The last two weeks

I am ridiculously lazy. Last year, I sort of started to sputter out towards the beginning of September, but I was still interested in watching games. This year, I’m kind of ‘eh’ on the whole thing. I missed King Felix’s start last Friday, I watched the entirety of a Sounders game against Columbus Crew on Saturday, then turned to the Mariners game, not realizing it had started at 6pm, and Sunday I went to the game with friends, but was only marginally interested in being there (of course, this was also because I’d dressed for cold and cloudy, and then the sun came out, and I had no sunscreen or hat and I was wearing all black. Thanks, Nature!) and didn’t take many photos.

Tonight, the Rainiers play what I believe is a one-off game to determine the Triple A Championship title, going up against the Columbus Clippers. Let’s hope the Clippers are as easy to mow down as their MLS cohorts (if you didn’t see it, the Sounders beat the Crew 4-0 Saturday). The Clippers will be the “home” team, and the game is actually being broadcast on VS, which is channel 34 if you have Comcast within the city of Seattle. For further information, check out the Rainiers FaceBook page. We’ll be relying on one of my favorites, Ryan Feierabend, to go after Columbus.

Because I literally have very little to say, I figured I’d cruise around and talk about what other people are talking about…

Dave Cameron has a bit up about the possibility of dealing David Aardsma between now and next year. While at the game the other day, with the score 2-1 Mariners, Aardsma was called in to the strains of Saliva’s “Ladies and Gentlemen“, and very little appreciation from the crowd. He didn’t have the easiest save in the history of saves, but he succeeded. As he took the field, I leaned over to my friend Craig and said “Now here comes Aardsma to blow it all.” Seconds later, I told him that I was taking it back, because I’d just realized that Aardsma had, in fact, around 30 saves this season. It was then that it hit me exactly how abysmal this season had become. Out of the 57 games we’ve won so far this season (as if that’s not an indicator enough), Aardsma gets credit for saving 31 of them, in 49.2 innings pitched. Not too shabby. To put things in perspective, Mariano Rivera, pitching for a far superior offense,  has a 32-save record so far this year, out of 57 innings pitched. I will admit with some sadness that I am a bit embarrassed that I allowed my frustration with this team to cloud my judgment of a perfectly good closer in Aardsma. I have become so accustomed to losing that I forget that there are other good players on our team, players that have gone largely unheralded under all the front office drama, firings, and other weirdness. Aardsma might not be around much longer; now that Mark Lowe is gone, who will replace him? Do we have anyone we believe in that much? Cameron cites Brandon League, and I want to believe that, but the pitch selection thing is a huge issue for me.  Not to say that the situation won’t improve, but as things stand right now, it’s rather daunting.

If you’re still paying attention to the big club, you know by now that Justin Smoak and Dan Cortes have been called up. Cortes has not been made to wear the pink backpack – that job still belongs to Chris Seddon:

I don’t believe I’ve seen Cortes pitch this year, and I’m starting to wonder if I ever will. The playoffs have been great, but as someone who was looking forward to seeing who might come back or up, September has been fairly disappointing to me. We only have two weeks left, there is no way to tell who will be good at what in that short period of time. This past Sunday’s game featured Michael Saunders in center and Ryan Langerhans in left, which was an interesting combination (and worked reasonably well, I thought). Even Death (to Flying Things) needs a bit of a rest occasionally. (Correction – oops. I could have sworn when I did editing earlier that that was Seddon – the pink backpack has indeed been handed down to Cortes. Apologies, all, and thanks to GoofyMsFan on Twitter, who pointed it out. Honestly, if anyone would know, it’d be her. Or Ryanna.)

The one thing I’m sort of bummed about is that it isn’t looking like Josh Lueke will get a major league opportunity this year. I hate to say this, but I am starting to get the feeling that Lueke is not going to be with the team for much longer. I hope I am wrong, but I get the feeling that this thing with Lueke has been beat into the ground so much by everyone that the only way the front office might feel that they can fix it is to get rid of him somehow. If they decide to do this, it will be somewhat obvious that this organization is far more interested in public relations than winning baseball games. It will also make them hypocrites in the extreme…

Like you don’t know already, the Mariners partner with a program called Refuse to Abuse. The program is a part of the Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The WSCADV offers training for DV organizations, publications about DV, and program assistance to groups like the Seattle Mariners who attempt to draw awareness to and raise money for victims of DV.  The situation with Josh Lueke has been a big sore point for the organization for obvious reasons (I’m not going into it here, everyone already knows, and it doesn’t bear repeating). Now, none of us know what actually happened with the Lueke case. We weren’t there. It could have been rape, it could have been false imprisonment; it could have been both. It could have been that the woman in question willfully had drunken sex with Lueke, then woke up and regretted her decision, and decided to go after him on rape charges. Whatever the case, the court of public opinion has passed many arguments, conclusions, and a high amount of scrutiny on this issue, to the point where there’s very little gray here – either you want him to have a second chance or you want him out of baseball forever.

So why didn’t we do this when Russell Branyan joined our roster?

You might be asking yourself why we would do that. Or you might go to Google, and do a search for “russell branyan domestic violence”. If you chose the latter, you’d come up with this story from WKYC.com.  Branyan allegedly got into a fight with his wife that ended up in a restraining order and non-visitation rights with his kids. Yet we not only welcomed him onto our team with open arms in 2009, we welcomed him back this year. More details on the case here. Not only did the Mariners sign a guy who was charged with one count of domestic violence, they re-acquired him halfway through the 2010 season. Was this an issue for them? No. I don’t even remember it ever being brought up. I found the information last year on Wikipedia, but knowing that Wikipedia is largely unreliable, ignored it; then again, you can also find the information on Google, something that the Mariners organization has now promised they will do with players from here on out after Josh Lueke.

One could argue that rape is a harsher crime than hitting someone in the mouth in a way that might have been accidental – but that ignores the fact that all of it is assault, and therefore illegal under the law of the land. It also marginalizes those women (or men) who are “only” hit or beaten by the men (or women) they live with. Branyan’s wife saw fit to report it, and the court saw fit to charge him with it, and that is enough for me.

I don’t have any moral, holier-than-thou statements to pass over either player – but if we get rid of Josh Lueke (a promising young prospect) this offseason while having Russell Branyan (a veteran who likely will not be here next year unless he takes whatever small amount of money we are willing to offer) on the major league roster twice, what does that tell you about the organization?

This was not the post I set out to write when I sat down today, but here it is anyway. These are also not all my full thoughts on the Josh Lueke case, but if he leaves our organization, then my thoughts are redundant and moot. So I guess I wait and see what kind of an uproar it causes if he goes or stays, and how I feel about the actuality of the situation when and if it happens. Regardless of how this all filters out in the end, you certainly cannot say that it hasn’t kept our ball club interesting.

Luke French, Marc Rzepczynski (yes, I had to look at that to spell it) up on FSN in about an hour. I’ll be figuring out a way to navigate watching the Rainiers and the Ms simultaneously, I haven’t seen Feierabend pitch in ages. This is the last two weeks of Mariners baseball, and I am simultaneously bummed and breathing sighs of relief. We need a clean slate like nobody’s business, and it’s nearly here. I will miss baseball in the offseason, but I doubt I’ll miss any of the trimmings that have gone with 2010.

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