Saturday, July 30, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Indians - Plunk Rock

Ugh, I should never leave a game report to the next day. I came home last night but started going through all of my pictures of the game instead of writing about it. That was dumb.

As you can see, part of why I went to this game was that I managed to pick up a super-awesome amazing seat -- I was literally right behind the Diamond Club seats, next to the hallway leading off the field by the opposing dugout. I took a ton of pictures, but most of them aren't anything special, sadly, and even worse, my camera ran out of battery at a really most inopportune moment, but I'll get to that in a minute.

As you can also see, I got local boy David Riske to sign my ticket, and Brandon Phillips, which was kind of cool. They both borrowed my sharpie to sign like ninety kids' gloves, which was kind of funny.

I showed up pretty early and got a Mariners "workout shirt" which is basically just a t-shirt with the M's logo and the Wells Fargo logo on it. I also got to see the booth with the Mariners Wives charity baskets, which was pretty funny. Incase you're wondering, the basket with the Napoleon Dynamite DVD in it was Randy Winn's. Given that Boone was obsessed with the movie and then got DFA'ed/traded, I wonder if it ended up in Winn's basket as another trade foreshadowing?

Most of the baskets were pretty funny -- a lot of them contained players' theme music (though a frightening large amount had Alan Jackson CDs, not just Jeff Nelson's), some DVDs, random autographed items, baseball cards, I think Shiggy's had some wine in it, and Jeff Nelson's had a bottle of Pepsi, and things like that. Jamie Moyer's had a Ferris Bueller's Day Off DVD, I recall. Overall, it was good for a laugh to read all of the content lists.

I also went to try to get pictures of Kevin Millwood warming up, because I will forever have a soft spot in my heart for him after his no-hitter in 2003. I mean, I grew up a Phillies fan, and you have to understand, Phillies don't generally pitch no-hitters, so when they do, it's something we naturally talk about for ages and ages. My mom still talks about Jim Bunning's perfect game on Father's Day in 1964. (Trivia question: is Tracy Stallard actually known for anything other than things like giving up Roger Maris's 61st home run, or being the losing pitcher in Bunning's perfect game?) Terry Mulholland pitched a no-hitter in Philly when I was in high school and people went crazy. I mean, my childhood hero Steve Carlton didn't even throw a no-hitter as far as I know, so... yeah.

And then I watched the game. It was pretty crazy. Grady Sizemore, another local boy hero who had about 20,000 friends attending the game, led off with a 414-foot home run to deep center. Fortunately, on our side, Randy Winn hit a 425-foot home run to even deeper center.

Without too much happening the next two innings, Grady Sizemore led off the fourth inning with a triple to center. Well, more like, he hit a long fly ball to the center field wall, which Jeremy Reed got to... caught... and then hit the wall hard with his shoulder, rebounded off, and fell to the ground, dropping the ball. Grady ran and ran and ran and by the time Ichiro had gotten there to help recover the ball, it was a triple. Not surprisingly, Bloomquist took over for Reed in center an inning or two later.

But, beyond Grady Sizemore's triple, Belliard singled him in after that, and Peralta also singled, and Victor Martinez came up to the plate after that. The guy sitting next to me said something like "Wow, their catcher is batting cleanup. Is that normal? I mean, catchers don't bat cleanup, he must be the only one out there, right?" and I said something like "Well, there's Mike Piazza..." which he nodded assent to, but then I continued "...but Victor Martinez is even better, because he has equal power from both sides of the plate, as a switch hitter."

And then Victor Martinez proved me right by smacking the ball to right field, about two inches out of Ichiro's reach, over the wall, for a three-run homer. 8-1 Indians. Wow.

Okay, so two more innings passed where not much happened (well, that's not entirely true. There was a fun run-down in the 5th when, with Blake on second and Dubois on first, Sizemore singled to Ichiro, who relayed the ball back in; Sexson got it and threw to Beltre at third, since Dubois didn't stop running at second, and didn't notice the ball coming back to the infield, either. Suddenly, Dubois is almost at third, and Beltre is standing in front of him with the ball. "Zoinks!" he mutters, and runs back to second... getting tagged out on the way there. I'm not sure I've seen a 9-3-5 play in a while.

If you're keeping track, by the way, at this point Grady Sizemore had gotten a homer, a walk, a triple, and a single.

See, after Dubois homered in the seventh (and it was a real nice shot, too, 428 feet into the beer garden), Mister "I only need a double for the cycle" Sizemore comes up to bat... and Shiggy plunks him in the side.

The umpire's thumb goes up immediately, and Shiggy is out, amidst a ton of booing (both from Grady Sizemore's twenty thousand local friends at the game, and from the Mariners fans angry at the tossout). The 7th inning stretch happens, everyone sits down, and then... Kevin Millwood plunks Yuniesky Betancourt in the side.

This time, everybody is up. The fans, the umpires, the players, even, as both dugouts and bullpens clear and everyone runs onto the field. Millwood is tossed. Betancourt is noticeably shocked. I get one shot of the chaos and then MY CAMERA BATTERIES DIE ARRRRRRRRRGH.

