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About the Team

-Our Favorite Rainier was 2-3 with two walks. Adam Jones' biggest issue was his plate discipline. So far this year he leads the Rainiers with six walks and his line so far this year is a sparkling .389/.477/1.088. He leads this team in all three categories.

-Wladimir Balentien has some serious fan-favorite potential. He plays the game with flair, never gets cheated at the plate, and his homer on Friday night was a cannon shot.

-Mike Morse is an adventure on defense, no matter where he plays. Last night we saw him break the wrong direction on a line drive and shot-put a couple throws to first.

-Bryan Lahair looks helpless against lefties. His line (0-7, 4K) sure seems to prove that. He did seem a bit more nimble around the bag though.

-Jeff Clement has an odd stance. He hold his bat low and close to his chest, and pinches his knees together before he takes a step. Looks odd, and seems to have too many moving parts. He did hit the ball hard, so it seems to work.

-Before his epic three-run error in the tenth, I was really impressed with Rob Johnson's defense. He blocks the plate well and has a quick release. I don't know if he'll hit though. Reminds me a bit of Dan Wilson, but with a more standard catcher size.

-Again, before the train wreck 10th inning, Oswaldo Navarro can really pick it. He'll never be more than your average good-hit, no-field backup middle infielder.

-Odd to see Gookie Dawkins playing for the Rainiers. When Ken Griffey Jr. was traded to the Reds, the Mariners demanded a middle infield prospect back from Cincinnati. The options were Pokey Reese (on the M's DL all season two years ago), Dawkins and Antonio Perez (traded for Randy Winn). Funny how that worked out.

-We really like Jeremy Reed, but... We dunno, it just isn't working.

About the Experience

-Cheney Stadium does look better. The paint was really needed, and the new wrought-iron fence (which I neglected to mention after the Preseason Party) improves the look of the outside of the stadium. Reading the Tribune's story on the new ownership group, one gets the feeling that the former owners neglected the team while it was up for sale.

-Rained all day, up until just about scheduled first pitch. We were not expecting the game to be played, quite frankly. The rains stopped and it went off just a few minutes late.

-Great Odin's Raven did it get cold though. Really cold. Like the Official Wife was shivering and slowly turning blue cold.

-Despite all that, it wasn't a bad crowd. About 2/3 full and about half of those stayed through the 10th.

-We skipped the fireworks. Again, REALLY cold.

-Not all the kinks were worked out. We were denied a superdog due to shortages at the main concession stand. Ordered the special fries and were given the regular ones. Wife's popcorn was cold and soggy. Not at all a good experience.

-Bought my first piece of Rainiers junk – the awesome road cap – and that transaction went pretty smoothly, despite the guy in front of me who did three separate transactions so his little ones could pay with their own money. Dude... do that at the grocery store or something, not at a ball game.

-The Rainiers staff – all with matching red jackets – were uniformly friendly and helpful. The security guys in yellow, not so much.

-Rhubarb is unspeakably horrible up close. But much more so when dressed in drag. Nightmares for life.

It isn't every night you see a professional baseball team self-destruct in a matter of moments, but the fans that braved the elements at the Rainiers' home opener certainly did. With the rain coming down before the game, most wondered if the opener would be played at all. Certainly many will wish it hadn't been. After crack performances by starter Justin Lehr and reliever Eric O'Flaherty, the team betrayed closer Jon Huber with three errors in the 10th inning.

Three errors in one inning? In the tenth inning, no less? Did we really witness this? We did, and despite the rain, despite the cold and despite the astonishment of watching the Rainier offense misfire and the Rainier defense throw the game away, we enjoyed ourselves.

Thoughts, feelings and perhaps an ill-informed rant tomorrow. Maybe even some pictures if they came out.

Home Opener Today!

The Rainiers open the home season tonight, starting a four-game series against the Sacramento River Cats. Tickets are still available, so if you aren't going - for the love of Vin Scully, why wouldn't you be - you still have a chance.

And don't come to us about weather. We will be there, and we have convinced the Official Wife and the Official Parents of No Rhubarb! to attend with us. Now, the odds are staggering that the parents will stay the whole game, but we certainly will.

Justin Lehr (NR, 7.20 ERA) for the Rainiers, Colby Lewis (0-1, 5.40) for Sacramento. First pitch at 7:05, fireworks after the game. Come on, all the cool kids go to minor-league baseball games. You should too.

As should be expected from the title of this little blog, we are not fans of Rhubarb, the demon goat-creature masquerading as the Rainiers’ mascot. We do admit to enjoying finding mascots that are more soul-chillingly terrifying than Rhubarb. We may never find anything that tops last week’s entry, the warped vision of horror that is Rusty. But we will try. Oh, will we try.

Today, we stay local. Spokane, our neighbors in the Inland Northwest, has a baseball history that mirrors that of Tacoma. They became a PCL franchise the same year as Tacoma. Avista Stadium was built using the same diagrams used as Cheney Stadium. The PCL Indians left Spokane, and moved to Las Vegas. Spokane – slightly larger than Tacoma and baseball crazed – was left with a short-season Class A team.

