Thursday, August 31, 2006

Beyond the Baselines, 2006

Well, um, I should be getting on a bus to ride to the airport in around half an hour. Hopefully my next post will be from halfway around the world!

I'm taking my scorecard book with me and don't want to worry about losing the last month or two of "Beyond the Baselines" things I've scribbled down in case I lose the book, so here they all are in one entry. I should go back and edit earlier ones in at some point.


Favorite sport to watch besides baseball: car racing
Favorite TV Channel - BET
Favorite Ice Cream - Cookies'n'Cream

Favorite TV show : ESPN Outdoors
Childhood Hero - Alvin Davis
First Job - Construction
Would also Love to Be - ER Doctor

Favorite Actress : Kim Basinger
Favorite Music - Merengue
Favorite Sport other than baseball - Basketball
Favorite Subject in School - P.E. and Recess
Favorite Charity - Manny Mota Foundation
Childhood Hero - George Bell
Favorite Actor - Chris Tucker
Favorite Ice Cream - Cookies'n'Cream

Favorite Food: Sushi
Favorite Cuisine - Mexican food
Little League Positions - Pitcher and Shortstop
Favorite Actress - Kim Basinger
Favorite Sport Other than Baseball - Fishing

Favorite Sport to play other than baseball: Golf
Favorite Sport to watch other than baseball: Football
Favorite Road Park - Yankees
Favorite Actress - Uma Thurman
Favorite Charity - Fight Against Cancer
Favorite Band - Pearl Jam
Favorite Subject in School: Math
Favorite Meal to Cook - Chicken Parmesan

Favorite Actor: Samuel L Jackson and Morgan Freeman

Favorite Ice Cream : Vanilla
Favorite Subject in School - P.E.
Favorite Actor - Jackie Chan
Favorite Actress - Meg Ryan

Favorite Road Ballpark: Anaheim
Favorite Snack - Spaghetti with Ketchup

Favorite Road Park: Jacobs
Favorite Music - Reggaeton (?)
Favorite Actor - Vin Diesel
Favorite Food to Make - Spaghetti
Little League Positions: Shortstop

Favorite Food : Sushi
Favorite TV Show - Rescue Me

Favorite TV Show - CSI
Childhood Hero - Nolan Ryan
Favorite Album - Ten by Pearl Jam

Favorite Charity - Mariners D.R.E.A.M

Childhood Heroes - Tony Gwynn, Michael Jordan

Favorite Movie - Star Wars

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Electronic Dictionary Fun

One of the most useful devices I've ever bought in my life is my Canon Wordtank IDF-3000, which is a little portable electronic Japanese dictionary. I got it for an absolute steal in Akihabara in 2001, for something like $100, and it's been so incredibly useful it's not even funny.

It has an English->Japanese dictionary, a Japanese->English dictionary, and more fun, a Japanese->Japanese dictionary, for some terms that just don't translate well (some previous Wordtanks simply didn't have those terms in the DB at all), as well as a kanji dictionary. In the straightforward E->J or J->E modes, they'll have sample sentences for the words as well as their meanings.

I'd been trying to figure out a way to tell exactly how outdated the sentences and colloquialisms were, and it finally came to me by accident the other day -- baseball!

Take, for example, a sample sentence for the word 試合, shiai, which means game or match or meeting, etc:

The Carp do not have a game today.

Okay, I'm with you so far. That sentence seems totally normal in 2006.

Now let's go with a sample sentence for the character 対, tai, which is used to denote a score or "vs." or whatnot:

The Hawks beat the Buffaloes 6-2.
(Lit: Daiei beat Kintetsu 6-2.)

Hmm. Well, that'd have been totally normal in 2001, so I can't fault them there either -- the Hawks were the Daiei Hawks and the Kintetsu Buffaloes still existed, so this is just funny to see, not wrong per se.

But let's go a little further. This one came from typing in the word 選手, senshu, which means baseball player:

Ochiai hit a home run.

Hiromitsu Ochiai, the current manager of the Chunichi Dragons, responsible for turning them into a force to be reckoned with, retired as a player in 1998 (at the age of 44! and a position player, at that!), but hasn't hit 20+ homers since 1996, and hasn't been a serious contender for an HR title since 1991. (stats here, stories here.) So that's putting these sample sentences into context of the early 1990's at best, although maybe this one was just using a random player for the sentence -- like we might use "Mark McGwire hit a home run" even though he's been retired for a couple of years. But here's the kicker:

The Whales won the game against the Carp.
(Lit: Taiyo beat Hiroshima.)

The Taiyo Whales became the Yokohama Bay Stars in the 1992-1993 offseason, so I think we've definitely got a dictionary sentence-writing date pegged now at somewhere around 1991 -- after the Hawks were sold to Daiei in 1988, at least, and before the Bay Stars changed their name.

Man, I'm a total dork.

But if you own a Japanese electronic dictionary, you should try a similar experiment; if nothing else, you might learn some new words!

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Angels - Short and Sweet

Mariners 2, Angels 0

I've been saying all week that the Mariners didn't need mojo or any of that crap, they needed ME. And I've been at four Mariners games in the last week, and they won them all. Coincidence? I think not!

Tonight, I traded in a bunch of season tickets that I won't be able to use while I'm in Japan, and got eight of the cheap Monday $10 view reserved seats, and basically sort of had a mini-party at the stadium to celebrate various things in a particular circle of friends; out-of-town guests, new jobs, early birthdays, etc. So we sat way up and out in the stands, near Lookout Landing, but that was okay because then we could switch seats and people could drink beer and not worry about disturbing anyone.

The downside was that I didn't do any of my typical pre-game stuff like watching BP or taking pictures of pitchers warming up or whatnot; the upside was that I got to hang out with a whole bunch of people who I probably won't see for at least a month, and I got to share a game of baseball with them, and even better, I got to share a great game that involved Felix pitching a gem and the Mariners breaking their goddamn divisional losing streak.

Every now and then it's nice to see how new people react to the Safeco environment, which reminds me that it really does cater well to a general audience, even if I personally may be bored and jaded by it all. I'm so sick of the hat trick and the various music clips and the hydro races and whatnot. But when Raul Ibanez came up to the plate and Werewolves of London started playing, and about half our group cracked up and the other half started howling "RAUUUUUUUL", I couldn't help but laugh as well. I hate the hydros, but my friends were all really into it, especially when two of them banged into each other and the third one won. Half of them actually followed the stupid Hat Trick, and one of them inadvertantly took himself on a three-inning tour of Safeco Field while hunting for vegetarian food, but had a great time doing so. In some ways I suppose I was remiss in my duty as a host by not giving a tour of the stadium, but again, showing off Safeco at this point is sort of like showing off my house -- it's hard to remember what parts would be interesting to people who aren't there all the time.

There's really not a lot that I have to say about the game, honestly. I mean, it started at 7:05pm and it was over at 8:59pm. There were no pitching changes; Felix pitched the complete game on 95 pitches and Escobar pitched a complete game on 106 pitches. Five out of the eight innings for the Mariners were 1-2-3, and six out of the nine innings for the Angels were 1-2-3. There were no walks. There were no home runs. There was, basically, no bullshit, and it really was a nice change.

There was only one big inning, and that was the fourth for the Mariners. After Doyle flew out, Beltre bounced a ball pretty deep in the hole and ran it out, beating the throw to first by a bit. Ibanez then hit a single to right, and Beltre got to third; Richie Sexson hit the ball to left field, which looked really funky from where we were -- we could tell from the arc that it wasn't a homer, and we could watch Juan Rivera tracking it, and then we could see it bounce off the wall over his head and see him take a weird angle to send it back in, and it was really kind of cool. Broussard struck out -- I'm liking Jeff's theory on why Broussard strikes out a lot -- and then Johjima should have grounded out, but instead ended up safe on first after Orlando Cabrera booted it, and Ibanez scored on that, and then Jose Lopez struck out, and that was about it for exciting offense for either side.

There were a few nonstandard plays I got to write down, though -- the 6-3-2 in the first inning when Vlad Guerrero grounded to Willie Bloomquist, whose throw drew Richie off the bag, but Richie fired the ball home in time to catch Maicer Izturis. And later on Ichiro ended up getting caught out on a close 7-4 play stretching a single to a double.

You know, I'm one of the people who isn't a flat-out Willie-hater, but I was really disappointed to see him at shortstop today with Felix on the mound; it just didn't make sense to me, and he booted several plays that could have been double plays instead of fielder's choices, or outs instead of singles, and at one point one of those plays was called an error on Jose Lopez when it really did look like a throwing error on Bloomquist to me. I know Betancourt's not infallible, but he's the closest thing to a superhuman shortstop I've ever seen, and I'd just rather see him out there behind a groundballer like Felix.

Besides, I wanted my friends to get to see Yuniesky Betancourt, since I'd been talking up how they'd get to see our promising young guys in Lopez, Betancourt, Snelling, and Felix, and only three out of the four were there for most of the game.

It should come as no surprise to anyone that in the Beyond the Baselines thingy, Chris Snelling's trivia was "Favorite movie: Star Wars".

Anyway, I'm glad the damn losing streak is over. I won't be able to make it to another game at Safeco until the series against the A's in late September, so this was a nice note to go out on. It's sort of a shame, since I'd love to see JW #56 take on JW #56 tomorrow night in the Epic Jered-Jarrod Battle, but I've just got too much stuff to take care of.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Red Sox - The Wells Fungo Wagon

(This entry is actually about Saturday's game. Mariners 4, Red Sox 3.)

Man, somehow writing about Saturday's game in the wake of Sunday's sweeping finish just feels sort of weird, but it was quite an exciting day and I'll be annoyed with myself if I don't recap it to remember it later. After all, if nothing else, this blog is my journal of the baseball games I've attended this year, and it'd be folly for me to skip chronicling one that I had as much fun at as this one.

I attended this game with my friend Jeff (no, not one of the bloggers), who hasn't been able to make it up here for a game in a while. He couldn't show up for the early season ticket opening, so I left him a ticket in Will Call when I arrived at 3:55pm, and then I got in line for the stadium opening. Surprisingly, the line was pretty long -- I've gotten emails about these "early BP" days before, and just never managed to go to one before, so I had no idea what to expect.

