybe not but bear with me for just a minute first up junior by his age 27 season his wins above replacement stood at 59.2 better than any other center fielder of that age aside from mickey mantle there’s a little bit of room to debate griffy vs mantle if you want to for instance you could try and argue

that griffey was a more well-rounded baseball player and point to his fielding ability chart these same guys by defensive war and junior is all the way at the top with manila and pretty mediocre territory ultimately though i think i have to concede the junior at this point in his career is number two now edgar whose case is much easier the dh is a relatively new position and one that players often don’t occupy for the majority of their careers so his competition is a lot thinner among those who spend at least 60 percent of their careers as a dh the only player in the same universe as edgar in terms of war is david ortiz edgar is clearly the best pure dh ever randy is a lot more difficult to assess okay so here’s every pitcher ever with a war above 50 at 103.5 randy places in fm radio territory puts him in ninth all time i’m gonna ignore these guys from the dead ball era because while they were great relative to their peers on the mound at the time they never had to face scary home run hitters so that leaves us with lefty grove tom seaver roger clemens and greg maddox and randy this is extremely rickety logic because it means we’re not even considering say pedro martinez or bob gibson or sandy koufax and it fails to account for any kind of quantity versus quality considerations we can point out that he won five cy young awards more than anyone to clemens and he’s number two in strikeouts behind only his buddy nolan ryan i can’t rank him definitively but on the all-time greatest roster i think we could pencil him in as our number five starter without sounding completely ridiculous and finally alex rodriguez a-rod actually only played his first 10 seasons at shortstop before eventually moving on to third base so it’s a little unfair to compare his war at shortstop to guys who spent their entire careers there and yet despite playing only half as many games as the leaders on this chart and completely sweeping some of his best seasons off the table around shows up as one of the all-time best there are some notable absences from this chart ernie banks robin yao and cal ripken shortstops who like a-rod move to different positions midway through their careers so let’s stack those guys up yep at shortstop i’m going with a-rod every time if you’re not mad at me you should be this entire argument requires a fair amount of goal post moving and cherry picking are all for the greatest of all time at their respective positions no but you could make the argument without being immediately laughed out of the room right for one of your players to be in that conversation is great two is practically unheard of three is a ridiculous notion and four is this the 1990s mariners the modern murderer’s row because this is an unfair semblance of talent the mariners had a few months prior traded away another player who could have eventually joined this pantheon the year prior the team was dragged to appleton wisconsin for an exhibition game against their minor league affiliate the timber rattlers when the game was rained out the teams decided to hold a home run derby to at least give the fans something to look at junior hit a few out and so did around but both of them were upstaged by the timber rattler’s 20 year old first baseman his name was david arias and according to a couple of accounts he hit multiple home runs not just out of the stadium but onto the highway that is 650 feet away that couldn’t possibly be true but it’s what they said junior was watching in disbelief a-rod was freaking out he’d later say that that night he wanted the mariners to call arius up on the spot ultimately aries was traded away a couple months later and he started going by a different name you know him as david ortiz while all this was going on they had one of the greatest power hitters of the 21st century just kind of hanging out in their minor league system you see what i mean it was as though divine intervention was feeding transcendent baseball talent into seattle did i mention they still had jay buener who hit 40 home runs again and that his 40th home run was a 484 foot annihilation into the upper deck and that this home run officially gave the 1997 mariners the all-time record for most home runs by a major league baseball team a record that stood for 21 years throughout the entire remainder of the steroid era and that they had paul sorrento who hit 31 home runs and jose cruz jr who hit 26 stingers in just 104 games nearly one rookie of the year and was traded away mid-season because they didn’t need any more hitting it was true the seattle mariners really were

the team of the in a first round series that honestly isn’t even really worth getting into the mariners bats stopped working the bullpen fell apart and they were brushed aside by the orioles in four games to those of us who grew up in this time rooting for teams far away from seattle the mariners were sort of our second favorite team our vacation team for all the reasons we’ve talked about we wanted this team in the world series so badly just for the privilege of watching him and if these mariners weren’t good enough when was it ever going to happen i remember thinking well maybe it’s time to root for the individual now maybe things like the home run record or what matter junior’s pursuit of history didn’t depend on the good fortunes of his team or a pitifully small sample of games in october the next year he’d get a full season and a fair shot to hit 62 home runs and he chased the record again unlike the previous year jr avoided that july slump on august 1st he was still on pace to hit 62 by year’s end and he never fell far off that pace what happened next i never saw it coming it stopped mattering over in the national league mark maguire and sami sosa eclipsed him in august and never looked back it was their story now junior once again finished with 56 home runs no other player in the history of baseball not even babe ruth had done that twice in a row but we just didn’t care he wasn’t alone an old friend of his was being ignored as well in many ways barry bonds and ken griffey jr were reflections of one another both were sons of star baseball players had a reputation for getting cranky from time to time and were transcendentally great in all facets of the game up until this point bonds and griffey were the 90s they were numbers one and two on the 1990s home run leaderboard and unlike so many of their neighbors on this list they were great at everything both complemented their power at the plate with base stealing ability few others possessed with junior stealing more than 100 bases in this time and bonds 300 while other power hitters tended to be kind of bad in the field both these men stood out as excellent outfielders with bonds winning seven gold gloves and junior eight in 98 which was only his age 33 season bonds joined the 400-400 club 400 home runs 400 stolen bases to this day he’s the only player ever to do it across their entire careers regardless of age incredibly the only player ever to come close to matching this feat was his father bobby and while some in baseball recognized the magnitude of this accomplishment america generally didn’t care or even notice it’s comical to look back on how little we acknowledged something that was plainly obvious to everyone on earth in 98 bonds looked basically the same as he did at the start of the decade the same could be said a junior mark maguire on the other hand had transformed from a normal looking guy into a cartoonish soviet artillery prototype that took three days to reposition and 25 men to operate his eventual admission that he loaded up on steroids to smash the record with 70 home runs wasn’t necessary back in 1987 when griffey was a lonely 17 year old toiling away in the obscurity of the arizona instructional league bonds then in his second major league season would take him out to dinner the two have been close ever since one night after the 98 season bonds had dinner at griffey’s home in his book about bonds sports writer jeff perlman describes a conversation between the two that evening as the story goes bonz finally let it all out he was sick of playing it straight he played clean for a decade and accomplished incredible things only to become a footnote watching as others juiced up largely without scrutiny and were lauded as the saviors of baseball he was gonna get his too he decided griffey for the record says this conversation never happened whether or not it did it at least did accurately represent a fork in the road he certainly faced around this time and the general consensus is that he never used any performance enhancing drugs i have kids he later said i don’t want him to think their dad’s a cheater cheating in sports is cool it’s more than that it’s beautiful it’s no fun when your team’s on the wrong end of it but generally getting mad about cheating is like walking out of the movie theater because you disapprove of the actions of darth vader sports allow humanity to be what it is

warts and all at its most base or brilliant without any real consequence the rules are not laws they’re dares when we orchestrate elaborate science ceiling operations we express our ingenuity and when our dumb schemes blow up in our faces we give the world something to laugh about when for example we throw an illegal spit ball for decades literally write a book called me and the spitter and end up in the hall of fame anyway after everyone has a giggle about it we demonstrate how little any of this actually matters and how arbitrary our standards are bonds allegedly cheated for years looking like super shredder in front of the entire world taking down baseball’s most hallowed records and the powers that be couldn’t do anything about it it’s high comedy but if cheating is valid practicing virtue is every bit as valid did junior ever use peds no one can know for certain aside from youtube commenters they’re all medical doctors who are very well connected in the baseball world and they’re bound to know if you ask them again the general consensus is that he did not use peds i choose to agree with this consensus and i celebrate it not because he was doing the right thing because who cares about that because he did what he wanted to do he turned down the opportunity to graduate from a baseball superhero to a baseball god instead choosing the opportunity to remain himself besides it wasn’t as though junior’s production was the problem randy johnson had spent years pitching his guts out for this team if it weren’t for him leaving every bit of himself on the field in 95 the succession of miracles that kept the mariners in seattle probably wouldn’t have occurred after the intense workload sent him to the disabled list in 96 he’d return to 97 with his best season yet but the mariners tasked with keeping all four of the beatles on the payroll at the same time wouldn’t and maybe in a sense couldn’t offer him a contract extension randy spent the final season of his contract feeling completely disrespected and the bad energy seemed to radiate throughout the clubhouse the thing to do was trade him at one point the dodgers offered a package that included the legendary wilton guerrero the season prior guerrero had used a corked bat he was caught when the bat shattered on an infield grounder and sent the court flying he was really really caught when he ran around trying to collect the evidence instead of running to first he would have made the perfect mariner but the team announced randy was off the market things took a turn for the worse after a clubhouse shoving match with david segee in july randy’s numbers were awful by his standards and the mariners were all but out of the playoff hunt right before the deadline they shipped him to houston out of desperation the knock on johnson had been the 1996 injury and concerns about his future health a mediocre 1998 suggested that his best pitching might have been behind him but as though morale had been the problem all along johnson caught fire the second he left town finishing with an unreal 1.28 era in houston and helping lead the astros to the playoffs randy johnson would end up pitching until past his 46th birthday along the way winning a world series mvp award and four more cy young awards in four consecutive years as soon as he was eligible he was nearly unanimously voted into the hall of fame the loss was catastrophic for the mariners who had never lacked for hitting but relied on randy to keep their pitching from scuttling the team entirely in both their playoff seasons their era was far worse without him on the mound what could this team do without randy johnson in 1998 we had our answer here we see the kingdome just about a week before the mariner’s opening day and you know what it’s not so bad it’s only 23 years old no tiles have fallen since the 1994 incident more than five years ago and it offers the ideal controlled environment for junior who has a real shot at breaking the all-time home run record one day the permanently closed roof ensures that the wind won’t blow his home run balls back into play the field dimensions aren’t all that unfriendly to him either all in all the kingdom seems like the perfect place for junior to make history and establish himself as the all time no no no no no no no ah no crab apples from griffey’s 1989 debut until that ballpark swan song on june 27 1999 griffey had hit 377 career home runs 198 of which came at the kingdome

