Game recap, M’s @ Rangers 9/24
Derek notes: this is a long, long in-game post on Friday’s M’s-Rangers game. The excerpt here starts out (as the game does) talking a little aboutt he pre-game, but it does follow the events of the game as they occur. It runs, and I’m not kidding, a couple thousand words. Just so you’re prepared.
Ichiro! trots out of the dugout at 5:03 and it’s time for the McDonald’s starting lineup. Here’s my problem with sponsoring everything: while I understand ‘the starting lineup, brought to you by McDonald’s’ which implies (falsely) that McDonald’s played some role in providing the starting lineup to you, the viewer, perhaps by giving everyone in the production crew a combo meal of their choice to make sure they had the energy to type in and display the graphic. But to brand the starting lineup itself doesn’t make sense. It’s like having the EA Sports sunrise time, or the Dell astronomical unit. McDonald’s doesn’t play any part in either the composition of the lineup ‘ unless Edgar got a bum milkshake last night, forcing him to sit out the game ‘ and they certainly don’t play a part in presenting it. A more honest presentation of this would be “the starting lineup, with McDonald’s logo”.
Ibanez hits fourth, our suddenly slap-hitting DH. Fifth is Jolbert Cabrera, who with his career batting mark of .257/.306/.362 seems like a strange candidate for that lineup position. However, when the rest of the lineup is Reed, Spiezio, Wilson, and Lopez, it’s not like the order of the outs matters much. Spiezio, I hear, is in the latest Sporting News, being called out by his teammates for having a terrible work ethic (last to arrive, first to leave) and generally being lazy. Which, if true, says something about Melvin’s powers of leadership and motivation, but also about the basic folly of investing in a player’s intangibles. People are whimsical things, and react in unexpected ways to situations like being on a terrible team.
Ron Fairly reads the scouting report and remarkably, paraphrases, then the defensive lineup. Then he reads some stats off the notes sheet. Joqain Benoit has some numbers, and has done some things. This is a perfect example of stats without insight: what does any of the things Fairly went through mean? How will they be important, or even not important, in the game ahead?
Fairly: “you kind of get the feeling Ichiro wants to have the team pitch him away, so he can slap the ball down and beat it out.”
I don’t get that feeling. Ichiro! grounds out.
Niehaus and Fairly discuss the Mariners traveling on an off day, or not traveling on an off day. Does Ron, who put in a ton of travel time, have anything to say about whether this is good, or bad, for the team? No. Ron says “well, yeah, normally” and then repeats what Niehaus says. Is it important in any way?
Winn grounds out. The Rangers covering look a little confused, as if they hadn’t practiced this play and weren’t sure who was supposed to go where.
Who cares about stats like hitting versus pitching staffs? Pitchers are unique beasts, with different pitches, they pitch with different hands. Hitters even in the same lineup may face dramatically different pitchers over the small number of games in a season. And yet, in another sense, hearing that someone hit well in their games against a team doesn’t annoy me.
Nice wave at that last pitch, Boone. In both lack of effort and in timing, it surpassed my expectations for apathy.
Commercials, and now we’re back to the McDonald’s starting lineup.
Madritsch is on the mound. Fairly can read off a monitor. Good job, Ron. If anyone is blind and listening to the TV instead of the radio, I’m sure they appreciate your efforts.
Bobby Madritsch visible tattoo inventory:
Neck, left side: feather in circle
Inside forearm, left side: lettering?
Outside forearm, right side: 1 large (intricate)
Outside forearm, right side: something long, skinny… it almost looks like the handle to something, or a staff?
Eric Young pops out on two pitches.
Blalock takes the first pitch and lines it down the right field line. Mistake by Madritsch, who was supposed to put a fastball low and down, and instead left it up over the plate at navel level. Even at 90, I’m shocked Blalock pulls it so severely: that’s bat speed.
