- Just signed up for a chance to win a holiday gift from the #SecretOriole! atmlb.com/1gayFFh via @Orioles 2 hours ago
- Just signed up for a chance to win a holiday gift from the #MarinersGift! atmlb.com/1gayFFh via @Mariners 2 hours ago
- @Gray808 Yeah, but Walmart isn't marketing to you. haha 3 hours ago
- @J_Alan_Helscher Yes. yes it is. I'm such a sucker. 20 hours ago
- I can't stop checking the Weather Whiskers app. Dammit. 21 hours ago
Pushing a Giant Baseball Up a Hill and Watching It Roll Back Down Since 2008
December 8, 2013Posted by on
The past few days have been…interesting. I’m sitting at home with the heat turned up as far as I can take it, and the Lions/Eagles game on TV. I don’t watch a lot of football, so while I have seen games played in the snow, I haven’t seen anything like this. Both teams are certainly fighting, but I can’t imagine having to play a game under those conditions. Sure is fun to watch, though.
So the Mariners have signed Robinson Cano for 10 years and some ridiculous amount of money that I can’t remember off the top of my head and don’t care enough to go look up. If you’re reading this, chances are high you know what I’m talking about. I have gotten some degree of pushback over Twitter regarding my opinion about this move. But our memories are short, Mariners fans. I saw this same reaction when we signed Cliff Lee, a situation that resulted in Lee staying here for half a year, and then being traded for Josh Lueke and Justin Smoak. Yes, Lee’s contract was much different than Cano’s; but the level of excitement was pretty much the same. It didn’t pan out for us, and when one major player wound up not saving the day, everyone was let down. I am not, as some may think, completely disappointed by the signing of Cano. I am, however, very, very wary of what may or may not happen for the team over the next few years, with such a massive hunk of money and time being committed to one 31-year-old second baseman. And you know what? That’s my right as a sports fan. Cano and the Mariners now have to prove themselves to me as a paying customer, that’s part of their job. And in spite of my general skepticism, I will happily support Cano once he slaps on a Seattle jersey; the same way I did with Milton Bradley, the same way I did with Chone Figgins (until things got really bad), the same way I’ve done for a lot of players I didn’t necessarily trust in the beginning (because make no mistake, this is clearly not about playing in Seattle for Cano; it’s about the dollah-dollah bills, y’all). The fact of the matter is, Cano and Willie Bloomquist are not going to save our bacon. We need more offense and if the team is serious about that, they’ll do some hefty spending or at the very least make plans for hefty spending during the Winter Meetings and in the months leading up to April 2014.
Personally, now that they’ve done this, I’d actually like to see them pull out all the stops. Justin Smoak may be about as good as he’s going to get right now. We need power from first. I like Smoak, but I’m not sure that he can continue to be part of the team if the Ms are serious about giving us a decent overhaul. Then I go look at Lookout Landing as I’m writing this, and they give me reason to believe that maybe not all is lost, after all. Look; I like Smoak as a 1B. I have zero problem with his defense. But as a hitter? I can’t properly communicate via writing how I feel about that, but imagine a wince followed by a squeaky “Maaaaybe??” followed by a small grimace, and you’ve got how I feel about his offense. I always want to give guys a chance, but it’s hard when you’re looking at projections and there is a 0.4 WAR increase, but SLG, OBP, and AVG are all slightly supposed to go down. Then again, his walk rate decreases by 0.01%, and his strike rate goes down a bit more, depending on who you ask (and none of these are Bill James projections), so who knows. This is part of the reason I never made it as far as statistics in college.
I know a lot of people don’t like Geoff Baker, but here’s a link to the “big story” that has people up in arms over the past 24 hours. I take things with a grain of salt – yes, Wedge and his former cohorts probably have an axe to grind – but somewhere in this he said/he said mess, lies some pretty hard truths, and a lot of those truths I’m pretty sure a lot of us were at least suspecting. I mean, come on. Jack Zduriencik rode into town with a pocket full of SABR and the hopes and dreams of all of us in a bag waiting to be let out. During his tenure here, though, outside of the winning season of 2009, things have been pretty dismal. We have been reassured time and time again that things would change “soon”. Just give us some time. Things are looking brighter. We’re picking great young players. You’ve heard it all, especially if you’ve attended the LL/USSM meetups; I don’t need to continue. The part in Baker’s article about Zduriencik lying about his SABR experience, I’m not entirely sure I totally buy; first of all, he did that when he first got here. We picked up players that led us to that winning season in 2009. But then there was every year after that. And I have to be honest, I just looked up the Milwaukee Brewers yearly win columns, and during Zduriencik’s tenure between 1999 and 2006 as Director of Scouting? Well, here you go… not too great. A lot of Mariners-esque years in there. I really hate to pile on, but numbers don’t lie. Sure, he left the Brewers in a pretty good place, but all the years leading up to that were just bad. We are never going to know the truth. I’m OK with that, but right now it’s just terrifically disheartening. And it feels like we’ve been promised an awful lot with no follow through.
I’m not passing any ultimate judgment here at all. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t throwing this whole organization some massive side-eye right now. I only complain because I care; and in spite of my multiple threats to toss on some orange and black, get MLB.TV and call it a day with Baltimore, I have no current plans to do that. But I really have had enough of this. Let’s get it together, Mariners. I’d like to watch a ball club, not something that sounds like a scene from DeGrassi High. No more drama. Let’s get serious, finally, about playing and winning some baseball.
December 4, 2013Posted by on
A little time at work and some motivation while I’m wading in post-nasal drip and not being able to feel my fingers due to the cold coming into me through the office windows here on the 20th floor…
I’m not sure how I feel about Eric Wedge’s departure. I never really felt strongly one way or the other about Wedge. He seemed appropriately happy and encouraging when he needed to be, and appropriately upset, annoyed, and frustrated when it seemed necessary. I know a lot of people (probably myself included a few times) complained about his usages of relievers during close games, and his pinch hitting decisions, but as far as a manager just in general, I never hated him. I can totally understand why he left; the same reason everyone else seems to be in a hurry to get out of here. It’s difficult to do your job if you’re not given the tools while facing constant criticism from fans and journalists alike. Given our high manager turnover over the past few years with our highly-touted prospects, high-dollar trades, and seasoned players like Felix and Ichiro who stay here as long as they possibly can while seeing no benefits to their loyalty, I’m not entirely sure that the managerial position is entirely to blame. Our best year over the last 5 is still 2009, with my personal favorite, Don Wakamatsu. To be honest, I’d like Wak back. But I probably always will. I sort of wish that Wedge would have stuck it out, but I also can’t blame him for getting out while he can, given that he’s had to take the blame for 25 other people for a while now. I would be super curious to know what the “fundamental disagreement” is, however. What was the problem that caused this much job dissatisfaction? And was Wedge truly responsible for the in-game moves he made? We’ll probably never know; unless something was said that I missed, and in that case, someone please fill me in!
Emotionally, right now, I have to turn off any hopes of seeing Danny Hultzen in Mariners blue. I feel like we’ve had some really bad luck with surgeries (probably due to the overwhelming feeling lately that things are just not working out for the Ms) and I don’t want to get my hopes up just to have them dashed if Hultzen doesn’t make a full recovery. Of course, I really hope he does; and I hope he doesn’t push himself too hard to come back in 2014. Would rather have him miss a year and get all of his strength back than try and heal too fast and lose him completely.
Since the last time I wrote, the Cy Young has been presented to Max Scherzer. I like Scherzer, so I have no problem with this other than that I really wanted Hisashi Iwakuma to win. Maybe next year. I’m just glad Kuma is still a Mariner. Fingers crossed he stays that way for a while. I love the Felix/Hishashi punch at the front of the rotation. Hopefully whomever replaces Carl Willis will work with our staff well.
Willie Bloomquist is back. Part of me feels like “Aw, just like the old days”, and part of me wonders why we are doing this. Granted, I liked Bloomquist before he left, and was happy to see him do well in Arizona, and he’s also projected to do alright next year…I don’t know. Maybe I’m being too hard on the Seattle Mariners lately. Lots of change coming all at one time can be difficult to deal with, when you’ve spent the last few months of the previous season completely disillusioned by what was going on in the first place. I’ll probably be totally fine with this decision in a few months, I would think. I usually settle down by the time FanFest rolls around. Bloomie is still projected to be a 0.3 WAR player, so at least there is that. The power of positive thinking! I feel better already. Yay, Willie Bloomquist is back!