and whereas about 50.4 percent of all mlb homers came at home during that time griffey’s 198 constituted about 52.5 percent of his career total on uptick over the average big leaguer that’s nothing to sneeze at but their subsequent move into safeco field their new half billion dollar home following the 99 all-star break met trading a closed controlled environment for one that was exposed to the whims of the seattle elements which would cost about 10 to 15 feet worth of carry off a hitter’s bat on top of that safeco’s right field fence was about 15 feet further back than that of the kingdom griffey was not a fan of the new park or the dimensions of a stadium ironically dubbed the house that griffey built so despite junior’s heroics keeping the team in seattle and getting said house built in true mariners fashion its architect didn’t even stick around for its first full season in the wake of his neighbor and golfer payne stewart’s tragic death griffey realized he wanted to be closer to home and his family having rejected a 140 million dollar extension about a month after the conclusion of the 1999 season he met with team management seeking a one-way ticket out of town eventually settling on his native cincinnati as the destination of choice to continue his career just like that the man who brought seattle baseball back from the dead who revitalized an entire fan base and whose sheer will and refusal to lose got a new stadium built to keep the mariners in town was gone leaving the entire organization reeling and uncertain as to what lay ahead as a testament to how short of a time the kingdome lasted the mariners plan to bring in diego sigue who threw the first pitch in kingdom history back in 1977 to also throw the last pitch in kingdom history his son david was on the mariners roster it would have been a beautiful moment but the team messed up and somehow failed to pay for his plane ticket so he turned around and went home it was enough to make you wonder whether this team could do anything right seattle had a ballpark he was burned down by a serial arsonist so they found another one but it was full of mud so they built another one but there was poop everywhere so they built another one but the sky literally fell so they built another one but for reasons that still confound us they decided on field dimensions that were inhospitable toward the face of their franchise a factor that fed into his decision to leave town the kingdom finale wasn’t the final game of the season but for everyone who had spent all decade marveling at this team it showed us everything they and we were about to lose in the fourth inning griffey dug his cleat into the center field wall to rob juan gonzalez [Applause] it was the most beautiful swing in baseball it’s the one we always emulated as kids that’s what was going away an unreal player sending the ball into a concrete sky watching over rolls and rolls of manufactured grass there was something saccharine about all of it even the story of saving the local baseball team that was ripped straight out of a stupid movie of course in reality the team had been far more than just him but to those of us who had marveled at this team all decade they seem now like an empty coat but this is junior we’re talking about before him the mariners produced nothing but static from the day he arrived all the way up to the present day this team has had meaning everything that has happened in the 21st century no matter how chaotic or bizarre has made a certain amount of sense and though no one knew it at the time junior had left the seattle mariners one last parting gift the footage we’re about to see was forgotten for years and years it’s sort of a miracle that this moment is preserved on film at all no one could have imagined the significance we would one day find in it it’s 1995 in cincinnati junior’s gone out to dinner with a camera kurunto because he’s meeting a special guest midway through his tour of america junior has even brought along senior as well as his son trey you most recently saw him with the pittsburgh steelers the player we’re about to meet is a 22

year old who is already extraordinarily talented although it’ll be another five years before he plays his first major league baseball game junior presents him with his very own number 24 jersey the young man’s in awe like all young players everywhere he idolizes griffey and in fact not long after this visit he’ll begin to express a profound desire to play on the mariners one day this meeting is likely the moment his journey to seattle began i think you might know his name too it was a-rod’s team now and in 2000 he made sure everyone knew it it can be safely argued that despite missing two weeks due to a concussion he pieced together the greatest individual season in seattle mariner’s history even to this day he finished with an incredible wins above replacement figure of 10.4 if you choose to take that literally you could say the mariners who barely snuck into the playoffs after narrowly holding off cleveland in the wild card race had rodriguez to thank there should have been hope in seattle after all their 91 wins were a new franchise record but the city had lost randy johnson one year and junior the next only to spend another year wondering how in the world they were going to keep a-rod in town he was set to become a free agent at season’s end and nearly a dozen teams were ready to drive truckloads of money to his door this might happen again it couldn’t happen again after making short work of the white sox in the first round of the playoffs they advanced to the alcs to meet the yankees the ancient beasts they seemed to have awakened when they beat him back in 95 while the mariners had spent the rest of the decade watching their massive potential go to waste griffy’s old arch rival promptly turned around and won the world series in 96 98 and 99 a-rod beat the hell out of him in that series hitting 409 and leading both teams in total bases but he confronted the same immutable truth junior had year after year that no player no matter how great can do it himself the yankees sent the mariners home in six games on round two yet another world series title their fourth in five years the loss tore a-rod’s heart out he had a decision to make now he could take junior’s road and stick it out which ultimately ended with him getting homesick and heading back to ohio without ever having caught his whale understandably a-rod took the money instead signing a 10-year deal with the rangers to complete what was then the largest contract in the history of sports and being paid what he was worth he became the villain everywhere he went incredibly both rodriguez and the rangers would later say they regretted the deal a few years later rodriguez himself ended up on the yankees in a level of vengeance that reads like the old testament at this point the former seattle fan favorite was bashed relentlessly by new york media and resented by yankees fans despite putting up incredible numbers he was just eaten alive out here it’s tempting to wonder how it might have been different in 1995 when edgar martinez hit the double to save seattle baseball the batter on deck was a 20 year old alex rodriguez who hadn’t yet done much of anything in the major leagues you may have noticed him off in the margins of that unforgettable shot of junior what if edgar hadn’t hit that double and a-rod had a chance to step in and take one of the most consequential at bats in the history of baseball would he have remained a mariner for life after that would his legacy have been different somehow it’s impossible to say but he was on his own road now as for the mariners their 1990s fever dream had passed they lost junior one year randy the next a-rod the year after that edgar was still around and hitting well but he was 38 years old all of a sudden and he had been battling issues with his eyesight he’d had trouble tracking the ball at terrifying problem for a hitter and required daily vision exercises just to stay in baseball at all the aging j bunner was still on the

roster but his career was all but finished that mariners yankee season in 2000 seattle fans had camped out in line outside safeco field for world series tickets they’d sat out there in the rain for days on end among them was a woman there to buy tickets as a gift for her mother accompanied by her little pet ferret dressed up in a matching mariners jersey and ball cap after days of being rained on and made fun of by passersby they packed up and went home with nothing the party was over alex what the was that off that franchise record 91 win season the mariners exploded for an mlb record-tying 116 wins matching the 1906 cubs they were among the best in mlb at everything scoring more runs than everyone and allowing fewer runs than everyone a pretty significant reason for this domination of the entire mlb landscape stemmed from internal improvement of guys already on the team starting pitchers freddy garcia and aaron seely each had what was ultimately the best year of their lengthy careers the ageless jamie moyer continued his agelessness as he approached his fifth decade of life painting corners with his 85 mile an hour fastball and off-speed craftsmanship and joining garcia in the top four of el cy young voting arthur rhodes jeff nelson and closer kazuhiro sasaki spearheaded mlb’s best bullpen with an unheard of for that era era of 3.04 their offense still had edgar at the tail end of his peak and they got the best season from the career of griffey’s center field heir apparent mike cameron in year two in the emerald city but two new bats in particular were what really catapulted a very good team into an absolute juggernaut second baseman brett boone signed a free agent deal with the mariners prior to that 01 season the 10-year vet came into the year a career 255 batter who’d never had a 100 rbi season while homering on about 3.2 percent of his at-bats from out of nowhere a suddenly jacked boon batted 331 drove in his 100th run on august 1st and had a home run rate that spiked to just a shade under six percent in 2001 quite serendipitous and while buenor missed most of the season with a foot injury the sun had set on his time in right field regardless seated to a new mariner who is ready to take everything we thought we knew about baseball and flip it completely upside down to take every limit ceiling or boundary we might naturally expect from a ball player and blow it to smithereens the 2001 american league most valuable player ichiro suzuki where to start okay we think of the balance between science and sentimentalism as a sliding scale right if you’re more of one you’re less of the other well each euro is both in extreme measure take as bats for example the scientists in them would travel with a custom-built dehumidifier to regulate their moisture content and adjust it according to the climate of the city he was in the sentimentalist in him once felt so guilty about throwing his bat in frustration that he took it back to his hotel room and tucked it into bed that night and later wrote a letter of apology to its manufacturer it is incredibly difficult and almost impossible to innovate as an offensive baseball player while sports like football and basketball have evolved dramatically over the years in baseball the cake is pretty much baked to me only four offensive players have really stood out as iconoclasts whose

