If you’ve watched the playoffs you’ve probably seen the State Farm insurance commercial featuring Kerry Wood pulling Andre Dawson out of the ivy at Wrigley Field.
It’s been playing on a non-stop loop all month, although it’s amusing enough that the baseball-watching world hasn’t completely turned against it and Dawson is loving the reaction.
“It’s been off the charts,” Dawson told Mike Bernardino of the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “Everywhere I go, people are saying, ‘Hey, I saw the commercial. Good job.’ Now I’ve got more friends than I can imagine.”
Bernardino has the details on how the commercial was shot:
Turns out there was no green-screen technology required to make the “Hawk” look like he’d been stuck in the famed ivy all these years. All it took was a rectangular table, some makeup-room magic and a little extra ivy to cover up a door in the right-field wall. The production crew opened the now-hidden door and had Dawson, 58, lie Superman-style on the sheet-covered table. Each time Wood reached in, Dawson would hand him a different item.
It’s nowhere near the worst constantly running commercial of the postseason and if nothing else seeing Wood and Dawson a million times beats “Frank TV.”
To the surprise of, well, very few, the Mariners didn’t make the cut for the postseason this year. While they threw their hats in the ring for a wild card berth, their pitching staff just couldn’t stay healthy, from the handful of pitchers who contracted season-ending injuries in spring training to Felix Hernandez‘s shoulder bursitis to structural damage in Hisashi Iwakuma‘s right shoulder. Left-hander James Paxton missed 79 days with a lingering head cold, strained left forearm and pectoral strain. Heading into the 2018 season, the lefty told MLB.com’s Greg Johns that he plans to “nerd out big-time” in order to prepare for a healthy, consistent run with the club.
So far, Johns reports, that entails a new diet and workout program, hot yoga sessions and blood testing. “I just think there’s more I can do,” Paxton said. “I haven’t done the blood testing before. Finding out if there’s something I don’t know about myself. It’s just about learning and trying to find what works for me.”
When healthy, the 28-year-old southpaw was lights-out for the Mariners. He helped stabilize the front end of the rotation with a 12-5 record in 24 starts and supplemented his efforts with a 2.98 ERA, 2.4 BB/9 and 10.3 SO/9 through 136 innings. Despite taking multiple trips to the disabled list, he built up 4.6 fWAR — the most wins above replacement he’s compiled in any season of his career to date. Had he not been felled by a pectoral injury in mid-August — one that came with a five-week trip to the disabled list — the club might have been been able to make a bigger push for the playoffs.
Of course, even if Paxton manages to stay healthy next season, the Mariners still have the rest of the rotation to worry about. They cycled through 17 starters in 2017 and tied the 2014 Rangers with 40 total pitchers over the course of the season. Per GM Jerry Dipoto, their top four starters (Paxton, Hernandez, Iwakuma, and Tommy John candidate Drew Smyly) only contributed 17% of total innings pitched, just a tad below the 40% average. Finding adequate big league arms and compensating for injured aces (both current and former) will be tough. Still, getting a healthy, dominant Paxton back on the mound for 30+ starts would be a huge get for the team — whether or not the postseason is in their future next year.