Month: August 2016

Day One in Cooperstown

Day One in Cooperstown

In January, I was asked if I would be willing to go to Cooperstown New York, to umpire in a youth baseball tournament. Without hesitating, I took advantage of the opportunity. The first thing that needed to take place, was getting to Cooperstown Dreams Park.

I am 21 years old, so I can’t rent a car. My age means that I would have had to make the trip with somebody. I asked my dad to come with me. Dad has made the trip. We won’t be staying together during the week, but traveling across the country with him has been enjoyable so far.

We took off from Seattle at 6 p.m. on Thursday night. Our flight took off for Salt Lake City, Utah. Having live TV in the headrest of the seat in front of you is a luxury I was happy to have. The toughest part of the trip, was the landing. I believe the ground snuck up on the pilot, as the wheels hit the pavement aggressively. The plane landed in Utah at 9 p.m. local time.

After a two hour layover, we took off towards Boston. The plane went wheels up at 11:50. The ride was turbulent, so much so that in flight service was hardly provided. Sleeping wasn’t an option, so I struggled through a USC documentary, sports center, and other tv shows. The plane landed at 6 a.m. eastern time.

The journey wasn’t complete, as our final destination was in New York. We rented a car, and pointed the car west. I was excited to see the city of Boston but our route took use on Ted Williams Tunnel. As you can imagine, the Tunnel took us under the city. I caught a glimpse of Fenway Park, but it wasn’t much.

Tolls. The only toll I’m used to paying is the Tacoma Narrows toll. On interstate  93, we encountered several tolls. The fee wasn’t much, but it happened often enough to annoy a pair of tourist such as ourselves.

Four hours after landing in Boston, we arrived at my dads hotel. It didn’t have the same name as was listed previous, which was a little nerve racking. Dad committed to staying here for the week. The hotel is about 40 minutes out from the facilities.

After a nap, or sleeping, however you would categorize it, we went to check in at the park. On arrival, we were awe struck at the sight of it all. The park features 22 ball fields, dorms for players and umpires and a cafeteria. We were allowed to drive down to the umpire bunks, and get all of my equipment in a living space.

We met a handful of the other umpires. Most of my peers are retired and make CDP their home for the summer. The facility holds a tournament for 13 straight weeks.

While signing in, I learned a little bit about what I would be doing for the week. Umpires work with the same people, on the same field all week long. They gave me tow umpire shirts, a jacket, an undershirt, a hat, a water bottle, two baseballs and a bag full of pins.

Pins. Each team brings their own pins, and the kids trade, trade, trade and trade. As I was moving in, thousands of kids were asking other kids to trade their pins. It’s a sight to behold.

The first two days of the trip are complete. Work begins tomorrow, but I’m ready for it. I’m happy to be here, and can’t wait to see what the week has in store.

Football is Here, but Don’t Forget About Baseball

Football is Here, but Don’t Forget About Baseball

Football is back. The Seattle Seahawks play their first preseason game of the year this afternoon. So many questions surround the team. How will the Seahawks perform without Marshawn Lynch? Is Jimmy Graham healthy? Will they remain a run-first offense, or will Russell Wilson be allowed to throw the ball often?  In a month from now, the games in the Seattle will count for real. But games in Seattle already count, and haven’t been more important than right now. Football is exciting, but please don’t forget about baseball.

On July 31, the M’s were 52-51, good enough for third in the American League West, eight and a half games away from first place in the division and five games out of a wild card spot. Momentum swung as the team had one of the best home stands all season. The Mariners went 8-2, while sweeping both the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Detroit Tigers. Manager Scott Servais credited Ken Griffey Jr. weekend, and the message he sent to the 2016 team.

“Keep fighting,” Junior said. “because we’re all rooting for you.”

Fight is what they did. On August second, the M’s trailed the Red Sox 4-0 with their Win Expectancy at a mere 3.2 percent in the eighth. Robinson Cano capped a five-run bottom of the eighth with a three-run home run, proving to be the game winner. The team won 5-4, and a tone was set from the Mariners superstar.

On August fifth, Felix Hernandez gave up a three run homer to Mike Trout in the top of the first inning (W.E. 21.6%). The M’s answered with six runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. With the game tied at three, Mike Zunino smashed a three-run dinger over the left field wall to give his team the lead. A couple days later, Seattle saw another comeback win, as the M’s won 6-4.

August sixth was Ken Griffey Jr. night, as the number 24 was officially retired in the Mariners organization. That game saw the exact same start as the previous night. Trout hit another three-run home run, putting the Mariners in an early 3-0 hole. Win Expectancy sat at 8.7 percent after four innings. The Mariners chipped away at the lead until the bottom of the seventh. Shawn O’Malley smacked a go-ahead three-run home run to put the team up 8-6. Another gritty, come from behind win.

August ninth was the middle game of the three-game series with the Tigers. The M’s trailed 4-1 entering the bottom of the eighth (W.E. 4.7%). Kyle Seager hit a clutch, three-run home run to the tie game. The two teams put up zero’s until the 15th inning, when Victor Martinez hit a home run putting the tigers up 5-4 (W.E. 10%). Seager answered with an RBI single. Runners took advantage of a fielding error, moving to second and third with one out. Zunino supplied a sacrifice fly to win the marathon of a game. The M’s won again.

August 10 saw a classic pitchers duel between Justin Verlander and King Felix. The aces kept their opponents to just one run as the score was knotted at one entering the bottom of the eighth. Nelson Cruz hit a solo blast over the center field wall, giving his team the lead. Six straight for the M’s.

The Mariners lost the first game of a three game set with the Athletics. As of today, the team has moved into second place in the AL west. As the Mariners were streaking, the Rangers were too, winning five straight games. The M’s are seven and a half games out of the division lead. The Wild Card race is where Seattle should be focused. Five games out at the beginning of August, now the M’s are two games out of the second wild card spot.

The team took Juniors words to heart. A majority of the wins that came on this remarkable home stand were made in come from behind fashion. Junior also had words for the city of Seattle.

“To the fans, keep supporting these guys,” Griffey said. “They’re trying to support this city. When you have a friendly face in the stands, that means everything. When you’re going through a bad spell and some guy says, ‘Hey, keep your head up,’ that goes a long way. We’re out here playing, but we’re playing for this city.”

Football is exciting. The Seahawks have recently won a Super Bowl, and have been a good team since Pete Carroll’s arrival. Baseball has been here for a while in 2016, but it has never been more intense, or exciting as it is right now. One of the greatest athletes that has ever worn a uniform that belongs to Seattle, is asking fans not to forget about baseball. The M’s have a great shot at making the playoffs for the first time in fifteen years.  Seattle, please don’t forget about the Mariners.

W.E. – Win Expectancy