Minimalism: Mariners; maximalism: Seattle Storm

While Mariners finally win with small ball reduced to minimalism, the Seattle Storm are using maximalism to clobber opponents.
While Mariners finally win with small ball reduced to minimalism, the Seattle Storm are using maximalism to clobber opponents.

This is world soccer month, of course, so it wasn't surprising that the winning score Sunday (June 20) was 1-nil.

But the 1-zip finish was the result of the Seattle Mariners game against Cincinnati, the M's sweeping the three-game set with the Reds by playing what has become small ball reduced to what art critics might call "minimalism." Sunday's "offense" consisted of three singles, a walk and a sacrifice fly, the latter a fourth-inning Franklin Gutierrez air ball to center that scored Chone Figgins from third.

Minimalism? Seattle starters during the Cincy series had two complete games and two shutouts, with only Felix Hernandez (working Saturday) yielding a run. The club has won four straight while scoring just nine times. The M's could've had the four W's with six runs but Michael Saunders padded the tally for Hernandez Saturday with what proved to be an unneeded three-run dinger.

Oddly, the more the M's do with less, the better the attendance. The three with the Reds, aided by fan-favorite promotions, drew more than 100,000 to Safeco Field. Maybe fans enjoy the brevity of M's games, which averaged just 2 hours 26 minutes during the weekend.

In any case, the less-is-more approach seems to be a winner for the franchise. Given the quality of its starting pitching, maybe the club will win another three against the Cubs starting Tuesday — maybe even convince Chicago field boss Lou Piniella of the efficacy of playing simple baseball and avoiding the on-field excesses the former M's manager has demonstrated.

Across town: It requires little time, effort or investment to see Seattle's best professional sports franchise perform live. In fact, it's even easier seeing the leading WNBA team than it was last season, when the Storm averaged 7,874 customers per home game.

Sunday, on the final night of spring, a body could park in Lower Queen Anne, meander over to KeyArena and grab an adequate ducat to see the Storm troupers hand San Antonio an 82-61 loss. Despite leading the league with a record of 11-2, the Storm was averaging just 7,614 coming into a father-daughter-night promotion. The game drew 8,086 Storm-trackers.

The win leaves the Storm well above the other five teams in the division, with second-place Phoenix at 5-7. Despite the 2010 success, though, the game remains something of a secret to most of the region's thousands of ardent basketball fans.

Those vaguely curious about women's basketball ought to at least check the ticket-price structure for Storm games. While one hesitates to characterize any major-sport game tickets as "affordable," it's true that WNBA tickets are at least less unaffordable than what you pay for other pro-sports games.

In any case, if the M's are winning with minimalism, the Storm and its front-line stars are doing it with the "maximalism" exhibited by big wins. Not many basketball teams, that is, have personnel who call a 21-point blowout a sluggish effort.

And, wow, 82 points. Imagine how much soccer and Mariners you'd have to watch to see that many tallies.


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