- @KennyOcker lol Fair enough. It's pretty cool, though. :) 1 hour ago
- @C_fromBothell I feel awful about stuff like that. There is nothing I can do, and it's only going to get worse over there. 1 hour ago
- @KennyOcker OMG why would you send me this when I don't have 80 bucks?!?!? WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?! 1 hour ago
- This is horrifying, and it is happening right now: 2ndcouncilhouse.co.uk/blog/2013/06/0… 8 hours ago
- @fundmental Clearly. :p 1 day ago
Pushing a Giant Baseball Up a Hill and Watching It Roll Back Down Since 2008
January 28, 2013Posted by on
OK, first things first; I did not go down the zipline. By the time Jessica and I got to the field, there was already a ridiculously long line (all the way up from the foul line to the main concourse), and there was just no way I could have stood for that long, even with comfortable shoes, even with all my coats on. I can walk for hours, but standing is just too much for my sad back. I do not have misgivings about it, however, as when we got there we discovered that the zipline was not as terrifying heights-wise as I would have thought by looking at the pictures that were posted the previous day. If they do it next year, I will make more of an effort to get there as early as possible in order to parttake. It didn’t look scary, and it wasn’t too fast and I think I could totally do it.
We didn’t do the whole two hours of the STH FanFest, but I was happy to be there before the main gates opened to the public. I have already done and seen pretty much all there is to do and see there in previous years, so I think my main joy in it is merely being in the stadium so early in the year. It was nice to be inside “first”, especially since the morning was raining off and on, but it looked like the lines went fairly quickly once the gates opened, and nobody had to wait outside for too very long (other than the intrepid souls who were there already around 8 or 9 already).
I wanted to take some pictures of the future home of Edgar’s Cantina, to try and get a better understanding of how it was all going to look after it is finished. It’s still in the building stage, so I honestly have no clue how it will look when it’s done, but you can see how they’re building it, right next to the King’s Court seating:
I got the chance to say hi and talk to Gregg Greene to try and suss out what exactly is going on here, and the upper deck is going to be an open air porch, with the manual scoreboard in front of it, where the “BNB” signs are currently. The lower part with the concrete walls is where the Cantina will be, and I am assuming that Edgar’s will be taking over the old Flying Tortoise space entirely. I didn’t get much time to talk with him further about it (he’s a busy guy), but I did get out of him that there is no stairway or other method of getting up to the deck from Edgar’s. So while it would be nice to be able to go back and forth, I think I see what they’re meaning to do here.
As Jessica and I were continuing around the concourse, we ran into the Everett Aquasox booth and both of us signed up to try and win 4 tickets to the All Star game that is being played in Everett this year. I don’t win anything, but Jessica does sometimes frighteningly well, so I guess we’ll find out when it’s announced. Over the King’s Court area, they had items that I assume will eventually be taken to Cooperstown; memorabilia from Felix’s perfect game, and the six-pitcher no-hitter:
And then, because I’ve always wanted to do it but just haven’t because it has been crowded and I am not one to be in the way, a rarely-posted-to-the-blog-ever picture of me sitting in this crazy chair:
One of the few pictures you will see of me here. Enjoy. Eventually I will get one with the Dave Niehaus statue, but that is never as easy as just sitting down. Also, I feel like I should look nicer to take a picture with the Niehaus statue. I know that concept sort of thumbs its nose at reality, but maybe in the summer when it’s nice and warm and I don’t have to dress like a gothic yeti.
Some more shots of the Edgar’s area:
This last one is from below, as I’m standing next to the visitor’s bullpen. To the lower leftish-middle there, you can see the railing of the manual scoreboard, from where it is currently residing in the ‘pen as they get everything constructed.
Probably a lot of people have seen all of this, but I wanted a shot of my own. The new future-LED board. You can kind of see the blocks of lights there and how it’s all going to be put together. There are what appear to be small catwalks behind where the lighting banks will be. It will be interesting to see it in action. We stopped here and had a beer and just sort of took in the scenery. Jessica had her phone with her and took some panoramic shots:
This is a horribly out of focus picture (which I didn’t realize until just now), but it at least gives a bit of an idea of where the fences are going as opposed to where they were. It’ll take some getting used to, and it does seem like the field is really far from the bullpens now – and I will be curious to see how that plays out, with guys getting on to the field from the ‘pens now – but the fences being moved seems to have made the hitters a little happier; and, if not happier, it at least gave them something to joke about during the Dugout Dialogue.
Rick Rizzs was hosting the DD this year again, this time with newly-hired announcer Aaron Goldsmith. Goldsmith, by the way, fits in like a glove here. Outside of a few remarks made here and there about him being new to Seattle, you wouldn’t know it. He made everything look flawless, and he and Rizzs look like a good team; banter comes easily to the both of them. I am looking forward to kayaking around the Sound and listening to them on the radio this summer, because I have the feeling that a lot of games will be taken in while on a boat this year, either fishing, kayaking, or both. Almost makes me wish that Safeco was closer to the water like AT&T.
Due to starting to walk around the stadium right about at 11, we missed Franklin Gutierrez and Jesus Montero speaking, but got there just in time to catch the tail end of Nick Franklin and James Paxton.
There was a bit of distraction while Jess went to find her friend Dana, and I was trying to get my friend Su’s attention, so I didn’t hear much of what the guys said, and the session was over seemingly sooner than it started.
The next group was Blake Beavan, Carter Capps, and Tom Wilhelmsen, and Wilhelmsen came out wearing that beard hat mentioned on the promotional schedule, and sure enough, it’s pretty much what I figured it would be:
His answers were slightly muffled, and the hat came off about 3/4 of the way through, but Wilhelmsen and his antics make me long for the days of the gladiator helmets and 2009. He would have fit in so well with that bullpen.
