Bill was kind enough to take me to the Mariners game against the A's. Bill has sweet seats, a few rows behind the Mariners' dugout. I've been spoiled this year, getting used to seats near home plate on the main level.
Some notes from the game:
  • Edgar Martinez was back off of the DL. His second at bat he hit an opposite field homer off Zito, to deep right center. A couple A's, including Jermaine Dye, hit rockets out to the same part of the park and saw those die on the warning track. That's a tough place to hit it out in Safeco, which shows how much power Edgar has to opposite field. He waits back and inside the ball, keeping his weight back, and drives down and through the ball to right. Back about 15 years ago in baseball, no one really swung that way. Now, hitters are strong enough to hit it out the opposite way. Over 50% of Sosa's home runs have gone to right field this year.

  • Zito got hit pretty hard, but he's still a stud. He's so solid. A fastball that hits 88 to 90mph, an 11 to 5 curve that drops off the table at 74 to 75mph, and a changeup that comes in at 78 to 79mph. All delivered with the same exact motion, which is the key to his deception. And he's not afraid to throw any of those pitches on any count. You could see when he fooled right handers with the curve because their front leg would buckle. One of the prettiest things in baseball is watching a pitcher fool a batter on a changeup. Watching it on TV you think, "why doesn't he just wait back on that ball and kill it," but anyone who has ever been in the box when a pitcher delivers a changeup with the exact same motion as a fastball but takes 8mph off the ball knows how difficult it is to make contact. The difference in the time it takes the pitch is hundredths of a second, and it's just enough that your bat is ahead of the pitch. Hoffman and Moyer have made careers out of that pitch. Pedro has a nasty nasty change. Maddux has a doozy of a change. Schilling and Clemens use the split fingered fastball as a change. Oh, back to Zito. If he stays healthy, he'll be an All-Star for years.

  • John Olerud is underrated. Just a solid, solid hitter who didn't get fooled by Zito at all. Keeps his weight back, waits for pitches he can drive, and rock solid on defense at 1B. He helps every one of his teams win.

  • Rafael Soriano has a live arm, but he doesn't quite have the command he needs or a strong enough offspeed pitch to be a dominant starter. Granted, the M's had to call him up earlier than they wanted. He should be learning his trade in triple-A right now.

  • Imagine how tough Hudson, Zito, and Mulder would be if the A's had good outfield defense. Long and Mabry played CF and LF, and they're terrible. Two flies that should have been caught dropped for doubles. Defense is generally overrated, and the A's have a different but effective formula for winning baseball, but the A's pitchers must get sick of seeing some of those balls dropping in.

  • I suck at those Oldies trivia games they play on the scoreboard, except when it's baseball trivia. In a way, I'm glad. Someday, when I'm the only one who can name some of those songs....oh, let's not go there.

  • Either my vision is improving, or they've slowed down the hat trick game. I'd always been good at that game, but last year for some reason I started losing it. It scared me to death. I thought my vision was going. I stopped playing to avoid the pain of losing. This year it's easy again. I think they slowed it down.

  • Bret Boone is the steroid poster child. His bulging body is frightening.

  • One of the reasons Kazuhiro Sasaki is so hard to hit is that he has a hitch in his delivery right before he releases the ball that completely throws off the batter's timing. The ball seems to appear out of nowhere, and timing his forkball is nearly impossible. You can't tell on TV, but from behind home plate it's as plain as day. Pitchers are taught to deliver the ball in a way that feels natural and is mechanically sound, but for pitchers who don't have great stuff, it might be worth investing time in a deceptive delivery.

  • Ichiro will always bat over .300. If he continues to bunt more, he'll get some 50 to 60 infield hits a year. He hit a routine grounder to the first basemen Hatteberg and just flat out beat Zito to the bag. He has some 30 infield hits already.

I missed our softball doubleheader yesterday. Sadness.

Random epiphanies

Today, in an early morning meeting, I was staring out the window of a conference room. It was a gray day, and a light fog was rolling in over the Puget Sound. And at that moment, suddenly I felt this brief but enormous wave of optimism and happiness.
I have these fleeting epiphanies from time to time. I have no idea what causes them. Nothing in particular seems to bring them on, but when they occur, it feels like "everything's gonna be alright."
Odd. I wonder if it's a chemical mixup, may be a seratonin bubble bursting, or emotional wires crossing in the brain. If I could bottle that feeling I'd always be on cloud nine.