Complaints about Seattle stickball with @Section331 and sometimes @tworsandtwols.


I Will Miss Lloyd McClendon

By the time I am able to post this from draft, the Mariners will have made their public announcement regarding the letting go of manager Lloyd McClendon. I never know what to say when stuff like this happens. I’d hoped that maybe new GM Jerry Dipoto would see fit to keep McClendon around, maybe see what his strategy might be with whomever Dipoto decided to trade or move around between here and Tacoma (Dipoto apparently favors trades over shiny new giant contracts), but, as expected, we’re not going to find out.

Lloyd McClendon was the 6th manager the Mariners have had since I’ve been  a fan, and my second favorite. Don Wakamatsu, of course, was my favorite. The only other manager who really made an impact on the team or me as a fan was Eric Wedge, and given his years of 2011-2013, well, I guess the impact was more or less negative. I didn’t have anything against Wedge as a person, I don’t remember being particularly annoyed by his presence here, but the team was terrible and I have the tendency to remember the good years over the bad. Don Wakamatsu gave me a good 2009 with a team that is still one of my favorites, but that quickly turned sour in 2010 when the team took a nose dive and Wak got canned mid-season. I remember Wedge having a lot of problems with the front office, and parting with some bad blood and not-too-nice words for Jack Zduriencik after the 2013 season. When McClendon came on board, I was cautious because I didn’t know him, but, as always, open to the new experience of things I had no control over.

And McClendon proved to be a pretty good manager over the past two years; he came out of this with a record of 163-161; and in baseball, that’s not terrible. Some of his bullpen use was question mark-inducing, but by and large, the boys did OK under him, and I will forever remember him as the man who not only fought against a call he didn’t like while we were in New York, but who went around to every umpire on the diamond, reading them the riot act in a manner that I hope, somewhere, made Lou Piniella proud. If you’d like to relive that memory –and you should, it was amazing – you can find video here.  McClendon gave every umpire what-for, was run out, and took Mike Zunino with him. Apparently also at that link, there is video of him doing something similar while in a Pittsburgh Pirates uniform. But I have never seen a manager yell at every umpire. So Lloyd is special and I will fondly remember him. I am glad to have his jersey and a framed photo of him from when I did my 5K earlier this year.

So what happens now? I don’t even know who might be available, or how much of a hurry the team might be to obtain a new manager. We don’t even know what will happen with our roster. While Dipoto has said that Nelson Cruz will be staying here (possibly the only real question in Big Contract Land, since the years on Cruz’s contract are far less than some of the other larger ones we have), what moves will he make that will both render the team better for 2016, and not make him the most hated general manager in Mariners history? I say this last bit because if Dipoto is going to clean house and prefers trades, we have some pretty big chips, and in baseball – especially in Seattle – I don’t feel like anyone is safe, regardless of how much we think they are. Hopefully Dipoto fully understands what players like Felix Hernandez, Kyle Seager, and Robinson Cano mean to the fans in this town. Does Iwakuma stay? Taijuan Walker? Will Ketel Marte be around to develop further in our system? Or is everyone up for grabs? This is the part of all of this that scares me the most. Will we even recognize the 2016 Mariners team? I have some degree of concern over how much overhaul we’re really looking at here.

In the meantime, I hope that Lloyd McClendon is able to land another managerial job, if any teams out there might be in need. He stands up for his guys, he’s up front with the press, and you could do a hell of a lot worse. Good luck, Lloyd. You’ll be missed.

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Adorable Baby Bears, Murderous Pillagers Play Baseball

Daniel is faster than I thought he would be, and wrote a post about the season ticket holder event that he went to on Saturday, the day before my last post. Check that out here, or scroll down, because you are an adult capable of making adult decisions. Don’t let me tell you what to do! I was unfortunately not able to make it, due to money and previously-scheduled plans, but it sounds like Dipoto was forthcoming with his plans, occasionally fielding questions that were a little more like mini-rants, and not actually questions at all (not covered in the article, Daniel just told me some fans were using their time to vent). One of the risks you take giving a microphone to fans is having those fans say literally whatever pops into their heads. I’m sure Dipoto is used to it.