They let us in at 4:05pm, and the first thing they did was give us stuff. One table had people giving out Mariner mints and Oberto beef jerky, another was giving out bottled water and sodas, and there was a raffle form you could fill out to win various prizes like an Ichiro jersey or a Mariners Gift Pack or an autographed baseball or whatnot. After all that stuff, we walked past a brass band and down to the field.

The team was doing some sort of pre-BP warmups when I got there, tossing around a baseball like a hackeysack and just running around and goofing off and such. Then, some players came over to the stands and signed stuff! I brought a "GO MARINERS!" placard that I'd gotten at a game back in 2004 that seemed like it'd be cool to have signed, and I ran down to the field. I was just far enough that the closest I could get to the field was down by the tarp, so I missed the position players, but most of the bullpen was dealing with our part of the line. Cha Seung Baek was the first to come by and I got him to sign the poster; he was actually fairly slow and JJ Putz was like "Cmon, man, you're holding up the line!" to him, so I was like "wait, JJ, please sign this?" and he did, and I really don't remember the order the rest of the guys were in, but I got Sherrill, Woods, and Green after that, and I did call each of them by name and thank them for signing, plus the obligatory "You pitched a great game yesterday, Jake!" to Woods.

(If you didn't see the picture in yesterday's entry, here's what the poster looks like)

I vastly impressed these two 10-year-old-or-so boys who were standing next to me getting stuff signed -- after that, they kept asking me who everybody was out on the field. "Do you see Johjima?" "He's over there." "How about Richie, is that Richie?" "No, that's Sean Green. Richie's over by the fence." "Who's the guy throwing the ball to Johjima?" "That's Chris Snelling. He's awesome. Keep your eye on him." "Who's the tall guy with no hair?" "That's Dominic Woody, he's the bullpen catcher." "How about the Japanese guy standing over there?" "That's Cha Seung Baek. He's Korean." "Oh... err..."

The Mariner Moose came around signing stuff to keep kids happy after the players ran off. I thought it'd be pretty funny to get that one on my poster too, so I did. Oddly, the Moose was left-handed on Saturday. Does that make him a southpaw?

I took a whole bunch of pictures of the guys just tossing baseballs around and hanging out and all, except that I was at a really bad angle for sunlight, and as a result a lot of the shots of their faces have half the face in shade due to the tops of the caps, and I haven't figured out if there's a good way to compensate for backlighting with this camera yet. On the other hand, I did get a few good shots, and they're all up on the picture page. As I said, my favorite one is probably this one of Doyle. He's such a cutie.

I went down by the third base line and sat down by the field, since there was nobody there, and just watched people take BP, and shot a bazillion pictures, most of which were of Doyle, and most of which didn't come out well due to the aforementioned backlighting. I didn't have the timing or the location right to get a baseball, sadly -- there was a ball that was on the grass in front of me, and I asked one of the security guys if he could give it to me, but he said he wasn't allowed, though he could kick a ball towards me if it landed on the outer track. A groundskeeper walked by and picked up the ball and threw it to a little kid, and the guard was like, "Tough luck! If only you were five years old, eh?" I watched the ushers put the plastic bags into the seats in the first couple rows, too -- somehow it had never occurred to me that someone had to actually go out and do that before every game. I offered to help, and fortunately, they thought I was kidding.

At 5:05, they opened the normal gates, and within literally two minutes the entire empty section I had was filled with Red Sox fans, so I decided to leave. I went back to the first base side, stood with a bunch of Mariners fans who hadn't moved in an hour, and watched the rest of BP. A lot of them were serious autograph collectors and had a ton of stuff signed that they were showing me; one lady showed me her 2006 team photo with signatures from almost everyone, including Carl Everett. When Snelling was running by to go take BP, a girl in front of me yelled "CHRIS!!!" and got no reaction, so I yelled "SNELLING!!!" and no reaction, and so I yelled "DOYLE!!!!" and he looked over and waved, but didn't come over. Alas. Jose Lopez did come over to the stands a bit later but not near us, and then as the team was running off the field, me and another girl yelled "ERIC!!!" at Eric O'Flaherty, and he grinned and came over to the stands and signed stuff and posed for pictures and all. He seems like a really nice guy.

Hargrove was signing stuff on the dugout, but I decided I didn't really care, took a few more pictures of the Red Sox guys warming up, and then I went down to the team store to try on jerseys. See, we got a coupon to double our STH discount for just that day, so I figured if I was going to get one, I should probably use the discount. I tried on some replica jerseys and they fit okay, but then I was faced with a quandary of which one to get, so I figured I'd come back later. The store was already mobbed even though it was pre-game.

Came back up to the field and the Sox were already done their BP and warmups, which meant the Sox fans were also dispersing. Good riddance. I ate a hot dog and went down to the seat I'm now calling "Warmup Point", because it's the best spot ever to watch/film the opposing pitchers getting their arms loose on the field. It's one of those two seats in the front of Section 151 down by the mechanical scoreboard, and it's never occupied at 6:35pm. This is where I got Randy on Thursday, and Cupcakes and Jae Seo a few weeks ago, and some others I haven't posted. Anyway, David Wells is quite large, which makes my auto-focus work pretty well. He also tends to look upwards while he's throwing, so it wasn't hard to get shots like this one where he's actually smiling.

Unfortunately, the bullpen area was just horrendously crowded, and I couldn't even get a decent hole from the tavern to aim a lens through. I ran over to the Mariners' side of the pen, which was slightly less crowded, but that's like saying Joe Blanton is slightly less huge than David Wells. I wasn't even able to get up against the fence, but somehow I managed a few shots like this anyway, and I have no idea how that came out so well. I've got to learn more about focal length, I think.

I know better than to get trapped in the bullpen during the anthem during a crowded-as-hell game, so I bolted pretty quickly and ran upstairs as fast as I could, and despite my best crowd maneuvering tactics -- which are really quite impressive, just ask some of my friends -- I barely got into my seat in time for the first pitch. Jeff had arrived a few minutes before me, and we had a brief conversation about whether it's better to have a sucky team and an empty stadium or a great team and a full stadium. Honestly, I wish there was some sort of happy medium where the team could be great but the stadium wouldn't be so crowded that I want to punch people. Or at least where the fans would actually know where the hell they were going, rather than this being the one game per year they attend because they saw the Red Sox on TV a few years ago, so they're all just milling around, blocking traffic, trying to figure out where they can buy a big styrofoam finger to wave in the air in front of people who are actually trying to watch the game like myself.

Um, anyway. This may be the most text I've ever written before actually talking about the game that went on.

Gil Meche was fantastic for the first few innings. Infact, he had FIVE STRIKEOUTS AFTER TWO INNINGS. No, I'm not making that up. We were just watching in shock as he kept sending guys back down to the bench. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep that up, and started running into trouble in the third, as Beltre and Lopez both made fantastic plays to save his ass, before Coco Crisp hit one of those home runs that barely cleared the fence to bring the score to 1-0.

After a Spelling Bee segment featuring Ben "Bershard", Gabe Kapler had some trouble tracking an Adrian Beltre hit into the rightcenter gap which turned into a double, and Ibanez singled him home, 1-1. Ibanez also advanced to second on Richie Sexson's pop to center field, which was astounding, given how slowly he appeared to be moving.

Meche really started struggling in the 5th -- I remember thinking how his line for the day was going to belie little details like this -- at that point the 0 walks and 6 strikeouts were going to look pretty good, but he started really getting behind the count on some players and was obviously having some trouble. With two outs, Kapler hit a single up the middle, and again behind the count, he walked Crisp. Loretta hit a fly ball to shallowish center, and Ichiro ran in for it, got his glove on the ball, but it popped out, scoring Kapler and almost scoring Crisp. I almost started to write that down as an E-8, then remembered that most guys wouldn't even GET their glove on the ball, let alone drop it, and marked it down correctly as an RBI single. 2-1.

Betancourt hit a triple in the bottom half of the 5th, and given how much trouble Kapler and Crisp were having fielding it, and how fast Betancourt was running, we almost thought it might be an inside-the-park home run, and stood up to watch, but alas. As is typical these days, with a guy on third and one out, Bohn struck out and Ichiro grounded out. Alas, part 2.

Meche lucked out of the 6th and 7th innings with 19 pitches and a bunch of grounders, including a goddamn nice play by Betancourt where he zoomed like a laser to the middle, grabbed the ball and spun and threw it to first in time to get Kapler. (Something I should point out is that I have several plays on my scorecard denoted with one or more exclamation points for Mariners defensive plays, and none for the Red Sox.) Unfortunately, the Mariners couldn't score enough runs for Meche in their half of the seventh, though they put forth a decent effort. I'd told Jeff about my indecision over buying a jersey, and said, "If Johjima hits a home run right now, I'm buying a Johjima jersey." Johjima grounded out to first, and then Yuniesky Betancourt stepped up to the plate and hit a home run right over the mechanical scoreboard. 2-2.

(Incidentally, Jeff ended up buying a Betancourt number t-shirt later on, to replace his Moyer one. I thought that was particularly fitting, since Betancourt's picture has replaced Moyer's on the 1st Avenue player pictures. But I digress.)

With everyone all excited over Betancourt's home run, somehow I knew TJ Bohn was going to do something besides strike out, and he hit the ball to left for his first major league hit. And I even got a picture of the swing. That was neat. Ichiro singled!... and then Jose Lopez grounded out. No soup for Meche.

The top of the 8th inning was retarded. Rafael Soriano came out and retired Coco Crisp and Mark Loretta. George Sherrill was brought in to face David Ortiz, which makes sense, and the defense went into a major shift, which also kind of makes sense, except then Ortiz tried to bunt the ball down the third-base line, which also makes sense, and was pretty funny. So once you know that the guy's going to be doing his damnedest to defeat your shift, what happens? He hits the ball into the left field corner for a double, which probably would have been gotten by Beltre in his normal position, or run down faster by Ibanez for a single. If Ortiz was actually fast, that may have ended up being a triple anyway, but there are definitely some downsides of being huge and powerful, and speed is one of them. Manny Ramirez was intentionally walked, and then JJ Putz was summoned to take care of Mike Lowell. I labelled the mound conference "Goddamnit" for a reason -- it felt like they'd basically just handed the game loss to Sherrill.

