Thursday, August 23, 2012

Sodo Mojo Trumps Yankee Juju

At 6 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, Aug. 15, as El Dookie was signing books and slamming down Pineda coladas with the literati at the Colgate Inn, Felix Hernandez was mowing down 27 consecutive Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field in Seattle. The game the Yankees gained on the Rays that day could turn out to be big for the Bombers, but it’s likely the last gift King Felix ever gives them (unless sending A-Rod to the DL still counts). In the aftermath of his perfect game, the dream of Felix coming to the Yankees in a trade or free agency is all but dead. 
Felix deals in front of his "King's Court."

Just as in the 1995 AL Division Series, Sodo Mojo trumps Yankee juju. The adulation heaped upon Felix by Mariners management, his teammates and Seattle fans since the perfecto has quashed any possibility of dealing him before his current contract expires (two more seasons, about $20 million per). And everything the King has said in every interview and press conference since that game has been positive (and seemed genuine) about staying in Seattle, making a contract extension this winter a real possibility. Even before 40,000 fans showed up for Felix’s next start (for free yellow T-shirts and K cards commemorating the perfect game), Seattle sports radio host (and Syracuse University alum) Mitch Levy got Felix to "promise" on the air that he'd stay. "You guys will be happy, I'm not going nowhere," Felix said, and then repeated, "Yeah, I promise. I'm not going nowhere."
The only questions about an extension are how long and how much. With Ichiro’s $18 million per season off the books, a $100 million Felix deal won’t hurt the M’s so much. The Mariners are starting to turn things around (an AL-best 25-13 since the All-Star break, 20-9 in the post-Ichiro era) with low-salaried young players, so GM JayZee (Jack Zduriencik) has flexibility with his payroll.
Montero: Loves Pineda coladas and walks in the rain..
One of the keys to the Mariners future is, of course, Jesus Montero, who arrived in the trade for the ill-fated Michael Pineda. Montero’s 438-foot, three-run homer in the seventh inning of the Felix lovefest broke a 2-1 game wide open for the King. Montero told The Seattle Times that he hit the ball so hard that he initially lost sight of it in the lights. "I was surprised because the ball took off so quick,'' he said. "I said, 'Where's the ball?' And the ball was in the stands. That's crazy.'' The ball, which bounced off the out-of-town scoreboard above the Mariners bullpen, left Montero's bat at 113 miles per hour, according to the ESPN Home Run Tracker, the fastest off the bat of any of Montero’s 17 major league homers. And it came off a right-handed pitcher, too. He’s just 23, and he gets better all the time.
There is one bit of good news for el Dookie and company: After winning eight in a row and 15 of 16 games at home, the Mariners have passed the Boston Red Sox in the AL wild card race and have a three-game set with them at the Safe starting Labor Day.

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