Saturday, December 31, 2005

Song Parody: Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2005 Seattle Mariners

Well, I wanted to write some sort of end-of-year post, but instead I wrote an end-of-year song, like I did last year. I'm really not sure "The Boxer" works so well, but the idea of making the chorus a tribute to Dave Niehaus was just too tempting, really. Have a happy and safe New Year, everyone!

Ladies and Gentlemen, your 2005 Seattle Mariners
To the tune of "The Boxer" by Simon and Garfunkel
New lyrics by Deanna "Marinerd" Rubin

I am just a fangirl, and my story's pretty dull
I have wandered all through Safeco
With a scorecard full of scribbles, such are summaries.
Games won and lost, still the team appears like it did last year,
In disregard to cost, hmmm...

When they started this season's tragedy, things were looking pretty good
With a couple big free agents
And the rookies from Tacoma seemed so talented.
Then, oh no! Dan's leg twisted, Bobby's arm blew out, and Miguel Olivo
Hit about as well as freakin' Spiezio.

My oh my...

Asking only for replacement, we go looking to trade Winn, but we get no offers
Just a prospect and a catcher named JoeJessica
I do declare, of the moves done at the trade deadline,
I think we got screwed there

Now the crowds abandon Safeco, an attendance drop you'll see,
They are smaller than they once were, and larger than they'll be, that's not unusual.
Yo, it's pretty strange, after bringing up King Felix, we are more or less the same
Roster changes, and we're still completely lame.

My oh my...

And we're calling up our minor leagues, Betancourt and Morse, Dobbs and Doyle,
'Cause our players have been plagued with inability... and injury, whoa-oh...

Out on home plate stands a catcher, after twelve years he has played
He's our very last reminder of the Mariners that made it to the playoffs
In the nineties
And they brought Seattle fame
Now we're scheming and we're dreaming
But the cold fact still remains:
We lost tons of games.

My oh my, my oh my my my my my...

Friday, December 30, 2005

Friday Foto

So, I went down to the Renton IKEA to acquire a new shelving unit over the holidays, and the minute I walked in, I saw something I really wasn't expecting to...

Ikea Moose

The Mariner Moose was looking rather board standing by the entrance to IKEA, a job he was cardly cut out to do. And he had fliers announcing that the IKEA MARINERS CARAVAN is COMING TO YOUR TOWN!

From the flier: "Join select Mariners players, broadcasters, and the Mariner Moose as they answer questions, sign autographs, and take photos for fans of all ages. Everyone in attendance will receive a 2006 Mariners schedule poster and will be eligible to win great prizes from IKEA and the Mariners Team Store!"

The Renton store kicks off the tour, on Tuesday January 10th from 5-6:30pm.

Getting down to Renton on a Tuesday during rush hour sort of sucks for me, but I might try to pull it off anyway, since I'm not sure I'll make it to Fan Fest. Plus, FABULOUS IKEA PRIZES! I wonder how many people will ask them snarky questions about the offseason? (I won't, but that's because I'm a nice little girl.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

New Word!

I have invented a new word!

Matsu-baka (松馬鹿)

This word refers to someone who just doesn't get it, and still keeps talking about plans for "how we should improve [insert MLB team here] in 2006" involving acquiring Matsuzaka Daisuke as one of their starting pitchers.

("baka" roughly means "dummy" in Japanese.)

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Even his middle name is the capital of Texas

Kevin Millwood is coming to the AL West after all, but with the Texas Rangers.

Honestly, I'm happy he's finally getting a good long contract. As a Millwood fan, I'm also happy that I'll get to see him pitch a little more often since he's in the AL West, even if it means he'll be pitching against the Mariners more.

My guess is that he seriously wouldn't want to come to Seattle, anyway -- he was concerned about having his wife and kids live in Philadelphia when he was there as well -- I'm guessing he sees Texas, and the area near DFW, as a good place, being a southern boy and a churchy sort and all. Texas also has no state income tax, so it's not like we have an advantage over them there either.

What I'm curious about is -- what uniform number will he wear for Texas? He's had #34 his whole career, but is going to a team where #34 is one of their few retired numbers (for Nolan Ryan).

Anyway, on to other things -- Greg at Caught Looking pointed out that the Phillies had done a 2005 in Review sort of thing, with links to articles from the different events through the year. I found that to definitely be a much less depressing read than the corresponding Mariners 2005 in Review article -- wow, did we really just sign Yuniesky Betancourt in January 2005? It feels like it was ages and ages ago, doesn't it?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Holiday Interviews Around The Majors

So, they always seem to do random Q&A with some guy on each team for around the holidays, asking questions about traditions, gift giving, snow, how many reindeer they can name, etc. I decided to go ahead and read them all so you don't have to -- here are the ones I liked the best:

Funny Ones

Funniest: Brian Anderson, White Sox [What would you get for] A.J. Pierzynski?

Anderson: I would get him an attitude adjustment when he gets carried away. Tadahito Iguchi?

Anderson: I would buy him another Japanese player on our team, so he would have someone to hang out with and talk to. How about Joe Crede?

Anderson: Well, Crede has a whole bunch of money and land. I will buy Crede some new shoes. He has these shoes that make me mad. He's probably an inch taller than me as it is, and he has these shoes that make him humongous, like 6-foot-5, and he just dwarfs me. So, I'm going to buy him some new dress shoes, a little lower pair of shoes than the ones he has.

Second Funniest: Cory Lidle, Phillies Do you have a favorite Christmas tradition?

Lidle: Just Christmas dinner, with lots of eating. There's plenty of food and not much left over. That counts as a tradition, doesn't it? Sure. So what's on the family menu? Do you cook, carve or just stuff?

Lidle: I just stuff my face. We cooked the last couple of years. Last year, we had turkey and tamales because half my family is Mexican.

Third Funniest: Craig Wilson, Pirates We are giving you the power to be Santa for a day. Now tell us, which of your teammates were naughty last year and which were nice?

Wilson: Oliver Perez was the naughty one because that laundry cart did absolutely nothing to him and he just went out and took it out on an innocent cart. Who was nice? That's a tough one. I'll have to say Jack [Wilson] was nice. He drafted an awful fantasy football team and that's what let us other guys win.

Other Funnies:
Billy Beane, Oakland
Adam LaRoche, Braves
J.J.Putz, Mariners
Tom Glavine, Mets
Geoff Blum, Padres

Other Interesting Ones

Felipe Alou, Giants
Michael Cuddyer, Twins
Juan Pierre, Cubs

This one is sad: Elrod Hendricks, Orioles -- who just passed away a few days ago.

The rest of it's not worth reading, but, Randy Johnson: Who's more popular, Derek Jeter or Santa Claus?
Johnson: Santa Claus.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Friday Foto

Whoops, due to having the day off and all I forgot what day it was. It's still Friday... for the next fifteen minutes or so!