As I start this, we are in the bottom of the 4th inning in the National League Wild Card tiebreaker between the Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates. The Cubs are already up by 3 runs, and Jake Arrieta is dealing. I had to walk away from the TV a bit – we have a kitty who is sort of sickly and I had to take care of him – and by the time I got back to the game, Dexter Fowler was taking the fourth run in, after hitting a solo dinger. In the bottom of the 5th, poor Francisco Cervelli got hit by a pitch in such a manner that I thought he had been beaned; leaning back to miss what might have hit him in the face, it just caught his hands around the bat and knocked his helmet off as he fell to the ground. Cervelli got his base, of course, and with two outs faced Pedro Alvarez, who was brought in to pinch hit. Arrietta wasn’t having it, and even though Alvarez looked ready to make the game more interesting, he got caught looking on an 88 MPH slider.

Antonio Bastardo came in to relieve the Pirates’ starter, whose name I cannot track down right now because GameDay is being super wonky and I have been in and out of the cat thing and I am writing this as I go (EDIT; Gerritt Cole). Arrieta started to flail a little though, and wound up loading the bases.  Manager Joe Maddon came out to speak with him, and I don’t know what he said, but Arrietta managed to get Starling Marte to ground into a double play to end the inning. PNC Park went from a roar to silence very quickly, and after commercial came back to the top of the 7th inning, was settling into just another day at the ballpark noise. Until,  that is, Pirates pitcher Tony Watson plunked Jake Arrietta in the hip and caused a dugout-clearing scrum. Arrietta plunked two guys tonight, and while I don’t think it was intentional, the Bucs clearly did. Everyone went out, including the two bullpens, halfheartedly spilling out into the outfield, while both benches went at each other. Sean Rodriguez said or had someone say something to him that infuriated him to the extent that he had to be separated from the melee, in spite of the fact that it had little to do with him (unless he was one of the Pirates players who was hit by Arrietta, but I have been in and out of this this evening). Back in the Bucs’ dugout, Rodriguez beat up a water cooler and was ejected from the game. Jake Arrietta, meanwhile, took care of what remained of the Pirates’ batting lineup, and held the score at 4-0 Cubs.

Pitcher Joakim Soria took the hill for Pittsburg in the top of the 8th, and gave up a walk to Chris Denorfia, then got Chris Bryant to strike out swinging. The same treatment followed for Anthony Rizzo, who was called out. Arrietta came back out for the bottom of the 8th looking a little worn, but still throwing strikes. He was at nearly 100 pitches in this game and working a little slower now. Saving the bullpen. Smart. Josh Harrison was his final batter for that inning, and Harrison tipped a foul and was thrown out at first.

Reliever Mark Melanchon took the bump for Pittsburgh in the top of the 9th and took out Starling Castro almost immediately. Miguel Montero hit a short one to the first baseman Pedro Alvarez, and didn’t make it to the bag. Shortstop Addison Russell smacked a double over to left field, but was tagged out easily at the base, and now comes the moment of truth. Do the Pirates rally, or do they go down with a whisper? Arrietta decided to find out for himself, and took the mound once again to deal to Andrew McCutcheon. A comebacker later, McCutcheon was out. Starling Marte had no luck, either. Francisco Cervelli was the Pirates’ last hope, and he lined out to Starlin Castro while people in a bar in Chicago went nuts, and the Pirates walked quietly to their dugout, finished with a 98-win season. Jake Arrieta’s 22nd win in 2015 is now in the books, a 4-0 shutout.

I have to be sleeping soon, so I will just say this…I want the Cubs to win it all. I am not so emotionally invested that I will be too bummed out if they fall, but I’d like to see them break the curse. I want to be here to see it when it happens, and this game is so hard on these guys. A climb like this that these players make is surely difficult physically and emotionally, and you don’t get many chances. Once a year, and then you roll the rock back up the hill again. Sure, what a lot of people say might be true, that Cubbies fans and their bandwagoners will become unbearable for a while, or maybe forever…but I don’t really care about that. Ultimately, it’s the history of the game and how the game is played that has always fascinated me, and this is something, in my estimation, that falls under the category of a Really Big Deal in baseball. Will they go on to beat the St Louis Cardinals? I don’t know. I can’t watch Friday’s game, as I will be at a show that night; so this weekend might get pretty interesting.

And now, ’tis bedtime. We still have another month of baseball. Not Mariners baseball, but baseball nonetheless. I’ll take it.