And for a minute, it almost worked out like that. Lowell hit the ball to shallow left field, which scored Ortiz, but Betancourt recovered the ball and threw it to third way ahead of Manny, and from my vantage point it appeared that Beltre tagged Manny on the head, then the ball popped out of his glove, but he caught it with his other hand, and Manny was out, but the run scored. 3-2. I haven't gotten to see what it looked like from another angle.

The Red Sox brought out Mike Timlin to pitch, at which point Jeff said something like "Wow! Mike Timlin! I remember when he pitched for us! Boy, did he suck!" and then PositivePaul called me, mostly so we could commisserate over George's fate, and then... and then Adrian Beltre hit a home run to RIGHT FIELD, and I couldn't hear the phone, because everyone was cheering too loud, and I also didn't get a picture, because I was holding the phone. (Jeff said that he had been debating snatching the camera from me and taking a picture since he just knew Beltre was going to hit a homer.) Ibanez, whose cheering section was out in full and had a lot to cheer for as their hero went 3-for-4, singled again to left, and Richie also singled, and I had to hang up with Paul because I couldn't hear a damn thing he was saying. Ben "Bershard" came in next and hit one of those "It's too high!" "How can it be too high?" fly balls to center field, and Ibanez tagged up and scored, this time at a speed that didn't make me worry that the time-space continuum was in jeopardy. Johjima and Betancourt both popped out to right after that, but the Mariners were winning 4-3, and that's all that mattered, as JJ Putz came out and STRUCK OUT THE ENTIRE GODDAMN SIDE in the top of the 9th, and I even got a kind of cool picture of Hinske whiffing. Yeeeeeehaw.

Paul and his brother-in-law Dave had been sitting only two sections over from us, so Jeff and I went and found them afterwards and hung out chatting for a while. We all tromped down to the team store where I tried to convince Paul to spend $300 on a game-used Sherrill jersey, and he tried to convince me to spend $300 on a game-used Snelling jersey, and Dave was telling us how he wanted to get a game-used Jon Lester ball, and then all three of them convinced me to just go ahead and use my season-ticket-holder-special-doubled-discount to buy a jersey so I have a nice Mariners shirt to wear in Japan (I've got a bunch of number t-shirts, but no jerseys). Unfortunately, the "real" jerseys actually didn't fit me at all -- they were all too long, and all either too baggy or wouldn't button across my chest/hips, which isn't too weird, I guess, given the shape of baseball players. So I tried on the replica jersey again, and it fit perfectly! I ended up getting the Johjima one, so my conversations this time around will be more like "Oh, you from Seattle? You see Johjima?"

As I discovered at Fan Fest, Dave knows pretty much 90% of the staff of Safeco Field, and the team store is no exception. This time he had a friend working there who was explaining to us why there's a Rivera #30 t-shirt available, but not a Snelling or Sherrill or any of the other "second-class" players. Apparently Rivera kept asking them where his shirt was, and they were too nice to say something like "Well, you're not good enough to have one," so they'd tell him they were all out, and finally they decided to just go ahead and make one for him, ordering the smallest quantity possible. He was delighted as all hell, apparently buying like 25 of them to give to his friends, and running around in the clubhouse showing off the shirt to Jose and Felix and all. So, if you want a Rivera #30 t-shirt, you better get one quick, because they're not going to last long!

(I did tell the guy that if they made up a Snelling #32 t-shirt, even if they only printed a hundred of them, I had no doubt in my mind that they'd sell out within a few weeks once DMZ got word of their existence... but, it sounds like they're holding off on Snelling shirts until they're sure he'll be sticking around. Putz, on the other hand, is likely to have a shirt for sure next year, and Sherrill isn't entirely out of the question either. The store guy told us a funny story about how Sherrill and his girlfriend apparently came in and were shopping in the team store after a game once, even with fans around, and absolutely nobody recognized him. That's hilarious, though somewhat unsurprising.)

Jeff and I walked halfway across SoDo to get back to his car and he gave me a ride home. Since he's moving away in a month, it'll probably be a long time before we go to another game together, unless we manage one at the end of September. It's funny, but Jeff is somewhat responsible for this blog's existence in the first place, as he went with me to the USSM feed two years ago where Dave Cameron inspired me to start blogging in the first place, and he even took me to my first King Felix game in Tacoma at the start of the 2005 season. Good times. Despite that I know he's never going to return my copy of Ball Four, it'll be a shame to lose a good baseball buddy.

And, whew, that was a long entry to type out, and I don't blame anyone for not really reading it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Temporary Game Report

My computer just crashed and ate my entry. I'll try to rewrite it in the morning, I'm tired as all heck -- got to the park at 4pm for the Season Ticket Holder early BP thing, and didn't get home until after 11pm. So here is just me pointlessly bragging:

I couldn't think of anything good to bring to get signed, so I brought this. I pretty much got the whole bullpen to sign it -- Sherrill, Woods, Baek, Putz, Green, O'Flaherty (!) and the Moose. Neat, huh?

I have a bunch of pictures that I took. (edit: I've thumbnailed them now.) I highly recommend Doyle or Richie or Meche.

More report tomorrow. I own the Red Sox.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Friday Foto

Okay, so these are mostly from batting practice time, but:

Photos: Mariners vs. Yankees, August 24, 2006

I had a really funny moment when I was like, "Who's that guy wearing 49? 49's retired for Ron Guidry!" and then realized... crap, that WAS Ron Guidry.

Getting pictures of Matsui was tough because there were ninety billion Japanese people standing around also pointing cameras, but I think I did a pretty good job.

No George Sherrill stalking picture today, sorry. I wanted to get the hell out of the bullpen before the national anthem, otherwise I'd never be in my seat for the first pitch.

It's really tough to take pictures of the Mariners pitchers through that damn fence, but it's easier to take pictures of opposing pitchers through the Bullpen Tavern wall holes. That's so dumb. It's hard to focus through the fence with a zoom. I'm working on it, but I didn't get that many good shots of Washburn today and it was just too crowded on the other side.

Ron Villone makes the best faces when he doesn't know a camera is pointed at him. So does Mariano Rivera.

I was really sad that Chris Snelling was in left field instead of right, because I couldn't take tons of pictures of him -- but, hey, it made the game better.

I really should cut this photo set down even more, but right now I'd rather sleep.

(and if you enjoyed these, check out my Oakland A's photos from a few weeks back!)

Game Report: Mariners vs. Yankees - I win!

So, I shot about 250 pictures tonight, and if I go through them before I write this entry, I'll never write this entry. I'm going to try to crop-resize-upload some before I go to sleep tonight, but we'll see.

Tonight's game featured these two lefty pitchers facing off against each other:

Cute vs. Ugly

Now, if you didn't watch the game, and I told you that one of these two guys pitched 6.1 innings, struck out 9, walked 2, and gave up 2 runs, which one would you think I was talking about?

Made you look!

Seriously, J-Rod the Washburninator was on fire. He had 7 K's after the first three innings, and picked up two more in the fourth and fifth. He did hit a few guys, and a couple of them got hits off him, but in general, Jarrod was dealing. It was pretty awesome. It probably didn't hurt that the lineup was LRLLSLSRR, with Jeter and Wilson being the only big lefty-mashers, but still. Aside from a Johnny Damon home run off Washburn's last pitch of the night, his 108th, and a run scored by Wilson, Damon, and Jeter all getting singles in the 3rd, that was all the Yankees really could do in terms of offense.

The only other inning in the entire night that more than 4 Yankees batters came to the plate was the 4th, where Posada was hit by a pitch, and Cano singled, and then the most awesome pickoff ever happened -- Cano was just plain sleeping, and Johjima nailed him with a throw at first. Wilson did walk and Green was hit by a pitch, but with the bases loaded, Johnny Damon hit a low line drive to left field, and CHRISTOPHER DOYLE SNELLING ran it down for the most awesome catch ever, which Ibanez totally would have never gotten. Good thing he and Beltre had the night off.

I got up and yelled, "WAY TO GO, DOYLE!", which got me a lot of funny looks from around me.

At this point, I need to digress in the recounting of the game and explain why this night was awesome and why I don't have very many game notes in general. People ask me why I bother going to games alone, and tonight is exactly why. Yeah, sometimes you get stuck by yourself the entire evening, but I seem to end up getting single seats next to some of the most interesting people on the planet.

The two guys sitting to my left were late-30sish, and they seemed pretty into baseball, and they thought it was pretty neat that I was keeping score and could answer questions about the recent roster moves, and really knew my baseball stuff, and they were impressed by my camera, and so on. One mentioned he was in town for the week from LA, and thought Safeco was a lot nicer than Dodger Stadium. Well, we get to talking about different stadiums and whatnot, and it comes out that I'm from Philly and grew up in Veterans Stadium, when one of the guys lets out this bomb:

"Oh, did you ever make it to a Scranton game? I played for the Red Barons way back in the day."

My jaw drops. "You WHAT?"

"I was a minor league player for the Phillies back in the early 90's."

I immediately stop paying attention to the game for the most part for most of the next half hour as this guy and his friend start recounting all these stories about the guys in the system back in the day; he was apparently reasonable friends with Mike Lieberthal and Mickey Morandini and just bunches of random players who I totally was in love with once upon a time. Heck, he was even Kevin Stocker's roomate! Through some weird coincidence of life, I've now met two of Kevin Stocker's former roomates (the other is former Blue Jays farmhand Brent Lutz, who roomed with Kevin at UW, and whom I worked with at Amazon), and still have never met Stocker himself. (I had the biggest crush on Stocker when I was like 16. Blame the 1993 World Series.)

At first, I wondered if he was kidding, even though it sounded way too bizarre to be making it up out of nowhere. I asked his name -- Ken Sirak -- and sure enough, I'd never heard of him. That's not surprising, because I barely followed the minor leagues at all until fairly recently. So when he and his friend Scott went off to get more beer a bit after that, I got out my web-enabled phone and Googled for him.

And here's his Baseball Cube page. He ended up quitting baseball after the 1993 season, because the Phillies wanted to trade him to the Reds, and he was a shortstop/utility guy and didn't really want to be blocked by Barry Larkin.