I wanted to have some cool Mariners holiday-related picture to post, but I never got around to Safeco during the daytime to see if there was anything to take a picture of, nor did I venture into a Team Store to shoot Santa Moose. When I looked through the pictures I had, it came down to either a terribly blurry picture of a Christmas tree at the Hall of Fame, or a less blurry picture I took a month ago of a tree at PNC Park, in the little area known as "Picnic Park":


Whee. Happy appropriate holiday to those of you who are celebrating, and to the rest, I'll probably be back with a book review in the next day or two as I try to rest and fight off this stupid December cold I seem to have caught.

Also, to Mr. Iron Tech and anyone else -- the answer to the trivia question in my last post is Walter Johnson. Crazy, isn't it?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

The Truth About Jack Nabors And The Wild Pitch

I walked out of the Seattle Public Library this morning, grinning gleefully and clutching a printout in my grubby little hands, secure in the knowledge that I was right, and several authors (and assumedly, their fact-checkers) were wrong.

The printout was of a baseball box score article titled "Champions Capture Two", detailing a double-header that the Red Sox played against the Athletics on June 24, 1916. The Sox won both games, which is not surprising, given that this was the year the Philadelphia Athletics managed to lose 117 games while only winning 36, and the Red Sox had won the World Series in 1915 and were on their way to winning it a second straight time in 1916.

Infact, the 1916 Philadelphia Athletics easily stand as one of the worst baseball teams of all time. Their 117 losses was an American League record until the 2003 Detroit Tigers managed to lose 119 -- and even they had a higher winning percentage, being 43-119 and .265 to the Athletics' .235. This is a team that finished 40 games out... of seventh place. It almost takes talent to be that bad.

The most hapless of the happy was a pitcher named Jack Nabors. Look him up if you don't believe me -- this man has a lifetime pitching W-L record of 1-25. Nabors had a W-L record of 1-1 after the A's won a game against the Red Sox on April 22, 1916 -- and after that, he dropped 19 straight decisions, giving him a record of 1-20 for the year. His roomate, Tom Sheehan, had a record of 1-16, making the pair of them a combined 2-36, despite their vaguely respectable ERAs of 3.47 and 3.69.

Nabors was not a good pitcher by most ways of counting it. The man made 13 errors in 1916 for a fielding percentage of .827. Unlike other pitchers with hard luck, he didn't help his case with the bat either, going .101/.139/.101 and scoring one run himself all year. In 212 innings, he gave up 206 hits, walked 95 and struck out 74. Still, according to one article about him, he was partially a victim of bad luck and lousy run support to some extent -- he lost five games by one run, another five by two -- on fourteen occasions, the A's scored two or fewer runs for him, and in five of those occasions, they were shut out. I'm sure if he'd played for another team, he might have won as many as five or six games that year!

Anyway, a quite amusing story that is often told about Jack Nabors is about one of his particularly stunning losses. I've read this story in at least three places, all told with varying details, but the final score is always cited the same:

From On A Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place:

   Tom Sheehan told a story: "Once we go to Boston for a series. I pitch the opener and give up one hit, by Doc Hoblitzell. But it happens to follow a walk and an error by Witt [one of 78 errors he made that year] and I lose, 1-0.
   Now Nabors pitches the second game and he is leading, 1-0, going into the ninth. He gets the first man. Witt boots one and the next guy walks. Hooper is up next, I think, and he singles to left and the guy on second tries to score.
   Well, Schang has a good arm and he throws one in that had the runner cold by fifteen feet. But we have one of those green catchers. I'll never forget his name, Mike Murphy. The ball bounces out of his glove, the run scores, the other runner takes third, and it is 1-1.
   Nabors winds up and throws the next pitch 20 feet over the hitter's head into the grandstand, the man on third scores, and we lose another, 2-1.
   Later I asked Nabors why he threw that one away.
   "Look," he said, "I know those guys wouldn't get me another run, and if you think I'm going to throw nine more innings on a hot day like this, you're crazy."

And the way I originally read this story was in The Baseball Hall of Shame's Warped Record Book:

   On his way to a record 19 straight defeats in 1916, hard-luck pitcher Jack Nabors became resigned to losing.
   Although he pitched his heart out and recorded a decent 3.47 ERA in over 200 innings, he won only one game and lost 20 with the last-place A's - a weak-hitting club that won only 36 games all year.
   Nabors's frustration was never more evident than during the no-hitter he was pitching against the Boston Red Sox. Holding on to a 1-0 lead, Nabors got the first out in the ninth inning before walking the next batter.
   Shortstop Whitey Witt then booted a potential game-ending double-play grounder, putting runners on first and second. A moment later, the heartsick Nabors lost his no-hitter on a single to center.
   But there was still hope of victory. Centerfielder Wally Schang scooped up the ball and fired home to head off the run. The throw was perfect. But catcher Billy Meyer got tangled up in his own feet and the ball caromed off the heel of his glove as the runner scored the tying tally. The other runners moved up an extra base on the play at the plate and now were perched on second and third with one out.
   Nabors surveyed the situation. He looked at the runner on third, took a deep breath... and deliberately hurled the next pitch high off the backstop, allowing the winning run to trot across the plate.
   "What did you do that for?" Meyer asked Nabors.
   "Listen," the weary pitcher said grimly. "I knew we'd never get another run. If you think I'm gonna pitch eight more hitless innings in this hot sun, you're nuts."

The story's also in Baseball Anecdotes, where they list Witt as getting 70 errors that year (he had 78) and the rest of the story is the same as Sheehan's quote.

Here's the thing. I really do think this is a hilarious anecdote and very descriptive of the 1916 Philadelphia Pathetics, but the facts just didn't seem right to me. For one, I completely doubted that there was any way in heck that Nabors possibly had a no-hitter going. And when I looked at the 1916 Athletics Game Log on Retrosheet, the only game that Nabors started and the A's lost to the Red Sox 1-2 was the opening game, Nabors pitching vs. Babe Ruth. So I was starting to think that this might have just been a crazy story told by an old man whose memory was failing him, not a set of actual events from an actual game. The details of the story as written suggested that the Wild Pitch game happened against the Red Sox sometime when it was hot out. Well, the A's played in Boston in April, June, and October. Tom Sheehan did infact pitch and lose a 1-0 game on June 23, 1916, the day before Jack Nabors pitched and lost the second game of the series on June 24, 1916. Thing is -- that game was lost by a score of 2-3, not 1-2.

So, either the details of the story were wrong, or Retrosheet was wrong. The lesson to be learned here is: Never doubt Retrosheet.

I've got the printout of the New York Times box score and article from the June 24, 1916 games. The text summary for the first game reads as follows:

   BOSTON, June 24.-- The Red Sox took a double-header from the Athletics today, the score of the first game being 3 to 2 and of the second being 7 to 3. Hooper stole home in the first inning of the opener, his single being the only hit off Nabors up to the ninth, when singles by Hooper and Janvrin, errors by Nabors and Murphy, a wild pitch, and a fly to Schang let in the needed two runs.