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Thoughts On The Mariners GM Situation

So that’s it. The Mariners cap the season off with a win, and everyone goes home to take a break or play in Arizona or the Latin leagues, or a little bit of all of that. Yesterday’s game was bittersweet , as it is every year. I got to say hi to some folks I know from Lookout Landing (they had organized something there that I happened to wind up in the middle of, but Tom and I only stuck around for a bit because we were hungry), we had a nice brunch in the Hit It Here Café, and had some nice seats in row 9 of section 120, and I even remembered to bring my glove, though I didn’t have any occasion to use it (I’m going to be thankful for that). Chatter with the fans around us and a lack of rain topped off everything, and Tom wound up inadvertently catching a child’s Felix Hernandez cape that one of the players threw literally right at him as we were trying to leave, surrounded by fans attempting to get the shirts, baseballs, and other things being tossed at them by the players after the game.

So now what?

Well, we have a new general manager who is going to have to prove himself to everyone and seems to be happy about doing the job. I have nothing against Jerry Dipoto, as I have no experience with him. But I feel the hype around him is indicative of the short memories of sports fans. News articles I’ve been seeing lately and fan comments on Twitter are leaving me with a very distinct feeling of déjà vu. Yes. We have been here before.

When Jack Zduriencik came on board, I very distinctly remember everyone talking about him in much the same way people are talking about Dipoto now; he used statistics, he wasn’t like Bill Bavasi, he had a different approach to scouting, he was the guy we needed to turn everything around. We were really excited about it. I sat in the downtown branch of the Seattle Public Library with about 200+ other people, for a Lookout Landing/USS Mariner-sponsored event. No press allowed, no information leaves the room. It was the first of several I would attend in such a group, and I even ran my post about it by Jeff Sullivan prior to posting, just to make sure I didn’t do too much talking about things I wasn’t supposed to talk about. We were there for almost over 4 hours. I could have easily done 6, had they given me a pillow to sit on and a cocktail (if you’ve never been in that room, the seats in it are horrible for someone with a bad back. Or a back). Zduriencik responded to some excellent questions, and he responded honestly and candidly, and gave us information that the papers did, could, or would not. He seemed like the right guy. He seemed like a baseball guy with an edge, and everyone was very excited.

And the 2008 season happened. It was disappointing , but we were assured that it was just the death throes of the Bavasi era, and that we just needed some more time to clean house, make some trades, and succeed. And 2009 was a fun year. The Ichiro and Ken Griffey Junior bromance gave the team character, as did John Wetteland and the gladiator bullpen. We were the little team that could. And we did; a winning season, coming out over .500. A triumphant march around the field after the last game culminated in Ichiro being picked up by Griffey, and so much smiling it was ridiculous. We were going to make it next year.

And we so were. Zduriencik pulled the Cliff Lee trade out of almost literally nowhere, and people were elated. But Griffey stayed, and there were murmurs of ‘maybe this isn’t the best idea’. We had Russell Branyan, Eric Byrnes, and Chone Figgins, who was signed to a questionable contract. Don’t even get me started on Milton Bradley’s presence. I wanted him to succeed because he was ours. I had no idea at the time that he was as terrible a human being as he is. Toxicity ran rampant in the clubhouse. Griffey left suddenly, simply packing up a trailer and starting off driving cross-country to Florida. Eric Byrnes left the team on a bicycle, riding from the locker room, through the access halls and out on his merry way to go play beer league ball with friends, and after a few years, obtaining a job as an on-air MLB analyst. Chone Figgins attacked Don Wakamatsu – still my favorite manager – in the dugout during a game over some difference of opinion that I can’t even remember now, the two having to be separated by Branyan, and a while after that, on Japanese-American heritage night, the only Japanese American major league manager was let go unceremoniously. John Wetteland was replaced after 2010 by Eric Wedge, who also left the team in 2013, after suffering a stroke. Wedge and Zduriencik also had differences of opinion on certain things, and it became clear after he left that things in the higher ranks of the Mariners organization were not as great as we initially thought they were.

Blogger meetups became more public, and press was allowed in. Questions were either avoided, or given the same answer anyone could read in the papers. Transparency vanished. By the end of 2013, the blogosphere seemed pretty much cut off from any dealings with the front office, and I think the last time I remember thinking “this is all over” was this one time we were all sat up in the 300 level watching batting practice and having a lot of questions avoided by Tom McNamara; Carmen Fusco had been gone a few years at this point, as had many other scouts and coaches.

