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Dozen Mariners in World Baseball Classic Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Posted by mrgenre in Mariners.
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The World Baseball Classic is now just days away from getting underway and as of this evening, all teams have finally announced their rosters.  12, count ’em 12 Mariners will participate (or are slated to participate) in the Classic.  At a dozen, the M’s come in fourth in number of players participating, falling behind only the Mets (15), Red Sox (14) and Twins (13).

And with 8 teams represented, Canada, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Panama, South Africa, and Venezuela are all sure to get a good taste of the Pacific Northwest.  And that last team, Venezuela, may as well tack a compass to the back of their uniforms (although the Tigers also have four on that squad).  With Felix and Silva headlining the pitching staff and Jose Lopez and newcomer Endy Chavez roving the field, there’s no doubt that a good run by Venezuela could mean lots of clutter in the Times‘ sports page.

But, of course, Japan is the defending champion and while Kenji sat out the Classic three years ago (to focus on his new role with the M’s), he’ll likely get a chance this time to catch a few heaters from Dice-K.  Toss team leader Ichiro into the mix and there’s little doubt that Japan could repeat as world champions.

As for the other M’s playing, we have minor leaguers Manuel Campos, Alex Liddi, Greg Halman and Anthony Phillips representing Panama, Italy, the Netherlands and South Africa respectively, not to mention top draft pick Phillippe Aumont as Canada’s likely Ace.  And did I neglect to mention that Beltre will be a part of the star-studded squad from the Dominican?

Let’s just say that this year’s Classic will leave Seattle well represented on the World stage.

Griffey’s Triumphant Return Friday, February 20, 2009

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Griffey’s been all over the local news lately and only the national media seems to be spinning it negatively.  Still, even surrounded by such excitement, I feel compelled to write in response to those accusations that this is nothing but a publicity stunt.  So you can thank Keith Law for this post.

Is Griffey the same player he was in the late 90’s?  Of course not!  But for other sportswriters to portray Seattle fans as a bunch of bumpkins blindly buying tickets and assuming he’s the savior of Seattle sports is ridiculous.  Does he put butts in the seats?  Yes.  But this is about more than nostalgia: it’s about community.

Harold Reynolds’ and Willie Mays’ role in this story has been mentioned again and again, and the two-day decision that caused both Seattle and Atlanta fans to nearly pass out in anticipation was all over the news.  But not a single sportswriter, blogger or man on the street (at least in my futile Google searches) has mentioned what is really exciting about this story.  It wasn’t about money.

Griffey was choosing between a city he loved (a city he already mistakenly passed on once) and his family.  No one faulted Griffey for taking less money to return to Cincy years ago, and no one would have faulted him for choosing Atlanta now.  That’s what’s astonishing about this story.  No one has reported that Mariners’ fans watch a different type of baseball: one filled with community involvement and love for the game itself.  All those Mariner greats of the past? Buhner, Edgar, Moyer, Davis, Wilson, Valle, Raul…  They were all huge community activists.  They all made permanent homes in the Northwest.  They truly loved this city for more than their contracts; for more than the game itself, and this week has shown that that tradition will continue.

Thanks, Kenny.  Welcome home.