I didn’t take any notes, though I probably should have. A lot of the audience questions are the same from year to year, and these guys are not going to give us any deep insight into what we can expect for the season, because they don’t know any more than we do. Still, this is my favorite part of the whole FanFest, to just go and listen to people talk to the players and vice versa, like you’re in your own living room. Your own massive, open air living room.
Hisashi Iwakuma, Brendan Ryan and Casper Wells came up to the “stage” next, and after Brad Adam’s warm-up questions, some woman in the crowd asked Wells about something to do with a friend of hers. It was possibly one of the most awkward things ever, because it is always awkward when people don’t have boundaries with other people, especially people they don’t know. Wells explained to the woman that he had a girlfriend, and the rest of us sort of laughed the whole thing off. There is always at least one of these questions whenever I go to something like this, and while I understand that they are questions that are important to the asker, what exactly did she think was going to happen? Wells apparently understood the question enough to respond to it, I’m still not sure exactly what the situation was, but it’s not my issue to concern myself with; it just started things off on a really bizarre note.
Another crowd member requested that Brendan Ryan do his Robert DeNiro impression, and he happily obliged, of course. We do have some fun guys on this team and while it can be difficult to remember that when all you’re seeing is win/loss numbers, I am going to try more diligently to remind myself that I really do want to see these guys – these guys specifically – win.
A small child I couldn’t see somewhere in the crowd asked the players what team the players were most looking forward to playing most this year. Iwakuma started in in Japanese while interpreter Antony Suzuki listened in. Suzuki then started to speak and said that he didn’t have much experience, and Ryan interupted saying that he had to have an answer. Iwakuma laughed, said a few words in Japanese, and then one the crowd understood, “Yankees”. That’s going to be a crowd pleaser every time, I think, but Iwakuma was of course looking forward to getting Ichiro to strike out. Brendan Ryan also asked Iwakuma how he feels about having to bat so much more this season because of the increased interleague play. His response: “I have confidence!” My transcript is out of order, so for your convenience, the whole interview and others like it from both Saturday and Sunday are located here on the Mariners website.
Jay Buhner and Eric Wedge were the following segments for the Dialogue, and I have seen and heard the two of them speak quite a few times, so Su and I decided to wander the stadium again. We encountered Beavan and Capps being interviewed by some of the local ESPN radio broadcasting team, including Shannon Drayer.
We went back to The Pen to grab a beer, and ran into S331 frequent flier Eric Norse and his lady, who I always have such a lovely time talking to, but I can never remember her name! Seeing each other once a year will do that to you, I guess, pesky Olympia residents! It was of course delightful to see you both on the yearly pilgrimage. Perhaps we will have cause to be at the same game this year, and hopefully by that time will have some baseball to celebrate.
Next up was Mike Morse, Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager. I was eager to see Morse because I hadn’t in a while, and was curious as to what he might have to say. It was then that I discovered that Morse’s at-bat song is A-Ha’s “Take On Me”, which I find funny and wonderful at the same time. I don’t remember this being the case when he was here last, though I don’t think it was this, as being a child of the new wave 80s, I believe that would have made a bit of an impression on me. Morse looks healthy and happy to be here, so I hope that it translates into a good year for him. And us. He says in his interview at the link above that Seattle was one of the places he wanted to go to if he had to leave Washington, so bonus.
Now that I’m thinking about it, I should have stayed for the Eric Wedge part of the program to ask him about Michael Saunders’ rubber band training from last season. As it was, we decided that we were going to try and leave around this time anyway. I missed both Stefan Romero and Mike Zunino’s Q&A, but I can watch them at the link (and so can you!) I had been up since 3.30AM due to a very wonky sleep schedule, so I was pretty tired at that point ( and truth be told I wound up falling asleep after dinner around 9PM later that evening), and Su and I had originally planned to go to Pyramid for a bite to eat and to meet Shannon and others for a post-Fest unwind. Unfortunately, some of the people we wanted to hang out with were either not feeling well enough to attend Saturday, or had other situations that kept them from coming up from Portland to attend the event. So it wound up being just me and Su and Shannon around some fries, a pizza and some beer, chattering about baseball and whatever else before going our separate ways. And my phone dying a quick, pitiful death because it’s a 3GS and I desperately need a replacement. Oi.
All in all, it was a fun day packed with a great lineup giving interviews, a lot of happy little kids running around, and a not-too-terribly-cold day at the ballpark. Next year, zipline. Next year.
January 26, 2013Posted by on
January 23, 2013Posted by on
I was going to try to get to this before it was formally released, and I talked a little about it on Twitter earlier, but I got busy and thus was forced to wait until I could clock out for lunch to discuss it here.
The one glaring omission, I have to say, is the lack of a Fleece Blanket Night. I don’t know why there isn’t one this year, but it was my absolute favorite giveaway, and I am sad to see that it only lasted a few years. I would have loved to see it at the beginning of the season, though, when it is still cold in our Seattle spring, and such a thing might come in handy around, say, the 5th inning when gloves, five jackets and hot cocoa just aren’t working anymore. September was just too warm for something like that. I will continue to enjoy the ones I was able to get while it lasted, and hope that it is a temporary setback, and that Fleece Blanket Night comes back to us like the glorious unicorn it is in 2014.
Tom Wilhelmsen Train Engine Night! Yes, I already have it written down on my calendar, in the event that one of my tickets doesn’t cover it already. I am planning on eventually doing something with the cars I have collected so far, finding out the cars I lack, and obtaining them to fill the gaps in my collection. This will make a nice addition to the set, and maybe some day I can put them on display somewhere in the house. It will probably require glue.
Felix’s Perfect Game Bobblehead Night. I find it funny for some reason that this is being done during a game against the Rangers, who will undoubtedly drill us into the ground, but never mind that; it may be another addition to my very sparse, very specical bobble group. My bobblehead “collection” is a very elite thing, and not many bobbles have gotten in to that particular club. I am not normally a fan of the things, so it takes very special and particular bobbles to make it. I think this one might.