Olivo, Ibanez, Beltre, and the other Spanish-speaking Mariners come out and calm down Betancourt. Nobody actually gets into a fight... it's more like, the Umpires and the managers are arguing, and all the players are just out there looking sort of confused. Eventually they all go back to their respective places, and the game continues. Rafael Betancourt (heh) comes out to pitch for Cleveland.

Wiki Gonzalez, who now has the most annoying at-bat music ("Tricky", you know, that "It's trick to rock around it's tricky tricky tricky tricky" song, except they put up "WIKI WIKI WIKI WIKI" on the board) on the team, hits a long fly ball to right field, which is caught by Casey Blake... and then, miraculously, dropped by Casey Blake, so now we have runners on first and second. Obviously everybody is pretty jumpy about this whole plunking business by now, but Ichiro doesn't care; he comes up and smacks the ball into left field, and Betancourt scores. Randy Winn comes up and does the same for Tricky Wiki, but in a bit the inning ends with Beltre and Sexson striking out swinging. Ah well.

Things are pretty tame for the next inning or two, aside from Hargrove deciding to put in Hansen and Spiezio for Beltre and Sexson for some reason. Sadly, Grady Sizemore does get one last at-bat, with two outs in the top of the ninth, but rather than hitting that double he needs for the cycle, he strikes out. It's really a shame, because that would have been awesome -- not only would he have gotten the cycle, but he would have reached base during every plate appearance, plus gotten there on most of the "normal" ways - a single, double, triple, home run, walk, and hit by pitch. Still, being 3-for-4 with a bb and a hb and a home run and two runs scored is, well, pretty damn good. The reporters were interviewing him after the game and a large contingent of people stuck around and were shouting, "GRADY! GRADY! GRADY!" from above the dugout.

Wow, it sounds like the Indians really pulled off a Freddy Garcia trade to get Grady in the first place, now that I look it up.. Bartolo Colon for a bunch of prospects, basically? Dang.

Oh, but I digress. So, Grady strikes out for the third out, and the Mariners are up, or more like, the Mariners are down by a whopping score of 10-3 in the bottom of the ninth. Tricky Wiki singles, and then Ichiro is up to bat, with local boy David Riske pitching. Ichiro gets a taste of Plunk Rock too. It was somewhat scary, because of the angle Ichiro stands at while batting, I could really see the look on his face as he got hit -- and he looked like he was in serious pain. That was really startling, and I'm usually not sitting close enough to see it. Sigh.

Riske got ejected immediately; Ichiro took a while to get back up and head over to first, but he seemed okay after a bit. Arthur Rhodes came in to pitch, and it was sort of funny because I'm not sure whether people knew whether to cheer for him or not. Anyway, the "undervalued Randy Winn" singled the bases loaded, and Raul Ibanez with his blah blah platoon issues lefty pitcher blah blah hit a single to knock two of the runs in. Unfortunately, that was about it for the game, as Hansen and Spiezio both struck out and Willie popped out. I really do wonder why he put most of the bench in the game, aside from the "half of my team may be traded tomorrow" aspect. Hmm.

So, yeah. It was a really entertaining game despite the loss and despite the beanings. And of course, I actually sort of came to watch Kevin Millwood win, so it was good for me in that aspect too.

And of course, I typed up that game report in the time it took me to watch today's game on Gameday. Winn wasn't playing, and my god, Franklin actually got a win, and Ichiro hit two home runs. We must be on some other planet today. I wonder what'll come out of the trade deadline... or maybe I don't. I think what I want to do is write up a separate post on "Kevin Millwood is unluckier than almost any other pitcher in baseball", and "Eric Byrnes must be getting pretty sick of these uniform changes," and "Does the handedness of the closer and the starter have any relevance?" but right now, I should get out of the house.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Indians - Stitch'n'Pitch Night

First off, let me say, I am a retard. I was thoroughly convinced I would be seeing Meche vs. Detroit today, then Millwood vs. Sele tomorrow, and whoever on Sunday (I don't care, it's my season ticket game anyway). But, no, it was the Indians today already. Oops.

Second off, let me say, Stitch'n'Pitch night was really a pretty cool event and I think the crafts stores and the Mariners pulled it off REALLY well.

(for the astute observers like David, that actually says Stitch'n'Bitch, not Stitch'n'Pitch. "Stitch'n'Bitch" is a crafts movement or series of books, depending on how you look at it. Women have SNB groups where they get together, knit, and whine about their husbands and kids and crap. I wouldn't really know, because I have no husband or kids to whine about, so I don't get invited to that sort of thing. "Stitch'n'Pitch" is a clever play on that, and a gimmick to get said women to come to Safeco, spend money on crap at the stadium, and knit and whine about how much the Mariners suck.)

I showed up earlier than the rest of my friends, wearing my Stitch'n'Pitch shirt. Upon reaching the Lookout Landing deck, I was handed a little SNP pennant, and a packet of stuff from Pacific Fabrics (turns out to be a couple of free patterns, a coupon for the store, and a ruler/needle gauge), and as I wandered around to different tables I was given fliers about knitting classes, a pencil and a coupon for another store, several other coupons, etc. There was a lady with a spinning wheel, too, which was actually pretty neat. Some people had made up signs to hold up during the game, such as the one about the Seventh Inning Stitch.