statistical footprint made clear that they were playing a different variant of the sport that they found greatness by doing what no one around them was doing first babe ruth for the first 50 years or so of baseball virtually nobody hit more than 20 home runs in a season then ruth set the all-time record with 29 then nearly doubled his own record the next year with 54 and the dam broke after that then there was ricky anderson who set the modern single season stolen base record with 130 no one’s come within miles of it in decades just like no one else has ever stolen anywhere near 1400 bases but it was more than just that he was also a great hitter who was masterful at drawing walks and was far better than most base dealers at getting on base in the first place there’s only ever been one ricky henderson of course we have to acknowledge barry bonds although not for his home run hitting an on-base percentage of at least 500 is almost unheard of only 10 guys have ever done it bonds did it four times in four consecutive years the fourth and final member of this club is ichiro the first ever japanese position player to break into major league baseball and one of only 32 players ever to retire with 3 000 hits this shouldn’t have been possible unlike the other 31 who typically began their major league careers around age 20 an agreement between japanese and american baseball prevented ichiro from entering the majors until his age 27 season it was a shame since ichiro had wanted to play alongside junior and a-rod for years only to finally end up in seattle right after they both left town he really had to bust his hump to get into this 3 000 hit club junior didn’t make it here neither did babe ruth barry bonds or ted williams against all logic despite showing up nearly a decade late ichiro did in the wake of having spent the first nine professional seasons of his career in japan when he finally arrived in seattle his effort to make up for lost time far exceeded anything we’d ever seen in mlb history from day one and for a decade moving forward ichiro piled up over 2200 hits not only is that by far the most that any players ever had in any 10-year stretch but for the most part ichiro didn’t even need 10 years he surpassed 2 000 hits during his ninth season after 2009 he could actually just been like nah i’m good taken the ensuing season off and still have been the first player since pete rose to have cleared 2k in any ten-year run there’s no one else you can even mention in the same breath ichiro simply existed in his own universe of batting wizardry three main factors brought him here the first was his incredible ability to stay healthy and in shape in 2017 keep in mind israel had been in the states for more than 15 years by this time tom brady reached out to him to ask about his workout regimen ichiro had no idea who he was second his masterful ability to hit anything and place the ball anywhere we have hit location data dating back to the 1988 season from then until now ichiro has more singles up the middle than anybody and has more singles to the opposite field than anybody within this same window we can look at every player who managed at least 2 500 hits in general their hits landed to a preferred side of the field or in the middle they only hit the ball to the opposite side of the field about half as often ichiro meanwhile was less predictable than anybody hitting toward left field and right field almost equally as often now a lot of these were in field hits which brings us to his third superpower his speed again within the same window ichiro legged out more infield hits than anybody stat heads will rightly point out here that he only has that many in the first place because his batted balls stayed in the infield so often which isn’t optimal who cares just watch him in the 2001 all-star game which naturally is in seattle facing off against our old friend randy johnson he dinks one over to first this should be a guaranteed out but this is what made each row so exciting virtually any ground ball was a three second thriller remember this it’s 90 feet from home to first but just 60 from the pitcher’s mounted first ichiro has 50 percent more ground to cover than randy does now let’s play it again from the top [Applause] ichiro just made up a 30 foot disadvantage in three and a half seconds he ran like this on every batted ball in every game he played for years and years even if they did throw him out every ground ball he hit produced a fire drill i’m not sure there’s ever been a more exciting baseball player just as compelling as his statistical footprint which seems to belong to a player from a different age is the man himself ichiro you bet left-handed despite being a natural righty why is that i don’t know ichiro haven’t you been intimidated by all these big strong american pitchers no ichiro who do you ask for advice when you’re in a slump

me ichiro in just your eighth major league baseball game you made one of the throws of the decade to nail terrance long from right field how did you do it why did he run when i was going to throw him out ichiro what’s your dog’s name i don’t have my dog’s permission to tell you that ichiro what will you do once you retire i don’t know i guess i’ll die there’s something i find really inspiring about ichiro’s friendly matter-of-fact stubbornness you can see it in his words and in his play none of this was supposed to work none of it was supposed to carry over from japan but ichiro knew it would and he wasn’t going to change a damn thing about the way he played baseball analyst and former player rob dibble declared at the start of the season that if ichiro won the batting title he’d get an ichiro tattoo on his butt and run around times square in a g-string that season each row hit 350 and won the batting title the rookie of the year award the mvp award a silver slugger and a gold glove thanks for playing rob like junior ichiro is one of the most thrilling and unique baseball players this sport has ever seen and just like the mariners of the 90s belonged to junior the mariners of the yachts belonged to ichiro ichiro was a player unlike any other when it came to game to game reliability he was a metronome who had five different seasons in which he got a hit in at least 130 games not only has no one else ever had more than two such seasons but ichiro alone counts for nearly a third of all the times that’s been done in the integration era that’s just for games with at least one hit how about games with multiple hits well he also had five seasons in which he did that in at least 70 games when again no one else has more than twice in this time that’s five seasons where he could have been reasonably considered to have a near coin flip chance of multiple hits each and every time out which again accounts for quite a significant chunk of all such seasons but one of my favorite ichiro things i’ve discovered is that in 2004 throughout the 60 games the mariners played between june 30th and september 4th he accumulated 120 hits put down your calculators i gotcha that is an even two hits per mariners game for a period stretching more than two months i was curious if anyone else has ever sniffed a similar cluster of hits across such a lengthy amount of time turns out not really here is every instance going back over 70 years of an mlb player reaching even a hundred hits across any 60 game stretch of his team season it’s extremely rare just not for ichiro propelled by those couples scintillating months ichiro put himself in position to wage an assault on george sissler’s 84 year old record of 257 hits in a single season a five-hit outburst on september 21st in anaheim meant 2004 ichiro became just the second player to surpass 240 hits since the hoover administration joining 2001 ichiro they then wrapped up a lengthy road trip with ichiro standing at 256 hits just one shy of sisler’s mark with a three-game home stand against the rangers on deck to wrap up the season in what was supposed to be a weekend honoring the retiring edgar martinez in the final few games of his career ichiro wasted zero time in providing plenty of more festivities to celebrate to lead off the series he hit this chopper that found its way to left feet [Applause] but things could have soon gone very awry when ichiro lost his footing while attempting to make a play on this third inning foul ball it’s cool though since he’s a cyborg ichiro was totally fine to lead off the next frame for his second at-bat of the game where he officially relegated sisler to a silver medalist with this bouncer up the middle [Applause] [Applause] seattle was overflowing with pride japan was overflowing with pride ichiro had reached immortality he tacked on another four hits across his final 12 at-bats for good

measure to finish up at 262 records are meant to be broken but it would be stunning if this one doesn’t last until the sun burns out on a more macro level that was the second of five career seasons in which he topped 220 hits no one else has ever done that five times and in the integration era no one’s even close with ichiro once again single-handedly accounting for an outsized portion of all such seasons in the 2001 postseason despite being on the wrong end of the second most lopsided playoff contest ever in game three of the alds in cleveland that had him on the brink of elimination they did rally to reach the alcs and a date with those yankees again they dug themselves into a mess of a hole dropping each of the first two games at home again they tried to rally with a blowout game three win in the bronx followed by this bret boone homer that broke a scoreless tie and gave him an 8th inning lead in game four they were on the verge of tying up the series if their bullpen unflappable all season could cleanly record just six more outs this is the mariners we’re talking about so arthur rhodes awesome all year gave that run back to bernie williams in the bottom half of the eighth it’ll be a 3-2 swung on it high in the air to deep right that awesome all year allowed alfonso soriano to walk the thing off in the ninth in what proved to be the dagger to seattle’s heart deep right center here that goes on the track at the wall she’s gone seattle had this inconceivable baseball force fall right into their lap and after falling short that first year together in 0-1 not even ichiro could drag the m’s back to october baseball not in 2002 when an impressive 93 wins were only good enough for third place in the suddenly hyper-competitive al west not in 2003 when they seemed destined for the playoffs only to suffer a four game sweep in late august in boston the red sox led by seattle’s old friend david ortiz used the series to pull even in the wild card standings and launch into the postseason over the 93-win mariners since the 1995 advent of the lds no other team has ever won 90 plus games in back-to-back seasons while seeing their invitation to the postseason dance get lost in the mail both years let alone to have 193 in each year while residing in a tiny division so the post one drop-off was shocking in fact following that season of pure magic the mariners playoff drought that immediately commenced extended far past just those next couple seasons it spanned the final eight years of the aughts then the entirety of the 2010s and indefinitely into the great beyond when the nfl’s buffalo bills snagged a wild card spot in the last week of the 2017 season it bequeathed to the mariners the longest active playoff drought in the big four north american sports leagues they’re the only team that could possibly go from teasing a fan base with a season of record-breaking success directly into a historically long run of

