The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Eric Umphrey
The Times 

Major League Baseball is back

Thoughts on the first weekend


Courtesy Photo

Signed Austin Nola card from Walla Walla Mariners Community Care Tour in Walla Walla last fall.

Thoughts on the first weekend

Major League Baseball is back, but it looks and sounds different this year. Watching broadcasts with no fans in the stands or with cardboard cutouts is odd. Without the sounds of the live crowd, I've already been tricked into believing that a couple of routine fly outs were going to be home runs based on how loud the ball sounded coming off of the bat. Instead of chatty fans near the broadcast booth, you can hear players in the dugout now.

The Mariners are running a promotion where you can send them a photo of a person and $30, and they will put a cardboard cutout of the person in a seat. Also, if your cutout catches (gets hit by) a ball, they will mail the baseball to you. On the app, you can cheer for your favorite team, and they will mix that into the crowd sounds that they pump into the stadium.

The schedule is a little different this year, and the Mariners will play each team in their division ten times for a total of forty games. The other twenty games in this years' sixty game schedule will be against the National League West in an attempt to limit travel distance. So be prepared for series against the Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks, Rockies, and Giants. Other changes include a league-wide designated hitter and extra-inning games will start with a runner on 2nd base. The playoffs this year will consist of eight teams from each league. The division winners and second place teams in each division qualify plus the next two teams with the best record after that.

Austin Nola has taken over the starting catching duties after Tom Murphy was sidelined with an injury to start the season. He has had at-bats in every game so far this season. Kyle Seager is now in his tenth season with the Mariners and picked up his 200th home run, which puts him fourth on the Mariners all-time list. He also moved into fourth place on the Mariners all-time list in runs batted in. Kyle Lewis is off to a great start with two home runs in four games played. Having just turned twenty-five this July, we could be seeing a breakout season for him.

This weekend the Mariners started on the road against the Houston Astros. They managed to go 1-3 in Houston, which isn't bad considering the starting pitching they were facing and that they went 1-19 against Houston last season. On Sunday, it was reported that Justin Verlander had an elbow injury, and it is unknown when he will return. Verlander's injury coupled with the loss of free agent Gerrit Cole to the Yankees should make the American League West more competitive this year. Hopefully, Major League Baseball can make it through the sixty-game schedule without having to shut down.


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