By Keith Brown
Keith Brown, 54, played soccer and baseball growing up and went to Newport High School in Bellevue. He, his wife and his three kids were at the Kingdome when Edgar Martinez hit The Double that scored Ken Griffey Jr. in the 1995 playoffs. He’s still waiting for another Mariners team to recreate that magic.
I have a theory about what has made Raul Ibanez such a phenomenon this season.
I sit in awe of seeing a 41-year-old man who was never considered fast or powerful produce numbers that have rarely been seen for someone his age. It makes me wonder how Raul is doing this.
As I pieced together his career, it came to me: In his earlier time as a Mariner, he was front and center as a Mariner watching the great Edgar Martinez perfect the craft of the designated hitter.
It cannot be easy to sit for three innings at a time, waiting for your at-bat. It’s all you get. You’d better be ready. Edgar spent his life getting ready to be ready to hit that ball as it crossed into the hitting zone. Nothing else mattered at that moment. And Edgar was always ready. Very seldom was he fooled. He had few holes in his swing, and he put a good solid swing into almost ever hittable pitch. When he made contact, it was almost always a line drive.
Raul is doing the same thing at an age when most players are retired. And, unlike Edgar, Raul doesn’t have Ken Griffey Jr. hitting in front of him or Jay Buhner behind him. The beauty is that Raul is doing this with the likes of Kyle Seager, Justin Smoak, Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino – all of them younger players still developing – in the Mariners batting order around him.
If Raul is able to pass on to these younger guys the same lessons that Edgar passed along to him, we just might have a team full of Raul disciples. I’m all for that. A team full of great contact hitters with plenty of power would be wonderful to watch.
As this group matures, I ponder a parallel phase of young pitchers. I daydream contemplating both phases in synch, performing as envisioned, and I thank general manager Jack Zduriencik and his crew for placing us in this dream.
Look out for the new M’s, the Go Go M’s, coming to Safeco Field soon. Let’s get ready to win.
Thanks, Raul. Thanks, Gar.
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