TBtB: Seattle Mariners

Part 8: Seattle Mariners
As mentioned in the opening thread to the series, the Mariners’ pending name change was the final push for this entire project. Among the first of the wave of new parks in the ’90s, the House that Edgar Built has been called Safeco since it’s opening. It’s a name that’s served the facility quite well, has a common baseball term jammed in there, and surely everyone in the Pacific Northwest has the name ingrained in his head as the home of the M’s.
Now it won’t be, (Officially. Fans of the club will undoubtedly be calling it Safeco for years to come). Still, the home team announcers and local papers, TV and radio folk will refer to it by the new moniker, flummoxing many casual fans. Above all, that’s the kind of nonsense this endeavor was designed to prevent. Names are meant to help identify, not confuse.
Based on previous competitions, my guess is that our voters will be overwhelmingly in favor of just keeping the current name on the joint. No argument there, but we can still get adventurous and come up with some decent possibilities if we were opening the place tomorrow before we vote to keep Safeco, can’t we?
Ahh, a boy can dream.

Ballpark History

Built:  1999
Capacity: 47,943
Name:  Safeco Field (1999-2018), Something Crappy (2018-)
Other ballparks used by club in its current city:  Kingdome 1977-1999. Pilots played one season at Sick’s Stadium in 1969.
Distinctive Features:  Safeco’s retractable roof leaves open air, the only of its type in the big leagues; Baseball Museum of the Pacific Northwest and Mariners Hall of Fame located there; Extensive public art space.
Ballpark Highlights:
In the first game after the all-star break, Seattle dropped a 3-2 decision to traditional interleague geographical rival San Diego in the first game played at Safeco Field. The Mariners entered the ninth leading 2-1 before Jose Mesa yielded two in the top of the frame, allowing M’s fans to instantly reminisce about the Kingdome days.

On April 2, 2001, in the M’s first game since Alex Rodriguez left to sign a record FA deal with Texas, new Mariner Ichiro Suzuki went 2-5 with a run scored in a 5-4 win over Oakland. It was the first of a team-record 116 wins, and the first two of Suzuki’s 242 hits in his MVP season.

During the 72nd MLB All-Star Game, Dodgers pitcher Chan Ho Park took requests.

In 2009, Alexei Ramirez reached on a single to third on a play that sent Adrian Beltre to the disabled list with a “severely contused right testicle.” It was a play that still didn’t convince the future Hall of Famer to wear a protective cup, a very Beltrean decision.

In the span of less than five months in 2012, Chicago’s Philip Humber threw a perfect game against the home team, a sextet of M’s hurlers no-hit the Dodgers (exciting catcher Jesus Montero and no one else), and Felix Hernandez tossed a perfect game against the Rays.

Going Grateful


Today seems like a fine time to unleash my inner Anti-LaVar.


I’m thankful I get to spend four unfettered days with my wife. That guy* who came up with the equation that the lack of something produces a direct increase in the warm feelings sensed by the primary organ responsible for circulation sure was on to something.


I’m thankful my wonderful daughter is also here, and that I engaged in spirited conversation with her for most of the four-hour car ride home. That was a truly stunning development considering her preternatural ability to fall asleep the moment a vehicle is shifted into drive, and to remain that way regardless how long the car is moving.


I’m thankful that Cormac and I have managed to avoid any explosions, implosions, collapses, fractures, dislocations, 911 calls or visits from the I-Team 8 news crew since we’ve been on our own. Just one concussion, and that happened while I was out of state. Woo hoo, not my fault.


I’m thankful for my in-laws, who have never once treated me like anything but family.


Yes, they departed this world far, far too early, but I’m thankful I was undeservedly blessed with the two best parents a guy could ask for. I’d swap the 30 years and change I got with Pete and Mary Lou Markham over 60 with any off-the-rack progenitors.


I’m thankful that our house’s vacancies have been partially filled by Erwin, our guest from Guatemala, these past four weeks. His visit to the states will end far too quickly, but we’ll appreciate his presence here long after he’s gone.


I’m thankful for my sister Amanda, No. 2 in the line of Markham children, but a clear No. 1 when ranked in virtually every other way. I wish I got to see her more often.


I’m thankful that 100 or so days into his Latvian expedition, Ian has yet to spark any international incidents. Keeping those fingers crossed.


I’m also thankful that in a month’s time, the entire family will join him in the Baltics for a week. Unlike our globe-trotting son, this will be the first time overseas for the rest of the clan, so I’m hoping we’re not totally embarrassing. I can live with partially.


I’m thankful for good friends, both ones I see regularly and those whose existence is primarily digital.


I’m thankful for the fine makers of heavy equipment, ERP software and steel, aluminum and copper and brass products, and for the work they do in driving America’s manufacturing economy. It’s a shameless plug, sure, but they really do pay my salary.