ineptitude if you’re only interested in winning and losing this is the end of the story 43 seasons the vast majority of them losing seasons 3 219 wins 3 622 losses zero championships zero world series appearances at least some of you will stop watching and at this point we don’t mind i mean i mean it’s really okay but as far as alex and i are concerned it’s only now that we’ve gotten to the entire point of all this the seattle mariners challenge us like no other team by this i don’t mean that they test our patients although that’s certainly true i mean that they offer us an opportunity to appreciate sports as something more than endless conquest they’ve never won a world series but ask yourself honestly does this look incomplete to you far be it from me to tell any lifelong mariners fan how to feel about any of this but for the rest of us what is it truly missing is it this is this what you want is it really okay here take it all in there’s randy johnson shut out against the marlins in game one of the world series there’s edgar who’s 11th inning single drove in the winning run of game four and a-rod who dove around the tag to take a 3-1 series lead there’s buenor who came off the bench in game five to crush a pivotal pinch-hit double and there’s junior who stepped into the box in the bottom of the ninth and delivered a three run championship clinching walk off the kingdome went crazy what a moment that was if that’s what you wanted you got what you wanted now of all these stories what’s your favorite what’s the story you’re telling first if that was the one you aren’t ready for this team yet the mariners aren’t special on account of their lack of success it’s just that success is entirely irrelevant we’ve entered another realm here one that’s far larger and doesn’t operate on the dead currency of winning and losing unless you let those limits go you’re an astronaut who brought your wallet the seattle mariners are not competitors they’re protagonists still there’s no denying the heartache they had already seen the moment pass once when a second four-year window opened out of nowhere they won 393 games more than any other team in major league baseball they didn’t win a world series or even get to one that was their shot and they missed it if you’re having a hard time with this that’s okay so were the mirrors starting with manager lou panella a very real consequence of putting a baseball team in seattle is that it’s just so far away from everything it’s baseball’s moon colony far flung from even its closest neighbors it’s what junior found so difficult as a rookie all those years ago it’s one of the reasons he left for cincinnati in 2000 it’s part of being a mariner pinella was from florida which as the crow flies is closer to brazil than it is to seattle after the 2002 season the man who took the mariners to the playoffs four times and the only manager ever to do it at all left town to manage the tampa bay devil rays for a manager of a perennially winning team to up and leave for any other team is virtually unheard of especially if he’s on good terms with the front office which it seems that pinella was but this is the team he left for the devil rays lost 106 games in o2 they were a horrifyingly bad baseball team lupinella had traded this for this but that didn’t matter to him it’s testament to just how badly he needed to go home we already know all about the mariners randy johnson trade and how he reached supernova levels immediately upon leaving town well eventually history would repeat itself with another randy randy nguyen originally broke into the majors in tampa during the late 90s blossoming into an all-star outfielder there by 2002 upon the conclusion of that season over in seattle was when pinella wanted out of his contract so he could manage a club closer to his tampa home a club like say tampa the mariners obliged but only if they got significant compensation in return the devil raised thus dangled when and a deal was consummated

wynn provided a couple years of above average play for the m’s all the way up through july 29th 2005 when he went four for five with a homer then immediately following that game gm bill bavasi flipped him to san francisco ahead of the trade deadline for a box of cracker jacks and a half-eaten ham sandwich all wind did down the stretch as a giant was hit better than just about anyone else in the league outside perhaps todd helton of mile high colorado in fact in september of that o5 season he became just the eighth player in the integration era to amass a hundred total bases within a single calendar month it’s an accomplishment that as of 2020 no one had done in the generation since winded so if you’re a baseball team in need of a historically strong half-season jolt just call the mariners and see if you can pry a randy loose oh and you want to guess where randy wynn was from the bay area he played college ball in santa clara clearly he just needed to go home let’s fast forward just a bit to 2007 i went to school in seattle go dogs so i’ve always sort of just kept a corner of my eye out on the m’s since you never know what kind of weirdness they might be up to next and one thing i noticed as the 2007 season moved along was that while maintaining a good overall record they frequently came up on the short end of games that weren’t particularly competitive here’s the run differential of every team to win exactly 88 games within the modern 162 game schedule most have a very strong differential all have a positive differential except for the mariners the worst in this sample by miles they existed in isolation quarantined off from the rest of the pack who behaved like normal 88 win teams ichiro aside the mariners best player in the back half of the decade was third baseman adrian beltray who they landed in 2005. by the time he finally retired in texas in 2018 he did so as a no doubt future hall of famer the season before he headed to seattle in fact he enjoyed the best year of his career with the dodgers hitting 334 with 48 home runs and very nearly winning the mvp award over barry bonds so what’s this about well you see that m shape right in the middle of this chart it corresponds perfectly with the five years beltray spent in seattle it’s like the mariners dug up their old logo and used it as a pastry cutter to squeeze down the prime years of his career as soon as he showed up in town his wins above replacement fell from 9.6 to 3.2 he wasn’t injured either he was just not the same after 2009 he left for boston and his war immediately more than doubled and remained pretty steady until he started to battle injuries nearing age 40 i have never seen a player turn his statistics into visual art like this fascinating fascinating man after spending three years in the cellar manager mike hargrove was finally turning the team around he’d been hired after the 2004 train wreck and steadily improved the team from 63 wins to 69 to 78 and in 2007 his mariners were 11 games over 500 by the end of june they’d won seven games in a row something they hadn’t done in four years and were setting themselves up for a strong playoff run and then the next morning hargrove quit there were no health issues there was no disagreement with the front office his heart just wasn’t in it he said maybe he was just tired of baseball he was 57 years old that happens except only two months later he accepted an offer to manage the bj’s a semi-pro team in liberal kansas and by this point you can probably guess why hargrove grew up nearby and played for the bj’s in the early 70s he gave up a big salary a shiny new stadium and a winning major league team for this he just had to go home managers don’t leave winning teams they’re on good terms with just so they can manage somewhere else this never happens it happened to the mariners twice in five years power hitter richie sexton was home more or less having grown up in washington state when the mariners signed him to a long-term deal in 2005 it should have been a great fit at six foot eight he satisfied the team’s historic interest in tall guys and his legendary pranks made him a natural fit in seattle it’s reported that years prior he would acquire alligators with their mouths duct tape shut and hide them in teammates lockers okay let’s hit pause on this do you have any idea how hard it is to tell a story about powerful rich men that last

32 years without an instance of someone doing something morally wrong these guys never hurt anybody they just had foibles and misadventures stick to taking cows on weird field trips they don’t care we almost made it all the way to the end of this thing you blew it richie anyway the guy could mash and we have the cherry picking to prove it by his age 28 season he had two 45 homer years under his belt putting himself in the company of some of the all-time greatest power hitters but injuries had thrown a wrench into his career his home run ability was diminishing and his batting average which was never very high was plummeting 2008 would turn out to be his final season at age 33 by the 8th of may the mariners were already getting cooked well on their way to one of their worst seasons in franchise history 2007 was an aberration this was the new normal in the fourth inning of that night’s game against the rangers richie steps in and does something i have never seen before or since he takes a pitch from case and gabbard that appears to be right over the plate acts like he’s been shot charges the mound and chucks his helmet at him this has to be the only instance in baseball history of a batter throwing at a pitcher without the pitcher throwing at the batter richie sexton was suspended and later traded away mid-season the mariners finished with 101 losses that year they’d paid a lot of money for the privilege becoming the first team ever to lose at least 100 games with a payroll of at least 100 million dollars ichiro is now the only man left from that magical 2001 season he’d seen it all fall apart at the end of the season a reporter asked him what the team needed to fix he sat there fanning himself and said through his translator we don’t have time to explain days prior an anonymous player went to the press claiming that ichiro’s teammates disliked him for his quote selfish style of play whatever that meant and that one player threatened to knock him out these largely disappointing years were overseen by general manager bill bavasi who took the job in 2004 being a gm of a baseball team is an exasperating job players either get better or worse for no apparent reason they suffer freak injuries and you often have no control over whether or not they get along throw in the ridiculous and arbitrary nature of baseball itself and it’s enough to make you lose it apparently sensing his days in seattle were numbered he made a last-ditch effort to unify his team by attempting a mass citizen’s arrest of some kind oh no you can’t do that bill people have been thrown in jail for less bill he was fired shortly thereafter this team wasn’t rebuilding it wasn’t a lovable loser it was just busted the seattle mariners were certainly no strangers to being bad but after more than 30 years it seemed like for the first time they were truly unhappy and i don’t know about you but at this point i don’t care much about winning in a perfect world happiness is all i would want for these people i want ichiro to have a good time i want his old hero junior to come back so they can play together like ichiro always dreamed about i want him to i don’t know run around the clubhouse and get in tickle fights i think we’ve wanted a lot of things mike blauers was a local college baseball star and spent three different stints playing for the mariners in the 90s before landing a broadcasting gig with the club following his playing days and it’s perhaps in that lateral where his true legacy lies because that platform allowed the whole world to realize just who mike blowers really is a spiritual medium don’t believe me well allow me to introduce you to their ball game in toronto on september 27th 2009 and blowers pre-game prediction for player of the game pics to click final game of the series mike who’s yours well i think clearly it’s going to be tui sopo today he’s swung the bat well the last few times he’s got an opportunity to play i expect him to hit his first big league home run today second baseman like tui osisopo accounted for 189 487 of mlb’s at bats in the yachts 4 22 of which resulted in home runs that’s about 2.23 percent of them meaning a roughly 1 in 45 shot of correctly pinpointing a particular at bat in which a second baseman will homer second about as blowers did in specifically identifying tuiasasopo’s second at-bat of the game he’s going to get a fastball from talent talent was a relief pitcher throughout most of his 10-year career but he was a starter in 09 it was by far his busiest season notching over twice as many innings as any other and thus reaching a 3-1 count on 70 different occasions of which he threw a fastball 80 percent of the time he’s going to hit it out of left center field probably oh maybe in the second deck of the 30 260 homers hit by right-handed batters in the 2000s

