"Just when you thought the current state of Seattle sports couldn't get any more depressing..." -Kevin Cacabelos
I'm sure some of you so called "Mariner fans" out there are rejoicing over the end of a spectacular era of Seattle baseball, but not me, for I see this man for what he did, not what he failed to do.
Born William Paul Bloomquist on November 27, 1977 in the great city of Bremerton, Washington (according to Wikipedia), "Willie" discovered his love for baseball after taking a run with the mascot Rhubarb before the 5th inning at a Tacoma Rainiers game (this may or may not be true).
His career with the Mariners began at the end of the 2002 season. He instantly became a hit with the fans after compiling a .455 batting average and a godlike .576 slugging % in the 33 at-bats he had that year.
He failed to slow down for the remaining 6 seasons he spent with the M's, resulting in 6 career home runs, 98 RBIs and 8 times being hit by the pitcher.
Willie was unfortunately misunderstood. People criticized him for his lack of power/ability to get past first base. Well you might as well criticize Ichiro for the same thing, because these two phenoms rely on their olympic-caliber running ability to get themselves around (71 career SBs, over 3x as many as 3 time all-star Jose Vidro).
Some also said that he was taking up valuable space on the roster that could have been used for developing young talent, but we all know that there is no validity to that statement!
Bloomquist however had one tragic flaw. His ego began to grow at an uncontrollable rate up until one cloudy April day when his once immaculate reputation was forever tarnished. What was to be a fun day clammin' with the fellas ended up being a blatant federal offense.
Not even Mariner utility players are above the law apparently, as he was slapped with a $50 fine for clamming an unprecedented 50 clams (the limit is 15). What made him do it, might you ask? Perhaps he miscounted, perhaps he saw the law as an infringement of his civil liberties, but as for right now it may possibly be one of the greatest mysteries of the post-mesozoic era.
In my opinion, it was an honest and forgivable mistake that was taken way out of proportion by the liberal "gotcha" media.
So what happens now? The Mariners will have to deal with the loss of a beloved local hero, not long after saying goodbye to the likes of Brad Wilkerson, Richie Sexson, Jose Vidro and any hopes of winning 70 games this season.
Willie is now looking at a cool $3,000,000 over the next 2 years. Can he live up to the unrealistic expectations of the notoriously harsh and unforgiving Kansas City fanbase? Maybe. Either way I wish him the best.
And in all honesty, he was a good guy and a good player that was put into some roles that weren't right for him. Don't blame him, blame the Mariners front office. I personally will shed a tear or two every time I look onto the field and not see good ol' number 16.
On the bright side, it is only a matter of years until we see that number hung from the rafters in the history-drenched confines of Safeco Field.
Thanks for the memories.
Fun Wikipedia Fact: The Nirvana song "In Bloom" (a personal Rock Band fave of mine) was played before Willie's at-bats. Get it (took me at least a half hour)?