Happy Thanksgiving.



*His name was Thomas Haynes Bayly, in Isle of Beauty. I bet you didn’t know that. I didn’t, until this morning.







The 200: 50-35

50            Last Cigarette       Dramarama

49           Breaking the Ice     Mojave 3 (You Tube)

48           Insistor     Tapes ‘n Tapes 

47           The Whole Of The Moon   The Waterboys

46           Grey Cell Green  Ned’s Atomic Dustbin  

45           Girl From Mars    Ash (You Tube)

44           Windstorm    School of Seven Bells

43           Ice Cold Ice   Hüsker Dü 

42           Reason is Treason   Kasabian 

41           Under The Milky Way   The Church

40           Oldest Story in the World   The Plimsouls

39           Dear God   XTC 

38           Like A Prayer   Madonna

37           I Am The Resurrection       The Stone Roses

36           How A Resurrection Really Feels    The Hold Steady

35           Rapture    Pedro The Lion (You Tube)



48 – While I do love a good lyric, it’s not always a requirement. “And when you rush I’ll call your name/Like Harvard Square holds all inane/And don’t you know I’ll be your badger/And don’t be terse and don’t be shy/Just hug my lips and say good lies/and know that I will be your bail bond” is incoherent, but I like it just the same. I guess I mostly disdain moronic lyrics when it seems the author thinks they’re profound.


42 – Of my favorite bands, Husker Du is easily the one I most regret never having seen live, an unfortunate byproduct of not discovering them until they had just released their contentious, we’re sick of each other but we still managed to make a fantastic farewell album farewell album.


40 – If you’ve ever seen the movie Valley Girls (a much better flick than you’d expect, given the title), the Plimsouls were the band playing in the club when Nic Cage took the adorable Deborah Foreman to dangerous downtown L.A.


38 – What I said about the Pointer Sister’s song could be repeated verbatim for Madonna. I didn’t initially care for much of her catalogue, but was in love with this song from the get-go. Now, my playlist has a couple of songs from her.




A Friend Passes on Without Fanfare

Now that it’s the offseason, I thought I’d sprinkle the blog with some recycled content. You know, for the planet.

This ran in 1993. Its origins trace to a conversation I had with my editor and fellow baseball fan John Harmon, when we were old man lamenting the absence of kids playing outdoors, primarily baseball. I started writing this column in my head shortly after that conversation, planning it for my week off in June.

Then, about two weeks before my column was about to run, John wrote his own column based on that discussion. Initially I panicked, but I soon decided I could work his effort into mine. This was the result.


It’s hard to believe a man of such stature could pass away in obscurity.

The Republic has learned of the death of an American legend, Sandlot Baseball.

In ill health for the past 20 years, Sandlot, 155, was pronounced dead Saturday in a park outside Ogden, Utah.

Officials investigating the death said he was supposed to meet 12 boys, but they suddenly abandoned him when a 13th arrived to announce he had acquired the new video game, “Desensitizing Violence.”

Foul play has not been ruled out.

The exact whereabouts of Sandlot’s birth is unclear, but one commonly accepted theory says he was born June 12, 1839 in Cooperstown, N.Y. Still, Sandlot was never confined to one address, moving frequently and gracefully from large city to small burg.

Like Johnny Appleseed, Sandlot traveled the country by foot, entrenching the roots of the national pastime.

The seeds of the game took hold in more than a few local residents. Among those he befriended were the city’s hardball skippers, Columbus North’s Joe Preda and Columbus East’s Lou Giovanini.

“It seemed like everybody knew him,” Preda said. “But I can’t remember the last time I saw him.”

Giovanini also had difficulty pinpointing his most recent encounter with the legend. But the veteran manager had a theory on the demise of Sandlot and two of his buddies.
“(Sandlot) Baseball, (Backyard) Football and (Pickup) Basketball were all we knew. Maybe today there are too many others,” the coach said, pointing to younger kids Tele Vision and Play Station as prime suspects.

Both coaches said Sandlot’s ill health in recent years left its mark on the diamond, where today’s ballplayers aren’t as knowledgeable of the game’s nuances as they once were.”

From Sandlot, “you learned the game a little better,” Giovanini said.

Sandlot taught kids the strategy of the game, Preda said. “We knew where to hit the ball and when to squeeze bunt.”

The impact of Sandlot’s death is not just felt by those who made a career on the diamond. The Republic Editor John Harmon, who recently embarked on a fruitless mid-afternoon search for Sandlot, was also dismayed to learn of his passing.

“Sandlot Baseball played a large part in my life and other kids in the neighborhood. I hope we can at least keep his memory alive for future generations,” Harmon said.
“But you know, you’ll never really know him unless you were lucky enough to meet him.”
Sandlot is survived by one brother, Stick Ball, in critical condition at his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., and one half-brother, Little League, living comfortably at his estate in Williamsburg, Pa.