Not surprisingly, a bunch of the craft tables had yarn available in teal, navy, silver, and white in abundant quantities. One store offered a kit to knit a felted Mariners purse, and another offered a kit to make Mariners scarves. The yarn was a bit expensive to me though, so I didn't buy any.

Eventually our whole group got there. We had five stitchers and two husbands. I actually knitted some AND managed to keep a full scorecard during the game. It was really pretty neat to be there with a group of friends I don't usually go to games with. I spent a bit of time explaining how to knit socks with four two-ended knitting needles, and then I spent a bit of time asking Josh to explain all the intricacies of the non-waiver trade deadline to me. Overall, it was pretty cool to talk stitching and pitching. Seriously.

They put the SNP group up on the big screen a lot, and there were a lot of yarn-related jokes during their trivia and whatnot (like playing Dream Weaver as the trivia song, and photoshopping the players' pictures to look like they were cross-stitched, and so on).

After three innings Meche was taken out, having given up a huge 3-run homer to the mighty Victor Martinez. Matt Thornton came in and amazingly struck out the side right after that. It was pretty impressive, even if it was just Ben Broussard, Jason Dubois, and Grady Sizemore. He looked pretty good for three innings, and then kinda fell apart in the 7th. Oops. Putz came in for a bit, then Jeff Nelson... and Colleen and I started singing along to Chattahoochee. I hope they trade him before I actually *do* learn all the words to that song.

The 7th inning stitch was pretty cool for the Mariners too, though. There was a hilarious at-bat where Olivo popped the ball up, a REALLY easy popup to second base, too, and Peralta and Belliard both ran for it... and I guess neither of them knew who was getting it, because bonk! it fell right between them both. True comedy. Shame they'd already run the blooper reel for the evening. Ibanez came in with Olivo and Ichiro on base, and just as Josh was saying something about blah blah Ibanez has platoon problems why is Willie playing instead of Reed blah blah, WHAM! Raul whacks a huge home run to left field. Heh heh. I suppose Scott Sauerbeck wasn't too happy about that (and he immediately got pulled, anyway).

I guess it was to make up for the fifth inning where I was like "Okay, who do you think Olivo will pop out to?" and he hit a home run, and Colleen was like, "I don't think that was a pop out," and I replied "Well, uh, he hit a really long pop fly... and it went out of the park. I mean, I could have included the bullpen coach in 'people he might pop out to', right?"

I was almost sort of hoping they'd play Bret Boone's old theme music when Aaron Boone came up to bat, heh. "READY OR NOT, I STRIKE OUT A LOT!"

Anyway, it was exciting to see Yuniesky Betancourt's first major league game, and seeing him get that triple in his first at-bat was awesome. He can really run, and he also looked awesome at second base, seriously. It'll be good to see what he can achieve while he's up here.

Sadly, we lost, but I had a pretty good time at the game anyway. Which says a lot for this event.

Oh, and Beckie won one of the kits from whichever craft store sponsored the raffles... it was awesome, she got all this yarn and a bunch of crochet hooks and some patterns and a nice sewing kit. A lady in front of us got a really sweet case of knitting needles and a bunch of yarn to go with it, and some circle needles and whatnot. Pretty awesome stuff and worth a decent amount, too; they must have had some serious sponsors for this event, considering we not only got cheap seats, and free t-shirts, and all of this other stuff.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Game Report: Aquasox vs. Dirt Devils -- Eat your heart out, Joe Mauer

Tonight was quite an adventure.

So today, at 5:30pm, I had the choice upon me: which baseball game should I attend tonight? Shall I take the road most travelled by, and walk down to Safeco to partake of some Midweek Moyer Mojo? Or should I take the 510 bus to Everett and go see Jeff Clement's first professional ballgame? Well... I guess by the time I actually made the decision, I was ten minutes into the bus ride to Everett, and it's a good thing I didn't change my mind, because the next stop was the Eastmont P&R.

For future reference, the 510 bus stops pretty much right across the street from Everett Memorial Stadium, and it takes about 50 minutes to get there from the corner of 4th and Seneca downtown. It's actually insanely convenient.

I had never been there before, so I'm glad I got there early and got to walk around the park a bit. It's smaller than Cheney, obviously, and I wasn't quite prepared to almost trip over some of the Dust Devils players as I made my way around the back of the bleacher sections. I also had never seen the Aquasox uniforms, and holy crap are they crazy! They're like these big bright tie-dye green-navy shirts with white letters on them. I completely regret not bringing my camera with me today, but oh well.

Food at the stadium was not only cheaper than Cheney, but tastier. Heck, they even had $1 hot dogs late in the game, but I was too riveted to leave my seat. (I had a great seat, too. $9 to sit 8 rows behind home plate is just insane. $10 would have you right on the field if you're lucky.)

Today was Bark in the Park day, which means that the official recorded attendance was 1,722 people and 348 dogs. No, this is not a joke. Yes, they played "Who let the dogs out?" at one point. They also gave out these "Bark in the Park 2005" commemorative baseballs, but more on those a bit later.

I ran into Conor Glassey, who seems to go to almost as many baseball games as I do. I also thought I saw USSM's Super Reader Paul Covert lurking in the very very front row right behind home plate, but it's been several months since the pizza feed, so perhaps I forgot. I didn't recognize any of the other USSM guys; I suppose I'm always looking for a tall dude in a Snelling jersey when I think of DMZ.

