Can’t remember a baseball Sunday like this in Seattle’s sports history. Beyond baseball, maybe there hasn’t been a local sports-news day like this. The tell-tale sign? The Seahawks, with the always-scintillating first scrimmage of training camp, ranked next-to-last in significance.
In case you were face-down in Lake Washington after a log-boom pratfall, permit me to catch you up:
- The Mariners completed a splendid Ken Griffey Jr. weekend celebration — more than 130,000 in the house that he built and played a half-season in — with a 3-1 triumph and a three-game a sweep of Los Angeles, making for the easy joke: LA finished a distant second in the race for best Blue Angels team in town. It was the fifth win in six games for Seattle, the only loss a 3-2, 11-inning loss Thursday against Boston.
- In pursuit of his first career complete game, James Paxton, brilliant with only one run given up on four hits, took a hard comebacker off his pitching elbow with two outs left in the ninth. X-rays showed only a contusion. But the wicked shot dropped him to one knee and sucked out a considerable amount of merriment from the gathering of 44,812, who until then were having about as much fun as fans of a 57-53 team were legally allowed to have.
- Angels CF Mike Trout dared to out-Griffey Griffey in the fourth inning with a spectacular leaping robbery of a grand slam by Leonys Martin by sticking his arm over the centerfield fence to reduce the play to a sacrifice fly. On his 25th birthday, no less. But Paxton figuratively shoved cake in Trout’s face by striking him out in all four plate appearances.
- Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, who was rushed to the mound after Paxton’s injury and obtained the final two outs, had this to say about his bullpen view of Trout’s catch: “Incredible catch. I’ve seen him do that against us numerous times. I gotta say I’m pretty fed up with it. No, I do not expect (repeat catches) to happen — I do not want to send that kind of energy out into the universe. I’m like, ‘OK, Trout. We know you can do that. You wanna stop now?'”
- On African-American Heritage Day to wrap up the celebration of Griffey’s Hall of Fame induction, former Sonics star Gary Payton threw out the ceremonial first pitch to catcher Griffey. It was the first known public meeting between the top vote-getters in the American Trash Talk Hall of Fame. A recording of the conversation was picked up by Russian cyber agents, who have yet to create an algorithm that can explain it.
- Of the 25 players on the Mariners’ opening day roster, only 16 were available on the field Sunday, including just two from the bullpen. By the end of the week, Payton may join them.
Elsewhere in Former Mariners World, check this juxtaposition
On the day Ichiro (a Mariner from 2001-12) finally delivered his 3,000th MLB hit with a triple, Alex Rodriguez (1995-2000) was being shoved out of Yankee Stadium, the bosses telling him his last game is Friday, even though they still owe him about $27 million in salary through 2017.
“It’s been very painful and embarrassing to sit on the bench. It’s been awkward,” Rodriguez, 40, told reporters in New York. “We all want to keep playing forever. But it doesn’t work that way.”
Meanwhile, Ichiro at 42 remains productive without the aid of pharmacy, unless beef tongue, one of his favored dishes, is declared a performance-enhancer. And he’ll beat A-Rod through the door at Cooperstown.
It is not expected that Rodriguez will be given a three-day celebration marking his career’s end, although a subway ticket is possible.
Petersen poops Huskies hype party
Huskies football coach Chris Petersen had his opening press conference for fall camp Sunday and immediately jammed both feet so hard on the brakes of high expectations for UW that he nearly pushed himself through the floorboards.
“We’re 7-6, played no football games, and now we’re ready to win the Super Bowl,” Petersen said derisively. “I mean, it’s like, really? We’ve got to go play games. Let’s talk after game six. Then it’s like, OK, one way or another. But until then, there’s just so much unknown.”
Memo to Petersen: The Huskies have been absent from the Rose Bowl as long as the Mariners have been gone from the playoffs. If people want to jump on your bandwagon, scoot the hell over and take their money.
Seahawks’ new hire maybe thinks he’s Ichiro
Over at the VMAC in Renton, the Seahawks had their first scrimmage, and the media had a chance to meet the newest Seahawk, former Saints All-Pro guard Jahri Evans, signed Saturday as the emergency safety net for an inexperienced offensive line.
Despite the fact that he’ll be 33 this month and was dumped by New Orleans, his team of 10 seasons, he did not lack for confidence.
“I feel great,” he said. “I still feel like I’m a top guard in this league. The eye in the sky don’t lie.”
Pro tip: When in Seattle, go for the beef tongue.
Sounders’ Dempsey to Sigi Schmid: Watch this, pal
Speaking of aging warriors seeking a fresh start, Clint Dempsey’s hat trick Sunday gave the Sounders a 3-1 triumph at Orlando City, the first win in four games for Seattle and more goals than Dempsey had scored all season. It also was the first win for interim coach Brian Schmetzer.
Anyone suggesting that Dempsey was inspired by the firing of coach Sigi Schmid . . . would probably know something.
IOC bans entire Russian Paralympics team for doping
The International Olympic Committee was so mad Sunday at the systemic, government-sponsored doping of Russia’s Olympics team that it punished the sibling. Courage like this is typically found only in the U.S. Congress.
Blue Angels here again, also a boat race
As they do every year, the Blue Angels put on a great show at Seafair. As they do every year, the hydroplanes don’t.
Payton said that he, Junior and Tez came to Seattle at roughly the same time and their paths crossed many times. That they had an affinity for each other being the big name rookies who dominated their sports in the same city. I proudly have each of their jerseys. Seattle was fortunate to have these three playing the majority of their careers here with their only real detraction being a penchant of trash talking for at least one of them. With that being the only issue Seattle had it pretty good with them.
They were indeed Seattle compatriots. And if you heard the trash talk, you could not help but laugh.
Several records were broken this weekend at Pacific Raceways and not a single mention? Russian Paralympics? Really? What gives?
I wish cloning was further along . . .
Art, you forgot that Griffey played another one and almost half year in Safeco at the tail end of his career. So, not just a half a year. Otherwise, great as usual.