That’s about all I have time for at the moment. I know, mostly old news; I’m still trying to catch up on a lot, and I’m still dealing with some of the fatigue left over from being sick most of October and November. In spite of any meandering criticism I may have hashed out on Twitter, I do still love this team, and want to see them do well. It just seems like there are even more roadblocks now than ever before since I started watching them. I think what is also hampering my excitement is the fact that between the holidays, my general pay grade, and the fact that I’m going to the east coast next April, I am not 100% positive that I will be able to get my beloved 16-game plan; and if I do, it will be RIGHT up against the start of the season. I have been talking to my friend Daniel about going in on something, but it will vastly depend on how much I can save for my trip east between now and the end-ish of March. I plan to go a little nuts on Orioles and Phillies swag, and that stuff doesn’t pay for itself!
Hopefully more tomorrow; in the meantime, we all wait to find out if Robinson Cano and Jay Z can trick the Mariners into a deal.
November 9, 2013Posted by on
I have a few days off work while I show a friend from out of town around our fair city (including requisite drive past Safeco Field, as we were on our way to the Aquarium yesterday). I also have More Opinions on Things.
So Raul Ibanez did some things this summer that were pretty cool. Unfortuantely – full discloser – this was at the point in the year when I had already long stopped forcing myself to watch baseball games, and I’ll freely admit that I was off doing other things. But like always, I keep my ear to the ground, even when mired in the worst apathy (there must be another word for ‘apathy’, this is getting depressing), and I knew about it maybe an hour or so after it happened. I don’t know at this point if Ibanez is going to stick around for 2014, being a free agent and all, but I’m not sure I would mind if he was offered another one-year contract to be used in a minor utility role. Hitting 29 home runs is not too shabby for a guy his age, and while he is currently at 0.0 WAR, at least he wasn’t negative. Also – and again, I’m fine with admitting this – in my short baseball fandom, Ibanez is basically the equivalent of the good ol’ days for me. I should probably also mention that Raul recently won the Heart and Hustle award from the Fred Hutchinson Center, and that makes me happy. I know that a lot of Mariners fans make a lot of jokes at Raul’s expense, but I will always love him.
Bud Selig plans to retire in 2015. I don’t know if this is quite soon enough for me. I am not a fan of Selig’s. He may have done a lot of things for the game as an industry, but he turned a blind eye to the increasing use of steroids, and for that I don’t know that I can necessarily forgive him. The way that players are cherry picked to either be suspended a few games, or have their entire careers ruined amidst gossip and drama baffles me. The fact that we have known users – people who tested positive in the current day – who are still allowed the play the game, while players like Barry Bonds and Jose Canseco are banned for life is amazing. Baseball is not a game of equals in Bud Selig’s world, apparently. And yes, I realize that Canseco is hated for ratting out his teammates; and I am no fan of his at all, but the hypocrisy inherent in banning him while players like Alex Rodriguez are allowed to roam free is stunning.
And just because I don’t want this post to turn into the blogging equivalent of “get off my lawn”, something I am extremely happy about: Hisashi Iwakuma’s rise to the Cy Young nominations. I have this odd feeling that Yu Darvish might win (and admittedly that is because I constantly stand in awe of Darvish), but I would really really REALLY like for Kuma to get it. Really. Are you listening, BBWA? A disgruntled baseball fan in Seattle would like you to vote for her pitcher. Iwakuma has some very tough competition (and I am slowly becoming a Tigers fan and really do love Max Scherzer), but I really am keeping all of my extremities crossed that he gets it. I love the fact that he made the All Star Game this year, he has been nothing but toughness and grace in a year where his batters were not holding him up as much as they should have been. It would definitely be a bright spot in the clouds of 2013.
That is all I have to say today. Time to go to the Zoo or something.
November 4, 2013Posted by on
I have some time at work, and the very-strong antibiotics I have been prescribed have been working to get me a few decent nights of sleep, so I feel like talking about some things today. We’ll get the photo capabilities back on the site in about two weeks.
Back around the middle of September, Larry Stone wrote this colum, depressingly entitled Mariners clearly not following any clear blueprint to success. I am not on any sort of personal friendship basis with Stone, but he appeals to me as one of our more upbeat writers in general, and pretty friendly and funny on Twitter. So when I saw the header on this one a few months ago, I knew it was going to be something I’d have to hold off on reading. Between my growing apathy and lack of time, I had one of two choices; either more apathy would just naturally occur, or I would go from zero to angry in less than a minute, and I didn’t want that to happen, either. Now that I’ve had some time to sit back and reflect on the 2013 season and have managed to talk myself down to a nice even end-of-season keel, I think I’m safe.
So yeah, it’s discouraging to read something like this; and not just because it comes from Stone. It was exciting when Zduriencik and company got here; they loved numbers, they seemed to be building a team by paying attention to them, and we were assured that things would get better. Our yearly commercial catch phrases and general feeling of how well the farm was being built up was very exciting. Maybe not this year, but man wait until next year…and then we started doing things like signing Cliff Lee but not really making any other improvements with the offense to back him and Felix up. Or signing Milton Bradley at all. Or giving Chone Figgins a four year contract. And the big killer for a lot of people – letting Ichiro go to play multiple years in hated New York City.
I am left, on this one, rendered speechless. What is it going to take for the front office, ownership etc to realize that what they’ve been doing isn’t working? When do the fans get the team they deserve? How much longer will it be before we see the “Best Fans in Baseball” nonsense for the “keep giving us money” plea it is slowly turning into? And how much longer can a lot of us tolerate being a punchline in a very bad joke?
After the team majority owner Hiroshi Yamauchi passed away a few days after the above article was written, I thought maybe that would change. Maybe there might be some sort of shakeup in the organization that would bring some sort of change, either negative or positive. It didn’t matter to me at the time which way things went. But I guess that’s alright, because nothing changed anywhere at all. The Mariners are apparently staying in Seattle, and that’s fine, but again, we need a shift in paradigm. Howard Lincoln says he’s not leaving his position until he makes that change happen. We’re still waiting. How much longer do we need to give the Armstrong and Lincoln team the benefit of the doubt? I can watch failure for free from my living room couch, or I can drive to Tacoma or Everett and watch less expensive, more winning baseball. Make me want to give you money; because as things stand right now, I gave up my left field seats in section 182, and I am totally fine with that. In the years past when I have had to let my seats go due to not having the money to make the first deposit, I’ve had a bit of a panicky feeling set in. But not this year. This year, I’m thinking I *might* make some effort to scrape together the $200+ it takes to secure two seats in the left field bleachers so I can go grab some seats during FanFest. But I also might not even make the effort to renew my season tickets at all; and that makes me sad. Then again, if the Mariners aren’t going to make the effort to win, why should I flip out over the ever-increasing seat prices, for a big plate of sadness and 16 mopey walks back to my car? The answer is, I shouldn’t.
I love baseball. I love the Mariners. But I don’t like what’s been going on since I’ve been a fan, and a few glimmers of awesomeness that the team seems to coast on (116 wins! 1995! Felix’s perfect game!) are not enough to maintain my interest in the team in general. I don’t want to have to make this an Orioles blog, but currently I’m getting about as much out of a Mariners team playing here that I am out of a team I can’t watch on a regular basis; and the Orioles are a better team.
So fix this shit, Mariners. I want to be in love with you again.
October 26, 2013Posted by on
I promise I will be posting before the year is out. Currently, I am in the midst of a bit of bad health, and have been diagnosed with asthma. There is a possibility that it might be connected with an allergy, but given the nature of allergies, it is difficult to tell. I also need to deal with the payment to increase my photo storage (in case you cannot tell, I have lost my header!), which should happen sometime in November, and that is when I will likely start writing again on a (hopefully) more regular basis.
So bear with me; I do have a lot to talk about (mainly a lot of older news I never got around to talking about before), and I hope to be talking about it as soon as possible. Section 331 will be back.
