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.

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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.

Screen Shot 2015-08-23 at 10.50.30 AM



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Mariners Lose In Most Mariner-y Way Possible

With the recently-installed firewalls at work, I have no idea how this is going to go, but let’s give it a shot anyway, shall we? I can’t access my email from work (super helpful, guys), so I am having to use sites that I can get to, and the Mariners official website is one of those. Here is an article written there about the horror of last night, if you didn’t, couldn’t, or can’t stand to watch anymore. It reads like praise of the Rangers, and should probably be on the Rangers actual site, but I can hardly say I blame Greg Johns and TR Sullivan; the Mariners have got to be difficult to write about these days, even if you’re getting paid for it.

The Mariners put up Taijuan Walker against the Rangers newly-acquired Cole Hamels (which hurts that part of me that is a Phillies fan, even though I know Hamels had his grievances with the team and vice versa), and while the Ms performance prior to the 9th inning could have been better, it also wasn’t the slaughter that occurred over the weekend in Boston. I was convinced that the game would go into extras again, until Tom Wilhelmsen was switched out after the 8th in favor of Fernando Rodney. While Rodney did an excellent job of getting Prince Fielder to strike out swinging, the damage had already been done at that point, because the bases were loaded and Adrian Beltre was at the plate. Rodney handed him a walk, and that was all she wrote; the most Mariner way to lose a game I have maybe ever seen. Even more than blowing it in extras with a catcher on the hill (Jamie Burke, I remember you!)

I haven’t been able to keep up on blog reading lately, and what little news I get comes via Twitter links or discussions with other fans, but man has our bullpen just come down to earth. On fire. With everyone screaming out the windows. Over a cliff, into a ravine. Like a really deep ravine. It used to be that my confidence in the bullpen to get things done if a starter bit the dust was really high; we had nothing to fear, because the pen would take care of the game for the starter. But we can’t say that anymore. This isn’t me being late on the uptake, I’ve known for a while now; but I have never said it out loud in print in any sort of depth. And I’m not even sure this counts as depth, because there are only so many ways to say you’re disappointed in something.

In a lot of ways, this year has been more disappointing than 2008 and 2010 combined. Whereas those teams had maybe one to three players in the entire lineup that seemed to be expected to hold the team up and win somehow, this year we have multiple players who could have made a difference and just haven’t. And a season like this overshadows the truly awesome things that happen during it, like Hisashi Iwakuma’s no-hitter last week that I was supposed to be at (but wasn’t because I misread the schedule and couldn’t get out of work on time), or some of the dramatic extra inning wins that have occurred during the year so far.

We all make jokes that the easiest way to not be disappointed in the Mariners is to simply not expect anything from them; and I don’t think I did. I never think about playoffs at the beginning of the year, because the very concept seems so unreal (not just for the Mariners), and 162 games is an awful lot of baseball. I ignore the predictions of the national media, because most of the time they have very little idea of whence they speak anyway, and their job is to give a bunch of lip service to whatever team they’re told to give it to; plus, national sports reporters are not on the front lines. They don’t see what we see every day during the summer. And they didn’t see it last year, either. But with the lineups shaping up through spring training, guys breaking out and warming up, I would have been cool with a big season for everyone and hoped for – at the least – a division victory. Not too much hope, but hope nonetheless. I’m not angry at the team – that would be silly – but I’m bummed out about it because I really like these guys. Even Fernando Rodney; it killed me last night to see the disappointment on his face after that walk, and I have to think it makes for really uncomfortable post-game goings-on. The game was on the line, extras could have been forced, and he blew it hard.

Granted, it’s not completely Fernando’s fault; Lloyd McClendon is still running him out there in these tied end-of-game situations. Sometimes it works, but more often than not it feels like it doesn’t. Maybe we didn’t have a better right hander that was ready (I’ll be honest, I was exhausted and ready to sleep due to having to be up the night before to get Tom from the airport). All I know is that it kills me to see a guy beat the franchise saves record held by Kazuhiro Sasaki last year, and go to an absolute puddle of nothing this season; 16 saves over 50 innings pitched and 43 save opportunities. So sad.