I probably spent a good half of the game just talking about the Phillies of my high school days with Ken, and then a good amount of time trading baseball trivia questions with Scott, and it was just a blast. Ken kept calling me "Baseball freak!" and Scott kept going on about how he'd never ever met a girl who knew as much random baseball trivia as he did, and meanwhile, I'm just trying to not totally act like a complete and random dork because I'm sitting next to someone who not only actually knows who Kevin Stocker is, but was his former roomate.

(I mentioned how Steve Carlton was one of my favorite players when I was a kid, too, and Ken started talking about when he and Carlton's son were both in single-A ball, and how bad he was. Man.)

So, yeah. There was a game.

Ichiro was amazing in center field. Snelling was amazing in left field. Bohn was not amazing in right, but he wasn't really hit anything that was difficult to get -- while I was initially disappointed that Snelling wouldn't be in RF, which meant I couldn't take ninety billion pictures of him during the game, it makes sense to put the stronger outfielder in left field with a lefty starter, as half the lineup will be batting righty and the other half might not be pulling the ball as hard as usual.

Seeing Mateo come out was not particularly heartening, but seeing Sherrill mow down Giambi/Posada/Cano in the next inning WAS particularly heartening.

All of the Mariners' scoring happened in the first and third innings. In the first, Ichiro led off with a double, and advanced on a Bloomquist sac fly, which isn't hard to do when he hits to center and Johnny Damon's throwing it in. Lopez singled him home after that.

In the third, Snelling led off with the nastiest double I've seen in a long time; the ball was barely fair and didn't roll foul until it was out near the left-field ball girl, which is just a pain to go get. He moved to third on an Ichiro grounder, and then Willie Bloomquist laid down the nastiest bunt I've seen in a long time; the ball pretty much rolled down the first-base down line and just plain stopped; a bunch of Yankees were just staring at it on the ground as Willie ran past first base. After that Lopez hit another RBI single, and then Sexson hit the ball way into the left-center gap and confused the heck out of Melky Cabrera for a double. This put the score at 4-2, which is where it'd stay until Damon's home run later on.

T.J. Bohn finally did something besides make an out today when he walked in the 7th inning! Woooo!

The ninth inning was probably the most perfect way you could possibly end a game like this, too. J.J.Putz comes out, and Melky Cabrera hit a hard grounder towards first, where Ben Broussard nearly bobbled the play but recovered it in time to throw to Putz covering the bag. One down. Bernie Williams pinch hits for Craig Wilson, and the crowd's getting louder, as he grounds up to second, where Lopez makes the throw. Everyone stands on their feet; the stadium is just rocking, with Mariners fans yelling, Yankees fans yelling...

...and Alex Rodriguez comes out to pinch-hit for Nick Green.

I didn't think the stadium could get louder, but it did, as all the Mariners fans who weren't yelling before got up and started booing. Cheers, yells, boos. Alex swings and misses the first pitch; he takes the second one for another strike. It's 0-2-2, and the next pitch is up a bit; the crowd boos louder. A-Rod fouls off the next one, and the next one nearly hits him in the head, and then... and then, he swings and misses the next offering. Strike three. Game over.

I'm not sure you could end a Mariners-Yankees game -- nay, series -- any better than that.

So on that note, I'm going to leave you with one last picture that I quickly cropped, and then I'm going to try to go through a whole bunch of these quickly. Because, dude, look who I saw running around in the outfield before the game?


To sum up: I own the Yankees. And meeting former Phillies minorleaguers is COOL.

Also, they had an announcement on the board that Mark Lowe will be at the Seattle branch of US Bank on Tuesday from 11am-noon -- it's at 1240 5th Avenue, which should actually be around the corner from where I work, so I'm going to try to stop by, if I can get more details before then.

Photo post is up!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Link Tank

Yes, the Mariners lost 9-2 last night, with Pineiro pitching 5.1 innings... in relief. Felix started the game, but got banged up pretty good by the Yankees. I see no real reason for me to write a recap of the game when Jeff Sullivan already wrote a perfect one, complete with theories on using 5 infielders with extreme groundball pitchers.

On the other hand, the Kansas City Royals managed to get 10 runs in the first inning yesterday and STILL lose the game 15-13 in extra innings to Cleveland. And this is either the worst or best picture ever of Shin-soo Choo. I can't decide.

USSM links several articles about everyone's favorite outback outfielder Chris Snelling: Seattle Times, The News Tribune, and

It's the time of the year for Tangotiger's Fan Scouting Report, which y'all should take a second and fill out. The results are always pretty interesting to see.

As a precursor to me posting the All-Cute team for this year, I feel like I should link to an article about Moneybutt, which is one of the more bizarre but typical facets of Athletics Nation which makes it so unique. AN and Bat-Girl have the biggest female readership of any of the baseblogs I've seen, so there must be something to this butt-rating phenomenon. Another great recent AN post was this one -- I must say, the "legal binding document" aspect of that one is pretty funny.

If you don't read Zack Hample's blog -- and you really should, because it's definitely one of the more unique and amusing ones out there -- well, after 2900ish baseballs, Zack finally caught a famous one last week, Barry Bonds's 724th home run.

There's an awesome article on the Phillies' site full of funny little nuggets about the team, such as things like bullpen catcher Mick Billmeyer nicknaming Rowand and Utley to Bam Bam and Skeletor, and Cole Hamels having the locker next to Jamie Moyer and ribbing him about his age, and Michael Bourn's adventures in getting called up to the majors for approximately 5 minutes last week, and more "Just how old IS Jamie Moyer?" comparisons.

If you don't already read The Dugout, then you probably missed their great tribute to Snakes on a Plane, which is simply glorious, and I can't say more for fear of ruining the punchline. Of course, today's SimYankee strip is also pretty funny if you were actually around in the late 80's when the original SimCity came out, though I think there's an obvious Hideki Matsui joke in there that should have been made.

As mentioned on Japan Baseball Daily, there's a high school all-star team being assembled from the Koshien star players that will play against an American high school all-star team. The roster's available here in Japanese, and the two names Gary couldn't read are Masahiro Inui from Toyodai Himeji and Yodai Enoshita from Kagoshima Kogyo. (Corrections to other names are infielder Ryuya Nakazawa from Komadai, Ryo Hayashizaki from Himeji, and Yuu Funabashi from Waseda. Yes, I'm annoying (and emailing him).)

Supposedly, the Central and Pacific Leagues actually agreed on playoff schedules and interleague reductions, though it remains to be seen if they'll actually be approved. I still don't get how they'll split 24 games among 6 teams unless they play an uneven schedule or do 2-2 matches home/away.

I usually delete the mailings I get from Amazon, but today they actually told me to buy Ogasawara's book, which was cool, since they didn't even have it on their site the day it came out. It even got a good review from a Chunichi fan, so there!

In completely non-baseball news, now that they're testing for steroids all over the galaxy, Pluto is apparently no longer a planet. It doesn't fit the requirement of being "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit," and has been effectively optioned to the minor leagues. Maybe Sidney Ponson can become the ninth planet instead.

I think that's it for now, but I may add to this during the day.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Yankees - Swung on and Beltred!

About four months ago, I was talking to one of my college friends, a diehard Yankees fan. He was debating whether to accept a job in Seattle and move out here. Our conversation went something like this:

Him: I dunno, moving is such a pain in the neck...
Me: I have an extra ticket to a Yankees game in August, you know. If you move out here, it's yours.
Him: Hmm. Really?
Me: Yeah.
Him: I'm sold. See you in a few weeks.
Me: Wow, you're an easy bribe.

Anyway, tonight we went to the game. He wore his Tino Martinez jersey -- the kind with pinstripes -- and we sat there trash-talking each other and whatnot. We thought it was kind of cool that if the Yankees won, both teams would continue their current streaks, but if the Mariners won, it'd end both of them. We lamented Craig Wilson's new hair, or lack thereof, and I booed Bobby Abreu, and he cheered A-Rod, and we had a blast in general.

Oh, and the Mariners won.

Game Over!
Oh god! Not in the head! Not in the head!

As usual before a Yankees game, the Occidental Street approach to Safeco Field was full of scalpers and merchandise sellers. There was a tent selling actual Yankees shirts and jerseys, and of course there were these guys as well. I had my camera out early because I wanted to capture the lack of Jamie Moyer around the park -- and sure enough, they've already taken his banner down -- doesn't Ichiro look lonely? -- and they replaced his player wall photo on 1st Avenue with Yuniesky Betancourt's picture.

Today featured two starting pitchers who'd just been called up, and both were wearing #58, which is a somewhat crazy coincidence. The Yankees had Jeff Karstens, one of those rare guys who actually was drafted by the Yankees and bubbled up through their farm system, and apparently has been learning facial expressions from John Lackey. We had Cha Seung Baek, who's had a pretty great year in Tacoma, and is for now subbed into the rotation to fill the Moyer hole.

(Speaking of Moyer, he started at Wrigley today, for the first time in eighteen years -- "with his wife, children, parents, father-in-law Digger Phelps and his college roommate in tow, among others" -- and picked up the win, going 6 innings and giving up 3 runs in an eventual 6-3 victory.)

Anyway, tonight's game featured a whole lot of fun stuff:
  • 9 out of the 11 runs scored in this game by both sides were driven in by home runs. The Yankees had all five of their runs come in on a Bobby Abreu 3-run homer in the third inning and an Alex Rodriguez 2-run homer in the sixth. The Mariners had three runs come in on Beltre's first-inning and ninth-inning homers, and a fourth on a Richie Sexson blast in the third.

  • All of the home runs were pretty fun to watch. Adrian's first one sailed into the Mariners bullpen. Bobby's was to dead center, and Ichiro actually scaled the wall, but couldn't get it. Richie's was just huge, the sort of home run where you hear it come off the bat and don't even have to watch it land to know it's way out there. A-Rod's actually went into the BLEACHERS in left field, above the KOMO 1000 sign. And Beltre's walk-off one -- well, we weren't even positive it was a home run at first, since it looked like it might have bounced off the wall as a ground rule double or something -- but apparently it hit above the yellow line, and once that became evident, the stadium went mad.