October 9, 2013Posted by on
I have been hit pretty hard by whatever plague is going around the area lately, and have not watched any of the playoffs at all this year. It’s hard to want to keep track of baseball when you’re stuffed full of cold medicine and keep drifting off and it’s all you can do to stay awake at work, but I know enough to know that the Dodgers are moving on, and that the Detroit Tigers (yay!) have forced a game five against Oakland. That one I’m kind of torn on. The Tigers are my sort-of fifth team, and I would love to see them advance; but I’m also aware that the A’s are ridiculous this year and will provide a very tough hurdle to get over for Detroit. Hopefully this won’t linger too much and I will feel well enough by the time the World Series is on…and care about who goes to the World Series, which is super debatable right now as it is.
Anyway, a few days ago, I received an email from our fearless leader Jack Zduriencik in the form of a season ticket holder announcement. Here it be:
Dear Season Ticket Holder,
Now that 2013 is behind us, I’d like to share with you some thoughts about where we are and where we are heading.
First of all, like you, I am disappointed in how the team performed. Coming out of Spring Training we all had high hopes, but there were some key injuries, setbacks and disappointments which forced us to bring up several young players to fill our roster needs. The good news is these youngsters (Nick Franklin, Brad Miller, Mike Zunino, etc.) got some valuable Major League experience. But the fact is this team just did not live up to expectations.
We still have work to do over the winter, but we are building on a solid foundation. Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma are an excellent base to build around for our pitching rotation and we like the young talent that has earned its way to the Major Leagues. We recognize that there are challenges ahead as our young players mature into their roles, and we will be working over the winter to augment what is already in place.
The most important decision of the offseason will be a new manager. We are going to do a thorough process so that we end up with the right person to take this young team to the next level. I am already compiling names and have started the vetting process for potential candidates. In the next 10 days, these efforts will pick up steam. But because we may have interest in candidates who are involved in the playoffs, the final decision may come after the World Series.
I know this has been hard on everyone, especially our season ticket holders. We could never get through this difficult process without your support. You are demanding better of us, as you should, but you have not given up. Everyone inside the Seattle Mariners organization is grateful every day for your loyalty. Thank you for standing with us.
I’m excited about 2014 and beyond. Our plan from the beginning was to build this from the ground up, starting with a solid foundation. With the young players already on the team and the solid performances of our September call-ups, I hope you agree with me that the Seattle Mariners future is bright.
The next time you hear from me, I’ll be introducing our new manager.
Executive Vice President & General Manager, Baseball Operations
I am taking this one with a few grains of salt, because until something is done, it’s all just talk. Yes, I am encouraged by some of the things on the field this year, and yes, I also see a lot of potential in the younger guys on the team. But the beginning and end of the story follows thusly: We need offense. The end. I’m not espousing anything new here, clearly.
I find it interesting that the team built on pitching and defense approach went so horribly well that the bats just got left behind in the process. Talk about overkill. But I am skeptical that there is much that will or even can be done in 2014. It’s possible, but I am not holding my breath. We now have basically a lame duck GM, and some random manager that might or might not have delivered a baseball team to the playoffs and who might or might not stick around past next season. That’s not really fair to the team or the fans, and I’m afaid I don’t have a whole lot of hope for massive change next year as things stand right now. Than fan part of me wants to jump in head first and be cheery about the prospect that big things are in store for next season; but the part of me that has been burned every year that I’ve been a fan just shakes its head sadly and grimaces. The Mariners may be painful to watch for a while to come; and because of that, I couldn’t justify scrambling to keep my seats in left field. I may try to make something happen at FanFest next year with another 16-gamer if I can (please keep in mind that I am also currently saving for a trip east to go see some other teams, and on my salary, that’s not easy), but the lack of inspiration I’ve had for Seattle baseball is making automatic renewal of season tickets a shoulder-shrugging event at best.
Back to trying to get rid of this unholy cold. Stay healthy, Mariners fans!
September 27, 2013Posted by on
I was going to wait until the absolute end of the season to make this post. I had pictures I was going to put up, and thoughts I was going to try to collect, and all that stuff that I normally do to be as thoughtful and thorough as possible when writing. I had a bunch of pictures I had taken of Rivera’ s last game on Seattle soil, but I am lacking the storage space and time at the moment. So it’s time to do it. Today is the right day.
Mariano Rivera is leaving baseball. Not because of injury, not just for the offseason, and not because he’s been let go by New York and is waiting to get picked up by another team; he is retiring. He’s done. Last night was his final game. He was met on the field by Andy Pettite and Derek Jeter, two other Yankee greats, and led off the field in a very emotional sendoff, which you can watch at this link here. That is a little over four minutes of hugging, cheering, and yes, even grown men crying, and if you are a baseball fan and find yourelf with absolutely no emotional response watching that clip, then you, pardon my language, are a hard motherfucker. It’s beautiful, even though I feel like he deserved even more than that. I don’t know what else the team and fans could have possibly done, it just feels like it should have been longer. I am glad that it was Pettite and Jeter who met him on the hill, and I am further glad that Alex Rodriguez was nowhere to be found. Alex Rodriguez doesn’t deserve to so much as lick the dirt off Rivera’s cleats.
Joe Posnanski has an excellent article that I feel a lot of baseball players need to read and take to heart. It should be required reading for anyone called up to the majors. Mariano Rivera is exemplary of how every player should conduct themselves. It makes me immensely sad to think that maybe he is a dying breed.
Mariano Rivera averaged 34.3 saves a year every year he played baseball. In seven of those seasons, he had 40 or just over 40 saves. In 2004, he racked up 54 saves. His next largest number prior to that was 50 in 2001, the fateful year that saw the Yankees topple the Mariners in the playoffs, after a history-high 116 wins for Seattle. I am mentioning this because when JJ Putz had 40 saves back in 2007, I thought it was a pretty big deal; it was, after all, part of what got me invested emotionally in closers, and in baseball itself. In his 19-year career, Rivera never once had negative WAR. Some years lower than others, but never negative. With my vague understanding of WAR and from what I’ve seen from position players, that’s an accomplishment. Maybe for pitchers not so much, but still it’s worth recognition, in my humble opinion.
This is one of those things, though, that is far more emotional for me than it is scientific. I have a lot of words in my vocabulary, but none can truly do this any justice. I find myself wishing I’d paid more attention to Rivera over the last few years. I find myself wishing that the sinking feeling I’ve had in my stomach when Rivera stepped onto the hill in Safeco was maybe replaced by more of a reverence – I had respect, I had awe, but I don’t feel ever had the amount of either of those things that I probably should have had for this player. He was amazing to watch. When Ichiro homered off of him a few years ago, I was well aware that that was something to be celebrated. Mariano Rivera was and is something special.
Rivera is, to me, the perfect closer and yet there was something not quite closer-y about him. He isn’t weird like a lot of them are; he didn’t tilt his cap or grow crazy facial hair, or make strange comments to the press. He doesn’t have a lot of visible tattoos (if any – sorry Yanks fans, I really don’t know), he doesn’t give an air or indicate that he is anything but a human gun firing a baseball bullet; but truthfully, that’s kind of all you need to know about him. His demeanor on the hill was that of a blank slate. An amazing, terrifying, serious, wonderful blank slate that made the top, middle, and bottom of any batting order cower in fear. Always expressionless, mostly always flawless, and always there for the purpose of getting the game done and over and securing a Yankees win. There was no flair, not a lot of stress as far as I could ever tell. He was there to do a job, and he did it very very well for 19 years.
I really don’t know what else to say. I can’t rattle off stats or incidents in Rivera’s history that I might have fond memories of. In his career, my fandom is but a blip on a radar somewhere; and even that might be giving me too much credit, as I have never been a Yankees fan. All I know is that baseball is a worser place for his departure. The season isn’t even over yet, and early on when his retirement was announced, it made me feel as if there was a massive hole in 2013. And if this is the way I feel, I can’t even imagine how Yankees fans must feel. It has to be devastating. This is the one instance that I will absolutely not poke fun at or make light of a Yankee loss. I feel for all of you, totally. You, after all, have my Ichiro.
So goodbye, Mariano Rivera. You can leave baseball knowing that you were the classiest act, a master of your craft, and feared and respected by batters and fans alike. I will miss you, Sandman.
September 12, 2013Posted by on
I was unable to exchange my Sunday Rays ticket for another night game (just no time in my schedule this month), so I forfeited fishing for pinks and Coho in the Sound for a Sunday afternoon baseball game with my friend Jessica. Due to the clear skies and heat, and the fact that we are both pale, pale girls even the strongest sunscreen will not protect, we opted for the higher climes of the upper deck, sitting high above the right field foul pole, and wandering further up to safety as the sun moved around the south side of the stadium. The Mariners lost their shirts at 4-1 to the Rays, but took the series, so I didn’t feel too badly.