And we have fireworks nights! Two or three, at least. Those are on the calendar too. I am under the assumption that they will be set off over the north wall – right where I normally sit. I like sparkly things and things that explode, so this is a no-brainer. I am not going to miss this, it should make for some stellar photos, and will be cause for celebration if we win, or a pick me up if we lose. Explosions!
Dustin Ackley Gnome Night. The jury’s still out on this one. I do have a garden, and I work in it frequently during the spring and summer months, but I am not a fan of the garden gnome as a general thing. I will have to see it before I can make up my mind. The final design has not yet been settled on according to Ms marketing king Kevin Martinez, but hopefully there will be pictures in links up in the schedule soon enough.
The other unusual thing they are doing this year is something called a “beard hat”. Since I haven’t seen any pictures of this either, I have to assume that there is some sort of balaclava thing going on. I am mystified, though, because we just lost our “beard” to Oakland. This seems something that would be better suited for the Giants and Brian Wilson. But I’m just the fan and not one that is terribly involved in popular culture today, so perhaps this is just some thing that the kids find super entertaining that I am unaware of?
Most of the other promotions are things that I am either too old for (boo!), or they simply don’t apply to me (since I am neither a mother or a father). The one thing I would love to be young enough for is the Bat Night. I asked myself briefly this morning why that was limited to kids 14 and under, and then I flashed back to your average Saturday night down in The Pen and realized that arming soon-to-be drunk mostly college-aged adults with free truncheons might not be the best idea. Well played, Mariners. Well played. If I promise not to use it on anyone, might an exception be made? I’ll sign a waiver!
Anyway, there you go. I am getting very excited for FanFest this weekend, and am even more impatient for the 2013 season to start than I was yesterday.
January 22, 2013Posted by on
So I was on Twitter just a few moments ago, and the Mariners account had just then posted a link to the list of activities at FanFest this coming weekend. I have done or seen pretty much everything on that list already, but ziplining across the field?! You have to be joking!
I should preface this with the fact that I have a ridiculous fear of heights and non-car-or-boat-accompanied speed. I have never ziplined or been in a place where that activity was even an option. I am also skeptical of day- or weeklong carnival situations like the Rose Festival down in Portland, where rides or massive machinery are set up for a short period of time and have been set up and broken down multiple times over the course of any given year. You hear about injuries in those situations all the time; in fact the last time I actually went to the Rose Festival waterfront carnival, a girl fell her death out of the Zipper, that crazy machine that looks like a giant chain saw and flips people all over the place while rotating. It happened later in the day after I was long gone from the festivities, but it happened nonetheless.
Because of this and stories like it, I am always hesitant to take such risks. I’m also not a huge fan of carnival rides in the first place; it’s not that I hate them, it’s just that they don’t do a whole lot for me in general. But this? I am going to have to give this a lot of thought. It is kind of a unique opportunity, in spite of my deal with heights. Now I just need to figure out if the opportunity trumps my fear.
If you hear a scream and litany of swears and see someone with pink hair having an aneurism while flying across the sky this Saturday, chances are super high it’s going to be me.
January 22, 2013Posted by on
I will of course be bringing a lot of photos back from FanFest this next Saturday, but if you’re not following the Mariners on FaceBook, they recently posted a photo of the progress construction crews are making on building Edgar’s Cantina:
My seats are again this year, as I mention to everyone, “over the N in ESPN”. So I imagine that I will spend entire games being tortured by the smell of delicious food. As if the Kidd Valley stand under section 180 wasn’t torture enough. I am trying but cannot quite see how this is going to work; are there going to be stairs to get up to the upper deck area? Will that be a place you can enter from both The Pen and the 100-level concourse? Will the upper deck be divided from the main concourse with some sort of wall, or will it be open? And how will this placement affect the visitor’s bullpen? Will we be able to see into that area better than in the past? So many questions! Very exciting, though, and I am looking forward to being able to go to FanFest on Saturday.
January 17, 2013Posted by on
I don’t have anything else to add to this fray that the other blogs haven’t already said (and I am sure that I could find more links if I wanted to or had time). It’s just strange and headscratching, and I really don’t know what to make of any of it.
At first, I was happy because home runs and familiarity; then I found out that we sent John Jaso to the Oakland A’s, and I was not so happy anymore. Mike Morse projects alright, and that is great, but it would have been better, as everyone else is saying, if we had kept Jaso. I liked Jaso; I wanted him to stay, and I hate that he is going to a direct competitor, a team we play so very many times a year, no less! This just seems like a bad move, and now we have a catcher problem; so unless the Mariners are planning to go after a more effective power hitting catcher, or Mike Zunino is just amazing in the spring, well…I just don’t know.
This seems like a super out of character move for our front office, and it is a move that is losing some fans’ loyalty, and making many more nervous. Bill Bavasi will probably be the GM that all other GMs will have to deal with being compared to for quite some time to come, and I hate thinking of Jack Zduriencik in those terms. While I wasn’t really “around” for it back then, this feels like Richie Sexson to me, and while I would love to defer to my regular argument of they must know what they’re doing, it seems like there is a level of desperation in this move that we might not have had to deal with had sooner and more aggressive choices been made. But like with everything else the Mariners do and have done, none of us have a choice or say in the matter.
The Seattle Mariners need a winning season, more than anything else right now, or they’re going to lose fans; regardless of where the money is coming from, a larger screen and new restaurant (even though I am excited for both of those things, don’t get me wrong) are only going to go so far. So yeah, I hope they know what they’re doing. I really do.
January 11, 2013Posted by on
I have been posting maybe too much to Twitter about recent baseball goings-on; it’s easier, and unlike blogging I can do it quickly at work, on the bus, or while I’m walking. Unfortunately this may be one of the reasons I’m not writing as much anymore, because I’ve already got my opinion out in the ether in a bite-sized chunk. Some things need to be talked about in larger-than-bite-sized pieces, though, and Justin Upton’s refusal to come to Seattle might be one of those things. I think it is. Shall we?
