Tagged: Mark McGwire

The Big Unit vs. Mark McGwire, 6/24/97 in the Kingdome

I would like to describe the weather that June day, but since I was watching in the Kingdome from section 311, row 17, seat 10, all I saw was a gray dome. The Mariners who were good that year winning 90 games had Randy Johnson 11-1 pitching against Oakland’s Steve Karsay, 1-7.  I thought it would be an easy win for the Big Unit, but this is baseball and nothing is a given.

Randy struck out Jason McDonald leading off the third, giving him six strikeouts in the first ten batters. Rafael Bournigal then singled, scored on Geronimo Berroa’s double, who then scored on Mark McGwire’s double, before Randy whiffed Jose Canseco and former Mariner prospect Patrick Lennon.

Mariners down 2-0 when McGwire comes up in the 5th with two down, both on strikeouts. What happened next is what occurs when speed meets power at a precise spot in the bat, the sweetest of the spots, unless of course you are a Mariner fan. I was sitting down the left field line and saw the ball jump off McGwire’s bat with such velocity that when the ball reached it’s apogee, I heard a thundering crack, or was it an explosion. I would like to say I saw the ball after that, but it disappeared from my view as it headed for the scoreboard high on the wall, above the bleachers, and so far away from the plate it was unreachable. I looked at the scoreboard to see what lights the ball would break. But alas, the ball did not get there. In my mind’s eye, however, it got close, real close.

It was estimated to have gone 538 feet into the second deck of the bleachers just below the scoreboard. Naturally it was the longest homerun hit in the Kingdome. And I was there to almost see it.

George Williams homered for the A’s in the 9th to take a 4-0 lead. Randy went the distance striking out 19 and walking zero while giving up 11 hits. He was the fifth pitcher at the time to have struck out 19 in a game. The others being Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Steve Carlton, and David Cone. Carlton, a lefty like Johnson also was the losing pitcher in his 19 K performance. The 19 K’s by Randy was an American League record for a lefty and a Mariner team record.

The M’s lost 4-1, scoring a run in the bottom of 9th on Griffey Junior’s leadoff triple, scoring on Edgar Martinez groundout. Junior had a single, double triple, and walk in the game.

It was memorable game of course as you do not see 19 K’s every day, nor a 538 home run, nor Junior going 3-3 (a homer would have been nice though), but it still burns me 18 years later that Randy had 19 K’s and lost.  I did not know at the time, how could I, that the 538 blast may have been chemically induced. No matter. I lost the ball in the dark gray of the dome.  

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Predictions for Seattle Mariners from a deranged mind

Diving right into Elliot Bay flotsam I have predictions based on trends, history, and a mental disease.

Robinson Cano, with no protection in the lineup, will hit .257 with 21 homers and 62 rbis, locking up the Chone Figgins Award given only to a Seattle Mariner, due to the fact all their free agents turn out like Figgins.

Corey Hart goes 2-3 with a homer on opening day, but in his fourth at bat slides awkwardly into second and suffers a deviated rectum and is out for the season. Mariner fans are happy that it was not a knee injury.  Conversely, Logan Morrison bats .216 with 6 homers and 38 at bats. Unfortunately he lasts the entire season as Mariner fans do not understand how he avoids a knee injury.

Franklin Gutierrez gets off to good start batting .265 with 15 homers, 46 rbis at the all-star break. But during batting practice following the all-star game he collapses, is rushed to the hospital where he is diagnosed with a sickness which baffles doctors all over the world, including Dr. Who.  Franklin, however, is honored when they name the new disease Gutitis, a disease so mysterious it has no symptoms.

English: New York Yankees shortstop in about 1953.

English: New York Yankees shortstop in about 1953. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Taijuan Walker finishes the season 7-16, but leads the league with a 1.27 ERA and strikeouts per inning with 10.8. Meanwhile Felix Hernandez is traded to the New York Yankees for Ichiro, Michael Pineda, and an autographed picture of Phil Rizzuto.

Justin Smoak bats .238  with 22 homers and 19 rbis. That is not a typo. Justin becomes first player in history to have fewer rbis than home runs, but sabermetricians do the math and verify the numbers. Mariner GM, Trader Jack, believes Justin is one year away from stardom. He gives Justin the vote of confidence from his room at Western State sanatorium.

Chris Hansen, who was stiffed by the NBA to buy the Sacramento Kings and move them to Seattle as the Sonics, buys the Mariners from Nintendo. Safeco Field is renamed SubMariner Park after Subway buys naming right to stadium. Team also changes name to SubMariners and in press statement from Hansen, he states the name has nothing to do with the teams performance, but is meant to honor submarine sailors stationed at the naval base in Bremerton.

Mariner fans excited for 2015 with new owner, new stadium name, new team name, new manager Wally Backman, rumors of Mark McGwire coming out of retirement to DH for Seattle, and offer to all fans in attendance in 2015 with free sub sandwich each night Mariners attendance exceeds 1,200 on Mondays when Monday Night Football is on and Seahawks play anybody.

These predictions were written with the assistance of Trader Jack, my roommate at Western State. Happy New Year!