February 8, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

I started to write a long post today that never came about (more on this later). My basic point, presented here without the backup etc. that I was putting together, was that baseball teams seem to have divided themselves into two camps:

*Teams that want to win, but have limits on how they can achieve that and

*Teams that have another priority but wouldn’t mind winning.

The Mariners, I was going to argue, are the best team of the second group. They’re willing to invest a lot, they have a productive farm system and a major league team that while possibly competitive in a division with three good 80-90 win teams, and they play in a lovely new stadium I like to go see games at (which is not to say that I don’t have quibbles with it). But their priority list goes:

1. Definately make money

2. Field a friendly team of character guys

2. Win

Other teams do this a little differently. The Blue Jays, for instance, it’d be more like

“Win as many games as we can given our budget and our plan to be ready to compete when the Yankees and Red Sox fall over exhausted”

It’s a fine difference. The A’s may win just as many games as the M’s, but I don’t doubt that if Beane had to sell his family to Brian Sabean to get Barry Bonds playing left field, he’d do it.

Fortunately for us, they’ve so far decided that the way to make money is to put butts in seats and keep the team resonably competitive within the division. What I worry about is what happens if the team wobbles. What if Boone joins his brother on the out-for-the-season list, or Ichiro breaks his arm somehow, and the team drops below .500?

If the fans leave and the team starts to look at breaking even instead of making obscene amounts of money, I can see them punting entirely. They’ve been paying into the revenue sharing fund for years (which is morally wrong, but don’t get me started on that) and that has to rankle every one of the owners. If they can field a team for $25m, get half the fans plus an extra $40m in revenue-sharing money, I don’t doubt they’d be down to flipping a coin to make the decision.

Soo, now my off-topic rant on why I didn’t get around to writing a long, long essay on the relative priorities and goal-setting of different franchises:

You may be wondering why I haven’t posted since Friday when I’m a pretty regular bet to post something about something daily. Let me tell you, Dear Readers. I blame Creative Labs and the wonder of modern technology. I finally replaced my old and on-its-last-legs monitor* with a new one and finally got a new graphics card to replace my dying graphics card**, so I decided it would be a good time to update my drivers so I could play Halo when I’m not writing columns about baseball and then deleting them (folks, if you think the Breaking Balls columns are kind of weak sometimes, I’d like to say in my defense that is never for lack of trying). So!

* flash new motherboard BIOS, no problem, ASUS’s utility worked perfectly

* get the lastest Radeon drivers: no problem, install worked perfectly

* install monitor driver, smooth sailing still

Looks great. Halo runs like crap.

* find update for Halo, install, works fine.

Halo’s performance notes suggest upgrading sound drivers. That seems perfectly reasonable, right? Year-old drivers…

* run Creative Labs update for the Sound Blaster Live!

Meltdown of epic scope. Bombs in the middle of the driver install, blue screen of death (which I think I’ve seen maybe ten times since I installed XP when it came out, which (on another side note) makes previous MS operating systems look like TandyDOS). System comes back up, runs slow as Olerud. Can’t get anything working. Attempts to remove the half-installed drivers failed. Attempts to re-install drivers fail. Nothing worked and it took 20 minutes to not work.

I’ve been working on machines since I figured out the workaround for the broken ‘D’ key on my dad’s Heathkit H-19 (a build-it-yourself clone of the Zenith 80, if I remember). I’ve tweaked autoexec.bat and config.sys to squeeze enough base memory to run Wing Commander, and I’ve led expeditions deep into the wilds of the Windows registry. I’m not banging on the case with a rock or anything, and this disaster took me over a day of my weekend to get past.

Now Halo just sounds like crap. The sounds all pop and clip, and I have no idea what I do now.

Microsoft, and I’m entirely serious when I write this, should have some kind of health-department-like inspection rating for vendors so we can track how bad some of these people are. Or, and I’m okay with this too, they should hire goons to beat the stuffing out of people who do stuff like this and make their OS look bad.

* I bought a pair of 17″ Mitsubishi Diamond Pro 87TXM monitors at Boeing Surplus (which rules) a couple years ago for not much money ($150 each?). Your standard monitor does have a life-span: after three, four years of use they start to get fuzzy, or dim, or off-color. So these were super-good monitors but from the date on the back I could see they were barely three years old… got three years out of them. Everyone else there (not that this is even remotely relevant) was snapping up Viewsonics for the same price that were 5 years old. Boeing Surplus, folks. If you’ve got an eye for value, man, that place is cool.

** It had a fan on it that made awful grinding noises sometimes and was having trouble moving as much air as you’d like from a cooling fan