In the big scheme of things, Upton is a Diamondback and thus I am predisposed to like him (outside of the fact that he’s a good baseball player) since he is on my 3rd-ranking team. But his desire not to be part of Seattle’s history seems to have caused a bit of a ruckus in the fanbase. You won’t find a ruckus here. While it would be nice to have Upton in Seattle for a while, I just don’t want another player who doesn’t want to be here, and especially another player who is asking for a lot of money, as seems to be the general consensus (though I personally have not seen any numbers just yet, and cannot quickly find anything online at the moment). We were also on Upton’s no-trade list, along with the Yankees, Boston, and either the Cubs or Blue Jays, depending on who you talk to. USA Today writer Bob Nightengale acknowledges that talks were a waste of time, since we were indeed on the no-trade list, but there are fans who are speculating that the public news was a gesture by Jack Zduriencik to let fans know that he was at least giving it a go. This seems like a silly theory to me.
Why bother talking to a guy who doesn’t want to come to your city unless you are earnestly serious about trying to get him? This doesn’t seem like a Zduriencik-y thing to do. Yeah, everyone talks to everyone else, but if anything 2008 A.B.B. (after Bill Bavasi) has taught me, it’s that Zduriencik is not one to showboat, no matter how badly we all want him to be or think he is. Throwing this out to the public “just because” simply doesn’t seem like something a guy who, by his own admission won’t comment on rumors, would do. I have to think they were serious about this; otherwise, there is literally no point. Even with the no-trade, maybe Z thought a dollar amount might sway Upton? Perhaps the package of players we were offering was thought to grease the wheels a bit; the word “invoked” was used in several instances, indicating (to me, at least) that Upton maybe could have come here, but invoked his no-trade to avoid it. Really, who knows what Jack Zduriencik is thinking at any given time; that has been, for me, part of the fun of having him as a GM. It also looks now like the deal would have sent Nick Franklin, Stephen Pryor, Charlie Furbush and Taijuan Walker to Arizona – and I know some of y’all don’t want to lose Walker. This move would have also gutted the 2013 Tacoma Rainiers, and could have possibly broken Mike Curto’s heart. You don’t want to break Mike Curto’s heart, do you, Mariners fans? Granted, these guys may still go away some other time for some other offensive option, but I don’t know that Justin Upton is the guy we want for that; and he definitely doesn’t want us. This seems to have worked out well for everyone involved, really.
I just today reserved my tickets for the special pre-FanFest Season Ticket Holder FanFest on the 26th of this month. I will be taking a friend (because I can), and taking advantage of some sort of breakfast thing in the Terrace Club (at 9am, this will be the earliest I’ve ever been in a ball park), a special lounge in the Diamond Club area somewhere, and whatever else this entitles me to. I also got the 26th off work, so I am totally free and clear for this little adventure, and, as of today, super excited for it. I don’t remember them doing this last year, or maybe I missed it, but it’s a great thing for those of us who continue, year after year, to shell out money for one of the smallest of the game plans. Say what you like about the quality of the product on the field; I will gladly take any bones thrown to me for the amount of cash I squeeze out of my bank account every year for baseball. Obviously of course I would love to see some good games, and I most certainly hope to this year, but barring that, I will take any advantages thrown my way, if it enhances a day or evening (or morning!) at the ballpark. I suppose to some people that might make me a “bad” fan. To those people, I merely shrug; you enjoy the game your way, I’ll enjoy it mine.
We have a good lineup this year for FanFest, which totally helps. The list of folks that will be showing up is as follows: Brendan Ryan, Casper Wells, Michael Saunders, Kyle Seager, Tom Wilhelmsen, Jesus Montero, and of course Eric Wedge. Minor leaguers Mike Zunino, Nick Franklin, James Paxton, and Stefen Romero will be in attendance, and of course Jay Buhner and Dan Wilson (both of whom, I’m beginning to think, must have apartments somewhere under or in the building because they are always there!) And in case you missed it from the Mariners’ Twitter account, Franklin Gutierrez was just confirmed yesterday afternoon. So this is a great lineup, in my not-so-humble opinion. I am looking forward to this maybe more than I have in a few seasons. Spring Training is right around the corner, pitchers and catchers report in somewhere around 30-or-40-something days or so, and it’s even a nice sunny day in Seattle today. I can almost smell the grass…
First, however, we have the NFL playoffs and SuperBowl to contend with. Tomorrow marks my Green Bay Packers playing against the San Francisco 49′ers, and Sunday will be the Seahawks vs Atlanta. I cannot watch the Seahawks game - I have a large project to take care of that involves finally getting Tom his Christmas present – but I will be thinking about all my Hawks fan friends, and might have my friend Justin text me game updates during the day. Tomorrow night, though, I will be planted on the couch with some beer and hopefully something good for dinner, to watch some football. Go, Pack, GO!
January 4, 2013Posted by on
It’s quiet around here. Too quiet.
This is old news (I start a lot of sentences like that these days), but in addition to moving the back walls in Safeco Field, the Mariners organization is also adding Edgar’s Cantina, with a Mexican menu and special mescal branded by the Susan Lucci of the Baseball Hall of Fame, Edgar himself. I have never had mescal, but I will gladly try it here. I am a keen fan of Mexican food (if you’ve never been, I very highly recommend a local joint called El Chupacabra), and I figure that if nothing else happens this offseason, I might as well wash down my sorrows with some margaritas and tacos. Edgar’s will be located over where the manual scoreboard used to be in left field, and right below my seat; I cannot help but think that there is some cosmic force that has aligned here; the Mariners love me and want me to be happy. I will, however, avoid it like the plauge on Opening Day. I can’t help but think that sold out stadium + Mariners baseball may = someone else’s vomit on my shoes. I’ll wait until my first season game, thanks.
