So a Seattle Mariner pitcher (Hishashi Iwakuma) threw a no-hitter tonight. I’m delighted for him, and for the Mariner dugout, which I’ve come to like this year as I’ve allowed myself to watch more baseball on TV.
During my time here in Seattle, I’ve pretty much disdained the Mariners. They’ve thrived on public money while penuriously divesting themselves of quite a chunk of the Hall of Fame because they didn’t want to pay to keep them (hello Ken Griffey, Randy Johnson, Alex Rodriguez, Jason Varitek). I still suspect their personnel tactics, but I think of late it’s not so much that the club is cheap as much as no one with talent wants to play for the franchise, given its history, and perhaps its ballpark. They had to pay franchise dollars last year for a superannuated second baseman (Cano).
So, back to this evening’s no-hitter. Every now and then for this franchise, something special happens. And, because they relentlessly trade away the top talent, you can’t predict to whom that special night will accrue. Tonight it was Iwakuma. (Interestingly, Iwakuma was nearly traded at the July 31 deadline by the GM, but ownership overruled him, probably due to the Japanese connection)
Similarly, I remember one night in 1990 when I’d checked into a televised Mariners game, probably while brushing my teeth and preparing for bed, because that’s about the only time I watch television, and apprehended that Brian Holman had not only a no-hitter, but a perfect game, goin’ on.
I rushed upstairs and woke wife and child because I thought they would be fascinated to be involved in a pivotal historic moment. Reluctance, eye-rubbing and resentment ensued as the 9th inning began. Holman got 2 outs, and I thought I would be redeemed among the skeptiscenti. But then, former Mariner Ken Phelps hit a home run with 2 outs in the ninth, Holman’s achievement devolved from national banner headlines and a possible White House visit to a mere box score curiosity, and the crazy-dad meme was reinforced as skeptical beds were reoccupied.
Still, there are moments that engorge the typeface and grab you around the neck if you’re adjacent to them, even if by accident, and you memorialize them as best you can. Some RCB and Facebook friends attended the game tonight, as well as most of the employees of one of my new clients. Tomorrow will be interesting, with conversations veering wildly from the business at hand.
Tonight’s game, and the Holman game, remind me powerfully of perhaps my favorite Twilight Zone episode. It involved a perennial loser team, the Hoboken Zephyrs, who quite by accident acquired a lights-out pitcher named Casey. Casey provided the Zephyrs an incandescent few weeks, until his secret leaked: he was a robot. As suddenly as the Zephyrs’ fortunes rose, they plummeted due to very interesting circumstances. If you don’t want to watch the whole episode, just watch the first 5 minutes that include Serling’s lyrical lead-in, which almost bring me tears.
The Mariners had a Zephyr-like renaissance in the late 90s before descending to the more accustomed Zephyr/Mariner experience. Unlike the Zephyrs, who mercifully faded out of existence, the Mariners zombie on.