17 296 of them were pulled toward left which amounts to about 57.2 percent on a 3-1 about 2.61 of the decades 1.66 million at bats ended on a 3-1 count roughly one in 38. and that’s inside ball three three balls i’ve never been straight side on the 3-1 count in my life that’s the absolutely incredulous dave knee house on the call 3-1 pitch on the way swung up and melted oh at the time he was in season number 33 calling mariner games he had seen it all or so he thought babe ruth in the 1932 world series gets the most love for a called home run shot despite being you know babe ruth blowers confidently called his shot for a 23 year old fringe big leaguer batting eighth in the lineup who’d yet to ever hit even a single homer while also including every detail imaginable and he nailed it all if there has ever been a more eerie sports prophecy i have not seen it because it does not exist the same season another mariner’s luck turned in a different direction you see adrian beltray famously didn’t wear a cup at third base when he was a rookie the dodgers tried to get him to wear one even finding him every time he didn’t he refused and they eventually gave up all was well until august 12 2009 the bad energy of the moment seemed to emanate throughout the stadium spreading bad vibes and disrupting electronics the home plate camera pulled all the way out which it never ever does on an infield play the third base side camera didn’t really catch it we don’t really get a good look at it maybe it’s for the best incredibly beltrey stayed in the game and even scored the winning run in the 14th inning but it would be a few weeks before he played again even then he refused to wear a cup throughout the rest of his career reasoning i already had three kids i don’t want anymore fair enough september 1st it’s his first at bat since the injury his walk-up music plays a word or so at the moment and here comes belfry who’s missed 18 games you hear that you recognize it prior to the game one of beltrey’s teammates secretly arranged to have his walk-up music changed to the nutcracker suite who would be so juvenile who on earth would do such a thing some would point out that the mariners re-signing of ken griffey jr was little more than a crowd-pleasing concession who cares he was 39 now about the same age his father was when they signed him as a publicity stunt decades ago junior certainly wasn’t anything close to the player he used to be but he still had a little power in his bat more importantly he immediately turned the clubhouse culture around while 2008 was rife with finger-pointing and temper tantrums an older wiser junior sort of loosened everyone up and pulled the team together in particular he made a point to bring ichiro into the fold what largely went unsaid during ichiro’s career is that it was often a lonely experience for him like junior who mostly wanted to spend time with his family and play nintendo ichiro mostly just wanted to go home to his wife dog and comic books and although he’d picked up some english over the years the language barrier was still very real those around ichiro said they’d never seen him so happy in the clubhouse ichiro and junior were inseparable and ichiro would later say that his friendship with junior was quote close to a miracle their lockers were right next to each other and the two late 30-somethings were constantly seen shoving each other around and giggling the only way they could have been more adorable is if they routinely got into tickle fights in the clubhouse which they did constantly it was a perfect world ken griffey jr probably knew by this point that he was never going to play in a world series he had never had any say in that no matter what he did with his bad oars glove but this he could change and he did he fixed this team with the benefit of hindsight we know that on field contention wasn’t in the cards for the seattle mariners and has never been to this day that was never happening

the only fight left was for happiness for a year at least it was a fight they won junior’s years in cincinnati didn’t go the way anyone wanted in his eight and a half seasons there the reds were never a serious contender leaving him once again to his individual pursuits the big one the one everyone wanted to see was griffey’s challenge of the all-time home run record nobody expected him to keep up this breakneck pace throughout his career but soon after he landed in cincinnati his numbers fell off a cliff he just kept getting hurt it’s one of the most frustrating things i’ve ever seen as a sports fan over a six year span he’d missed more than 400 games about two and a half seasons worth his bid to become the greatest home run hitter of all time was over junior was never reaching the mountaintop not as a member of a team and not individually in the short term or the long term by the time he finally returned to safeco field as a visiting player in 2007 the future we’d all imagined for him had disappeared but mariners fans didn’t care about any of that they went nuts for him and when junior’s bat came back to life at the end of the 2009 season everyone went nuts for him again he hit three home runs in the final home stand and smacked a single in his last at bat after the game teammates threw junior and each row up on their shoulders and paraded them back to the dugout alex and i have spent months dwelling on the mariners what they mean what they’re for how to appreciate them the ultimate irrelevance of on-field success the importance of celebrating a team for what it is and not for what it could be and then i watched this it’s as though this team and these fans understood it all along i was late to the party you’re looking right now at a team that isn’t going to the playoffs they didn’t even really come close but they’re getting a standing ovation and waving their caps in gratitude this is whoville i have never ever seen another team do this this team and these fans aren’t celebrating any kind of on-field accomplishment they’re celebrating one another they’re celebrating themselves in this moment the baseball gods offered junior the perfect ending to his career something like a world series title would have compromised the lesson here his career should have ended at this moment one in which he was the subject of unconditional love but junior didn’t take the baseball gods up on this offer he would return for one more year things can never be simple things will never end the way they’re supposed to not for ken griffey jr not for the seattle mariners the instinct to go home can be overwhelming but actually doing so is a different matter it’s 1986 the yankees are a few innings into a game their left fielder ken griffey senior is supposed to be there but he’s not he’s so miserable as a yankee that he’s decided to stay home across the river in jersey and skip the game entirely the team has sent a state trooper to check on him senior ignores him walks to his car and drives south as far away from the bronx as he can get after an hour or so on the jersey turnpike senior turns around and drives back junior returns for another year at age 40 playing exclusively as a designated hitter he’s hitting 184 he’s awful by certain measures owing to the level of production expected from a dh 2010 ken griffey jr is on his way to becoming one of the worst players in the history of major league baseball weeks ago a couple of teammates leaked

to the press that junior had been found sleeping in the clubhouse in the middle of a game junior didn’t deny it but the betrayal hurt him everything hurts in fact it’s the bottom of the ninth inning on may 31st he’s sent to pinch hit with a man on first he’s got a bad knee and it makes his swing look terrible his old swing the most graceful swinging baseball has ever seen belongs to the past now he slaps a foul they put up a chiron to tease us with what everyone in the building wants to see just one more ken griffey jr walk off home run he hasn’t hit a home run all year that is not going to happen nick’s pitch is low and away junior used to love these he reaches at it like a shop owner shooing a rat outside serving up an almost custom-made double play but justin morneau can’t dig the throw out of the dirt junior’s safe despite having lurched to first like a kid wearing his dad’s boots a pinch runner is called and he leaves the game that night junior picks up a couple bottles of mountain dew gets in his car and drives east he tells nobody his old buddy jay buener gets a call from a friend insisting up and down he just saw ken griffey jr filling up his car at a gas station in montana that’s impossible the mariners have a game in seattle today but it’s him he couldn’t stay another minute he couldn’t wait any longer he misses his family in orlando florida immensely and he’s driving home to him without stopping to rest it’s a journey that by his account takes 43 hours you can doubt him if you’d like just remember who you’re doubting he calls his dad three times along the way and tells senior how happy he is with what he’s doing he just has to go home there is no press conference no ceremony no parade just two headlights in the dark welcome to the felix hernandez era the crown jewel of recent mariner history carried the team on his back for years well at least as much as a starting pitcher can’t because you see no matter how well one pitches it won’t put any runs on the board for his own team and when it came to run support forget halfway mariner bats generally couldn’t even meet him one step of the way for instance in 2010 the 24 year old hernandez pitched magnificently yet didn’t even make the all-star team as his 7-5 record was deemed too underwhelming by voters stuck in the stone age when the season wrapped up his 13 and 12 record was even worse that’s because the mariners scored a pitiful 513 runs that year the fewest by any team in a full season since 1972 and for felix they were somehow even worse take a look at the run support his lineup gave him in his 12 losses plating 4 in anaheim actually serves as an outlier here having scored an embarrassingly low 10 runs across the other 11 games obviously none of this is any sort of indictment of hernandez who is clearly the american league’s very best pitcher fortunately there was no doubling down on his egregious all-star snub and he was able to rightfully win the el cyan award to put in context how meager the help he got was here are each of the 110 instances a starting pitchers won that award through 2019 sorted by the percentage of their decisions constituted by losses before felix no starting pitcher to win cy young had a mark north of 40. hernandez at the very top is all the way at 48 percent in the time since jacob degroms topped 40 but that’s it no one else has ever even come close it requires a special brand of incompetence to take a season so special by a pitcher yet not even have any inherent advantage in the ball game when he’s on the mound he also did something that’s only been

