Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Game Report: Phillies vs. Nationals - The Wrath of Condrey

I'm getting on a plane to fly back to Seattle in a few hours, and I've been up all night, and worried I'd be too incoherent to write a real entry, but also figured it couldn't hurt to get some thoughts out about today's game, even if they'll be scatterbrained, since I have nothing better to do to waste time until it's time to get up and get ready and get on a train to the airport. So here's your "Deanna's Really Tired But Wants To Gush About The Phillies" 4am entry:

Short version: Jimmy Rollins scored the first run for the Phillies within the first three batters of the game. David Bell tacked on the second when Sal Fasano hit a big double. Ryan Zimmerman, pride of UVA, homered in the second inning off of Jon Lieber, who came out after two innings due to a strained groin (and has subsequently been placed on the DL). Clay Condrey took over and kicked butt for four innings. Chase Utley hit an amazing triple in the 3rd, though it was wasted because J-Roll, Abreu, and Burrell all struck out that inning. Nick Johnson eked out a run for the Nats in the 4th after a SUPER AWESOME UTLEY-IGNITED DOUBLE PLAY that advanced him to third, and then Condrey shoulda gotten this great pickoff of Marlon Byrd but J-Roll missed the throw and Johnson scored. Condrey got to plow into Soriano for a tag out during a botched stolen base and botched pickoff. It rocked. The Nats never scored again, and Cormier and Fultz handled the scoreless 7th and 8th innings.

With the score 2-2 going into the 6th, Chase Utley literally knocked Nats pitcher Michael O'Connor out of the game by singling off his left shin. The rest of the 6th and 7th innings were bloodbaths. Majewski took over for O'Connor, and a Burrell walk later, Ryan Howard launched a 362-foot home run into the left-field stands again, which gave O'Connor the loss since Utley was his runner. A few singles later the inning ended, and in the 7th, J-Roll led off with a single, giving way to Joey Eischen who walked Utley and Abreu, giving way to Santiago Ramirez, who served up a single to Burrell which scored J-Roll and Utley. Rowand singled in Abreu, and Bell singled in both Shane Victorino, running for Burrell, and Rowand.

Appropriately, Ryan Franklin pitched the 9th inning for the Phillies as they were ahead by nine runs, and also appropriately, the last out of the game was caught by Shane "V for" Victorino, as the Phillies won 11-2.

Anyway, here are random game comments.

- Cole Hamels signed my ticket today! Yay! He's so *young*. I didn't end up telling him the "I came 3000 miles to see you pitch etc etc" thing though.
- I got to meet Greg Roth, who writes the phlog Caught Looking, during Nats batting practice. That was awesome! He's pretty cool. I'm obviously not as involved in the phlogosphere as I am in the Mariners blogland, but it was still cool to put a face to a name after reading his stuff for a while.
- Oh yeah, I stalked roly-poly Matthew LeCroy but failed to get an autograph. I did cheer him when he came up to bat late in the game though.
- It was Dollar Dog Night at the park, which was pretty awesome. This meant that I got three hot dogs and a soda, and the three hot dogs cost $3 and the soda cost $3.50. During the...5th inning I think? The announcer was like "Due to Dollar Dog Night, Citizens Bank Park is suffering a severe shortage of hot dogs. We've left it up to the usual suspects to solve this," as Smiley, the Hatfield Pig, runs onto the field, and the Philly Phanatic chases it around the field wearing a chef's hat and carrying a big fake meat cleaver. It was pretty freaking funny. There were people all over the park showing Dollar Dog competitions between people, and a bunch of guys who had letters on their chest that spelled out "CHEAP$MEAT".
- Screw this heat and humidity crap the stupid east coast is pulling. It went up to 95 degrees here today and felt like it might rain from time to time. I have no idea how I used to survive summers here; I was as sweaty as a Nageotte after just travelling to the stadium, pretty much, and it mostly only got worse until the sun went down.
- I mentioned it before, but Chase Utley's triple was AWESOME, it really was. I thought it might be a home run, it bounced off the wall in right center, and Utley just ran and ran and kept on running. He's so amazing. The double play off Daryle Ward (boooo) in the 4th was also totally Utley -- he ran out to stop the ground ball, got it, quickly gauged the situation and fired the ball to J-Roll at second instead of just shooting it to first, and caught Zimmerman and Ward. Chase Utley rules in so many ways I can't even begin to express it in words.
- Pat Burrell is really not a good outfielder at all. He looked downright awful making some of the plays, including Soriano's double which bounced around him and over him and under him and whatnot. Still, he's probably about equivalent with Ibanez, which means he doesn't really kill the team, especially since anything hard-hit to left field is probably going to be over the damn wall anyway at CBP.
- In the third inning when Pat Burrell came up to bat, I said to my friend, "Burrell's a babe." They showed the super-cute Burrell smile picture up on the screen, and my friend thought that was really funny. Then he struck out. Go figure.
- The Ask the Phillies thing was about favorite foods. There was this awesome clip of it where they have Fasano saying, "Well, you can guess that I like --" and then it cuts to Jon Lieber saying "Italian food." Then it goes back to Fasano who describes some complex sort of ravioli that's his favorite. Heh. Utley likes sushi. Rowand went on and on about some sort of Mexican food he really likes (actually, maybe it was Cory Lidle, now that I think about it, he did mention tamales).
- Speaking of Sal Fasano, I'm really impressed by his fan club, the "Sal's Pals". They were freaking hilarious, getting up to yell "SAL FA-SA-NO" and clapping for each of his at-bats. For Dollar Dog Night, they were all wearing hot dog hats. And they have t-shirts. There's an article about them in the latest Phillies magazine and it's pretty damn funny, talking about how they see him as "the personality and look we've been waiting for since the Krukker", and about how "Philadelphia has a history of great mustaches", and how Fasano himself is like "I love Philly. If I'd known how crazy the fans would be here, I would have tried to live in South Philly instead of New Jersey." (South Philly has a HUGE Italian population, a huge italian market and some of the best food EVER, and the sports complex is in South Philly as well.)
- I bought a set of the postcard-sized Phillies photo cards (they're like big baseball cards). The Charlie Manuel card actually has all of his hitting stats from when he played in Japan in the late 70's. I thought that was awesome.
- Poor Jon Lieber. He was pitching okay, but unable to really field well even from the get-go, when Jose Vidro smacked the ball up the RF line. Ryan Howard dove and missed, Utley actually made the stop, but when he threw to first base, Lieber wasn't there in time and dropped the ball. When Johnson grounded to first next, Ryan Howard got it, looked for Lieber, and then just ran towards the base like "Uh, I'll just take care of this one by myself."
- I was surprised by the pinch-hitting choice in the second inning, because 1) we didn't know what happened to Lieber, 2) MIKE LIEBERTHAL PINCH-HIT WHEEEEE! Yeah, sure, he flew out to center on a hard line drive, but it was good to see Lieby back in the lineup. Not to diss Sal Fasano, because I'd never do that, but I mean, Lieberthal's the only guy on the team who has been playing for the Phillies since I actually *lived* in Philly, and I know his future in baseball is a little iffy at this point.
- Condrey tagging out Soriano was just damn funny. I'm still giggling remembering it.
- The Nats pitchers suck. But the starter, O'Connor, was actually pretty good.
- Actually, who are we kidding? The Nats as a team just plain suck. To be fair, though, they've had more injuries this year than Ryan Franklin has had delusions of grandeur.
- Whose freaking idea was it to put Marlon Anderson and Marlon Byrd on the same team and have them visit Philly? Sheesh. Talk about a boo fest.
- But speaking of boo fests, a really surprising thing was the LACK OF BOOING in general. I think that for once, the Phillies are fielding a team that everyone actually feels like they can cheer for. Except for perhaps David Bell, the starters really are a gang of guys that Philly really gets behind. J-Roll's got the streak, Utley's the awesomest thing on the planet, Bobby's just Bobby, Burrell's been hitting a ton of home runs, Ryan Howard was the ROY, Aaron Rowand's now got "The Catch", Fasano's got the Sal's Pals, and since most of the bullpen except Ryan Franklin has been kickin' butt and taking names, even they're getting good reception.
- Rheal Cormier! Woooo! I was telling my friend, "I have something to say about Cormier, but I'm not going to until he retires the side so I don't jinx him." So he got a 1-2-3 inning finishing in a strikeout, and then I said "Cormier's kicking butt. I would never have expected it from a 39-year-old supposedly-done guy, but hey, that's what lefties do, I guess."
- Cole Hamels was watching the game from the dugout, leaning on the railing for a while with his head on his hands and his elbows on the railing. At one point the Philly Phanatic just flopped down on top of the dugout and put its head on its elbows and mimicked Hamels, who totally didn't notice. It was really cute.

Okay, that's more than just a few comments I guess. Still. I can't believe the total joy I felt in watching the Phillies games yesterday and today. Maybe it's just the return to the childhood glee I used to have attending Phillies games as a kid, or maybe they were just honestly fun games to watch, and the crowd was really into it too. I'm seriously thinking I'll need to come back here for another long weekend this summer; it was sort of like getting to press the "Reset" button on my baseball attention span, since I had recently been getting apathetic about it. I hope the Mariners games get interesting again, and soon.

Also, if the Phillies lose tomorrow's game, it obviously means they were winning these games just for me!

Well, that was fun. Now it's 4:30am and I only have half an hour left until I should go walk to Market East to catch the R1 to the airport. Whoosh!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Game Report: Phillies vs. Brewers - A Tale of Two Ryans

Okay, I phreaking love the Phillies. This was a phantastic game. I had a complete and utter blast for pretty much my entire experience at Citizens Bank Park today. No, really.

Short version: The Brewers put two runs on the board early with a Koskie home run. And while the Phillies squandered a bases-loaded-one-out opportunity in the 2nd inning, they struck back in the 4th, when Ryan Madson (!!) hit a 2-RBI single, tying the game. Utley hustled out a grounder and Ryan Howard homered him home in the 5th. Two more runs came in the 6th off a walk and an "infield single", and that's where the score stayed for the rest of the game as the Phillies won it 6-2. Jeff Cirillo got to pinch-hit, and I booed him.