  • Even better, Ronnie The Bear gave up that game-winning home run. It's nice to see him doing that for someone NOT us.

  • During the 6th inning, with a 2-0 count on Ben Broussard, Karstens threw a wild pitch, and they took him out of the game after that and put in Mike Myers. I didn't know you could switch batters mid-at-bat as well, but Eduardo Perez came in to finish off the at-bat, and instead, they just had Myers walk him. After throwing the two pitches to finish off that intentional walk, they pulled Myers for Jaret Wright. I was somewhat annoyed because I like watching Mike Myers pitch, and besides, pulling a guy after TWO INTENTIONAL BALL PITCHES is just plain DUMB.

  • Got to see T. J. Bohn's major league debut. Yeah, he pretty much just went up there to pinch-hit for Snelling and struck out, but that's still pretty cool that they used him at all. He also played an inning in the field.

  • Oh yeah, and DOYLE IS AWESOME but you all knew that already. Seriously, I was using my camera zoom as binoculars and watching him, and he's got such a lovely, wonderful, quick, compact swing. I'm so glad he was batting second. Heck, I'm so glad he was batting.

  • Sean Green got into a bit of a jam in the 7th. Bobby Abreu walked, and then Craig Wilson, god bless his soul, hit a grounder towards third. Beltre charged it, fell to his knees fielding it, and still fired a great throw to first base, but JUST missed getting it in time. Rather than pitching to A-Rod, they walked the bases loaded. We've seen this situation a billion times, where they do something like that for the double play, the force at any base, whichever, and then fail to get it, but this time, just like clockwork, Jorge Posada grounded to Lopez, and BAM. Inning over.

  • Great rundown in the 8th inning, as Sherrill kept almost picking Melky Cabrera off first. Finally, Cabrera runs, Sherrill throws to pick him off, and there's the rundown which ends the inning. Thanks, Yanks!

  • Speaking of Sherrill, if you live or work near Tacoma and read this before 11:30am on Wednesday, they had an announcement on the board saying "Meet George Sherrill"; apparently he'll be at a USBank in Tacoma from 11:30am-12:30pm, but unfortunately, I didn't write down the address. I think it said Pacific Ave, but I know there's more than one USBank on Pacific Ave.

  • Also speaking of Sherrill, for those of you following my "Deanna's not stalking George. Really." saga of pictures, here's today's. This was right after everyone except O'Flaherty had high-fived Baek on his way out of the bullpen to start the game, and I think Sherrill was lecturing the rookies, except instead, it looks like he's saying "You've been voted OFF this bullpen!"

  • The entire bench got into the game at one point or another. I'm not sure I've seen that in a long time, or at least not in a 9-inning game. It was sort of funny: Bloomquist pinch-ran for Perez, then Johjima pinch-hit for Rivera. Snelling was up with two guys on base, and I was excited about that, but with LEFTY-KILLER RON VILLONE up on the mound, they pinch-hit for Snelling. My initial reaction was "oh NO!", thinking he was going to get pinched by Morse or Bloomquist or something, but after a split second, I realized the only person left on the bench TO pinch-hit was Bohn, so my reaction turned to "oh COOL!"

  • I wore my USSM shirt and loudly cheered for Doyle, but alas, the only person who I ran into was Dylan and the rest of his clan, who were sitting a couple of rows behind us. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised, given that half the stadium was Yankees fans anyway, so why would they be familiar with USSM or Doylism?

  • There were these cute little kids sitting in front of us, and from talking to the parents a bit we found out they're Yankees fans, and so their kids were supposed to be Yankees fans too, but my Yankees-fan friend offloaded his Mariners rally towel on one of the kids, and from then on in during the game when the scoreboard said, "WAVE THOSE TOWELS!!!", at appropriate Mariners-cheering moments, this little kid would get up and cheer madly and wave the towel, much to the chagrin of his parents.

I feel there are not nearly enough pictures of Eric O'Flaherty out there yet. I took this one while watching bullpen warmups before the game:

Eric O'Flaherty
I may be young and left-handed, Mr. Hargrove,
but I can work my way out of a jam, thanks.

I'm suddenly totally falling asleep on my keyboard, which is understandable, so I'll either add to this when I think of stuff tomorrow, or just leave it at that.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Lose, lose, lose

I went to Canada for a day trip today to catch up with a friend of mine I haven't seen in way too long who was out there this week/weekend. In short:

- KOMO actually broadcasts all the way up into metropolitan Vancouver, 150 miles from home. The Mariners game today pretty much went for my entire 3-hour drive up, starting when I left my house and ending right after I got out of the tunnel, and I was able to listen to it the whole way.

- The Mariners lost. That's 11 straight and 20 straight divisional.

- Komadai lost. I was driving back from Canada, it was about 11pm, and my phone blinks at me that I've got a message. I glance down, a friend had sent me "WASEDA WINS 4-3!!!!" and I nearly crashed my car.

I have to go piece together a recount of today's Mariners game for LL, so I don't have time to say much. Congratulations to Waseda (and especially Yuuki Saitoh -- that kid is going to go FAR!) on their first Koshien championship win, but I really wanted to see the three-peat.

If nothing else, this year's tournament was much more dramatic than anyone expected, I'm sure. And in the very last at-bat, with the entire tournament on the line, Waseda's pitcher Saitoh struck out Komadai's pitcher Tanaka for the final out. Adachi Mitsuru couldn't even write a plot like this.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Why hello there

Yes, I've been sort of busy these last few days. If you've really missed my brilliant witty writing, you can check out my game recaps at Lookout Landing:


Jeff admitted that calling me off the bench to pinch-blog for LL actually IS all just a plan to reduce the size of the Mariners blogosphere by crushing my spirit.

Jason Churchill, who is one of the coolest people in the galaxy, actually went and asked Hunter Brown about the musician gig thing for me, and found out that yes, infact, Hunter does play guitar, harmonica, and sings, and writes his own songs, too. The article I found was just from a coffeehouse appearance he did for fun. Still, that's so damn cool.

Koshien update would be that Komadai and Waseda locked heads in the final, and played a 15-inning game to a 1-1 tie. Under the rules now (which weren't the rules in 1998 when Matsuzaka pitched that crazy 17-inning game), the game stopped after 15 innings and will be a rematch tonight/tomorrow (depending on your timezone). The scary part is, both Yuuki Saitoh and Masahiro Tanaka have thrown an insane amount of pitches in the last 3-4 days (830 for Saitoh, 658 for Tanaka, according to some reports, mostly because Komadai's had Kikuchi and others actually pitch the first 2ish innings), and will probably be counted on for the rematch as well. Last night's match was one of the most dramatic things I've ever seen, and assuming nobody's arm falls off, the rematch should be even more dramatic. Will Komadai prevail? Will Waseda win it? Tune in tonight at 9pm PDT.

Jamie Moyer heads back to eastern Pennsylvania

Yes, sadly, the guy who I'm sure most of us thought would never get traded until the day he either died or retired, Jamie Moyer, has infact been traded to the Phillies. I've been up and down about this all evening -- my Moyer #50 t-shirt is actually sitting on top of my scorecard book, where I put it last night after doing laundry, for when I go to Safeco next week. I don't have the heart to move it.

I've sort of got dual blogizenship between here and the Phlogosphere, because I grew up in Philadelphia going to Phillies games every Sunday for the first half of my life. That experience helped me immeasurably in learning how to appreciate terrible baseball teams like our recent Mariners, but it's given me really weird perspectives in a lot of Phillies-related events this year, such as finding myself in Philly over Memorial Day weekend watching Arthur Rhodes pitch to Jeff Cirillo, who lined a single over David Bell. But I digress.

I think it's pretty cool that Jamie's going to get to go play for the team he watched growing up. I think it's neat that his parents will be able to watch him play again. The Phillies and Mariners both get great "local boy" angles off of this trade, as the two A-ball pitchers we got are from Corvallis and Redmond. Jamie gets to delude himself into thinking he's in a pennant chase again, but, much as I adore the Phillies -- and I really do -- I just don't see them making it to the Wild Card with so many holes on the team, even with the recent tear they've been on after the Abreu trade. Whatever makes him happy, I guess.

But dammit, I'm going to miss seeing Jamie Moyer playing catch with people in the stands during BP, or sitting around signing stuff and chatting with kids and all. I'm going to miss the novelty of having the oldest and youngest players in the AL on our team. It's sort of like when someone cuts down an old oak tree in front of your house. You don't immediately think it's a gigantic change, and maybe you're even glad that it'll stop shedding leaves and junk onto your car. But a few days later you're hunting for your keys in the sun and sure wish there was a tree there to give you shade, or you suddenly notice that you can look out your window and really notice the ugly burgundy color the people across the street painted their house. And then you're like, Goddamnit, I wish the tree was still here instead of 3000 miles away serving up dingers to Alfonso Soriano and Carlos Beltran, but it's too late, you're stuck with a stump and some seedlings that might grow into another nice big old tree someday.

Goodbye, Jamie, and good luck.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Hunter Brown For A Major Third, Not A Minor Third!

Yesterday's Mariners-Angels game sucked. I sort of kind of recapped it at Lookout Landing. Funny part is, I was making stuff up, but in reality the top three players according to WPA were Betancourt, Johjima, and Sexson, and Willie was dead last. Thanks, Fangraphs.

David at Sports And Bremertonians put up an awesome Mariners By The Numbers post today, with the list of all Mariners who have worn particular uniform numbers. Very cool. S&B's is now 3 years old. Happy blogday!

If you've been following my blog for a while, you'd know that I'm a huge Hunter Brown fan -- I chose him as my Adopt-a-Rainier in early May 2005, when a friend took me to a King Felix start in Tacoma the day before my birthday. Brown was 3-for-4 at the plate and was just plain awesome in the field, but at the time was hitting an anemic .148/.246/.185. Well, since that point he's been putting up pretty respectable numbers (to the tune of an .814 OPS last year and is currently at an .819 OPS this year), considering that Cheney's a bit of a pitcher's park as well.

I'm not the only one out there who thinks it'll be a travesty if he doesn't get a September callup. But that's actually not the point of this random burst of Hunter-Brown-For-Thirdness.

