Game 162, Athletics at Mariners
Anthony Vasquez vs. Gio Gonzalez, 7:10pm
The final game of the season comes on a day with two great playoff races in the balance. The M’s and A’s aren’t involved, so this was always doomed to irrelevance, but somehow the contrast between David Price pitching for the Rays playoff life and Anthony Vasquez trying to avoid ending the year with more HRs than strikeouts just feels…magnified.
This season hasn’t been what any of us wanted. Even before the year began, we had to deal with the passing of Dave Niehaus. We hoped for a bounce-back from Milton Bradley, but watched a recently-great hitter descend into madness. We watched Franklin Gutierrez shuttle from doctor to doctor and diagnosis to diagnosis before coming back and attempting to major league pitching. We saw Justin Smoak struggle with a bruised hand, a broken jaw and heartbreak. We’re now dealing with a new acquisition battles an unknown neurological issue affecting his balance and sight. We no longer had to wonder what an “old” Ichiro would look like. I said earlier in the year that this was better, somehow, than the experience of watching the 2010 team – that the lack of expectations and the rookies made it a lesser evil than watching the 2010 team slowly disintegrate. I still believe that, but I’ve watched the Rangers move up another level, I’ve seen the Angels compete after their big off-season acquisition became one of the most expensive replacement level players ever. And then I tune in to watch Adam Kennedy DH against Gio Gonzalez, and well, that #3 pick in next year’s draft better be awesome. I will miss watching the M’s, I will look forward to 2012, but I will not miss this season.
The final line-up of 2011:
2: Robinson (CF)
4: Smoak (1B)
5: Carp (LF)
6: Kennedy (“DH”)
8: Seager (SS)