I was thinking this morning for some weird reason about former Padres prospect Matt Bush. If you don’t remember Bush, he made some brief baseball news a few years ago for getting drunk in a high school parking lot and pulling the “Don’t you know who I am?!” card on some poor high school lacrosse student. He was supposed to be this great pitcher, so when I heard the news (and heard about his eventual transfer to the Tampa Bay system), I figured he would straighten up and fly right, having learned his lesson with a suspension. I thought that perhaps the Tampa move was a sign of good things to come for Bush. But when I looked him up this morning, that appears to not have been the case. His Wikipedia page reads like a litany of Stuff Not To Do Ever, and I would feel terribly sorry for him if his bad judgement didn’t make me want to slap him. It is so sad the opportunities he has thrown away for the bottle, and it is awful that he has hurt so many people with his behavior. You want to shake people like this and tell them how much they’re losing, but you can’t. All I can think is that there must be things that have happened and may still be happening to drive Bush to this point, and the alcohol isn’t helping. I hope that he gets treatment and is able to live the rest of his life with some degree of happiness; whether that is in or out of baseball remains to be seen.
The headline of this particular article from a few weeks ago makes my teeth itch a little, but I guess we’ll watch this and see where it goes. I don’t know that having the Ms admit that they plan to use Raul a lot defensively is exactly engendering confidence in the fanbase, but like everything else that the Ms do, I am taking a wait and see approach. I haven’t gotten around to getting much of a grasp on defensive statistics yet, but Ibanez apparently had a UZR last year in New York of 4.2. I am unaware of the numbers that would be used to measure an “average” player, but consider that in his last year with us in 2008, his UZR was -7.4. Playing for the Phillies in 2011, his UZR was -21.8. I’m going to take a stab at it and say that 4.2 maybe isn’t all that bad? Of course, someone please feel free to educate me, as always. (I am almost positive that park factors enter into all of this as well, yes?) I am not by any means suggesting that Ibanez, at 40 or nearly 40 is going to have a miraculous comeback and be perfect in the field, but maybe the combination of wise usage on Eric Wedge’s part and moving the walls in might help him have a better experience here; most of my suggestions about outcome are wishes, of course.
I have submitted a time off request at work to attend FanFest on Saturday this year. I haven’t been on a Saturday for a few years, and it seems that everyone else I know usually goes on Saturday, so I am hoping it is granted. I have a new winter coat, and spent part of my Christmas break actually daydreaming about what I could wear to stay as warm as possible and not look crazy, so I feel that the last step is simply getting the time off. Hope to see a lot of you there, but probably not before you see me (the hair is bright pink lately). It’s only a few weeks away!
December 31, 2012Posted by on
New Year’s Eve is going to be spent quietly eating, drinking, and probably watching awful movies, with a very small handful of Other People. Usually we have a pretty big blowout here at the house, but this month has been far too busy for that kind of shennanigans. I am totally fine with staying in on Amateur Night; it’s safer, less noisy, and there’s no driving.
I have not made many resolutions per se; I find that if I try and set a deadline for something and tell myself that I’m going to stick to it without wavering, if I do waver, I feel awful about the inability to keep the promise I made myself when I made the resolution. Rather than beat myself up over it, I have a few little changes that I want to make here and there; little changes will result in not as much getting on my own case if I botch it up. I endeavor always to write more, but the Ms and my work schedule aren’t making it all that easy for me. I will keep trying.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to have fun tonight and stay as safe as possible. May 2013 bring better lives for us all, and better baseball for the Mariners. Now let the wild rumpus begin!!!
December 25, 2012Posted by on
As we wait and wonder what the Mariners do next, I’d like to take some time to wish you and yours a very happy holiday, for whatever occasion you celebrate on December the 25th; even if it’s just, this year, a normal Tuesday. I hope you and your family have a wonderful day full of good food, good friends, laughter, and plenty of thanks for whatever this year has brought your way. Whatever your station in life, we all have baseball in common, and that is enough for me. Thanks for continuing to read, regardless of how intermittently I may be writing these days.
Here, we celebrate Christmas as a family, and just as it has been all my life, the tree is a noble fir decorated with German decorations collected during my dad’s Vietnam days, decorations that are just a wee bit older than I am. Tomorrow, we wreak some havoc on presents, some of my parents’ neighbors are coming to join us for dinner, and we light this sucker up like a bonfire, because that is how we roll here (yes, those are real candles).
Happy Holidays, everyone!
December 23, 2012Posted by on
I was in a car headed just past Yakima when I heard via MLBTR alerts that the Seattle Mariners have decided to speed date Raul Ibanez. My reaction over the following several hours in the car, and then this morning when I woke up to snow at my parents house were: “Yay!….wait, what?!….Yay!….” and this morning, “Hrm. Well I’ll be damned.” The part of me that never wanted Ibanez to leave in the first place is excited to have him back for 2013. The part of me that knows what the phrase “lawn dart” means is terrified. But it’s currently snowing heavily out, the deer are eating in the backyard, and it’s nearly Christmas, so I think I’m going to try and be a little more calm about all of this.
I would hope, like a lot of the other fans I have been talking to online, that we don’t have to deal with lawn dart, or anyone who shouldn’t be, taking pride in their defense. I would hope that the Mariners intend to use Ibanez like a lot of the rest of us see him – veteran presence in the clubhouse with maybe a little gas left in the tank. Like David Price in Moneyball, but not like Raul Ibanez in Moneyball. I hope that the Ms don’t decide to field him, that if they do it is very infrequently and against a team full of left handed hitters. Mostly, I just hope Raul does us a solid and retains some of his 1.1 WAR, rather than going back to his -1.3 days from not too long ago in Philly. Bill James projects him as slightly declining in some areas, improving in others; walk average goes up slightly, but strike out rate goes up by 1.9%; batting average and OBP goes up, SLG goes down, OPS goes down. If I was any good at this, I might be able to talk about how the numbers balance out; but since I’m not, it appears to me with my limited knowledge, that we’re getting a guy who is on a slow slope downwards, but who is providing clubhouse morale and the so-called intangibles that every clubhouse apparently needs to succeed at the mental level. And if I’m truly honest, while I’m not a fan of the money given to what basically amounts to someone who is being paid to be a human pep talk, I have always liked Raul Ibanez, and he did just come from a team that made the playoffs; a few teams, in fact. Will Eric Wedge be able to manage his presence back in Seattle as well as Joe Girardi and Charlie Manuel did on their respective teams? I guess only Spring Training and the start of the season will tell. If you need a pep talk of your own, Jeff Sullivan seems to think that this is a strange/not strange, sort of OK move.