Speaking of USSM, if you buy an Aquasox program for $2.50, you'll pretty much get a bunch of roster info, a scorecard, and then a whole bunch of articles by Derek and Dave. Whee.

Anyway! To sum up what Jeff Clement did today -- he went 1-for-5, scoring a run, but what I thought was more important was just watching his swing. He has, as described elsewhere, a nice short compact lefty swing that really will do nicely in Safeco. He let the counts get high on him a lot and seemed to choose his pitches carefully. He also has a decent amount of power -- in the 6th inning he hit a ball high and far and we were sure it was going over the center field wall, only to fall a few feet short. It was great that he got a hit in his first pro at-bat, too. Everyone in the stands was abuzz about him -- I'd hear random people saying things like "He's the third-best college player in the country" or "He just signed to the Mariners and they made him come play up here!" or whatever.

As for the rest of the game, it was pretty cool. The Frogs won 11-7. The game started out really shaky, as the Devils' pitcher Patton kept having slight issues with the strike zone -- and I don't mean like, slightly high and outside pitches, but I mean more like, slightly above-the-umpire's-head pitches, or into-the-batter's-head pitches, etc. 3 balls and ninety fouls later, leadoff batter Trevor Heid still managed to strike out; Reed Eastley wasn't about to repeat that mistake and simply watched four balls go all over the place and then walked down to first.

The second inning was the most exciting of the game from the Aquasox perspective, even going a full rally of 10 batters. Prettyman (what an unfortunate name) led off with a single; Jeff Clement came up for his first pro at-bat and singled; Alex Gary, who would end up one HR short of the cycle by the end of the evening, singled; Santin drove in Prettyman with a sac fly and Saunders cleared everyone else off with a nice long ground rule double to right field. Hudson and Heid followed that double with two more doubles, Eastley struck out, Flaig walked, and by the time Prettyman came up again and struck out, the dust cleared with the Frogs leading 5-0.

Two innings later the Devils struck back in full force; part of it could be blamed on Rohrbough, since he put in a run with a wild pitch, but it didn't matter as Pedro Strop hit a home run and cleared the bases, tying the game at 5-5.

The next inning started bleakly with Prettyman grounding out and then Clement striking out, but then Alex Gary tripled and Daniel Santin followed it up with a heck of a blast to center field for another home run; 7-5. They stayed ahead for the rest of the game. The only other runs the Devils scored were back-to-back home runs by Travis Becktel and Phillip Cuadrado in the 8th. Cory Koliscak came out and pitched a flawless 9th, striking out two of the batters. He has a very neat sidearm pitching motion which I enjoyed watching. You will join the Cult of the Sidearm...

Eastley, the Frogs' second baseman, was probably one of the most interesting players to me during the day. He made an error really early on, but after that played pretty flawlessly in the field, including a really nice jump to grab a line drive from Brian Kirby in the 5th, and managing to throw Pedro Strop out by a hair after bobbling the ball in the 8th. His plate judgment was really good too; overall he went 1-for-2, walking twice and getting hit by a pitch once.

Anyway, after the game ended, I had the fortune to get Jeff Clement to sign my ugly awful Bark in the Park baseball, and now it is beautiful and special! He stayed around after the game for a while, signing things and chatting with fans. I think everyone is really happy that he's here, and he seems to be happy to be here as well, and very nice and down-to-earth; he even joked to me, "I have no idea where the heck to sign on these things," when I handed him the ball, and I said "Well, hey, we'll all remember your first day here as Bark in the Park day," and he laughed, and I wished him good luck and welcome to Seattle, and he thanked me and smiled.

Then I embarked on my hour-and-a-half quest to get home by bus, because I had to take the 510 back into the city, then take the 5 back out to where I live. It's okay, though, because I had books to read anyway.

Right now perhaps Joe Mauer is the youngest, studliest, catcherliest catcher in the American League, but I forsee that he's going to have serious competition from Jeff Clement in a few years.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Clement signs!

Murmurs abounded in the Mariners blogpile this morning, and at 1pm today there was apparently a press conference, and there's an official press release from the team and everything.

Pat Dillon, announcer for the Everett Aquasox, confirmed on USSM today that Jeff Clement will report to Everett and be in uniform for tomorrow night's game. That's exciting -- I wonder if I can go, I was out of town for Felix's debut in Tacoma this year and had to catch his second or third home start instead.

In other news, I would like to point out something of significance -- when the Mariners DFA'ed Boonie, when they removed him from the 1st avenue Safeco Players' Heads Wall, they replaced him with Pokey Reese. I mentioned this before, but with the trade deadline looming, this has even more significance. They could have easily replaced him with Shiggy (who's been on the wall before), or Morsie, or Willie, but no. It says a lot that they'd rather just put up a perennial-DL person than an active player -- for fear they'd end up trading them and just need to change the faceboard again?

Last night's game really frustrated me. I checked in after 6 innings and thought, "Great! We're winning, Franklin's at around 100 pitches, put in someone else for the 7th and we'll be in good shape!" But nooooo, they had to have that painful 7th inning instead. I was listening to it on the radio driving my friend to the airport as the game got tied at 3-3, and fortunately also as it was won at 5-3, but man. I know Franklin whines a lot, but you know, I'd whine after a game like that too.

