Bye-Bye, Baseball; Hello, Football

Well, it appears that the Seattle Mariners aren’t in the playoffs this year. A promising beginning went to hell in a handbasket after the All-Star Break, with injuries sidelining many starting pitchers and the inexplicable 80-game suspension of Robinson Cano. They finished the season in good fashion but it is still disappointing that they were eliminated from the post-season.

Football is back and the Seahawks are off to a shaky 2 – 2 start. I hope they start improving, but two injuries in Sunday’s game might have them hamstrung for a time. We shall see.

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Awesome Game

The Seattle Mariners played an impressive history-making game in Toronto, Canuckistan against the Blue Jays.

James “Big Maple” Paxton, native to that country, threw a no-hitter in the Mariners’ 5 – 0 win. That is the only time a person from that region has ever thrown a no-hitter on their native turf.

Isn’t it ironic?

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Jackie Robinson Day

Happy Jackie Robinson Day to all of the baseball fans in the blog-o-sphere! Since this post was repackaged from 2015, I should point out that today marks the 72nd anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking the “colour barrier.”

Here’s a little bit of history about this day, from MLB.com:

“Today marks the 69th anniversary of Jackie Robinson breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, and once again, MLB and each of its 30 clubs are pulling out all the stops to celebrate the Hall of Famer’s legacy.

On Jackie Robinson Day, all players and on-field personnel across the league will don No. 42 jerseys, as they have done each April 15 since 2009. The number is otherwise retired throughout baseball in honor of the former Dodgers great, who signed his first professional contract with the organization — then in Brooklyn — in 1945. Two years later, on April 15, he started for the Dodgers against the Boston Braves at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, batting second and playing first base. That was the start of a highly productive 10-year career for Robinson, who was already 28 when he broke the color barrier. He was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1947, the NL Most Valuable Player Award winner and batting champion two years later, and he made six All-Star teams while posting a career average of .311.

Robinson, who died in 1972, also will be honored by MLB with an increased financial commitment to the Jackie Robinson Foundation, as well as special on-field, pregame ceremonies in each ballpark hosting a game today. That includes at Dodger Stadium, where Rachel and Sharon Robinson, the wife and daughter of Jackie, will be guests for the game against the Giants, along with Hall of Famer Frank Robinson and Dodgers special advisor Don Newcombe, who played with Jackie in Brooklyn. They will watch Dave Roberts, the first minority manager in Dodgers history, guide his club against San Francisco. “I think I’m going to make a conscious effort tomorrow to really understand and take in the scope and magnitude,” Roberts said Thursday. “It’s a big deal. Jackie’s obviously impacted me and many others, so I want to take some extra time to reflect for sure.” For the players on the field, wearing No. 42 is a valued opportunity to show their appreciation for the doors Robinson opened for future generations.”

Jackie Robinson isn’t the only gentleman who had to deal with the ills of segregation and discrimination during the integration of professional sports in this country, but he is the most well-known in the sport of baseball. Professional sports in this country didn’t even integrate at the same time. For that matter, each sport had various teams which were far slower to do so than others. Such is the history of this country; it permeates every aspect of American life. The things that Jackie Robinson addressed and fought against are still prevalent today. Racism didn’t end with the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation any more than slavery did.

Jackie Robinson’s legacy is phenomenal and can be seen on every baseball diamond across this country and around the world. Kudos to you, Jackie. You are in the pantheon of the greats.

MLB Opening Day

Major League Baseball began the regular season last night, and my Seattle Mariners hung on to win a nail-biter of a game. Final score vs. Cleveland: 2 – 1. Nelson “Boom Stick” Cruz scored those two runs with an awesome homer in the first inning.

It was great to see, and having the sound system back in operation made it excellent to listen to. Felix Hernandez was the starting pitcher and made it through five innings. That was refreshing to see after that line drive he took to his arm back during spring training a few weeks ago.

Also, Ichiro Suzuki is back in Mariners blue and he garnered a massive standing ovation when he took the field. He is one player who has always been well-loved and respected by most Mariners fans. Even when he played for the Florida Marlins and was an opponent of ours last season, he was never booed or ridiculed like *Alex Rodriguez.