So this means that someone is going to have to go. Whether that means sent down of DFA’d (likely DFA’d), nobody knows yet. But the general thought is that something major is in the works; at least, I would like to think that. There’s no way we can be done. Jack Zduriencik said at the beginning of the offseason that he was aware that more careful moves needed to be made after the last few seasons. Going after a veteran pitcher (Joe Saunders, perhaps?) has been mentioned as a possibility, and I would like to see at least one more hitter come on board; two if at all feasible, though that would mean drastic changes for the current roster. Fans want to see us add proven offense to the roster. Cody Ross is gone. Josh Hamilton is gone. Nick Swisher just left. Justin Upton doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. I have heard the name Jason Kubel linked to the Mariners, but am not quite sure how I feel about that. If anything happens, I am hoping it happens suddenly and in the most grandiose way possible. I like surprises. Please let this be a good one. I had also seen a few discussions of Eric Thames vs. Mike Carp in light of all of this. Dave has taken a look at why the odd man out will likely be Carp. If this happens, I will be bummed about it. Carp’s been in our system for such a long time, it would be weird to think of him not being here. I will survive, it’ll just be strange.
We just got a winter advisory warning that will remain in effect until 11 tonight, most likely destroying any hopes I had of going to a Baker City bowling alley, drinking some bad beer, and maybe rolling a few strikes. After the holidays, I’ll get back into baseball mode, with FanFest nearly upon us, and Spring Training only a mere few weeks after that. Opening Day plans will be made, 16 game plans will be paid off, a new hoodie or jacket may be purchased. But right now, I’m going to sit and watch the snow, and see what the Mariners give me for Christmas, if anything. I’ve been good, I swear!
December 20, 2012Posted by on
So today around about 3pm or so, the Mariners and the Angels straight up swapped Jason Vargas and Kendrys Morales. My initial reaction was sadness and a swear. Vargas was a favorite, and I probably saw him start more times than any other pitcher on our team – not by choice, mind you, simply by coincidence. Vargas just happened to throw a vast majority of the games I saw both last year and the year before. The luck of the draw, I guess, but because of this I felt I had become quite acquainted and familiar with him in that way that you get super comfortable when a certain player is playing that particular day. I knew we’d be seeing some decent plays in the outfield, and Vargas was always fun to watch; he just has this cool and collected air about him that was always appealing. Even his mound celebrations were reined in and very zen. He isn’t a showboat, he doesn’t outwardly display whatever fire he might have, and even when under pressure you would never know he was concerned. Vargas is to pitching what Don Wakamatsu was to management, with a keel so even you can use it to hang a picture. I hate that he is going to the Angels.
But I also understand why we did it. We are neck-deep in pitching, after spending the past few seasons collecting pitchers like, well, baseball cards. The front office has acknowledged that with this trade and while I have heard some talk earlier today of a possible hunt for a possible veteran starter, I have to wonder whether or not they’re serious about that. The Ms have been “going young” for a while now, and the younger guys down in AA and AAA seem to be coming up as advertised. I admittedly don’t know a whole lot about the progress of our prospects, but I have heard enough positivity about them over the past year that leads me to believe that some of them could see major league playing time a lot sooner rather than later. I hope to be witness to as many major league debuts as possible this year. Fingers crossed.
Morales, for his part, appears to project well. It looks like just about all of his numbers should be going up in a good way, with a pretty significant boost in both his OBP and SLG numbers from last year. I think the temptation is strong with some people to start immediately comparing this situation to the mess we got into with Chone Figgins. I don’t know what Figgins was projected to do because when that deal went through, I wasn’t really actively trying to use the numbers to educate myself. But the only thing that is likely similar with this move is that both Morales and Figgins came from Anaheim. I would caution against reading anything else into the situation other than that. Jeff has some encouraging words here that I would urge you to read if you haven’t already. Is Kendrys Morales Josh Hamilton? No, but he will work, and I am a bit heartened by the projections, even though even Bill James cannot really see into the future (he can’t really…right?) Morales will be one more year farther away from his injury issues in 2011, so he should be stronger and more ready to play; indeed he is being reported as saying that his leg is much better now. I know, I know, what else is he supposed to say, but it’s still nice that he sounds upbeat and ready to go.
I have tried to find the Tweet from local journalism regarding speculation that this deal might make Seattle a little more attractive to other remaining free agents. The names I have heard tossed around are of course Nick Swisher (who is no longer viewed as much of a target via the grapevine), Billy Butler, and this fellow Michael Bourn, who just last year was a 6.4 WAR player for Atlanta. I don’t know much about anyone but Swisher, and that is only because I have seen him play so frequently. I would take any of the three of them. I guess only time will tell what happens, but the Mariners are not done. Not yet. We may not get any other Christmas presents this year, but we still have a few months to go, and Jack Zduriencik knows his decisions must be made carefully this offseason. I am excited to see what happens next.
As for Vargas, I will miss him a lot, but acceptance of the way things are is the first step towards lessening our suffering. Like Vargas, I’m going to try and be as zen about this as possible. Goodbye, 38. I will always remember your victory against Randy Johnson and the Giants, and wish you tons of good luck in the future and a long career. You will be missed.
