The sounds of Mariner baseball are in the air—a swing and a miss, the groan of the crowd, GM Jack Zduriencik promising another building year—as the M’s set off towards their likely ninth fourth-place finish in ten seasons.
With a 2,750-3,153 won-loss record, the M’s open 2014 home play this week as favorites to remain the only American League team never to play in a World Series.
One of this year’s themes is “old-school baseball,” as depicted in an M’s TV ad that shows infielder Kyle Seager Tweeting on a manual typewriter. Maybe it was unintentional. But that seems to harken back to the team’s yesteryears—you know, when it took from 1977 until 1991 to achieve the first winning season? Good one, Jack!
Which naturally leads to our M’s Quiz, the Who, What, When, and Where of legendary Mariners play. After losing 26 out of 37 seasons, there is no Why.
This sort-of-annual quiz dates back to the 1980s, lapsing now and then when it became too painful to joke about unremitting defeat (see 2010: 61-101).
M’s fans were at least upbeat this pre-season after Jack Z. hired the big bat of Robinson Cano for $240 million over ten years—even if that meant the ballplayer could earn $24 million at age 41, using a cane to get to first.
As usual, nailing all the answers earns you first prize—one Mariners ticket. Second prize is two Mariners tickets. Have your money ready.
The 2014 M‘s Quiz:
Q. Immortal infielder Lenny Randle once blew a grounder foul, and pitcher Rick Honeycutt was once caught hiding a tack in his glove. Another legendary M’s event occurred July 21, 1978, in Cleveland. What record did the M’s tie?
A. Striking out four times in one inning. Danny Meyer went down swinging, but made it safely to first when the catcher dropped the ball. Seeing a chance for history, the next three M’s struck out in order.
Q. Last year’s manager, Eric Wedge, said after he was fired by Jack Z., “If I did what they wanted, it would be a joke of an organization.” What was he referring to?
A. M’s management wanting to have King Felix, the Cy Young winner, throw batting practice. If you got this one, you likely thought it was a joke, too.
Q: In the M’s legendary first year, catcher Bob Stinson and infielder Bill Stein converged on a fly ball which neither caught. What did they learn from this?
A: That pitcher Enrique Romo, whose job it was to call out the name of the player who should field the ball, did not speak English.
Q. Immortal club president Chuck Armstrong, who retired this year, once said he seriously considered changing the team’s nickname to something more fitting because “Mariners” had become a laughingstock. What nickname then was suggested by fans?
A. The Seattle Laughingstockings.
Q. In 1985, the legendary Phil Bradley and the decrepit Gorman Thomas, attempting a simultaneous double-dash to home plate, were tossed out by the same man on the same (double) play. What made it even more memorable?
A. Carlton Fisk, the man who tagged them out, had a broken leg.
Q. New manager Lloyd McClendon seems to have the requisite mix of humor and death wish to endure the season. What did onetime manager Jim Lefebvre say that seemed to sum up the outlook for every new M’s boss?
A. “I see a light at the end of the tunnel. And it isn’t a train.”
Q. During one spring training, the M’s actually tagged out a Giants runner using the old hidden-ball trick (hiding it in an infielder’s glove while the pitcher pretends to get ready to pitch). Why did the M’s resort to this?
A: As long as they kept the ball hidden, the other team couldn’t hit it over their heads.
Q: The legendary Diego Segui threw the first pitch for the M’s in 1977. He also pitched for Seattle’s former major league team, the Pilots. What else do the M’s and the Pilots have in common?
A: The M’s lost their first game 7-0, the same score by which the Pilots won their first game. Both teams also won only 64 games their first season. However, the Pilots had the good grace to change their name and leave town.
Q: Ex-manager Lou Piniella, remembered for his tendency to snap and begin throwing bases in a tirade, once expressed his dismay about players who complained about playing. The speech was pure Sweet Lou. How’d it go? (It exists only in censored transcript form, so insert your own curses.)
A: “Do these bleeping kids think we want to sit through 54 bleeping innings in the next four bleeping days? We set these B games up specifically to give every pitcher in camp the chance to get work, and now they don’t want to bleeping pitch in B games? B games my bleep. Show me something in a B game and I’ll get you in a bleeping A game. Every bleeping spring down here, somebody knocks your eyes out in a B game and extends their spring. We give them the chance to make a bleeping impression and they bleeping complain? Stan [pitching coach Stan Williams]! You ever heard of a guy trying to make the bleeping team who didn’t want to pitch when you bleeping asked him? What the bleep is this coming to?”
Now, play bleeping ball!
Rick Anderson writes about sex, crime, money, and politics, which tend to be the same thing.