So anyway, I got a later start than I wanted, and forgot that Sunday schedules are kinda slow for the subways, but it's okay. I got to the stadium around 12:30pm or so and had the best timing ever, as apparently a pair of seats had opened up 30 rows behind home plate just then. So I jumped on them and left one in Will Call for my friend Joe, who was driving in from New Jersey and would be late.

It's just as well, because I was going to be all crazy and go around taking pictures anyway. I went to the Phillies dugout and Geoff Geary was out there signing stuff during Brewers batting practice, which was cool, though there were a lot of people bugging him so I didn't try to push my way in, just took a few pictures and moved on. I walked around to Ashburn Alley and decided to try to get a good angle to see Madson warming up. So I ended up talking to the ushers for a while, and they were supposed to theoretically keep people out who didn't have tickets for that area, but when I showed them that I had more expensive seats than that section, and also explained that I pretty much grew up on Phillies Sunday games and now lived 3000 miles away, they let me go down to the triangle point and take pictures of Madson. And Fasano. Holy hell, Fasano is just as funny-looking in person as he is in pictures or on TV. I really don't remember him having that mustache when he was on the Orioles, seriously.

Watching Madson warm up was pretty cool. He's very intense, but still has a gorgeous smile. Fasano was also really intense -- when there was a particularly hard thwack of the ball in the glove or whatnot, you'd hear him call out, "Good one!" or "Great pitch!" or whatever. Also, by the way, I want all the Phillies phans out there to thank me for dropping Ryan Madson from my fantasy team, because ever since I did that, he's been going out there and kicking ass.

After that I wandered back to my seats. Players were out signing stuff! And like, the starting lineup guys -- Howard, Utley, Rowand... and COLE FREAKING HAMELS. Man... I went down there and tried to get him to sign my ticket or something but he totally wouldn't. It was sort of weird, he seemed to be avoiding non-kids, especially after he signed this one jersey for a guy and the guy was like "Sweet, this is totally going on Ebay tomorrow". Whether or not he was kidding, that was a tasteless thing to say. If I end up stalking players for autographs tomorrow, and Hamels is out there, I've totally got to yell something like "I CAME THREE THOUSAND MILES TO SEE YOU PITCH AND THEN YOU POPPED YOUR SHOULDER, YOU HAVE TO SIGN MY TICKET GODDAMNIT".

At any rate, I did take some pictures of the guys signing stuff, so at least I didn't totally come away empty-handed.

Oh, one second, before I talk about the game, I picked up a copy of the Phillies Charities Calendar on my way back to my seat. And I have to say -- I'm really not entirely sure why any guy would ever buy this thing. It's basically just full of these awesome pictures of various guys on the Phillies -- Lieby, Howard, Burrell, J-Roll, Utley, Randy Wolf, Brett Myers, Tom Gordon, Madson, Nunez, Gonzalez, and Rowand. But, rather than being like, action baseball shots, they're all dressed in casual clothes, and all the shots sort of look like they're posing for a fashion magazine or something. They're all great pictures (especially Burrell and Madson) though, and such good-looking guys, so if you're a female Phillies fan, this calendar is totally for you.

Uh, anyway, there was a game. From the very second play of the game, I could tell it was going to be pretty awesome. Rickie Weeks had singled, and then Bill Hall hit this huge ball out to centerfield that looked like a sure home run, and Aaron Rowand ran back, back, back, and caught it like two feet from the wall. It was amazing, especially given what he went through a few weeks ago, and he got a huge standing ovation for this catch too. Be not mistaken: Philadelphia loves Aaron Rowand.

Weeks never got off first. Jimmy Rollins led off the Phillies' half of the first with an "infield single", which is to say, shortstop Bill Hall got the ball and dropped it. J-Roll stole second as Utley struck out, and Bobby advanced him while grounding out, but Burrell popped out to right to end the inning.

Prince Fielder, who is quite large, started off the second inning by hitting a double to left field. Pat Burrell may actually be worse than Raul Ibanez at getting the jump on balls like that, I think; it was a double for Fielder but I think it would have been a triple for several players. At any rate, it was sort of irrelevant as Cordel Leonard Koskie, the Pride of Manitoba, decided to launch a home run about 370 feet into the left field stands. 2-0 Brewers. Moeller struck out and Clark singled. Dana Eveland, the pitcher, tried to sac bunt but kept popping it up foul, as Fasano kept diving for the popups and ended up sprawled on the ground. Eveland eventually struck out and Weeks grounded out to end the inning.

The Phillies loaded the bases in their half of the second as Howard and Rowand both walked. David Bell hit a blooper fly ball to second, and Fasano got hit square on by a pitch. With the bases loaded, Ryan Madson came up to bat, and he worked it to a full count before striking out. With the bases still loaded, J-Roll swung at like the first or second pitch and whoooooooosh, it went way up into the air and landed in Prince Fielder's glove a few feet foul of first. It almost felt like the Mariners for a second there, squandering the bases loaded opportunity.

For NGFT Paul: the Phillies also played "All Right Now" by Free between the halves of the second inning, by the way.

Poor David Bell. He can't do anything right, can he? In the top of the third, he bobbled a hard grounder by Carlos Lee and also missed the throw to first base by several feet; good thing Ryan Howard picked it up or Geoff Jenkins, who had walked and advanced on a wild pitch, might have made it to third or further. Fielder popped out and Koskie grounded out though, so it worked out okay. In the Phillies' half of the third, Bobby Abreu got plunked on the shoulder, but then got caught stealing second, and that was about it.

Moeller and Clark singled to lead off the fourth, but between Dana Eveland failing to bunt properly and striking out on foul tip, Weeks popping up to far right, and Hall striking out, it didn't matter.

But the fourth was a lot more exciting for the Phillies. Ryan Howard led off with a single to right. Aaron Rowand hit a Citizens Bank Park 2004 home run to left-center, by which I mean it hit the left-center wall and fell for a double. David Bell still couldn't do anything right and grounded to third; rather than throwing him out at first, Koskie threw the ball home and had Ryan Howard out by a mile, and then Fasano popped out to left field, so now rather than runners on second and third with no outs, we had runners on first and second with two outs. But it was okay. Ryan Madson to the rescue! He hit this low line drive out to center field and I was so positive it was going to be caught, I was like "Oh no, not again," as the ball somehow eluded Brady Clark and fell to the ground. By the time he got it back in, Rowand had scored, Bell had scored, and Madson was on second. Moments like these are why I find National League games exciting. Rollins grounded out after that, but it was tied at 2-2.

Madson again got into and out of trouble in the top of the 5th, as Jenkins hit a double to left field and Burrell was yet again slow on the uptake. Lee grounded out, and then Fielder got hit square on with the ball in the side. It looked completely unintentional; as Madson released the ball you could tell he knew he made a mistake and he sort of cringed, and he even made a wild pitch after that which advanced Jenkins and Fielder to second and third. But he pulled it back togteher to strike out Koskie and Moeller. Yay!

Utley started off the Phillies' half of the fifth by being CHASE UTLEY, WONDER BOY, as he bounced a grounder to second base, but ran and ran and ran and actually RAN OUT THE GROUNDER, arriving at the base about at the same time as the throw. It was awesome! Abreu and Burrell struck out after that, and then RYAN HOWARD, POWER SOURCE came up to bat and BAM! hit a home run into the left-field stands right behind the foul pole, pretty much, 341 feet. It would have hit the scoreboard and bounced back in in Safeco, I think. Rowand grounded out, but it was now 4-2.

Geoff Geary pitched the top of the 6th. Gabe Gross got a single, but that was it.

Joe Winkelsas, who has a very interesting history, pitched the bottom of the 6th and 7th innings. The 6th was sort of a disaster for him, I suppose. Bell grounded out, as he was wont to do today, and then Sal Fasano got a single. And a pinch-hitting Abraham Nunez reached on error. And then J-Roll loaded the bases, hitting an "infield single" where Prince Fielder was basically too slow to throw him out in time. And Chase Utley hit an "infield single" where the second baseman ended up sort of stopping the ball but then missing it as it rolled along the ground, scoring Fasano. With what might have been a case of nerves at this point, being as the 32-year-old Winkelsas was in his third major-league game ever, he walked Bobby Abreu, scoring Nunez. But then he struck Burrell out on a called third strike (and Burrell did NOT agree with the call and was yelling something at the ump as he walked off) and Ryan Howard grounded out to second. It was now 6-2 Phillies.

As an aside, Ryan Howard walked, singled, and homered off the lefty starter, but grounded out against the righty bullpen guy. That's promising.

Winkelsas shut them down 1-2-3 in the 7th inning though, and Danny Kolb did the same in the 8th. I suppose it's a shame I didn't get to see Redneck Turnbow come out, but I'm happier that the Phillies were winning.

Anyway, actually, between Geoff Geary, Rheal Cormier, Arthur Rhodes, and Tom Gordon, the Brewers really didn't accomplish much for the rest of the game either. Cormier was fantastic, a 1-2-3 inning ending in striking out Prince Fielder. Rhodes was shakier, getting two outs but then giving up singles to Brady Clark and (!!!!) Jeff Cirillo. Yes, it was really bizarre in the ex-Mariner sense of having Rhodes pitch to Cirillo. After a wild pitch, Rhodes struck out Rickie Weeks. And Tom Gordon's inning was pretty much saved by another freaking amazing Rowand catch which easily saved a run, as Jenkins had singled and then Carlos Lee launched what looked like a home run to center again, only to have Rowand snag it by the W.B.Mason sign. It was awesome. And since it was the last out of the game, the standing ovation turned into everyone just standing up for the last out. Fielder struck out, and the third strike was in the dirt, and Fasano threw to Howard, and yay!

The speakers started blaring AC/DC's "You Shook Me (All Night Long)" as the team high-fived. There was a "run around the bases" thing going on after the game, and we actually hung out at the stadium a bit, walking around and stopping in the team store, and it was still going on half an hour later. Pretty crazy.