As we were parttaking of sodas and ice cream and trying to avoid the sun during the later innings of the game, for whatever reason, discussion turned to Brad Miller vs. Brendan Ryan, since Miller was in the field at the time. I don’t remember what triggered it; might have been something on the HD screen, might have been an error or missed hit by Miller, I don’t know. What I do remember is waxing sadly that Brendan Ryan would not be able to come back in 2014. For as much as I have enjoyed watching Ryan in the field, and feeling that oh-so-cozy feeling that comes with having a virtually impenetrable wall there in between 2nd and 3rd (and sometimes 2nd and 1st!), we need offense. I know I’m not saying anything new or shocking here. There is only so much that Mariners fans should be expected to take, though, and Ryan’s .192 AVG and -0.7 WAR is just…it’s not good. Ryan’s best year with us was 2011, when he managed to dazzle everyone with his defense as well as a reasonably passable bat. But after that, it was like stepping off a cliff into an offensive desert, and while his defense will always be some of my favorite, I think, he was always the number 9 guy with good reason.
I’m not even mad though. I am going to miss him badly. He gave the team character, he gave the team solid defense, he gave Tom Wilhelmsen something to do in his spare time. He showed us what good defensive short-stopping should be like, after a few years of torture with Yuniesky Betancourt. The hitting – while it would have been nice – never really mattered all that much to me. I loved his double plays, his diving catches, his jumping catches, his shoulder-licking everywhere…and I’m not going to deny that yes, it absolutely sucks that once again, a player I like gets shuttled off to the Yankees, where he will either flourish for another few years, or flounder miserably in triple, double, single A…i don’t know. I think the fact that I knew it had to happen made it a little easier, but it was so weird to watch last night’s game and know that Ryan had unceremoniously packed up his things, and headed off to New York. No fanfare, no whistles, no time for any of us to prepare to say good bye. Just…gone.
I am glad that there is a very limited about of baseball left, because I’m kind of tired of seeing Ichiro in pinstripes, Munenori Kawasaki in Blue Jays blue, now Brendan Ryan in pinstripes, Morse in Orioles orange (though this one isn’t so bad)…I know that these moves are all done in the best interest of the team and indeed are the right moves as younger kids come up. And I have been very encouraged by what I’ve seen so far from Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who made his MLB debut the other night the same day that his grandfather died. I have enjoyed watching Brad Miller in his short time here so far.
What I want from baseball is a little bit of stability. And I don’t know how long I’m going to have to wait, but I am hoping it won’t be long. Given the kids coming up so far (and their small, small sample sizes), I’d like to believe that change is right around the corner. Please let change be right around the corner…
In positive news though, my enthusiasm is certainly not gone. Doing some preliminary planning for my trip east next year, if all goes according to plan, I will be able to see the Mariners home opener before flying east, where (again, if this all works out), I will be able to take in a Nationals game in addition to the Orioles and Phillies games I already had planned. I haven’t missed an Ms home opener since 2008, and I don’t want to make 2014 the year that happens. So things are shaping up there, at least. If the Mariners don’t give me something else to look forward to, baseball itself certainly will.
In the meantime, good luck Brendan. I will miss you, and I hope that the change does you some professional good. Thanks for playing here.
August 30, 2013Posted by on
So Mike Morse – a player I have long liked for no reason – has just been traded to the Baltimore Orioles for a prospect named Xavier Avery. Morse is a free agent at the end of this year, has not done terribly well in Seattle this year, and the Orioles are in 3rd place at 6.5 games back as of this writing, so I don’t know what the O’s hope to accomplish with this situation exactly, but I am alright with this move, as it means that Morse still stays in my personal “family” for a while longer. Morse is just one of those guys who probably won’t land anywhere for all that long enough to define his career as an ‘x’ or ‘y’ team member, but I like him and wish him well. It will be interesting to see if he stays in Baltimore for longer than the next month. More about that in a bit, I have some things to address first…
I had hoped that it wouldn’t come to this, but it sort of has. I tried initially to chalk up my lack of activity here to my own personal time constraints, and to an extent that is indeed true. Work kind of takes it out of me; being up at 5AM on the daily creates a bit of a ragged schedule and it is difficult for me to want to do anything else other than watch a game or just tune out the minute I clock out. I can’t regularly stay up much past 9-10-ish (10 being on the bad side of that hour), so full games are right out unless I’m actually at the park, and of course that happens maybe 16-25 times a year, in a 162-game season with some day games tossed in, so that much I can handle. I hate even having to think about what I’m about to type, but I have never been anything less than honest here, so here goes nothing.
In this 2013 Seattle Mariners season, with some very few exceptions, this baseball team has been absolutely uninspiring. We have had what, seven catchers or something crazy at this point in the year? The roster changes its ranks more frequently than I change my mind about what to wear to go out on a Friday night. The bullpen seems fractured and broken. Even Felix Days don’t hold much anymore, since the offense is deader than the deadest horse one could beat with a stick, and our prize, our great treasure Felix Hernandez, has been charged with more losses than he deserves to be because our lineup can’t hit the wide side of a barn. We have had some good games, some amazing extra-inning craziness and the team has occasionally fought very hard only to lose by one run or a walk off or some other ridiculousness that leaves me wondering why I bothered to pay any attention. I stayed up for that 15-inning Boston game. i was at the park for another in extras, and my friend Daniel and I were steadfast in our devotion to sticking it out on a weekday when both of us had to get up early the next day. I still stay until the end when I’m there. I still have fun at the park. But not like I used to, not this year. The Mariners are getting more and more difficult to watch.
Something has to change.
I could do game recaps, sure. I could sit on the couch and go over the game like I used to. I could upload a bunch of pictures and talk about them…but I am simply not motivated to do so. If this organization doesn’t care about making the players that I love into a winning team, why should I care enough to write about it? I’m not getting paid; this site is a labor of love and $20 every year. It is quickly becoming a labor of $20 a year only. I hate thinking this, I hate saying it in public, and I really hate the amount of energy I spend wondering how and when things will change. Because they have to, they really do. My first season was, as many know, 2008. I also survived 2010. At least there was horribleness to write about; those Mariners teams knew how to fail spectacularly, and that was at least something that was worth writing about, even if the writing was merely done to acknowledge my drive to stick with a team that was so very very awful.
The Mariners would have to literally murder puppies to get me to stop being a Mariners fan; and so far that I know of, puppies are still safe. I’m still here, I’m going to be here next year, I’m still going to continue with my struggle to keep up this blog as best I can. I still love my jerseys and wear them when the occasion calls for it. But I’m going to say something I have never said before in any seriousness; I am actually looking forward to football and hockey season. Because what’s been happening in Seattle baseball is simply not acceptable, and I am glad that it is almost over. I’m finally frustrated and angry enough at this team. I know I’m late to the party, but better late than never, right? I just want the playoffs to happen so I can finally see some ball played by teams whose organizations care about making them great. I don’t believe that the Mariners office actively wants to lose games; but I am no longer convinced that they are capable of making that happen.
Taijuan Walker gets his first major league start tonight, which makes me feel like kind of an ass writing this in the face of the possibility of a ripple of change. I won’t be able to watch the game tonight, as I have promised to watch a Miami Hurricanes game with a friend. Yes, I am violating one of my own rules by getting involved in college football; but I need a bit of a break tonight, even with the Mariners’ future on the hill. I’ll keep track via Twitter and such, and I have a few more games left to attend in person this year, so I still plan to do that. I still love the Seattle Mariners. I just also love my sanity, and I need it back.
As for the Orioles’ acquisition of Michael Morse, it is my hope that he does well so perhaps I can maybe see him, Matt Wieters, and Adam Jones next year in – yes indeedy – Baltimore. I am taking a trip to the east coast to go to Camden Yards and Citizens Bank Park to see an Orioles game and a Phillies game. I will be documenting that trip both here and on Twitter, and I will be flying by myself. This is a pretty big deal to me, so my documentation will hopefully be thorough. I have a lot of research to do.
For now, I finish my work day and meet my friend Jennifer to watch her alma mater after work. I hope the Mariners can give Taijuan Walker the support that he deserves, and I will be casually paying attention from the periphery, because that is all the desire I can muster lately.
