I watched the Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics open the season from Japan with a number of other baseball fans at the fantastically man-cavey office of Epic Seats located around the corner from Safeco Field. Maybe I shouldn't have been in Seattle at 3 AM given that I had only taken Wednesday morning off work and would have to make the 2-3 hour drive home immediately after the final out, but a bout of spontaneity delivered my RSVP on Saturday.
Many woke up at 3 or 6 AM to watch the game, which is already a little overboard. Tacking on a long drive and committing to a day without anything more than a power nap is just silly. But one of my 2012 baseball resolutions is to engage in more offline interaction with other fans, writers and analysts, so this seemed like an adventure worthwhile.
Until the game went into extra innings.
No, no... it was a great time. I enjoyed some fantastic baseball discussion with former and current Pro Ball NW contributors Scott Weber and Nathan Bishop at Naked City Brewery & Taphouse before the event and, because I was seriously wilting by gametime, served mostly as a spectator for more of the same from those at my table during the game: Jason Churchill, Alex Carson and Adam Wong of Prospect Insider; Kyle Boddy of Driveline Athletics; and fans Brian Bell and JD DeCastro. Thanks, everyone. I had a good time.
Some brief game thoughts after the FanGraphs Win Expectancy Chart. Also be sure to check out Brendan's live-blog for game details and Beaneball for the A's account.
I love winning and I love winning in extra innings, but I couldn't help thinking that watching the 2012 Mariners was an awful lot like watching the 2011 Mariners. The lineup had trouble hitting the ball with any authority as Brandon McCarthy racked up weak grounders like he was just on the cover of ESPN the Magazine next to the headline "Chicks Dig the Groundball" or something. The 4-7 spots in the lineup failed to record a hit. The few Mariner baserunners were
overly aggressive reckless. Ichiro, despite all the fuss regarding his tweaked batting stance and approach, looked like the exact same hitter he's always been.
Thankfully, the A's lineup is even more pathetic and had little chance against Felix Hernandez (who pitched a great game and came away with the no decision, another 2011 callback). Ichiro's four singles paired with Dustin Ackley's solo home run and otherwise strong showing were enough to produce a winning total of runs.
It's just one game, of course. This lineup should be better than last year's. Fingers crossed.
Jason Vargas vs. Bartolo Colon coming up at 2 AM.
The teams' number three hitters -- Ichiro and Coco Crisp -- combined for a .714 slugging percentage last season, a number Barry Bonds surpassed in three consecutive seasons.
The 8 innings from Felix, 2 from Tom Wilhelmsen and 1 from Brandon League likely represent the highest dosage of great stuff we'll see start to finish all season. All three pitchers were absolutely electric. I'll take that every 5 days, please.
Brandon League had a Seth Smith line drive graze his left cheek. I am still freaking out.
Cuban sensation Yoenis Cespedes had a somewhat predictable debut. He looked out of his league against a steady diet of King Felix breaking pitches, striking out twice early in the game. Then, in the 7th, he caught a low curveball and smashed it into center field for a ringing double. He'll be a wild card in every at bat.