Bonus points to those of you who know what the asterisk is for.

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Willie Mays Has World Series MVP Award Named After him by Major League Baseball 

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GOOD BLACK NEWS

Baseball Legend Willie Mays (photo via emaze.com)

via espn.com

NEW YORK — Major League Baseball has named its World Series Most Valuable Player Award after Willie Mays. The decision was announced Friday, the 63rd anniversary of Mays’ over-the-shoulder catch in deep center field at the Polo Grounds for the New York Giants against Cleveland’s Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the World Series.

The Giants went on to sweep the Indians. The Series MVP award was given out for the first time the following year, when it was won by Brooklyn Dodgers pitcher Johnny Podres.”I’d like to thank Commissioner Rob Manfred and his team at Major League Baseball for honoring me with this recognition,” Mays said in a statement. “Baseball has always taken care of me, and for that I am grateful. I think it’s just a wonderful thing to know that at 86 years of age, I…

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Take Me Out to the Ball Game! *** UPDATED *** (Re-blogged)

The first game of a Mariners double-header, being played in Kansas City against the Royals, has just begun. It looks to be quite the slugfest!

I decided to re-blog this post from May of this year, showing a few pictures taken when attending a game at Safeco Field in person.

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Eyrie Of An Aries

On Friday, which also marked Mexico’s Batalla de Puebla, I had the pleasure of attending a Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field. It was “Beard Hat Night” so many fans (including yours truly and the Hubster) donned furry face-warmers and had a blast! Unfortunately, the Mariners lost to the AL West division rivals Texas Rangers by a score of 3 – 1 after 13 innings of a well-played, hard-fought game, which also saw two pitchers taken out for injuries. The good news is that the Mariners rallied the next day and won Saturday’s game by a score of 8 – 3, so redemption is possible for today’s game!

*** UPDATED Monday, 8 May 2017 ***
After a back-and-forth battle, the Mariners came from behind to win the game 4 – 3 and clinch the series against the Texas Rangers. The Rangers fall into last place in the AL…

View original post 226 more words

Talkin’ Sports: MLB All-Star Game…2017! * UPDATED *

It is the mid-season break for Major League Baseball! The Home Run Derby was yesterday, with New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge taking home the coveted trophy. This dynamite young athlete slammed nearly four miles worth of home runs, according to this article from MLB.com:

All rise. Again, again and again. Aaron Judge lived up to the hype of his remarkable rookie campaign by slamming nearly four miles of home runs on Monday evening at Marlins Park, including four drives of more than 500 feet, crowning the Yankees’ slugger as the newest champion of the T-Mobile Home Run Derby.

Judge overcame 22 first-round blasts from Justin Bour of the Marlins and a dozen long balls from the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger in the second. Judge slammed 11 homers in the finals to defeat Miguel Sano of the Twins, finishing with 1:53 still on the clock. “I had no pressure going into it. I’m a rookie,” Judge said. “This is my first time doing it. For me, I’ve got no expectations. I’m just going to go in there and have some fun and see what we can do tonight. It was a blast. I enjoyed every minute of it — watching the other guys swing, coming here early and talking to the media. Everything about today was fantastic.”

An anticipated matchup between Judge and hometown hero Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins never materialized, as last year’s champion was knocked out in the first round by Gary Sanchez, 17-16.

Some years I’m able to catch the home-run-hitting action; this year I wasn’t able to, and it appears that I missed one hell of a slugfest! Still, I won’t miss out on the All-Star Game, where players in the American League face off against players from the National League. Only two of my Seattle Mariners made the cut this year – Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz – and they are more than deserving of the honour! Injuries to most of the starting pitchers and at least three crucial players on the Mariners lineup hit them hard this season. I can only imagine where they’d be in the standings right now if those injuries hadn’t crippled them. As it is right now, they need to fight just to get back in the wild-card race and be spoilers for other teams, at the very least!

I’ll update this post after the game, with the final score and any highlights of note. I’m rooting for the American League, of course!