I just want the Mariners to play better ball. I hope that is not too much to ask.
August 15, 2013Posted by on
I do have some photos and words about my recent trip to the Safeco Field suite level, but I need some time to go through them, and time is at a premium currently for me. I will have them up soon; it was a Felix game, it was a Sunday, it was quite nice. There were good and bad things about suite viewing. More later.
Today, I got notice that the Mariners are having yet another fireworks night, as part of a September-long fan appreciation month. I’m not going to lie, I’m super happy about it. Tom and I went to the last one, but he started not feeling well just around the time the game started, and it wasn’t a very fun night He kindly refused to leave even though I offered a few times because I know what it’s like to not feel well and be somewhere you don’t really want to be to begin with, so we stayed put. When your significant other isn’t feeling well, it’s hard to enjoy yourself. So we definitely need a do-over. The issue with the September 27th game, though, was that it was two days before the only day this year that my family’s schedules all are free, and we can get together for our yearly game. Through panicked emails earlier today, I managed to get everything set up right, and now our yearly game is happening on the 27th. This means I will not be attending the last game of the year, which has been a yearly tradition since I started getting into baseball. But this will have to do. I have to take my dad fishing that weekend as well, so it will be a busy one. I do hope the Mariners will understand and forgive me.
The Mariners have also added some more early gate openings for season ticket holders, and they are as follows: Friday August 23rd, Saturday September 7th, Wednesday September 25th, and Friday September 27th. I will only be able to make the one on the 25th, when I will be taking a friend who is from Kansas City to see the Royals. Just a word about these early opening games; I love them. I really do. I love the calm before the storm, just sitting in the stadium listening to music, having a cold drink, and hearing the crack of the bats from the cage, watching little kids and full grown adults alike scrambling for autographs at the wall, chatting with the ushers and other fans. It’s a very calming atmosphere to be in, and a wonderful way to sort of wind down, particularly after a work day. I hope this is a thing that is continued through next season. I am sure it makes things a little harried for the staff, but I mean to say that it is much appreciated by at least one fan here; and I don’t think I’m alone. More information can be found at this link. Take advantage of this stuff, folks. They didn’t used to do this not so long ago. I don’t know what other teams do, but for fan experience regardless of team performance, the Mariners really do make the ballpark a pleasant place to be. Nobody is making me say this; I say it because I honestly believe that they do their best to make up for the shortcomings on the field. If I can’t have a World Series, I can at least have a nice day watching a game I love and being involved in about five super solid hours of escapism. There is room for team improvement, clearly, but for now I will take what I can get.
The email also included the complete Hall of Fame ceremony for last Saturday when Ken Griffey Junior was inducted into the Mariners HoF. I have seen a few pictures from it, and I am sort of sad I missed out, but there was just no way scheduling-wise I could have made it down there. I am OK with missing the game itself. A 10-0 loss on such a wonderful occasion is kind of a bummer. If you were not there, you can watch the entire thing here. There is also a photo gallery located here, just for the heck of it. Seeing all those guys together again brings a bit of a tear to my eye, even if I was never there to see them. Knowing that the Mariners have such a great history makes me feel a little better in the worst moments of some of our seasons lately. It happened here once. It can and will happen again.
The Ms are currently playing Tampa Bay, and while I would love to do a game recap this evening, it’s not going to happen. I got home too late to start from the beginning, and it is muggy and hot outside and I just want to relax with a beer and shake off my busy day. I am going to try and milk the next month and a half for as much baseball as time and money will allow. I’ve gone to quite a few games this year, but I don’t feel like it’s been enough. It never seems like it is. Every year I go through this same thing.
And lastly, how about that Brad Miller, eh?
August 6, 2013Posted by on
Ah, baseball and steroids. No subject seems to stir up more controversy for fans, journalists, and anyone who has an opinion on baseball in general. I usually steer clear of such things. I have no control over it, it does no good to get angry at something you have no control over (I try to be as Zen as possibly about this), and steroids themselves have nothing to do with the rules and intricacies of the game I love in and of itself. The game of baseball was never planned to make room for the steroid debate; it’s just a game and like any game there are going to be players who try and bend or get around the rules. In baseball, of course, this has been going on for a long time. If it’s not holding onto runners belt loops to prevent them from advancing, it’s scuffing a ball. If it’s not scuffing a ball, it’s taking amphetamines to stay awake during the season’s rigorous schedule. If it’s not illegal drugs, it’s a deke or a balk, or something that blurs the lines to the rules and gives a player or a team an advantage.
All I know about Alex Rodriguez’s time in Seattle, I know from hearsay. I wasn’t a baseball fan when he was here, I have none of the same scars a lot of Seattle fans have from his abrupt departure to the Rangers before he went to New York. He still gets booed in Seattle, people still curse his name online, in person, and over the wall at games. Seattle fans are called “bitter” and ”jealous”. We’re told we need to get over Rodriguez’s leaving, the fact that he always said that it was never about the money, the fact that frankly, we’re not the only ones who hate him. And it’s become very fashionable to hate Alex Rodriguez.
But you know what? The guy makes it easy.
Yesterday, Tom and I took the kayaks to Rattlesnake Lake to do some paddling and get a little reprieve from a very hot sunny Monday. On the way there and back, we were inundated on KOMO and ESPN with whole sound clips and bumper snippets from a press conference both live and recorded, with Rodriguez boo-hooing his way through questions asked to him, pretending he didn’t hear parts of questions, redirecting his answers to deflect from actually having to be honest about things, all classic methods used by anyone caught doing something very wrong in a very public manner. I’m not going to lie, we both made fun of him, mercilessly. Some of the things he was saying and the way he was saying them were just so bombastically ridiculous we didn’t have much of a choice (some of it can be found here in this article). I found myself involuntarily rolling my eyes while stuck in traffic on the way home. I yelled at the radio as I was driving, a few times so loud that I realized I might be making Tom a little uncomfortable because I sounded so angry. I did manage to clip it back a few notches, but to say I was steamed is putting it mildly.
I have decided that I am pretty much done with steroids, PEDs, or whatever the new buzzwod is for the substances players put in their bodies in an attempt to increase their ability to perform. It just needs to stop. It’s maddening to me, what they have done to this game. The fact that I am suspicious of anyone and everyone who plays well now, of any player that has a certain body type. And I can’t be the only one (as a friend of mine recently said at a game, “You can’t spell “Pedroia” without P-E-D!”). It’s frustrating that baseball has nobody to blame but itself, and the too-little-too-late actions of Bud Selig in suspending ARod for 211 games (while still allowing him to play, which only further proves they’re not all that serious about it, appeals or not) is not going to make this problem go away. It’s also irritating to me that, while a lot of players are angry about Ryan Braun’s lies in regards to his own PED use, not nearly enough of them are coming out to speak against this situation. I wonder if they all realize how bad this makes the entirety of baseball look to the rest of the US sporting world. Baseball is already a joke to a lot of other sports fans because it’s “boring” and has no set time limit. Knowing that there are possibly countless players using drugs to improve on what looks like a pretty hit-or-miss (pardon the pun) skill to an outside observer just adds fuel to the notions that the game is not worth getting into (and spare me the “everybody does it in other sports too” line – two wrongs don’t make a right, and I’m not talking about other sports).
The thing about PEDs is not necessarily the usage itself, though these guys are doing possibly irreparable damage to their bodies with it. It’s the attitude towards the outside world that the usage seems to foster that is disgusting to me. Rodriguez’s attitude seems to be that he is untouchable. News that he basically pulled a Lance Armstrong with intimidation and attempted destruction of evidence only further proves that he was doing something he knew well and good to be wrong, but he probably figured he’d never get caught, or that he’d get yet another swat on the butt and pat on the head for his troubles. I have no sympathy for the man or his fans; he’s been caught doing it before, and was given the proverbial slap on the wrist. There has been speculation for years that he’s continued doing it, and people seem genuinely surprised that he finally got caught in such a major way. If your punishments are so trivial when someone gets caught doing something wrong or “against the rules” when you finally decide to pay attention to the problem, don’t expect them to stop when all you do is waggle your finger at them and say “No!”. Major League Baseball is responsible for this whole thing as much as Rodriguez and the Yankees themselves. And nobody should be surprised about this. Nobody.
