Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Vote for Felix!

So, there were two things I mentioned a few days ago, but didn't really elaborate on. One was that I watched Napoleon Dynamite. The other was that I was working on a creative project.

Well, the creative project arrived in the mail today from Cafepress.

A picture of some blog chick modelling an awesome t-shirt!

(I got too freaked out reloading my blog page and seeing my face there, so I linked instead of img'ing)

So, yeah. I'll be wearing that at the game tomorrow. Come say hi if you see me!

Since I'll probably never run into another blog person again, the back of the shirt reads as follows:

Top Ten Signs You're Part of the Mariners Blogosphere:

10. Your daily baseball reading list is: Mariners blogs. If there's something important elsewhere, somebody will link it.
9. When Beltre was signed, your first thought was "What'll happen to 'Leone For Third'?"
8. You know who Doyle, The Ignitor, Ramontiago, Ronnie The Bear, Spiroid, Player A, JoeJessica, and The Laziest Man In Baseball are.
7. You schlepped down to Tacoma to see King Felix pitch.
7a. You schlepped up to Everett to see "the other" Clement catch.
6. You don't bother going to Safeco for games anymore, because it's more entertaining to stay at home, drink better beer, and commiserate in various blogs' game threads.
5. Your opinion of other teams is based on the quality of their bloggers.
5a. For some inexplicable reason, you feel drawn to the Twins.
4. You know how to calculate a Win Probability graph.
3. You read the Grand Salami more often than Mariners Magazine, and not just because Jon gives you free copies at blog meetups.
2. You've booed Willie Baseball at Safeco in front of the Kitsap Kounty Klan, and have the scars to prove it.
1. You were seriously considering getting a Mariners jersey with the name "Doyle" on it to wear to future USSM pizza feeds.

I didn't go to tonight's game, and I only was able to catch the first inning on TV, so all I can say is: it was odd to see Bellhorn listed as the Yankees' third baseman and Morse listed as the Mariners' left fielder (even though I know he's been working on it). I'm glad the Mariners won! I'm glad Harris got the win! I wish they'd consider putting Morse in the 2-spot if he's going to be in the lineup. I feel bad for Willie Bloomquist, but happy for Jose Lopez.

Tomorrow is going to be awesome. I'm just looking forward to being at a game with a sellout crowd and a ton of energy.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Yankees - I am Jason Giambi's Lucky Star

Dude. They put up ALL the Mariners Commercials dating back to 1994. I've been watching them for the last hour instead of writing about tonight's game. Duuuude. I love "Thinking" the best; the one with Jamie's change-up and Sasaki learning Niehaus-English are close runners up. These commercials seriously make the 2005 commercials pale in comparison.

Anyway, tonight I went to the Mariners game, because it was on my season ticket plan, and thanks to Matt Thornton and Jason Giambi, my plan is now 7-for-13.

Speaking of Giambi, I realized something disturbing tonight. I've been to 5 Yankees games this year. In those games, Jason Giambi made 21 plate appearances, struck out 5 times, walked twice, got hit by a pitch once, hit 4 singles, and 5 home runs, and got 11 RBI's.

He's hit 25 home runs ALL YEAR which is a rate of a home run approximately once every 5.2 games, but he's hit a home run at the rate of 1 per game for games I've attended.

Jason Giambi is hitting .500/.571/1.333 at games I attend. He's hitting .277/.443/.545 for the season. I'm afraid to go back to Safeco this week.

I got to the game around 6pm to try to take pictures of batting practice, but didn't get very many. There are way too many Yankees fans, of course. I did go to watch Mike Mussina warm up. I stood next to a guy who was wearing a Mussina shirt, and we chatted for a while; he said he used to be a minor league pitcher and modeled his mechanics after Mussina. I thought that was pretty cool. We talked about different stadiums and bullpens and whatnot. It wasn't hard for me to make idle chatter pretending to be a Mussina fan, since I actually genuinely like him, and even yelled "GO GET EM, MOOSE!" with the other Yankees fans behind the bullpen.

I mean, cmon, what was I going to do, go cheer for Ryan Franklin? Plus, Mussina is like ninety times cuter than him.

Anyway, game notes:

  • I'm not bothering with it in chronological order. Not worth it. To sum up, Mussina really was NOT himself today (3 IP, 4 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, walking in a run), and Franklin actually had the game at 4-2 into the 6th, when he walked two guys and Matt Thornton let up a 3-run homer to Jason Giambi; the Mariners never really threatened to score again after the early bursts, so with a few extra homers on the cake, the Yankees won, 7-4.

  • Richie Sexson seems to have dyed his hair bright blonde. It looks so bizarre I can't even begin to describe it, sort of like there's a guy with a gigantic fuzzy mango on his head playing first base. (Edit: found a picture on the PI page.)

  • There were these annoying kids sitting behind me for the whole game. Sometimes they were funny (like when they were making fun of Mussina's pitching, saying "That guy throws butterballs. Butterballs!") but most of the time they were just plain annoying ("I hear that guy is from Cuba, I bet he can't speak English, no wonder he keeps going for the ball when someone else has it.")

  • There were also many Yankees fans in the section. Most just cheered when the Yankees did stuff, but of course we had the Token Loud Yankees Fan who kept getting up and yelling stuff like "THAT'S DEREK JETER, ALL-STAR SHORTSTOP" or whatnot. Anyway, there was only one really hilarious moment -- when Giambi hit that first monster 432-foot home run off of Franklin -- and Token Loud Dude gets up and yells "YOU SEE, SEATTLE? THAT ONE WAS SERVED WITHOUT STEROIDS."

  • I started mooing instead of booing for A-Rod. Heh heh. I have to admit, I wasn't here in 2000, so I don't care the way so many other fans do, but it's just sort of fun to boo him anyway. It's just like being back at home in Philly!

  • Earth to Yankees: Bernie Williams is SLOW. SLOOOOOOOOW. Incase you don't know already, that means several things. Like, he probably shouldn't be playing center field any more. Or trying to steal bases.

  • Would you believe that we got TWO double plays off strikeouts today? Yeesh! First time was in the 2nd inning, with A-Rod on second and Giambi on first. Williams struck out, the guys attempted a double steal, and Ojeda threw out A-Rod at third. Second time was in the 5th inning, with Williams on first; Matt Lawton struck out and Williams got thrown out trying to steal second. See my prior point.

  • Man, Matt Lawton's been all over the damn place. I saw him playing in Pittsburgh when I was there in April, after all, and he got trad

  • Willie Bloomquist got hurt, which actually is kinda bad, because it probably means more Morse at SS and Betancourt at 2B. On the other hand, Willie made a pretty nice Boone-type stop play, before getting hurt the next inning running out a fielder's choice, which may have actually been a double play, but ah well.

  • ♥♥ Yuniesky Betancourt ♥♥. Need I say more? He's so graceful making plays no matter where they are, and he's always so eager to go for the ball. If Wiki is the Laziest Man in Baseball, then Yunie is the Craziest Man in Baseball. It was hilarious when there was a pop-up, between first base and the mound, and Richie Sexson actually had to wave off Yunie, since he was there already. Betancourt also stole a catch from Ichiro in right field, heh.

    (Whee, I'm a girl, I get to do things like put hearts around people's names and judge pitchers by how cute they are.)

  • I think Dave Hansen was out there with a catcher's mask on, warming up the pitchers between innings? Unless we've acquired someone new to wear #10 in the last day or two...

  • When Franklin walked Sheffield and A-Rod and then Matt Thornton came in, I knew right then that Giambi was going to hit another home run. I don't know how I knew, but I just knew it. And I was imagining Franklin down in the dugout:

    Franklin: "Giddamnit! Sumbitch done given up my win!"
    Hargrove: "Oh, shut the fuck up, Franklin, you suck as much as he does."
    Price: "Yeah, who are you kidding, you'd have given up a second home run to Giambi too."
    Franklin: "Ain't nohow, I was gunna gettim double-playin' grounder."
    Reed: "Ha, you're a groundball pitcher like I'm Mark Kotsay."
    Franklin: "What?"
    Reed: "Uh, you pitched great tonight Ryan, did I not say?"
    Franklin: "An'way, y'all gitten on my case fer bad pitchin' butcha never say nothin' to those other guys."
    Hargrove: "Wanna bet?" *heads out towards mound to bitch out Matt Thornton*

  • We got to see Miguel Ojeda's first hit as a Mariner when he singled to lead off the third. He was 1-2 for the evening with two walks and a run scored. For the record, this brings his line as a Mariner to .143/.455/.143. Hmm.

  • Get this -- it's been a while since we've seen Mark Bellhorn at Safeco, but he very well might show up tomorrow, as a Yankee. How bizarre.

Tomorrow, we see Shawn Chacon, finally freed of the terror of Coors Field, going up against 31-year-old rookie Jeff Harris, who hopes to duplicate the quality he showed in his last start in Texas. Should be an interesting game, but everyone's really waiting for Wednesday's matchup, I'm sure.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Crazy Splits

Which pitcher would you rather have as a starter on your team?

Pitcher A: W-L 8-0, 2.73 ERA, BB 19, K 56, IP 95.2, WHIP 1.16, HR 6, OB .247/.285/.363.
Pitcher B: W-L 3-5, 6.44 ERA, BB 27, K 33, IP 64.1, WHIP 1.77, HR 10, OB .325/.391/.519.

The good news is: We have pitcher A on the Mariners' staff currently.
The bad news is: We have pitcher B on the Mariners' staff currently.
The weird news is: Pitcher A and B are the same guy.

Pitcher A is Jamie Moyer at home. Pitcher B is Jamie Moyer on the road. That's a pretty crazy split. Though, I think the most telling stat about how Jamie Moyer's improved since last year is his home runs allowed -- last season he allowed 44 in 202 innings pitched, or an average of 1.96 home runs per 9 innings. (Split: 1.72 home, 2.22 away). This year he's allowed a total of 6 home runs at the Safe, which is awesome. His overall is 16 HR in 160 innings, for .9 per 9 (Split: 0.56 home, 1.40 away).

Jamie Moyer is an enigma in many ways, but there's one thing you can't deny: he's doing a heck of a job pitching at Safeco this year. He's a fun pitcher to watch, and a genuinely good guy, and it'd make me sad if he wasn't pitching for us again next year, despite that he'll be 43. It's just a shame that he's so unlikely to ever get a World Series ring if he stays here...

Sunday, August 28, 2005

A "Dear Jon" Letter

Dear Jon Lieber,

I'm sorry, man. It sucks when you pitch so well and end up losing.

The thing is, you're not even the only pitcher out there who only gave up two runs today and still lost the game. It was just that kind of day, you know? Like the kind when you get this really awesome large soft-serve ice cream cone, except it's really hot outside, so one minute the ice cream looks perfect, and the next, it all starts melting away. So by the time you're done eating it, half the ice cream is in your stomach, and the other half is all over your face and clothes. And then later on in the day, someone comes up to you and says, "Dude, that ice cream is like, melted all over your shirt. Why don't you give me the cone and go back to the dugout?" And you know it was a good ice cream cone, but you know it would have been so much better if, like, you hadn't worn that white shirt today. Or if it wasn't so freaking hot out in Arizona. Or if the cone didn't totally collapse on you when you got to the bottom of the seventh. Or if your teammates had given you some goddamn run support.

But it's okay. You have some highly esteemed company in the land of soft-serve soup.

Kevin Millwood would like to buy you a slurpee.

Greg Maddux would like you to help him derail the D-Train.

Tom Glavine, three weeks Maddux's senior, agrees. "I totally would have gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for those kiddling Mets!"

So chin up, Jon. The Phillies are still half a game up in the Wild Card race, and you're not the only one smashing an ice cream cone against the wall screaming, "WHY, GOD? WHY?"

Love, Deanna

P.S. - But if you don't win one when I'm back east at the Phillies games next weekend, you'll be sorry. I'll get you, and your Lieberthal too!

P.P.S. - Air Jimmy shipping is really cool. I love their speedy delivery to first. They're like, totally superior to our local Air Willie franchise. Much more accurate, too.

Game Report: Mariners vs. White Sox - Dye, Jermaine, Dye

There are a lot of things I could tell you about tonight's game, but the most useful thing I could probably say is: Felix jerseys and t-shirts are available in the Mariners Team Store. I highly suggest opting for the $20 name/number t-shirt rather than the $210 name/number jersey.

(I didn't get one because I have a shirt on the way, once Cafepress gets their act together, and assuming it looks okay.)

The Mariners lost 4-3. I blame one of the friends I went to the game with -- he's been to four games with me so far and has yet to see the Mariners win. The other friend that went to the game with us was in town from Pittsburgh, and this was his first Mariners game, so I can't really blame him.

The White Sox got in some punches fairly early. Pierzynski hit a single to center that Jeremy Reed totally would have caught, and right after, Jermaine Dye hit a 402-foot home run into the bullpen. Dye would eventually be 4-for-4 for the evening, hitting two doubles, that home run, and scoring two runs as well.

There was a sad moment in the 3rd inning where Yuniesky Betancourt had an amazing play to pick up the ball and get it to second, only to have Willie Bloomquist's throw to first run wide for the double play. Doh. Betancourt also had a great play in the 5th where he caught a ball in left field... I mean, totally Ibanez territory. I wrote down "6" on my scorecard, and my friend asked, "Wasn't that way out in left field? Shouldn't it be a 7?" and I said "No, uh, the guy who caught it was the shortstop, see." Not to diss Ibanez, though -- he made a pretty sweet catch in the 6th, back on the warning track, way out of his area.

Pierzynski got a strike where he swung so hard his bat went flying into the Mariners dugout. Sadly, we couldn't see the dugout from where we were sitting, but a few seconds later, his bat got unceremoniously flung right back out at him. It looked pretty funny from our vantage point.

Man, the Mariners really looked like a bunch of wusses for a while. For the first six innings, the only time Mariners reached base was when Sexson got a single in the second inning, and Dobbs hit into a fielders' choice a batter or two later. (To be fair, it would have been a double play if Big Scary hadn't run hard into second.) That was it, until the offense exploded in the 7th. With the score 4-0 after Carl Everett hit a home run off Matt Thornton, Willie opened the bottom of the seventh with a single and Ibanez followed with another single, which Willie got to third on. Beltre was hit by a pitch a little while later -- and I mean, dead hit, right in the middle of his back as he turned away. Greg Dobbs came up with the bases loaded, and I sort of expected him to hit into a double play again, but instead, he hit a nice long single to center which scored Willie and Raul. Bonus.

In the top of the 8th, I got to write down a play I don't think I'd ever seen before - a CS 2-4-3-6-3-5. It was pretty cool. Jermaine Dye, scourge of the game, was on third after hitting a single and stealing second and third. ("STEAL HOME! [clap clap]" I cheered for a bit, heh heh.) Blum walked, so with runners on first and third, Blum tried to steal second. Except, well, he failed. Yorvie threw to Willie, who got Blum into a rundown. Willie threw to Richie and ran around to cover, Richie threw to Yunie, who narrowed the gap even more, and then threw back to Richie. By this point Jermaine Dye had taken a pretty big lead off third, and so Richie, who had decided that rundowns are retarded, fired the ball to Beltie, who tagged out Dye at third, while Blum said "See you, suckers!" and got to second. Play over, dude on second, nobody on third, two outs. Wheeee.

In the bottom of the 8th, I said, "Hey, I think Jamal Strong should get a single now."
So he did.
So I said, "I think Ichiro should hit a home run now."
So he walked.
Then I said, "Willie, if you do something cool now, I swear I will stop making fun of you for the rest of the year."
So he hit the dumbest bunt I've ever seen, popping to the catcher, not even advancing the runners. My friend said, "Does that mean you're now obligated to make fun of him for the rest of the year?"
I said, "Ibanez is going to strike out," trying for reverse psychology.
Ibanez struck out.
They changed pitchers for Richie. I said "Oh, great, now he's really going to strike out."

Fortunately, my reverse psychology worked... to an extent. Richie hit a long fly ball into the right field corner -- and my friend said, "Was that really a legal ball? Wasn't it foul?" But apparently not. Fast little Jamal Strong scored just fine on the double, but fast little Ichiro... the ball reached the plate about 2-3 seconds before Ichiro did, but it looked to me like Pierzynski dropped the ball after tagging Ichiro. It's hard to say. There was a lot of booing, but the inning appeared to be over with the score at 4-3.

Hargrove decided to pull his Human Rain Delay stunt in the top of the 9th. Nelly pitched to Brian Anderson. Sherrill pitched to Aaron Rowand. Putz pitched to Iguchi. Sure, the inning looks like a 1-2-3 inning on my scorecard, but in reality it took like 15 minutes what with all the pitching changes. GOSH.

In the bottom of the 9th, Beltre reached first on an error^H^H^H^H^H infield single, and Dobbs bunted him over. Then another Human Rain Delay moment happened. Jenks was pitching, so Hargrove decided to pinch-hit Reed for Torrealba. So Ozzie put in Marte to pitch instead. So Hargrove pinch-hit Morse for Reed. Unfortunately, Morse walked. I say unfortunately because I just sort of knew that it made it possible to hit into a double play, and sure enough, that's what happened. My anguished shout of "NOOOOO!" was actually loud enough to startle my friends. But that was the game. That's baseball. One second you have two runners on and only one out, and a second later, the game is over.

Other things about today:
If you get soft-serve ice cream from the place behind section 320, the vanilla is terrible but the chocolate is awesome.
They put up the pitching matchups for the four Yankees games. It's no wonder Wednesday's game has almost no good seats left - I'm sure everyone wants to see the Old Mariners Strikeout King against the Once And Future King.
Rice'n'Roll has taken over, like, all of the Japanese food at the stadium, and Thai Ginger took over the Intentional Wok.
Again. Felix shirts are available. I highly recommend the t-shirts, since even if he changes numbers, you'll still have a Mariners t-shirt and will only be out $20 and you'll have an obvious dated item, sort of like how I got an "Ichiro 258" shirt at his record-breaking game last year.

Friday, August 26, 2005

16-Game Plan Won-Loss records

In case you didn't know already, I have season tickets to the Mariners. I have a 16-game plan, Plan E to be exact. Three of my good friends have a different 16-game plan, Plan B, because we were dumb and didn't coordinate with each other before the season started.

Whether or not we're all retarded for having Mariners season tickets this year is beside the point. My friends have complained that the Mariners seem to have a lousy winning record for games they've attended. I said that things didn't seem so bad at games I attend, except, truth be told, I go to twice as many games as they do, so it's hard for me to remember which games I've been to as part of my season ticket plan and which ones I have just gone to randomly.

So, I wrote a Perl script to go slurp in the plan info and game stats and calculate how many wins and losses each 16-game plan has had this year, to see if the suckitude was spread out through all plans equally, or if certain ones had better or worse won-loss records. And here's the breakdown:

Plan A : Won 5 out of 13 (38.46 percent)

Plan B : Won 4 out of 12 (33.33 percent)

Plan C : Won 8 out of 12 (66.66 percent)

Plan D : Won 5 out of 12 (41.66 percent)

Plan E : Won 7 out of 12 (58.33 percent)

Plan F : Won 5 out of 12 (41.66 percent)

Plan G : Won 4 out of 12 (33.33 percent)

So there you have it! It really WASN'T our imagination -- the Mariners have had a .583 winning percentage at games on my season ticket plan, and only .333 on my friends' season ticket plan! Fascinating, isn't it?

If you want to see the full report, including which teams they played, the scores, and the winning and losing pitchers, I did output it all to a file here.

Also, in case you are wondering how it is possible that the Mariners are currently 30-32 at home, yet it would appear that they are 38-47 by my calculations -- plans F and G are special "weekday games only" plans, which have games that overlap with the other plans, so some games have been counted twice.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Japan is not an AAAA farm system for MLB

Per David J Corcoran's request, this rant is back up.

Every time I read someone speculating on us having Matsuzaka on our pitching staff next year, all I can think is: NOT HAPPENING. GET OVER IT ALREADY. I don't know why people are getting worked up over the idea, aside from the depressing pickings in the free agent pitching market this year, and that there seems to be this overwhelming vibe that Japan is some sort of AAAA farm system for MLB. (Yes, I'm being a prat. But hey, this is my blog and my rant. Get over it!) If Seibu announces his posting in the offseason, then it's worth getting worked up over. Maybe.

There are currently three ways a player in the Japanese leagues can come over to MLB, without subverting the system:

1) They play for 9 years in NPB and apply for free agency and can sign with any NPB or MLB team.

(Examples: Kazuhiro Sasaki, Hideki Matsui, Kazuo Matsui, So Taguchi, Tsuyoshi Shinjo, etc)

2) They are "posted" by the NPB team they play for.

If posted, MLB teams can bid for the exclusive right to negotiate with that NPB player. The team with the highest bid has a certain amount of time - 60 days, I think, to negotiate a contract with that player.

Note: The MLB team has to first pay the NPB team (not the player) for the negotiating rights, *then* pay the player's contract, so this is an extremely expensive route. The player has no choice about which MLB team they go to, in this case. Also, certain NPB teams (read: Yomiuri Giants) refuse to recognize the posting system at all.

(Examples: Ichiro, where the Mariners paid a staggering $13 million just to negotiate with him, or Kazuhisa Ishii, who the Dodgers paid $11 million to negotiate with. Worse example: Hideki Irabu, where the Padres won the rights to him, except he suddenly decided he only wanted to play for the Yankees, so he held out, returned to Japan, and whined until the Padres worked out a deal with the Yankees so he could play there.)

3) They are granted their unconditional release by their NPB team before they reach 9 years service time, and can sign with whoever they want.

Sure, players get released all the time, but it is extremely rare in the case of players who are actually young enough and good enough to make it in MLB, since the team gets absolutely nothing in return for the player. But it has happened.

(Examples: Tadahito Iguchi, who got the Hawks to release him so he'd have the choice of which MLB team to play for.)

Since there's so much talk about the Hawks' catcher Johjima and the Lions' pitcher Matsuzaka, let me just say:

First, Matsuzaka is a free agent after the 2007 season.

If Matsuzaka is posted -- wait, let's check that first word. If. That's a BIG "if". Would Seibu want to lose its best pitcher when they still have him under their control? Last year they won the Japan series, this year they're in the bottom half of the standings. Will they want to try to get as much money as possible out of him? Is there any reason for them to do it this year? Are they going to try to sell the team again in the offseason? Will Matsuzaka's status affect that?

If Matsuzaka is posted, there's no way the Mariners are getting him. The Yankees have had such woes with their pitching this year, and most likely would outbid everyone for him. If not, it'll still be a pretty steep posting bid, given his talent and the hype, and do the Mariners really want to spend that on a pitcher who could be the next Felix if healthy, but could also end up blowing his arm out due to overwork in Japan? My guess is he'll get posted after the 2006 season, the year before free agency, just like Ichiro was. He isn't getting released - the Lions are way too far in the red to let him go without getting something out of him.

Johjima will either stay with the Hawks or will come over here if he gets a decent enough offer. He signed a one-year contract with the Hawks instead of a three-year for that very reason. As he will be a free agent, it'll be honestly pretty interesting to see where he goes next. Will MLB teams want to offer him a lot? Will the Hawks offer him more? Will a 30-year-old Japanese slugging catcher really succeed here anyway? So many questions to answer in the offseason. But that's just it - the offseason. I swear I saw someone saying "We should acquire Johjima right now," which made me want to reach into the monitor and strangle them. Because, 1) we couldn't sign him until after the season and 2) we shouldn't sign him, given that we have a perfectly awesome catching prospect who will hopefully be up here in 2007.

Either way, Matsuzaka will not be on the 2006 Mariners, so get over it already. For our rotation issues, we should be going after Kevin Millwood in the free agent market, hoping Madritsch comes back to 100%, moving Meche to the bullpen, and seeing whether our AAA arms work out for another starter -- Jeff Harris, or Jesse Foppert, or maybe even Damian Moss. Why not go for a "Felix and the M's" rotation - Hernandez, Millwood, Moyer, Madritsch, Moss?

For trivia's sake, can you name the only two Japanese baseball teams who haven't sent any players to MLB? I'm counting the teams existing at the end of the 2004 season - I'm not counting the Golden Eagles for obvious reasons, and I'm counting Orix and Kintetsu separately. I'll give you a big hint -- they're the non-expansion teams that are in last place in their respective leagues right now. Highlight for answer: Hiroshima Carp of the Central League and Nippon Ham Fighters of the Pacific League.

This isn't a complete list, but here's some of the teams and players to come here. Central League -- Giants: H Matsui. Tigers: Yabu, Shinjo. Dragons: Otsuka (though most of his career was with Kintetsu). Bay Stars: Sasaki, Ohka. Yakult: Ishii, Takatsu. Pacific League -- Hawks: Iguchi. Orix: Hasegawa, Ichiro, Taguchi. Kintetsu: Nomo, Nakamura. Lotte: Irabu. Seibu: K Matsui.

Wow! The Mariners actually won today's game. Holy crap. Also, more amusing, Felix starts here tomorrow night against the White Sox... and El Duque. Yet another Hernandez vs. Hernandez matchup. I love it!

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Yesterday's recap: Duke sprains ankle; Astros get shut out behind Clemens again; Padilla continues to not suck; Freddy loses one-hitter

Yesterday I worked on a creative baseball-related project, but it's not quite done yet. I also had softball practice again, and it's sounding like I'll be playing second base from here on in, since I'm decent at picking up grounders, but I throw like a girl.

Anyway, the Pirates ended up winning yesterday's game in a landslide 10-0 victory over the Cardinals. Zach Duke apparently sprained his left ankle. Whew. It sounds promising, as in he might only miss a start or two, with no broken bones or anything. I hope that's the case.

I like the opening of the article Taguchi hits cleanup:

So Taguchi stands 5-foot-10. He weights 163 pounds. He has all of 13 Major League home runs on his resume. He only managed 67 homers in 4,094 at-bats in the Japanese League.

So when St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa informed his usual No. 7 hitter that he would be batting cleanup Tuesday night against the Pirates, protecting perhaps the game's greatest slugger in the lineup, one might see why Taguchi did not know whether to take his manager seriously.

Taguchi was called into cleanup due to the injuries of his other teammates, and then he got his hand hit with a pitch too. Ugh.

Anyway, I tagged a bunch of games yesterday as being interesting, and sure enough, they almost all were:

1) San Diego 2, Houston 0, Peavy vs. Clemens -- Both pitchers pitched complete games, and Clemens ran into another hard-luck loss, the eighth time this year the Astros have been shut out with Clemens on the mound. Former Pirate Brian Giles knocked in both runs for the Padres, one following former Red Sox Dave Roberts's triple and the other a solo home run. Former Mariner Miguel Olivo has been hitless the last two games but still has a solid .274/.318/.548 line for San Diego.

The odd part here is, twice in the last week or two have the Phillies been a half game behind Houston in the Wild Card, and I've said "Crap, the Phillies need to win tonight because Clemens is on the mound for Houston," and then Clemens lost and the Phillies won anyway.

2) Boston 5, Kansas City 2, as Zach Greinke falls further into Royal Ruins (that 3-15 record is looking positively Franklinesque), against David Wells, who is twice his size and almost twice his age. John Olerud is hitting .412/.444/.471 since getting off the DL a week or two ago, for a season line of .308/.345/.452. Sigh.

3) Minnesota 1, White Sox 0. Holy pitching duel, Batman. Freddy Garcia had a no-hitter for seven innings until Jacque Jones blasted a home run to lead off the eighth, so he pitched a one-hitter and lost. I actually feel pretty bad for him. Johan Santana matched Freddy all the way, only giving up three hits, two to Pablo Ozuna. The pitching box looks like something straight off a Bat-Girl t-shirt: Santana/Nathan, (W 13-6, S 32)

4) Angels 7, Orioles 6, as Washburn gets run support for once, but then K-Gregg and K-Rod attempt to lose the game for him anyway, giving up 4 runs to the Orioles in the ninth inning. But, W is for Washburn once more, however narrow it may be.

5) Phillies 10, Giants 2. Between Brett Myers's complete game on Saturday, Lieber's 7-inning torture yesterday, and Vicente Padilla coming through with another fantastic start (8.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 0 HR, 94 pitches), the bullpen may finally be recovered from last Thursday's doubleheader debacle in Washington. The Phillies bats exploded for 16 hits and 10 runs, with Ryan Howard and Pat Burrell leading the way. Howard was 4-for-5 with a double and a homer, knocking in 3 runs, and Burrell was 3-for-4 with a double, knocking in 2 runs. No Phillies batter went hitless, including Padilla himself, who was 1-for-4 with an RBI. Odd thing about this game is that the Giants only managed 3 hits off Padilla, but they were all doubles.

6) Rangers 6, Mariners 4. Bleh.

Despite winning last night, San Diego is still one game below .500 and leading the NL West. They'd be at the absolute dead bottom of the NL East.
Cleveland won their 6th straight last night and have caught the Yankees for the AL Wild Card. On an unrelated note, Indians closer Bob Wickman and Yankees closer Mariano Rivera are tied for the AL lead in saves with 33.
The Phillies are once more up a half game on Houston in the NL Wild Card. Oh, the suspense!
The Mariners are now 5 games behind Texas again. If we could win our next two against them that'd narrow that to 3, but somehow I don't see that happening.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Let's hope Duke is no Fluke

Aaaaaaaaaah, 10 minutes until Zach "6-0, 1.87" Duke takes on Jason ".958 OPS" Marquis and the Cardinals at PNC Park. I envy my friends that are there. For now, I'll be glancing at the ESPN Gamecast every few minutes while I finish up work. Aaaaaaaaah.

Lots of good games to follow today:
  • Clemens vs. Peavy in San Diego as Houston tries to hold the Wild Card
  • David "Boomer" Wells vs. Zach "Saved by the Ball" Greinke as the Royals try to actually win three in a row after breaking their 19-game losing streak
  • Freddy Garcia vs. Johan Santana as the Twins and White Sox mambo around the AL Central
  • Jarrod Washburn against Eric Dubose in Baltimore, as the Fallen Angel prays for run support*
  • Phillies vs. Giants - Help us, Obi-Vin Padilla! You're our only hope!
  • Oh yeah, and Jamie Moyer gets on the mound against Chris Young as the Mariners take on the Texas Rangers. Would it be bad for me to label this game "Old faces Young"?

* - I was remembering an article about Washburn that I read a bit ago:
He wouldn't complain about receiving the fourth-worst run support in the league, even after he was stapled with the Angels' 4-1 loss to the New York Yankees.

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

Wiser words were never spoken. Certain Mariners starters could learn from that. I'm not saying we necessarily need to sign Washburn and his beautiful blue eyes to play in Seattle next year, should he go on the market, but it wouldn't hurt.

Then again, I'm also a big fan of Kevin "Anything but rap" Millwood joining us next year as well. Of course, he and Felix would probably get into a big argument over who'd be sniping #34 away from Bryan Price. On the other hand, that could be pretty fun to watch. Hmm.

Yay! Game time! Let's go Bucs! Let's go Duke!

4:13pm - Duke so far: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 15 pitches thrown
4:32pm - Marquis so far: 1 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 0 K, 35 pitches thrown. Yuck. The first three batters got hits. 4-0 Pirates as Ty Wigginton hits a 3-run triple.
4:39pm - Duke so far: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 30 pitches thrown. This kid rules.
4:48pm - Marquis so far: 2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 46 pitches thrown. He gave up a single to Zach Duke. Oh, the implosion. Still 4-0 as Jason Bay strikes out to end the inning.

4:50pm - SALOMON TORRES REPLACED ZACH DUKE? WHAT? WHY? Dammit, Gameday doesn't work here and I can't listen to the radio. I think I might cry. I wonder what happened to him. (5:05pm - I see that DMZ says that Zach Duke "felt something pop" when he rolled into second. I *am* going to cry. Well, not really, but you get the idea.)

4:54pm - Torres so far: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K, 7 pitches thrown.
5:07pm - Marquis so far: 3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 1 HB, 2 K, 71 pitches thrown. After hitting Doumit and walking Wigginton, Jumpin' Jack Wilson singled in a run. 5-0 Pirates.
5:18pm - Torres so far: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 26 pitches thrown. Not bad. Ichiro led off with a home run for the Mariners, so it's 1-0 over there.
5:25pm - Marquis lets Nate McLouth hit his first major league home run. Pirates lead 7-0. Aaaand... he GAWN. His line: 3 IP (+ 2 batters), 8 H, 7 R, 3 BB, 1 HB, 2 K, 1 HR, 79 pitches thrown.

5:28pm - Randy Flores mercifully replaces Jason Marquis.

5:31pm - Flores so far: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 15 pitches thrown. Holy shit, he came in and struck out the 3-4-5 batters in succession.
5:38pm - Torres so far: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 36 pitches thrown. Whee.

5:40pm - Julian Tavarez comes in to pitch for the Cards. I *HATE* this guy.

5:44pm - Tavarez so far: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K, 7 pitches thrown. Wilson and Torres both singled, but Duffy popped out to end the inning.

5:47pm - In the 6th inning, Yadier Molina singles for the first Cardinals hit of the evening. Hoooray. Screw this game, I'm going home. Let's go Bucs! I guess I'll post again after the dust settles.

Movie Review: Napoleon Dynamite

In a last-ditch effort to understand what the bloody heck is up with the 2005 Mariners, I watched Napoleon Dynamite tonight, since I'd never seen it before. (It has been mentioned several times that it was a favorite movie in the Mariners clubhouse for a while, and as a possible omen, the DVD was in Randy Winn's charity basket at the Mariners Care auction right before the trade deadline.) And suddenly, it all makes sense.

Napoleon's new t-shirt will soon be all the rage.

Napoleon Dynamite is the story of some dorky kid who doesn't really have much of anything. Even worse, most of what he has is grief from his family, his schoolmates, etc. But he doesn't let it get him down. He meets this new kid Pedro, who becomes his best friend, and helps Pedro run for school president. Eventually Napoleon realizes that trying to go out with pretty popular girls is stupid, trying to be friends with the school jocks is stupid, putting up with his family is stupid, and honestly, most things are stupid and he has the most fun once he ditches all the useless crap and people and hangs out with his true friends.

The 2005 Mariners are a bunch of dorky guys who haven't really had much of anything all year. But they're not about to let it get them down! In a fit of pique, they've managed to ditch the dumb jocks (Bret Boone), the all-around popular kids (Randy Winn), the boneheaded useless brother (Scott Spiezio), and Uncle Rico (Pat Borders). In the meantime they picked up an awesome Latino guy or two with amazing skills. You know, like nunchuck skills, bowhunting skills, curveball skills, awesome infield defense skills.

The scariest moment of this movie, I swear, was when they played Pat Borders's at-bat music as this big orange van drives up to the house, and then... Pat Borders steps out of the van. Well, I mean, Uncle Rico steps out of the van, but he looks just like Pat Borders.

I can't help but think that one day, after watching Napoleon Dynamite ninety times in the clubhouse, Bret Boone or Richie Sexson saw Pat Borders walk by and started calling him Uncle Rico, hence the at-bat music and all. I mean, in the movie, Uncle Rico is the old guy who comes to stay with Napoleon and Kip after their grandma gets injured; in the 2005 Mariners, Pat Borders is the guy who comes to stay with the team after Dan Wilson gets injured. Uncle Rico won't shut up about how he used to be a great football player in 1982; Pat Borders was a World Series MVP in 1992.

There's also a high school jock in the movie that's almost a dead ringer for Roger Maris. It's sort of disturbing, actually. And perhaps the Mariners should DFA Tara the Ball Girl and sign Tina the Llama.

Wow, hey, I wonder whether anyone around here would actually wear a "Vote For Felix" shirt much like the people around Shea Stadium were wearing "Vote For Pedro" shirts. I should go get some iron-on letters one of these days and make one, just for the heck of it.

Anyway, no, this mostly really has nothing to do with baseball, but I do have to admit that Napoleon Dynamite is worth watching -- if nothing else, suddenly I get all the things people have been quoting from it. Even down to whoever said the newest Edgar promotion was going to be a Li-gar; like a lion and an Edgar mixed... bred for its skills in mojo.

Monday, August 22, 2005

A Numbers Post: Which Cities are the Biggest Losers in Baseball (Part 2)

(Continued from here.)

Now we see where all those collective wins in Chicago came from in 1906 -- the Boston Beaneaters and Boston Pilgrims had a collective 207 losses between them, to the Chicago teams' 209 wins. However, that's the only 200-loss season for the town - though the late 1920's were not kind to Boston, hitting 190+ loss seasons in 1922 and 1926-1929, topping out at 199 in 1928.

To their credit, the Boston teams never combined for 200 wins, either - their highest combined win season was 1948, when the Red Sox were second in the AL with 96 wins, and the Braves were first in the NL with 91 wins, but lost to the Cleveland Indians in the World Series -- the last Series the Indians ever won, as a matter of fact. In the Red Sox monster 1912 year, with their 105-47 record, the Braves had almost as horrendous a losing year with a 52-101 record, so go figure.

Boston had two major league teams for 52 years, and they had 21 seasons of being collectively over .500, and 31 seasons below, for 40%, which is bad, and certainly entitles Boston to some of their hard-luck feeling, but is still above Philadelphia's 32%.

St. Louis, which hosted the Cardinals and the Browns together for 52 seasons between 1902 and 1953, never endured a season of a collective 200 losses, amazingly. Despite the St. Louis Browns having some truly atrocious runs, such as three consecutive 100+ loss seasons from 1910-1912, and a truly awful year in 1939 when they won 43 and lost 111, the Cardinals seem to have made up the slack for the most part. In 6 out of the 8 100+ loss seasons for the Browns, the Cardinals finished over .500.

St. Louis also never got a 200+ win season together. However, the highest combined win total for the city is 194 wins in 1944, when the Cards went 105-49 and the Browns went 89-65, and the two teams met in the 1944 World Series, with the Cardinals, of course, winning.

Unfortunately, St. Louis had 16 seasons where the two teams were collectively over .500, and out of 52 years, that gives us 31%, which is slightly under the 32% for Philadelphia. Who knew?

Los Angeles is pretty average. Their worst combined season is 189 losses, in 1992, and their best combined season is 191 wins, in 2002. The Angels have never suffered a 100-loss season. And aside from the 99-loss season in 1992, the Dodgers haven't lost more than 89 games since they moved to Los Angeles. 2004 is the only year they both made the postseason, and both were knocked out in the division series.

The city has had a collective over .500 winning percentage in 30 of the 44 years they've had two teams, for a whopping 68%, which is second only to New York so far.

Wow, the Bay Area is almost as average. Their worst collective season was 1979, when the Oakland A's hit their only 100+ loss season, going 54-108. The Giants went 71-91 for a combined 199 losses, which is not 200 or over. To their credit, they also have never had a 200+ win season, with the closest being the last few years -- 2002 with 198 wins, 2003 with 196 wins, and 2001 with 192 wins.

An impressive feat is that they've had 5 years where both teams made the postseason, too - 2003, 2002, 2000, 1989, and 1971. 1989 was the impressive subway series in the Bay Area, though I guess it's best remembered for the earthquake that suspended the series for ten days.

The Bay Area has had seasons better than .500 for 22 of the 37 years they've had both teams there, or 59%.

So, to sum up, so far, our cities' collective over .500 seasons:

New York: 77 out of 98 years (78%)
Los Angeles: 30 out of 44 years (68%)
Bay Area: 22 out of 37 years (59%)
Chicago: 59 out of 104 years (57%)
Boston: 21 out of 52 years (40%)
Philadelphia: 18 out of 55 years (32%)
St. Louis: 16 out of 52 years (31%)

Cities losing a collective 200 games or more:
Philadelphia: 8 seasons
Boston: 1 season

Cities winning a collective 200 games or more:
New York: 3 seasons
Chicago: 1 season

Oh, just for fun, here's a count of in each city, how often both teams had a winning season, how often one or the other had a winning season, and how often neither of them had a winning season. As you can see, Philadelphia is the winner in losing:

City          : Both Win : One Wins : Neither Wins : Total
Philadelphia : 9 / 16% : 24 / 43% : 22 / 40% : 55
Boston : 12 / 23% : 21 / 40% : 19 / 36% : 52
St. Louis : 8 / 15% : 29 / 55% : 15 / 28% : 52
Bay Area : 16 / 43% : 13 / 35% : 8 / 21% : 37
Chicago : 24 / 23% : 62 / 60% : 18 / 17% : 104
Los Angeles : 12 / 27% : 28 / 63% : 4 / 9% : 44
New York : 48 / 49% : 43 / 43% : 7 / 7% : 98

So, what's my point? I'm not sure. This sort of started out as a "It's really not that bad in Seattle, imagine what it'd be like in a city where it sucked so much that even with TWO teams, you couldn't remember the last time you had a local team worth rooting for, period?" thing, but it sort of turned into some sort of Philly anti-pride, or maybe some sort of "Move to California" drive. Hmm. I really didn't know that the St. Louis Browns sucked so much, though, so I at least learned something along the way. I mean, they couldn't win a pennant with George Sisler on the team, and we've got Ichiro.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Game Report: Rainiers vs. Grizzlies - A rolling fastball gathers no Moss

I wanted to get to a Rainiers game sometime before the end of the season, so I called up one of my friends in Tacoma and went down to the game yesterday (8/20). It was a pretty good game, with the Rainiers shutting out the Grizzlies 5-0.

It was "Autographed Logo Ball" day, with autographed Rainiers baseballs going to the first 1500 fans. 100 of them were supposedly Felix-signed. We have no idea, because we only got there like 10 minutes before the game and the balls were long gone - attendance for the night was 6416, which isn't too shabby for Cheney.

Damian Moss looked a little shaky at times, but he never let a Grizzlies player get past second base, although that would also be owing to excellent plays in the field, I think. In the 3rd inning, Doug Clark tried to steal third base after the 4th ball for Mike Cervenak walking, and Wiki absolutely nailed the guy at third. The next inning, Angel Chavez tried to go from first to third on a single by Jed Hansen, and Abraham Nunez made a play of positively Ichiro-like brilliance, recovering the ball and firing it to third base, where Hunter Brown made a tag a few seconds before Chavez reached the bag. It was really beautiful.

Nunez was also great at the plate, going 2-3 with a home run and scoring two runs. Although, he was also the goat to some extent in the 5th inning -- he hit this really long fly ball, and he just sort of stood there watching it sail towards the wall in center-right for a bit... then he started running. In the meantime, the ball actually hit the wall and ricocheted off, and the right fielder recovered it and threw it in, and the hit, which should have been a double, was turned into a single. A few at-bats later, Aaron Rifkin pounded the ball to the same spot Nunez did, except this time, it actually went over the wall. Whooosh.

Bucky Jacobsen. What can I say? The guy looks like he's eaten a cow since last season. Maybe two cows. He's huuuuuge. I joked that "I'm sure it'll have him listed at 6'3, 225 in the book, but he's gotta be pushing 260." To their credit, they list him at 6'4, 255. Anyway, Bucky still drew a ton of cheers from the crowd, but I think he's really got to work on actually hitting AAA pitching again -- in four plate appearances, he walked once and struck out the other three. His line in Tacoma so far (with only 25ish plate appearances) is .150/.320/.200. Oh well, I'm sure he'll get there -- he was mashing at single-A ball, after all.

Hunter Brown disappointed me -- maybe I shouldn't go there intending to cheer for him. He was 0-for-4 at the plate, although he made some pretty good plays at third. The most amusing point of the game happened during his at-bat in the 3rd inning, actually, when Seung Song threw an impressively wild pitch that sailed about 7-8 feet over his head. Infact, I'm not even sure you could call it a pitch. It was more like aiming at some of the ushers behind the diamond club seats or something. TJ Bohn had scored on Bucky's bases-loaded walk the prior at-bat, so Jose Lopez scored on the wild pitch. Fun stuff.

TJ Bohn is a really tall dude; he sort of has the same build as John Olerud, except he runs much faster.

The Grizzlies have the ugliest uniforms known to man. They have bright green shirts with orange numbers on the back, and khaki pants. I mean, yeah, the green isn't that much uglier than the A's uniforms, but at least the A's wear white pants with the green/yellow. (The Grizzlies are a Giants farm team though. Not sure I understand the color choice there.)

Anyway, between Damian Moss, Scott Atchison, and Emiliano Fruto, they combined for 10 strikeouts and no runs. Good stuff. Atchison's one inning went like: K, single, K, single, K.

I have to only be glad that this was the Rainiers music staff operating and not the Mariners, or that guy in the music booth that likes Neil Diamond would have had a field day with Seung Song and "Song Sung Blue", I'm sure.

Hunter Brown has "Hot Blooded" by Foreigner as his at-bat song. Wiki Gonzalez is using that "bring 'em up" or whatever rap song that I swear either Randy Winn or Mike Cameron used to have, as his at-bat song.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Book Reviews: Remembering Japanese Baseball and Slugging it Out In Japan

Happy note for the day: Spiezio on waivers for unconditional release

I'm sorry your stay in Seattle was so lousy, dude. May my cries of "Frickin' Scott Spiezio!" ring through the crowd again as you come back to wreak havoc at Safeco for another team in the future... let's just hope we don't have to see that godawful tattoo!

(hey, should I start "Hunter Brown For Third" now? Heh.)

So yesterday, on the bus home from work, I just finished reading a great book. I think we're due for another Marinerds Book Review post.

Remembering Japanese Baseball, by Robert K. Fitts

I actually read this book several months ago when it first came out. I was pretty familiar with Rob Fitts from the Japanese baseball web boards for the past few years, and from his website about Japanese Baseball Cards. When he mentioned that he was doing an oral history of Japanese baseball, my first question was: "Is this going to be like The Glory of Their Times? That's my favorite book ever!"

The short answer is: Yes. At the same time, it is a very different book with a very different purpose.

A big difference between this book and Glory is that it attempts to span the entirety of Japanese baseball, pretty much starting from right after World War II, going all the way up to 1998. The sad part is, unlike Glory, it was written too late to capture much of pre-WWII baseball. The first story in the book is from a guy who actually saw Eiji Sawamura play, but that's about it. After that we move right into the Giants of the 1950's.

Another difference is that there are basically two types of stories in here: stories told by Japanese players, and stories told by Americans who played in Japan. Both are fascinating, but in different ways, and the tone is very different between the two styles, which might partially be due to things being lost in translation. The older stories, from the 50's and 60's, are more from the Japanese players and the nisei (Japanese-Americans), and are more like "We'd just gotten out of the war. We were (on the Giants and had to win / trying to beat the Giants). We had very little in the way of equipment or money, but we trained and trained and did our best." The stories then start giving way to the foreigners, being like "So, I went to Japan to play. It was freakin' weird! They treat Americans very (well / poorly) there. Our strike zones were huge!" Eventually you have people like Boomer Wells talking about when he first saw Ichiro come up on the Hankyu Braves.

I think the highlights of the book are the chapters by Wally Yonamine, Don Blasingame, Masanori Murakami, and Clyde Wright. But I'd say that every single chapter has fun or interesting stories in it, and it wouldn't be much fun if I summarized them all here, would it?

Another great thing about this book is that it makes a GREAT "bus book", much like the other oral histories of this type. Each chapter is around 10 pages, so depending on how long your commute is, and how quickly you read, you can read one or two chapters each way, without having to really keep context when you pick up and continue reading the next day.

Slugging it Out In Japan, by Warren Cromartie with Robert Whiting

Okay, so this is the book I just finished reading. And let me tell you, this book is a must-read for:

1) Warren Cromartie fans
2) Japanese baseball enthusiasts
3) American fans of the Yomiuri Giants
4) Anyone who's watched Mr. Baseball

No, really. I'm pretty damn sure Dennis Haybert's character in Mr. Baseball is pretty much supposed to be Cromartie.

Anyway, this book is an autobiography, which makes it sort of like Remembering Japanese Baseball, except it's 277 pages of oral history goodness rather than just a chapter. It's pretty much almost entirely about his 7 seasons playing for the Yomiuri Giants (1984-1990), mostly under Sadaharu Oh. One chapter does cover the rest of his life; yes, he mentions waving around a Canadian flag in Veterans Stadium after winning the 1981 NLDS.

But mostly, it's about those crazy guys in Japan. Of course, they seem less and less crazy as the book goes on -- or is he getting more and more crazy? Unlikely. All along the way there's the same wit and the same viewpoint, just the names change and the situations change. The other gaijin change. The stadium changes. The country, even, changes, with Japan's economic growth in the 1980's. So in some ways, much in the same way you can get some great perspectives on American history by reading books about baseball here in different time periods, you can get a good perspective on Japan in the 80's by reading Cromartie's book.

There's a great insight into the craziness of the Japanese media, as Cromartie shows a lot of the articles that were written about him in his time there, most of which have such wisdom as "Cromartie is a slacker, only hitting .325 with 21 home runs. This is why the Giants have not won the pennant." The press was so pervasive that you can feel while reading.

It's also fun but sort of sad reading about Sadaharu Oh through the eyes of Cromartie. In some ways, this book picks up where "Sadaharu Oh: A Zen Way of Baseball" leaves off, since that book is about Oh's life and ends in 1983 when he had just been named manager of the Giants, and Cro's story in Japan picks up in 1984, in that first year, where Cromartie was supposed to be the Giants' "Messiah" and lead them to the pennant. It is obvious that Cro had a lot of respect for Oh, and that they were very good friends -- he even named his son Cody Oh Cromartie -- but at the same time, the stress of having to win a pennant "or else" was obviously taking a toll on Oh, and you read about it through the eyes of a friend, which makes it sadder.

Cromartie uses Japanese phrases in the book a lot, either for humor or to lend to the "holy crap, I'm in JAPAN" mood he establishes. Sometimes you realize that his use of Japanese with his teammates must have been very touching for them, though, as the scene in Mr. Baseball when Tom Selleck apologizes to the team in Japanese. In Cro's case, for example, when superstar Tatsunori Hara was in a batting slump, and everyone got on his case more and more, Cro was the one trying to get him to relax:

       Well, wouldn't you know it, in the bottom of the ninth inning of a scoreless tie that night against the Taiyo Whales, with runners on second and third, it was Hara's turn to bat. He wasn't about to be walked, even with first base open, because I was in the on-deck circle. Hara was scared. Flat scared. Somebody had to try to calm him down, so I went over and called his name, trying to be heard over the din of the Dome.
       Now, I knew that Hara's hobby was dogs, that he knew about breeding and raising them and what the prices were for different types of dogs. So I decided to try that tack. "Tatsu," I yelled, "My friend bought boxer dog. He pay Y100,000 -- ju man yen. You think too high? Takai?"
       Hara stared at me and blinked. I might as well have asked him a question about rocket science. His mind was in the twilight zone.
       "Hara," I tried again. Ju man yen. Bokusa doggu."
       "Eh, doggu?"
       I'd made contact.
       "Right. Doggu. Inu. Bow wow. Bokusa. Ju man yen. Takai?"
       Hara focused on me. He'd returned to earth.
       "Takai," he said, shaking his head at the ridiculous price.
       It was only for a second. But it had taken his mind off the situation he was in. It had relieved some of the pressure. And when he finally stepped up to bat, he had relaxed just a shade. He swung at the first pitch and lined a sayonara single into left field.

Anyway. This book was really fun. It's possible as a bus book, but only if you read fast. I was able to cover a season chapter a day, but your mileage may vary.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Proud to be a Pennsylvanian

Yesterday evening, my friends and I had a softball practice for an hour or two, in preparation for trying to get into a fall league. Having not played softball in quite some time, and now remembering that it's actually somewhat difficult, I feel vaguely obligated to cease making fun of the Mariners quite so much. Baseball is hard. Let's do math.

What's sort of odd is that I remember back in the day, when playing softball, if someone did really well, they'd get compared to some current major league player. Last night, only when someone did poorly would we compare them to someone on the Mariners. For example, I was dubbed Bloomquist for the night because I misplayed a few balls at shortstop. Another team member couldn't hit worth a damn and got called Spiezio. At least when our outfielders dropped balls, we generally called them names from other teams, like Manny, or T-Long, or...

Well, anyway. Oh, I do believe there was a Mariners game last night too, but since it was Ryan Franklin vs. Joe Mays, who cares? From what I saw/heard of it, you could sum up the game with the following:

1) Adrian Beltre could totally beat up Ryan Franklin if he needed to. And he should.
2) Scott Spiezio got a hit, raising his batting average to a scorching .064.
3) The Mariners lost 7-3.
4) You should have been watching the Mets-Pirates game instead.

(As usual, good solid comedy gold at Lookout Landing for a "transcript" of the dugout altercation... I'm still looking for a picture, though.)

MLB's Gameday seems to have a lot of issues for me (both Macromedia-related and firewall-related) lately, so I've been using ESPN's Gamecast off their scoreboard instead. It's got its share of bugs too, but at least it doesn't totally freeze up for me all the time.

Right, so the Pirates-Mets game. In a rare but most likely increasing occurrence, Jason Bay is high-fiving Brad Eldred's home run in the game photo there, instead of the other way around. Ryan Doumit also had a heck of a game, going 3-for-4 with an RBI and a double. He's hitting .500/.543/.688 in 32 at-bats in August -- it's a small sample size, but it'd be great if he grew into the next big hitting Pirates catcher, wouldn't it? Oh, and the "Play Rob Mackowiak" campaign seems to be working, as he's heating up too. You know, if the Pirates could just get some good pitching...

...pitching! Right, so there was this guy Zach Duke pitching for the Pirates. You may have heard of him. Unlike another super young prospect pitcher named Zach, this one seems to be the real deal. He's now 6-0 in 9 starts for the Pirates with a 1.87 ERA. Last night, he pitched seven innings of two-hit ball (his line for the evening: 7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K). I really hope we face the NL Central again next year and draw the Pirates out here, because it'd be great if The King and The Duke got to battle it out; and I can wear all my Pirates stuff and not feel silly. Plus, I'd love to see Jason Bay take a swing at Safeco's fences. Maybe he could knock a "home" run all the way to British Columbia.

The Phillies now hold the NL Wild Card by half a game. I sort of thought they'd need to win both games in their doubleheader against Washington, since Roger Clemens was coming to the mound for Houston. But somehow the Rocket got rocked for 5 runs, his season single-game high, which, er, ballooned his ERA from 1.32 to 1.53, so Houston lost as well.

The Phillies' bullpen, which really is pretty solid now, won the first game, holding a 2-1 lead that Vicente Padilla got through 6 innings. However, in the second game, Lidle took a 4-3, Chase Utley 3-RBI lead through 5 innings before giving way to the bullpen, and for some reason Charlie Manuel decided to have Ugueth Urbina pitch, even though he had already pitched an inning in the first game four hours prior. The Nationals hit him all over the place, taking the lead at 5-4, which they held, having saved their closer, no pun intended.

The Nationals' pitching staff is getting pretty full of castaways, isn't it? Ryan Drese, Mike Stanton, now John Halama? Aaron Sele was just released by the Rangers' AAA team on the 16th, after he gave up 8 runs, count 'em, 8, to the Astros' AAA team in an outing on the 13th. Maybe the Nationals will pick him up too? Whee.

The Pirates go down to Philly for the weekend; if I hadn't had a friend's wedding to attend out here this weekend I had seriously thought of flying east too. (Instead, I'll be Philliesing it up with my family over Labor Day.) Tonight, Kip Wells takes on Rob Tejeda, coming off one of his best starts of the year; contrariwise on Saturday, we get Dave Williams coming off one of his best starts taking on Brett Myers coming off one of his worst starts; and on Sunday we get journeyman Mark Redman against Jon "We're not gonna take it anymore" Lieber.

Duke's next start should be at home in Pittsburgh against the hard-hitting (.373/.391/.567) but light-pitching (9-12, 4.36) Jason Marquis of the Cardinals on the 23rd. Should be fun.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

A Numbers Post: Which Cities are the Biggest Losers in Baseball

I would like to put up more evidence to support the theory that Philadelphia is the losingest baseball city in the history of baseball.

It was another thing I had wondered about due to a thread on USSM, which was, namely, how futile certain cities have had it at various times with their baseball teams. That is, it's bad enough to watch ONE baseball team having an awful year, but can you imagine living in a city where BOTH baseball teams were having godawful years?

So, yeah, take Philadelphia (a city which I spent most of my formative years learning about baseball in). They had two teams there from 1901 to 1955, and while the A's had some great years in there before Connie Mack kept selling off his stars, the Phillies were phairly phutile for large stretches of time.

But how often did the city of Philadelphia have to endure a collective 200 losses from both of their teams? And did any other cities ever have to?

The answer is 8. 1942 (208 collective losses), 1945 (206), 1938 (204), 1940, 1939, 1921 (203), 1941 (201) 1936 (200) And the other answer, as far as I can tell, is no.

I have a book called "On a Clear Day They Could See Seventh Place", which ranks the ten worst teams of the last century, one per decade. Let's put it this way: three of those teams are the 1916 Athletics, the 1928 Phillies, and the 1942 Phillies. Of course, in 1928 the A's were busy on their climb to winning the 1929 and 1930 World Serieses, and the 1916 the Phillies were still coming off winning their first ever league pennant in 1915. But in 1942? The Philly teams were dead last in all ways. Yes, several teams were starting to lose people to the war, but other teams still had some great players to cheer for, and St. Louis won 106 games and Brooklyn won 104. The Yankees won 103. But there was no joy in Philly.

Let's take a look at Chicago a second. They've both had teams since 1901, when the White Sox came into existence as part of the brand-new American League. And would you believe that the highest collective losses in one season they've ever had was 191? On the other hand, in 1906, they had a collective 209 WINS between the teams, though that has something to do with the Cubs winning 116 games, and was the only 200+ win season. Contrariwise, the most collective wins in Philly ever was 184, in 1913.

Hm, what other cities can I look at? Oo, let's take a look at New York. First with the Yankees and Giants, then with the Yankees and Mets.

Wow, this is impressive. The most collective losses that happened in New York when the Giants was there was 1915, when both teams were 69 and 83 for a combined 168 losses. Gosh, only 168. The Mets at least sucked a bit more, making the highest combined loss count 191 in 1965, as the Mets went and lost 112 and the Yankees lost 85. I mean, even the Mets' record-setting 120-loss season in 1962 didn't really matter because the Yankees only lost 66 that year; that was back during the great Mantle Yankees, after all.

The New York Giants just didn't seem to HAVE huge losing seasons. They lost 98 and 93 in 1945 and 1946, but again, that's the whole war thing. The very early Highlanders had some rocky years, losing 103 in 1908 and 102 in 1912, but those are the only 100+ loss seasons. Hell, New York, overall, has had 76 winning seasons out of 101. They even had three seasons over 200 wins combined, in the obvious 1998 and 1927, as well as 1954.

Also, let's take a look at how often the city teams had a collective winning record:

Philadelphia: 18 out of 55 years (32%)
Chicago: 59 out of 104 years (57%)
New York: 77 out of 98 years (78%)

I really need to go to sleep now (my gosh, it's 2am), but tomorrow I'll probably run the stats for other cities -- Boston (with the Braves), and St. Louis (with the Browns). Maybe even San Francisco and Los Angeles, if I'm bored. And I'm pretty sure that even with the debacle that was the 1935 Boston Braves, the numbers will still support me.

Hail Philly! We suck!

(Depressing stats continued here.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Retrosheet is your friend, Jamie Moyer

I've been totally surfing Retrosheet for the last hour just reading random games and stats and stuff. It's really pretty wacky stuff. I wish they were more complete, because some of the stuff is pretty fascinating.

Anyway, the reason I did it was because Jamie Moyer went and got 7 strikeouts today against the Royals, which is his season high, I went and looked up some stats about him on Retrosheet (someone asked what his all-time season high K was on USSM, and I guess I got carried away.)

If you care, these are the single game highs for the M's starters (I'm counting Sele for lack of a better 5th). The "Lowest Hits" is for lowest hits in a complete game pitched.

           Lowest  Most  Most   Most   Most   Most
Hits K's HR's Runs Hits BB's
------ ---- ---- ---- ---- ----
Moyer 2 13 4 11 13 7
Franklin 2 9 4 8 12 5
Pineiro 3 12 3 8 12 6
Meche 5 11 4 8 10 8
Sele 2 13 3 10 13 7

In Ryan Franklin's two times that he allowed 8 runs, of the 16 runs, only 5 were earned.

In Pineiro's two times he allowed 8 runs, they were all earned. They were also both last year.

I'm not counting a one-hitter of Meche's where it was only 5 innings and called due to rain. All of his runs were earned in those high-run games -- the other weird part is how he let up 8 runs the very next start after getting that career-high 11 strikeouts, and he actually lost both outings.

Oh yeah, and Moyer's 13-strikeout game was on April 8, 1989. Felix Hernandez's birthday is April 8, 1986. So Jamie's highest strikeout day ever was on Felix's 3rd birthday. Isn't that bizarre?

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Felix Hernandez and the Bullpen of Secrets (part 2)

(A story of a young pitching wizard, by D. S. Rubin.)

Continued from Part 1.

Felix was sitting around in the Hogsmeade Rainiers dugout during batting practice a couple of days after the Drafting. Sure enough, first-year rookies weren't permitted to play on the big club, but Felix hadn't given up hope yet. Weasley Gonzalez, who had been optioned to the Hogsmeade team to work on his catching stance, had come by to hang out and go over their plan for the evening's game. They spent a while talking about the opposing batters, while their teammates ran around the field or took their swings in the cage.

It was a sunny but chilly afternoon, and most people were wearing warm jackets, including the mailroom boy Al, who ran by and dropped a rather large cardboard box in front of Felix's feet with a loud thud. Everyone looked over for a second, then went back to what they were doing.

"Huh, what's that?" asked Weasley.

Felix shrugged. "Got me," he replied.

"Oi, there's a letter on top," Weasley suggested.

Felix ripped open the letter first, which was lucky, because it said:

It contains a set of Royal Two Thousand Five baseballs, but I don't want everyone knowing you're working on throwing them or they'll all be asking for them. Moyer Wood will meet you tomorrow morning at Safeco Field at 10am for your first special training session.

Signed, General Manager McGonagall

Felix had difficulty hiding his glee as he handed the note to Weasley to read.

"A Royal Two Thousand Five?" Weasley moaned enviously. "I've never even touched one, let alone caught one."

Felix felt sort of bad for Weasley. "Why don't you come with me tomorrow for special training?" he offered. "I'm sure Wood will need someone to catch, won't he?"

Weasley hesitated. "You mean it?"

Felix nodded.

"Wicked," said Weasley as a huge grin spread over his face.

*    *    *

As ten o'clock drew nearer, Felix and Weasley made their way through the Safeco Field clubhouse to the field itself. Felix had never been inside the stadium before. It was huge. Thousands of seats were arranged around the infield in several tiers, all angled to watch the action at the plate. Bleachers adorned the upper parts of left field and center, and the bullpens were curiously situated by a food court. The morning sunlight fought its way through the clouds, whitewashing the centerfield scoreboard.

"Wow." Felix just stood in front of the dugout taking it all in.

"Yeah," agreed Weasley. "Why don't we get you warmed up while we wait for Moyer?"

They ran into the outfield and got out an ordinary baseball and tossed it back and forth for a while, getting into a comfortable rhythm, throwing the ball faster and faster.

"Hey, guys, come here!"

Moyer Wood had arrived. He was carrying the cardboard box under his arm. Weasley and Felix ran back to the dugout.

"Very nice," said Moyer, his eyes glinting. "You really are a natural. I'm just going to teach you about pitch selection today. We'll work on mechanics next time... I didn't realize you were going to bring a catcher. Well, anyway, let's open this thing."

Felix started opening the box. Weasley got out a pocket knife and helped him. Inside the cardboard box was a nicely carved wooden box, and inside that were three gleaming baseballs sitting on navy blue velvet.

"Right," said Moyer. "Now, being a major league pitcher mostly has to do with mastery of several different pitches. These here represent a deluxe set of three amazing pitches," he motioned to each ball as he named it. "The fastball, the curveball, and the slider."

"Three pitches," repeated Felix, as Moyer took the first one out of the box.

"This one's a Royal Fastball," he said. "You'll probably throw this one more than any other. You try to throw this one so damn fast the batter can't even see it until it's past them."

"Fastball," repeated Felix. "I can throw that one 98 miles per hour, is that good enough?"

Moyer paused for a minute, a look of envy on his face. "Yeah, I think that just might be good enough," he said in a deadpan, getting out the next ball. "Now this here's a slider--"

Weasley interjected. "Hey chief, I think you have two of them backwards."

"Oh, oh," agreed Moyer, switching them. "This here's the slider. I think you could master this one pretty quickly, but you shouldn't use it at first. It'll blow out your arm."

"Slider. Don't use," repeated Felix. "And what about that one?"

He was staring at the shiniest one of all. It seemed to beckon to him from within the box. He wanted to pick it up and throw it and make it dive around.

"This," said Moyer, "is the Royal Curveball, and it's the most important ball of the lot. It's very hard to catch because it's so fast and difficult to see," he said, winking at Weasley. "But that means it's also very hard to hit. It's going to take you all the way to the Hall of Fame, mark my words. I can't wait to see Derek Malfoy of the New York Slytherins swinging away at it."

"Fastball, slider, curveball," repeated Felix blankly.

"Yeah, you can use these pitches anywhere," said Moyer. "You can use them at the office, or on camping trips, or even at PTA meetings."

Weasley and Felix looked at each other quizzically. "Uh, what?"


(Continued in Part 3)

Author's notes: "Royal Curveball" was a phrase coined on USSM... and yes, Jamie Moyer's dialogue may seem somewhat familiar if you've seen the 2005 Mariners commercials. Heh heh.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Royals - Sweet Sixteen

Today the Royals came to Safeco Field, where they lost their sixteenth game straight, and boy, was it sweet to watch.

King Felix: 8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K.

I don't think there is anything else I need to say, really.

Two of my friends were getting back from a week-long trip today, but I said, "I'm buying tickets to Monday's game. You *have* to see this kid."

They didn't regret it.

Actually, there is more I could say. Yuniesky Betancourt is a MACHINE. That kid is so awesome -- seeing him working the middle infield behind Felix was an awesome glimpse into the future of the Mariners, and a good one. He was all over the place getting the ball in ways that Bret Boone could never dream of. Beyond his amazing ability to pick up grounders and fire them to first, he also had incredible range just covering the field -- in the ninth inning he caught a ball in short center field that seemed guaranteed to fall for a single.

Given, the Kansas City Royals aren't the best team in baseball or anything, but most of the people in their lineup have somewhat respectable batting averages, and Felix made them all look retarded. Every batter except Mike Sweeney and Terrence Long was struck out at least once, and several of them struck out twice. The only inning where Felix didn't get a strikeout was the 6th. After Mark Teahen went down for the 9th strikeout, at the end of the 5th inning, the music people played "Another One Bites The Dust", and it was entirely appropriate for once.

There were four separate groups of people in the stands with K signs that we could see from our seats on the third-base side: the same KKKKKKING people who were there for his first start, and then three other groups up in right-center. One was really funny, they were "Felix's Fiesta: Que? Que? Que? Que? Que?" and they all had sombreros and whatnot. Then there was a group with white posters with red K's, and a group with yellow posters with brown? K's, which I didn't even notice for a while.

Mike Morse seemed pretty glad to be off the bench, hitting a home run in his first at-bat of the game. Overall he was 2-for-4, scoring two runs and hitting the homer and a double. It just makes me so angry that Hargrove benched him in favor of Spiezio all weekend. Richie Sexson also pounded a home run, as did Ichiro (!). The Mariners won 11-3 overall. It was nice to go to a game for once and really feel good about the team, even if it was the Royals they were pounding on. And it was also nice to feel great about the Mariners defense, after watching the incompetent Royals defense do things like dropping an easy pop fly to first, or overthrow second when trying to get a basestealer, or letting Willie Bloomquist get a triple.

I'm sorry that there isn't more I can say to describe Felix's pitching, but really, the numbers speak for themselves. He made it look so easy to keep lobbing those 97 mph strikes across the plate. You can bet that I'll be at every home Felix start that I can make it to from now on; infact, the attendance being only 31,908 at today's game is a crime. I'm sure the White Sox and Yankees games he starts in later this month will be dead sellouts, at least.

Before the game, I went to the King Street Bar & Oven again to meet up with my friends Megan, Josh, and Ficus (since I had their tickets), and to hang out with some of the folks from USS Mariner again. Jonah Keri wore his Nippon Ham Fighters jersey, so he's totally my hero now. Jeff Shaw is crazy awesome cool and I had a lot of fun geeking out with him about Japanese baseball and books and stuff. I even managed to talk to Derek rather than being scared of him this time. Honestly, the Derek and Jonah Show is an awful lot like the Josh and Ficus Show, except that Derek and Jonah know a ton more about baseball than Josh and Ficus do, and they have crazier stories (and drink more beer). There were assorted other USSM'ers there who were pretty cool, but whose names I've already forgotten because it was hard to catch some names in the first place. Jon Wells showed us the great Felix picture he's going to use on the next Grand Salami magazine, and Conor complimented me on my choice of shirt (Cameron, Mets).

All in all, a fun day.

Oh! I have some jokes I thought up during the game. Don't hurt me.

Q: What's Felix Hernandez's favorite food?
A: K-sadillas!

Q: What's Felix's favorite vehicle?
A: A K-car! (A nice Reliant automobile.)

Q: If Felix went to college, where would he go?
A: K's Western.

Q: Where's Felix's favorite place to vacation?
A: The K-man islands!

Q: Where do Felix's defeated batters play video games?
A: In the Are-K'd.

During the game I also noted that it's a real good thing players aren't always required to play the position of their initials. Dave Hansen for the DH would be just fine, but I'm not so sure Scott Spiezio at shortstop or Ryan Franklin in right field would work so well. Adrian Beltre would get plenty of at-bats, but Chris Snelling would always get caught stealing. Ichiro does infact get plenty of infield singles, though. Bret Boone should have been walked a lot more. For the rest of the outfield we'd have to reach to other teams and put Lew Ford in left and Cliff Floyd in center, I guess.

Oh, and Ficus helped me identify several more at-bat songs during the game, so I should be updating my list soon. Yay!

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Angels - BROOM! HERE COMES THE BROOM! Ready or not, we strike out a lot...

During the first inning of today's game, the scoreboards kept freezing up and the sound system would go out and we'd just hear a set of three beeps over the stadium PA. Beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep.

"We apologize for the periodic tests of our fire alarm system. Please stay in your seats. If this were an emergency, we would inform you to evacuate."

We better hope there's never a real fire at Safeco, because I don't think our bullpen has ever succeeded in putting one out.

Anyway, I'd watched John Lackey warming up, and he seemed a little offbalance. When the game started, my friend asked: "Who do you think will win today?" and I replied, "Well... Lackey's going to get 8 strikeouts, but he isn't going to get the win. Meche isn't going to last 6 innings. The Mariners will probably lose due to having a DH who's batting .048."

"He's batting WHAT? Why is he DHing?"

"Uhh, don't ask. I might start crying."

Somehow, the Mariners managed to get up 3-0 in the first inning. It mostly involved three straight singles by Ichiro, Willie, and Raul, and one of those obnoxious along-the-line-into-the-LF-corner doubles by Beltre. However, there was a brief conference to the mound after that double, which probably went something like:

Bud Black: Hey, dude. Remember how I said I'd buy you a dozen Krispy Kremes after the game?
John Lackey: Yeah. I really like the powdered ones, you know. It's the best kind to eat with a white uniform like this. You should see when Shields gets glaze all over--
Bud Black: Krispy Kreme starts with a K. And until you start making with the K's and producing some donuts in the score column, I ain't buying you crap!
John Lackey: Well, shit.

So then he struck out Reed and Betancourt, and I said, "2 down, 6 to go."

The second and third innings were largely uneventful, aside from Scott Spiezio actually getting on base in the 2nd (He walked. Don't get your hopes up.), and Chone Figgins stealing second in the 3rd, but getting called out. It's hard to tell how the inning would have gone down otherwise, although then Gil Meche catching a Vlad line drive and getting him out at first to end the inning wouldn't have been as dramatic, that's for sure.

Hey, how do you know a player is really a regular on the team? They have one of those "kid interviews you in the dugout" videos. Today we got to know Matt Thornton a little better. His favorite players when he was growing up were the Tigers of the 80's -- Trammell, Gibby, etc. His favorite moment with the Mariners was Ichiro breaking the record. And his favorite food is sushi.

Hey, how do you know Casey Kotchman is a freak? The kid's gotten 7 hits in 35 at bats this year. 3 of those hits were singles and 4 of those hits were home runs. He's been walked more times (8) than he has hits. He's struck out once. His line for this year so far is .200/.349/.543. We had just been commenting on how he had 5 hits all year with 3 for home runs, when he managed to send a pitch 415 feet into row 38 or so of the right field seats. The funniest part was that Ichiro didn't even bother moving as the ball flew out there -- he just stood and watched it sail out.

The score was still 3-1 Mariners when they entered the fourth inning. Unfortunately, that's when everything fell apart. Adam Kennedy led off with a single,. Figgins walked. Cabrera singled. Erstad sacrificed. (3-2). Meche sat down in the dugout. Mateo came out, and did something fairly uncharacteristic for him: he gave up back-to-back home runs.

I suppose it wasn't too surprising that Vlad pounded a home run into section 150; if anything, it was surprising that it was only 372 feet and barely got out of the first few rows of seats. It was vaguely surprising that Bengie Molina pounded a home run 402 feet immediately afterwards, landing right behind the Nikon sign in left-center field. Fortunately, with the score 6-3 and the bases cleared, the rest of the inning passed without any further damage.

While we're at it, will someone please explain to me why Adam Kennedy, who is now batting .329, is 9th in the lineup? Is this one of those riddles like "What is the sound of one bat clapping?" or "Why is Scott Spiezio DHing?", or is it just that the Angels have such a great lineup there's no reason to move him higher?

The Mariners struck back in their half of the 5th; Ichiro got on base by an error -- oops, I mean, Ichiro got an infield single when Orlando Cabrera failed his Barehanded Fielding roll. Ichiro stole second, and this time Willie actually did the whole hit and run thing properly -- that is, Willie hit the ball, and Ichiro actually made it all the way home. (6-4). Willie, although nowhere as fast as Ichiro, also decided to steal second, and succeeded. However, while Ibanez moved him to third, Lackey was trying to make sure he kept his pattern of getting 2 strikeouts every odd-numbered inning, and since the inning had started with Torrealba striking out, it ended with Sexson striking out. "That's 6 of 8!" I said.

Thornton actually put in a pretty decent inning and a half, although him making it out of the 7th inning unscalded could mostly be owed first to Ichiro for making an amazing running catch, all the way from the Washington Mutual logo to the stands beyond the foul line. There was also a great moment when, after Vlad and Casey The Kid had pulled off a double steal to take second and third, Juan Rivera grounded the ball to Adrian Beltre, who fired it home. Casey was already on his way to third, and Vlad started running, only to have Yorvit Torrealba run up the line and give him a good ol' football-style tackle.

Though Lackey entered the bottom of the 7th having only thrown around 90 pitches, it was to be the end of the road for him. Torrealba smacked a pretty good double, and Ichiro drove him in with a single. At that point, with the tying run on base, Lackey was pulled for Brendan Donnelly. Let me tell you, the amount of cheering in the stadium when Willie Bloomquist came up against Donnelly was deafening, and of course Willie reacted to it by hitting a nice high foul for Darin Erstad to catch. Ichiro watched Ibanez take a few pitches and then decided, "This shit is retarded," and stole second. Molina overthrew to second, but Ichiro was still on the ground from sliding into the base, so he didn't get any further. Sadly, the next pitch seemed to bounce right into Molina's face, and he fell over, so Ichiro ran to third base while they recovered the ball. Molina didn't look too happy, but he stayed out there after a little while getting checked by the trainers. Donnelly got Ibanez to ground to the mound, when he wound around, he found his throw unsound. It went a bit to the left of Erstad, enough to pull him off the base, and in the meantime Ichiro scored and Ibanez was safe at first. (This would, oddly, be the second time this weekend we saw an Angels pitcher make an error throwing to first on a 1-3 play.) However, with Sexson up, Ibanez tried to steal for some unknown reason (probably the same reason that Spiezio was DHing), and was out by quite a bit. Ugh. Well, still, they tied the game, which was good.

Lackey's line: 6.1 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 7K. At least this time it was a different pitcher's error which caused the run to score, so it makes sense for it to be unearned. Note that Lackey, who leads the Angels starters in both strikeouts AND walks had a great K/BB set. I lost my bet about Lackey getting 8 strikeouts, though.

Now, while I think George Sherrill is really a pretty good pitcher, he kinda screwed up the 8th inning. I mean, he hit Adam Kennedy and I almost thought he was going to get ejected, but he didn't. The real problem was that after he got two outs, what with Figgins sac bunting and Cabrera grounding to him, he couldn't seem to get the right side of the corner when pitching to Erstad. I mean, I thought he had him all the way -- but from my perch in section 334, it's really sort of hard to tell. So unfortunately, after several balls went by that I think many people thought were strikes, Erstad hooks a ball into center and drives in Kennedy. 7-6. Grrrrrrr.

You think that's depressing, though? Oh, let me give you depressing. Depressing is having Reed and Sexson on second and third base with one out, and having Sexson get tagged out on a questionable call at the plate from Betancourt's grounder. Oh, do you want even MORE depressing? How about having runners at first and third, with two outs, and Scott Spiezio up to bat, and MIKE HARGROVE DOESN'T PUT IN A GODDAMN PINCH HITTER.

Earth to Hargrove: Spiezio sucks, and you have just sent us all the message that you don't give a shit about winning the game. You could have put in freaking Jamie Moyer to pinch-hit and we would have at least thought you cared a little bit. Hell, put in Don Baylor for all I care, just don't goddamn leave in Scott Spiezio. Unless, of course, your goal actually IS to hear Beethoven's Prelude and Fugue in Boo Flat.

Aw, screw it. I don't feel like talking about the rest of the game. You can guess what happened when K-Rod came in to pitch the ninth inning for the Angels. Well, you might not guess the part where Dave Hansen struck out so enthusiastically that his bat went flying into the Mariners dugout and nearly hit someone in the head. But you can guess the rest, especially the part where we all left a few minutes later with the score still standing at 7-6 Angels.

Oh, and again Donnelly totally ninjaed the win from the starter, which wouldn't be so bad if he didn't simultaneously pick up a blown save. I still hate that aspect of the rules.

At least the Phillies swept the Padres this weekend and are within .5 game of the NL Wild Card again. It's always good to have a backup home team.

To sum up:
The Angels came to town with the intent of getting revenge on the Mariners for their sweep last month. They were wildly successful. Spiezio sucks. Hargrove sucks. Morse is getting butt cramps from sitting on the bench so much. Having 24 men on your roster for a game is almost as retarded as carrying 13 pitchers. Also, the average attendance for the three games was 39,517 people. Either there are a lot of Angels fans in the area or a lot of Willie fans in the area, and I'm not sure which would frighten me more.

Hernandez vs. Hernandez. Bow down, Royals, to the King, and let's hear it for sweet sixteen.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Game Report: Mariners vs. Angels - Franklin, my dear, I don't give a damn

I went to the game today. It sucked so much I don't even feel like talking about it. No, seriously. The worst part is, I hadn't even originally intended to go to today's game (I mean, cmon, Colon vs. Franklin? Who are we kidding?). However, a friend of mine had his father visiting in town, and wanted to take him to a game, and asked if I'd come with them to be, for lack of a better term, a color commentator. So he bought me a ticket and I basically acted like a tour guide until we were in our seats, and then during the game I answered questions about team, the stadium, etc. Mostly I had to explain why our team sucks so much and why we had a guy DH'ing who only had a .051 batting average, and such.

There really was only one great moment of the game to speak of, and that was when Ichiro hit a home run about 6 inches above the yellow line. Vlad jumped up to get it, and the ball actually ricocheted off his glove over the wall, and he landed and punched the wall. That was pretty funny.

Aside from that? I have no idea where our three hours really went, aside from into a 9-1 loss. I got to listen to my friend's dad talking about the games he goes to at home -- in Atlanta. Grr.

I think the one cool thing about this game was that both sides pretty much entirely emptied their bench players onto the field by the end of the game. It also made me realize how envious I was of the Angels bench, compared to ours.

I mean, think about this for a second. Our current roster is 13 pitchers, 2 catchers, 7 infielders, and 3 outfielders. That's a goddamn 8-man bullpen, dude. That leaves us with 3 guys on the bench. We really need to lose someone from the bullpen, and much as I hate to suggest it, the guy who needs to go is Shiggy. I'd say he and Putz are equivalent, but Shiggy's older and throws slower. It sucks, because I adore Shiggy as a person, and I think he's one of the funniest, most likeable guys on the team, and I'm betting he's got a lot of side value as a veteran, a smart dude, a fun guy, and a Japanese translator. On the other hand, if he's done as a pitcher, we have to admit that and move on.

Look at the Angels roster. 5 starters and 6-man pen, and all of their guys are great, for the most part. 3 catchers -- the Molina brothers and usually Josh Paul (right now, Jeff Mathis), all of whom can DH as well as catch. 6 infielders, 5 outfielders, and all are fairly strong hitters and reasonable fielders as well. A lovely 5-man bench with plenty of options.

Oh, and the other thing is that three of their "backups" (Maicer Izturis, Jeff DaVanon, and Chone Figgins) are switch hitters. I know switch hitting is a little bit overrated, but we don't have any switch hitters on our roster. (I'm not counting Spiezio unless he actually hits, because you can't be a switch hitter if you aren't a hitter.)

I'm just jealous. It would be nice to have so much talent to fit into our roster spots, it really would.

Anyway, because I have nothing useful to say about the game, I'm going to post some links from elsewhere that I was meaning to save anyway.

The most awesome picture of Jason Kendall ever

Doyle Likely Done For Season. Suddenly I regret the Randy Winn trade a lot more. However, you know what we really need? You know what would solve our problems in left field, and our need for a righty bench bat, and make our games that much more fun to watch? Cmon, it's not hard to guess: we need Eric Byrnes! If we traded for him this weekend, he'd be averaging a new team every two weeks.

Coach Jeff Newman also needs leg surgery. For crying out loud... it's sad enough about Doyle, but a coach going on the DL?

When I originally looked at last Thursday's Mets game, I thought the really bizarre thing was that Tom Glavine got as many hits (3) as the rest of the lineup combined. Then I saw all the articles about Beltran and Cameron's collision and, oh man, oh man. They're not kidding about that video clip of the collision being "not for the faint of heart". I feel terrible for Cammy and for the Mets in general. I'm betting a lot of outfielders will be a lot more careful calling for the ball in the upcoming weeks, though.

Dennis Eckersley's number retired. When on earth are we going to retire Edgar's?

Speaking of Oakland, they have plans for a new stadium. Not only does this design look super-tacky with the hotel in the outfield or whatever, but seriously. Consider this quote:

To illustrate the A's need for a new park, Wolff contrasted the A's with the Giants. "Before the Giants moved into their new park, the two franchises were relatively equal," he said. "Since they've moved in, the only area where we're equal is on the field.

This is a load of crap. The reason the Giants draw more fans is not because of the new park, it's because the NEW PARK IS IN A BETTER LOCATION. Would you believe, in all my trips to San Francisco, I'd never ever gone to Candlestick, but I've been to SBC a whole bunch of times? It's very convenient if you're in the city doing touristy stuff, or if you take Caltrain or BART or anything. But the Oakland Coliseum? The BART station is the only even remotely convenient thing about it - 880 is horrendous to drive on at rush hour to get to a game, and Oakland is sort of a scary place, really. If they want to draw more people, they need to move to a location that doesn't suck. Now, given, I don't know much about the area, and maybe this is the best location they can get, but somehow I doubt it.

The obvious parallel I always draw to the San Francisco situation, of course, is the Tokyo baseball situation. Now, there are 5 teams that play in the general Tokyo area, but for a minute let's just look at the Yomiuri Giants and the Seibu Lions. The Giants are, well, the Japan version of the Yankees, often at the top or near the top of the Central League, and have all the well-known star players and a ton of money to spend. They sell out every home game and most road games. The Seibu Lions are the Japan version of the A's, often at the top or near the top of the Central League, and have a couple well-known players, but their corporate sponsor has quite a few financial issues. They rarely come anywhere close to selling out a game.

Anyway, the Giants play at the Tokyo Dome, in Korakuen, which is... well, if you take a look at this page with directions there, there's this one subway/train line which makes a big circle around the city called the Yamanote line, and the Korakuen stop for the Tokyo Dome is pretty much near the center of that circle of the city. I know it took me about 5 minutes tops to get there from the Ikebukuro station. In comparison, the Seibu Dome is in Tokorozawa... take a look at this page, and note that the big green loop in the Tokyo Dome map is alll the way over to the right. Seriously, if you're in Tokorozawa, chances are you either live there, or have trekked out there for a Lions game. There's no real reason otherwise to be out there, for the most part.

If the Lions continue to stay in Tokorozawa, they're just never going to draw a great crowd, no matter how much they win. And the same could be said for the A's in the Oakland-Alameda-McAfee whatever. They're both going to be continually outdrawn by those cross-town Giants.

Well, anyway.

I found a cool site with a lot of data about present and past ballparks which is pretty interesting.

Someone on USSM posted a link with current operating incomes of MLB teams, which is interesting and somewhat frightening in some cases.

There was also a list of mlb attendance numbers. You'll notice that Cubs and Red Sox fans are the most rabid whether it's at home or on the road. Of course, it's not like either team has a vast expanse of stadium to fill up, either.

This was brought up due to M's tickets no longer scorching hot, But fan loyalty remains strong. The article itself is pretty foofy, but I think Nice Guys Finish Third has a great point to make there: while cultivating the casual fans may work well when the team is winning, in the long run, it won't keep butts in seats if the team truly sucks. The team needs to cultivate a fan base like the Red Sox, so we won't care how pathetic the team is, but will identify as a community of Mariners fans no matter where we are! Marinerfest Destiny, I tell you!

Well, wow, when I try not to think about how much the game sucks, I actually think about lots of other stuff. Neat. Tomorrow we'll see the matchup of John Lackey (who reminds me of a younger Dan Aykroyd for some reason), and Gil Meche (who is reverting to his late 2003 self, sadly). Will the Angels sweep us back? Will Jarrod Washburn even notice if I yell happy birthday to him during batting practice tomorrow? What exciting roster changes are in store for us in the next day or two? How many relievers will the Mariners use tomorrow? Come on down and find out on tomorrow's episode of "The (Bryan) Price is Right".