And here's the boxscore (the Assists column is too blurry on the Philly side):
      BOSTON.                         PHILADELPHIA.
Hooper, rf 4 2 2 2 0 Witt, ss 4 0 1 5
Janvrin, 2b, ss 3 1 1 0 2 King, 3b 4 0 2 0
Lewis, lf 4 0 0 4 0 Strunk, cf 4 0 1 2
Hoblitzel, 1b 4 0 0 9 1 Schang, lf 5 0 1 3
Walker, cf 3 0 0 1 0 Lajoie, 2b 4 1 0 0
Gardner, 3b 3 0 0 0 0 McInnis, 1b 3 0 1 13
Scott, ss 1 0 0 3 3 Walsh, rf 3 1 2 2
McNally, 2b 0 0 0 0 1 Murphy, c 3 0 0 1
Carrigan, c 2 0 0 8 1 Nabors, p 3 0 0 0
Agnew, c 0 0 0 0 0
Leonard, p 2 0 0 0 2 TOTAL....33 2 8 26*
Mays, p 0 0 0 0 0 (* 2 out when winning run scored)
a Henriksen 0 0 0 0 0
b Thomas 1 0 0 0 0
c Ruth 1 0 0 0 0

TOTAL....28 3 3 27 10

a-Batted for Scott in eighth inning
b-Batted for Carrigan in eighth inning
c-Batted for Leonard in eighth inning
Errors-Scott, Witt, Murphy, Nabors.

What are the errors in the stories as told, assuming this box score is correct?

  • The score was 1-0 and his wild pitch let in a run to lose it 2-1. No. The box score confirms that the score was 2-1 A's going into the ninth, with a Boston run in the 1st and 2 Athletics runs in the fourth, and the two runs for Boston in the ninth made it 3-2. Retrosheet confirms the 3-2 score as well.

  • It was a no-hitter. No. It was a one-hitter, though.

  • He got the first guy in the ninth inning out. At the bottom of the Red Sox lineup is listed Henriksen, Thomas, and Ruth, batting for Scott, Carrigan, and Leonard in the eighth inning, the 7-8-9 batters. Henriksen is not credited with an AB, so I do believe he walked. Now, due to the article text listing "singles by Hooper and Janvrin in the ninth", we know that Hooper got a hit in the ninth inning. Since Ruth batted in the 9-slot in the eighth inning, it stands to reason that Hooper, in the 1-slot, led off the ninth inning. Since Hooper and Janvrin are also listed as scoring runs in the 9th, Hooper can't have gotten out.

  • Schang was the center fielder. The box has Strunk listed as the CF for both games of the doubleheader, with Schang playing LF the first game and catching the second.

  • Billy Meyer was the catcher. No, Sheehan at least had it right that Mike Murphy was the catcher, and that he made an error in the ninth inning. Murphy played in 14 games that year, 15 in his entire MLB career, and that one error, his only ever, gave him a career .973 FP. My guess is his career was cut short more by his batting (.111/.143/.111 in 27 AB) and that he was cursed by the 1916 Athletics.

    Billy Meyer, as a matter of fact, was only the team's regular catcher that year because Wally Schang injured his hand on opening day and spent most of the season in the outfield. Meyer ended up missing half the season due to appendicitis, and in 1917 became a true backup to Schang. He never panned out in the majors as a player again, although he later had a stint as a beloved manager in Pittsburgh in the late 40's and early 50's.

  • The sequence of the 9th inning was 'out, walk/boot, boot/walk, single, wild pitch'. While I'm not following the text of the article as if it's the literal order in which things happened, take a look at the box score again. It says (in the notes I didn't type in) that there were no doubles hit for the Sox, and only Hooper stole a base (in the first inning), and Boston only got first base on one error. My guess is that in the first inning, Hooper singled, Janvrin walked, Lewis reached on a fielder's choice, moving Hooper to third but Janvrin was out at second, and Hooper stole home.

    To me, it seems like what may have happened in the ninth is: Hooper singled. Janvrin singled, advancing Hooper to second. (He probably grounded to Witt, who couldn't quite get his hands on the ball in time to make a double play, and instead it was ruled an infield single.) In the next play, Hooper and Janvrin advanced to second and third, while somehow Lewis was out and Nabors made an error. Hoblitzel comes up and pops the ball up to short left field. Schang catches it for the second out, and fires the ball home to try to catch Hooper. Murphy bobbles the play badly, and Hooper scores and Janvrin moves to third. With Walker at bat and the score now tied, Nabors throws the legendary wild pitch that ends it 3-2.

    Or maybe the box score is wrong too. Or, it's possible the "error" Nabors was charged with was the deliberate wild pitch.

  • Did he even throw the wild pitch to end the game? Wouldn't you expect the article to mention that the game ended on a wild pitch if it had actually happened that way? I have been trying to reconstruct the ninth inning to sync with the story, but it's quite possible that the wild pitch happened before a sac fly to Schang.

  • Where did he throw the wild pitch to? I have to admit that throwing it into the grandstand is a more entertaining notion than throwing it into the backstop. Who knows.

Other notes about the game: Carl Mays pitched the last inning of the first game of the doubleheader and then also pitched a complete game for the second game of the doubleheader.

Pitching lines for the first game:
Nabors: 8.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 0 HR
Leonard: 8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 6 K, 0 HR
Mays: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 0 HR

Yeah, he actually had a one-hitter going against the first-place team without being able to strike anyone out AND with a team that made 312 errors all year (in a league where the rest of the teams averaged out to 218 errors). The mind boggles.

Believe it or not, Nabors's story gets even sadder after this. He contracted the Spanish Flu that swept the world in 1918-1919, and pretty much spent the last three years of his life bedridden until his heart and lungs gave out in 1923, a few weeks short of his 36th birthday.

By the way, if anyone has any further information about the game, or access to Philly or Boston newspapers of the time that may have actual play-by-play information, or any suggestions for other places I can research this, it's gladly taken. I love looking into little details like this, though I'm amused that the Periodicals aide at the library didn't even blink when I specifically said, verbatim, "I need to access a newspaper that would have the box score of a baseball game played between the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics on June 24, 1916. Can you help me?" I guess they get bizarre requests all the time.

Anyway, today is Connie Mack's 143rd birthday, so I suppose it's only fair to be knocking one of the worst teams he ever managed. Baseball history is great this way -- I originally intended to write an article about Losing Pitcher Mulcahy, to honor Ryan Franklin's non-tender, but then when looking through books about lousy Philadelphia pitchers, came across the Nabors discrepancy instead. God, I love this stuff.

(Did anyone actually read this far? Is it interesting at all for me to share my research into historical quirks like this?)

As an aside, and here's your trivia question for the day: In 1916, there were four pitchers in the AL who lost 20 games or more. Three of them were on the horrible Philadelphia Athletics -- Elmer Myers (14-23, 3.66 ERA, 4.83 RA), Joe Bush (15-24, 2.57 ERA, 3.42 RA), and the aforementioned Hard Luck Nabors (1-20, 3.47 ERA, 4.65 RA) . Can you name the fourth (without looking it up)? Trust me when I tell you it's not someone you'd usually associate with *losing* 20 games in a season.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Yule Laugh! Yule Cry! Yule Sing! Part 3

Before we begin the festivities, here's a short note or two about the craziness of today -- firstly, when I wrote this a few months ago, I would have NEVER in my wildest dreams imagined Johnny Damon becoming a Yankee.