done by two other ale pitchers in the 21st century toss at least seven innings while allowing no more than two earned runs in over 20 different games with no one in 2010 even in his neighborhood the mirrors managed to take one of the very great pitching seasons in recent history and completely waste it oh by the way the other two ale pitchers who have done so this century 2009 felix hernandez and 2014 felix hernandez but i want to focus on a game from 2012 for a sec specifically the afternoon of august 15th with the tampa bay raisin town though they would have been better off just pushing the snooze button and not bother even showing up [Applause] and really after felix sat everyone down the first time through the lineup his own outfielders for the most part didn’t even need to be there either trayvon robinson michael saunders and eric thames could have just not taken their regular posts in the field after the third inning and with the exception of just one benzobrist flyout it would have had zero implications in how the game played out because the other 17 of tampa’s final 18 played appearances resulted in 10 strikeouts and 7 weekly hit balls to infielders it was also one of just four times ever a pitcher struck out a dozen in a perfect game combine that with barely ever allowing a ball to even leave the infield and a reasonable case can be made that this was as dominant as any pitching performance in the history of baseball it all culminated at 3 02 pm with this corner kissing changeup that left sean rodriguez more frozen than absolute zero in what was truly a crown earning masterpiece authored by king felix and given that seattle scored a par for the course lone singular run anything less than that likely wouldn’t have been enough but he made that move because through and through felix was perfect games it’s finally happened a perfect game by a seattle manor it was done by the king that is what’s known as the king’s court the special section in left field reserved by the team every time king felix takes the mound no one else ever got that honor not even junior see even among this pantheon felix is special these were fans who just a few weeks prior had to watch their most beloved superstar walk out the door it was a trade ichiro had requested not only that it was a trade to the yankees who the mariners were hosting for a three-game series his first at-bat and pinstripes just hours after leaving the mariners came in safeco field were this any other team or any other city this could have been ugly and yet nothing was going to change their love for israel suzuki they cheered him when he gave a bow and they cheered him again when he smacked an on one pitch in the center field it was a decision ichiro had made out of love he knew that he was expensive that his skills were declining at age 38 and that room had to be made for the mariners rebuilding efforts the seattle fans by and large really seem to get it as silly as it feels to reduce an entire fan base to a monolith it felt that by this point they graduated to an elevated appreciation of the sport they loved the game and the team and its people when you appreciate sports in this way your happiness is no longer staked to these stupid b l charts there are no limits anymore the love you can send is endless you can give it to the one who’s wearing a different uniform now the one you’re supposed to hate the most and of course you can also give it to the one who stuck around felix stuck around for 15 seasons longer than any mariner in history aside from edgar martinez the following winner at the peak of his powers he could have entered free agency and gone wherever he wanted instead he stayed while the mariners did pay him well felix surely passed up truckloads of money to stay with this team the one that had been terrible almost the entire time he’d been here virtually anyone else with his transcended ability never would have done that junior didn’t randy didn’t a-rod didn’t felix did and in so doing he paid a price in terms of wins above replacement these are the top 50 pitchers of the 21st

century plotted by the number of trips each of them took to the postseason a lot of felix’s peers have appeared in the playoffs on a regular basis the vast majority have been at least four times nearly all have been there multiple times felix having lashed his fate to that of the mariners is the only one who has never appeared in a single playoff game not that he didn’t come close he came so so close major league baseball had expanded its playoff format to allow for a second wild card team in each league and in 2014 the mariners and athletics battled for that final spot the win-loss chart looks like two people trying to avoid a party once the a’s began to falter the mariners timidly abandoned their positive momentum and hid behind him on the morning of the final game of the season the spot was still up for grabs a mariner’s win that afternoon coupled with an a’s lost down in texas would force a one-game tiebreaker that could spring seattle into their first playoff appearance in 13 years and guess who got the ball the first pitch of the a’s game is scheduled about one hour before the mariners game seattle fans in the stadium are likely to hear the final score of that one in the middle of this one they’ll need a distraction and they’ll get one in the form of a felix hernandez masterpiece felix mowed down the first two angels then gave up a single to albert pujols it’s all they would get out of him as he immediately sent pujols back to the basement with the third out he was throwing gas at one point striking out four in a row then coaxing out six straight infield grounders the ball hadn’t even left the infield in more than three innings after five innings pitched no earned runs one hit no walks seven strikeouts on this sunday afternoon king felix was invincible mariners fans are intently watching two things the game on the field and the game on the scoreboard as any baseball fan will tell you the latter is an especially nerve-wracking experience it tells us so little but it does tell us that in the bottom of the ninth with a man on first the rangers have the beginnings of a rally going on the field meanwhile the mariner’s newly acquired superstar robinson canoe singles to lead off the bottom of the fifth here everything is as it should be and it’s over congratulations to the oakland athletics they hung on a foul ball sails into king’s court a fan makes a beautiful bare-handed grab they’re going crazy they haven’t heard yet but felix has his face here says everything in his 10 years with the mariners to this point felix hernandez has never come anywhere near this close to playoff contention and to this day he’s never come this close again and god how he wanted it with the playoff race over manager lloyd mclendon gives felix the rest of the day off he sends him out to the mound in the sixth just so the fans can send him off in an ovation and as such felix is officially credited with five and one third innings pitched this is every start of exactly five and one-third innings between 1904 the earliest our available data stretches back and the end of this 2014 season in total there were 9777 they’re plotted here by gamescore which is a metric developed by renowned baseball writer bill james gamescore is a rating meant to assess the overall quality of a pitching performance felix’s game score that day was 73 it appears likely to have been the greatest start of exactly five and one-third innings in the history of major league baseball the mariners have taught us time and time again that no player can do it alone as a pitcher who at his best was capable of completely taking over a baseball game like no one else could felix hernandez came closest to breaking this rule but even when you can you can’t the mariners are out in the great beyond now throw away your compasses they don’t work out here while normal teams experience years-long phases of success and recovery since 2013 the mariners have had a losing record a winning record a losing record a winning record a losing record a winning record and a losing record there’s no reasonable way to set expectations for where they’ll end up in any given season this is the footprint of a team that

refused to truly fully rebuild and who can blame them because rebuilding is boring instead they did something they’d never really tried before in the 90s they built their teams from the ground up drafting junior and a-rod landing randy in a trade as an afterthought and signing edgar out of a general electric factory the makeup of the unbelievable 2001 team was a lot different they landed one mega star at a great price and surrounded him with a rock solid supporting cast in the offs they became relatively big spenders in the free agent market for the first time landing adrian beltray and richie sexton but this time they seem to wonder what if we pay an absolutely gigantic pile of money to one guy hey what was that lesson we’ve been learning over and over and over for the last 30 plus years that one person can’t bring a team to greatness yeah what the hell it was one of the most unexpected free agent signings ever and it was as though they were trying to counteract the tide of history randy johnson later went on to become a yankee so did a-rod so did tino martinez so did ichiro thanks to his undying blood feud the yankees never could have had junior but they could have had just about anything else they wanted and yet it was the mariners the team that almost never made a splash in free agency who came out of nowhere to pry a superstar second baseman out in new york 10 years 240 million bucks the mariners of all teams had given out one of the largest contracts in the history of sports and the architect behind the deal was his agent brodie van wagonen do me a favor and remember that name for a minute if you could anyway canon van wagonen made off like bandits because at the time of the deal canoe was already 31 years old there was no denying how great of a player he was but the mariners should have known he’d regress in his 30s he did though kanoa was still quite productive only two of his five seasons in seattle were canoe caliber in 2018 kano was popped for allegedly violating the league’s ped policy and suspended for 80 games after the season the mariners were lucky enough to escape this deal when they flipped him to the mets who assumed most of the remainder of his contract just in time to watch his numbers completely bottom out aside from canoe the big winner in this deal was brody van wagonen who pulled off one of the most one-sided deals of the century the big loser clearly was the mets gm who was brody van wagnen who went from big time baseball agent to front office exec a career jump i have never heard of before just in time for him to accept the butt end of his own deal i have no explanation for this maybe he was just trying to be polite at any rate robinson cano did make the mariners a slightly better team than they would have otherwise been the 2016 squad deserves your sympathy they had the fourth best run differential in the league scoring 61 more runs than they allowed that ought to be enough to get you in the playoffs especially in the new 5 team format but while their neighbors did they didn’t by a wide margin the texas rangers won the aos instead despite a far less impressive run differential pythagorean wins and losses solve for this by presenting the record you would expect from a team based on their run differential looking at the mariners differential you’d expect 87 wins which is almost exactly what they got in real life but looking at the rangers you’d expect far fewer than 95 wins only 82 in fact this suggests that the rangers got lucky and scored at the right times throughout the season and if it weren’t for that the mariners would have handily won the west this is a make-believe tool for nerds with nothing better to do than count beans all day that describes me accurately so let’s continue here we see the differences between pythagorean wins and actual real-life wins of every team in the integration era there are nearly 1800 teams here some got incredibly unlucky ending with far fewer wins than their run differential would suggest the vast majority ended up about where you’d expect give or take a couple of wins some got really lucky but the one team that got absurdly lucky luckier than anyone in modern times was that 2016 rangers team that outrageous amount of luck is what kept seattle out of the playoffs that year now the 2018 mariners who won 89 games and missed the playoffs do not feel bad for them here’s the run differential of every team to win exactly 89 games within the modern 162 game schedule most have a very strong differential all have a positive differential except for the 2018 mariners the worst team in this sample by miles let’s visit this chart again on the list of luckiest teams in the modern era these mariners are right behind those rangers at number two if this sounded familiar it’s because i stole alex’s script word for word when he talked about 2007 when the mariners pretty much did the exact same thing the modern seattle mariners are not cursed they’re not hopeless they’re free the burden of greatness is gone