Anyway, the game this week I am looking forward to is Thursday -- not just because of S'n'P -- but, because one of the most memorable games I remember attending in the 2003 season was Meche pitching against the hapless 2003 Tigers for "Edgar, Duck!" Night. From the wrap:

Meche struggled most of the way, possibly because the Tigers started nine left-handed batters.

"I don't recall ever seeing that," he said.

Not that it mattered, as the M's were up 7-0 by the second inning, but still. I really enjoyed that game -- I sat about 10 rows behind home plate, because even though it was in the days of most-games-at-Safeco-sell-out, the Tigers were so awful that nobody wanted to see them, and so excellent seats were still readily available, even day-of.

And I mean, look at the guys who played in that game. Some of them are still playing baseball, obviously, but many of them never made it past that awful 2003 Detroit season. Heck, Kevin Witt couldn't even make it on the Yokohama Bay Stars and got sent down to *their* farm team after only hitting .172/.206/.406 this year.

So yeah! Safeco Thursday for sure, and I was originally thinking of maybe Safeco tomorrow, but I never have seen an Aquasox game, and this might be the time. Hmm...

p.s. I was wrong about Snelling getting a start on Sunday, but I was right about him hitting Kevin Millwood like a printer in Office Space.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Mariner Morning Woes

Sometimes it's weird to wake up, come to work, find there's all this crap you have to work on, stuff to finish, code to debug, and then... and then, you look at the Mariners site to see how they're doing in their game that started at 9:37am PDT (!), which is 8 minutes before you arrived at work. And Joel Pineiro is already down 5-0. And suddenly, your work morning doesn't seem nearly as bad.

Heck, I looked at the Mets game scoreboard, as I often do lately, and they won 12-0! With Kazuhisa Ishii starting against Jake Peavy, even. Will wonders ever cease? True to form, Ishii did walk 5 and strike out 3 in 6 innings -- but he didn't give up a run. Peavy gave up more runs than he ever has in a single outing this year; heck, he gave up as many runs today as he did in all of April. And poor Paul Quantrill must be wondering how he ended up there, off the Yankees, and how he keeps managing to have the awful luck to not only be pitching against the Mets, but sucking against the Mets. In four games this year against them his ERA is now a whopping 12.35. Ouch.

The Mets outscored San Diego 22-4 in a three-game sweep. It's almost like the Padres decided to give up and take a break in the muggy New York heat for a few days.

The Mariners were outscored by the Blue Jays 27-17 in a three-game sweep. The Blue Jays are now one game over .500 for the effort. Some Mariners have managed to pad their batting averages a bit (or in the case of one Michael Morse, axed his fielding percentage). But no, we did not lie down and calmly take our losses. Oh, we threatened from time to time to run from the gaping maw of defeat, but then we comfortably slid back down into our dugout of despair.

Fortunately, we head to Cleveland next, who have dropped 11 of their last 14 games. In other words, they suck almost as much as we do. The formerly-shining Aaron Sele will pitch against my former Phillies hero Kevin Millwood on Sunday. That's gonna be an ugly game, just like Sele vs. Lilly (but it doesn't rhyme as nicely). I predict Snelling getting both a start and several good smacks on the ball.

Top Ten Reasons To Like The Mariners, even though they SUCK:

10. Stitch'n'Pitch Night at Safeco Field

"Bring your projects to the game, get help from the experts, view the latest samples from your area yarn shops and meet other knitters all while enjoying Mariners Baseball."

I just got email about this since I'm on the Mariners mailing list. How cool is that? It's next Thursday, July 28... I was thinking of going to that game anyway.

Pacific Fabrics says that if we get tickets from their stores, we also get a free Stitch'n'Pitch t-shirt.

So cool! I hope I can find other people to go with me. For once I might actually attend a baseball game with some of my *female* friends. That would be all realms of awesome. Sadly, my female friends who knit and like baseball mostly live in other cities.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Things that suck

This article from the PI would like to put everything into perspective for you. Our outfield (Winn, Reed, Ichiro) has a collective 13 home runs, meaning that there are 55 major leaguers who have more home runs than our collective outfield. Hmmmm.

I was at the gym last night watching part of the game. Someone walks by like "What's the score?" and I said "10-9," and they were like "Uh, is that the Mariners or the Seahawks?"

Lookout Landing has summed up the game better than I ever could, but I'll give it a whirl.

Things that suck:

Sele. I'm sorry, but it's true. Whatever magic dust gave you that excellent pitching run in late May and early June, you gotta get some more of it, man, or you'll be Sele'ing your own doom. (Ha ha.)

Thornton. I stuck up for you, man, and where has it gotten me? No love. No love at all. You know, Hinske sucks too, and he OWNED you.

Spiezio. Why are you still here? You make me so sad. I hated you so much when you were with Anaheim, and then you were supposed to come here and continue kicking butt, and what happens? You suck! You're supposed to be kicking *their* butts, not ours. Grr.

Things that don't suck:

Snelling! He hit a nice double to right field. Of course, it was too little too late, but still.

