The Ritzville Adams County Journal - Eastern Adams County's Only Independent Voice Since 1887

By Dale Anderson
Sports Columnist 

Worst Seat In The House: A real hit

 


On Sunday, Edgar Martinez was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Gar wasn’t the first person with Mariner ties to be inducted as that honor went to Dave Niehaus. Niehaus was inducted as the voice of the Mariners in 2008 earning the Ford Frick award.

Ken Griffey Jr. was the second Mariner to be inducted as a Mariner in 2016. Former Mariner Randy Johnson was inducted in 2015 but he went in as an Arizona Diamondback.

This year the spotlight was on Edgar earning a spot 15 years after his 2004 retirement. What separates Edgar from the other inductees from Mariner teams and even Niehaus is that Martinez was always a Mariner.

Dave Niehaus was the Mariner voice from day 1 but got his start with other teams leaving the Angels to head north to Seattle. Randy Johnson was traded to the Mariners from Montreal and finally left when Seattle didn’t think the Big Unit’s back problem would ever be resolved. My oh my were they wrong!

Ken Griffey Jr. was loved by Mariner fans but I don’t think he felt that Safeco Field was going to be his home run hitting Mecca so it was off to Cincinnati where the Kid grew up. I’m not sure if the Reds fans ever had as much love for him as Seattle did. I do know that the Kingdome hard floor was cruel to Griffey and he was often injured during his Cincy days.

When he came back to Seattle the fans opened their arms to him as their favorite son returned home and probably showed the Kid that Seattle was the place he should never have left. That made his choice of entering the Hall of Fame as a Seattle Mariner an easy choice. Edgar Martinez had a long journey from Puerto Rico and would sign with the Seattle organization. He played in the minor leagues and became a full time Mariner in 1987. If you ever get the chance to read about Martinez you would be amazed at what it took to get to Cooperstown. Great players dream about playing professionally but rarely about making it into the Hall of Fame. Those things take a lot of hard work and a spirit of always giving the fans your best each game.

Edgar was a great hitter, so much so that former baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced at Martinez’ jersey retirement that the American League designated hitter award would be forever named the Edgar Martinez award. What a compliment to Martinez. But it still took several years before the Baseball Writers would vote Martinez into the Hall 10 years after he was eligible.

If you have been paying attention I’m sure you’ve heard about trying to speed up the game of baseball by limiting visits to the pitchers; trying to keep the batter from taking too much time between pitches outside the batter’s box and not taking so much time between half innings.

Teams have focused on defensive shifts and players have focused on launch angles to hit home runs. Records are being broken for home runs but there are a lot of strikeouts as well making for a very boring game.

Fans want excitement and I’m sure a home run can be fun but nothing is more exciting than a triple or even doubles. Fans want to see a player go from first to third or first to home after a big hit.

Edgar was never a really big home run hitter but he didn’t need to be. He hit a lot of doubles but he was most noted for hitting the ball to all areas of the outfield. If more players would use this philosophy there would be far less shifts and a lot more base runners. This takes a lot of discipline and hard work but it sacrifices the home run swing. But it also eliminates a lot of strike outs.

Edgar was the master of this and his swing was a beauty. We all have seen the hit in the American League Division series in extra innings with Joey Cora at second base and Ken Griffey Jr. at first and Edgar Martinez at the plate. I’ve probably seen replays of the play at least 10 times a year since 1995. Edgar slams a double to left field. Joey Cora scores, and Ken Griffey Jr. flies around the bases and beats the throw to the plate. The announcer you hear in the back ground is Dave Niehaus. That play most likely saved baseball in the Pacific Northwest.

Edgar was a real hitter and a big hit in Seattle. He is a role model because he credits his teammates, coaches, Managers and family for his success. He is truly one of a kind.

 

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