Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Baseball Players Have Lives Too  

Peter White has one of the best written Mariner blogs at Mariner Musings and today has begun to identify the 10 worst Mariner seasons of all time.

What struck me is that at #7, he had Dan Meyer's 1978 season. Dan Meyer is one of the reasons I am a Mariner fan today. I moved to Redmond, WA in the Summer of 1976, and by 1977, I was in childhood hero-worship heaven as I discovered that the neighborhood I lived in housed not only Jim Zorn (he had the coolest car - a silver 280Z with the Seahawks logo down the side where the "280Z" used to be), but a young 1B from Detroit named Dan Meyer. I have memories from that first year going over to his house, and hearing him tell stories about his playing days with the Tigers, and what Rupert Jones (RUUUUPPPE) was really like.

His wife was beautiful and was probably my first crush. And they had an adorable son about the same age as my little brother. Life was good in 1977 for Dan Meyer. He hit 22 HRs and drove in 90 runs, batting .273 in 159 games. The three years prior he hit a combined 13 HRs in 235 games.

But, in 1978, the wheels came off of Dan Meyer's life in Redmond and on the Mariners. Dan got injured and seemed more distant (to me at least, like I would know as a 9 year old). I don't know all the details, nor would I publish them if I did, but suffice to say, there was a separation and divorce, and while he is away there was a break-in incident at their home.

I remembered that Dan had a bad year, and that after he moved away, and with his daughter and son still living nearby, I stopped rooting for him as much. Its only from looking at these stats again that I realize how bad of a year he had at the plate. I'm guessing that a 25-year-old going through all these horrible events in his life, might let that affect him on the playing field.

Just something to remember when you are using statistics to analyze a players tendencies. They are real people with real lives outside baseball. And what happens there can affect the player and the team. So don't completely dismiss the Mariners when they look strongly at a person's character and team chemistry, and maybe have a penchant for more mature players. There's a reason the M's have been one of the winningest teams in all of baseball for the past 9 years.

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