Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Baseball gets philosophical. Ok, not really.

Here’s a philosophical question for all of you philosophers out there: If a baseball game is played and nobody sees it, is it still played?

Well, just ask the Seattle Mariners.

Before we get to the M’s and their attendance woes, there are plenty of good stories in this early season of baseball.

For starters, how about Chris Shelton? Yeah, Chris Shelton. Oh, but you may know him better as “Red Pop.” The Detroit Tigers’ slugger (can we dare call him a slugger?) is leading the American League in homeruns with 9 and doing so with a modest salary. Shelton, in just his second full season, is making $365,000, while Alex Rodriguez is making about 70 times what Red Pop is. Really. Shelton, who hit 18 homers last year, is on pace to hit 86 this year, which we think may set some sort of record.

But our homie Red Pop isn’t alone in this category of “Who the fuck is this guy and why is he hitting homeruns?” Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ DH Jonny Gomes also has 9 homeruns and was leading the American League in RBIs through Sunday. Jonny, not to be mistaken for former relief pitcher Wayne Gomes, makes even less money than Shelton. Perhaps the Mariners should consider drafting well instead of throwing a King’s ransom at a tall, skinny dude with bleached hair (Richie Sexson) and some dude who had one good year and it just happened to be his walk year (Adrian Beltre).

Another good story brewing around this early season of baseball also involves the long ball. But this time it was only one home run. And only one man. Mets’ utility player Julio Franco, 196, became the oldest player to hit a Major League home run when he blasted a two-run shot last Thursday. Franco, who some say came to the Mets looking to get nasty with Anna Benson, is holding up pretty well. He’s still in great shape, he has a winning attitude, and we’re sure that he pulls more tail than Pedro Martinez.

We don’t have any confirmation, but we’ve heard rumors that Franco goes way back to the Pre-Historic days. Perhaps he invented the tool. Or modern-day speech. Or at the least wrestled a saber-tooth tiger.

This whole home run thing is kinda cool. The guy is like real old. His baseball card says his date of birth was 5c. BCE — though we’re not sure what that means. But he hit a homer. By the way, we don’t think we could even reach the outfield grass on a fly, let alone hit one over the fence. And we’re in our athletic prime, while Franco, well, isn’t.

We salute you, Mr. Julio Franco. You have given old guys everywhere a wealth of motivation. Thank you.

(Editor's note: Ok, so we used a few jokes in this post that we also used in our original Franco post. Sue us).

Now back to the original question: If a baseball game is played and nobody sees it, is it still played?

The Mariners are probably rooting for that “no” answer. See, if nobody sees it, meaning the game isn’t played under the “no” answer, the M’s would be 3-4 opposed to 7-13.

At Safeco Field, where the average attendance per game has dropped to 162 (really 26,728), the Mariners are 4-9. The crowds have dropped dramatically from 2002 according to The Seattle Times. The attendance this April is down 37.4 percent from April 2002.

The Mariners’ front office is suggesting that the low turnouts can be attributed to poor weather or class being in session. We’ll suggest that the team sucks dick and nobody wants to watch a bunch of players who couldn’t hit the ball with one of those big, plastic, red bats. But, we’re sure the front office has thought this one out much more than we have.

Anyways, the Mariners might want to get their act together if they plan to keep spending big money in the off-season. Hey, a .203 average and 0 homeruns (Beltre’s stats through Sunday) doesn’t come cheap.

But we all know it’s a long season. We may never hear from Chris Shelton again, Julio Franco may star in Jurassic Park 4 (as the lead T-Rex) and the Mariners may sellout Safeco. Ok, that last one probably won’t happen.

This column was published in the University of Washington's The Daily.

In other news: Ron Artest is suspended for today's game against San Antonio for attacking Spurs' fans during Monday's open practice.