Welcome to Breakfast & Biz. This will be my attempt (surely to end in failure) to write between 300-500 words on the previous night’s game, Monday through Friday. Not the weekend though. To hell with that, I gave up that life.
The past twenty years have sought to dissect the game of baseball, as though it were a cold, dead frog sitting on a sheet of sterile metal somewhere in a lab. It has been plucked apart, its organs carefully removed one by one, each examined under intense magnification. As is typical when science does its business correctly, we’ve learned a lot.
The funny thing about it though, even with all that knowledge, is if you let a frog loose anywhere near you, it’s still damn near impossible to catch.
The Mariners won last night, 2-1. It was a thrilling, tense, dramatic game that ended with the tying run on third base. It was played in front of a packed Safeco Field. They beat what is, I’m fairly confident to say, a better team, that threw the better starting pitcher. I’ll get to Felix in a second but outside of a center cut fastball that Nelson Cruz sent to the moon on its way to the center field stands, Corey Kluber was every bit the two time and defending Cy Young Winner he is. The Mariners, at least when healthy, should have a good lineup this year, and he made them look largely helpless. Only Mitch Haniger, who has the advantage of having his operating system coded in the same lab as Kluber, managed any repeated success.
Cleveland projects as one of the five or so best teams in baseball. While the game charms you with the idea that its randomness is sufficient to allow for almost anything to happen on any given day, the truth is the math still wins out far more often than not. The Mariners were heavy underdogs last night, and they got the win. Barely, but then, this time last year, they were one strike away from beating a great Astros team before George Springer walked off Chase De Jong. The margins are slim for the very best teams, less so for average-ish teams like the Mariners.
As for Felix? It’s almost impossible to conceive of a better outing. Facing, again, one of the American League’s best lineups and coming off an extremely abbreviated Spring Training he was, I can’t think of a better way to put this, in control. He struck out four, while walking two. He recorded a delicious 6-2 groundball to flyout ratio. He made it seem simple, working the ball down, and avoiding hard contact. It’s only one start, and at the end of April 2017 he had a 22/3 K/BB ratio, but it’s hard to imagine the King’s 11th Opening Day start going much better, given the circumstances. He is ours, and you cannot have him.
The baseball season loosely comes down to surviving against the best, and beating up on the rest. With an off day today before James Paxton, absolutely the Mariners’ best starting pitcher, takes the hill the Mariners have a chance to actually do a little more than that, and take a series from a good team to start the year.
It’s one game, but after spending six months dissecting it, the frog is jumping now. Good luck catching it.