I don’t know what else to say, really. I have heard of changes coming, with rumors floating around that this may be Jack Zduriencik’s last year with the club due to the team’s performance. You can’t kill the team, so someone’s head has to roll. All I know is that I hate seeing 25 guys that I like get the short end of the stick, and it is saddening that I don’t really enjoy watching the game on TV lately. I still love the park – and I am sure that is what the organization banks on (literally) – but watching the games on TV has gotten very depressing. I hate having the “there’s always next year” thoughts in June. Then again, there’s always next year.

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Mariners vs. Orioles: Crab Sandwich Battle

It seems only fitting that I should run this post up while Baltimore is in town. I had planned to do it earlier this year, but political events caused me to decide it was better to do it during a series where the Orioles were actually in town. So since today is the last game of the series, let’s do it.

First of all, I have indeed gone to the past two games. Had hoped to get to today’s, but I misread the schedule and didn’t realize until last week that the game was a day game today, and by then it was a bit too late to ask for the time off. So I went last night and the night before, and while the O’s never did send Darren O’Day in to pitch, both teams had a win and a loss, so I was glad to be there; if my favorite team cannot win, my second favorite team might as well. I have pictures to share from the past two nights (and last Friday’s adventure to Everett for the Aquasox Star Wars night), but sleep is at a premium for me lately, so it will have to wait. I was fortunate enough to be at last night’s win, the first time in the history of baseball that all 15 teams won at home on the same day.  You’d think that might have happened before, but I guess not; and the Mariners nearly messed that up, in the most Mariner-y way possible; but we were able to save the night and help make history.

But today is a day to talk about food. Specifically, this food:


On the left: Baltimore’s crab sandwich. When I went to Camden Yards last year, I asked around about what to see, do, eat and drink at OPACY. I was told by multiple people that I should definitely investigate anything crabby, and indeed crab was just about everywhere I went in Maryland. At $15, the crab sandwich at Orioles Park is maybe a bit more than I’d pay for such a thing, but I was on vacation, so what the heck. And they don’t mess around. The crab salad was light and fluffy, and had touches of celery and onion, sort of like a nice tuna salad. Romaine leaves are tucked into a lighter-than-air roll, and it is topped with a good shake of Old Bay seasoning. In the heat of April 2014, it was very refreshing and fresh, and I enjoyed it. My complaints would be a lack of salt, and the fact that the roll was indeed lighter than air. I think their salad could benefit from maybe a bit of celery salt – not much, just enough to add a bit of punch to the crab flavor – and maybe a more substantial roll. Their sandwich is just longer than my hand, and I housed it in about five minutes. The roll wouldn’t have to be much less airy – maybe something like Macrina Bakery might make – but with the generous amount of crab salad, I had hoped for something a little heftier.

On the right: Mariners Crab Shack sandwich. Or at least, half of one. The crab salad in our local offering is just crab and (I’m assuming) mayo with a smidge of seasoning. Fresh tomatoes are added, the bread is slathered in garlic butter on both sides, and it is grilled which gives it a nice crunch and a bit more of the flavor I was looking for in Baltimore. At $16, I had to try it once, but this is something I might be able to do maybe twice a year, given that places like Edgar’s serve three street tacos for $9, which is a little more my speed price-wise. BUT, this sandwich is well worth trying at least once, and I hope that the sales this year from that, the crab fries (also $16), the Old Bay fries ($5), and the selection of Pike Brewery beers are enough to make this a returner next season. I would like to see some onion/celery mixture added to our sandwich, something to give it an extra crunch. The size is good, too; it’s the size of something you’d get at a regular sandwich shop, and a substantial meal.

Which is better? I was originally going to go with ours, and I think I am biased because I can go and get it any time. I think Baltimore could benefit from thicker bread, we could benefit from a more varied crab salad; and I realize now that completely honestly, I wish there was a way to put both sandwiches together, as both have their merits. But I expected to like Baltimore’s better, and I didn’t. So, like the past two nights, I declare East/West Crab Sandwich Battle a tie! It all depends on what you’re looking for in a crab sandwich, but if you have the chance, I recommend giving both a shot. You won’t regret!

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