Jose Lopez: Human Blunder

Outside of watching Felix Hernandez spin another gem and watching Guti’s walkoff single, tonight’s game wasn’t terribly watchable.  To be honest, I spent most of the Mariners’ time at bat trying not to drift off.  Then, in the bottom of the seventh, Jose Lopez happened.

No, he didn’t have another one of his oddly clutch hits that he’s been getting lately. That would have been nice.  Instead, he ground into a double play.  Not just any double play, mind you.  He tapped the ball to Omar Vizquel at third base, who turned, threw to Gordon Beckham at second, who turned and threw to Paul Konerko.  In fact, the play had developed slowly enough that Beckham saw fit to rush his throw to Konerko a bit, throwing before he was anywhere near set.

So that was a close play at the bag, with Lopez just barely getting thrown out, right?

Wrong.

Jose Lopez, Seattle Mariner, was barely half way up the first base line.

He was half way up the line.

I went back and timed the play. It took a little over four seconds to develop.  That doesn’t sound like much, but your average double play takes about three seconds to go from bat all the way back to the first baseman.  Even a slow-footed runner like Russell Branyan can typically make a four-second double play at least sort of close.  Jose Lopez, on the other hand, decided that jogging up the line was acceptable.

Hey, Jose, can I give you a hint? Jogging is NEVER acceptable.

Then later in the game, Andruw Jones made a spectacular diving play to rob Milton Bradley of a potentially game-winning base hit.  Lopez was past second base by then despite Jones charging on the ball, and was doubled off easily, ending the inning and the rally.

The worst part? After both plays, he looked like he could have cared less.  After the walk-off celebration he ran off the field with a big, stupid grin on his face like he hadn’t a care for the world and everything had gone perfectly tonight.

This is something that has frustrated me with Lopez off and on through his tenure here.  When the team gets into slumps, especially later in the year, he just shuts off.  Yes, in the past he’s had relatives pass away tragically, and I can understand that having an effect on his game.  But on other occasions, there has been NO excuse for his demeanor on the field. None.  His attitude is pretty lackadaisical normally, but there are times, like tonight, where he just gets outright lazy.

I know that Ty Van Burkleo doesn’t have the “power” that Don Wakamatsu does (Wak had been ejected in the top half), but after Lopez’s display of horrible baseball intelligence and desire tonight, there was NO reason to leave him in the game going in to extra innings, especially with Josh Wilson available on the bench.  If you behave like that, you should get benched, period.

I’ve been OK with the idea of having another player instead of Lopez since before the 2008 season.  Right now, I’m willing to move to DEMANDING another player over Jose Lopez.  I don’t even care if the Mariners trade him or just cut him, because Lopez has been so worthless at the plate this season they wouldn’t get much more than a bag of balls anyways.

I’m far, far past done with Lopez.  The sooner he’s gone, the happier I’ll be.

EDIT — Dave Cameron did a very thorough job of lambasting Lopez over at U.S.S. Mariner. Go read it. I agree with him 100%.

Megan’s note: I didn’t get to watch the game, but I heard Mike Salk going off about this situation on the post-game show on my way home tonight. The more experience Lopez got at third during Spring Training, the happier I was with him being there, and eventually, he did indeed look like he belonged there, might even possibly be a fairly average or maybe just below average third baseman. I figured that coupled with the home runs he seems to hit every year, it would be a decent switch, and initially Chone Figgins seemed like a good idea at second. But this little experiment’s time has long worn out its welcome. I personally have no problem with Lopez, being the soccer-supporter-style fan that I’ve become over the past year and a half. I support our team regardless. But something is just wrong with all of this. Felix is annoyed at being taken out, Don Wakamatsu got ejected from a game, and we just barely made it out of this one in extras without getting swept by Chicago, with the Red Sox looming on the horizon. It’s easy for me to be annoyed because I’m tired and it’s late, and all I know about the game tonight comes secondhand from those who watched it – but this sort of behavior is just not acceptable to me. I pay to come and watch games. I spend time and energy on this team, and I pour all the love and support I possibly can into them, not only for them, but for the sake of the game; and I know I’m not the only one. Are we as fans not important enough for the baserunning issue on this team to be dealt with?  The Mariners call us the “best fans in baseball”, and I’m starting to wonder if it’s because they really believe that and enjoy our support, or if it’s because they know they have a tight grip on a bunch of paying suckers year after year. I’m starting to feel more the latter, so I’m going to go to sleep before I work myself up more.  Kudos to Conor for picking up my slack this evening.

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