The Baseball Desert

Monday, October 04, 2004

Great weekend

This weekend was a good one to be a 'fan of the game' - I was able to put my worries about the Red Sox and the upcoming ALDS to one side and enjoy watching some good baseball: the Dodgers came back from 3-0 down in the ninth to win 7-3 and secure their spot in the playoffs and the Astros completed an amazing second-half comeback (and drove the final nail into the coffin of the Giants' season) by beating the Rockies in front of 43,082 wild fans in Houston.

However, the warmest and fuzziest moments were to be had at Safeco, where Ichiro broke the single-season hit record in front of George Sisler's family and rewarded us all with that shy-yet-enigmatic smile of his. (On a side note - I've spent a lot of time worrying about Ichiro's record being over a 162-game season, rather than a 154-game season, but having thought about the record, I've come to the conclusion that it's not that big a deal. There's a reason that Sisler's record had stood for 84 years, and that simply because getting 257 hits in a season - regardless of its length - is a hell of a hard thing to do, so respect to Ichiro). I also saw Edgar Martinez's final at-bat in the major leagues - in the bottom of the 8th inning in the game against Texas he got a standing ovation as he came to the plate, (two batters after Ichiro got one for his last at-bat of the season, an at-bat in which he extended the record to 262 hits). The end result wasn't very sexy - Edgar hit into a double play - but it was a great moment and he got a fine send-off.

I know that Mariners manager Bob Melvin has been criticised for his management this season, but I'd like to tip my cap to him for orchestrating some good feel-good moments this weekend: having Edgar play third base for one pitch in yesterday's game; sending him out to make a pitching change in the top of the 9th in today's game so that he could get another standing ovation; sending out Hiram Bocachica to replace Ichiro in right field later in the same inning so that Ichiro could get a standing ovation as well. The Mariners lost the ballgame 3-0 but - for once - it really wasn't important. It was simply a good day to be at Safeco field and salute two great baseball players.