So, take that Spokane.

But we digress. Spokane does outdo the Rainiers in one key area, that of mascot horror. The Indians feature Otto, the Spokaneasaurus.

As we warned the last time, this is not for the faint of heart.

Witness: the Spokaneasaurus

The modern-day Pacific Coast League is a massive enterprise consisting of 16 teams stretching from Tacoma and Portland in the Pacific Northwest to New Orleans of the deep south. These are the teams our hometown nine will face throughout the long season. You must know the enemy!

The Team: Fresno Grizzlies

The Location: Fresno, California

The MLB Affiliation: San Fransisco Giants

The Website:

The Stadium: Chukchansi Park. Designed by the legendary architecture firm HOK, this jewel of a ballpark was built in 2002, anchoring the rehabilitation of downtown Fresno.

The History: Fresno fielded a team in 1907, the Raisin Eaters (why, oh why didn't they bring back that name?), but that team moved to Sacramento the following season. Between 1908 and 1998, the city supported a variety of California League teams. The PCL returned when the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks forced the Giants' AAA team from Phoenix. The Phoenix Firebirds dropped their affiliation with San Francisco, and moved to Tucson to become the Sidewinders. The existing Tuscon Toros moved to Fresno to become the Grizzlies.

The Prospects: Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson

The modern-day Pacific Coast League is a massive enterprise consisting of 16 teams stretching from Tacoma and Portland in the Pacific Northwest to New Orleans of the deep south. These are the teams our hometown nine will face throughout the long season. You must know the enemy!

The Team: Sacramento River Cats

The Location: Sacramento, California

The MLB Affiliation: Oakland Athletics

The Website:

The Stadium: Raley Field. Built in 2000, just minutes away from Old Sacramento and the Sacramento River. Considered a lovely, thoroughly modern ballpark that generates huge crowds during the long, hot California summer.

The History: The city of Sacramento was one of the original PCL teams in 1903, but lost the Solons and Senators several times. This most recent incarnation was the Vancouver Canadians, but moved to California's capital in 2000, starting an exodus of Canadian teams.

The Prospects: Daric Barton, Kurt Suzuki

Yeah, that Lincecum guy. He's pretty good. Seven innings, four hits, nine strikeouts. Yeah... not so bad. Credit to Jorge Campillo, he pitched a strong game as well, giving up two in the first, then settling in. The Rainiers will take seven innings and two runs every game, and win most of 'em.

The Home Opener is tomorrow. We'll be there. You should be too.

Box Score

It’s get-away day in Fresno tonight, as the Rainiers and the Grizzlies wrap-up a four-game series, and then Tacoma heads home.

But that isn’t the big deal tonight. The Big Deal (yes, he deserves the caps) is Tim Lincecum. Last year’s Golden Spikes winner, the best prospect in the Giant system, at worst one of the top 20 prospects in all the minors. He throws in the upper-90s, with a hammer curve and a developing change. He won’t be in Fresno very long; barring disaster he’ll see San Francisco by the All-Star break. He is a stiff challenge for the hometown nine.

You might ask how such a heralded prospect lasted until the 11th pick in the draft, being bypassed by ten teams, including his hometown Seattle Mainers. Lincecum is not perfect. He’s a smallish (6-0, 170#) righthander in a sport that prizes horses like Felix Hernandez. Lincecum also has a high stress motion that actually has him facing away from the mound. Most of all, his issue was innings; he was worked hard by the Huskies, working over 300 innings in his career there. Many scouts feel he’s a blow-out waiting to happen.

Don’t miss this one. Jorge Campillo goes for the Rainiers.

We are a lousy blog. Completely missed that today’s Rainier - Grizzly game was at noon and not seven. We seem to have missed a good one, too. The Rainiers win in 13 innings, with Our Favorite Rainier hitting a double and a triple.

Damn, sorry we missed that.

We didn’t miss - and you shouldn’t have either, if you call yourself a baseball fan - the Red Sox and Mariners, with (former Rainier) Felix Hernandez pitching a complete-game shutout one-hitter. Spoiling Dice-K’s Boston debut to boot.

Tomorrow, the series wraps up with Fresno, and then we have Opening Day in Tacoma.

A hopefully on-going history of Tacoma, the Rainiers and the PCL in general. Mostly cribbed from Wikipedia, Baseball Reference, and various official sites. Part one available here.

The Tacoma Tigers of the Pacific National League had folded, the league nearly collapsed underneath them, and the South Puget Sound was without professional baseball yet again. The California League had become the Pacific Coast League, and a 50-year run as the dominant baseball entity in the western United States had begun. Despite the victory over the PNL, all was not perfect for the PCL. Despite finishing second in 1903, the Sacramento Solons were plagued by low attendance. The team was moved to Tacoma in 1904, and the Tigers were alive again.