Secondly, the list of non-tenders is out, and oddly, there are only three guys on there I'd hope we go for. All are former A's that start with B's: Eric Byrnes, Chad Bradford, and Hiram Bocachica. I think Bocachica and Byrnes are both better outfielders than Ibanez or Everett, and Byrnes is not only a nice guy and fun player to watch, but he also totally mashes lefty pitching -- he's got upside as a platoon or bench bat or late-inning defensive sub. As for Chad Bradford, I love submarine pitchers, and it makes me sad that I've still never gotten to see him play in person.

Also, in addition to the Mariners getting rid of Ryan Franklin (and DFA'ing Greg Dobbs, meaning I may never finish that chapter of the Bullpen of Secrets featuring Dobby the Bench Elf), the Phillies non-tendered Endy Chavez. Thank god. And on that note, this is a Phillies edition of Marinerds Holiday Fun:

Yule Laugh

Wanta Phanta? Don't you want a... no, just kidding. The Philly Phanatic, among others such as Harry the K, made his appearance as Phanta Claus for a Phillies holiday event last weekend. Looks like fun, although I'm sure he scared a few little kids.

Yule Cry

Apparently the LG Twins of the Korean Baseball Organization signed Phillies pitcher Amaury Telemaco (and Manny Aybar, too) yesterday, for what looks like around 1yr/$250k each. I can't find an English version of the article, but as usual we've got a KBO thread on Westbay-san's forum here.

I put this under "cry" because quite frankly, Telemaco's pitching made me want to cry sometimes. I think he'll do well in Korea though.

Yule Sing

This is to the tune of "Jingle Bells". Sing with me! Ring with me!
(Yes, I'm aware it's not really "burr-ELL", but the "Burrell Ives Christmas" may have to wait for another time.)

Dashing through downtown
Riding SEPTA's Broad Street Line
Under the streets we bound
Hoping we're on time (Ha ha ha!)
Bell's on third again,
Diving to his right,
We fans would love an outing of
No errors made tonight.

Oh, David Bell, Pat Burrell, Rheal Cormier
Oh what fun it is deriding a 6 point ERA, eh?
David Bell, Pat Burrell, Rheal Cormier
Oh what fun it is to watch when the Phillies try to play!

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

J-Rod the Washburninator

Washburninating at Safeco Field,
Washburninating the payroll,
Washburninating all the peoples,
In their word-pressed BLOGGAGES!

I wasn't going to comment on the whole Washburn deal because I was afraid I'd end up going Batgirl on y'all, and someone would probably kill me. I'm not going to say he's one of the best pitchers in the league, and I do realize his low ERA last year is misleading, and they are paying him way too much, etc. I am, however, going to say that in my opinion, he's the cutest left-handed pitcher in the American League except for maybe Barry Zito. The Mariners had a press conference to announce the signing today, and the pictures from it are so CUTE! His eyes are so very, very blue.

A somewhat amusing thing to me is that Jeff Shaw has given J-Rod the nickname of "Lurf", which is how one pronounces the acronym LHRF, or Left-Handed Ryan Franklin. I went back through my bullpen pictures to find some of the ones I took of Washburn earlier this year, and one of my sets is from May 2, 2005, meaning I took warmup shots of both Jarrod Washburn *and* Ryan Franklin that day. Ha! The wackiest part is, looking at those pictures, it almost does look like they have mirror-image mechanics.

(That was the game of the Holy Crap Ichiro Spiderman catch, by the way, in case anyone's curious)

Anyway, the Mariners have this tendency to turn cute pitchers into uncute pitchers -- take a look at Gil Meche just a year or two ago when he was a cute adorable brown-eyed boy, and now you can see that he's become a haggard haunted shadow of his former self. It's so very sad. So, if the same thing happens to Washburn here, you won't have to worry about my babbling about how cute he is!

By the way, if I need to offer a little bit of evidence that Jarrod Washburn is somewhat different from Ryan Franklin, at least in attitude, I'll repaste a blurb from an article about Washburn that I read several months ago:

He wouldn't complain about receiving the fourth-worst run support in the league, even after he was stapled with the Angels' 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees.

"What good is that going to do you?" he said. "All that does is tick off your teammates, and I like most of my teammates."

On the other hand, Washburn's going to be wearing Bobby Bowflex's old number. What are the chances he, like certain other former Angels to come to Seattle, may randomly feel a need to get a tattoo? (Hopefully, the answer to that is "absolutely none".)

Monday, December 19, 2005

Yule Laugh! Yule Cry! Yule Sing! Part 2

Yeah, so it was a pretty good weekend. Among other things, I went up to Third Place Books to see Jonah Keri talk about the book Mind Game. In reality, he talked about Mind Game for about five minutes, and then he and Jeff Shaw (from USSM) did a baseball Q&A session for around an hour, during which time we not only got to see a printout of Jarrod Washburn's PECOTA, but we also got many laughs and found out that every question you could ever ask about baseball is apparently answered in this book that Jonah is editing. It's out March 6th. Perhaps I should get my act together for a Seattle-area baseball book club before then, eh?

It was quite the fun event, though, and I'm glad I went. Jeff and Jonah are incredibly entertaining, and it was good to see and/or meet various blogizens. Probably a good thing I wore my "Vote for Felix" blog joke shirt instead of my Jarrod Washburn shirt, too.

Anyway, in today's edition of Marinerds, we continue with our quest for the perfect holiday songs...

Yule Laugh

A friend of mine from college did the animation for this. It's quite hilarious and completely baseball-unrelated: Cluck Of The Bells

Yule Cry

Trust me when I tell you that nothing is as disturbing as listening to the vocal stylings of Jolly Rick Rizzs as he brings to you many a carol of Mariners Baseball.

Yule Sing

Okay, I'm not writing *good* lyrics for the holidays, but it's not like we're having a *good* offseason either, eh?

Winter Meeting Land
(to the tune of Winter Wonderland)

Cell phones ring, with new offers,
As GMs check their coffers,
A beautiful trade,
About to be made,
Walking in a winter meeting land.

Gone away, just a few guys
Here to stay are some new guys
The names that you'll find
Of players we've signed
Walking in a winter meeting land.

Up the middle we'll have Jose Lopez
And behind him centerfielder Reed
You'll see all those grounders off Hernandez
Scooped up and thrown to first with blinding speed.

Later on, we'll conspire
To obtain Mike Cuddyer
Our fan base will be
Just bursting with glee
Walking in a winter meeting land.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Yule Laugh! Yule Cry! Yule Sing! Part 1

Sing with me, my esteemed companions!

Deck the blogs with rumoured signing,
Blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah.
'Tis the season to be whining,
Blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah.

Don we now our team apparel,
Blah blah blah, blah blah blah, blah blah blah,
Troll the ancient Hot Stove carol.
Blah blah blah blah blah, blah blah blah blah.

