SEATTLE — The most unsettling sight for the Chicago White Sox in today’s game against the Mariners might be manager Lou Piniella coming out of the home-team dugout, walking to the mound, looking out at the bullpen and holding up either his right or left arm.
The last person the Chisox want to see is another Mariner relief pitcher.
It used to be that opposing teams felt they had a chance if they could force Piniella to use his bullpen. The Sox have had no chance when he’s done that in the first two games of the American League Division Series.
During a press conference Thursday at Safeco Field, a reporter remarked that Chicago’s Herbert Perry had likened the Mariner bullpen to four strong closers.
"We’ve got good arms out there … power arms," Piniella responded. "And we feel very comfortable, as we have all year, giving them the baseball. And I’ve got confidence in every one of them."
As well he should. The five relievers he’s used have given up a mere three hits and no runs in 10 innings.
You know how quirky relief pitchers can sometimes be. I’m surprised the bullpen hasn’t suggested that the sound effects person play "Who Let the Dogs Out?" just before a pitcher enters the game.
Then have him sprint to the mound.
It might be almost as disconcerting as the bullpen gate opening.
I liked old Comiskey Park on the south side of Chicago. It was dirty and it was run-down the last time I saw it, but it had character.
It’s gone now, replaced directly across the street by the new Comiskey Park, which has no character.
It makes you realize how lucky Mariner fans are to have Safeco Field.
It’s a nice place to come home to.
We took a cab from the ballpark to our downtown hotel after Wednesday night’s game in Chicago, and the driver got to talking about the Windy City.
He had moved up from Mississippi many years ago and had become a fan of not specifically the Cubs, the White Sox, the Bulls, the Bears or the Black Hawks, but of Chicago teams. "I liked ‘em all," he said.
He had seen the Bears and the Bulls win championships, but never a Chicago baseball team. "I just hope it happens in my lifetime," he said.
Good luck, Mr. Sports Fan Cabbie.
His fare was $8.50.
We had taken approximately the same trip on Monday and the driver, originally from Kenya, charged us $17.50.
The Sports Fan Cabbie had sent four children through college.
We would also bet he taught them something about honesty.
I was raised in the Midwest, so I know about the weather back there.
It doesn’t do anything halfway. It’s stifling hot in the summer, breath-sapping cold in the winter.
And when it rains really hard, you’d better get out your boots.
Herald baseball writer Kirby Arnold and I took the El back to the hotel one night. When we left the ballpark, lightning was streaking the sky, but not a drop of rain had fallen. As we got off the El and came up the stairs to the street, a thunderstorm had hit.
We were a block from the hotel. By the time we got there, we were drenched.
It was cabs from then on.
Dave Niehaus is loving this baseball season.
This is what he’s waited for all his life: a Mariner team in the playoffs in a real ballpark.
"Because of outdoor baseball, it seems a lot more real," the veteran announcer said Thursday afternoon, as the M’s worked out at Safeco Field.
"There’ll never be another ‘95," he added, referring to the stirring late-season comeback the M’s made to force the one-game playoff for the American League West title, catapulting them into the playoffs for the first time in history. "That was like your first love. You never forget it."
But the M’s also played in the Kingdome, now a mere memory and a bad one at that.
"It was more a feel of studio baseball," he said.
But there’ll never be another season to equal ‘95, Dave?
"Unless we win the World Series," he said, "and I’d like to find out."
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