The 1904 season was a legendary one. The Tigers finished with an astonishing (both for the number of wins and the total number of games) record of 130-94. They went on to defeat the Los Angeles Angels in 10 games (one finished in a tie) to win the PCL Championship. In 1905, the team's moniker changed to the Wanderers, and that is certainly what they did. After the mid-season point – due to decreasing attendance – the franchise was shifted... back to Sacramento. In a truly bizarre series of events, the Wanderers played the second half of the season in Sacramento, but kept the Tacoma Wanderers name. To make matters even weirder, at the conclusion of the 1905 season the franchise would move to Fresno, play one season as the Fresno Raisin Eaters (one of the great nicknames), then moved – you guessed it – back to Sacramento. The PCL would be Tacoma-free for the next 55 years.

Well, at least the Rainiers are predictable. Lose two, win two, lose two. This game was a helluva lot more exciting than the last. Justin Knoedler hit a walk-off home run in the 11th to win for Fresno.

Damn... This way is much tougher than 16-1.

It can't possibly be any worse than last night. Or the Mariner debacle of earlier today. Cha Baek takes the mound for the Rainiers against righthander Matt Palmer. Baek was wild on Opening Night, and considering the mess yesterday and losing Jake Woods to the M's today, the R's need a good start.

As always, 7:05 on KHHO or GameDay Audio

Ummm...yeah, nevermind.

The Rainiers are in the Central Valley of California, for four against the Grizzlies. Tonight, AAAA pitcher Matt Kinney for the Grizzlies against reclamation project Jim Parque. This series is a bit of a family reunion for the Rainiers; three former Rainiers and former manager Dan Rohn are all on the Grizzlies squad

Review/Preview #1

The Week That Was: The Rainiers opened the season with four in Sacramento, splitting the series. Tacoma dropped the first two games due to an imploding bullpen, but turned it around and took the last two games. At 2-2, the Rainiers are in second in the PCL Pacific North division, one game behind the Salt Lake Bees

The Week Upcoming: The Rainiers finish of the opening road trip with four in Fresno against the Grizzlies. Then it's home to Cheney Stadium for the home opener and four more against Sacramento.

The Opponent: The Fresno Grizzlies, Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. The Grizzlies play at the lovely (and damn near unpronounceable) Chukchansi Park. The Grizzlies are a veteran club with few real prospects and several recent Rainiers like Justin Leone and Scott Atchison. The Grizzlies do feature the best prospect in the Giants system and one of the better prospects in the minor leagues: pitcher Tim Lincecum. Lincecum, a former Washington Husky and winner of the Golden Spikes award, is a hard-throwing, undersized righthander with a funky delivery.

A hopefully on-going history of Tacoma, the Rainiers and the PCL in general. Mostly cribbed from Wikipedia, Baseball Reference, and various official sites.

The history of Tacoma professional baseball is as long as it possibly can be. The first pro team in Tacoma was part of the very fist professional league in the Pacific Northwest; the aptly-named Pacific Northwest League, founded in 1890. The league consisted of only four teams: Seattle Hustlers, Tacoma Daisies, Spokane Babies and Portland Webfeet. No word on whether or not there was an additional prize for the oddest name. If there was, Spokane most certainly won, as their alternate name was the “Bunchgrassers”. The PNWL lasted only two-and-a-half seasons, folding during the 1892 season, as tremors from what would become known as the Panic of 1893 killed the league. The league was briefly resurrected in 1896, with the Tacoma entry called both – at various times – the Colts and the Rabbits. Again, the league folded at mid-season.

Professional baseball returned in 1901, with yet another version of the Pacific Northwest League, this time classified as a Class B minor league. This time the Tacoma team was called the Tigers, a name that would continue to appear and reappear over the next century. This version, included the original four plus teams in Helena and Butte, Montana. The new PNWL faced a rival, as the California League placed teams in Seattle and Portland, changing it's name to the Pacific Coast League. The PNWL retaliated, placing teams in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and renamed itself the Pacific National League. The PCL and PNL would go head-to-head in a battle for survival.

It was a battle the Pacific National League had little chance to win. While both leagues had teams in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle, the PNL was hamstrung by the more distant cities like Spokane and Boise. Further complicating matters was the Portland franchise moving to Salt Lake City in July. The PNL staggered, and the Tacoma Tigers folded in August. The Pacific National League finished as a four-team league based in the Mountain West, folding in 1905. The Pacific Coast League was the future.

R's Win! R's Win!

The Rainiers beat the hated River Cats 4-2, and Tacoma fans dance on the skulls of their enemies! Jorge Campillo gets the win in his first Tacoma start since 2005 and his major elbow surgery. Jeff Clement hit a 2-run homer in the sixth - his first of the year- to put the Rainiers up for good. Jon Huber gets the save.

The hometown nine win, and all is good with the world.

Oh, and Our Favorite Rainier? 3-4 with an RBI, putting his line for the year at .500/.643/.800. Fun with small sample size theater.

Eagle-eyed readers might also see a new addition to the sidebar. I’ve added a Google aggregator, set up for news about our Rainiers and the PCL in general.

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