Kansasmari Damacity! Royal Rainbow!

The Kansas City Royals front office was very busy today, and I cannot resist a good Katamari Damashii joke, you see.

Royals sign four free agents

Scott Elarton, 2yr/$8mil
Paul Bako, 1yr/$700k
Mark Grudzielanek, 1yr/$4mil (plus option)
Doug Mientkiewicz, 1yr/$1.85mil (plus incentives)

In all honesty, I think these are fairly reasonable signings. I'm only making fun of them because I can't believe one team managed to sign the top two of my Confuse-an-Announcer name game awardees. All they'd need to do is sign A.J. Pierzynski to be their catcher, trade for Rob Mackowiak at third, and they'd have a whole square of Polish Alphabet Soup! Yummy!

Anyway, it is interesting to see what the Royals have been payrolling up onto their Kansasmari, at any rate. Perhaps, perhaps We will lose less than 100 games this year, wouldn't that be nice? Yes, yes it would, our Prince. So, so very sorry. We were awful this year, completely awful. But we have signed, oh yes, we have signed. Many many letters, in player names have We have rolled up. Soon the stars fill the sky and for Us, we are delighted. Royals Rainbow!

Friday Foto

Sometimes I wonder about Pittsburgh's undying fascination with bobbleheads. When I was there this April, PNC Park was packed with people for a Cubs game, and I asked what the big deal was, while standing in the ticket line. Was it a lovely Friday night? Yes, but that wasn't the answer. Was Oliver Perez, a young hotshot pitching? Yes, and that was important, but secondary.

The real reason? It was Jason Bay Bobblehead Night.

Pittsburgh comes up with all sorts of crazy bobbleheads every year to keep their fans happy and nodding their heads approvingly, and this summer was no different. The most bizarre one I saw on the list was the dual bobblehead promotion, commemorating the world champion 1971 Pirates... with Steve Blass and Manny Sanguillen.

Fast forward to November, when I arrive in Pittsburgh and stay with a couple of friends who actually went to the game and GOT the bobblehead. Lemme tell you, this is a damn spooky thing to see moving around out of the corner of your eye while you're trying to fall asleep on a couch.


Manny sez, "I'm bobbing my head because I can't see from under this big plastic catcher's mask!"

Poor Steve Blass may always be remembered for his inexplicable loss of control in 1973, but at least now people will be shelving him for another reason.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Matsuzaka-i, you're so taka-i

A few days ago I mentioned how Seibu's Nishiguchi signed a 1-year, 300-million-yen contract for 2006, which is more than Matsuzaka's 250 million paid in 2005. Elsewhere, I was joking with a friend that "Does that mean Matsuzaka's gonna step up like 'If you want me to play, you have to pay me more than 300 million yen, suckers'?"

Sure enough, Matsuzaka re-signs with Seibu for 330 million yen salary. Heh.

The big news story in Japanese baseball today, though, is that Akira Ogi died of respiratory failure yesterday at the age of 70. He had a long and storied career both as a player and a manager, up until stepping down from managing the Orix Buffaloes three months ago, and the linked article lists a lot of the things he did, so you should read it. The relevance to Seattle is that this is the guy who's responsible for Ichiro using his first name on his uniform, and for making him a regular and getting his career started. Ogi also managed Nomo, Taguchi, and Shiggy during their careers in Japan.

Rest in peace, Ogi-sama.

(from the comments: Gary Garland has a much more indepth obituary on his site.)

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Um, like, Carl Everett and stuff

Mariners agree to terms with Everett

I've been making the joke all week that "I really only like seeing the word 'Everett' associated with the Mariners when it's immediately followed by the word 'Aquasox'".

I have to be honest about something. I know that a lot of people are griping elsewhere about how "I will not attend a game with this man on the roster", and "I'm phoning the office to complain right now", etc. However, I really don't think this signing will affect how many games I go to next year at all. I go to baseball games for love of the game, seriously -- the joy of sitting outside in nice summer weather, eating a hot dog or fish'n'chips in the pastel spray of sunset, watching the beauty of physics in action as bat hits ball hits glove, cheering for beautiful drives and plays, and just basking in that world where nothing matters but 90 feet to first base, 3 strikes and you're out, 3 outs and you're done. Sometimes I pick and choose my favorite and least favorite players and teams for semi-random reasons, which may be infuriating to some people, but hey, I never said any of *you* have to adore the likes of Scot Shields or Eric Byrnes, now did I?

I realize Carl Everett is a basket case who has done some pretty awful things in the past, and it's true, I have absolutely no desire to meet the guy, unlike many other baseball players who I think it'd be fun to just get to say hello to and chat with and shake their hand. As such, though, his presence on the Mariners doesn't really affect me personally. The only way he could is if, for example, he actually punched me in the nose or started mouthing off at me at the stadium -- and both of those would immediately result in my filing a complaint against the Mariners, with plenty of witnesses.

Yes, a man who has been convicted of child neglect or whatever is not exactly the sort of man you want around your children. Thing is, will he even be around your children? Many players I've observed in batting and fielding practice don't even come anywhere near the stands; the ones that do are the ones who really do like children and fans, and there are enough of them to offset the ones that don't. Sure, there's a chance Everett could end up swearing up a storm or crotch-grabbing or whatnot on the field, which may be vaguely near your kids, but that's what umpires are there for -- to throw guys like that out of the game. Or Bavasi and the "family-friendly police" will take some sort of disciplinary action. Your children will see that acting inappropriately gets you smacked down, no matter how old you are.

If Everett acts like a jackass at Safeco Field, he will be dealt with, one way or another. If Everett acts like a jackass in his own home, that's unfortunate, but it's actually none of our business.

Okay, so then there's his performance as a player. If he hits well, we luck out. If he's a mediocre hitter, we don't luck out, but at worst he'll be another switch-hitting bench bat like Spiezio. Yes, it was embarrassing to explain to my friends from out of town why we had a guy DHing who was hitting .053 last year. At worst, yes, this is a waste of 3 million dollars. I honestly do believe he'll perform at least well enough to be a reasonable if overpaid bench player, though, and at best, to play OF and DH for us in 100 or more games. It's a poor signing, sure, but it's not the end of the world.

So in other words, the Marinerds take on this signing is: I don't care! There are much better things out there to waste my energy on! For example, dear Santa Boras, won't you please give me a Kevin Millwood for Christmas? I've been a very, very good girl this year, I swear! I would take very very good care of him and give him run support every day. I promise!

More fun with Baseball Reference

It really bugged me that Olerud's page at baseball-reference had gone unsponsored for so many months, so I decided to go ahead and bite the bullet and sponsor it myself. That means I now sponsor 8 pages at B-R, although only 6 are actually under the Marinerds name:

John Olerud (because he ruuuuuules)
Pat Borders (because he's Uncle Rico)
Shigetoshi Hasegawa (because I like him)
Gil Meche (because he used to be so adorable)
Mike Morse (because I wanted to put up a dumb joke)
Benny Agbayani (because he kicked butt in the 2005 Japan Series)
JoeJessica (to propogate the nickname)
Doyle (because DMZ hadn't gotten around to it yet)

It's funny, I always laugh at those "claim a song" or "claim an actor" or whatever things I see amongst teenager-type blog circles, but in a way, baseball-reference is just as addictive, only it's a bit more expensive.

