Tuesday, February 1, 2011

already anxious for baseball season

I've always been a baseball fan.  I attribute this mostly to my maternal grandparents who lived in a split household.  Both hailed from Chicago  - but my grandmother was White Sox fan and my grandfather was a Cubs fan.  An old school rivalry.  Which made for some really fun summers.   The photo above was taken outside of their garage when I was four.  The bat is almost as tall as me.  

I'm looking forward to the upcoming MLB season and am hopeful for a better year for the Mariner's.  Something better than 101 losses, at least.  As dismal as 2010's season was, here are some highlights from mariners.com:

5. Wakamatsu out; Wedge in
With the Mariners struggling to meet expectations on the field, Wakamatsu was dismissed on Aug. 9 and replaced by interim manager Daren Brown. General manager Jack Zduriencik then led a postseason search process that resulted in the hiring of Wedge on Oct. 18. The former Indians skipper promises to bring a renewed intensity to the club, as well as a history of working well with young players in Cleveland. The Indians came within one game of the World Series in '07 when Wedge was named American League Manager of the Year.
4. Ichiro makes history
For 10 years, nobody has done it better than Ichiro when it comes to knocking out hits and getting on base. On Sept. 23 at Toronto, Ichiro recorded his 200th hit of the season, extending his Major League record for consecutive 200-hit seasons to 10 and tying Pete Rose for the most 200-hit seasons in a career. For a little perspective, the Mariners have had just three other 200-hit seasons in their history (two by Alex Rodriguez and one by Bret Boone). And since Ichiro began his streak in '01, nine Major League teams -- the White Sox, Indians, Royals, Twins, Astros, Rays, D-backs, Braves and Reds -- have yielded no 200-hit players.
3. Junior calls it a career
On June 2, exactly 23 years to the day after being selected as the first overall pick of the '87 Draft by the Mariners, the best player in franchise history called it quits. Much like the rest of the team, Griffey didn't have the season he expected, but he, too, had his moments, including a dramatic walk-off single on May 20 against the Blue Jays to cap a three-run comeback in the ninth inning at Safeco Field. He ended his career ranked fifth on MLB's all-time list in home runs (630), sixth in extra-base hits (1,192), 14th in RBIs (1,836) and 31st in runs scored (1,662).
2. Cy Young for King Felix
Great players rise above the circumstances surrounding them, and that certainly was the case with Felix Hernandez, who posted one of the best pitching performances in franchise history for a team that scored the fewest runs per game of any Major League team since 1973. Hernandez was so impressive that Baseball Writers' Association of America voters elected him as the AL Cy Young Award winner, despite his modest 13-12 win-loss record. Hernandez set a club record for ERA (2.27) and the most strikeouts by a right-hander (232), leading the AL in both categories as well as innings pitched (249 2/3), quality starts (30) and opponent's batting average (.212). And, yeah, all that at age 24.
1. The Voice falls silent
For 34 years, Dave Niehaus served as the Mariners' play-by-play announcer, calling nearly every game since the team's inception in 1977. Players, managers and ownership groups came and went, but Niehaus was the constant for Mariners fans. When Griffey scored on Edgar Martinez's double to beat the Yankees in the '95 playoffs, it was Niehaus who recorded the electric moment. When Safeco Field opened in '99, he threw out the first pitch. When baseball inducted him into the Hall of Fame in '08, Niehaus said no one would ever be more appreciative. And when he passed away of a heart attack on Nov. 10, the entire Mariners Nation mourned. The team held two public memorials at Safeco Field, both poignant reminders of his impact on the entire region. As Griffey noted, "It will never be the same, because there's nobody better."

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