Thursday, January 31, 2013

January 31- Seattle Mariners


This post is dedicated to Tommy Brentley, a great friend I made through my journey in and out of the MLB Fan Cave. Today he was selected as one of the Top 50 finalists for this year's edition of the Fan Cave and the lone representative of the Seattle Mariners. Do what you can to get him in and keep him there until the very end. Thank you for being a great friend Tom.

 
Like a lot of kids my age, I'll never forget watching Ken Griffey, Jr., Jay Buhner and Edgar Martinez when these hats were introduced. I was living in Southern California at the time, but as always, I still cheered hard for the Oakland Athletics. Nonetheless, when the Seattle Mariners started wearing the teal jerseys and caps, my fragile little head was on the verge of exploding. All my friends and I could talk about was how awesome that combo was, but also how the Miami Dolphins uniforms still looked “dainty.” (Definitely not the word I used when I was a kid) Bright colors have never really been a part of uniforms in baseball, outside of powder blue that is. But even with powder blue, the University of North Carolina has held a stronghold on that color well before anyone cared about what the Milwaukee Brewers, Philadelphia Phillies and St. Louis Cardinals were doing. As kids though, outside of a box of Crayola crayons none of us had ever seen something so appealing to our eyes. When one kid in school got a hold of a teal Mariners cap, we all became insanely jealous. For me, it would still be another 17 years before I got my hands on this bad boy, but I assure you, it was well worth the wait.

From 1994-96 the Mariners looked natural playing in such an unusual baseball color. This stretch also became the first time I really noticed Nike jump into the picture, but primarily for Ken Griffey, Jr. and Jay Buhner. Much in the same sense as the Atlanta Braves, TV exposure helped push The Kid and the Mariners into the limelight. OK, maybe not as much as the Braves and TBS, but enough to tap into my generation to get them to pay attention. Although the Mariners continued to sell this hat beyond ’96, it would be until the 2012 season that it would resurface back on their heads. 1995 was arguably the most successful of that three year stretch, and certainly one of the most memorable years in Mariners history as they took down the New York Yankees with a game-winning run by Griffey, Jr. in the 9th inning of Game 5 of the American League Division Series. But the Mariners lost in six games to the Cleveland Indians in the American League Championship Series.

Another key component of this era is one of the more famous mascots in Major League Baseball, the Mariner Moose. The Mariners Moose was introduced to me when I was about 11-years-old in 1994. Now, the Moose was actually introduced in 1990 after the Mariners held a contest for kids 14 and under to submit what they wanted as their mascot. Out of 2500 submissions the moose was selected. Due to the fact that I was living in Bakersfield, California at the time I was not privy to the Moose as I posted above. I was in both the Los Angeles Dodgers and California Angels market, and mostly because the Angels were not exactly the caliber team that they are today, I never got a chance to see the Mariners play a home game on TV until around 1994. That's not to say that NBC or ESPN weren't playing games or showing highlights at the time either, but as an avid Oakland Athletics fan I couldn't care less what the Mariners were doing unless they were a threat to Oakland winning the AL West. Nonetheless, when the Mariners started playing some solid ball as a team, as opposed to just Ken Griffey, Jr. knocking the guts out of the ball, they got more exposure. Thus, I was introduced to the Moose. Plus, who could forget the line of Nike commercials starring Griffey, Jr. for President, which also featured the Moose as his running mate? Money!

The one thing I made sure to do was put him in the teal jersey which most baseball fans outside of the Mariners base have always found iconic. Especially considering they only did it for one year before bringing them back for the 2011 season. A very wise decision on management's part I might add. The one other thing I really wanted done was to put a cast on the right leg of the Moose as a tribute to when he bit the dust at the Kingdome in 1995 during the ALDS against the Yankees whilst being pulled by an ATV and wearing roller blades. Both of which were genius decisions by management as well. What's even better is that the team continued the ATV/roller blade stunt until 1999 as they were kind of forced to stop after opening Safeco Field which has natural grass. However, due to the location of the Moose in the stencil I decided to scrap it. But hey! At least I was thinking about it. And look at him waving to the kids. The Moose is still a winner in my book.

As for the numbers, they’re pretty obvious…

#24- If you ask any kid born in the 1980s who their top 3 favorite baseball players of all time are, I’m willing to bet that 9/10 would have Ken Griffey, Jr. somewhere on that list. I of course am that douchebag 1/10. Sorry! I’ll give you Top 10 though! Anyway, Griffey, Jr. was THE guy who was slated to overtake not only the home run record, but possibly the RBI record as well, on top of getting 3000 hits easily. But sadly, this didn’t come to be. In the three year stretch The Kid went .295/106/272… in 323 games. Granted, 1994 was shortened by the lockout, but still!!! Those stats are out of this world in such a short period of time. Oh, and by the way, in ’94 Griffey, Jr. wet .323/40/90 and was a dead lock for the MVP up until that point. Somehow he didn’t win an MVP until 1997, the one and only of his career, but he did win Gold Gloves and make the All-Star team all three years. A small consolation prize I suppose, but at least he’ll be a lock for the Hall of Fame.

#51- I’ve only worn this hat three times since I bought it and marked it, and every time someone takes a shot at guessing the numbers they always say Ichiro. I seriously cry inside when I hear that name… because they’re WRONG!!! From 1994-96 Randy “The Big Unit” Johnson brought batters to their knees with his inhuman slider… and mullet. Funny story about Johnson: He played high school ball in Livermore, California and attended Livermore High School the same years as my uncles. Two of my uncles recall easily hitting doubles off of Johnson, much to his chagrin. Going back: ’94-’96 proved to be rather prosperous for the Big Unit, especially 1995 when he went 18-2 with a League leading 2.48 ERA, a League leading 1.045 WHIP, a League leading 12.3 strikeouts per nine inning and a League leading 294 strikeouts. Johnson received 26 first place votes for the AL Cy Young award that year. The next closest was Cleveland’s Jose Mesa with two first place votes. Good effort though. What’s really amusing is how many people, outside of Seattle, forget that Johnson played for the Mariners from the middle of the 1989 season through the middle of the 1998 season when he was dealt to the Houston Astros for three Minor Leaguers. I don’t know, maybe you’ve heard of them: Freddy Garcia, John Halama and Carlos Guillen.

2 comments:

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