The Mariners are embarking on what is sure to be forgotten history this weekend, as they’ll play their first games by National League rules in Safeco Field. While the designated hitter has been around longer than many of us have been alive, it goes against baseball purity, and likely has had a hand in the steroids era.
It’s unfortunate that the Mariners had to have a series like this against the Marlins, instead of a more revered National League team, but that doesn’t mean the series is without intrigue for Mariners fans.
1. Seeing Jason Vargas hit
Vargas is now a husky finesse pitcher with a great changeup and good control. However, in college Vargas was once a power pitcher who could stroke it a little bit too, as he was Long Beach State’s DH in many of the games he didn’t pitch.
Vargas will be starting on Saturday.
2. Watching Felix mow down some opposing pitchers in person
Against opposing pitchers, Felix has given up only two hits in 17 plate appearances, both singles, and has struck out eight batters.
Felix has faced the Marlins in the past, and in Safeco no less, but of course they played that game by standard American League rules. He struck out nine batters in 7.1 innings.
3. The road grays.
The uniform is pretty hideous. It looks like the byproduct of feeding a baby too much fresh fruit.
It seems like the Mariners fanbase is split on the Northwest Green jerseys seen every Friday home game. I contend that the Mariners fanbase is half color blind.
4. Perhaps a look into the future?
I’ve personally wanted the Mariners to be in the NL West for quite some time. There is more history there, better fanbases, and the National League is just a more interesting, strategic game, and as hard as I am on the fans in Seattle sometimes, I really think they’re smart enough to embrace the more strategic version of this great game just as much as the American League version.
Realignment has been a hot topic, and it looks like there will definitely be an addition to the AL West, but perhaps the Colorado Rockies and Houston Astros will both be moved to the AL West, with the Mariners moving to the NL West, which should reduce travel on both sides.
5. The ovation Felix receives when he first steps to the plate
Felix may not be a huge draw for Mariners fans, as attendance numbers haven’t shown a huge bump. However, watching him step to the plate in the top half of an inning in his home town is novelty at his finest.
Especially because he’s not doing it in the opposing team’s uniform.
And fans may be cheering for an only-slightly-worse option than a DH, though Felix has only one extra base hit, his 2008 grand slam has made all of his at bats anticipated events.