And now of course we have had another lousy season, Jack Zduriencik has been let go, and while there is talk in the press of a future for Lloyd McClendon, I have the feeling that it will be a short future, and it would not surprise me if McClendon is let go and someone else is brought in, as is the usual drill when a new GM is hired.

Do I think any of the past few years were Zduriencik’s fault? I find some of the trades he made were not the best of ideas. Getting rid of John Jaso and Doug Fister were probably not the best moves at all. I still don’t know if I can forgive him for sending Jason Vargas away. We’ve had some successes and failures; I mean, this year could have been a lot worse, but it also could have been a lot better, and the pieces were in place for it to be. Regression aside, we tanked hard. How do you go from the best bullpen in the AL to what we wound up with in 2015? We increased our hitting capacity with the additions of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, yet having runners in scoring position was literally the worst thing that could have happened to the Mariners this year. For every Iwakuma no-hitter or Felix win record or Logan Morrison dinger, it seemed like there were ten times bad baserunning, no baserunning, no plate patience, no power (seriously, there were at least four or five hits at yesterday’s game that should have gone over the wall and weren’t hit far enough), and ultimately, another loss. It’s not an easy explanation, and I don’t feel like it was Zduriencik’s fault entirely, but it’s going to get more difficult for the Mariners to make good trades if we keep fielding bad teams; and it’s already difficult enough, without us throwing money at players to get them here. So something needs to happen.

And maybe a fresh face/new rules situation will help that, I don’t know. As many people have said, Mr Dipoto has been successful in other cities with other teams, and has an appreciation for stats and Moneyball-style scouting. I think that my opinion of what he can do will have to depend entirely on what he does in the next few months. I want to look forward to the winter meetings again, without worrying that we’re going to do nothing and then wind up with another Rickie Weeks or Casey Kotchman or, yeah, I’ll say it even though I still love him, Willie Bloomquist. Or a scramble pick before or during Spring Training that hampers the development of another player or eliminates entirely a player I might like to have seen develop or play here. Am I taking the easy way out here? You’re damn right I am. I have placed too much confidence in so many members of this organization, I have to take it on a wait and see basis, maybe for the rest of my baseball fandom. So now I wait to see what my opinion is of Mr Jerry Dipoto, and whether or not firing Jack Zduriencik, the guy who was supposed to save us, was the right thing to do.

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STH Dipoto Q&A Recap

The Seattle Mariners hosted an event prior to Saturday’s game against Oakland where Season Ticket Holders had an opportunity to ask a few questions of Jerry Dipoto, the freshly-minted Mariners General Manager. While front office guys like Dipoto aren’t known for making clear and strong statements about players or plans, hearing him talk a bit about the game and building a roster gives us a little room to try to read between the lines and see what might be going on upstairs.

One of the areas of curiosity, of course, is Dipoto’s exit from Anaheim. While he makes it clear that he’s not interested in throwing Mike Scioscia or Arte Moreno under the bus, he did make the comment that he doesn’t think much, strategically, of building a team through free agency – a strategy I think it’s fair to say that the Angels employed in the last several years when they gave contracts to Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, and Josh Hamilton. Building a club through free agency can get a team in trouble, and though he didn’t expound on that, you can see where a highly-paid, poorly-performing player can mean problems.

A sore spot for the Mariners the last several years has been the development (or lack thereof) of young players. Dipoto mentioned here that he had a preference for having the young players reach the big league level in almost a tiered fashion, one after the other. Loading the lineup with a ton of young guys could exacerbate the problems they’ll face, especially if there isn’t a lot of veteran leadership on the team. There was some talk here about slowing down the game for the younger guys through the proper support of veteran players and mentorship. He cited Raul Ibanez’s time in Anaheim to support this point, which is interesting as he was Designated for Assignment in June of 2014 after his 2013 campaign with the Mariners. Suffice it to say, as a stats guy I’m a little skeptical here, but I get the sense that he’d like to balance youth with veterans rather than rely on youth almost completely like it seems the Mariners have done in the last couple years.

On the player development angle, Dipoto also raised an interesting point; the Mariners farm system is apparently the worst in baseball in strikeout rate. He inherited a similar problem in Anaheim and was able to raise their profile in this area. He spoke a bit about the importance sometimes of just getting on base and not always being focused on batting average, which could prove important. It was floated out there that this change in strategy in the minors to “control the strike zone” might help some of the prospects down there turn around their fortunes, especially if they’d been told to swing hard in case you hit it.