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*** UPDATED 2105 PDT ***

What a game! I’m thrilled to report that the American League won the Midsummer Classic by a score of 2 – 1 in 10 innings, with most of the game being an epic pitching battle. That’s what happens when the best of the best face off!

I’m even more thrilled to report that the game-winning home run was hit by none other than Robinson Cano, proudly representing my Seattle Mariners and the rest of the American League! Because of that epic blast of the bat, he took home the Most Valuable Player Award, opting for the 2017 Corvette when presented with the choice between a sports car or a pickup truck.

One other noteworthy play, out of many in the game, was a fantastic catch by outfielder Justin Upton of the Detroit Tigers, helping the AL hold onto the lead given by Cano.

Another excellent, well-played game is in the books – on to the second half of the season!

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Behind the Scenes: Safeco Field

Here are a few more pictures from the tour of Safeco Field which we took on Saturday, 6 May. See if you can catch the funniest one in this group, LOL! This will test a couple of things… *evil cackle*
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Visitors’ dugout

View from home plate

Poster in the owners’ suite

The umpires’ room!

Dale Chihuly sculpture – baseball bats rendered in glass

Take Me Out to the Ball Game! *** UPDATED ***

On Friday, which also marked Mexico’s Batalla de Puebla, I had the pleasure of attending a Seattle Mariners game at Safeco Field. It was “Beard Hat Night” so many fans (including yours truly and the Hubster) donned furry face-warmers and had a blast! Unfortunately, the Mariners lost to the AL West division rivals Texas Rangers by a score of 3 – 1 after 13 innings of a well-played, hard-fought game, which also saw two pitchers taken out for injuries. The good news is that the Mariners rallied the next day and won Saturday’s game by a score of 8 – 3, so redemption is possible for today’s game!

*** UPDATED Monday, 8 May 2017 ***
After a back-and-forth battle, the Mariners came from behind to win the game 4 – 3 and clinch the series against the Texas Rangers. The Rangers fall into last place in the AL West, while the Mariners move up to third.

We got a behind-the-scenes guided tour the next day, which included stepping out onto the field (but not on the grass, LOL) when it was empty of all but the ground crew. Enjoy these selected pictures that I took, as well as the song which is played during the “Seventh Inning Stretch” – that’s when the beer sales are cut off!

As for me, I’m going to sit back and do a bit of gaming for an hour or so…my fingers are itching for some major AvA action! I’m going to broadcast my gaming session, so feel free to click the link here and watch the show, starting at high noon PDT. Later, ‘gators!

The entrance we waited at…

Batting practice – I almost caught a ball!

The roof was open. Not a drop of rain after the thunderstorms the previous day!

Fans entering and filling the seats…

Another fan sits with the late, great Dave Niehaus – best announcer ever!

Some old-school memorabilia…

The Seattle Mariners turned 40 this year, along with the Toronto Blue Jays…

…happy anniversary to my Mariners!

The first ball pitched in the bygone Kingdome…

The Golden Glove…a coveted trophy!

Mariners players who have received the title…

View of the field from the owners’ suite – their outdoor seats were quite plush!

Talkin’ Baseball: Jackie Robinson Day 2017

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Major League Baseball’s colour barrier being shattered by the late, great Jackie Robinson! From MLB.com:

Saturday will mark the 70th anniversary of Jackie Robinson taking the field for the Brooklyn Dodgers and breaking Major League Baseball’s color barrier, and special activities planned for this Jackie Robinson Day will include the unveiling of the Hall of Famer’s statue at Dodger Stadium, the introduction of a “Trailblazer Series” for girls, the annual donning of No. 42 by all active players and a lot of buzz about the upcoming Jackie Robinson Museum.

In what promises to be an emotional ceremony before the Dodgers’ 9:15 p.m. ET home game against Arizona, Robinson’s 94-year-old wife Rachel and their children Sharon and David will be on hand for the unveiling of a statue depicting Jackie in his rookie season of 1947, sliding into home plate in his signature style. Dodgers owner Magic Johnson, Dodgers President Stan Kasten, and legends Frank Robinson, Sandy Koufax, Tommy Lasorda, Don Newcombe and Vin Scully will among participants in that invitation-only dedication a few hours before the game. The first 40,000 fans in attendance will receive a replica Jackie Robinson statue, with seats available at dodgers.com/tickets.