I was looking for old stats for him the other day, and I came across, of all things, a "music picks" blog entry from this past December:
"Newbie Hunter Brown rounds out the bill, and will be making his debut at this gig. He graduated from Rice University and plays baseball for the Seattle Mariners baseball organization -- but he's still a Texas boy at heart."

Anyone know anything about this? I'm emailing the blog writer to see if they actually caught the show, but wow! I knew that Brown was pretty intelligent and talented at baseball, but I had no idea he was a musician too!

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Koshien Quarterfinals, Day One

At approximately 7pm Friday night, my brain is going to explode.

The only Mariners-Angels game of the weekend I really feel like watching is starting then -- Jered Weaver vs. Felix Hernandez. I have both of them on my fantasy team, and figure that if I'm lucky, they'll strike out 20 guys between the two of them.

But, more importantly, the semi-finals for the Koshien tournament are starting then -- and after today's match results, the first game will feature Chiben Wakayama and Komadai Tomakomai. This is going to be a GREAT match. I may end up setting an entry to either liveblog or game thread it. We'll see.

Both quarterfinal games played today were absolutely amazing, seriously.

Komadai Tomakomai 5, Toyodai Himeji 4

This one was going on during the Mariners-A's game. I watched as Himeji jumped out to a 4-0 lead (coincidentally, at the same time the A's were leading the Mariners 4-0). Ryo Hayashizaki, who hit a home run in their last game as well, hit a 2-run homer in the first inning, and the team small-balled another run in the fourth on an RBI double by pitcher Kinya Tobiishi. He went to third on a groundout, and then scored on a throwing error.

Komadai finally started beating up on the Himeji pitching in the 6th inning. Catcher Suguru Kobayashi walked with one out, and after that the next four batters all got hits. Tadao Mitani singled to left, and Yuuya Miki followed that with a double down the first base line. 4-1. Ryuya Nakazawa smacked the ball to the left-center gap for another double, scoring everyone else on base. 4-3. Atsushi Honma hit a grounder to third that bounced badly, and Nakazawa scored on it. 4-4. Himeji then changed their pitcher to Masahiro Inui, who struck out two of the next three batters to end the threat.

Yamaguchi walked to start off the 7th for Komadai, and was subsequently bunted to second and moved to third on a grounder. Then Mitani grounded into a 3-1 play but apparently dove into the base ahead of the pitcher covering, and boom. 5-4 Komadai, and that's where it stayed.

Masahiro Tanaka pitched the entire game for Komadai, striking out 11 and walking 2. The guy's a machine.

The last time Toyodai Himeji made it to the Koshien quarterfinals was when former Mariner Shigetoshi Hasegawa was their ace pitcher.

I didn't actually see the last 2 innings because I headed out to play volleyball. I also, incidentally, only barely got to see Eric O'Flaherty's debut, as I walked by a TV inbetween volleyball games just in time to see him strike out Eric Chavez. Good stuff.

Chiben Wakayama 13, Teikyo 12

And as if the Komadai comeback wasn't crazy enough, when I got home from volleyball, I saw the last inning of the Chiben-Teikyo game. 13 runs were scored in that inning. No joke. It was 8-4 in favor of Chiben going into the 9th inning, and then Teikyo scored eight runs in their half of the inning, making it 12-8. But was Chiben going to take that? No way!

Of course, the actual way Chiben won the game was a little embarrassing. The first two Chiben guys walked, and then the catcher, Hashimoto, hit a 3-run homer, bringing the score to 12-11. After the pitcher walked another guy, Teikyo switched pitchers to Okano. Okano hit the next batter with a pitch, and then the next guy singled into center, making it 12-12. The next batter walked, loading the bases. After a foul and a bunch of bad pitches, suddenly the count's at 1-3, where one more ball will end the game immediately. Next pitch is fouled off, and the next one pretty much comes inside right under the batter's elbows, walking in a run and winning the game for Chiben.

So they won on walks. Insane.

The foul territory at Koshien is almost as big as the foul territory at McAfee Coliseum, come to think of it. A lot of those kids really lucked out on not having their foul popups caught.

Anyway, the Mariners have now lost 15 straight games to Oakland, which is just getting kind of nuts. Now they head off to Anaheim, but without Jeremy Reed, which means they won't have any offense. On the other hand, new callup Eric O'Flaherty's kind of cute. And amusingly enough, one of the runs in the game came in on a Meche balk -- a genuine Major League Balk! If you order a balk now, we'll include an Edgar Martinez statue!

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

We Come In Peace, Shoot To Kill

First, so yeah, I'm going to be pinch-blogging for Jeff Sullivan over at Lookout Landing for a few days around the weekend while he's on a roadtrip to watch the Mariners lose in person. I don't expect things to be any different around here (and I don't expect to end up gushing about Koshien over there).

Second, Monday was Mark "The Bird" Fidrych's birthday, and I was glad to see Mark Lowe come out and kick ass in the game. He's really amazing. I dunno, maybe my initial reaction of there being a resemblance between the two is off. It was things like this pair: Lowe / Fidrych

Fidrych is one of my all-time "damn, I wish I could have seen him play" players. Lowe, well, he just keeps coming out and giving teams the bird.

Third, two more notes on Monday's game, from this article:

1) Kiko Calero apparently was also aware that yesterday's game was a rerun: "Kiko said to me in the sixth inning, 'Soriano's gonna come in and give it up,' Duchscherer said. I said, 'How do you know?' He said, 'I've watched this game a time or two.' And when it happened, he tapped my arm and said, 'I told you.'"

2) It was the one-year anniversary of Swisher's grandmother's death. Betty Lorraine Swisher was almost like a second mother to him, and he used to call her every day before games to calm himself down. He has "BLS" tattooed right over his heart (unfortunately, I can't remember any other clear pictures of it besides the infamous plug one), and yesterday, he even wrote "BLS" on his wristbands in her memory. So when he hit that home run, you could see him cross his heart and point to heaven before jubilantly high-fiving everyone in the dugout, and in that article he even says that "Milton and I were talking, wondering if my grandma and his grandpa were up there doing the home run dance."

(I know you're all probably sick of hearing about Swisher's grandmother, but it's really tough being so far from your family in those circumstances. My grandmother died on August 13th 2002, two weeks after I moved to the west coast. The only piece of jewelry I wear is a chain necklace that belonged to my grandmother, which I never take off, and it reminds me of her every day. It's dumb, but we're human. We do stuff like this.)

Fourth, I didn't even WATCH most of tonight's game, instead choosing to go to dinner with some college friends who are in town for a conference. I did catch the first two innings, so it was 3-0 when I left the house, and I checked the score on my cellphone during dinner, much to my friends' bemusement. "Did they lose yet?" "No, but it's 10-2..." "Great, so we can get dessert, right?"

If you're wondering, the squid sushi at Ototo is amazing, but the Strawberry Taiyaki dessert is really not worth it, even if your team is down by 8 runs in the 7th inning.

Fifth, it's been really awesome following Koshien. The other day I posted right before the Komadai-Aomori game started, and in the 3rd inning the Komadai pitcher Kikuchi got pulled with the team behind 7-1, and put in Masahiro Tanaka, the ace pitcher. The team rallied around him and managed to stage one of the most amazing comebacks ever to win 10-9. I had the game on in the background with no sound at work, and would occasionally look over as the Komadai team kept scoring runs. They tied it up at 8-8 in the 8th inning, and I left work to catch my bus in the 9th inning with guys on first and third for Aomori. I figured I'd get home to see it at 9-8 or 9-9 in extra innings, but this team seems to just be challenging destiny.

Nichidai Yamagata and Imabari Nishi had a crazy 13-inning see-saw game, with Takuya Abe going all 13 innings for the win for Nichidai, throwing 200 pitches, walking four and striking out ten, as Yamagata eventually won 11-10. Yow.

Chiben Wakayama beat Yaeyama Shoko 8-3, which I'm sure makes IceX pretty happy, and Waseda beat Fukui 7-1, which I'm sure makes Sadaharu Oh pretty happy. Toyodai Himeji beat Kiryu Ichi, which I'm sure makes Shigetoshi Hasegawa happy.

We're getting into the quarter-finals tomorrow, with Komadai playing Himeji and Chiben playing Teikyo; after that Waseda faces Yamagata and Kagoshima faces whoever wins the Kumamoto-Fukuchiyama match currently going on. (morning edit: Fukuchiyama won 6-3.)

Monday, August 14, 2006

Bench Potatoes

Rene Rivera, Mike Morse, Greg Dobbs, and Adam Jones were all sitting on the couch in the clubhouse.

"Goddamn, TV is boring these days," said Jones.

"Seriously," said Morse. "Everything's a freaking rerun."

Dobbs grabbed the remote control and turned on the TV. "Yeah," he said, "This is ALL a bunch of reruns. I don't even know what's good on TV anymore."

Rene Rivera piped up. "I hear 'Friends' is good!"

Dobbs snorted. "Rerun. Any other ideas?"

Morse thought. "Bloomquist likes Grey's Anatomy, so let's not watch that."

Adam Jones flipped through the channels. "Hey," he said, "It's an episode of Happy A's."

Dobbs blinked. "I've seen this one before too, dude. Washburn vs. Zito? That's TOTALLY a rerun. It was on, like, last weekend."

Rene Rivera tilted his head to the side. "Is this the show with Fonzie?"

"No, but it's got Kielty and Bradley and Swishie and Chavvy, does that count?"

Morse gaped as Ben Broussard hit a home run, giving the Mariners a 2-0 lead. "Wait a minute," he said, "That didn't happen last time. Are you SURE this is a rerun?"

Dobbs nodded. "I think so... I swear, I've been watching this show all season. It's true the plots start looking alike after a while, and there's only so many ways you can find for the Mariners to lose to the A's, right?"

"Yeah, they seriously need new writers," Jones agreed. "Maybe today something idiotic can happen like Bloomtard getting a home run, I bet that'd raise the ratings in Bremerton..."

The four sat there on the bench, watching the plot unfold. The A's scored a run in their half of the inning, and then Mark Ellis hit a home run in the bottom of the 4th.

"Oh my god, this is totally not a rerun," said Morse. "I've never seen Mark Ellis hit a home run before. Or anyone from South Dakota, for that matter."