As far as the big league club is concerned, I’m sure you’ve heard him speak to the need for increased depth in the lineup and the starting rotation. Dipoto mentioned here that he generally prefers trades and might look into some “two for ones.” While that certainly sounds good, perhaps the Zduriencik-era trade that worked out the worst was Doug Fister for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, Chance Ruffin, and Francisco Martinez. Volume is nice, but it strikes me that quality is more important. Here’s hoping he can identify that better than the last guy. I suppose it’s worth noting here too that he specifically commented that he has no intention of trading Nelson Cruz.

Dipoto just strikes me as a reasonable guy, overall. I don’t know if he’s going to be successful ultimately, but he seems humble and ready to work with uncertainty. “Plan A has worked exactly zero times,” he said during the meeting, going over his efforts to build a lineup that could go a dozen deep and a pitching rotation where something like ten serviceable guys could be called upon to pitch for the big club. As he mentioned a couple of times, the goal is to have that done by April. Good luck, Mr. Dipoto, and godspeed.


Insert Mariners-Related Headline Here

A busy schedule and an uninspiring baesball team makes me a something-something…

I was going to spend some time today completing a post I had started weeks ago on Jack Zduriencik , but WordPress does not seem to have auto-saved it, and I didn’t want to start from scrach again. I will figure something else out later, becuase it is something I’d like to address. The Mariners are currently playing in Ahaheim with Hisashi Iwakuma on the bump for the Ms and Jered Weaver taking arm duty for the Angels. We have lost two of this three-game series, so my hopes are not high. Tomorrow we start a three-game series with Houston, and my hopes are even less high that anything positive can come out of that. I have reached the point where we might as well lose to help the Angels beat the Astros (David Friese just hit a solo dinger, and I am not currently a fan of anything coming out of Texas), but right now I’m kind of focusing on the end series next weekend, the post season, and the beginning (for me) of football season.

I’m not going to lie, this year has been really difficult for me and blogging. There is literally nothing I can tell you that you can’t read elsewhere written by smarter people who know more about this team than I do. It’s hard to want to spend so much time with a team that has tanked the way the Mariners did this season – coming off of a good season last year and now sitting at .477 (a number that will change by the time this game is over). I bring my camera to games, but I don’t take as many photos as I used to, and I have even less desire to upload them here and talk about them; by the time I get home from a game, I need to go to bed, and by the time I wake up at 5 the next morning, deep apathy has sunk in, and I figure well, everyone else has already covered all of this anyway. All I can contribute to the discussion is how warm it was there, that I may have joked with other fans behind or in front of me, that I maybe tried some new food…everything else is done by other people who are paid on a daily basis to figure out how many ways there are to say that this team has been a disappointment. If I was paid, I’d be queen of the thesaurus. Alas.

This season has not been without its perks. Our boy Hisashi Iwakuma threw his first career no-hitter against the Orioles, the Mariners fifth no-hitter. He was the first American League pitcher to throw such a game since Felix’s perfecto in 2012, and the second Japanese pitcher in MLB history to do it. I like to think that there might be a little space in Cooperstown for Iwakuma, a guy who has been pretty faithful to us when healthy. Maybe a game ball or a pair of shoes with a nice plaque somewhere, as you wind towards the Hall of Fame. Iwakuma is one of the guys I’ve liked since he first got here, which is rare; usually players need to prove themselves a lot more, but Kuma has come in strong out of the gate. His W-L records have always been heavy on the win side, and while he has had his injuries and fair share of hard times since he got here in 2012, he has remained a +WAR pitcher with a nice happy FIP of 3.87. He is a lot like Ichiro; very stoic and efficient, and almost always gets the job done as it is required of him. If I am reading BBR correctly, his contract is up this year, but I hope they figure out a way to keep him around longer. He has been very good for our team, and I feel like he could be an integral piece of a winning Mariners team, if that is to happen any time soon. At 34, he’s still throwing well. He’ll be a free agent next year.

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So now I turn my attention to the last series of the year next weekend, the playoffs, and Green Bay Packers football. The New York Mets and Kansas City Royals have already won their divisions. The Blue Jays, Cardinals, Pirates, and Cubs (THE CUBS!!!) have clinched playoff opportunities. The battle for every division other than the NL East is close with literally a week left to be decided. Of all of the teams above, I trend towards the Mets and the Cubs. All hope for Wild Card play from any of my other teams is already over. Baltimore is currently 5.5 games in back of the WC, and Detroit is so far in the basement they need a flashlight. Arizona was middling this year, and will likely finish the season just below .500. The Phillies have spent all year struggling through everything thrown at them, and will likely have the first pick in the draft next year, competing only with the Atlanta Braves for that honor.

