Hope you’re all enjoying a nice Labor Day. Just one thing before I get to the post that I want to clear up. Some of you have written in asking whether or not Ken Griffey Jr. actually defaced Ichiro’s 2,000th hit ball. The answer is, no, he did not. Griffey used a different ball to sign his humorous “Geo Metro” joke on. The guy knows enough about historical feats that he isn’t going to do that to something as special as a 2,000th hit ball. I’d intended to make that clear in yesterday’s game story, but got so carried away trying to deliver the humor of the situation to you that I forgot to spell that out. He substituted the ball. No Geo Metro jokes in Cooperstown, I’m afraid.
OK, on to today’s post. You know, we’ve had so many discussions about the Mariners and the wild-card race and the likelihood of them coming back and making the playoffs — more so a month ago than right now — that I would be remiss in not pointing out what’s gone on with the Class AAA Tacoma Rainiers.
Pretty soon now, the Rainiers, featuring guys like Chris Shelton, Bryan LaHair, Adam Moore and other Mariners from the past or soon-to-be-present, managed by Daren Brown (photo) will be taking on Colorado Springs in a winner-take-all game this afternoon to decide the Pacific Coast League Pacific North division title. The start of the game has been delayed by wet grounds.
How unlikely was this one game drama?
Well, about two weeks ago, the Rainiers trailed Colorado Springs by 7 1/2 games. But then Tacoma won nine in a row and Colorado Springs dropped seven of eight. Still, the Rainiers would not have had a shot if not for this season-ending four-game series with their rivals.
Tacoma won the first two, then lost 5-2 yesterday with a shot to clinch. The Rainiers were bolstered at the start of the series by a PCL ruling that stated that the fact the Colorado Springs team had two rained out games that would not be replayed (they don’t do that in AAA) would not be held against Tacoma. At first, it appeared the Rainiers would have to sweep all four games to have a shot at besting the winning percentage of Colorado Springs because of the rainouts.
But after that ruling, the league will round off to the first three digits of the winning percentage following the decimal point and not go to a fourth, which, because of the rainouts, would have favored Colortado Springs. If the Rainiers win today, they will be tied in winning percentage on the first three digits.
After that, the Rainiers would win the tiebreaker, based on won-loss record versus division opponents.
Sounds complicated, but, the bottom line is, the Rainiers only had to take three of four instead of four of four. Gave them room for error, which they made by losing yesterday.
Does this mean the Mariners really had a shot? Well, in theory, any team can go 9-0 over its last nine games and make up that many against a team going 0-9. In reality, it hardly ever happens. You need the right combination of things, like only one team in front of you to catch, games remaining against the team you trail and the talent to put together a winning run like that.
The Rainiers had all three in their favor, aided by a feared lineup of hitters and the late influx of mound talent like Brandon Morrow and Garrett Olson from the major league squad.
And no, no front office can ever plan on that happening when it makes trade deadline decisions.
But it happened for the Mariners back in 1995. And now, for their AAA club, the once-in-a-generation comeback could take place today.