By Paul M. Banks
For the first decade or so of their existence, the Seattle Mariners were one of MLB‘s biggest laughingstocks. But starting in the late 1990s, they became a significant player in the national baseball landscape. As a franchise, they still haven’t won anything substantial. (Not even a pennant in their 33 years of existence). But when touring the Hall of Fame at Safeco Field, you can see the myriad of contributions they’ve made to recent baseball history.
You can start with one of my favorite players as a seven-year-old: former Mariners hurler Mark Langston. In the ’80s he perfected the wild, hippy hair underneath the baseball cap look. Today, it’s synonymous with Mitch Kramer, the main character in “Dazed and Confused” or San Francisco ace Tim Lincecum. But Langston was the originator.
By Paul M. Banks
This is why you travel to other places, other cities, other stadiums- to walk where they have walked. In this case, “they” is like half of the 1984 Topps All-Star Rookie team: Langston, Phil Bradley, Alvin “Mr. Mariner” Davis. Yes, the Seattle Mariners Hall of Fame was worth the price of admission. Reminded me of simpler times when the M’s had a pitchfork representing Poseidon’s trident in the logo. Why can’t I get away with walking around with a trident? I think my TSB subordinates would respect the trident!
And you can’t beat walking up day of game to obtain a first row seat near the dugout for $60! Seriously, that similar seat would literally be $400 at Wrigley Field, a craphole compared to the Safe. Again, if you still need reasons to hate the Chicago Cubs organization- start with their utter cluelessness concerning price equilibrium and the MLB ticket market.
And that makes the perfect transition to the ’01 Mariners, who tied the 1906 Cubs for most wins in a season, 116. Both teams choked in the postseason. In fact, 19 ought-six was the first World Series title year for my White Sox! I’ll have an “Ichiroll” to that!
Yes, sushi at the ballpark, and it’s good too! Be sure to have an Ichiroll if you ever visit Safeco. Sushi tastes even better when it’s named after a guy who broke George Sisler’s record for single season hits (257) by seven.
Back to the ’01 Mariners, they had a “team triple crown,” league leaders in ERA, batting average and fielding percentage; just the 4th team in MLB history to accomplish it. In fact, from 2000-2003 the M’s had the most wins in all of MLB.
I attended an interleague game against the San Diego Padres, on Ken Griffey shirt night. It was after the alleged asleep in the clubhouse incident, and before he retired. Seeing his locker and memorabilia in the Seattle baseball Hall of Fame reminded me that although he was fat, lazy and falling sleep in his final playing days, back in 1995 he once scored from 1st on an Edgar Martinez double. This is known in the Pacific Northwest as “the slide,” the iconic moment of their first ALDS series win.
And these individual characters that led a few great teams are the bright spots in the Mariners’ mostly pathetic history. There’s Jay Buhner, affectionately known as “Bone,” and the aforementioned Davis whose “Mr. Mariner” moniker should now be transferred to Griffey, or Edgar Martinez, the greatest DH in MLB history. Of course that means he’ll never make it to Cooperstown; which is a bit unfair in my book. But my book was checked out of the library a long time ago. As the franchise has progressed, the title should be placed on a better player who was with the team much longer. And the street here outside the stadium is actually called Edgar Martinez Way.
Hey, like a very smart kid, and one of my top subordinates said: “Baseball is an individual sport masquerading under the veil of a team concept.”
And like another one of my top subordinates said: “don’t touch the outfield grass there, it’ll make you go crazy.” He’s right, in a span of a couple weeks, Milton Bradley stopped trying, and I mean not trying even by his standards; Eric Byrnes started playing beer league softball while still collecting a MLB paycheck, and we had the Griffey incident. Indeed, the Mariners’ outfield made a lot of news for a lot of bad reasons.
My final impressions of Safeco Field?
The hand operated scoreboard in left field is a nice touch. In general, I got kind of a Miller Park vibe with the whole opening and closing the roof thing, but here the closed dome is still an open air stadium. Which sucked because it was freaking cold, in the high 40s the night I was there. And this was the week before Memorial Day weekend. Seriously, I’ll take two weeks straight of highs in the teens during Chicago Januaries. At least we get 70s-80s in May. Weather wise, Seattle is a really sh**** place to live.
And I’ve seen how seriously they take jaywalking here. I saw it first-hand with douchebag cops, and heard a story that even Sox GM Kenny Williams got a jaywalking ticket in Seattle once. Allegedly.
Well I guess they don’t have a lot of crime to worry about then. So they have that going for them; which is nice.
To read my photo essay of Qwest Field go here
Written by Paul M. Banks, President and CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest focused webzine. He is also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, the Chicago Tribune’s blog network, Walter Football.com, the Washington Times Communities, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com
You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank and @bigtenguru
Leave a Reply