So because I’m not planning on concerning myself with the Wild Card ins and outs any time soon, now I wait to see what is going to happen; which is the sort of a method of watching sports that I prefer in general anyway. It’s an interesting group that will make it out of the regular season, maybe one of the most interesting for a few years, and I do love a surprise. Meanwhile, Fan Appreciation Night is happening at Safeco this coming Friday, and I plan to be there, and then the traditional last game of the season. And then plans for the 2016 season start and we will see what it is that the Mariners front office now thinks it can do with the ashes of 2015.

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Everett Aquasox Clinch Playoff Spot

From the inbox this morning:

Everett hosts Tri-City in first-round matchup Sept. 7

EVERETT, Wash. — The Everett AquaSox clinched a berth to the 2015 Northwest League Playoffs with an 8-5 win in 12 innings over Spokane on Wednesday, Sept. 2, at Avista Stadium in Spokane. The AquaSox will host the first game in a three-game playoff series against Tri-City at 7:05 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7, at Everett Memorial Stadium.

Tickets start at $15 for upper box seats to the first-round playoff game and are on sale now at, in the AquaSox front office at 3802 Broadway in Everett, and by phone at 425-258-3673. Fans can also get field box tickets for $17 and diamond club tickets for $20.

“We’re ecstatic that the team has made the playoffs,” AquaSox General Manager Danny Tetzlaff said. “How ’bout them Frogs? This just caps off an extraordinary season with a bang!”

To celebrate the playoff berth, the AquaSox will hold special playoff promotions. The first 500 fans at the game on Monday will receive a special edition AquaSox playoff t-shirt, presented by Pepsi. All gates open at 5:30 p.m. so fans can enjoy $5 Coors Light and two for one hot dogs until 6:30 p.m.

Game two will be played at Tri-City on Tuesday, Sept. 8, with a third game, if necessary, on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at Tri-City. The winner of the series will advance to the championship series against the winner of the first-round match-up between Hillsboro and Eugene or Salem-Keizer.

The three-game championship series is scheduled to be played between Thursday-Sunday, Sept. 10-13. The winner from the south hosts game one, and the north will host game two and three, if necessary.

I am still toying with the idea of going, but am not sure, as now it’s a money issue, and I am between paychecks currently, with a fairly large event coming up that will require a bunch of my attention, time, and money. But  we have playoff Mariners baseball in the state of Washington, and sometimes you take what you can get. I have been to a playoff game in Everett before, and the atmosphere was really something else. Minor league fans can be crazier than their major league counterparts, and it is a lot of rowdy fun, especially if the Frogs do well, and Everett Memorial is a good stadium. Not really a bad seat in the house. So go if you can, and maybe I’ll see you there. Go tiny Mariners!

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Some Words About The Mariners Past Two Days

***So this didn’t go where I thought it was going to go, and now it’s too late. I’m posting it anyway.

I didn’t watch the game yesterday. We had a few friends over for a casual dinner and hang out time, and I was actually at Friday’s game, so it seemed like I could skip a day. We watched some stuff on HBO, and in between one movie to the next, the TV landed back on the game, which I had checked when the score was 1-0. It was the 9th inning at that point, and my friend Jennifer suggested I might want to watch it because “something important” might happen. But I am already very much aware of what happens when a Mariners game is in extras, and opted for a Louis CK comedy special instead. Turns out that was a better idea than the 6-3 loss I would have witnessed.

A short while later, I checked my email and found that I had been right. And then discovered over Facebook that Fernando Rodney had been DFA’d.

It is hard for me to see a guy who did so well by us last year fall into utter and complete ruin. Rodney seemed like he was genuinely happy to be here, too, and seemed to get along with everyone. He was part of last year’s seemingly escalating success, and in spite of the whole Fernando Rodney Experience situation, when he nailed it, he nailed it pretty good. I was speaking with a friend yesterday regarding whether or not Rodney was “dominant”, and he did not consider him to be so. But really, sometimes with sports, I don’t care how the job is done, just that it actually gets done. And for that, in spite of the Fernandocoaster, 48 saves is not a bad number at all. So it feels like kind of a bummer, but frankly, we need a better guy out there. We need a lot of things, but the one thing we truly need is a pitcher who can come into a tight game or a game at risk and just throw strikes. I know better than to try and project anything as far as what might await Rodney in the future, so I will just hope that maybe another team kicks the tires on the pitcher and it works out for him. I don’t wish him any ill will, it’s just that his time in Seattle has to be over.