Anyway, there are several current Mariners who have open pages if you particularly feel like donating some money to B-R. Given how often I stare at numbers there, and use other features of the site (for example, the "travel" feature is nifty as all heck, if you haven't seen it), I don't really feel like I wasted my money. Infact, baseball-reference is one of my favorite sites to just surf through randomly. If this surprises you, you're forgetting the name of this blog.

So, you could get Richie for $35, or Beltre for $30. Moyer is $40. Dan Wilson is only $15. Bret Boone is going for the unbelievable sum of $95, whereas Willie Bloomquist is somehow worth $35.

For $10, you could claim Jeremy Reed, Rene Rivera, Wiki Gonzalez, Shin-soo Choo, Julio Mateo, Joel Pineiro, or even Bobby Bowflex. You could also spend $10 to kindly point out that there's no way Bucky Jacobsen weighs only 220 pounds.

And if you're really cheap, Jamal Strong, Clint Nageotte, and Scott Atchison are going for $5.

(There are others open, like Jeffs Harris and Nelson, or Dave Hansen or Jaime Bubela and such, but I was for the most part trying to list "guys currently on the M's roster or worth amusement value".)

Several local bloggers have claims on some players already. Conor's claimed Betancourt, Evening Perambulations has J. J. Putz, Mariners Morsels predictably has George Sherrill, and Lookout Landing has spent a couple bucks to make fun of Greg Dobbs, Matt Thornton, and Ryan Franklin, and to shout out to their old namesake, Justin Leone.

As a shout-out to PositivePaul, who started this whole craze a few months ago: Blue Eyes is still available, but The Lip is not. Go figure.

And in other fun B-R things, today is Bill Buckner's 56th birthday, and also Craig Biggio's 40th, and Scott Hatteberg's 36th, among others.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Book Review: The Goose is Loose

The Goose Is Loose, by Rich Gossage (with Russ Pate)

The worst thing about this book is that I bought it in July and didn't get around to reading it until these past few days.

Goose Gossage is a funny, funny man. This is a funny, funny book. He had a very long and crazy career on many teams, and he's got a story about pretty much every guy on every team to tell you. Some are nice, some are not. Most are hilarious. Every page of this book crawls with random similes and jokes; if I open it to a random page, I get him describing the White Sox's state in 1972:

    The most unforgettable aspect of my first season in the majors had to be the brilliant performance by Dick Allen. At the risk of using the most overused and devalued word in the lexicon of sports--what the hell, I'll go ahead-- he was awesome. Capital A.
    Allen carried us to a record of 87-67 in 1972, five and a half games behind the AL West champion Oakland A's. Oakland, beginning its three-year run of world championships, had a star-studded lineup featuring Reggie Jackson, Joe Rudi, Sal Bando, and Bert Campaneris, as well as great pitchers like Catfish Hunter, Ken Holtzman, and Blue Moon Odom.
    We had Dick.
    Granted, having Dick was infinitely better than not having dick, er, Dick. But other than a few solid bats like Melton and Carlos May, we didn't have much punch in our attack.

The book pretty much just tells the entire story of his career. It's not all laughs, though. For example, in one string of stories, first he recounts a hilarious one about Dave Parker calling to his baseball bat like "Here, boy! C'mere!" and dragging it along with wire, but then immediately launches into a string of stories about really terrible injuries that happened to his teammates. I was reading the book on the bus and I went from laughing out loud to wincing as I imagined some of the accidents he described.

Similarly, one minute he has you laughing over stories of the 1978 Yankees, and then the next minute, you're in pages of emotional melancholy over Thurman Munson's death in 1979. I'd fortunately already read enough about Munson that I knew what to expect, but it was still yet another account from a close friend that made you realize what a loss it was to the team and the players. Very sad.

For me in particular, this book was fun to read for another reason -- that it recounted stories of a lot of teams and players that I remember from my childhood, since Goose's career pretty much spanned from a couple years before I was born until the 1994 strike, which was the year I dropped out of baseball to attend college. He talks about little details like going up against the Dodgers with rookie Fernando Valenzuela; he mentions the death of Ray Kroc and subsequently throwing Joan Kroc into a swimming pool the next year; then he's on the Cubs when youngsters Jamie Moyer and Raffy Palmeiro get traded for the Wild Thing, who replaced the Goose as closer. Even just the little details he gives from the half-summer he spent playing for the Hawks in Fukuoka are pretty fun to read.

Also, can you believe that the Goose developed an allergy to beer? What a travesty for any baseball player.

Goose was everywhere in baseball at one point or another, and saw a whole bunch of changes in baseball during his career. When he started playing, there were 12 teams in each league, 6 teams per division, no designated hitter rule, no free agency, heck, no Seattle Mariners, even. By the time he retired, there were 28 major league teams, 14 in each league, three divisions per league, and he was playing for the Mariners. The role of a closer was barely recognizable compared to what it is today when he started pitching; he was the second player to ever reach 300 saves, after Rollie Fingers, but today he only ranks 16th out of 19 players who've reached that number.

An interesting thing about this book is that there's no pictures section. Pictures seem to generally be pretty central to baseball biographies, and for some reason they didn't include one here. I'd be fine with that, except that I think any good story about the Goose has to have a picture of him and his crazy-ass mustache.

Anyway, vastly fun, vastly entertaining book about a vastly crazy guy. I guarantee you *will* laugh if you read this book, even if at times you'll be groaning as he stretches to put a joke on nearly every page.

Monday, December 12, 2005

As We Dance To The Arbitration Tango

Just a few quick links of more random stuff interesting to me, as teams hit their arbitration deadlines. I'll have a book review up later tonight, I hope.

Roger Clemens wasn't offered arbitration, which makes perfect sense as the Astros would end up having to tie up $20 million waiting to see if he'll actually play next year, which would make it hard to make any other roster moves. It'll be interesting to see what happens to him; maybe he'll play an abbreviated season next year, maybe he'll retire, maybe he'll end up signing elsewhere. Who knows.

My favorite lefty sidearmer Mike Myers apparently agreed to a two-year contract with... the Yankees. Why do the Yankees always insist on having a couple players that I adore, making it impossible to hate the entire team at once?

Everyone's mentioned it today, but Matt Morris gets 3/27 from the Giants. Good for him.

Apparently acquiring old dudes is the rage these days, as 41-year-old Kenny Rogers gets a 2/16 deal from Detroit and almost-40-year-old Jose Mesa gets a one-year, $2mil contract with a $3mil club option with the Rockies.

Oh yeah, and one of our old benchmen John Mabry moves around the Central from the Cards to the Cubs.

