Mariners beat Red Sox 4-2 with another 8th inning rally

     For the second day in a row the Mariners rallied in the eighth inning to come back and beat the Boston Red Sox 4-2, giving the hometown boys a split for this four game series. This series was indeed an interesting one and at the end of it all the Mariners actually came out of it in better shape than the Red Sox who are now 8 games back in the AL East. Of course the Mariners are not really in any sort of pennant race but would like to finish strong and give their fans a reason to come down to Safeco on beautiful afternoons like today.

  The fans today got to see Doug Fister pitching a lot more like he did in the early part of the year as he went 5 innings giving up 7 hits and 2 runs before yielding to the suddenly efficient bullpen. Fister got some help from his defense today including a dramatic diving catch by Jack Wilson in the 4th to help stop a rally. Jack Wilson has played better in the last couple of weeks then at any time since coming over from the Pirates last season. His .255 batting average is nothing to sneeze at on this year’s club, and he seems to have a knack for getting hits when they count. I’m glad we have him for one more season as that is one less question mark on a 2011 team that is up in the air in several areas. And just as we were all ready to write Casey Kotchman off as a lost cause, he goes 3-3 and has been producing at the plate pretty well himself for the last three weeks.

   Michael Saunders picked-up another clutch-hit today driving in a couple of runs in the big eighth inning rally that featured 6 hits in a row. Granted a couple of the hits were bunts that managed to sneak by the Sox, but hey it’s not like we aren’t due for a few lucky breaks in a year where everything possible has gone wrong…..and then some.

   The Mariners bullpen has a new look as well with guys like Chris Seddon stepping-up and doing their job . As I mentioned a couple of days ago in my post, sometimes a little dugout scuffle can sort of clear the air for a team. Yes I know Chone Figgins has said he still may want to say his piece on that wild night, but really who cares let’s just move forward and play some good solid ball like the last two games.

  I am curious about Mike Sweeney and when and if he comes back how will he be used. We seem to have a lot of DH’s these days with Branyan, Smoak, Bradley and Sweeney all sort of qualifying as the DH on this squad on any given day. Yes there is still a chance we may trade Lopez , Kotchman or even Aardsma before the deadline, but I don’t expect anything too dramatic as this team has been through enough turnover and turmoil this year.

   We now move on to play the White Sox again with Felix on the mound. Call me crazy but I have a hunch we may parlay some of the energy from this last series with the BoSox into a little more fun against Ozzie Guillen and his boys….

Mariners Melt-Down

 The Mariners lost another close game tonight 2-1 to the Boston Red Sox and in the process produced enough controversy to keep all of us bloggers busy for a week. But to be honest with you I knew something had to give at some point and tonight’s melt-down in the dugout comes as little surprise with the way this season has been going. There is no excuse for the way Chone Figgins dogged that play in the fifth allowing Cameron to go to third. I guess Don Wakamatsu decided to set an example of Figgins and that lead to the dugout scuffle. I really don’t know exactly who said what or who threatened who, and the whole thing is just a sad situation.

  I saw Don Wakamatsu’s post-game interview and he looked visibly shaken as he brushed-off certain questions. I have been quick to judge the skippers decisions in my blog this year but in this case I have to back him up and hope the Mariners front office does the same. Granted there has been several other players who have made some really weak plays on the field, and especially on the bases recently who deserve to ride the pine for awhile as well,  thus choosing to bench Figgins may have been a bit unfair. But as long as Wakamatsu is the manager he has the right to bench players who don’t hustle and he exercised that right tonight plain and simple

   I hope those who thought Griffey and Sweeney were not important because of their age and thus bad-mouthed them in the media and on several other blogs, may realize now that winning is a lot more difficult than calculating sabermetrics stats. No, a club needs veterans to show leadership and set the tone and if need be call-out other players who aren’t hustling. Yes the manager needs to set the tone, and perhaps Don Wakamatsu isn’t strong enough to manage in the Big Leagues, but the players themselves need to keep each other accountable as well.

   I saw this coming even when I was down in Peoria at spring training this year. Just a few things here and there that showed me something was not right with the chemistry. Certainly some of the veterans were acting a little cocky around Wakamatsu, and not only did I hear a few things but I could tell by body language. However in my experience both as a player and a fan I do know that these little blow-ups happen every now and then and they are not the end of the world.

   Athletes are intense, competitive and often times a little full of themselves after years of being adored by fans and coddled by teams trying to win games. And of course it doesn’t help when you are losing, especially as bad as the Mariners are this year. You add-up a losing season, a relatively green skipper, and Jocks with giant Egos who are not hustling and something has to give. So it finally happened, and maybe it needed too….

When it was a game

Gordon "Dusty" Rhodes with 1933 Red Sox staff clowning for the camera

I thought I would try to cheer some of you [as well as myself] up with this odd photo taken from my collection of photos that I inherited from my grandfather GordonDustyRhodes taken in 1933 during the height of the great depression. In that time period the game of Baseball was indeed America’s pastime and was a great diversion from the realities of day-to-day life. Owners used all sorts of gimmicks such as this elephant ride photo to get fans out to the ballpark to part with their hard-earned money, if they had any. Otherwise the games were broadcast over the radio and families would sit around on the front porch on hot summers nights listening to their favorite teams. My grandfather pictured at the head of the elephant anchored the pitching staff of the Boston Red Sox in 1933-34 pitching a total of 451 innings and going 24-27 in that two-year span for a  mediocre team, and were his best years in the majors. It was a different era before the players Union was formed and many players had to work other jobs in the offseason or “Barnstorm” with pick-up teams to make ends meet. But as hard as life was for a player they all knew they were lucky to be playing Baseball for a living and as this photo shows they had some fun as well. Unlike todays teams like the Mariners the owners of the teams played a much larger role in the day-to-day affairs of the ball clubs and represented the upper-class of America. This was around the time of the major upheavals by the working class that came to fruition with events such as the West Coast Maritime strike in 1934 that gave birth to the American Labor movement.

   Sadly most of the players like my grandfather were not represented by a Union and were basically the property of the owners forced to negotiate every year for a new contract and had no pension to fall back on when they retired from baseball. Of course one could argue that todays player have gone to far with their salaries and rights under the collective bargaining agreement, and that they aren’t as tough as the old-timers before them. I do think that in light of the current malaise being cast over the NW with this years Mariners collapse it is good to remember how lucky we are to have a Major League team and maybe take time to remember that baseball is indeed a game and that it is supposed to be fun!

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