May 6, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Night at Safeco

Thursday, May 6th

I had a great seat tonight up close and personal. I was actually served a beer at the Triangle Pub, for the first time in ever, and it was okay. I’d be up for meeting a friend there, but it is really, really cramped. My semi-secret normal watering hole was (as it is every time I go) a little more open, a little less seedy… the guy next to me was drinking Coronas out of the bottle for $4 a pop when there were.. uh, ten, maybe fifteen excellent beers on tap for $2.50/pint. I never understand why people drink out of the can or bottle at bars when the price is comperable or in the favor of draft beers.

Insightful comment from my pre-game preparation of beer and televised baseball: I don’t mind loose or baggy uniforms, really, but the Red Sox all looked like they’d just rolled out of bed.

Somewhat insightful comment from my walk down Occidental: when you see some dude with a sign asking for money, whether it’s “homeless sober will work” or “fishing for beer” there’s a chance, depending on who you are, that you’d give that person money, either out of sympathy or charity (that chance might be almost zero, sure). Let’s say you give them money and then you see them the next game, and the next game. At some point you’re likely to stop giving them money: it’s not improving their situation any, and there are charities you can give to that will have some kind of lasting impact.

The Mariners will be on Occidental soon enough, with a gimmick sign, faced with an unsympathetic public that doesn’t want to see a weak, family-friendly team as much as they used to, a sweetheart lease they’re abusing at the cost of local governments that could really use that money (to waste, but that’s another point, and that’s not how it’ll be sold — it’ll be “Mariners revenue concealment steals money from schools”). If they’d ever have gone for it after Safeco Field opened, really blown the doors off, ran a baseball organization as good as their business organization, people might go soft on them. But they didn’t, and we won’t. It’s not going to happen for a couple years, but it could be ugly.


It was Wheel of Fortune Night at Safeco Field.

Vanna White and her son Ico (wait, no, that was a cool Playstation game.. Niko?) threw out first pitches. It’s strange to see celebrities sometimes, because at a certain level of fame and exposure, especially for someone like Vanna, you know where the cameras are at all times, and can naturally mug, so the set shots are perfect and the others are all really good.

Between innings they had Wheel of Fortune-style contests. Like “Fictional Character” would be

M-R—R M–S- for Mariner Moose. I wanted to see Mariner front office personell put up there.

What Mariner Fans Want

W-R– S-R–S

Lincoln: “Uhhhh… family entertainment? Ownership to make a ton of money? I give up.”

What’s this team’s biggest problem


Bavasi: “It’s too early to tell, I’m not sure.. uhhh… I’m going to give this some time and we’ll see what happens.” [Buzzer sounds]

And so on. Also, I would be tempted to blow the prize package: you’ve got a live mike to 25,000 of your fellow Mariners fans. There’s a lot you can say in seven sylabbles before they cut you off.

Garcia’s really looked like the effective Garcia we knew: not afraid to get the K on the change, changing pitches and speeds, mixing locations. I agree with Dave about Dan’s craptastic pitch-calling, though. Ugh. It’s like when Shane Monahan was hitting: why call anything but curves in the dirt and let him strike himself out?

I felt like I was watching a version of Garcia from a couple years ago, except he didn’t seem to get tweaked out over an error or a questionable ball-strike call. My only complaint was that he threw a lot of pitches and that took him out early. It cracks me up that you don’t need a radar gun or anything to tell you how Freddy’s feeling… I think I wrote this ina BP annual once, but when he starts taking more time between pitches, strolling around the mound, he’s running out of gas. He started to really do it in the 7th, and he still got three Ks that inning, but he was huffing and stalling a bit. To Melvin’s credit, he pulled him for the 8th, so it all worked out.

Also, I would be that we could put together a Melvinotron 2000 to predict Melvin strategies.

1st and 2nd? Sac ’em to 2nd and 3rd.

Here’s the problem with Melvin’s strategies, if I may digress. Let’s say you’re playing poker. If you bluff continually, your opponents will always call you and you’ll lose. Let’s say you never bluff. Your opponents will always fold, knowing that you have the best hand, and you’ll never be able to make money.

The best strategy turns out to play somewhat unpredictably. How much varies on circumstance, but you want to bluff enough that your opponent looks at the situation and says “there’s a chance he’s bluffing, but there’s also a good chance he has the cards, and I can’t afford that second outcome” and fold when they have you beat, and sometimes says “I think he’s bluffing, I’m going to remain in this hand” when you have them beat. More the latter than the former, but you get my point.

Melvin plays by the book, even though the book is wrong, and consistently does so. It’s like watching the flop come down, betting, and seeing your opponent flip through a poker book looking for the proper response: if you know the book he’s reading, you can reverse-engineer their hand and see what’s coming.

I’d be happy about Melvin’s strategies if I was an opposing manager. Want to give me an out? I’ll take it, now you only have 26 left.

That Jones steal in the 8th was hilarious. I was on the third-base side and could see Mateo standing there. Jones started off, dig dig dig, and Mateo– no pickoff, he went into his motion. Jones is halfway there. Mateo then screws up his delivery and puts the pitch into the dirt, and it got away from Agreatstopthereby Wilsontokeeptheballfromgettingpasthim but Jones wasn’t going to be able to get around and all the way to third, so it was only one stolen base.

I’ve never seen a runner go that early without being faked out. I’ve never seen a runner go anywhere near that early without drawing a throw.