So what do we do about this, one might wonder? It wouldn’t be right for me to complain without presenting a solution, would it? Well, I have one. MLB must have a zero-tolerance policy on PEDs, unless those medications are medically necessary and prescribed by a team doctor (as is the case with, say, cortisone shots for inflammation). It needs to be a one-and-done situation. This may annoy people and it may seem excessive, but it isn’t like everyone – everyone – isn’t aware of the fact that this is a rule-breaking situation. There must be a strict and strictly-updated list of banned substances to keep abreast of new medications that come out on the market, and if a player is caught with that in their system, they need to go find another job. If you get caught using performance enhancers, it needs to mean the end of your career, period. That is the only way to clean up this game. Everything else is just lip service, smoke screens put up so that MLB doesn’t actually have to deal with the real problem at hand; that they have never put their foot down on what they will and won’t accept as methods of cheating the game, and have allowed players to bend the rules with a lot of gray area.
Alex Rodriguez, at the age of 38, is getting suspending through the 2014 season. By the time he is allowed to get back on MLB grass, he will be 40 years old, and may be facing obsolecense, as newer players have the opportunity to come up and fill the ranks. MLB won’t give him a lifetime ban presumably because they want the Yankees to be forced to deal with his contract, thereby punishing them a little too for not cleaning up their house. He was booed in Chicago last night before he even stepped up to the plate; and will be booed again if he ever comes back after his suspension. I may have to deal with the fact that my only reward for this as a fan will come in 2015, if he attempts to play baseball again, and his skills will surely have declined considerably by then. I can accept that, if MLB can accept that a lot of us are going to continue to be extremely skeptical of the product we’re paying for; though I’m sure that they don’t really care about that, so long as we’re paying, right?
As for me and my relationship with baseball, I appreciate the fact that Jesus Montero did not bother to try and appeal his suspension, regardless of the evidence against him. It definitely makes me wonder how much of our brilliant “find” in the trade that brought him here was actually powered by hypodermic needles and secrecy, but he’s not really my problem. His performance took a nose dive this year anyway, so perhaps that suspension will make room for farm players that really and truly want to play a clean game. Maybe we’ll go through all of this again next year or the year after that…only baseball can solve this quandary. In the meantime, I am not going to overspend on this game like in previous years. It is not lost on me that we have other players (like Michael Morse) who have also been caught or suspended at various points in their careers. I have been viewing those players with a suspicious eye as well. I hate that I have to do that, but I do have to do that. Once suspicion and proof is cast, it’s there, like it or not. Maybe someday it will be different. I wish it was different now. I would love to some day be able to watch the game with no asterisks or footnotes hovering over players heads. That is likely asking a lot, but it’s my blog and a girl can dream.
So clean it up, jerks.
August 2, 2013Posted by on
Just some quick bits while I am at work…
I have been trying to figure out today how I feel about our sweep at the hands of the Boston Red Sox. I rarely have high hopes going against the Sox; they have been a good team for as long as I’ve been a fan, and even when they’re a bad team, they’re still good against the Mariners. Last night’s game gave me a little glimmer of hope, with Henry Blanco’s grand slam (which I just barely caught after getting back home from the store) that we might not get the daylights beaten out of us this series, but clearly our bullpen had other ideas. The Sox are amazing this year, there is no doubt about that. I guess the only consolation I can take away from this, for what it’s worth, is that we fought pretty hard, all things considered. Extra innings, close final scores, hits hits hits….not enough, but indicative of a team that is clawing as hard as they possibly can. It’s a small consolation, but it is one I will gladly take. We’re on our 11 billionth catcher this season, for the love of kittens! We have certainly not been without our own issues.
Have been vaguely keeping track of the situation with Eric Wedge and his mini-stroke and general health. Glad they caught it in time, and hope his healthcare providers can figure out a way to either diminish the risk of it happening again, or stop it completely. Maybe no more massive omelettes and bacon from the clubhouse chef for a while? Just sayin’. I like you, Mr Wedge. Please stay healthy! I’m glad that he was well enough to come in a few days ago and say hello to everyone, check in and just give them a thumbs up in general on his condition. Now if we can get Jeff Datz back and in good health. Fingers crossed for everyone’s swift recovery.
Jason Bay’s DFA on Tuesday was not much of a surprise. I feel bad for the guy, but they haven’t been using him much lately, and clearly he’s not doing all that well. I wouldn’t hold my breath that he’ll get picked up, but you never know. I still find myself shocked by the guys that land on their feet in other cities, or that teams will want a guy that is generally considered to be on the way out. Not that that is the case with Bay, but clearly he has been faltering over the last month. A good career in triple A is nothing to be ashamed of, and the Rainiers are now 4 games back of the Salt Lake Bees, so maybe Bay can help them out a little if he winds up accepting an assignment.
My time is running out to write, but I just want to express a general sense of happiness that the Ms have not traded, accepted, or otherwise dealt anyone before the trade deadline. I am hoping that this means a lockdown on a few players at the end of the season. Players like oh, say, Kyle Seager. I don’t know everyone’s contracts off the top of my head (this is nothing new, of course), but I would definitely like to keep Michael Saunders, Nick Franklin, and Hisashi Iwakuma riiiight here in the Emerald City. For a while, if possible.
This was an awful post, but the Ms battle the Baltimore Orioles tonight (and I may have news regarding the Orioles and me within the next few months, but it’s only in the planning stages right now, so I’m not hedging my bets just yet), so maybe I’ll have something more worthwhile to write about soon. Have a good Friday, everyone!
July 17, 2013Posted by on
I don’t know why I feel compelled to write anything during the All Star break, but here we are.
Every year I plan not to watch the Home Run Derby, and every year I watch it. I’m not sure why; I know the whole thing is just done for fun and to sell commercial time (probably far more the latter than the former). I know that it’s not much of a contest (technically speaking), having guys hit soft toss balls over the wall*, and I know that every year I will be “treated” to Chris Berman doing this for two hours straight, but for some reason I just can’t stop myself. I don’t know if it’s the laid-back atmosphere, or watching the little kids run around in the outfield, or watching players kids, all wide-eyed on the backstop warning track while the contest is going on, or just seeing how far a ball will go when hit by a player who can, in fact, hit. But every year I make a decision not to watch, and every year, I find myself somewhere in front of a TV. I may have to grudgingly accept that I am a Home Run Derby fan. Yoenis Cespedes won. I was hoping for Chris Davis to win (yay, Orioles!), but by and large I don’t really care who hits the most; it’s just kind of a low-pressure baseball-related thing to watch during dinner, and enables me to be in bed at a decent time without missing anything.
Not so much a fan of the All Star Game. Since I started following baseball, I have watched maybe three or four years of the ASG. If memory serves, last year I did it on accident; I was at a pub with Tom and it was on TV, and we stayed until it was over. This year, I watched until Felix pitched, and then switched over to a movie (a movie called The Bay, produced by Barry Levinson, that made me wish I had just watched the remainder of the ASG). I think the ASG is more fun with friends; but unfortunately for me, the only friend of mine who wanted to watch it was unable to get away from work in time, and I was too tired to really pay attention to baseball, so this year was a wash. Felix pitched alright, allowing a hit to Carlos Beltran to break up what was starting to be a no-hitter in the 4th inning. As it was, the American League shut out the National League, giving a team I will likely have no interest in watching in October the home field advantage in the World Series. At least the managers were able to put Mariano Rivera into last night’s game to complete the shutout. It’s probably not that significant to anyone other than Yankees fans, but really, I am all for that guy doing as much as possible before he retires.
I went to two games last week; one Red Sox (we lost miserably), and the other Angels, a delightful 6-0 contest in the Mariners’ favor on a Felix start. Saturday was an early gates night, and I found myself being given a Dustin Ackley garden gnome (?!?) and a small gift bag containing a t-shirt, some certificates for that-day-only discounted food and drink, and a little bag of beef jerky. The gnome will be going to a place where it will be loved, the beef jerky was already dispatched while I was watching batting practice. I hate to say it, but I feel like I am getting way too many free clothes from the Mariners this year. I love them, but I am running out of hangers (I have a sports-specific closet in our spare room where jerseys, t-shirts, and scarves are kept). It’s getting a little absurd. This is not a complaint, I just realized that by the end of this season, I may be able to open my own store.