Dobbs raised his eyebrows. "I don't know. I mean, it still feels really familiar, doesn't it? False hope, and then a bunch of guys getting cut down by Zito curveballs, right?"

The next inning started and Willie Bloomquist hit a home run.

Everyone looked at Adam Jones.

"What?" he asked.

"I thought you said you hadn't seen this one before?" blinked Rivera.

"I haven't! Have ANY of us been following this show long enough to have seen Willie Bloomquist hit a home run? I know it hasn't happened since I've been watching."

Dobbs got quiet for a second. "Actually," he said, "This is proof that it IS a rerun. Because, like, Willie's LAST home run was ALSO off Barry Zito in Oakland. I remember that episode. I was TOTALLY there. I even pinch-hit for him after that."

Jones tilted his head. "Oh yeah? What did you do?"

Dobbs blushed. "I struck out."

Morse shrugged as the score went to 4-2, but then Frank Thomas hit a home run and it went to 4-3. Zito and Washburn both came out of the game, with Washburn holding the win, and it seemed impossible: Seattle vs. Oakland in a battle of the bullpens? This couldn't possibly be a rerun. The bullpens hadn't had a lead to protect yet this season.

The game went on, and the Mariners' lead held. Mark Lowe pitched a beautiful sixth and seventh innings, as did Chad Gaudin.

Morse said to Dobbs, "If this is a rerun, what's going to happen next?"

Dobbs gulped. "Grover's going to mismanage the bullpen. Just wait."

Sure enough, lefty George Sherrill pitched to lefty Eric Chavez, who singled. Then righty Rafael Soriano came in to pitch to Jay Payton, who was obviously a huge power threat. Nick Swisher came up to bat, from his favored left side of the plate.

BOOM! Soriano got a 3-1 count on Swisher, and then he swung away, belting a shot just over the wall in right-center.

All four guys on the couch were silent as Swisher ran back into the dugout and did a series of high-fives and crazy frat handshakes with every person in sight.

Dobbs said, "I'm not going to say I told you so, but I told you so."

Rivera looked confused. "Then didn't you just say you told us so?"

Dobbs shook his head with an exasperated motion. "Great, I've got to go bat against the only guy in the league whose name I can't spell. See you all later." He walked out.

"Well, then," Jones said. "Let's all make bets on how we think the game will end? I'm going with Bloomquist caught stealing."

Morse grimaced. "Dobbs tagged out at home for the third out."

Rivera almost laughed. "I say Jose Lopez pops out to Kotsay at the wall."

They watched as Dobbs grounded out, and Bloomquist flew out into a beautiful diving catch by Mark Kotsay. Then Ichiro came up to bat and did his thing, fouling off a bunch of pitches until he got one he liked and could bloop into shallow left for a single.

Rivera said, "See? You see? I win! I bet Lopez will--"

Ichiro took a step towards second, Duchscherer fired the ball to first, and Swisher got the pickoff tag. Game over. The three just stared at the TV screen with their mouths open in shock.

Dobbs came back into the clubhouse. "God, that sucked. Since when does Ichiro get picked off bases? Freaking hell."

Morse glared at him. "See? I TOLD you it wasn't a goddamn rerun, dumbass."

NPB Roundup: Koshien and other fun

Koshien Round 3 starts today. Hokkaido's Komadai Tomakomai, the school I'm cheering for, is starting a match against Aomori Yamada in a little while. In Aomori's first game in the tournament, they won 7-0 as pitcher Yudai Noda threw a complete game shutout, striking out seven, AND slugged a home run as well. On the other hand, Komadai's star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka won their first game 5-3, pitching a complete game, striking out *14* (and walking 6).

(update: for whatever reason, Komadai started Kikuchi instead. Tanaka came in halfway through the third inning to deal with a 5-1 deficit. Ugh. Aomori's uniforms have an A on them that reminds me of Oakland's. Oh, now it's 7-1. Bleh.)

I guess in other matches of note, the second game today features Shigetoshi Hasegawa's high school, Toyodai Himeji, going up against Kiryu Ichi (attended by the hapless Rakuten's young hapless hotshot Yasuhiro Ichiba)

Sadaharu Oh's high school, Waseda Jitsugyo, plays Fukui tomorrow, having beaten out powerhouse Osaka Toin yesterday. Osaka Toin defeated Yokohama (Matsuzaka's high school) in the first round; it's odd having so many big-name schools face each other so early.

(Ichiro's high school, Aikodai Meiken, was knocked out 6-4 in the first round by Fukuchiyama.)

Those who watched the Kokoyakyu documentary will be delighted to know that Chiben Wakayama won their first game and their second, and get to face Okinawa's Yaeyama Shoko tomorrow.

Anyway, in other fun Japanese baseball news, Michihiro Ogasawara apparently wrote an autobiography! Neat! It's called "Guts no Full Swing", using the kanji 魂 for the word "guts". (Katamari players will also recognize that as the kanji pronounced "tamashii", usually meaning "soul". Ogasawara fans will recognize "Guts" as his nickname.) Anyway, he supposedly talks about the WBC and his family and other aspects of his private life, which is cool. Since he's generally been a fairly private guy who doesn't bathe in the media show and prefers to be humble to a fault -- almost superstitiously -- this should be a pretty interesting book. Hopefully I'll get a good chance to curl up with it and my Wordtank sometime in the offseason, assuming I'm able to find a copy.

As usual, the latest saga of the Hiroshima Carp's antics to support their manager via cool t-shirts is covered on Japan Baseball Daily. I can't tell exactly what the shirts say (pictures here and here) but it's definitely a "WANTED: DEAD OR ALIVE" poster parody with some words about "arguing and cleaning bases: $2,000". I hope they make some of these available to fans. I totally want one of these and/or the "DANGER: My Manager Throws Bases" shirts. You've got to love the Hiroshima Carp for at least being *interesting* while they suck.

As for being interesting and sucking, there was an incident in a Hanshin-Yokohama game the other day. There's a bit of footage of it on the 8/10 NPB summary on YouTube, but it's still hard to tell exactly what happened. It seems that there were two batters on base when Takuro Ishii was up, and it got to full count. Andoh threw a breaking ball which bounced in the dirt, Ishii checked his swing, and the ball went bouncing past catcher Akihiro Yano, who thought there was a foul tip and thus didn't go after it. Various reports say that neither Yano nor Ishii moved; some say that Ishii waved the runners to advance on the passed ball; some say it looked like a foul tip and some say it just looked like a bad bounce. Either way, while Yano wasn't recovering the ball, two runs scored, and eventually he got so annoyed he started shoving the umpire around (as did several other coaches). Ishii, who walked, ended up on second before Yano was ejected and the ball called dead. This is just really messed up -- both the play itself, reminiscent of the AJ Pierzynski thing in the ALCS -- and that Yano's only getting like, a one-day suspension for attacking an umpire. Sheesh.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Weekend mini-wrap, and thoughts on pinch-hitting

So I'm driving to dinner on Friday night, and I turn the radio on to hear "And Jake Woods is now coming in to take over for Gil Meche," and I look at the time, and the game's only been going for like maybe an hour. Then, they go on to explain that Meche caught a case of Steve Blass disease and walked half of the state of Texas in the first inning, which is impressive, given that it was 105 degrees out and most Texans don't really go for walks under those conditions. Despite my incessant claims that Kip Wells sucks -- and he backed up my claim by giving up 6 runs in the 4th inning -- even the worst scrub can do a decent job when they're handed a 10-0 lead after two innings, usually. So the Mariners easily won that sucking contest as the Rangers beat them 14-7.

Today, at least, the Mariners only had to overcome a 5-0 deficit, and almost did, but still lost the game 5-4. I wish they wouldn't do things like pinch-hit for Adam Jones, but hindsight is always 20-20, I suppose. I didn't see today's game at all, I just followed the score from time to time. Mark Lowe seems to be okay, which is good; I was a little worried after the articles about his elbow being sore.

Anyway, the pinch-hitting for Adam Jones got me thinking about some things, and I'm not really sure how they fit together. Bear with me a second:

1) Starters are supposed to be higher quality pitchers than relievers, and in theory, a reliever who becomes a starter is expected to post an ERA one run higher than they did as a reliever, and vice versa. (Maybe not quite true, and recently examined on Hardball Times, but let's go with it for now.)

2) Pitchers in the National League post an ERA one run lower than pitchers in the American League, due to the fact that the National League sucks and that most (but not all) pitchers hit worse than most (but not all -- hi, Carl Everett!) designated hitters. This is also not exactly true, of course, but the transition between leagues definitely seems to favor pitchers in the National League.

2a) Someone like Ryan Franklin, therefore, who go from being a starter in the AL to a relief pitcher in the NL, should have seen his ERA drop by two runs -- one from the league switch, and one from the shift to the bullpen. Right? Well, not so fast...

3) Relievers in the NL supposedly don't quite reap the same benefit of starting in the NL -- even Wikipedia points this out -- because late-inning NL pitchers tend to be pitching to pinch-hitters rather than to pitchers, unless the opposing starting pitcher is doing well enough to stay in the game, in which case the reliever's team is probably sucking it up and this reliever isn't their best guy anyway.

4) In a Baseball Prospectus article, it was discussed that Pinch-hitters may actually suck WORSE than the guys they're pinch-hitting for. This doesn't apply to pitchers, but still. If pinch-hitters really did hit .228/.306/.336 as a whole in 2005, that's about the same as Carl Everett's .227/.297/.360 in 2006. Would you really feel heartened seeing your manager bring in Carl Everett as a pinch-hitter on a regular basis? Didn't think so.

4a) The conclusion, therefore, should be that NL relievers are still getting an easier ride than AL relievers, despite pinch-hitters, shouldn't it?

So what am I getting at? I'm not really sure -- there's a lot of holes in everything I'm thinking about here, and I know it. I should try to hunt down data on how often relief pitchers face pitchers and how often they face pinch-hitters. But anyway, Ryan Franklin's ERA rose when moving from the AL to the NL and the rotation to the pen. On the other hand, he also moved from a pitcher-friendly home park to two hitter-friendly parks. His peripherals continue to suck, of course.