I think the thing I find most alarming about the designation of our former closer is that Lloyd McClendon is rumored to have requested it over a month ago. I know the Mariners front office and ownership gets a lot of criticism, and I have long thought that maybe it was just disgruntled fans looking for a reason for the team’s continued failure; but now? Now I think I finally believe some of the things people have been saying about the people who run and own this team. The former main owner of the team, Hiroshi Yamauchi (RIP) had never attended a Mariners game, and Mariners CEO Howard Lincoln was apparently completely OK with that. “A man of his age and stature” shouldn’t have to explain why he doesn’t go to see a game played by a team he owns. Seriously?! Corporate shill much, buddy? The problem with the Mariners, of course, is that they are a team owned by people who don’t really seem to care all that much about the game of baseball. The front office can sit around and have cocktails in their suite and pat themselves on the back all they like about landing Robinson Cano, nailing Felix and Kyle Seager down, and nabbing Nelson Cruz for a few more years. But not making the moves necessary when the guy who is closer to the game than any of them is requesting a DFA of a pitcher who is failing so miserably is absolutely inexcusable. I guess as long as the money keeps coming in, right, guys? Ugh.

I was talking to Tom about this while we were grabbing some ciders at FX McRory’s prior to Friday night’s homestand against the White Sox. He was pointing out that things – of course – would be better if the team was a winning team, that the Mariners would be able to get more money out of a team that was going well. But the ugly secret nobody seems to mention all that often is that even if the team is terrible, the Mariners raise their ticket prices anyway. So it doesn’t really matter to them if the team is awful, because left field bleacher seats aren’t selling for $14 anymore; sometimes they sell for $22 or $24. Sometimes. And don’t even get me started in on “premium” pricing; that is a whole other rant I have rattling around in my head. Premium for whom? Not those of us who don’t make a lot of money, that is for damn sure; I am thankful I don’t have kids, or I’d never attend a game, either. When I first started sitting in left field a few years ago, my two spots on the bleachers were just a bit over $500. Now? Easily over $700. And what has this team done since my first season ticket holder year of 2008? Outside of 2009, and 2014 – both winning seasons – this team has been a dismal excuse for a major league ball club. Yet I and people like me are being penalized financially for sticking it out through two years of 101 losses, and this terrible year as well. It shouldn’t cost over $150 to take a family of four out somewhere (given the fact that most families sit in the 300 section, you’re already looking at seats around $30 a pop). Baseball is a game that is meant to be enjoyed, and I’m not sure how one can enjoy it when you have to empty out your wallet just to walk in the door. The Mariners are already running ads about getting season tickets for next year. I dread to know what my 20-game plan is going to run me, and how many payments I’m going to have to make, and seriously debating not maintaining my STH status if it’s more expensive. I didn’t do it last year, and the decision made to do it this year was made because of last year’s good season; but wanting to hand the Ms my credit card after this year is going to take some serious thought on my part.

As for the disaster of Friday’s game, I don’t know what to say. I had a bunch of friends at the ballpark that night, and sort of chalked it up to just a social night at the game. And after Chicago had a solid grasp on a lead in the 6th inning, I figured it was pretty much downhill from there. Felix didn’t have it, Danny Farquhar and Fernando Rodney really didn’t have it, and I just ate my fish and chips and waited for our turn to sit on the field for the fireworks display.

I don’t know what to do with this team anymore. I’m no longer naive enough to think they can pull it around in August, and sometimes I feel like being more than a casual fan has sort of ruined my chances of ever enjoying the Mariners again; knowledge is power, and power is exhausting. But I will continue to stick it out until early October, and I will follow my other teams then and if that fails, there is always bandwagon space on the Lesser of Two Evils train as my teams get weeded out and I have to choose teams I don’t really care about all that much…I don’t know. The Astros seem kind of plucky this year, don’t they?

Sorry, it’s a downer post. I had some opinions on things. Here’s a picture of Felix to make up for it.

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