Villone. I don't know if you've noticed, but the guy hasn't given up an earned run in a month. Infact, if you look at his outer stats, it's really pretty damn good. In the last month (from June 20 - July 20) he's running the following:

12.1 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 7 BB, 14 K

Heck, if you just combine his June and July numbers, it's still damn impressive:

20.2 IP, 14 H, 3 ER, 10 BB, 21 K, 1.30 ERA

Now, I'd really been trying to pinpoint what the heck was different about him lately, but Jeff of LL hit it on the head: Ronnie the Bear is throwing sidearm to lefties. Holy crap. It's not a huge sidearm, but it's enough of an angle to really mess with someone. I guess this is why I stopped hating Ron Villone (enough so to even write him into the last song I wrote -- oh, I should post those here) -- I mean, you know me and sidearm pitchers, but let me get to that in a second.

Anyway. Villone, I'm glad you don't suck. Unfortunately, things that don't suck are generally huge trade bait, so I guess we'll be saying goodbye to you and hoping Matt Thornton becomes our lefty bullpen ace...


Oh, wait, I should point out one last thing about Villone, lest I sound like I've entirely forgiven him for some of his atrocious outings. Despite posting those numbers, I forgot to include a slightly more telling stat, his percentage of strikes thrown. In the last month he threw 228 pitches, and 131 of them for strikes, for a rather low 57%. In those last two months, he threw 374 pitches, 220 for strikes, for 58%.

The Mariners pitching staff in general tends to throw about 64-65% strikes. Randy Johnson, last season, threw 72% strikes. In other words, Ronnie still sometimes has trouble finding the strike zone with both his hands, a flashlight, and a can of pine tar, but that's okay. All is forgiven when one joins the cult of the sidearm.

Things that suck, but fortunately suck somewhere else:

Bret Boone! Holy shit, I'm so glad you're sucking in Minnesota. I mean, I know Jose Lopez is only .250/.238/.350 in July (gotta love anyone who manages to have a lower OBP than BA), but you're only .129/.206/.129, so, yeah.

Things that don't suck, and unfortunately don't suck somewhere else:

My Phillies! My cutie pie Chase Utley and my high-school-crush Mike Lieberthal, in the last week hitting .500/.542/.818 and .500/.563/1.286 respectively.

Chad Bradford! So he's recovered from his back surgery, and is back up, and pitching for the Red Sox. I saw him pitching on the big screen at Safeco the other night, and I was all like, squealing, "OMG! Chad Bradford! Look at him throw! Isn't that so COOL???"

And of course, the guys are just like "Uh, who the heck cares? Sure, he's a submariner, so what?"

A rant about uniqueness

The thing is, think of it this way. I go to like... what, I'm on course right now to attend around 40 baseball games this year. And when it really comes down to it, a lot of games are the same. Some dude throws a ball, some dude hits the ball, some fielders get the ball and throw it to first. A lot of baseball looks exactly the same, which is why some people get bored by it. It's the little things that are different about some players that make it more exciting to watch -- the way guys like Eric Byrnes look like they're on ten cups of espresso, or the way David Eckstein bounces around like a munchkin, or the way Jamie Moyer strikes people out by throwing the ball like a girl, or the way the Japanese players like Ichiro and Taguchi and all run so quickly, or the grace of Mike Cameron as a ballhawk in the expanse of center field, or whatnot. Heck, I think it's just cool to see old guys like Pat Borders, or Julio Franco, or whoever, defy time and age and still hustle out in the field. Then there's pitchers. So many of them look so alike, that the differences are what make it so fun to watch some of them. Arroyo with his Rockettes kick, or Mike Myers as his sidearming, or Nomo with his crazy windup, and so on. And then there are people like Chad Bradford, who are utterly unique. There just isn't anyone else in the game who throws like him anymore. It's just *neat* to see.

If you asked me who the top five pitchers I wish I could have seen are, I'm pretty sure my top five list would be

1) Mark "The Bird" Fidrych -- he just sounds like he was SO WEIRD, talking to the ball and being so hyper and wide-eyed. That's just awesome.
2) Walter Johnson -- the greatest of all. I just want to know for real how fast he was.
3) Rip Sewell -- inventor of the "eephus pitch". Oh man! I just would give anything to see the moment when he pitched that to Ted Williams in the all-star game.
4) Warren Spahn -- the greatest lefty of all, and the craziest angle. I mean, I've seen the pictures, and I just can't imagine him throwing!
5) Satchel Paige -- because I still can't imagine a guy pitching for so long and for so well! I mean, I read his autobiography and it just boggles the mind how someone could pitch consistently for over four decades, you know?

So yeah. I mean, you can be a decent ballplayer, but the truly great will also be truly unique. I mean, when you watch a movie like 61*, you go, "Holy crap, that's actually Mickey Mantle's swing." Which is sort of the thing about Rafael Palmeiro. He's just this big ol' slugger who's been around forever and racked up a ton of hits and homeruns. I don't mean to say this isn't a great accomplishment -- it's amazing and a testament to his sustained ability as a ballplayer -- but even when he ends up in the Hall, I don't know what his "unique" thing will be? I mean, nobody's going to remember the Viagra thing in a few years, right?