As has been tradition each year since 2009, MLB will celebrate Jackie Robinson Day with all players and on-field personnel wearing the now-retired No. 42 during all Saturday games. One jersey will be signed by each member of every club and auctioned live on Saturday at MLB.com/42jersey, with proceeds benefitting the Jackie Robinson Foundation.”

This man has always been an admirable individual, displaying the attributes of courage, strength, dedication, selflessness, and humility. According to his official website, he was born to a family of sharecroppers in 1919. His mother single-handedly raised him and his four other siblings. They were a close-knit family, united against the prejudice and hatred they faced from their neighbours as they were the only Black family on the block in the area in which they lived:

Growing up in a large, single-parent family, Jackie excelled early at all sports and learned to make his own way in life. At UCLA, Jackie became the first athlete to win varsity letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football and track. In 1941, he was named to the All-American football team. Due to financial difficulties, he was forced to leave college, and eventually decided to enlist in the U.S. Army. After two years in the army, he had progressed to second lieutenant. Jackie’s army career was cut short when he was court-martialed in relation to his objections with incidents of racial discrimination. In the end, Jackie left the Army with an honorable discharge.

In 1945, Jackie played one season in the Negro Baseball League, traveling all over the Midwest with the Kansas City Monarchs. But greater challenges and achievements were in store for him. In 1947, Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey approached Jackie about joining the Brooklyn Dodgers. The Major Leagues had not had an African-American player since 1889, when baseball became segregated. When Jackie first donned a Brooklyn Dodger uniform, he pioneered the integration of professional athletics in America. By breaking the color barrier in baseball, the nation’s preeminent sport, he courageously challenged the deeply rooted custom of racial segregation in both the North and the South.”

There will be many events at baseball parks across the USA commemorating this historic day. On Thursday, 13 April, the Seattle Mariners unveiled a statue celebrating our own hometown hero, Ken Griffey Jr. A little-known fact: Ken Griffey Jr. was a prime motivator behind getting all players in the MLB to wear Jackie Robinson’s number, 42, on Jackie Robinson Day. From the Seattle Mariners website:

Ken Griffey Jr. takes immense pride in the fact his retired No. 24 hangs alongside Jackie Robinson’s No. 42 in center field at Safeco Field. He relishes his role in getting every Major League player and coach to wear No. 42 now every year on Jackie Robinson Day.
So yes, as MLB celebrates another Jackie Robinson Day on Saturday, Griffey fully appreciates his latest link to baseball’s African-American pioneer as part of the intricate detail of the new statue of his likeness that was unveiled Thursday at the front gate to Safeco Field.

Sculptor Lou Cella included a Jackie Robinson patch on the right sleeve of the seven-foot bronze statue, much to Griffey’s approval. “Like I tell everybody, if it wasn’t for him, when’s the next time somebody would have played?” Griffey said. “For him to sacrifice pretty much his life and go through the trials and tribulations that he had to go through [is greatly appreciated].” Griffey’s home in Orlando is 35 minutes from Sanford, Fla., where Robinson lived during his first Spring Training in 1946 with the Montreal Royals, the Dodgers’ Triple-A farm club, in a time of considerable racial tension…Griffey was the first player to wear Robinson’s No. 42 as a tribute on Jackie Robinson Day, having the Mariners flip-flop his normal 24 to 42 on the 50th anniversary of the day Robinson broke into the big leagues on April 15, 1997.

Ten years later, when Griffey was with the Reds, he called then-Commissioner Bud Selig to ask if he could again wear No. 42 on the 60th anniversary of Robinson’s historic day since MLB had by then retired the number throughout baseball.

Selig not only granted his approval, he liked the idea so much that the process began where now everyone wears 42 on Jackie Robinson Day.”

Here’s to Jackie Robinson on his day in history. His contributions were many, and should not be diminished.

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