December 14, 2012Posted by on
I would have written more lately, but a new excuse reared its (very ugly) head in the form of a delightful norovirus I contracted over the weekend. I haven’t felt like moving, or breathing, let alone writing about or paying attention to baseball. Today I was feeling perky enough to make myself go to work for the first time this week, and that worked out super well until every Mariners fan everywhere found out about the Josh Hamilton to the Angels move, Twitter exploded, and nobody’s been happy since, it would seem.
I was disappointed at the news, but I think I took it a lot better than some of the folks I have seen talking about it online. While Josh Hamilton here seemed like an excellent idea, it was obvious very early on that he was looking for something we might not want or be able to provide. Word was already swirling well before the winter meetings that Hamilton was looking for a lot of money and an extended contract, and it just sounded to me like something the Mariners wouldn’t do. We’ve fallen down that rabbit hole a few times here, and have a very lengthy resume to prove it. The part of my brain that looks at the bigger picture felt that a Josh Hamilton deal seemed a bit like putting a Band-Aid over a sucking chest wound. So I never got too attached to the idea. And the more and more rumors flew around connecting us to him, I have to be honest, the less likely I thought it would be to happen. Would it have been awesome? Sure. But am I sad about it? Not really. One player is not going to save our team. And giving one guy that much money over any other possibilities just seemed like a tremendously bad idea.
I chatted with some people on Twitter about it, very few of which seemed OK with the decision. It’s always about how the Mariners didn’t do enough to procure X or Y player. We didn’t want them bad enough, we are too shortsighted to see how amazing it would be to have X or Y in Seattle. We don’t care about winning, only making money (though seriously, folks – the best way to make money is winning, so this argument really ignores basic economics), the ownership is ruining the team, etc etc. I get it. Everyone hates ownership, and a lot of you have very good reason to. You’ve been in this a lot longer than I have. But the same arguments and diatribes come up every year with no thought given, it would seem, to the fact that the Mariners front office and pals are not the only parties involved in these discussions. People want to boil it down to money and contract time, and sure those are big parts of the puzzle. But they’re not the only parts. What if the player doesn’t like the city? What if the player’s agent has been instructed to find him the best deal regardless of where he will be sent to play? What if the player’s family has reservations about a major move or lifestyle change? What if someone says something during negotiations that rub the player, his agent, or the bargaining team the wrong way? What if there is information that the rest of us out here in the Real World are not privvy to, information that might severely change our minds about having the player if we knew it? Or not? I hear people talk about baseball trades and free agents as if the players are pieces of furniture that can simply be put out on a showroom floor and either sold outright or bid upon in an easy contest until the team that tosses out the biggest number wins. And of course that does happen; some guys are just in it for the money or the security of a long contract. But they’re also human beings with the capacity for rationality and critical thinking, and we don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors. The thought that the Mariners should have simply thrown more cash at Hamilton is ludicrous; we have no way of knowing that they didn’t (as things stand), and we have no way of knowing if Hamilton even wanted to be here. Someone pointed out to me via Twitter that one of his charities is located in Washington. My favorite beer is made in Pennsylvania, but I’m not moving there, either.
Jack Zduriencik and company knew that they would have to be really careful with what moves they made this year. They know that we are still upset over Chone Figgins, still disappointed over the Cliff Lee thing not working out. I guess it just seems funny to me that only a short while ago so many people were praising Z for his wise use of the smaller-name players, his sense of value in very un-Hamilton-like types of players. Was it having Ichiro’s salary freed up that made us forget? Our hurry to get to the playoffs after years of thinking we might make it? The rumors about big names being heard around the team before the winter meetings ever started? It seems like a lot of us have lately forgotten the mission, and phrases like “rebuilding year” being used in the press for the past few probably didn’t help. And if we’re looking at things super realistically, is giving Hamilton a bunch of money and years really going to be the thing that takes a .463 team to the World Series in one year? Two? I still think Zduriencik is smarter than that.
So all day I’ve been thinking about this, and have wondered if I’ve lost my mind. Should I be more concerned about this? Should I feel that the Mariners are not interested in winning or playing baseball because it doesn’t appear that they are doing much, while the free agent market slowly melts away? I poked around the internet for a bit of guidance as I am wont to do, and this was the first place I went. If you haven’t read it, I would urge you to, especially if you’re in the group that really wanted Hamilton at any cost. It’s not a vindication of the way I have been looking at this situation, but it does provide a bit more of a level head over an issue that needs a little more stability. I know it gets emotional in here – if baseball wasn’t emotional, then what would be the point? – but make some tea, put on some slippers and read Jeff’s post. Pet a cat. Give the dog a treat. Maybe have some pie. It will be OK, I promise. And if that doesn’t do it for you, please go to USS Mariner and read Dave’s series of “Combatting Emotion with Facts” posts, especially the last bit of this one. I would reiterate what I was thinking earlier before I even found those, but he lays it out pretty well so I’m not going to.
Look…I’m not trying to poke any fun at anyone for being upset. I know I have done my fair share of badgering and swearing at the Ms, and they have deserved it. I’m just saying it’s not the end of the world, and the offseason ain’t over yet. We still have time. Let’s see what happens over the next few months before we start condemning everyone.
December 7, 2012Posted by on
It’s Friday, and the Mariners still have not made a huge splash, in spite of theories from several media corners that they would. We finally brought Jason Bay into the fold, after a few years of speculation by a few blogs that we would do it in previous years, and for a price tag that won’t kill anyone if he flails next season. I was actually sort of perplexed about the deal, until I realized that I had no idea what we were paying him; but after finding out, my feathers were considerably less ruffled. I think it was just sort of a downturn after having the Mariners connected with larger, harder-hitting names, some of which have slipped away from us already. Dave had some interesting things to say about it a few days ago, which is another thing to think about. I have become quite attached to Casper Wells, and see no current need to replace him, not really. Maybe the Mariners are looking for an option in the event Wells’ injury or batting issues come back? Maybe they consider Wells some sort of puzzle piece for something bigger they’re working on that we just haven’t heard about yet? Maybe they’re bringing Bay in as a trade chip? Who knows. It’s kind of weird, but as always, I have to think they have a reason for this move.
