BY Steve Rudman 07:04AM 04/21/2011

Water Cooler Cool

The Mariners had a Franklin Gutierrez promotion planned for Friday’s game against Oakland, but it got scotched.

Each Thursday, we check out the weekend sports scene locally and offer more casual sports fans some observations that can get them in and out of conversations without anyone catching on to your, ahem, casualness.

Whether at the water cooler, bus, lunchroom, frat kegger or cocktail party, you can drop in a riposte, bon mot or bit o’ wit to start a conversational conflagration, or put one out. Then walk away.

THURSDAY-SUNDAY

Mariners baseball — Oakland at Seattle, 7:10 p.m., Thursday and Friday; 6:10 p.m., Saturday; 1:10 p.m., Sunday.

Sounders soccer — Sounders at Colorado Rapids, Friday, 6:30 p.m.

When the Mariners announced their 2011 schedule, we quickly circled Friday, April 22, as the can’t-miss game of the year. Why? Not because it’s against the hated Athletics, but because the Mariners designated Friday, April 22 as “Franklin Gutierrez Flyswatter Night.”

Imagine having your own Franklin Gutierrez Flyswatter to place alongside your Edgar Martinez Rubber Duck and Bret Boone Choo Choo. These are the sorts of promotional ephemera that get David Eskenazi (Wayback Machine) utterly agog.

Alas, as we all know, this season has not exactly gone as the Mariners had planned (you may recall they had planned to win a few games, but that fanciful notion already has pretty much been abandoned). One reason (out of several dozen) the Mariners are not winning is because Franklin Gutierrez, the centerpiece of the scheduled April 22 promotion, is not with the team.

Medicos have diagnosed Gutierrez with a “slow digestive tract.” This creepy disorder (anything involving “colon microbes” is creepy in our book) caused Gutierrez all manner of ills in 2010, specifically: After hitting a team-leading .326 in April, Gutierrez never hit above .264 in any month after that. In the second half, he batted just .230. You can probably blame Gutierrez’s “slow digestive tract” for the decline, as well as on the fact that Chone Figgins hit ahead of him. Imagine hitting behind Figgins while also battling colon microbes! It’s a miracle Gutierrez didn’t morph into Mario Mendoza.

Doctors thought they had figured out how to treat Gutierrez. But the disorder re-emerged during spring training, forcing Gutierrez to the disabled list. He had been scheduled to make a minor league rehabilitation assignment last weekend, but the disorder flared again.

Finding themselves at an utter loss to help Gutierrez, the Mariners are essentially punting the center fielder to the Mayo Clinic (we’d hate to get that bill).

Since there is no point in having “Franklin Gutierrez Flyswatter Night” without Franklin Gutierrez, the Mariners have been forced into Plan B. Thus, fans attending Friday night’s game against the A’s will experience the thrill of “Earth Day Magnet Night”. Nikon will give all kids 14 and under a magnet featuring Ichiro and some great tips on what they can do to stay green.

Our stay-green tip: get “slow digestive tract” disorder.

While educational promotions are a good thing, and certainly better than another tired Bobblehead giveaway, we lament the general lack of creativity and humor in modern Major League promotions — even though they work.

We don’t know if the Mariners will resurrect “Franklin Gutierrez Flyswatter Night” once Gutierrez comes off the disabled list. Our guess: they will. The flyswatters are probably in storage somewhere.

Meanwhile, circle these dates: June 18, July 1, July 17 and Sept. 27.

June 18 is “King Felix Knitcap Night”. This is a nice giveaway that has a practical application: You can yank it down over your eyes if you see anyone in the Mariner bullpen, especially Chris Ray (16.88 ERA), warming up.

July 1 is “Turn Back the Clock — ’80s Night.” This might be the most timely promotion of the year since the 2011 Mariners are playing like they are still stuck in the ’80s, when the club embarked on the longest crawl (15 years) to a .500 record in the history of American professional sports.

July 17 is “Sonics Celebration Night”. We’re asking — no, insisting — that Howard Schultz volunteer to throw out the ceremonial first pitch and take the verbal public thumping he still so richly deserves.

Sept. 27 is “Oktoberfest”, an apt promotion  during which fans can drink away the previous six months.

The Rotation’s weekly schedule:

  • Monday: That Was The Week That Was — A snarky, day-by-day review of the week just ended.
  • Tuesday: Wayback Machine — Sports historian David Eskenazi’s deep dive into local sports history, replete with photo eye candy.
  • Wednesday: Nobody Asks But Us — We ask, and answer, fun and quirky questions nobody else is asking.
  • Thursday: Water Cooler Cool – Art Thiel takes on the weekend for the benefit of the more casual fan.
  • Friday: Top 5 List — The alpha and omega of Northwest sports, at least as far as we’re concerned.



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