While at the Angels game on Saturday, game play was halted temporarily so we could see a bit of the 8th inning of the Giants game in which Tim Lincecum was dealing on 100-some pitches to a stymied San Diego Padres team. Our game resumed in Seattle to the sounds of field-wide protest, then after the half inning was over, the screen turned back to the final few outs of the 9th inning, and when all was said and done, Lincecum had thrown 148 total pitches (just typing that makes my shoulder hurt), and the Padres had not managed to hit any of them. I am happy for Lincecum, I’m just surprised that it took him so long to get himself into the log books with a no-hitter. But good for him. I don’t have the same kind of regrets that a lot of Mariners fans have over the fact that we did not manage to procure him in Seattle; that was literally just as I was getting into the game, when Bill Bavasi opted for Brandon Morrow instead. But I have liked him for no other reason than that he is an oddity and an excellent pitcher. I think that’s reason enough.
At this point in the season I would imagine that a lot of fans are probably wondering whether or not the Mariners are buyers or sellers before July 31st. I would hope they are not sellers, but I don’t know that we need to be buyers either. Being 11-ish (depending on how the wind blows this weekend) games out of first place is probably not going to get us to even second place by the end of the season. Especially behind Oakland and the Rangers this year, I am not holding my breath for a sudden burst of crazy success. But the Ms have been better recently. And if you haven’t been paying attention or won’t take my word for it, I have backup! Really, I just like to link to backup; but unless you truly haven’t been paying attention, the Mariners – like Dave says – have been pretty fun to watch lately. I don’t go to games thinking I already know the outcome. Hearing the names of guys coming up to the plate no longer strikes fear into my heart. I don’t take a whole lot of photos lately, but I do enjoy going to games a little more now; it was starting to sort of become routine for a bit there in May and the beginning of June. So what do we do?
Scott over at Lookout Landing has suggested that Brendan Ryan be a trade chip this month. I am on limited time at the moment to write this, but I would prefer they didn’t. I totally agree with Scott, that the world really does need to see Ryan play, and his presence on the Mariners has not done him any favors in gaining him the fame that is rightfully his for his defense. But it seems clear to me that the Ms are improving this year and might actually be doing really well in 2014 if we don’t make any dumb decisions now. Not to say that I expect Ryan to remain on the roster next season; I don’t. But as a fan, I would rather have Ryan’s defense for the remainder of 2013, than a so-so prospect who will likely be traded to some other team in some other low-level deal; and I really can’t stand the thought of him going to New York; enough with that, already. I can deal with Ryan in the 9-spot for years to come, if it means no balls hit up the middle to left. Also, yes; get Kyle Seager to stay here forever. After Adrian Beltre had to go away, I thought I’d never feel comfortable again with our third base slot. Seager is not Beltre, but he’s also not bad. At all. I’d like him to stay here as long as possible. .293/.359/.488? Yes, please!
I’m sure I have more, but am running against a work deadline and have to get back to it. Will enjoy getting back to the rest of the season, and keeping my fingers crossed that Brendan Ryan hangs out here for a while longer.
*Unless your name is Bryce Harper and your dad is apparently trying to win a roster spot somewhere by throwing strikes you don’t hit.
June 29, 2013Posted by on
Alternately, How Michael Bay Took Over Safeco Field.
Last night at Safeco, I had at least one moment when I was reminded exactly how much I love baseball. Granted, that moment picked a time to come to me while I was witnessing what looked like really glittery stadium destruction, but it was a moment I haven’t had in a while, and was a culmination of my evening as a whole – irritating drunks in left field and everything.
Yesterday was hot. It started out pleasantly enough with a cool early morning walk to the bus stop and a nice day spent in an air conditioned office, but it ended with humidity, sweat, and a blister on the inside of my left foot. Still, very much worth it. When I walked out of my office yesterday, it was like getting hit in the face with a microwave; but there was a breeze, and there were friends and baseball waiting. So I had a nice chat with my mom as I walked the mile or so to Safeco from where I work.
I met my friends Ethel and Gray outside The Pen entrance, and once inside the stadium, went straight for a Caesar salad (I really can’t recommend this enough on a hot day) and one of those big 44oz or whatever plastic cups of soda. It was really the cup and the caffeine I was after. Also, the ice. Drinking soda isn’t any logical way to hydrate oneself, but it’s a really cool cup. I waited for my food and then took it to Edgar’s lower, where the guy checking ID gave me a bit of hassle about the blonde on my driver’s license vs the pink that I currently have in my hair, and we nabbed a table and socialized a bit while the Chicago Cubs took the field for batting practice. Multiple balls were hit into the visitor’s bullpen and into the bar. One of those was hit right over our heads, landed on the net, and when it slid off, into Gray’s taller-than-everyone-else hand:
He was congratulated by those who had lost their opportunity, when suddenly who should walk up and introduce herself to me but the lovely Lisa of Compass Rosy fame! She and her friend whose name I have sadly forgotten were enjoying margaritas that looked amazing (I am currently not drinking alcohol in an attempt to boost weight loss, so I am abstaining), and we chatted for a bit about baseball stuff, like you do. She is a total sweetie, and I was glad to get some time to talk to her that didn’t involve Twitter. Oh- and Mike McCready from Pearl Jam played the National Anthem again.
After our other friends Matt and Nicole arrived, we all split up and went to our seats. When Matt and I got up to section 182 there were of course people all over who should not have been there and were in various states of sobriety. A few totally sober folks enjoying the game, and a group of college students who were apparently in a race to see who could pass out the fastest from beer. The rest of our group joined us after the first inning had started, and we and the Mariners were off!
This one didn’t start out well for the guys. Hisashi Iwakuma was lukewarm, giving up a bunch of runs and leading the score to a sad and familiar 4-1 by the top of the 7th, including two home runs from the Cubbies that were a little depressing. But that changed in a way that was just about unbelievable if you were there. Last night was, in fact, the kind of game that every baseball fan loves being at. And maybe that was why I was so vividly reminded during the fireworks show of why I love this game.
Brad MIller’s first major league at-bat. He got an absolutely rousing welcome to the stadium; I don’t know that I have ever heard a rookie get a response like that before he’s even done anything. Unfortunately, Miller went 0-3, but he was clearly nervous, as he hacked at anything thrown at him on the first pitch. Miller has a nice, even, loooong swing, but his first hit was a short-ish liner to right fielder Nate Schierholtz. More power, more pitch selection, less going for it. Hopefully he’ll get there with major league pitching sooner rather than later. He was doing well enough in Tacoma to be called up, it’d be nice to see that translate here.
It was around the 5th inning that I went downstairs to grab some tacos (and water!) from Edgar’s upper, and also around this same time I learned that a human being is not supposed to consume two of those massive cups of soda. Technically this was something I was already aware of, but sometimes you re-learn things without meaning to. I wasn’t feeling too hot. The tacos helped a little, but I was feeling a little sluggish, so I decided after seeing signs on the walls in the entrances to the left field bleachers urging everyone to do so, that I would take it upon myself to move our group to the 300 level before everyone else did. I met the others down on the main concourse, where it was announced that Matt and Nicole would have to leave due to having child care to get back to. I sent them packing on a tiny guilt trip about missing the fireworks, but parents have to do what they have to do, so we parted ways. Gray went out to smoke, and Ethel wanted to finish her beer, so while they did that, I hopped on an elevator for higher climes. It was around the 7th by the time all of this was decided anyway, and the Cubbies had gotten their four runs, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to “leave” the game for a bit to find fireworks seats. At that point, I figured that this would be just another Mariners game, losing to the most lovable of losers. But no…
I ran to get a soon-closing elevator, much to the surprise of the people who were already on it. I am sure it is not often anyone sees a goth running, let alone jumping into an elevator at the last minute at a baseball game. I verified that the third level was what I needed, too, and the elevator guy took us upstairs. When I got up there, the Mariners were batting again. And Jason Bay had a base! Via walking!
I had to move several times because I wasn’t entirely sure where the fireworks show would start, but once I got the seats we wound up sitting in, this was happening on the top of the Seahawks garage across the way:
The bottom of the 8th of course is when the magic started to happen. With a Cubs pitching change at the beginning of the inning, and a Nick Franklin double and subsequent Kendrys Morales double to score Franklin for our third run of the game, more excitement was building. When Raul Ibanez stepped up to the plate, the crowd was saying “UUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!” before PA announcer Tom Hutyler even got the chance to start his announcement of Ibanez’s name. I’m sure the expression on my face made me look like I had just gotten a Christmas present – and I kind of did, because Raul Ibanez hit a freaking triple to left field! The game was tied! Did we actually have a chance of winning a comebacker and then watching things explode?! This was way too good to be true.