The Red Sox snagged up Mike Napoli at the beginning of the week, which sort of makes me sad in that way that you’re sad when a player you like in general gets signed by the opposition, but not really sad, because it seems like a huge move that the Mariners wouldn’t make; and they were likely not willing to give him the same three years/ $39 million that Boston did. It would have been nice to have Naps’ bat in our lineup, certainly; but maybe the Ms want to place more responsibility on the shoulders of John Jaso and Jesus Montero. We seem always to be swimming in catchers, and while having a catcher who could hit would be kind of cool, it would appear we are looking for power from fielders. The rumor mill is still connecting the Ms with Josh Hamilton’s name, and that deal is apparently waiting to see what kind of inroads the Rangers will make in talking to Zack Greinke; or so they say. Whoever “they” is. This whole thing reaches ridiculous heights sometimes.
Two of my other favorites were also snatched up by the Red Sox and the Nationals. The Mariners were not looking at nor were they ever connected to Shane Victorino or Dan Haren, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want either of those guys in Seattle. Fortunately for me, my ideas about roster forming live in this sort of fantasy land where reality gets beat up at the front door. I think I am a little surprised at the fact that Haren got only one year with the Nats, but then I can spend some time hoping that we can grab him next year…because I have no idea what I’m doing here, I just know who I like.
The Mariners were also connected to Raul Ibanez, which is funny to me for many reasons. In my short fandom, Ibanez represents nostalgia (I know, it’s pretty sad), but realistically, I just don’t think it’s a terribly great idea. I know it would make a lot of fans pretty happy, and Ibanez has done well for himself both in Philadelphia and New York, but there had to be a reason the Ms didn’t attempt to retain him when he was here before. 2009 may have been the last really great year Ibanez had. His OPS was actually better here than it has been in all his years in both of those cities, and he is projected to be around .734 in 2013 (down from .761 in 2012). His AVG and OPB, though, are projected to go up. All in all, I guess it might be fun in the sense that Raul Ibanez is a guy I generally like, but it could backfire because lawndart (unless of course the intent is to bring him on specifically as a DH). Anyone reading this have any opinions on this particular subject?
Chris Seddon also got a deal from the SK Wyverns in Korea. This is a Wyvern. What an old British dragon has to do with Korea I have no clue, but I wish Seddon success overseas, and am jealous of his food options, and happy that he will still be playing professional ball. Seddon was never really here nor there for me, just a guy who was sometimes starting for Tacoma, sometimes sitting in the bullpen in Seattle; but he was a Mariner whose name did not begin with Milton or end with Figgins, so he’s A-OK in my book.
Lastly, the NHL lockout continues. When talk of the new arena first started happening, I was terrifically excited for everyone. Basketball fans would get their team back, hockey fans would finally get a team (with a built-in rivalry with Vancouver!), and a lot of jobs would be brought in before during and after the creation of the stadium. But this lockout is really bothersome, and I find myself annoyed at NHL, and not all that interested in this whole situation. Don’t get me wrong, when all of this is over, I will gladly go to games and do the civic pride thing, but the fact that we are knee deep in a hockey season that hasn’t even started and might not ever really takes the wind out of my sails. Then again, I still have not been to a Thunderbirds game yet this year, so what do I know?
December 3, 2012Posted by on
Well, it’s December, and that means two things: winter meetings and WordPress putting digital snow on my blog page. Only one of these things enhances or may enhance the team’s ability to hit. It’s the snow!
Anyone’s dreams of getting Mike Napoli – mine included – have just been dashed by the Boston Red Sox. Boston gave him 3 years at $39 million. Yes, for any anti-Baker people, that is a Geoff Baker link; but he’s there and he has news, so sue me. I like the years but not the price tag. We may have dodged a bullet, though I like to think that Jack Zduriencik could have taken the dollar amount down a few, had the Mariners been actively pursuing him. It will be interesting to me to see how Napoli does in Boston, and I can hardly wait to deliver the news to my friend Eric, who is currently napping on our couch after a particularly fierce night of bowling at West Seattle Bowl. (Side note; Eric is an excellent bowler, and I almost beat him during our first game last night, but he came back in the 10th frame by three pins. Three pins! Oh, the humanity!)
Baker delivers another bit of news concerning the possibility of the Ms going after Pirates swatter Garrett Jones. Jones projects decently, and seems to have had a good 2012 in Pittsburgh. His OPS was .832 last year, and Bill James has him sliding back a bit to .769. What I know about Bill James can fit on the tip of a needle, but I generally accept that he knows what he’s doing. You can see the numbers for yourself, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bother me just a little that Jones is projected to have a .254 average next year. Don’t we already have a bunch of guys like that? The other thing that bothers me is what we would have to give up. I don’t know that I mind giving up on Justin Smoak, but I would indeed like to keep John Jaso and Hector Noesi. Noesi is projected to do a lot better in 2013; but what projections mean to other people I have no idea. I just know that if a guy who understands the numbers is saying that Noesi should be better next year, I’d rather he be better on our side. Dave at USSM doesn’t like the Jaso-for-Jones idea, either. When in doubt, I always always side with the numbers guys. There’s a reason Moneyball is a thing.
Finally, I really need to stop seeing the headlines about the Mariners new scoreboard on their website. I love that it’s being done, I get that they need to foster and grow excitement over the changes being made to the field, but I really just want to see some moves made to improve the product ON the field. I don’t need to see us losing in high definition. Don’t get me wrong, I will enjoy the board, and I am looking forward to seeing it on Opening Day; but please give me something else on the grass. I want the fact that I paid for another season to mean something this year.
So now I guess we wait and see what happens this week.