And then in the realm of "WHAT?", the Phillies trade Vicente Padilla to the Rangers for a sack of beans. (Hopefully we'll find out exactly what beans soon, but after the Rangers skunked the Nats with that Soriano trade, who knows?) I don't understand this move at all, aside from the Phillies trying to avoid arbitration with Padilla, since they have the same issues most other teams these days have: lack of starting pitching.

Oh yeah, and A.J.Pierzynski is trying his hand in the world of pro wrestling, or something. Yow.

Japanball's tidbits of the day: Fumiya Nishiguchi, Seibu's "other ace", signed a 1-year, 300 million yen contract, higher than Matsuzaka's 250 million yen salary was this year, but his 2006 salary has yet to be determined. Other fun things in that article are them mistranslating Kazuhiro Sasaki's name as "Hirokazu", and that Orix's Yoshitomo Tani signed a one-year contract after a fairly disastrous injury-riddled year. I'm not a big Tani fan or anything, but it'll be interesting to see if he can regain his all-star form (his 28-31 seasons averaged .329/.394/.493, but this last year he only hit .248/.291/.336).

(Ogasawara took a pay cut but will be the highest paid Japanese player anyway, due to Johjima leaving and Sasaki retiring. Heh.)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Speaking of speaking

In a fit of Boonesque irony, the Pirates had a "batting around with Ty Wigginton" article on their site, then released him a few days later. Cute. I don't blame them, since Ty Wigginton sort of sucks. Was he really worth trading Anna Benson to New York? Well, wait, don't answer that.

Speaking of wacky Pirates roster moves, I'm also a little sad that the Pirates are trading away Rob Mackowiak. Yeah, I know I have an irrational love for Whack-o-Mack much like most of Kitsap County has an irrational love for Willie Bloomquist, but at least Mackowiak is a lefty-hitting utility guy with slightly more sock and a much cooler name. Besides, who can forget the "Mack-daddy" game where he hit two 9th inning game-winning-or-tying homers in a double-header, the same day his son was born? Oh well -- I guess in theory there's more chance I'll see him play with the White Sox than I would with the Pirates, though who knows. And at least Chicago is his hometown, so that's sort of cool for him.

Speaking of hometown boys, Sean Casey does look pretty good in a Pirates uniform, I think. The Reds uniform was just too much red.

And speaking of red, after trading Johnny Estrada, the Braves signed Phillies catcher Todd Pratt to a one-year deal to mentor Brian McCann. That's just too cute for words.

Then, speaking of Braves, they decided not to offer arbitration to the Old Man of Baseball himself, Julio Franco. So what happens? the Mets sign Julio Franco for 2yr/2.2mil. Holy crap, that's just got to be weird. Sort of like how Jamie Moyer made his MLB debut a few months after Felix Hernandez was born, Julio Franco made his MLB debut before either David Wright or Jose Reyes was born. But still, a two-year deal for a 47-year-old? Wow.

Speaking of Francos... actually, I don't have much to speak of other Francos. I haven't seen anything on what the other Old Met J. Franco is doing, or what's up with whether Matt Franco's staying with the Marines next year (though I assume he is).

And speaking of the Chiba Lotte Marines, a whole bunch of them are on Japan's WBC team. Sweet. I really wish I could go down to Anaheim for the second round of games, but I'd rather save my vacation time for another baseball trip to Japan next summer, I think.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Friday Foto

Two years ago I was in New England over the holidays, and managed to get to Cooperstown for a few hours to visit the Hall of Fame. Sadly, it was under heavy renovations at the time, but it was still pretty cool, being as my last time there before that was in junior high school (in 1989, the year Carl Yastrzemski got inducted, and I could actually spell his name, and my mom couldn't).

Anyway, this is by no means the best photo from my more recent trip there, but with the stories being told in the USS Mariner thread about Olerud, I'm still in my warm fuzzy "Tribute to Olerud" mood. So here's a picture I took of him from part of the early-90's Blue Jays display. Doesn't he look so *young*?

("Fielding helmet used by John Olerud in 1993, the year he won the American League batting title with a .363 average")

Also, Evan linked to a really neat style parody of Tinker-to-Evers-to-Chance about the 2001 Mariners, Guillen to Boone to Olerud.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Re-Sign of the Ancient Mariner

It is an ancient Mariner,
Hath just turned forty-three.
"With my arm still strong and my fine control,
Now whatfor wouldst stop me?

The bullpen's doors are opened wide,
And I am here to play,
The contract's set, the fans are met,
So see you op'ning day!"

Yay! One more year of Jamie Moyer, for $5.5 million and stuff. I guess that's a little high, but eh. It'll be really interesting to see what he does next year, but I'm not particularly expecting him to kill an albatross yet or anything.

Oh, um, while we're at it, Yorvit "JoeJessica" Torrealba got traded to the Rockies for a sack of beans to be named later (apparently, a pretty good sack of beans), the Nationals traded Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge to the Rangers for a sack of overrated beans (my brother the Nats-head is going to be PISSED -- he's a big Wilkie Bluegrass fan), and the Reds traded the super-adorable Sean Casey to the Pirates for a sack of Dave Williams. I think this rocks for the Pirates -- they've got all these awesome young pitchers coming up, and Daryle Ward was the Worst First Baseman Known To Man, after all. I wonder what'll happen to Brad Eldred, though -- guess that remains to be seen. Still, the idea of Sean Casey and Jason Bay batting back-to-back in a lineup is pretty awesome, isn't it?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

John Olerud retires

Olerud hangs up his spikes

When I was in high school, the Phillies actually made it to the World Series (!), and then they got their asses kicked by some Blue Jays named things like Molitor, Borders, Olerud, Carter, etc. Man, did I hate that Olerud guy with his batting title and his sweet lefty swing and his graceful play at first base and...

Ah well. Somewhere along the line, after I moved away from Philly to go to college, I found that I could just appreciate Olerud for who he was -- a damned fine ballplayer and a damned nice guy. Every story I've ever heard about him always mentioned what an intelligent and kind person he is, and you don't need stories to know what a great player he is on the field, even if he's not exactly the fastest runner on the planet. When you hit like he did, and have a patient approach and a great eye, you don't need to be speedy to get your bases.

When I moved out to Seattle, and started following the Mariners, the first Mariners t-shirt I got was actually an Olerud number 5 shirt, and the first baseball poster I put up on my wall was an Olerud poster. I was furious when the Mariners DFA'ed him last year, and I was on my feet applauding him during his first at-bat when he returned as a Yankee a few weeks later. What can I say -- I just like the guy. It's just easy to admire him, or wish he was your next-door neighbor. Hopefully it'll be good for him to retire and settle down and take care of his children (a few months ago I read a heartbreaking article about his daughter who suffers from a chromosome defect), and maybe we'll see him hanging around the Mariners again in some other capacity a few years; who knows.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Big Wheels Keep on Turning, Hot Stoves Keep on Burning

I hate rumors, and I won't believe it until I see it, but damn, people keep saying the Mariners are on the verge of signing Kevin Millwood, and that makes me inordinately happy, 'cause I loves me my Millwood. Yeah, it's mostly an irrational love stemming from that no-hitter he threw for the Phillies a few years ago, but still. He's a solid pitcher and I think he's a pretty cool guy, too (last year after he signed with the Indians he did a pretty entertaining online chat). Plus, we'll get to see him and Felix arm-wrestle for who gets to wear #34.