Oh well, I should go get some sleep. I'd pretend to be optimistic about tomorrow's game, but after Franklin dropped tonight's, and the way Pineiro's been looking lately, I'm just not sure what I can say.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Bay Area (in California, not Pittsburgh)

I liked this article that was posted to USSM about Omar Vizquel and his painting hobby.

Now, for things I don't like.

The rumor that Chad Bradford would be traded to Boston is no longer a rumor. The funny part is that Kevin Youkilis, the Greek God of OBP, had to be sent to the minors to make room for Bradford and the re-activation of Schilling -- and Oakland gets Jay Payton -- but for those of us who read and loved Moneyball, we remember a chapter where Billy Beane really wanted to get Youkilis on his team, which makes me wonder, why didn't he try to get him in this deal? Or did he, and the Sox wouldn't give him up? (But then sent him down anyway?)

And having acquired another outfielder, Billy Beane traded Eric Byrnes to Colorado. This makes me even sadder. Despite hating the A's in general, I actually genuinely liked Eric Byrnes. He was a funny guy to watch in the field, always running around (does that guy EVER stand still?), hustling and smiling, and was a pretty dependable outfielder even if not a superstar. But even more importantly, Eric Byrnes actually genuinely seems to like baseball fans. In a time where most baseball players seem to be sick of dealing with fans, Byrnes connects with the fans more than ever. I admit I've only gone up before maybe three or four Oakland games here trying to see batting practice and maybe get things signed, but there has never been a time where Eric Byrnes didn't come out to the stands and say hi and sign things for people and talk to the fans.

He's a California boy at heart, having grown up in the Bay Area and gone to UCLA, was drafted by the A's out of college, and has only played there. I feel pretty bad for the guy, really... he was one of those players that could have become a franchise player in an era where franchise players don't exist anymore.

Oakland already has enough trouble getting people to go to the games -- why get rid of an unmistakeable fan favorite who's not hurting the team and is still in his prime? I mean, I know Boone was a fan favorite here, but the guy's 36 years old and is in obvious decline. The same is not true for Byrnes, who still hits for average, plays the field well, and runs pretty damn fast, and the only way I'll be happy about this is if Hiram Bocachica ends up being called up once his hand heals.

Good luck in Colorado, Eric. This Mariners fan, at least, salutes you.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Tryin' to play catch-up a bit here

The problem in the last week isn't that there isn't enough to write about -- it's more that there's too much! Every time I sit down to write an entry on here, I feel overwhelmed. So let's see...

All-Star Game

Bobby Abreu! You the man! 24 home runs in one round of the derby... that was crazy.

Ichiro put in a nice showing with the hitting, but he looked pretty dumb getting picked off first. Man, I haven't seen a pickoff in ages, and it has to happen to Ichiro?

I thought Teixeira would be the MVP of the game for sure, but I guess I was wrong. Mr. "Swings-at-Everything" Tejada got it... I suppose putting the first run on the board is most important.

I was sad Jason Bay didn't come out to play at all.

Oh! But, but, Mark Fidrych came out to help with the pre-game festivities! That was cool! I had just been reading another book about him on the bus yesterday, and was sort of wondering where he is now.

Bret Boone

After work yesterday I walked down to Safeco Field to see the results of our deBooneification. It's surprisingly small, actually:

- Pokey Reese's face is now on Player's Row on the stadium side instead of Boone
- All the Boone merchandise in the team store is 50% off (which is still gratuitously expensive, I'd buy a Boone t-shirt if it was $5, not $10)
- Hahahahahahaha, the June 2005 issue of Mariners Magazine has him on the cover and they seem to be hiding the issues. Cover boy in June, DFA'ed in July. Nice going.

(Oh yeah, and he's been traded to the Twins for a PTBNL. Can we PLEEEEEEEEEEEASE have Joe Mauer? Or Justin Morneau? Please? I swear I'll be very very good and attend every game and never wear an opposing team t-shirt again. I'll clean the stadium after class and write "I will not make fun of Willie Bloomquist" on the board a hundred times.)

I'm a lot less bitter over this than I was when they DFA'ed Olerud last year. That SUCKED. Especially the part where he went on to kick our butts while playing on the Yankees later in the year. I'm just sad we won't get to yell "READY OR NOT, I STRIKE OUT A LOT" anymore.

It occurs to me that we pretty much knew Boone was going to be DFA'ed the day Lopez was called up and Boone didn't play for a whole weekend. He just wasn't staying here all year. I feel bad for all the little kids in my section who are going to be asking their parents, "Where's Bret Boone? Huh? Huh?" for the rest of the season, though.

The Angels, and Bloomquist

I have to admit, I really didn't pay any attention to the Angels-Mariners games this weekend because I pretty much expected us to get slaughtered.

Boy, was I wrong. Teach me to ignore the games, eh?

We slaughtered the Angels. We dominated them. It sounds like it was a great set of games to watch. And most of all, they featured Willie Bloomquist.

Now, this is vaguely a shame, because they should have all featured Chris Snelling a lot more. But, it is true that Willie has a lot of luck against the Angels, especially my favorite blue-eyed adorable lefty pitcher, Jarrod Washburn.