They had Hamels number t-shirts in the team store. I seriously debated getting one, but didn't, I'll maybe think about it again when I go back to the park Monday night for the Nats game. To pay me back for the ticket, my friend got me a stuffed Philly Phanatic, since I ended up having to throw away my old one when I was moving -- it had been in a box with stuffed animals and the eyes were washed out and the legs were falling off, which I was all sad about, so this is good, I have a brand new one!

After the game we went and got cheesesteaks at Jim's, too, which is always a great way to cap off any afternoon in Philly :)

So yeah. Now I sleep, and tomorrow I see more friends and family and Phillies. It's been a good weekend.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Philly Chillin, yo

Being in Philly is cool. On the way in from the airport, I saw a billboard near CBP that said "Fantasy baseball got you down? We got the REAL THING right here", and I saw several other Phillies billboards while going up I-95. And then, on the block of Chestnut St my dad lives on, there are Phillies banners up on some lampposts. If I look down to the street from our apartment, I can see the Ryan Howard banner below. Awesome.

I ended up not going to today's Phillies-Brewers game, though, since I got together with some friends for the day and hung out in Fairmount Park and West Philly. I got home around 8:30 and watched the game on TV with my dad; it's great to be able to kick back with some birch beer and Tastykakes and some Phillies on channel 57.

It was an exciting game, too. I got to see Chris Coste's second major league at-bat ever, and he got hit by a pitch and then scored when Jimmy Rollins hit a home run. (Of course, I also got to see Chris Coste get called for catcher's interference.) I got to see Aaron Fultz strike out the Brewers' side (Carlos Lee, Prince Fielder, and Corey Koskie at that). Then I got to see Ryan Howard hit a home run with Chase Utley scoring, tying the game at 6-6.

Then I went in the other room to call a friend of mine to see if he still wanted to go to tomorrow afternoon's game and make arrangements to meet up at the park. By the time I got back, it was 9-6, and my dad was like "Whoever this asshole Phillies reliever is just gave up two home runs." I look up... and sure enough, it's Ryan Franklin pitching. Go figure.

I hadn't really gotten a good look at Derrick Turnbow before now. He is one weird-looking dude; he sort of almost looks like someone who walked right off the set of Wayne's World or Trailer Park Boys or something. On the other hand, he has some nasty pitches; they're fast and in all the right corners.

Aaron Rowand looks pretty good for a guy who just took a center field fence in the face two weeks ago.

Anyway, I am going tomorrow. Hopefully I won't get too sunburned. And I hope Lookout Landing night at Cheney went well!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Homeward Bound

I'm staring at my information,
Got a ticket for my destination.
On a tour of baseball stands,
My scorebook and a card in hand
And every weekend's neatly planned
For a blogger gone across the land...

Tonight I'm getting in a plane and flying to Philly for the weekend for a weekend of Phamily, Phriends, and Phillies. I'm pretty sure I'll update from there, but in case I don't, now you know why.

Cole Hamels decided to ruin my Memorial Day weekend by going on the DL, so my guess is that I'll be stalking Ryan Madson on Sunday, and enjoying Dollar Dog Day on Monday, but in all honesty my plans are still nebulous. I also didn't realize Rick's Steaks took over for Geno's in Ashburn Alley. Crazy. Now if only they would put a Lee's Hoagie House and a Tastykake in the stadium, I could basically live in Citizens Bank Park. I mean, good sandwiches and Chase Utley, what else do I need in my life?

Game Report: Mariners vs. Orioles - There's no Wrong Way to Beat an Oriole

This is actually about the game from Wednesday night, where the Mariners won the game 7-4, not to be confused with this afternoon's game, where despite Gil Meche pitching 7 innings, striking out 10, walking 2, with 4 hits, somehow the Mariners out-Halamaed themselves on Rodrigo Lopez and lost 2-0.

See, today's game was in the afternoon, and it was on my 16-game plan, but I couldn't get out of work, so I switched tickets for Wednesday, which worked out well enough. A friend of mine from college just moved to town on Tuesday, and I figured taking him to a Mariners game was a great way to welcome him to Seattle. In the past, I've been to three baseball games I recall with this particular friend, and the home team lost all of them; one was a M's-Rays game in 2004 where the only thing I really remember about the game was Bucky Jacobsen's home run and that it was near the end of the "Ron Villone, Starting Pitcher" experiment. The other two games were in Pittsburgh against the Cardinals, both lost, one spectacularly.

So it goes to figure that this time, we watched the home team win as a former Pirates pitcher imploded, right?

Short version: Jose Lopez reached base when Kevin Millar forgot how to catch a ball in the first and scored on a Sexson single. In the second inning Kris Benson was getting chewed on like a dog toy, as the Mariners strung together a bunch of walks and doubles, as well as a pretty funny fakeout foul dribbler that Melvin Mora watched rolling along, for an eventual total of 6 runs scored as they batted around. The Orioles chipped away at the 7-0 lead a bit as Melvin Mora and Javy Lopez both hit two-run homers off J-Rod the Washburninator to bring it to 7-4, but that was all they got. Sean Green capped off the 6th with a Mora strikeout and then pitched two scoreless innings, and J.J. Putz came in with the intent of making up for his lousy Tuesday outing, and did so, facing only three batters (Markakis, Roberts, Mora) and striking them all out swinging.

Now, what else can I say about this game?

Firstly, I sat close enough to the field to really see some of the players and observed a lot of stuff. For example, Kevin Millar seems to have ADHD. He would run out to first base, take off his hat, put it on lopsided, say hi to anyone who walked by, turn around, wave at people in the stands and make faces at them, then put on his hat correctly, toss around a ball with the infielders, and then put his hat on wrong again, talk to the first-base coach, fix his hair, put his hat on correctly... it was sort of funny, and I should have tallied the number of times Millar adjusted his hat.

Jeff Conine is old. Yeah, I know, he'll be 40 in a month, of course he's old, but he looks it, too. Some ballplayers are pretty old and don't look it (like Steve Finley, or even last year Pat Borders), and some just do (Jamie Moyer).

Jeremy Reed looks pretty good with his hair growing out, I think.

Anyway, um. That error in the first inning by Millar was really a shame, because it was a damn nice stop by Tejada, and I was even about to shout "Nice!" to appreciate what a good play it was, until Millar dropped it and Lopez was safe.

The second inning was crazy on both sides. Washburn loaded the bases with walks, and seemed to have a lot of trouble throwing strikes for a bit there, but got lucky in Patterson popping up foul to third and Matos hitting a bouncing grounder up to Sexson.

But Benson, oh, Benson, what the heck happened to you? It's funny, I felt like I was watching a rerun of Sunday's game; on Sunday I was there to watch Chan Ho Park, who had been pitching pretty well, implode to the tune of 8 Mariners runs in the second inning; this time I watched Kris Benson, who has been pitching pretty well, implode to the tune of 6 Mariners runs in the second inning. It started off innocuously enough with Adrian Beltre grounding out to first, and Johjima walked. Then things started to get crazy. Jeremy Reed dribbled a grounder up the leftfield foul line, and Melvin Mora didn't touch it and just watched it roll, expecting it to go foul. It didn't. So with every fan in Safeco standing up laughing, Reed was safe at first on a "bunt single" and Johjima was on second. Betancourt hit the ball out to left field, and hey, did I mention Jeff Conine is old? Because he didn't quite get to the ball in time, and dove out for it, and whoooosh, he missed and fell over. As Conine sat there confused and Patterson recovered the ball, they called it a double, as Johjima and Reed scored, 3-0.

Ichiro then smacked the ball good into right center; it looked like an almost-home-run, which it was, as it bounced over the FSN Northwest sign for a ground rule double, scoring Betancourt. 4-0. Jose Lopez struck out, and Ibanez walked after Benson tried to pull off a sneaky pickoff of Ichiro at second. A wild pitch put Ibanez and Ichiro on second and third. I wasn't expecting much out of Big Richie, but he made Jeff Conine go running again, hitting the ball along the line past a diving Melvin Mora into the leftfield corner for a double, scoring Ichiro and Ibanez; 6-0. Carl Everett hit a single and Big Richie lumbered home, 7-0. Even Beltre got in on the hitting action and got a single at that point, but Johjima struck out to end the inning, and yet again, I had to push over numbers on my scorecard.

"See, I've seen this before. This is where the Mariners feel all comfy with their huge lead, and then the opposing team chips away at it and gives us all an ulcer," I said as Brian Roberts fouled off about a thousand pitches before finally walking. Mora also watched a few balls go by before smacking a really long fly ball to left field. I was pretty sure it was a home run, but as always, I try to watch the fielders as well as the ball to judge the arc, and Ibanez was still running; he made a grab at it and almost got it at the bullpen wall. Whoosh. 7-2. Washburn bore down a little and got a few groundouts to finish the inning.

Javy Lopez's home run in the 5th was a lot bigger. Rather than watching Ibanez, I was watching the fans sitting in section 151, who were all reaching out for the ball, and I knew at that moment it was a home run, as it went 379 feet into the stands. Mora had singled, so that made it 7-4.

The game stayed at 7-4 for the rest of the game, and there's not much to say about the rest of it, except a few scattered moments. Betancourt made a positively dazzling grab of a Javy Lopez grounder in the 7th, which was followed by Ramon Hernandez splitting his bat in half as he popped the ball to second to end the inning. As the Mariners ran into the stands, this chick in the front row jumped up and down and waved at Jose Lopez for the baseball. He threw it to her, but ended up throwing about three rows back, and the girl pouted at the person who caught it until they gave it to her. It was sort of comical to me, but what do I know? The only ball I've ever been thrown was from Willie Bloomquist.

Everett got himself thrown out trying to steal second. I have to point this out to Hargrove, but dinosaurs don't steal bases very well.

As I mentioned, Putz was absolutely lights-out in the ninth. I mean, Mora and Roberts are no small bats, and he struck out Markakis and those two in quick succession to end the game. Good stuff.

Kurt Birkins looked really young to me, but he also looked really good to me as a pitcher, and looking at his stats is kind of interesting; he's got good peripheral numbers through the minors and he seemed pretty composed on the mound as he went through the Mariners. I don't really know much about the Orioles farm system, but I assume things have to be either really good or really bad if they're doing things like starting John Halama out there.

And speaking of Halama and other former Mariners pitchers having a few good starts, Aaron Sele also won a game on Wednesday, which puts him at 3-0 and a 1.69 ERA. Even the wrap for that game starts off with "No one could have expected this when Aaron Sele took Odalis Perez's spot in the rotation," which I think sums up the situation pretty well.

As far as Kris Benson goes, anyway, a friend of mine had been joking a bit ago about how the Mets had "traded away Kris Benson (6-3, 3.86) and Anna Benson (36-24-34) for Jorge Julio (0-1, 5.31)", but given this atrocious outing and how the Mets now traded Jorge Julio for the Duque Dance, perhaps things are all balanced out.

By the way, in the Mariners favorites, Ichiro did list Sandra Bullock as his favorite actress, which at least sort of explains why he lists Miss Congeniality as his favorite movie. Wait, no it doesn't.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Orioles 14, Mariners 4.

There's a ball club in our town
It's run by a clown
They can't keep the baseball down
And you can see them frown!

When they get some guys on base,
They never let them score,
They just hit the ball all wrong,
And as they strike out more, they tell you,

"Yes! We can't hit Halamas,
We can't hit Halamas today.
Not Williams, or Loewens,
Nor Brittons, nor Hawkins.
We can't put the ball in play.
We have no home runs by Ibanez
Instead there's grand slams by Hernandez, ah,
Yes, we can't hit Halamas
We can't hit Halamas today."

Scoring got so close for them that they called to the pen,
"Send me Putz (or Woods or Green), we're catching up again."
When they got up to the mound, there was no Yu Bet
Sure, they gave up those nine runs, but how could we forget
The team said

"Yes, we can't hit Halamas.
We can't hit Halamas today.
Sure, get Petagine,
But just like Joh-jimi,
He can't put the ball in play.
We'll walk Millar, Lopez, and Mora
With runs they get to scora,
Right, yes, we can't hit Halamas.
We can't hit Halamas today."

(to the tune of Yes! We have no Bananas, by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn.)

(Post title a reference to the 2001 Mariners commercial First Names.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Beating Baltimoyer

Hey, what do you know. The Mariners won tonight, 8-6, making that, uhh... four in a row. Wins, that is. And tomorrow night we're going up against John Halama (?!), which means that in theory, we have a shot at extending that to five wins in a row. Jamie Moyer pitched a good game, Eddie Guardado got a save (!), Lopez kicked butt, and Sean Green... he's still, well, green. Big Richie even hit a grand slam tonight, which is always a good sign.

The Chiba Lotte Marines have won 9 in a row, sweeping Hiroshima, Yokohama, and Chunichi in interleague play. Of course, they lost the last two against Hanshin, and start a series against Hanshin in roughly five minutes, so who knows. I'm torn at this point, to be honest -- if the Fighters and Marines are seriously both pulling at first place, who will I cheer for? It's never been a problem in the last few years...

Heh, though, the CL officials gave Shinjo a smackdown for wearing his Hanshin uniform last week. And in other news, former Seattle Mariners and Yokohama Bay Stars closer Kazuhiro Sasaki apparently has decided to buy race horses. He may name his first one "fork". Erm.

Also, Chris Coste is cool. If he seriously writes a book called "Hey... I'm Just a 33-Year-Old Rookie," I'll totally buy it. Seriously, though, I hope he gets a couple of at-bats for the Phillies and does well; it'll just be another crazy story about this year.

Athletics Nation is cool, too. Blez got Justin Duchscherer to share a clubhouse story on the blog, which is just pretty rad. Even moreso, I enjoy the photo threads there, like this one from last weekend. BCG has a knack for capturing the games and the players pretty well, I think. I'm not just saying this because I've got a huge crush on Nick Swisher. Really.

Today was Arthur Conan Doyle's birthday, but apparently it didn't help our Doyle, as he was 0-for-3 as Tacoma fell 3-1 to Memphis, which seems to be the happy hunting ground of "where the hell are they now?" ex-majorleaguers. Desi Relaford? Timo Perez? Junior Spivey? Brian Daubach? What? Maybe they should take Kevin Appier off our hands...

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Padres - Moon Over Mike Cammy

I don't have a lot of time to write a full game report, unfortunately. I'm about 95% done moving from Greenwood to Ballard, and next time I move, I'm hiring movers, dammit. Moving almost everything by myself has just been a huge pain, and even with a few awesome friends who helped out with a U-Haul, it's still just been a mess, and has consumed most of May for me.

However, while I was spending the weekend moving, the Mariners were both moving and shaking. Hell, they were even doing more housecleaning than I was, sweeping the Padres.

Sherrill thumbs up
George Sherrill highly approves of sweeping.

I went to today's game. It was pretty fun. I haven't had to scribble a new inning on my scorecard for the Mariners in ages, but they managed to bat around in the second inning. I realize that in theory the lack of extra-base hits isn't great for the team, but when they get SEVEN STRAIGHT SINGLES followed by an Ibanez home run into the flowers behind the center field wall, that's a good recipe for runs. Everett, who originally led the second inning off with a single, followed it up with an even bigger home run, capping an 8-run rally.

They added on two more runs in the 6th when Chan Ho Park ran out of steam; having intentionally walked Ibanez to load the bases and pitch to Richie Sexson (who had struck out two times previously), he ended up... walking Sexson. Everett hit yet another Barfield-dropping single after that to score Ichiro.

For whatever reason, they were still having Lopez bunt. OMGWTFVORP. I just don't get it.

The Padres did chip away enough at the lead to make you worry; Felix apparently sprained his ankle in the third inning but stayed in for six anyway; he threw almost entirely balls in the third inning instead of strikes, and it was sort of scary. Dave Roberts was the big breadwinner for the Padres today; in both the 1st and 3rd innings he walked and was subsequently batted in; in the 6th he came up and hit a home run off Felix into the rightcenter stands. It was his first home run of the year; Dave Roberts is not exactly a power threat, after all. Geoff Blum got on base via a frustrating passed third strike, which should have ended the inning, but instead the Padres went on to score 4 runs.

Still, we went into the 7th inning with the score at 10-7, and Soriano pitched two innings and Putz pitched one, and the only hit at all was when Josh Bard (!) hit a HUUUUUUUUUUUUGE home run into the rightfield stands off Soriano. He almost hit the Hit it Here Cafe, believe it or not; the ball actually bounced off the Canon sign hanging above section 107 or so. It was just gigantic.

Chan Ho Park
Chan Ho Park, welcome to Safe Co Field.

Honestly, it was sort of weird that Park imploded in the second inning like that. Conor and Gomez and I had been wandering around the bullpen area before the game (which is where I caught that awesome Sherrill picture), and I took a whole bunch of pictures of Park warming up, and I thought he looked pretty good. I guess it's all my fault for talking about how well he'd been pitching lately. I seem to have this jinxing affect on teams and players.

For example, I wore my Mike Cameron #44 Mets t-shirt today, and what did Cammy do? He went 0-for-5 at the plate, and didn't really end up with that many spectacular play opportunities. I can't help but wonder if he got a strange sense of deja vu as he kept running back to the Safeco centerfield wall only to watch Ibanez and Everett's home runs sailing over.

Also, I was amazed by how many people kept asking me who I thought was going to win the Mets-Yankees game tonight due to my t-shirt. I would just smile and remark, "Dude, I have no idea. Maybe you should be asking Billy Wagner."

It was Little League day yet again at the stadium, it seems, which means it was full of kids. The beer vendor who looks just like Gil Meche came up to our section and was like "DOES ANYONE WANT BEER?" Then looking out and seeing some little kids waving at him, he was like "Uhh, I mean, does anyone *over 21* want a beer? NO, REALLY, DO ANY ADULTS WANT SOME BEER? Uhhh... I gotta go."

I couldn't find a left-behind Mariners Little League poster though, sadly. I wanted the picture of Johjima.

Also, I continued my campaign for Nick Swisher, Write-In All-Star. I filled out several ballots, all with different themes, such as "Guys With Weird Names, and Nick Swisher", or "The 15 Worst Guys on the Ballot, and Nick Swisher", or "Marks, Mikes, Matts, and Nick Swisher".

Friday, May 19, 2006

NPB Roundup: My Manager Throws Bases

I could talk about yesterday's Mariners game where they lost to the A's, 6-3, completing a series sweep, but I'd inevitably end up going on and on about how awesome Nick Swisher is, and everyone would get annoyed.

I could talk about how the Phillies lost 5-4 and Ryan Madson hates Cole Hamels, but that'd also be silly. David Bell went 3-for-3 with a walk and an RBI, and Ryan Franklin pitched a scoreless inning, so maybe my ex-Mariners theory was wrong.

I could talk about how we're facing our DIRE LOCAL RIVALS in the BATTLE OF I-5 this weekend, but I'd be better off deferring to one of my favorite USSM posts ever, where Derek attempted to rationalize the Padres-Mariners rivalry with a historical basis. Man, remember when Meche/Pineiro/Franklin really WAS a favored trio over Perez/Eaton/Peavy? I'll be at Sunday's game, cheering for Mike Cameron, and wondering when the hell Chan Ho Park decided to start pitching well.

I haven't done an NPB link roundup this week because I've been busy, so here's a bit of stuff:

Bobby Valentine had a birthday party last weekend, and posted some pretty funny pictures from it. In team news, the Lotte Marines decided to give Bobby a birthday present of going on a 7-game winning streak. The Marines and Fighters are tied for first place in the Pacific League now, with Seibu and Softbank right on their tails. We'll see who comes out of interleague the strongest, I suppose.

The Marines recently acquired Matt Watson from the A's. Add this to Justin Miller from a few weeks back, and it's got to be better than Val Pascucci and Kevin Beirne, that's for sure. On the other hand, Miller better wear long sleeves, or people are going to think he's a gangster, as tattoos are mostly associated with the yakuza over there.

Due to the wacky ways Japanese baseball works, Michihiro Ogasawara just qualified for free agency this week. If the Fighters do not re-sign him, there'll be seppuku in Sapporo for sure, as the team's losing Shinjo, their other big-name player, after this year as well.

On the other hand, could Shinjo return as manager in a few years? The mind *boggles*.

Shinjo also decided to wear his old Hanshin uniform before the Fighters-Tigers game on Thursday, as it'll be his last game ever played in Koshien stadium after he retires this year.

Gary Garland mentioned something I'd never considered before: Tomoaki Kanemoto's consecutive-inning streak means that he's also never been ejected from a game or been pinch-hit for or had to leave otherwise. Garland points out that pitchers are pitching Kanemoto inside, and Okada-kantoku isn't sure what to do about it -- he doesn't want Kanemoto to get injured, obviously, nor does he want him to take it into his own hands and get ejected and end his streak.

Oh yeah, and Yokohama Bay Stars closer Mark Kroon has his own website now. The really funny part about it is that the English half of it sounds like it was written in Japanese and translated into English; I'd expect his site to be the other way around, y'know? I think it's cute that it's kroon161 though, given that he's well-known for holding the record for fastest pitch thrown in an NPB game at 161 km/h (approximately 100 mph).

Speaking of throwing things, I posted the link to a video of Hiroshima Carp manager Marty Brown's imitation of Lou Piniella a week or two ago, right? Well, it gets even better -- during batting practice the other day, the team played a prank on him of sorts as they all wore warmup t-shirts that said "Danger" on the front and "My Manager Throws Bases" on the back with a logo of a flying base, and they even gave Brown a shirt that said "I Throw Bases". From japanbaseballdaily, here are pictures of the players' shirts and of the coach/manager shirts. Those are AWESOME. I really, really, really, really, REALLY want one.

And on a final note, I'm really amazed by the quality of the Fighters' pitching staff this year, considering how shaky I thought it was going into the season. The team ERA is 2.91 as of the latest stats, setup man Hisashi Takeda's been nothing short of incredible, Masaru Takeda's been no slouch himself, Micheal Nakamura is the closer we've so desperately needed for the last few years, rookie Tomoya Yagi is outstanding even beyond pitching 10 innings of a no-hitter earlier this year, 19-year-old rookie Yu Darvish is starting to break out, and Shintaro Ejiri has suddenly stopped sucking this year and would probably have a 6-0 record instead of 4-2 if the Fighters had actually scored a few runs for him. The Fighters have won 10 out of their last 13 games, and it's really come down to the pitching, because aside from Ogasawara, none of the regulars have an OPS above .800. Still, it'll be interesting to see how things shake down in the Pacific League, that's for sure.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Where we're going, we don't need Rhodes

Hey, get this, I think it must be "Ex-Mariners Get Revenge on Deanna" week. Since yesterday Ryan Franklin lost the game for the Phillies in the 9th, and today Arthur Rhodes lost it in the 9th after the Phillies did such a good job rallying to even the score. Even better, the winning run was scored for the Brewers by none other than ex-Mariner Jeff Cirillo. Arrrrgghhhh. Fortunately, I see no other former Mariners on the Phillies pitching staff to ruin tomorrow's game -- and Old King Cole will be starting -- so I suppose it'll be up to someone else like ex-Mariner David Bell to lose the game instead.

The Mariners lost to the A's tonight in the Second Battle of Lefty Zen Masters, or maybe in the Battle of Wackass Rundowns. I'm not sure. Either way, I'll be honest and say that I wasn't around for the game anyway, as I was running various house-moving errands.

Speaking of which, I went to Half Price Books tonight to ditch a crate full of old books and movies. They gave me $6 in store credit. I used it towards buying the New Bill James Historical Abstract hardback for $14.98, since I read like 700 pages of it a few years ago and never finished it before giving it back. I went up to the counter with the book and my voucher like "Hi. I just traded a crate of books for two-fifths of this book."

But, anyway, someone must have recently sold a collection of actual decent baseball books to the U-District Half Price, because they had a ton of good stuff, most of which I have already. So if you're looking for some cheap copies of some great books, they had the following awesome books for about $5 each: "The Meaning of Wa" by Robert Whiting, "The Pitch That Killed" and "One Pitch Away" by Mike Sowell, "Sandy Koufax: A Lefty's Legacy" by Jane Leavy, and of course, "Ball Four" by Jim Bouton, among others. And if you're really looking to melt some brain cells, they even had a cheap copy of Juiced. I suppose it'd be ironic to buy a used copy of it, eh?

Unfortunately, this means I am still a very bad girl who hasn't acquired a copy of next month's Book Club book, Last Night of the Yankee Dynasty. On the other hand, I'm going to have plane flights to/from Philly in a week and a half, so I'm sure that'll give me plenty of reading time.

The game I did follow today for a bit was the Twins - Tigers game, where one must be wondering by now what Johan Santana has to do win a game. I mean, he got through the first 7 innings without walking anyone, striking out 11, and only giving up 3 hits with no runs, until giving up a home run to Vance Wilson (?) in the 8th. Justin Verlander, on the other hand, somehow managed to pitch 8 innings against the Twins without giving up a run (on 6 hits), or walking anyone, OR striking anyone out. How bizarre.

I was mostly following it because I have Joe Mauer and Joe Nathan on my fantasy team, which makes me wonder if next year I should perhaps go for the All-Joe team instead of the All-Cute team. I mean, then I could have Joe Crede and Joe Blanton and J.J. Putz and uhhh... well, okay, I guess it breaks down when I start thinking of Joe Randa and Joey Gathright. And of course there's Joel Pineiro. Maybe it'd work better if I consider Johan Santana as a Joe, and Kenji Johjima, and all the guys named Jose, since it's sort of the same as Joseph, right? Albert Pujols's first name is Jose, after all.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Deja Vu

Felix vs. Blanton, Moyer vs. Zito... I swear we've been here before about five weeks ago. And so far, it's looking like much of the same.

It's just depressing to talk about tonight's games. The Mariners lost by a 12-6 landslide as the DH (!) Adam Melhuse hit a grand slam off His Royal Outside-and-Highness. I don't know what's up with Felix, and I only caught parts of tonight's game on Gameday as I was moving stuff anyway, but I'm sure Dave Cameron will have more to say about it tomorrow as he was apparently charting Felix tonight. (MORNING EDIT: Here's Dave's Felix charting article.)

As it is, I have Felix on my fantasy team. I also have Nick Swisher. Take a guess which one I'm happier with right now.

Half of Joe Blanton's starts have been atrocious. Of the good half, half of those have been against the Mariners -- and both against Felix. Go figure.

It's been a week or two since I've recounted the Mariner diets, but right now:

Weight Watchers (5/16):
Adrian Beltre, listed at 220, batting .214. He had climbed out of the diet range for a bit there, but has since fallen back.
Richie Sexson, listed at 235, batting .192. Richie, when are you going to become the lean mean hitting machine you were last year?

Jeremy Reed's batting .218 now and listed at 200, so he's okay.

I followed the Phillies game tonight a bit as well. The headline for tonight's 3-2 loss may read "Error dooms Philly", but in reality it seems it should be "Franklin dooms Philly". I guess Tom Gordon had made a lot of appearances lately, but I was really surprised to see Franklin left in for the bottom of the 9th inning with a tie game and all. That seems like the right time to put in your closer, or well, anyone other than Ryan Franklin. And while having Felix give up 5 unearned runs tonight was already ridiculous, it's even more ridiculous that the game-losing run Franklin gave up was unearned because of his own throwing error. Yeesh.

Also, if you haven't seen it yet, Aaron Rowand talks about crashing into the wall last week. Article comes complete with close-up of his mangled face. I'm still amazed and glad that he didn't damage his eyesight or anything else. And now the padding is up on the fence, which is good.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Weekend Mariners roundup: Your mom digs the long ball

Friday: Pineiro gets beaten open like a pinata; Dr. Livingston fares no better.
Angels 12, Mariners 7
Saturday: Old friends Lackey and Washburn face off, Richie gets sick of extra innings.
Mariners 5, Angels 4
Sunday: Jeff Weaver can't think pink, Fruto's fruitful MLB debut.
Mariners 9, Angels 4

Jeremy Reed walked into the clubhouse on Sunday looking sort of grim.

"Oh, man, guys, I totally screwed up. You wouldn't believe what I did this morning," he said.

"Lost your pink bat?" guessed Ibanez.

"Broke your wrist again?" said Bloomquist hopefully.

"No... I forgot to get tickets to the game for my parents. Here I am, finally back within driving distance of home, and they're going to end up sitting in the outfield seats or something because I'm an idiot," he lamented. "And on Mother's Day at that."

Johjima shook his head solemnly. "Yes, Reed-san. It is very bad to dishonor parents. You must find way to repay them for mistake."

Richie Sexson grinned. "Hey, little man, you've been smacking the ball good these past few days. Maybe them sitting in the outfield isn't so bad after all. What better way to show your appreciation for your mom than to hit a home run to her?"

Reed perked up. "Yeah! If I could hit home runs off Kelvim Escobar and John Lackey, of course I can hit one off of Jeff Weaver! I'll go see if I can conspire with the ball boys to see if I can get 'HI MOM' written on a few of the baseballs before I launch one into the stands!"

Washburn nodded. "Not that I'd ever be one to point out failings of Angels pitchers, especially other guys with the initials JW who may or may not have replaced me in the rotation here, but Weaver's given up more home runs than pretty much everyone in baseball right now. Kick his ass."

Jeremy Reed stared out on the field in disbelief as Cabrera and Kennedy turned an unbelievable double play, and got ready to take his place in the batter's box for his first at-bat of the day.

"You can do it!" shouted Johjima as he jogged back to the dugout.

Reed grinned and stepped in. Jeff Weaver threw the ball. It was a great pitch, a perfect pitch. Reed dug into it and the ball went flying to left field, deep, deep, deeper. A home run on the first pitch! he thought as he took off running. Smack! the ball fell into Juan Rivera's glove.

"Crap," thought Reed as the inning ended and he walked out towards center field. He looked up in the stands in right-center and thought he saw his parents waving, but couldn't be sure.

An inning later, when he took on the outfield wall making a catch of a long Rivera fly (ah, sweet, sweet revenge) he heard an anguished cry from the stands which was unmistakably his mother. He got up and straightened his cap with a grin, feeling good about saving a run or two. "I'm okay, Mom!" he yelled. A minute later, Adam Kennedy launched a home run into the stands anyway. That does it, he thought. Next inning is mine.

The word had gotten out around the team that Reed's parents were in the outfield bleachers and he desperately wanted to send a Mother's Day present out there.

Carl Everett hit a homer into the right field stands and came back in amongst the high-fives. "You gonna hit one for his momma too, Joe Momma?" he smirked at Kenji Johjima, standing in the on-deck circle as Adrian Beltre hit a single.

"I will do my best!" said Johjima as he went out to bat, but alas, he grounded out to short. "Ganbatte, Reed-san," he said encouragingly. "Do not fear his curve."

Raul got one. Jose got one. Even Carl got one. I can get one too, thought Reed as he stepped in for his second at-bat. He could see that Jeff Weaver was really losing it, as he watched the first four pitches go by to a 3-1 count. Wait, he realized, If I walk, Weaver will be out by the next time I'm up, and I'll never be able to hit a home run for my mom off this bullpen. So he started swinging. Damn! he thought. Strike two. No! Wrong way! Foul. He stepped in and chased the next pitch, which was way too low.

"Strike three! YER OUT!" yelled the umpire, as Reed walked back towards the dugout with his head down. He couldn't bear to look out towards the outfield stands.

"Sorry bro. I'll get you one," said Yuniesky Betancourt as he passed by.

"Sure, whatever," replied Reed.

A few pitches later, WHAM! Betancourt slammed the ball, and it went flying, flying, flying over the left field wall, bouncing in the tunnel, over the Taco Bell sign. Betancourt ran the bases and came back to the dugout with a huge smile on his face, as Mike Scioscia went out to the mound to heave it to Weaver.

"Whoa," said Jeremy Reed. "If this is how you guys step up to a challenge, I ought to see if I can get my parents to follow us around to more games."

"Yeah, your mom digs the long ball," muttered Bloomquist from his end of the bench.

Later in the evening, Jeremy Reed went home to catch up with his parents.

"Dear, you looked great out there in the field today," his mother said.

"Yeah, mom, but I'm really sorry about the tickets thing, and especially about how awful I was at the plate. I went 0-for-4, struck out twice, and got myself picked off of first base. Who gets picked off base anymore? God, I suck."

The phone rang. His dad picked it up. "It's Mark," he told them. "What? You did? Hey, kid, that's great. You wanna talk to your mom?" He handed over the phone.

"What'd he do today?" said Jeremy, fearing the worst. "Don't tell me he got a home run when I couldn't."

"Nah. But he went 2-for-3, doubled, walked, knocked in a run, scored two more, and made some great plays at third."

"Oh, is that all?"

"He also remembered to call for Mother's Day."

Reed blushed a deep pink.

"Very nice, son. Now you match your baseball bats."

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Short Shameful Confession

I just realized something Friday night, and it's been stirring in my brain all weekend.

For whatever reason -- I don't love the 2006 Mariners. Right now, I sort of feel like they're just the guys who work down the street from me. I like 'em and all, and don't mind going down to Safeco to hang out with them, but I don't really *love* them anymore.

My ex-team has come and stolen my heart back, see. I do love the 2006 Phillies, even though we're in a long-distance relationship.

It's sad, isn't it? It really hit home when Aaron Rowand got injured the other day. I felt like I wanted to send him a get-well card or something. Just because he seems like a great guy, not just from the way he's been playing, but even just the silly random crap he does on the sidelines. He puts in tons of time at fan events, both over the winter and even off-days in-season like Baseball 101, and he plays the way Phillies fans want to see a guy play -- 110%, hard-nosed, works his butt off.

The Phillies are full of guys like that, likeable for one reason or another. Chase Utley is another one in the Rowand mold -- he's talented as all hell, really great-looking, plays hard and works hard, and comes through for the team. Ryan Howard is the same way -- he knows he's got problems hitting lefties, but he's working on it, and I wouldn't be surprised if he became an even bigger nightmare to pitchers in the next year. Ryan Howard's also that kind of guy everyone in Philly can like; a cool dude who doesn't hate playing in Philadelphia, who's big and scary and baseball-mashing, but still has a smile for everyone.

While Pat Burrell takes a lot more flak than he deserves for not living up to expectations, and for making a lot more money than he probably deserves, there's no denying that he's stepped up this year so far. He and Ryan Howard are the Phillies' big HR/RBI leaders, a lefty-righty mashing tandem. Burrell's always been sort of negative towards the Philly fans and press and gets a bad rep as a result, but because I view him from afar, I've always been a reasonably big Burrell fan. Mostly because he's really cute.

And on the other side of the outfield we have Bobby Abreu. I know that I've said some harsh words about Bobby in the past, such as "he has great numbers but he doesn't help the team" back last fall when he was playing injured and I honestly thought he should just take a rest, but when it all comes down to it, I like Bobby. Besides being a perennial MVP candidate, he's a good guy. I was astounded when the Phillies came to Seattle last summer that a superstar like Bobby came out and signed stuff, making sure that pretty much every kid at the front of the stands got to him. There's nothing that Bobby isn't good at when it comes to hitting. He has power, he has speed, he knows how to take a walk, he knows how to hit the ball. His fielding is less than stellar, but it's certainly more than adequate. Basically, despite how I used to really adore Kevin Stocker when I was about sixteen years old, I'd say trading him for Abreu was easily one of the best moves the Phillies made during the sucky time of the late 90's. Yeah. We like Bobby.

J-Roll from the Bay! Jimmy Rollins is an enigma, that's to be sure, but let's face it, he's easy to cheer for. In the mold of "little fast dudes", the thing about J-Roll is that, much like Ichiro, how he's doing offensively often drives how the team is doing overall. Last summer things seemed to be completely dead in the water in August, and then J-Roll stopped sucking and started rolling, and next thing you knew, the Phillies surged and almost took the wild card from the Astros. While I'm not sure he's got a future as a hip-hop artist or anything, I do think the Phillies did a good job in deciding to keep him for the next several years.

Even David Bell, while I know everyone in Philly hates him, I know he's a pretty good third baseman. You could certainly do worse, at least. I've seen him singlehandedly lose games and I've seen him singlehandedly win games, and in the meantime, people boo him when he loses and don't cheer when he wins.

And hey. No more Endy Chavez. Welcome Shane "V for" Victorino, the Hawaiian wonder. Despite Rowand's injury being terrible, this is a good time for Shane to shine, and so far, that's exactly what he's doing.

I'm not as attached to the Phillies pitching as I could be, I know. I love Cole Hamels already, but who doesn't? Brett Myers is kind of like a frustrating obnoxious deadbeat little brother who's going to totally surprise us all someday by taking over the world, though. Gavin Floyd is sort of like a little puppy, where you're fine letting him roam the house and figure out his place, but worried he's going to pee on the living room carpet if you don't keep an eye on him. Jon Lieber's like the sysadmin who's always dependably doing his job and keeping things working, and nobody appreciates it, choosing only to bitch him out when the network goes down.

Ryan Madson is a dreamboat and I adore him and all, but he's been the worst pitcher on my fantasy team this year, which sucks. Ryan Franklin and Arthur Rhodes used to be in Seattle, and Tom Gordon used to be a Yankee, but I appreciate what all three of them bring to the table, I suppose. And despite how much I make fun of Rheal "Blame Canada, Nuke The French" Cormier, I remember him being the Phillies version of Shigetoshi Hasegawa in 2003, and thus will always have a soft spot in my heart for him (much like I have for Kevin Millwood since 4/27/2003). Even if he IS probably going to implode like a timebomb sometime this year.

Now, I'm trying to think of Mariners who I honestly really adore as players -- players who I can honestly see myself typing "Man, I really love _____" in a game thread, and mean it, like I can with half the Phillies. I mean, a few years ago we had some players I really adored and liked to cheer for no matter what. John Olerud, Randy Winn, Shiggy, Mike Cameron, Dan Wilson, Edgar Martinez, even Pat Borders and Ben Davis, and cute-little-boy Gil Meche (not to be confused with Gil Meche v2.0, the haggard-haunted-guy). Even when the team started sucking, we ended up with weirder heroes, like Badass Bobby Bowflex Madritsch, and Ronnie The Bear Villone, and Mike Sidearm Myers, and Hiram "It's" Bocachica "Time", and so on. You saw the hirambocachica.com folks at the park, or the Bucky Backers, or several other weird fan cults popping up. It was kind of fun.

And now I look at the Mariners and try to come up with some unbridled affection for anyone. I suppose there's Kenji Johjima, now that I'm over the whole "goddamn Fukuoka Hawks" aspect of him. Ichiro is still the utter cool dude and I know how badass he is, but I've actually never been in love with him like so many other people are. I still adore Jamie Moyer as a fellow lefty from Pennsylvania who grew up idolizing Steve Carlton. Thanks to certain other bloggers and the IKEA caravan, I've gotten a much bigger appreciation of George Sherrill in the offseason. Eddie Guardado is funny to read about, sure, but I don't *love* him. Yuniesky Betancourt is really exciting to watch, and certainly Jose Lopez and Jeremy Reed are also exciting young guys, and King Felix kicks ass, but... staring at the Mariners' 40-man roster, the only guy who actually jumps out as being someone I really truly adore as both a player and a person is Doyle. (Heh heh, his picture on his Rainiers page is sideways. That's awesome.) I suppose I also have a bigger appreciation for Jarrod Washburn than anyone else in Seattle; I think he's got a great smile and the bluest eyes in baseball, plus a great sense of humor and attitude towards his teammates.

It's no wonder "You gotta love these guys" is no longer being thrown all over the place as the Mariners slogan. I don't know if it's that the team isn't winning, or that the team doesn't have personalities the town can embrace anymore, but... I'm sorry, Mariners. I just don't love you any more. My ex-team is back in the picture, and they've stolen my heart away for a while. We can still hang out as friends, though, right? I'll still come down to Safeco and see you, I promise, but if I call out another team's name during "Take Me Out To The Ballgame", you'll just have to forgive me, okay?

Friday, May 12, 2006

Frivolous Friday

Okay, wait, I'm not asleep yet. Silly things have popped into my head in honor of the Phillies-Reds Hamelfest later today:

Old King Cole

Old King Cole was a merry old soul
And a merry old soul was he;
He threw like a light in the middle of the night
And it passed for a called strike three.
Every pitcher may have a fine fastball,
but a finer change-up has he;
Oh, there's none so rare as can compare
With King Cole and his strikeout spree.

(to the tune of "Cecilia" by Simon & Garfunkel)

Aurilia, you're making a start
You're taking the field for us daily.
Oh Aurilia, we're out in the stands
We're clapping our hands, to run home.

Watchin' ball in the afternoon
There's Aurilia, half of a platoon.
Got the start at second base,
When I look up again, someone's taken his place.

(...yeah, okay, I know, he's on the DL, but *I* thought it was a funny idea)

Counting up Friday

Firstly, I finally finished writing up Tuesday night's game fun. I may have totally screwed up RSS by moving around entries, so forgive me. If you actually come here via the normal blog, then you may want to skip back and read the game report, though of course, it came down to Felix Rules, Waechter Sucks, And Meadows Sucks More. (I swear, in games I've seen Brian Meadows in he's pitched about one inning total and given up about twenty runs. No joke.)

Secondly, I'd talk about Wednesday afternoon's game, but what more can I say besides THE ONLY RUN OF THE GAME WAS SCORED WHEN JAMIE MOYER BALKED? The Mariners lost 1-0 as Richie Sexson aimed to do his best Paul Bunyan impersonation, but got screwed up along the way and did his best Russ Branyan impersonation instead. Moyer pitched respectably, but the Mariners couldn't get anything off of Scott Kazmir, which isn't really that surprising. Not being able to score a run off their bullpen either, though, is inexcusable. Ugh.

Thirdly, I forgot to forward the really funny video here of Hiroshima Carp manager Marty Brown throwing first base in a truly Lou Piniella moment last weekend. While I'm at it, um, that whole Zuleta-Kanemura brawl is apparently also viewable on YouTube. Gah. Poor Kanemura.

Fourthly, I suppose I jinxed the Phillies yesterday by pointing out how well they're doing. And worse, Aaron Rowand took a centerfield fence in the face during tonight's game; check out the video linked from that article. Amazing play, but holy crap, I hope he's okay.

Fifthly... Geary's down. Cole is up. He'll be starting tomorrow's game against the Reds, and of course, the game starts while I'm at work. I suppose that's what the Gameday app is for; at least I can still count the K's as they happen, even if I can't see them. You have to understand; I'm left-handed and from Philadelphia. Of *course* I'm getting overly psyched about King Cole. He's a merry old soul, and a merry old soul are we.

Sixthly, if you're one of the people who reads this blog but not USSM and somehow hadn't heard already, Doyle is back. The Force is strong with this one so far.

Seventhly, Takuro Ishii of the Yokohama Bay Stars got his 2000th hit yesterday. Not only is this a huge milestone to hit, but Ishii is interesting in the career path he took. He joined the Taiyo Whales in 1989 as a pitcher, then converted into a third baseman, and has been a full time shortstop since 1996. Westbay-san noted that he is only the fourth player ever in Japanese baseball to get 2000 hits who also pitched in a pro game.

Eighthly, Hideki Matsui broke his wrist tonight, and will be out for several months, possibly the whole season. The sucky part is, this effectively ends his consecutive-game streak at 1768, counting his 518 with the Yankees and 1250 with the Giants back in Japan. Love or hate the Giants or the Yankees, this really does suck for him; I thought he had a pretty good chance of getting to at least 2000 consecutive games.

Ninthly, I would mention how the Nippon Ham Fighters are doing, but I don't want to jinx them too. With the Fighters playing Yokohama this weekend and the Hawks and Lions playing Hanshin and Yomiuri respectively, there's a really good chance the PL standings might stay in the order they're in currently. That is all.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Paging Mr. Hamels

It's official. King Cole Hamels is getting called up -- he'll be taking Ryan Madson's place in the rotation, apparently, and starts this Friday against Cincinnati. (Which means if he takes that slot in the rotation, he'll get a start against the Nats while I'm in Philly! Woohoo!)

I neglected to mention that on my birthday, Hamels pitched his third AAA start, going 7 innings, giving up one run on five hits, striking out 10 and walking none. That puts his 3 starts at AAA with this line:

23 IP, 10 H, 1 R/ER, 0 HR, 1 BB, 36 K, 0.47 WHIP, 0.39 ERA -- and the craziest part is that his FIP is even lower, at 0.20.

In addition to all that, he's a pretty good candidate to oust Zach Duke from the 2006 All-Cute List as NL lefty starter, if he continues to dominate in MLB.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm also damn happy with the Phillies in general these last few weeks. The winning streak is at 9 and counting.

The guys are HITTING. Utley, J-Roll, and Rowand all have 1.000+ OPS for the last week, Ryan Howard was at .977, David Bell and Pat Burrell are holding their own, and even though Bobby Abreu only logged 2 hits in the last week, he still walked 7 times to keep his OBP at .333. The team is tied for 8th in the majors for home runs with 42 so far this year. (The Mariners, by contrast, are tied for 28th with 22.)

The guys are also PITCHING. Ryan Madson finally had a good start against San Francisco, Brett Myers went up against Pedro Martinez last night and won... in 14 appearances this year, Rheal Cormier has yet to give up a run, which is amazing. Tom Gordon has been phenomenal and is notching up saves left and right, and as Mike Berquist points out at A Citizen's Blog, Jon Lieber has been a lot better than the numbers would have you believe.

Yeah, it was embarrassing starting out the year 1-6, but this is pretty awesome. I'm really glad I decided to go for the Memorial Day Phillies pilgrimage this year rather than waiting for Labor Day.

Though I wish I could have been there for Baseball 101 or to see Billy Wagner get booed. Though I still kinda like Billy, so I wouldn't participate, of course.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Game Report: Mariners vs. Devil Rays - Waechter? I hardly know 'er!

Alright, here's the real game report (for the May 9th evening game; I may have done some weird posting thingamajigs so this shows up out of order if you're on an RSS feed). It sort of felt like last year's Felix home start against the Royals, to be honest. We had similar seats along the left-field line but sort of far out, and there was nobody at the stadium then either, and it just seemed pretty likely we'd win the game, and we did.

Short version: The only run the Rays managed started with an iffy E-6 later ruled a single (unlike later when an error was unfairly called an error and not changed), a couple grounders, and a rare sac fly. Felix struck out eight Devil Rays, although three of those were Russ Branyan, so I'm not sure it counts. Jeremy Reed showed Joey Gathright how to play centerfield. The Mariners managed two almost-rallies, one off Waechter in the second inning which resulted in two runs because Hargrove likes to squander outs (more about that later), and one off Waechter and Meadows in the eighth which resulted in four runs. In-between that, Johjima got to score a run off an Ichiro shot, and Carl Everett hit a home run into the right-field stands in the 5th, as the Mariners won the game 8-1.

Long version:
Josh had an extra ticket to today's game, so I got to sit in the lower decks, where they're apparently bothering to have the ushers keep out the people who won't spend the money to sit down there. I had a great vantage point for watching Raul Ibanez hop around, and also for seeing the Devil Rays' bullpen, not that it really mattered.

Felix started off the game by walking Julio Lugo, which worried me for a bit, but then he got Crawford to almost ground back to him into a double play, except Betancourt was a bit off-balance after Felix hurled the ball at him and it was just a 1-6 forceout. Gomes struck out and Aubrey Huff, who finished the game at .171, pop fouled out to Beltre.

The Mariners went down easy in their half of the first inning, as did the Rays for the most part in their half of the second. Russ Branyan struck out swinging, setting a trend for the night.

The second inning was both awesome and awful all at once. The Mariners were totally wrecking Waechter for a bit, slapping hits to all sides. Sexson singled to left, then Everett walked, and Beltre also singled to left, loading the bases. Johjima came up to bat and BAM, smacked the ball into centerfield for a single. Richie scored, C-Rex scored, and Beltre stopped at second.

I suppose that since there were runners at first and second and no outs, Hargrove figured he'd squander a few outs and make things easier on the Rays, so during Reed's at-bat, he did two very stupid things:

1) He had Reed trying to sac bunt
2) He had Beltre try (and fail by a mile) to steal third

Now, maybe it's just since reading BBTN I've been paying more attention to things like Run Expectancy charts, but may we point out that with guys on 1st and 2nd with no outs, the run expectancy is 1.573, whereas with guys on 2nd and 3rd with one out, it becomes 1.467? So sac bunting is a really stupid idea here. And then let's go with having Beltre steal third -- guys on 1st and 3rd with no outs increases your run expectancy to 1.904, but having him get caught reduced it to 0.573 -- so in effect, he risked a full run decrease in Run Expectancy for an increase of .331. Sigh. I think I need to make up a cheat-sheet of these numbers to keep in my wallet so I can look like a big stats nerd and come up with stuff like that on the fly at the game. Or not.

Anyway, what actually happened during Reed's at-bat is that he ended up swinging for real, and grounding out to third in what would have been a double play if Ty Wigginton hadn't eaten the ball as Johjima was forced out at second. So now we had one runner at first with two outs. I'm not sure what would have happened to Beltre had he not tried to steal, but chances are there would have been two runners with one out instead of one with two. Betancourt singled to left after that and moved Reed to third, but Ichiro popped out to center to end the inning. Bam. 2-0 Mariners.

Joey Gathright, who seems to be a guy with lots of speed and little else, led off the third inning by bouncing the ball up the middle. Betancourt zoomed over to get it, and I started exclaiming, "Holy CRAP, Betancourt is totally..." as he threw the ball to first off-balance and Gathright was called safe. Josh was like, "Way to go with your early praise of Betancourt, Deanna!" and then we were both like "HOW THE HELL DO YOU CALL THAT AN ERROR?" as the scoreboard flashed E6. "Any other shortstop doesn't even get to the ball!" "Derek Jeter makes that a clean single to center!" Then Lugo hacked at a pitch and bounced it way up in the air, and as usual I was joking, "It's too high! It's too high!" except, literally, it was, and Beltre didn't get the throw in time. Felix fielded a short grounder by Crawford by running to tag him out at first as the other runners advanced, and Gathright scored on a sac fly. Lugo stole third or advanced on defensive indifference, I dunno which, but it was irrelevant as Aubrey Huff grounded out to first. 2-1 Mariners.

The Mariners didn't do much in their half of the third, though Richie Sexson grounded out to Aubrey Huff, except Aubrey Huff threw the ball into the stands and he ended up on second instead. It didn't matter as Carl Everett stranded him there. The Mariners informed us that Raul's childhood nickname was "RJ", to which I mused aloud, "I bet his middle name starts with a J. Oh yeah, it's Javier! No, don't ask me why I knew that offhand." They also informed us that Carl Everett's first paying job was selling seafood. I know there's a coelacanth joke in there somewhere, but I'm too lazy to make it.

Russ Branyan struck out swinging a second time to end the Rays' half of the fourth. It's a running gag.

Johjima got a walk in the Mariners half of the fourth, and then Reed nearly hit a home run, but it fell into Joey Gathright's glove way out in center. In the meantime, Johjima had taken off at the crack of the bat and was already almost to third and had to run all the way back to first when the catch was made, barely making it in time. Betancourt singled for real though, and Johjima advanced to second, scoring on Ichiro's single after that. I bet he was sick of running by then. Lopez grounded out to short after that, but it was 3-1 Mariners.

Gathright led off the fifth by getting another "Betancourt error"; this time, I was dead sure he had gotten the 6-3 play, but either Sexson was off the bag or the timing was slightly wrong, because oh man, did he look out. And yet again, they called it an E-6. wHATEver. It was largely irrelevant as the rest of the Rays incompetently did stuff like hitting into double plays and striking out.

Carl Everett hit a 353-foot home run into the right-field seats in the bottom of the fifth. I stood up and cheered anyway. Knocks in box put Sox on Fox, remember. 4-1 Mariners.

Jeremy Reed hit a single in the bottom of the sixth, and then got THROWN OUT TRYING TO STEAL SECOND ARRRRRRGGGHHHH. I know, Reed's got speed, but speed does not necessarily mean "knows how to steal bases". Sending Jeremy Reed to steal a base when you've got Ichiro at the plate is sort of like sending a belated birthday card. If you're not going to get there in time, why send it at all? You're only calling attention to the fact that you forgot in the first place.

Felix was getting up there in pitches in the seventh, but struck out Branyan swinging yet again, and Gathright, and all was good with the world. The Mariners didn't do much in their half though, though Ichiro knocked down Ty Wigginton with a single to right, which was sort of funny.

Felix struck out Carl Crawford and Jonny Gomes to start the 8th, but by then was up to 108 pitches, so he was taken out. Then the pitching stupidity happened, as Sherrill came in and walked Aubrey Huff on four straight pitches, and then Soriano was summoned to get Ty Wigginton to pop out. This putting-Sherrill-in-for-one-batter trick is getting old, seriously.

On the other hand, I didn't complain about the length of the 8th inning because of the Mariners blowing apart what was left of Doug Waechter and Brian Meadows. Brian Meadows!

WAIT. I need to tell a funny Brian Meadows story. Namely, the last time I saw him pitch. It was last April, and I was in Pittsburgh for my usual April pilgrimage, and watching a Pirates-Cardinals game. The score was 2-1 Cards going into the 9th. It was 11-1 Cards coming out of the 9th. I talked about it a little bit here and you can see the box score here via Retrosheet. It was pathetic. He was just lobbing the ball up to the plate and the Cardinals were just digging into it, and they batted around and then some, scoring 9 runs in one inning.

So, it shouldn't surprise me what happened against the Mariners with him pitching. Waechter loaded the bases on singles by Everett and Beltre, and then hit Johjima with a pitch, and was taken out. So Meadows comes in, and I'm like... "Josh, I know this guy sucks, but I can't remember why I know he sucks."

And sure enough, he sucked. Reed hit into a fielder's choice and Everett was out at home, but after that Betancourt hit another screaming ball to center field, and just as he with Everett's hit, Joey Gathright ran in to get it, and dove and slid, and caught it but the ball bounced out of his glove. Lame. Well, for them. Betancourt knocked in Beltre; Ichiro singled to right to score Johjima, and Lopez singled to right to score Reed and Betancourt. Ibanez mercifully grounded into a double play, ending the inning at 8-1 Mariners.

Well then. It was a quick, merciful ninth inning. Toby Hall hit a ball to shallowish right-center, and Jeremy Reed ran to get it, dove and slid... and unlike Joey Gathright, CAUGHT the ball. It was beautiful. That deflated the Rays, I think; Travis Lee, whose headshot looks as if he's had a mullet Photoshopped on, struck out; and for the last out of the game, who was up? Russ Branyan! Disappointingly, he didn't strike out swinging for his fourth time of the day, but instead grounded the ball up towards first base, and that was the game.

It was nice to finally come to a game we really expected to win. Now, if only Felix could make all of the other lineups in the AL look like the Devil Rays, we'd be in good shape.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Sizemore, Swisher, Sexson, and Sucky Seattle

Thanks to MSB, I spent a while today reading up on the Grady Sizemore fandom. I mean, yeah, sure, I think he's a really cute guy, but I really had no idea how crazy it had gotten. Though, to be fair, the Sizemore chicks are actually pretty amusing in their own right. Both of these are fairly graphics-intense (is it typical to make sites these days to use graphics for your text?) but Grady's Ladies has a really funny biography section about him, and the Sizemore Girls are a smaller but also dedicated group. It's totally out of control! Also, they make me feel old.

Another article about Grady's Ladies makes me wonder if I'd actually be more annoyed than amused by them if I was actually sitting near them in the stadium. On the other hand, this article about them is pretty funny -- mentioning that the team apparently asked Grady's mother whether it was okay to make the "Mrs. Sizemore" t-shirts, and then she was one of the first people to buy one. I think that's sort of cool. Also, Aaron Boone and the rest of the team apparently finds it a good diversion to make fun of Grady about his fortuitous female fanclub.

A profile of Grady made me look up why the hell people call Travis Hafner "Pronk", too. That's pretty funny. He does look sort of like a donkey.

On the subject of really cute outfielders that totally kick ass, when I was filling out a few All-Star ballots at the game the other day, I noticed that Nick Swisher wasn't on the ballot, and I wrote him in on every ballot I filled out as a write-in AL outfielder. Realizing that I couldn't possibly be the only person who noticed how completely awesome he's been so far this year (he's on my fantasy team; of course I'd notice), I visited Athletics Nation to see what was up, and sure enough, they have a thread about it too. I know write-ins never really get elected, but I at least plan to Vote Early, Vote Often, Vote Swisher.

There's some other fun stories about Swisher out there, too. I liked this article about what a goofball he is (cmon, Swish, an Asiago cheese bagel followed by a strawberry one? Eewwwww) and this article about his family and stuff.

Anyway, in visiting AN, I also got to read a really awesome interview with Mychael Urban where he addresses all sorts of A's stuff in a fun and informative way, found out about a random '74 Oakland A's gag on the Simpsons the other night, and saw the latest ANtics, which deals with Barry Zito's hair. "Get it cut or you're OFF THE TEAM, Saarloos!"

For the Moneyball lovers, Jeremy Brown is expected to get called up to replace Jason Kendall during his suspension. Also in wacky Sacramento news, Keith Ginter ended up pitching for two innings in a game the other day. How often do you see "2B-P" on a box score?

Oh, right, the Mariners, I should be talking about them a bit too, right? Well, they won tonight, 6-3, but on the other hand, it was against the Devil Rays, who are also the bottom-feeders of their division. And still, the Mariners couldn't get any runs through until their bullpen imploded, although watching the Gameday app as I packed boxes, it sounded like Chad Orvella suffered a mild case of Steve Blass Syndrome and wasn't doing so well at the whole throwing strikes thing for a bit there. And Eddie pitched the 8th and Putz the 9th, which was good; I think we should temporarily rename him to "K. K. Putz" instead of J.J. Still, hey, it's a win, and I'll take it. Tomorrow with Felix facing off against a weaker lineup and a pitcher like Dorky Doug Waechter, we might almost have a shot at taking the series, y'know? I'll be at the game, anyway, voting for Felix, or something.

Anyway, the thing is, I haven't updated the Weight Watchers gag for a while, and I'm glad to note that most of the team has done very well in the program. Of all the guys with more than 100 AB, only Richie Sexson is still in Weight Watchers. Even Beltre bats in at .221 with a listed weight of 220. But poor Richie, down at .190/.272/.331 -- ouch! Seriously, aside from Lopez, Ibanez, and Johjima, it's hard to be optimistic about anyone's bats lately. The heart of our order is like a black hole where rallies go to die, and that just isn't good.

Interleague play has started in Japan. Through some scheduling miracle, the 2005 Japan Series is being relived at Koshien this week as the Lotte Marines face off against the Hanshin Tigers; tonight it appears that Lotte's Kevin Beirne takes the mound against Hanshin's Chris Oxspring, neither of whom were actually on those respective teams last fall. At the other end of the spectrum, the CL bottom-dwelling Yokohama Bay Stars face off against the PL bottom-dwelling Rakuten Golden Eagles. Gosh, it's just like the Mariners playing the Devil Rays, eh?