the age of expectations is over they’re free to luxuriate in what seems today like an endless epilogue rudderless and profoundly weird just like they were in the early days it’s certainly true that strange stupid things happen to every baseball team but put simply the mariners have a gift speaking of mariner gifts one of them was arguably as shocking a home run as there’s been in big league history let’s reach back just a bit to 2008 now that you’re familiar with felix we already know all about his pitching prowess but back when he was just a 22 year old kid he hit this grand slam against the mets in shea stadium on just his ninth career from the mariners 1977 birth through the 2019 season that was one of 233 bases loaded plate appearances by an al pitcher it was the only one to result in a grand slam okay that’s neato and unlikely but wanna know what made it exponentially more neato and unlikely that lone unique grand slam of its kind was hit off the pitcher who had the very best era in all of major league baseball that season in fact johan santana was in the midst of what was arguably the greatest season of his career a career that earned multiple saiyong awards on top of that he hadn’t allowed a grand slam in nearly five years and over 1 000 innings and that streak was snapped by a pitcher an ale pitcher a pitcher who by his own admission had never hit a home run at any level of the sport since little league there is nothing on this planet that makes less sense than baseball it turned out to be the penultimate grand slam ever hit by a road player at shea stadium the very final one also hit by a pitcher the cubs jason marquis again nothing about this sport makes a lick of sense in 2010 the mariners took a reasonable gamble on eric burns once an mvp candidate mearns was signed for the minimum after a couple of injury-filled years that nearly took him out of baseball altogether the first few weeks were really rough for burns who was hitting just 111 but the mariners were playing 500 baseball on april 30th they took the rangers to extra innings with a chance to snag a winning record in the bottom of the 11th with burns at the plate and ichiro on third manager don wakamatsu calls a suicide squeeze if successful there are a few more exciting ways to win a baseball game the idea here is that burns buns the lightning fast each euro bolts for home before the balls even left the pitcher’s hand and he slides into the plate before frank francisco can cleanly field the ball and toss it to the catcher this is always an extremely risky call because the whole thing all depends on burns being able to make contact with the bunt if he doesn’t ichiro will be completely hung out to dry burns has to get his bat on it no matter what the 11 year veteran squares to bun francisco delivers the pitch is headed low and outside what are you doing it defies explanation with ichiro’s fate on the line burns pulls back the bun he seems to immediately realize his mistake reflexively poking his bat back over the plate even though the pitch has been thrown already this is now a homicide squeeze ichiro because he’s ichiro almost pulls it off anyway getting to the plate mere milliseconds after the attack this would have been the game winner instead ichiro is out vern strikes out to end the inning the rangers win it in the 12th the mariners kick off an eight-game losing streak they never get anywhere close to 500 again and they finish with 101 losses the worst record in the american league remember the story of junior’s epic 43-hour exodus from seattle the one that happened a month later well here’s an extremely poor man’s version of that story after that suicide squeeze debacle burns went to the clubhouse got on his cruiser bike road through the stadium tunnel nearly ran over his general manager and kept on riding out at safeco field all the way to his home in downtown seattle this was his life now eric burns retired shortly thereafter becoming a triathlete and now rides his bicycle thousands of miles across the country this is like something a sim would do in literally riding out of the clubhouse on a bicycle he seamlessly and immediately reassigned himself from baseball player to cyclist amazing spectacular i’m in awe throughout the first 43 years of seattle mariner baseball 331 of their 1921 regular season road losses came when their opponent was batting and walked off victorious

that was more than every other team in their league except toronto but they found one way to lose that escaped even the blue jays while the overwhelming majority of the mariner walk-off losses obviously stemmed from allowing game-winning hits in their quest for thoroughness they managed to lose on a play in which they recorded a strikeout on september 29th 2010 the ems are nursing a one-run a thinning lead in texas before a bases loaded wild pitch from seattle reliever dan cortes enables the rangers to tie it up interim manager darren brown leaves cortez in the game for the ninth where mitch moreland draws a two-out walk to get the game-winning run aboard and bring nelson cruz to the plate with two strikes cruz chases this slider in the dirt in what would have ordinarily sent the game to extras but it’s yet another wild pitch from cortes and a poor throw by catcher guillermo quiroz go sailing into right field moreland gets on his horse and commences a 270 foot victory jaunt around the base path to punctuate a bizarro ranger victory and if a baseball game ending on a walk-off strikeout isn’t wacky enough cruz flirts with somehow making it even way more outlandish see upon reaching first on kira’s throwing error cruz decides to turn and go charging towards second logic that would be totally sound had the rangers been down one or two runs but they were tied meaning with a man on cruz represented an irrelevant run furthermore since there were two outs it’s not like he was trying to eliminate the potential of a subsequent double play ball it was an affront to all rational risk reward calculation fortunately for texas the natural instinct in that situation is to fire home and thus cruz’s brain fart was ultimately harmless ensuring seattle the ignominy of the rarest of all walk-off losses that’s a walk-off strikeout nice strikeout nelly in july of 2011 the mariners lost 17 consecutive games to this day it’s the second longest losing streak in the last 30 years of major league baseball but what makes this one special is that during a chunk of it they managed to fall 10 games out of the standings in a 10 game span on the morning of july 6th the mariners were sitting at 500 and only two and a half games back from the aos leading rangers just 10 games later they were 12 and a half back well out of contention the odds of your 10 game losing streak perfectly coinciding with a division leader’s 10 game winning streak are extraordinarily remote to simplify things a bit let’s just suppose your odds of winning the game are 50 50 which for both teams is more or less the case logically the odds of you losing and your division leader winning are 25 percent or one and four for that to repeat over the next pair of games as well that’s one in 16. as you’d imagine the number balloons very quickly from here now the probability does ease up a little bit for this four game stretch since the mariners and rangers played each other america’s loss automatically meant a rangers win so the odds of fulfilling the conditions expanded to one and two but by the end of it the coin flip odds of this 10-game stretch sit at about 1 in 65 000. this has happened at least once before most recently to the 2002 detroit tigers but that was at the start of a season with low expectations to begin with the mariners suffered this humiliation in the middle of a playoff race they were right in the thick of it but at the end of the season when they finished 29 games out you never would have known it well now that we’ve reached this era of mariners baseball we can finally talk about two players who are very near and dear to me the first is jack wilson an extraordinary defensive shortstop who on one occasion committed back-to-back errors when they tried to make him a second baseman in keeping with the mariners time-honored tradition of peacing out without asking anyone’s permission wilson was so dejected that he went straight to the clubhouse at the end of the inning and decided not to come back out in terms of defensive winds above replacement wilson ranks among the top 50 defensive players of all time he’s pretty underappreciated in part because he wasn’t a great hitter and in part because he spent most of his career playing for terrible teams but he made some incredible plays the most memorable of which is probably this one from april 4th wilson manages to drag his toe across second then turns to fling it to first despite his momentum carrying him in the opposite direction jack wilson only played for the mariners for a short time but it’s all the time he needed to perform the two miracles necessary for goofus maloufis sainthood the first came in july of 2010 near the end of a 13-inning game wilson runs down a bouncing ball up the middle spins double clutches and with a grand flourish whips it to first i can hear the sirens

of the baseball police getting closer let me guess you have to have the baseball in order to throw the baseball such limited thinking the second of his miracles is more understandable in context but it’s still really funny looking an errant throw to first sends the ball into foul territory after initially chasing it down wilson does what is probably the correct thing to do which is to peel off and let ichiro take it it’s just the way he does it you see most of us saw this play as an animated gif in fact most of us knew jack wilson just threw gifts this is all we saw or knew of him at the time a tremendously talented man a man with a soul a man with hopes and dreams was bottled up into a dozen of the funniest looking frames of his life our other hero is raul labones whose career arc is one of the strangest i have ever heard of for one he had three separate careers with the mariners he was sort of a passing comet having visited during the death star years of the late 90s as well as the malaise of the mid-aughts before making a farewell to her as a 41 year old in 2013 far weirder though is how late of a bloomer he was in fact as power hitters go ibanez was the latest bloomer in the history of baseball these are the guys who hit the most home runs from their age 30 seasons onward in this category he hit as many as manny ramirez and nearly as many as willie mccovey and ted williams if you’re shocked to see him here believe me i was too now let’s take these top 25 and see how these same guys rank all time in the under 30 home run category as you’d figure all the usual suspects like barry bonds hank aaron babe ruth and willie mays were also one of the best ever young home run hitters some were late bloomers with andre scalaraga ranking around number 500 and nelson cruz in the 700s but nobody is in the same universe as raoul bonyes whose home run total before age 30 ranks number 1925 he only hit 27 home runs in his 20s and while he hit the vast majority of his home runs in his 30s what’s unbelievable to me is that he hit nearly twice as many home runs in his forties as he did in his twenties it’s bewildering but it’s in left field where he achieved the two miracles necessary for sainthood on august 6 2013 video made the rounds of the bonies chasing down the ball squaring up toward the infield and throwing it to 27th base he’s not the only one ever to do this once in a blue moon the ball just slips out of a field of hand it happens but i knew i’d seen him do this before may 3rd 2008 today this moment in which he did the exact same thing lives on only threw a gif it probably would have been instantly forgotten where not for our mariners blog lookout landing take a look at all these games more than 2 000 of them since 2005 and know that the bloggers and commenters of lookout landing were telling the story of nearly each and every one of them inning by inning they could tell you stories for hours and hours stories alex and i have no clue about if success were all that mattered these people would have bailed a decade ago to stick around requires what they might call madness but what i would call an evolved spirituality a superior understanding of sports and what they can offer us oh hey buddy on september 13th 2014 the mariners woke up with an 80 and 66 record and were right in the very thick of the ale wild card picture as they prepared for the second game of a huge series versus an a squad that we already know seattle was in fierce competition with for a playoff spot both teams have their ace on the mound so runs are likely gonna be at a premium the mariners look to get on the board first when logan morrison draws a one-out walk next catcher mike zunino hits a sharp ground ball to oakland second baseman eric sogard who flips to shortstop judd lowry to try and initiate a double play now in baseball you see bass runners from time to time take pretty wide slides in an effort to break up potential double plays but the rule is that when sliding into a base your body has to stay within arm’s length of the bag here is logan morrison’s attempt to break up the double play unless he plans on morphing mid slide into inspector gadget this is problematic morrison’s a big dude listed at 6’3 and honestly i’m not sure he’s even within body length of the bag let alone arm’s length the umps make the easiest interference call of their lives and award oakland an inning ending double play maybe it wouldn’t have mattered and zunino would have been thrown out anyway but we’ll never know what may have happened what we do know is the mariners went on to lose that