I remember a few months ago, someone saying "blah blah Willie is 9-for-18 against Washburn", and me going "Yeah, but if you don't count that extremely lucky debut of Willie's against him, where he went 4-for-4 and everyone was astounded, he's only 5-for-14, which is a respectable .357, but still."

Now I'm really not sure what to say. He's 10-for-20 against him lifetime, with two walks, two doubles, and a triple, for a .500/.545/.700 line. Crazy.

I guess we really are just doing better without Boone. Who'da thunk it? I do feel a little bit bad for Richie Sexson though, as he won't have someone around the clubhouse to watch Napoleon Dynamite with ninety more times.

Trade Deadlines

We need a catcher and a starting pitcher. I think we're doomed. I have a really bad feeling we're going to give up someone like Randy Winn or Raul Ibanez for a sack of beans. But really, neither Olivo nor Borders should be around as a catcher next year. Olivo's hitting is just apalling, and pretty much depends on opposing pitchers accidentally putting a fastball across the plate. I love Borders, but he's old, and there's really no way around that, even if I'd love to see him play until he's 50. Jeff Clement won't be ready to play until 2007 at the earliest, so where does that leave our catching? Dan Wilson may be back next year as our backup, but who's our primary? I'm guessing we'll solve that in the off-season rather than the trade deadline, though.

Oddly, I actually hope we don't trade Villone. I still hate him, but he HAS been pretty damn good this year, one of our more consistent relievers. He's still wild and walks people too much, but he also has been striking them out, and has given up only one home run in 35 innings pitched, which is amazing.

Rumors say the Red Sox want Chad Bradford, which I think is awesome, because they already have all the other bizarre weirdo pitchers (kickline Arroyo, sidearmers Meredith and Myers, knuckleballer Wakefield, etc. Only thing is, I really want to *see* Chad Bradford pitch, which won't happen if he ends up on the Sox -- I was hoping to catch him in a late-season A's game. Sigh.


I loved this article from the morning before Boone was traded, but mostly because of the Eddie Guardado part:

About the only thing that has gone wrong for him, other than the Mariners failing to play up to expectations, is that he didn't get selected to the All-Star team. And he says that's not that big a deal.

"I'm going to hang around the pool with my kids and barbeque some ribs," Guardado said. "It's going to be a good All-Star break."

Ahh, Eddie.

Speaking of Eddie, Lookout Landing did a fabulous interview with Justin Leone a week or two ago, which you can read or listen to. Highlights:

LL: Well, with being a rookie last year, was there anything Eddie Guardado may have done to you? Any practical jokes or anything like that?

JL: He lit my pants on fire. (laughs) I still have the pants with the big burn mark on it. He did that to pretty much every rookie on the team. He lit Mickey Lopez's shoes on fire and Mickey didn't know for almost a minute, and it was burning off his shoe. (laughs) He makes fun of you as much as he can, and he'll pick on something and just continue to pick on it, but he's a great player. I like being around him.

And also, because LL used to be "Leone for Third":

LL: And finally a color question, were you ever aware about a year ago of a website that was named after you?

JL: I didn't know what it was called, but my mom is always on the Internet and she might have said something. I don't know what it was.

Heh. Oo, I just noticed a new funny post there, the Mariners Movie Matinee. Cool. Check out Spiezio's flick there.

My own win-loss records

Hmmm, that's probly enough for now. I'm going to the Mariners-Orioles game on Thursday, maybe I'll have something to say then. Would you believe, I'm already done filling up my scorecard book, and will have to start a second one at Thursday's game? For the record, my book contains scores from 19 Mariners home games, 2 Rainiers home games (well, one was rain delayed), 3 Mets home games, and 1 Yankees home game. Though overall I suppose you could say it has 2 Rangers games, 3 A's games, 2 Angels games, 1 Indians game, 1 Red Sox game, 4 Yankees games, 1 Blue Jays, 1 Tampa Bay, 5 Mets, 5 Phillies, 1 Marlins, 1 Orioles, 1 Salt Lake Stingers, and one rained out Las Vegas 51's.

In the 19 Mariners games I scored in this book, they were 10-9. I also went to two of the beginning Mariners-Twins games, where they were 1-1. Hmm, and I also went to two Pirates games when I was in Pittsburgh and bought a scorecard there, and they beat the Cubs but lost spectacularly to the Cardinals. And the thing is, I went to 5 games rooting for the Phillies and they only won 2 of those -- I wonder what that means? Sigh.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Things happen sometimes

Holy shit, Bret Boone was DFA'ed.

I think this is a great thing, but I personally was never a Boone fan. Maybe I'll pick up one of his t-shirts for $5 after he's gone, though.

Snelling was called up! I bet DMZ is going to explode.

In an article titled "Ibanez provides leadership", Ichiro is quoted as saying the following:

Ichiro did have an afterthought on Monday regarding the skills competition during All-Star Weekend.

"If they asked me to be in a bunting contest, I would say yes," Ichiro said.

I've been to four baseball games in the last week, but they were all in New York, so I'm not sure what to say about the Mariners. Dontrelle Willis pitched for the Marlins against the Mets yesterday, and he scares me. And today's Yankees-Orioles game was a slugfest of immense proportions, led by the power bat of Jason Giambi.