In lieu of flowers or memorials, Sandlot’s last will and testament requested one gesture.

The deceased has asked for 10-12 boys and girls to gather on a nondescript piece of property, with a ball (preferably in shoddy condition), a bat (most definitely wooden) and shareable gloves in tow. The will states that no uniforms be worn, no rule books carried and, most importantly, no adults present.

Sandlot was a firm believer in reincarnation.





TBtB: Philadelphia Phillies

Part 7: Philadelphia Phillies

And so we resume. We’re back in the National League East, visiting one of the oldest franchises in the sport.

Citizens Bank has been the sole title sponsor of the Phils’ home park since its opening in 2004. I never hear much about this one, so I’m guessing it’s just a generic new-style park, an improvement on the Vet but, ironically, somewhat indistinguishable from the other parks of its era.

The Vet, of course, was almost entirely indistinguishable from many of the digs of fellow original NL franchises – the Pirates’ Three Rivers on the other side of the state, the Reds’ Riverfront along the Ohio River and the Cards in Busch 1.0. The most memorable characteristic of Vet was its turf, a surface employed to cut diamonds in the offseason, and the legendary, let’s call it passion, of its home fans.

The Phillies have a long history, though most of it is pretty pathetic. But it’s in Philly, so finding a nice replacement name should be simple. On the other hand, the club has called Philadelphia home and itself the Phillies longer than any other North American sports franchise, so resistance to change runs deep.

We can subtitle this one The Gang Renames a Stadium.

Ballpark History

Built: 2004

Capacity:  43,651

Name:  Citizen’s Bank Park 2004-present.

Other ballparks used by club in its current city: Veteran’s Stadium, 1971-2003; Shibe Park/Connie Mack Stadium* 1938-1970; Baker Bowl/National League Park/Philadelphia Base Ball Grounds 1887-1938; Recreation Park 1883-1886.

Distinctive Features: Ashburn Alley, a pathway named in honor of Phils’ great and former broadcaster Richie Ashburn; a view of the downtown skyline; statues of Ashburn and other all-time Phils Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt and Robin Roberts; Home Team Success.

Ballpark Highlights: In 2007, St. Louis handed the Phils a 10-2 loss, marking the 10,000th loss in franchise history. The setback made the Phillies the first pro sports team to reach quintuple digits in Ls.

In happier home team news, on the season’s final day the Phils knocked off the Washington Nationals 6-1. Coupled with a Mets loss moments earlier, it capped off a furious late-season charge to the division title, helping dim memories of their own collapse 43 years earlier.

Two days after the first pitch was thrown, Brad Lidge struck out World Series fixture Eric Hinske to wrap up the club’s second World Series title in 2008. The game had been suspended by rain two nights earlier in the top of the sixth with the score tied 2-2, though the Rays had entered the inning trailing 2-1. In the wake of the suspension, Bud Selig determined that postseason contests could not be stopped before nine innings had been played, an entirely sensible ruling.

In 2010, in his first playoff appearance in his 13th big league season, Roy Halladay (RIP Doc) became the second pitcher to throw a postseason no-hitter when he blanked the Reds 4-0, fanning eight and walking just one. Earlier in the season, the future Hall of Famer tossed a perfect game in Miami.

*Shibe Park opened in 1909, though it was used exclusively by the Athletics until the clubs began a time-share arrangement from 1938-54.