game by a single run had it gone the other way the mariners not the a’s would have snagged the ale’s second wild card spot sometimes the mariners are contagious and just being on the same playing field as them can infect you with marineritis such as the next year on july 26th with the blue jays in town when toronto kicked off the top of the fourth by getting runners on the corners with none out up comes second baseman ryan goins who hits a ground ball to mariner first baseman mark trumbo who promptly steps on the bag for one out one blue jay kevin pilar gets caught in a pickle then the other blue jay ezekiel carrera gets caught in a pickle somehow this inexplicably ends with a rendezvous between the two at third base that is not allowed in the sport of baseball so the latter inhabitant pilar is ruled out but wait there’s more from out of nowhere an extremely muscular ghost descends upon safego field to shove the other blue jay carrera off the bag tag applied third out i have not seen every triple play in the history of baseball but i’ll be damned if that’s not the stupidest if anything about this story has reminded you in any way of the larger world out there the one in which these decades have felt like centuries that was a pure accident that i sincerely apologize for this is the value that baseball brings the mariners especially so nothing necessarily belongs to a greater theme or narrative arc although sometimes does nothing is scripted nothing is achieved nothing is taught nothing is learned things are only meaningful as long as we decide they are it’s purely a celebration of human beings that their best and weirdest in the bizarre accidental stories they tell within this moon colony a seattle mariners game is a window into what our world might be like if we didn’t have important things to do all day the mariners have been a reflection of their time in one way albeit by accident their error coincides perfectly with the rise of the individual in our culture the idea of doing things collectively ebbed in favor of doing it all yourself whether through the 80s barrage of self-help books the pull yourself up by your bootstraps lunacy of the 90s or the rise and grind of modern times similarly the only plaques or trophies these people could win were the ones they could go and get themselves the mariners are almost like an mma training camp in this way they don’t compete for team titles they provide a platform for the pursuit of individual greatness as always with this team this requires you to reconsider what a team is and what a team can be it’s not a shortcoming it’s simply the way they operate randy johnson was the first in this pantheon to enter the baseball hall of fame after his years in seattle he started a new entirely different baseball life at age 35 winning four straight cy young awards and leading the arizona diamondbacks to a world series title and only their fourth year of existence and that’s how the diamondbacks a franchise 21 years younger than the mariners saw their hat represented on a hall of fame plaque before the mariners ever did of course seattle didn’t have to wait long i’m not sure any american athlete has ever been more universally loved than junior junior even melted the hearts of the notoriously cranky baseball writers association of america the ballots are confidential and the last five or ten percent of the voters are hosting cows who leave immortals completely off the ballot for reasons they’ll never have to explain more than five percent failed to vote for players like ricky henderson and willie mays which should tell you something but even they showed up for ken griffey jr he wasn’t merely a hall of famer he was a man who received more than 99 of the writers association vote the most in the history of major league baseball at that time more than babe ruth hank aaron or willie mays a man who had never played in a single world series a seattle mariner in his hall of fame speech junior paid tribute to senior thanking him for everything he’d done for him and he made a decision to play baseball to provide for his family because that’s what men do and i love you for that both men could barely get through it it was a far different story for edgar martinez the night shift factory worker who managed to claw his way tooth and nail into professional baseball didn’t play his first major league season until age 27 suffered injuries that relegated him to a dh role and overcame vision problems that almost ended his career somehow through all of that he became one of the most dependably great hitters in the history of the game edgar is one of just 18 players to

finish with an ops of a thousand at least five times while taking at least 600 plate appearances for each one that’s where the dependable part comes in what’s most remarkable is while the others started racking up these seasons in their early 20s edgar didn’t even get going until age 32. he did it through home runs yeah but also through an unparalleled ability to smash doubles hit in all directions and practice unbelievable play discipline he mastered the art as almost no one else ever has if he hadn’t would the mariners have gotten every single one of the wins they needed to force that tiebreaker in 95 would someone else have hit that double would the mariners exist today edgar’s status as a career dh severely damaged his hall of fame candidacy as though it was his fault that the d8 is a position in baseball like all players he had 10 years of eligibility to break the 75 threshold necessary for a plaque in the first six years his candidacy went nowhere but junior and randy started campaigning for him so did other stars around baseball who told stories of how scary he was to pitch against whatever the reason in true edgar fashion he peaked late and in his final year of eligibility he was voted into the hall of fame along with junior and randy he joined dave niehaus who received the ford c frick award from the hall just a couple years before he passed away the only remaining question mark from these years is a-rod after leaving seattle he turned heel he was resented by fans and the media for any reason they could come up with how much money he made his contract dispute with the yankees the fact that he was not derek jeter the steroid use he eventually admitted to meanwhile he was busy cobbling together not one but two hall of fame caliber careers this is the ops of every man in baseball history to play at least 1 000 career games at shortstop and this chart is the same story only for third base a-rod who’s trading the yankees necessitated to move to third fares pretty well on both leaderboards by this standard he is the very best hitting shortstop of all time he is also by nose the very best hitting third baseman of all time a-rod is the anti-junior the team phenom from seattle who did choose to use steroids who was willing to play for the yankees who did eventually win a world series ring it’s a hobby among baseball fans to wonder what junior might have accomplished if the fates hadn’t taken a sledgehammer to his 30s well maybe in alex rodriguez we see the answer thanks to his admitted steroid use there’s no telling exactly what the voters are gonna make of a-rod when he becomes eligible for voting in a couple of years maybe it hurts him maybe he’s been rehabilitated by a second life as a cnbc dork i really hope he makes it in i love this goofus in 2019 the mariners started off by winning 13 of their first 15 games that was the very most in major league baseball and in fact was so remarkably good that going back over seven decades 21 of the other 29 teams have failed to ever begin a season by winning that many of their first 15 games the seattle mariners had never started this hot even in their historic 2001 campaign they only won 11 of their first 15. but then the 2019 m’s immediately dropped 37 of their next 49 also the very most in mlb and a run so remarkably bad that six other teams throughout that same period have never suffered that many losses in any 49 game stretch again a preposterous fluctuation of historical highs instantaneously plummeting to historical lows only the mariners it was all part of a season where thanks to no shortage of injuries and effectiveness and blowout losses seattle used 42 different pitchers the most in major league baseball history they broke the record that they themselves tied just two years earlier the mariners had now gone a literal generation wandering through the mlb abyss there are actual human beings on this earth born after october 2001 who have reached adulthood without ever having existed during a mariners playoff run and across those pesky 18 seasons that followed their 01 postseason qualification

in which they failed to make a single return trip 28 of the other 29 mlb teams had secured multiple playoff appearances and even the marlins get a pardon for parlaying their lone trip into a world championship this was the year the last two great mariners said goodbye when they began their season with a series in the tokyo dome a 45 year old ichiro suzuki suited up to play two final games he was purely set up as a crowd pleaser as his abilities were mostly gone mostly gone in ichiro’s final played appearance the oldest outfielder to start a game in more than 100 years came this close to legging out an infield single junior had made the trip to japan so he could be there to greet him also there was felix who was now the last truly great mariner left for the last 30 years straight the mariners had always had at least one iconic player on their roster but while ichiro is a guaranteed lot to enter the hall of fame the second he’s eligible things aren’t as simple for felix hernandez felix’s fastball regressed and as he struggled to adapt his effectiveness has disappeared in a hurry he went from great to good to average to terrible by major league standards being a seattle mariner penance and world series titles were never in play for him leaving things like a hall of fame plaque the only hardware he could aspire to five years ago he seemed destined for one in 2020 as he approaches just his 34th birthday but struggles to remain in the major leagues at all it doesn’t seem likely felix had stayed in seattle and had given this team and these fans every piece of himself until there wasn’t much of anything left the team was going to move on when he took the mound for the last time everyone knew it was the last time it’s true that his final start was a loss that dropped his record to 1-8 on the season that he allowed five hits and four walks and five innings and change and that the mariners were lucky to only be losing three to one when he left the mound it’s true that just weeks later the washington nationals would win a championship leaving the seattle mariners as the only team in major league baseball that has never even appeared in a single world series but when i watch him say goodbye and when i watch the king’s court pour out enough love to last them through whatever comes next i mean the king and his court one final time who gives a [Applause] what is next well i suppose it’s a matter of whether the last 43 years were an accident did the seattle mariners stumble blindly into the most bizarre stories and fascinating people generation after generation purely by chance or other reasons are they eccentric because their lack of conquest on the field affords them to be are they so geographically remote that the ceaseless march of the normal can’t reach him do their fans love them so unconditionally that they’re allowed to ferment into something so captivating are they touched by god will they always be like this before he vanished forever nearby resident roger smodus who suggested the name of this team also supplied an explanation for why you like the name i’ve selected mariners because of the natural association between the sea and seattle and her people who have been challenged and rewarded by it so