Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I've Seen Worse---But Not Lately!

by The Last Hollywood Star

It's not much comfort to me as a lifelong Pirate fan to recall that I have seen worse major league baseball than the current edition of the Buccos.

I lived in Seattle during the Mariners' first years 1977-1986 and the team was more painful to watch. During that ten year period the M's average winning percentage was about .400

The M's had some good players like Leon Roberts and Richie Zisk. In 1982, Hall of Famer Gaylor Perry had a cup of coffee with the Mariners. Perry's stop over was long enough for him to record his 300th career victory. I still have my ticket stub.

Most Mariner players however were rejects with limited skills. A good example is one-time Bucco Mario Mendoza whose batting ineptitude created the term "Mendoza Line," a reference to hitting at least .200

The M's bumbling play drove another Hall of Famer, manager Dick Williams, out of baseball. After managing the team in 1986, 1987 and half a season in 1988, Williams left baseball for good.

A more insurmountable problem for Seattle baseball fans than the Mariners' poor play was the team's venue, the awful Kingdom.

On beautiful Pacific Northwest summer evenings, when the sun didn't set until 10:00 PM, a fan's choice was to enjoy the magnificence of Puget Sound, the view of Mt. Rainer or pay to enter the gloomy, empty Kingdom to watch the M's lose again.

For most of the Mariners' first 18 years, their poor play (they didn't have a winning season until 1991) combined with the Kingdome's design, led to poor attendance. Most games I saw had less than 5,000 people.

At one point the Mariners covered "the Tombs" right-center field seats in the upper decks in to make the stadium feel "less empty". Additionally, the Kingdome's acoustics created problems for stadium announcers who had to deal with significant echo issues.

At least Pirate fans don't have to worry about ambiance when they go to PNC Park. While the Kingdom was the dreariest place I have ever watched baseball (with Three Rivers Stadium not far behind), PNC is at the other end of spectrum. Despite the Pirates' struggles, a game at PNC is always a good way to spend time.

No comments: