1. The Mariners pulled off a very nifty double play in September … without taking the field.
First, the organization managed to escape the desert.
The High Desert of California is just fine for testing military jets and as a setting for moody ’80s U2 cover art …
For several years, the Mariners were stuck with High Desert as their High-A California League affiliate. They lost the game of musical chairs when it came time to sign up affiliations. High-A, if you don’t know, is a pretty crucial level as guys transition to more-advanced leagues. But the Mariners really had a hard time getting a good assessment of their prospects. Mediocre hitters could look awesome and good pitchers would struggle.
As an affiliate, they still hadn’t found what they’re looking for. And it’s hard to get to the park where the streets have no name. [OK, not really. It’s on a street named Stadium Way.]
I don’t know how it all works, but when it came time for a new round of affiliation agreements, the Mariners were poised and ready, and they made a nice little leap down into the valley to the Bakersfield Blaze (late of the Cincinnati Reds).
Then came the second leg of the double play.
When the affiliation carousel finally came to a stop, the Reds had shifted to Daytona, Florida, and the team left with High Desert was … the Texas Rangers.
Now maybe Texas won’t have as much negative impact, since they have a little wind tunnel of their own down in Arlington, but still any little edge helps.
2. Remember Danny Hultzen?
Yes, it used to be a Big Three. Maybe it will be again. Danny Hultzen missed the entire 2014 season, but he finally returned to the mound for three appearances in the instructional league in Arizona. Not the Arizona Fall League (which hasn’t started yet), just games at the training facilities.
And Hultzen won’t be going to the AFL despite earlier reports that he would. But the team thought the three outings, culminating with a 25-pitch outing last week, were enough.
The full article has quotes from Jack Zduriencik (“they said it was really impressive”) and Lloyd McClendon (who says he won’t be in the plans for 2015).
Plus updates on Jesus Montero (yes, still with the organization; but the scout who started the incident is not), Roenis Elias, Dustin Ackley, and (another blast from the past) Franklin Gutierrez.
3. Walter Johnson Side-Arms the Giants
Check out this article from the Washington Post about how the Library of Congress discovered film of the 1924 World Series that had been stored in an attic for decades. The Washington Senators win the deciding game 4-3 in 12 innings.
Besides being timely with the Nationals in the playoffs, it’s cool to see the Washington fans storm the field after the final out — wearing coats and ties, mostly — so they can wave their hats in celebration of the Series crown. Calvin Coolidge was there, though it does not appear that he stormed the field.
Best thing, though, is Hall of Famer Walter Johnson and his funky side-arm, almost under-arm, delivery. I knew the Big Train was the strikeout king of the early game (striking out 15% of batters!) (as in: not impressive by today’s whifftastic standards), but I didn’t know he had such an unusual route to the plate.
Unit-like, he came in to relieve in the extra-inning classic and help his team to a narrow win.
And the baseball looks quite a bit like baseball. That’s kinda cool.