Iwakuma was taken out of the game in the 9th in favor of Oliver Perez, who has a 0.94 ERA or something ridiculous like that. Perez proved to be too much for the Cubbies to handle. Alfonso Soriano and Anthony Rizzo struck out swinging. Ryan Sweeney struck out looking. And then extras!
Yoervis Medina came into the 10th inning to polish off three batters with the help of his defense, even while allowing a single to Dioner Navarro. Then, the bottom of the 10th. I wanted nothing more at this point that simply to go home and take a shower; I was sticking to myself, my clothes felt heavy even though they were super loose and wavy, and my foot hurt from a blister because I had opted not to wear socks because I knew it would be warm. So I really wanted this one to be it.
And it was.
Cubs reliever Blake Parker gave walks to both Michael Saunders and Raul Ibanez. He was asked to leave, possibly even being told to go sit in a corner and think about what he had just done…
Parker was replaced by Shawn Camp. Camp allowed Jason Bay a sacrifice bunt to move runners forward, and then Camp and his catcher decided to walk Justin Smoak to get to Mike Zunino. Smoak’s BA is better than Zunino’s, but Zunino has been known to make contact with a few baseballs; I felt that this was a poor decision on Chicago’s part, but then this happened, so who am I to argue?
And that was all she wrote. The atmosphere in the place was phenomenal when this happene, made even more palpable by the fact that everyone was sticking around for fireworks; it wasn’t a cheer-and-leave situation. People chatted with each other, everyone was smiling, it was so much fun. I am hoping that this post communicates that for anyone who was not there. Ethel and Gray had by this point joined me (that is Gray yelling expletives at the Cubs on the video) and we nestled in for the fireworks show.
It is at this point that I confess that I attempted to capture the entire thing on video, but it has become apparent to me that I need a larger memory card. So I can only rely on the ineffectiveness of the English language (and my sad command of it) to properly explain what a brilliant job this was on the organization’s part.
The whole thing started out with some light banks going out, and the big screen lighting up with fireworks graphics while gradually-swelling music played in the background. This went on for about two minutes or so while flashbulbs popped off in a darkened stadium. At the apex of this, it was announced that we would be seeing some “more memorable fireworks” or something to that effect, by way of audio clips and on-screen stills of some of the bigger home runs in the team’s history. Dave Niehaus’s voice could be heard on almost all of them. The crowd cheered for all of them with varying levels of noise depending on the popularity in history of the play, and then with the last featured homer, everything went up. You’re about to be bombarded with photos and video clips.
They only played the first verse or so of the song, but this was all that happened during that time, just a soft beautiful shower of sparks flying down from the sign while the song faded out to Dave yelling “Swung on and belted! Deep to right field! My Oh My!” during the bridge. If it had gone on for longer, I won’t lie; I would have cried a little.
That faded out into “Centerfield”, and more timed and attempted-timed explosions everywhere.
And with that, one of the best baseball games I have ever been to was done. What a night!
Today of course is Turn Back the Clock Night. It is just a bit after noon, and I need to drop into work for a smidge today, so I need to stop writing now, but I strongly urge anyone who was not there last night to go to the next Fireworks Night on August 9th. With a debatable ability to have a winning season, and a certainty that we are not going to the playoffs this year, one must find a bit of joy where one can. I declare the first Fireworks Night a rousing success for the team and fans alike. Now, I shall don cotton clothing, and spend my day drinking far more water than Nature intended. Cheers!
June 28, 2013Posted by on
I am taking a bit of a longer lunch today because I am an adult and I can. Also because I can’t get into Safeco later until my friend shows up to the will-call office, so there really isn’t any point in leaving work early today…
I have wanted to write lately, but I have been putting it off due to a camera issue: that is, I cannot find my camera cord to transfer all the pictures I have taken over the past few games I’ve been to; and without the pictures, writing feels kind of pointless. I thought I would be able to find it this week after my Aquasox adventure last Sunday, but I haven’t been home a lot the past few days due to games and other out-of-the-house things, so I am still without a way to post photos just yet. Will work more on that later, maybe a few photo-only posts just to get stuff out there.
But, last Sunday was good fun. It was my first glimpse of newbie DJ Peterson, and Justin Seager, both of whom have a lot of hype to live up to. And you know, both of them were pretty good. The opposition over the weekend series were the Hillsboro Hops. That’s Hillsboro, Oregon. I guess after the departure of the Beavers from Portland in favor of the MLS Timbers FC, Hillsboro built a stadium, and the Yakima Bears were moved southwest. They are a Diamondbacks affiliate.
The Hops’ pitching stymied the Sox until the fifth inning, when Everett loaded up the bases, and DJ Peteson stepped to the plate. With an amazing swing of the bat, Peterson sent a pitch up over the wall to bring everyone home, and erase the 5-0 score that we had been dealing with that far. There was a bench clearing in the 6th inning after Sox runner Jamodrick McGruder ran into the Hops’ catcher at the plate, resulting in a brief pile of both men; the catcher Yosbel Gutierrez puff-chested his way into getting everyone to come into what looked like it was going to be quite a fray; but no punches were thrown, and after the managers for both teams aired their grievances nose-to-nose, everyone went back to their posts as he inning was finished after this last out.
The game itself was won with a walkoff single courtesy of Justin Seager, and we all jumped up and cheered as the rain started to fall much harder than it had been all game long. There are certainly worse ways to spend a vaguely-gray and humid Sunday.
This particular game, though, is made far more significant to me by it being my first in-person kitty-on-the-field sighting! In the third inning, a cat attempted to make its way along the right field fences to places unknown. It was eventually corraled by the outfielders and a coach and released on the proper side of the fence for cats, but not before giving their right fielder a bit of a battle. All said and done, kitty was wrapped up in a warmup jacket and set free, much to the “oooh”s nd “awwww”s of the crowd present. I’ve got audio of Pat Dillon’s call on 1380AM during the ordeal, and video footage of the incident can be found here. I was absolutely delighted at both the win and the cat; I love firsts!
I was at this last Tuesday’ game against the Pirates with Daniel Carroll, my partner in crime on the Mariner Basho Twitter account. What we lack in haiku as of late, we made up for in cracking jokes at the actual game. He is one of my favorite people to see a game with, particularly if the game is going poorly; a laugh is definitely needed during those times. We did the early-in thing for season ticket holders and watched the Mariners take BP, chatted with various people, and hung out in The Pen until just before game time. Watching the Pirates take BP, we noticed an increased amount of baseballs finding their way over pretty much every wall in Safeco. I had hoped it was due to the soft-pitching they might have been getting from coaches, and surely, surely against Joe Saunders, the hits would be far less frequent….right? Clearly not. The game was a vast disappointment and honestly the only thing that saved it for me was the company and beer. The Pirates swept us, of course, our bats being quiet once again for Felix Hernandez and the King’s Court during the afternoon game on Wednesday. I am not saying anything new by publicly agonizing over the fact that we have this wonderful pitcher, this guy who has chosen to stay here rather than go anywhere else, and the organization has not produced an offensive line worthy of that dedication to this city. I am tiring of “there’s always next year”; and I’m not even expecting a World Series; I just want a winning season, at this point. But we are 12 games back near the All Star Break. I guess at .430, a .500 season isn’t absolutely impossible, but getting there is becoming painful.
Tonight and tomorrow, I will be at Safeco watching the Ms take on the Chicago Cubs. Tonight is fireworks night, the first one at the park. I am curious as to how they’re going to pull this off, given what I perceive as a lack of space and the general odd concept of having a fireworks show in a stadium in a metropolitain area. We don’t have water to put a barge in like for 4th of July and NYE. Should be entertaining. Tomorrow, if it’s not too humid out, I plan to get spruced up in some of my best 1920s-inspired clothes and take in Turn Back the Clock Night from the comfort of the Terrace Club. Tom is out of town at a music festival, so I decided to take myself out on an expensive date. If it’s too hot out, I will likely toss on a t-shirt or something a little less complicated, but I am hoping for a nice evening out on my own, and am looking forward to what the Ms come up with, turning the clock back to the early 1900s. My favorite so far was the 1938 one they did a few years back. So much fun!
See you at the park!
Tonight I am going to be going to