No scoreboard watching, M’s say

  • Larry Henry / Sports Columnist
  • Tuesday, September 26, 2000 9:00pm
  • Sports

SEATTLE – The night air has a snap to it.

Sweater weather is creeping in.

Summer days, fall nights.

The best time of the year.

The Olympics – for anyone who cares – are almost over for another four years.

NBA training camps open next week. For the first time in 16 years, Patrick Ewing won’t be wearing a New York Knicks uniform.

The football season is a month old. Still way too early to pick a Super Bowl champion, though you might not go wrong with the St. Louis Rams again.

An appealing college matchup pits Washington and Oregon – for the Pac-10 title? – Saturday in Eugene.

The baseball season is winding down. Pennant fever is in the air.

Inside Safeco Field, the stands are filling up, even as Mariner starting pitcher Aaron Sele throws the first pitch.

Game-time temperature is 75 degrees (that can’t be right). No wind, the pressbox speaker reports. The American flag in left-center field flutters slightly, nonetheless.

Tantalizing smells waft in from left field. Teriyaki? Tacos? Whatever, the mouth waters.

Not a cloud in the sky. A jet flies over.

The ballpark glows. As usual. What a sight it must be from 10,000 feet.

This is the kind of night you live for. Perfect weather. Great ballpark. Pennant race.

In the home clubhouse before the game, the Mariners are as loose as college kids on a Friday night.

They bound up the stairs into the clubhouse. Freddy Garcia takes them five steps at a time. (Couldn’t you see the headline: Mariner pitcher Garcia sidelined with broken ankle?)

Jay Buhner stands in front of his locker, arms folded, watching old films of the Rangers, paying close attention to the night’s starter, Ryan Glynn.

Buhner seems to really be enjoying himself of late. Maybe you enjoy a pennant race more when you’re 36.

He was like a kid at Christmas during the M’s late-season drive to the division title in ‘95. This one is more fun because the M’s haven’t had to play catch-up.

Still, the pressure is immense. Six days remaining in the season and the M’s have a half-game lead over Oakland entering the night’s game.

Isn’t this what you hope for when the season begins – a race to the end? If you’re a manager, not really, though a tight race does have an advantage. If you make the playoffs, you go in wired, not lethargic, as you might if you had wrapped up the title in July.

Sele’s first pitch is a ball.

Ominous? No, he gets out of the inning unscathed, though two runners reach base.

A game within a game begins. Scoreboard watching.

Eight hundred miles down the Coast, a zero pops up beside Texas on the scoreboard in the Oakland Coliseum.

In Safeco Field, the scoreboard shows heartening results for the Mariners. The Angels lead the A’s 2-0 after a half-inning.

Not that Jay Buhner notices.

“The less I know what’s going on, the better,” he says before the game. “There’s no sense in me worrying about it. I couldn’t tell you if Oakland has played already or if they’re playing tonight. I figure I’ll be able to tell by the reaction of the crowd during the course of the game.”

There are no collective groans, however, when the scoreboard flashes “5” next to “Oak” in the bottom of the first.

The fans tonight are much livelier than the weekend crowds. Still, the electricity that pervaded the Kingdome in ‘95 has yet to be felt in Safeco.

Maybe the biggest cheer of the night comes in the home half of the seventh when Alex Rodriguez gets his first hit in four games, a two-out triple, to end a 0-for-17 skid. Maybe it’s all he’ll need to get off to a good week.

The rest of the M’s also fatten up on Ranger pitching, which ranks near the bottom of the American League. In four games against the A’s last weekend, the M’s got only 20 hits. The most they had in any one game was seven. Tonight, they have eight hits after five innings.

Sele is in a playoff-type form, pitching a 5-0 complete-game victory against his old teammates. Anything special about this win? “Another game,” he shrugs.

Down the Coast, Oakland wins 10-3 to stay a half-game back. Mariner second baseman Mark McLemore says he isn’t aware of what the A’s did.

“Doesn’t matter what happens anywhere else,” he says. “We win the next five games, we’re in the playoffs, right?”

On the TVs stationed around the clubhouse, highlights of the A’s game are being shown.

Only seven or eight players are in the room.

None is watching.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Sports

Seattle Mariners star Julio Rodriguez connects for a two-run home run next to Texas Rangers catcher Jonah Heim and umpire Mark Carlson during the third inning of a baseball game in Arlington, Texas, Tuesday, April 23, 2024. It was Rodriguez’s first homer of the season. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Finally! Julio Rodriguez hits first homer of season

It took 23 games and 89 at bats for the Mariners superstar to go yard.

Lake Stevens pitcher Charli Pugmire high fives first baseman Emery Fletcher after getting out of an inning against Glacier Peak on Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at Glacier Peak High School in Snohomish, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens tops Glacier Peak in key softball encounter

The Vikings strung together a three-run rally in the fifth inning to prevail 3-0.

Prep roundup for Tuesday, April 23

Prep roundup for Tuesday, April 23: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Seattle Seahawks linebacker Jordyn Brooks (56) is taken off the field after being injured in the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings in Minneapolis, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021. The former first-round pick is an example of the Seahawks failing to find difference makers in recent NFL drafts. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
A reason Seahawks have 1 playoff win since 2016? Drafting

The NFL draft begins Thursday, and Seattle needs to draft better to get back to its winning ways.

Shorewood and Cascade players all jump for a set piece during a boys soccer match on Monday, April 22, 2024, at Shoreline Stadium in Shoreline, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Shorewood shuts out Cascade 4-0 in boys soccer

Nikola Genadiev’s deliveries help tally another league win for the Stormrays.

Vote for The Herald’s Prep Athlete of the Week for April 15-21

The Athlete of the Week nominees for April 15-21. Voting closes at… Continue reading

Prep roundup for Monday, April 22

Prep roundup for Monday, April 22: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Mountlake Terrace’s Brynlee Dubiel reacts to her time after crossing the finish line in the girls 300-meter hurdles during the Eason Invitational at Snohomish High School on Saturday, April 20, 2024 in Snohomish, Washington. Dubiel placed fourth with a time of 46.85 seconds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Big turnout for 34th annual Eason Invitational

Everett’s Ndayiraglje, Kings’s Beard and Glacier Peak’s sprinters were among the local standouts.

Silvertips swept out of playoffs by Portland

Everett’s season comes to an end with a 5-0 loss in Game 4; big changes are ahead in the offseason.

Seattle Kraken coach Dave Hakstol’s status remains in question after the team missed the playoffs. (Fred Greenslade/The Canadian Press via AP)
Kraken GM leaves open possibility of changes

Ron Francis was mum about coach Dave Hakstol’s status after Seattle missed the playoffs.

Everett freshman Anna Luscher hits a two-run single in the first inning of the Seagulls’ 13-7 victory over the Cascade Bruins on Friday at Lincoln Field. (Aaron Coe / The Herald)
Everett breaks out the bats to beat crosstown rival Cascade

The Seagulls pound out 17 hits in a 13-7 softball victory over the Bruins.

Prep roundup for Saturday, April 20

Prep roundup for Saturday, April 20: (Note for coaches/scorekeepers: To report results… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.