But it's not just about Ryan Franklin. I'm just not sure what it's about. More on this as I get more coherent about where I'm going with it.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Song Parody: The Guy With The Slider

I could talk about tonight's Mariners game, but dude, that was just ugly. So instead, I've written that song about Mark Lowe that I promised. Technically, it was supposed to be a song about Mark Lowe's slider, but, well, inspiration hit me like a Padilla fastball, and I couldn't quite duck it.

The Guy With The Slider
(to the tune of "Eye Of The Tiger" by Survivor)
(new lyrics by Deanna "Marinerd" Rubin)

Comin' out, back on the mound
Got the sign, threw his pitches
Went the inning, now he sat them all down
Just a man and an armful of heat

So many times, they're taking the bait
He makes the batters look silly
He gets his grip and it's hurled to the plate
As they fight just to stay on their feet

It's the guy with the slider
It's the arc of the flight
Darting down as the batter is retired
And the last of the lineup
Tries to hit him tonight
But they're striking out facing the guy
With the slider

Face to face, out on the field
Brush 'em back, actin' angry
They'll track his arm, still he keeps it concealed
'til they've swung, having misjudged the speed

(Repeat chorus)

Comin' out, finished the game
Got the save, got the glory
Several years from now they'll mention his name
As a man in the pitching elite

(Repeat chorus)

It's the guy with the slider,
The guy with the slider...

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

PSA: Koshien Tournament

I don't know if there are links about this anywhere in English (aside from the thread on, but the Summer Koshien tournament is going on right now, and even better -- they're streaming it live over the net! It's so cool! Especially right after "Japan Night"!

Koshien's this huge national high school baseball tournament (covered in the "Kokoyakyu" documentary). It's one of the biggest baseball events in Japan, period -- it gets as much press coverage as pro baseball does, and is played in the Hanshin Tigers' stadium (they go on a horrendous road trip for three weeks).

Here's the schedule of all matches. Japan is 16 hours ahead of us, so the games run roughly from 4:30pm until 2am Seattle time (8:30am to 6pm Japan time).

Here's the page with the live streaming link. Just click on the big blue box that says "LIVE!" in it.

Game Report: Mariners vs. Devil Rays - Japan Night, or An Evening At Camp McClung

I was supposed to go to tonight's game as part of Japan Night; Kiyoshi from had ordered a ticket for me. Unfortunately, he called at like 5pm saying that he was going to be stuck at work until at least 7:30pm-8, and the tickets were in his name at Will Call. That was a shame -- I was really looking forward to having someone to geek out with about Japanese baseball in person, but alas. Since I was already prepared with my camera and my scorecard book and my Nippon Ham Fighters jersey, I headed down to the stadium and bought a bleacher seat for the game, which I actually did sit in this time.

I missed most of BP, but Tim Corcoran was still signing stuff when I got there, so I ran down there and got him to sign my ticket. Rather than doing the typical scrawling that most players do, Corcoran was actually writing rather nicely on stuff. I got him to sign my ticket, and when he handed it back to me, I said, "You have the nicest handwriting of any baseball player I've ever seen, Mr. Corcoran!" He absolutely beamed at me and said "Thanks!" I guess I got double points for 1) complimenting his writing and 2) actually knowing who the hell he was. A lot of the other people were getting him to sign stuff and then asking other people "Hey, do you know who that is, anyway?"

I watched Jae Seo and King Felix warming up in the field. That was a lot of fun. In the meantime, they started the Japan Night festivities, with a taiko band playing drums in the outfield. I headed down to the bullpen around then, though, so I didn't catch most of the performance.

They're goin' DOWN!
Felix says, "The Devil Rays are goin' DOWN, yo!"

"Short Bus" Version: This game was extremely frustrating for people like me who have Felix Hernandez on their fantasy team, because he was owning -- he really was -- but the Mariners weren't scoring any runs for him, and so he did post a great WHIP/ERA for the game, and tons of K's, but no win. So between Felix kicking butt and Jae Seo acting like a Korean Rodrigo Lopez, there's not much to mention about the first several innings, and the game actually moved incredibly fast, and I barely have any game notes until the 7th inning.

In the 3rd, the Devil Rays managed to score a run. Russ Branyan singled to the ball girl in right field, pretty much, and then Ben Zobrist walked (right after the kid behind me was like, "How does he have a .200 average and only a .192 OBP?"). They pulled off a double steal during Rocco Baldelli's at-bat, and Branyan scored when Baldelli grounded out. Crawford flew out foul to "shortstop", by which I mean, "about two feet short of landing in section 141", and then Cantu grounded back to Felix.

Then there was a lot of people striking out or grounding out for a while, and an occasional ball to the outfield. Honestly, Seo and Felix have almost the same exact line, save Seo's 7 IP to Felix's 8 - 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K. In the 7th, Ben Broussard struck out, except the ball bounced into Dioner Navarro's chest and rolled towards third. So Broussard took off for first, and Navarro threw the ball after him, only it missed Travis Lee and went towards the stands, so Broussard ended up on second. Johjima singled to left, and Broussard managed to score on it. To try to push ahead another run for Felix, they sac bunted Johjima to second and then put Adam Jones in to run for him, but alas, Willie popped the ball straight up for an easy out, and then Ichiro hit a low liner to short for which Ben Zobrist happened to make a beautiful diving catch.

Felix managed to finish the 8th inning, but the same couldn't be said for Seo. Jose Lopez got on base via a throwing error, and then Seo seemed to be having trouble pitching to Beltre; a whole bunch of people came out to the mound to talk to him, and he shook them off, but after walking Beltre they pulled him and put in Jon Switzer. Switzer struck out Ibanez on three straight pitches, and his reward was getting pulled so Shawn Camp could pitch to Richie Sexson, who popped out, and then Broussard grounded out.

George Sherrill (!!) came out to pitch the 9th, and threw 8 straight strikes to strike out both Travis Lee and Greg Norton. Then he walked Dioner Navarro on four straight pitches, so Julio Mateo came out to replace him, and fortunately, he got B.J. Upton to ground out. Sadly, though, the Mariners couldn't put a dent in Shawn Camp in their half of the 9th, and at 9:32pm the game went into extra innings. Damon Hollins struck out, and then Ben ".192 OBP" singled... and was caught stealing. Rocco Baldelli struck out too.

Ichiro hit a ground ball along the line to left field to start off the bottom of the tenth inning, and just ran and ran. Crawford fielded it pretty well and threw to second, and it got there around the same time Ichiro did, but either Cantu was off the bag or Ichiro beat him there, so he was safe with a double. At this point, the Rays brought out their SECRET WEAPON -- Seth McClung. Hmm. Lopez sac bunted Ichiro to third, and then McClung intentionally walked Beltre and Ibanez to get to Richie Sexson with the bases loaded. You'd think people would have learned their lesson about doing that by now, and Sexson, in his "Big Richie Big Swingie" style, took the second pitch he saw and cranked it 423 feet into the people drinking beer behind the centerfield wall, and thus the Mariners won the game 5-1. I guess that's definitely more exciting than something like walking in the winning run, that's for sure.

I love my new camera. I really, really do.

Speaking of the camera, I got mixed results trying to shoot stuff with the zoom in the lower light conditions. Since I'd managed to snag a row 1 seat in the LF Bleachers, I tried using the wall and metal rope in front of me to stabilize the camera at times. One part that was fun was leaning over the wall to take pictures of the bullpen, and I have several interesting shots from that, which I'll hopefully put up at some point soon if I have time.

Gil Meche was warming up in the bullpen in the 10th inning. I'm not sure why. I saw him walking out to the dugout before the 6th inning and wasn't really sure what was up with that, since he just started on Sunday. Weird.

There were these teenage guys sitting down the row from me, and once it came out that I have way too much baseball in my brain, they started asking me random questions about players and whatnot (and also things like "Where the heck is Nagasaki?"). In the tenth inning, when we saw Seth McClung warming up, they were like, "Is this guy any good?" and I told them the entire saga of Seth McClung, and how he sucked, and sucked some more, and was sent down to AAA to stop sucking, and apparently stopped sucking enough to come back up, but I wasn't going to believe it until I saw it. We couldn't see the scoreboard, but I mentioned his 7-ish ERA and his 2-10 record (okay, actually 3-11) and all. Well, after he had the bases loaded, I said, "Get your glove out, 'cause Richie's going to hit one right to us." I was half right, I suppose.

Japan Night, for those of us not in the special sections, was pretty lame. There was no general giveaway this time, though I hear people in the Japan Night sections got special hats. They had these little "Japan Night Language Lessons" up on the board from time to time, with things like "Kenji wa tsuyoi - Kenji is Strong", except, well, you wouldn't really actually refer to him as Kenji if you were speaking Japanese. Then, for "Fact or Fiction?" they said, "We're going to list some team names, and you try to guess if they are actual team names in the Japanese Pacific League". Well, uhh. Yes, team names like the "Hamamatsu Stinging Jellyfish" or whatever aren't real names to begin with -- but when they put up stuff like "Yakult Swallows", I was like "That's a real team, but it's NOT IN THE PACIFIC LEAGUE GODDAMNIT," and they said "fact" anyway. Of course, they put up "Nippon Ham Fighters", and I stood up, wearing my Fighters jersey, and turned around like "THAT BETTER BE A FACT!", and a bunch of people laughed.

Still, it's just one of my pet peeves, and I'm surprised that on freaking Japan Night they couldn't be bothered to get the terminology right. (For the record, there are two six-team leagues in the NPB, the Pacific League and the Central League. They have different rulesets, similar to the AL/NL differences with the DH and lack thereof, though in Japan it also extends to scheduling and playoffs and other things. At any rate, if someone says "the Japanese League", they probably have no clue what they're talking about.)

Anyway, whatever. I'm currently watching two of my favorite young lefty pitchers in the world face each other as the Fighters' Tomoya Yagi is pitching against the Hawks' Tsuyoshi Wada. It's a Hawks home game, so it's being broadcast on Yahoo, which is great, except it also means I'm up way too freaking late yet again. Ex-Mariner and current Hawk Jolbert Cabrera hit a home run a bit ago to tie the game at 1-1, but now my favorite Fighter Michihiro Ogasawara just hit another home run to put the Fighters ahead 3-1. Woo! I should sleep.