Is Mateo’s peripheral vision shot or something? Did he not hear everyone yelling “GOING!!”? I was baffled.

Guardado… I’d rather have had Keith Foulke, honestly, but as long as the team’s going to have a short pitcher that Melvin will put in for more than one batter in close games (if only close-and-in-the-lead), well… we could have done a lot worse than Guardado, and he’s probably going to turn out okay over the course of his deal.

Nice win. Go M’s.

May 6, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Nice to see Freddy get a win tonight; he’d been pitching too well not to have one.

I do find it odd that many people, myself included, were in the “As goes Freddy Garcia in 2004, so go the M’s” camp heading into this season… boy were we wrong.

Oh, and the last Friends sucked.

May 6, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

Its 10:30, the M’s are on, and I’m wide awake. That means running blog. No promises how long this lasts.

10:20 pm: Rich Aurilia has been taking throwing lessons from Randy Winn, apparently.

10:26: The Twins broadcast is so much fun. Did you know Brad Radke has “great stuff”? And Christian Guzman can walk on water, Ron Gardenhire found a cure for cancer, and Carl Pohlad is the most generous owner in the history of pro sports.

10:30: Pat Borders is in the house and Freddy Garcia is on the hill. I’d predict a no-hitter, but Luis Rivas just doubled.

10:37: Shannon Stewart swings at a pitch approximately six inches below ground, so Freddy promptly hangs a curve. Good pitch selection Dan. Way to call a great game.

10:40: I like Corey Koskie as a solid all around player, but if you’re looking for the next Jeff Cirillo, look no further. Severe drop off ahead.

10:46: Like the camera adding ten pounds, Dan Wilson’s bat speed adds 10 MPH to a pitchers velocity. I think the girl from the softball game across the street could get one by him.

10:50: Two thoughts on that swing; Randy Winn got all of hit and hit it 250 feet, and had he been playing the outfield, it would have been a double.

10:52 Jim “The Anvil” Niedhart just got a foul ball. Isn’t that nice. And, for the four of you that get that reference, yes, I liked the WWF when I was a kid.

10:54: Jacque Jones apparently doesn’t like the hanging curve down the middle. Stared at two of them in that at-bat.

11:00: The Twins are hack-tastic. Lay off the belt high curve, swing at the pitch in the dirt. Did they install Shawon Dunston as hitting coach?

11:03: Does anyone look less comfortable at the plate than Scott Spiezio? He’s got all the grace of a 14-year-old asking the hottest girl in class to dance.

11:06: You thought “Hey now, get all of it” is bad. The Minnesota Twins, “Every Fan Counts”. Seriously.

11:11: Seriously, do the Twins have any plan at the plate? They stare at pitches in the strike zone with two strikes, than chase pitches in the dirt. Freddy’s not throwing many great pitches, but the box score is going to make him look like Cy Young.

11:14: Folks, Raul Ibanez is an awful defensive left fielder. The five assists can’t even begin to make up for the anchors he has strapped to his legs. We’ve got a first baseman in left field.

11:18: Last year, Garcia implodes after the blooper falls in. This year, well, he hangs a few pitches that Koskie misses, but gets the groundout anyways. Not buckling down, but not falling apart either.

11:22: An hour seems to be my limit. My bed is calling and my alarm taunts me, so I head to slumber. Go M’s.

May 6, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

And welcome back Pat Borders. The M’s optioned Ben Davis to Tacoma today, and really, he deserves it. He’s something like 4 for his last 842, and at this point, any hope that he was ever going to live up to his fabled potential is wishcasting. It’s time to admit that Davis is a waste of the $1.5 million we’re paying him and not count on him for any significant contributions. No, Pat Borders isn’t the answer, but he’s certainly not any worse than Davis, and maybe he can throw some magic Crash Davis dust on Pineiro.

May 6, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

My really, really long article on the 16-inning game on Tuesday is up at Baseball Prospectus. Check it out if you have a lot of spare time.

May 6, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on  

First, an apology for my lack of posting activity lately. Between a pair of jobs, I’m working about 60 hours a week and have three days off every two weeks (and never consecutively). I will say, however, that I’m much happier with what I’m doing now than I was working 40 hours a week in an office job (this time last year).

As for Melvin, I’ve thought about this a bit more in the last day or so. My initial reaction — total surprise — is still the number one way I feel about this. I’m pretty indifferent about the extension (as Dave said, it’s really an option) itself, because the team really does have bigger problems. The front office and a rapidly weakening farm system are running the team into the ground much faster than Melvin could ever do, even with the managerial shortcomings Dave outlined below. It’s like how people complain about Ben Davis hitting so poorly this season — but that’s only 33 at-bats of suckage, whereas the real problems have been named Pineiro, Winn, and, to a lesser degree, Ichiro. Well, that and the fact that the M’s have been out-homered 32 to 20 in 27 games so far.

Speaking of Ichiro, he’s got a little five-game hitting streak going right now and appears to be heating up. I was all for seeing him a bit more patient this season, as we heard so much about this spring, but if April’s the result, he might as well go back to his hacktastic ways. The past couple of games he’s jumped on first-pitch fastballs and hit them hard for singles, which is what we’re all used to seeing. His lack of power so far is still pretty alarming — I’m not talking homers or even triples here, as he’s on pace to hit just 12 doubles this year, which is amazing given his speed — and he’s clearly not the threat on the bases he used to be, but if he can start get on base at better than a .350 clip, they’ll be OK.

Oh, and look for a new Big Board in the near future.