Still Going Stupid

Fifty Years In, I’m Still Going Stupid
The entries in The Pursuit of Mildly Amusing encompass almost 30 years of writing, all but one completed out of professional obligation or simply for my amusement. But one didn’t fit in either category. The oldest entry in the book dates to my college days, an assignment from Professor Jerry Miller’s magazine writing class that somehow managed to stay in my possession after more than a dozen moves.
A quick digression from which you might not return. The aforementioned Prof. Miller was almost certainly the single most significant influence on me as a writer. He taught me the first rule of good writing – there are no rules, a maxim I’ve exploited to its fullest extent in all my capacities. But Professor Jerry Miller is surely not an example of the old saw that those who can’t, teach. For proof, I direct you to his page on this here Book of Faces, where he’s been chronicling an ongoing health issue. Visit his page https://www.facebook.com/jerry.miller.397501/posts/10208790347749951 and follow his journey through entries that deliver, in equal doses, fear, humor, exasperation and wisdom in a delightful brew. You’ll feel bad for enjoying it so much. I urge all who know him, and even those who don’t, to pop on over and read about the ass kicking he’s going to ultimately deliver to cancer.
OK, for those who have bothered to return, we press on. The tale I wrote in the spring of 1988 was a How To story on dealing with absentmindedness, a trait that has plagued me for all of my 50 years. Its presence in the book was not for quality reasons – this was not an example of superior craftsmanship. Rather, its inclusion was more anthropological, a sign of where I once was with the pen. It’s possible to see a decent effort lurking somewhere in that piece, though only if you’re an Olympic-caliber squinter.
In the story, I related my then 20-year struggle with losing items both large and small. It started with my daily failure to remember to replant my retainer after lunch in the second grade, leaving it in a small box on Mrs. Frank’s desk that Pete or Mary Lou Markham would have to retrieve sometime after school. The anecdotes ran up through my first day of college, which had served as the apex of my absentminded ways. On my flight from New York to Indy by way of Detroit, I was stuck in the airport in Motown, and during a phone call to my parents to inform them about my lengthier-than-expected layover, I left my wallet on the top of the pay phone. Not surprising, it was not there when I returned to reclaim it. Moments later, when I called to tell them about losing my wallet, I left my plane ticket atop the exact same pay phone. That was, fortunately, not pilfered during my brief venture away from the now-extinct communication device.
Which brings us to the present. On Tuesday night, I was in a conversation with Erwin, the fine young Guatemalan exchange student staying with us. Prompted by a friend’s text, Erwin asked where his passport was. I was stumped, not recalling ever having his passport in my possession. Erwin reminded me that on the night he arrived from Guatemala, his coordinator passed along an envelope containing the passports belonging to him and Paco, another boy studying at Marquette.
Quickly, panic set in. I had no real memory of such an exchange, though I couldn’t rule it out given that the six-plus hours I’d spent patrolling the terminals of O’Hare awaiting his much-delayed flight had left me thoroughly fried. And I had absolutely no memory of doing anything with such a parcel once we got back home. Over the next two days I scoured and rescoured all the likely places, to no avail. I was convinced that the passports were gone, a significant problem given he’s scheduled to return to Guatemala in a month’s time. Mr. and Mrs. Garcia were not likely to appreciate any forced confinement to the U.S., an unwelcome portation, as it were.
Yesterday, I took Erwin and Cormac to school. Afterward, I stopped to see the woman who handles the foreign exchange program to relate my all-too-familiar tale of woe. I confessed that I couldn’t find the envelope, and was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to. During the course of a spirit-boosting conversation, she offhandedly asked me if I’d paid for parking before leaving the airport. I acknowledged I had. Suddenly, it all made sense, in a supremely pathetic, history-repeating kind of way. On my way out, I stopped at the self-parking machine. I probably placed the envelope atop it and then walked away after completing my transaction. It was, I had to admit, just like me to do that.
On the bright side, if I’d engaged in such otherwise unfathomable boobery, there was hope. Lost passports were occasionally turned in to the TSA. She offered to call the airport to check on them for me while I dashed off to work. A few hours later, I received a text from Cormac explaining that the passports had been found. And yes, my misadventure from 30 years prior had played out again, only this time with a happier ending. The authorities at O’Hare had come through, retrieving the envelope and passing it along to one of the other schools where the traveling Guatemalans were attending. Thank God for the TSA (which, incidentally, is the first time in history that sentence has been written).

The 200: 66-51

66            I Got You   Split Enz

65            I’m So Excited       The Pointer Sisters

64            Astronaut   Ass Ponys

63            Spaceage Love Song   Flock of Seagulls

62            Inside Out    The Mighty Lemon Drops

61            Everywhere You Turn   Longwave (You Tube)

60            The Road   Frank Turner

59            The Battle of Hampton Roads    Titus Andronicus  

58            Run    Snow Patrol  

57            Take A Walk   Passion Pit (You Tube)

56            The Way    Fastball

55            Love And Anger   Kate Bush

54            Keep Slipping Away   A Place To Bury Strangers

53            Gravity    Superjesus  (You Tube)

52            This Corrosion      The Sisters Of Mercy

51           Everything Looks Beautiful on Video   The Epoxies

50            Last Cigarette       Dramarama


65- I was most definitely a part of the Disco Sucks generation, but I always loved this song. Today, I like a lot more songs from that era than I did back then.


64 – With my WOXY devotion, there’s a strong Southwestern Ohio bent to the list, with contributions from The National, the Afghan Whigs, Guided by Voices and the Ass Ponys.


63 – The stupid hair disguised a much better band than how they’re remembered.


59 – At 14 minutes, the longest song on this countdown by a considerable amount. It serves as the final track on Titus Andronicus’ incredible Monitor album, which connects the Civil War to the songwriter’s roots growing up in New Jersey.


54 – A Place to Bury Strangers is a real band, and not just what organized crime in Chicago thinks of Newton County, Indiana. I’ve seen them twice in small clubs, an experience highly recommended for people who enjoy distortion-heavy music, or those who no longer like to possess functional ear drums.




51 – For my money, the Epoxies are simply the greatest new wave band to ever live, and it’s a long way down to No. 2. Oddly, they existed about 20 years after New Wave had pretty much run its course.