I'm still trying to get caught up with news here. I don't have the brainpower or time to really scour Japanese news yet, but I did note on Japanball the following:
- Yoshinobu Takahashi's ankle surgery to remove bone spurs may take him out of commission well into late March, meaning he'd definitely miss the WBC and probably miss opening day for the Giants next year. That really sucks. I really like Takahashi, so I hope he comes out of this well.
- Iriki continues to try for the MLB but apparently agreed to renew his contract with the Fighters if he doesn't make it. Despite how I think Iriki sort of sucks, I think the Fighters would be better off with him than without him. Hmm, I wonder what Carlos Mirabal is up to now...
- The Hawks decided to release Tony Batista, which is actually a little bit surprising, since they owe him an awful lot of money (like $5 million), and he wasn't *too* terrible. I guess they're trying to make foreigner space on their roster for someone, possibly D.J.Carrasco.
- Masao Kida will play for Yakult next year! Wheeee! I think this is great, honestly... he'll get to finish out his career in his hometown in the league he started out in, and it's obvious he wasn't going anywhere in the MLB.
- I'm not sure where this person is getting it from, but someone on Westbay's site claims that Bucky Jacobsen might want to play in Japan. That would be interesting if it were true, but something tells me he wouldn't do well there either, unless he got back into shape. On the other hand, it might help him get back into shape. Who knows.

On our side of the Pacific, the stoves still rage, and who knows what will come out of the oven next.
- A. J. Burnett gets 5/55 from the Jays. Good for him.
- Paul Byrd gets 2/14 from the Indians. ("It's kinda neat," Byrd said. "It's taken me a while to put on a big-league Cleveland uniform. I'm excited, because it comes at a great time.") That's actually pretty cool.
- The Phillies, after deciding they didn't want to offer four years and a king's ransom to a 34-year-old, decided to go ahead and offer three years to a 38-year-old. Well, um, okay. Tom Gordon at 3/18 is not exactly my idea of a good contract, but I guess they needed a closer, and they've had recent good luck in signing old dudes from the Yankees (see Kenny Lofton), so who knows. He's going to wear #45, which is sort of wacky. ("I've never met Tug McGraw. I just always have one story that my dad said to me once. This is years ago. I couldn't have been 9 or 10 years old. He said, 'Son, that's Tug McGraw pitching.' I was like, 'Dad, his name is Tug?' I thought that was kind of funny that his name was Tug. I guess it is funny because my name is Flash now...")
- The Yankees step right up and replace Gordon with Kyle Farnsworth for a 3/17 contract. Hot damn. 38-year-old Gordon for 3/18 or 30-year-old Farnsworth at 3/17? I'd take Farnsworth in a split second, and apparently so will the Yankees.

So, yeah, I don't really have much to say; this is just news links for my own benefit, mostly. I guess another fun news event is that Dave Niehaus made the finalists for the Frick award. Richie Ashburn did not. (I did vote for him, Tom! It's not my fault! You also can't blame me for the Seahawks kicking the snot out of the Iggles, either!)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Back home in Seattle again

Well, for the first time since November 22, I'm sitting at home in front of my own computer.

I got a postcard from the Mariners while I was gone saying "We need you to renew your 16-game season ticket plan by December 2 at 5pm if you want to keep your seats", which sucks, being as I didn't see it until just now. Whoops. I suppose I'll call them tomorrow and see what's up. I was planning to try to change my plan/seats anyway, but I don't want to lose the third-year status on my account, since eventually I'm sure several years of loyalty will pay off for priority for good seats and postseason stuff, once the Mariners stop sucking. If anyone else is a lapsed season ticket holder, you might want to give the ticket office a call as well.

I do recommend being a season ticket holder if you're in Seattle and plan to go to a bunch of games, though. The 16-game plans are really pretty reasonable, and you get all the benefits of being a season ticket holder like slightly cheaper tickets, free media guide, 10% discount on stuff in the store, early gate days, special ticket hotlines, emails with ticket offers and discounts, etc; last year there was even an "exclusive" DVD of some fun stuff.

Speaking of things I recommend if you're in Seattle, let me tell you what I'll be up to the next two weekends. One's entirely not baseball-related, and one is.

On December 9th and 10th, the Northwest Chorale is performing Handel's Messiah, and I'm singing in the chorus. Admission is free, but we do pass a hat around during the intermission to collect money for Northwest Harvest, a local food bank. (The choir itself is a non-profit organization.) I sang with this group in the fall of 2003 as well, and we raised a pretty good amount; and as I understand it, this year the local food banks need donations more than ever due to a lot of funds going to non-local efforts such as the Katrina victims.

Both performances are at 7:30pm -- the Friday one is at the Prince of Peace Lutheran Church, which is at 14514 NE 20th Ave in Shoreline, and Saturday's is at the Woodinville Community Church, which is at 17110 NE 140th Ave in Woodinville. If you were thinking of seeing Messiah this holiday season anyway, you might as well come see us, since you can't beat the price, and if you do pay at all, it'll go to a good cause. Even if you're not religious (and I'm not), it's still a damn cool piece of music. We are doing the entire Messiah, though, which runs about 3 hours total, so be forewarned.

On December 17th, as posted on USSM, there'll be a USSM/BP event at Third Place Books for the release of Mind Game. Jonah Keri and Jeff Shaw are two extremely entertaining guys, so I expect this to be pretty amusing, at the very least, and I can get some holiday book shopping done at the same time.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Friday Foto

Sorry, I'm in Florida and mostly offline for the weekend, and posting from my Sidekick. Actually, I'm mostly posting this to see whether it actually works.

So, enjoy a picture I took last year of a flowerball baseball near the Chiba Marine Stadium.

Chiba, the flower capital. Or something.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

On The First Day of Christmas, my GM signed for me

5 Golden Gloves (not)
4 years of Wagner
3 more of Giles
2 for Scott Eyre
And a guy from Japan named Kenji.

I do wonder if the entire hot stove league will read like the Twelve Days of Christmas by the time it's over, though.

Giles re-signs with Padres, 3/30

Konerko re-signs with White Sox, 5/60

The Phillies signed Julio Santana to a one-year contract. I totally misread a headline that said something like "Phillies acquire J. Santana" and nearly freaked out, but alas, he's not THAT J. Santana. I could also say he used to pitch for the Giants, but I wouldn't be talking about THOSE Giants.

And as I predicted, Iriki fails to draw a bid in the posting system. Even he isn't surprised. Go figure.

You know what I'm wondering? When do players get to claim new uniform numbers if they want them? Newly signed and traded players seem to have already picked their uniform numbers, but for example, when will Felix shed #59 and try to take #34? Will Zach Duke shed #57 and take a lower number as well?