Eric Thames, and What Could Have Been

A long time ago, the Mariners traded reliever Steve Delabar to the Blue Jays in exchange for Eric Thames. It’s a pretty common format of a trade, and something Jack Zduriencik has done consistently during his tenure with the Mariners (a la Logan Morrison for Carter Capps). Okay, it wasn’t that long ago, it was 2012. Steve Delabar was a pretty solid reliever that had problems with gopher ball, and Thames was a young outfielder who hit with some pop. At the time, the Mariners had already traded Ichiro, Guti couldn’t stay healthy, and the combination of outfielders they had weren’t very good. In fact, they were pretty bad! That group included the likes of Mike Carp, Carlos Peguero, Trayvon Robinson, Casper Wells, and Michael Saunders. Gross.

The Mariners turned around almost a year later and dealt Thames for an intriguing non-prospect that went by the name of Ty Kelly. Ty Kelly was considered a non-prospect due to his lack of a position, as well as his lack of power. His on-base percentage was consistently higher than, or close to, his slugging percentage. Ty Kelly never got a chance to try to make an impact with the big league club and was traded this past fall in exchange for Sam Gaviglio to bolster the Mariners’ lack of starting pitcher depth. So here we are.

So what exactly is so interesting about Eric Thames? He’s not even on a big league club. Well, he did a couple of incredible things during his short time with the Mariners. Probably the most important thing, was make this nice catch on the very first hitter of the game to rob Sam Fuld of an extra base hit. He ranged back to the warning track and kept his eye on the ball despite the ball transferring from the bright sunlight that day to the shade. Cool, you say. He made a nice catch. What gives? Well, that game was pretty important to Felix Hernandez and the Seattle Mariners franchise. It was his first career perfect game.

Eric Thames’ running grab
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The second thing Eric Thames did (and my personal favorite) was hit a walk-off single off of Fernando Rodney (yes, you read that right) that kicked off a home winning streak. He got just enough of it to get the ball over a leaping Sean Rodriguez.

Following that hit was one of the best post-game interviews I have ever had the pleasure of watching. An exasperated Eric Thames met Jen Mueller outside of the home dugout for a post-game interview. My friends and I just happened to be watching the game, and boy were we in for a treat.

Included in the post-game interview: A John Jaso pie to the face, and the very personable Eric Thames, who couldn’t hear himself speak. Watch for yourselves.

Eric Thames walkoff post-game interview

Eric Thames is now playing for the NC Dinos (and apparently is even bigger), and he is absolutely destroying the ball. Thames may have not panned out with the Mariners, but he is definitely one of the more interesting players I’ve ever had the opportunity to watch and read about. Eric Thames was (and still is) huge. His forearms are python-like, and at one point he stood at 6’1”, 230 pounds (with an absurd 3% body fat). Not the typical physique of a baseball player to say the least. In an article by Geoff Baker, Thames said he found out that because of his muscular build it was affecting him as a hitter. Thames had quite literally gotten too big. Thames shifted his routine to more high rep, low weights and avoided his chest and biceps more than usual. As you know, it ultimately was not enough to earn a gig with the Mariners. However, I will always remember Eric Thames for his catch in Felix’s perfect game, his unforgettable post-game interview, and for his illustrious facial hair.

“We don’t quit . . . Go Mariners!”

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