Michael Young’s an interesting case for hidden indicators. Even when Young was struggling early in his career, I kept pointing out that he was the most annoying bad hitter in the league. For sucking, he saw an Edgar-like number of pitches, which I thought was a possible sign that his pitch selection was still good, even if he hadn’t figured out how to hit consistently at the major league level, and paired with his minor league lines, pointed to future goodness. I knew that only because he was on my Diamond Mind simulation team, and my record with infielders was terrible (in that draft class, I took Jimmy Rollins and Luis Rivas with two first-round picks, for instance), but Young has come around and I’ve always remembered that sometimes, paying close attention to players and looking for the why can lead you to interesting conclusions.
Madtritsch’s 78 mph change looked nice. I’ve heard you want to take 12 mph off your fastball, and Madritsch seems to be running about 93 on his fastballs.
Young drives the runner in. Teixeira is up, and Niehaus has some nice things to say about him. Teixeira pops out to end the inning.
Commercials. Apparently, you shouldn’t open Capital One mailings because they can destroy your house, though the poor victims seem pretty happy about it at the end.
The M’s haven’t fared well in their last 20 games at The Ballpark at Arlington. Which, given the vastly different compositions of the two teams over those 20 games, tells us nothing. I know I should write Ameriquest Field in Arlington, but I’m sorry, once you give me an unspoiled name to latch onto, that’s it for me. Also, doesn’t cross-promotion undermine team identity? Bob DuPuy said that one of the reasons outfield wall advertising was a good thing was that it made ballparks unique. But I grew up in Kent-Renton, and Southcenter Mall was in most respects the same as a mall you might have gone to in Indianapolis, or Atlanta. I didn’t gain any strong sense of identity from where I grew up, except that now I find it humorous to mention that I went to Kentridge, as if I feel strong ties to the school, or had a good time there.
My point being that if Ameriquest buys the naming rights to the Rangers, but also buys a lot of ad space at Safeco and pays (I hope) for the bell to ring after every inning the M’s score, once per run, then there’s not much of a local connection for any of us, is there? If some super-company could buy an outfield wall in every stadium (like Budweiser does where they can) that’s not uniqueness any more than seeing the 7-11 sign is. It’s a bland universal familiarity, and in a time when the public has built more unique stadiums in part to distinguish themselves and their cities, it seems strange that there’s little thought given to how devoting so much of their space to bland corporate advertising undermines that goal.
Ibanez hit a single and takes the base on Nix. And hey, he has the 2nd best average in the AL since August 13th, in our Arbitrary Endpoint Statistic brought to you by the Nail Polish Commission. August 13th, that’s a weird point to start– oh, he went 2-4 that day. I see. On an unrelated note, Iron Chef Chen Kenichi is undefeated in reruns I’ve watched this week, but Morimoto has not won any.
Cabrera bunts — bunts, yes — back to the mound. Ibanez, running to third, is out by a ways. This is the kind of bad execution of a bad plan that should get Melvin fired. Seriously, set aside the personality stuff that may actually get him fired: Melvin could be the most charming guy since Don Juan and we should fire him. This isn’t a bad decision, though, if he could count on a 100% success.
Runner on second, no outs: 37% you don’t score a run
Runner on third, one out: 35% you don’t score a run
What it does do, though, is dramatically limit your chances at scoring a lot of runs — of course, if you give away outs, it becomes much tougher to string together a rally. But with the guys coming up after Cabrera hitting so badly, and almost all of that bad hitting weak singles, maybe bunting Ibanez over makes sense, because he might be able to score from there, where otherwise the team might get nothing.
Jeremy Reed reminds Fairly of Johnny Damon. Well, um, they’re both white and left-handed okay, they hit the ball to different places, but — what? Reed flies out to left field on a ball that might have scored Ibanez if he’d been on third’ probably not, though.
Niehaus gets betrayed by his crew. “Here’s that young infield we’re talking about,” he says, as Blalock is pictured, “there’s Blalock”. Long pause. He’s clearly expecting to cut to shots of Michael Young and Mark Teixeira, which doesn’t happen. Camera cuts to Benoit on the mound. Niehaus, left trailing, finishes ” at third base…” then he continues on talking.
Spiezio’s chin hair-stripe with under-chin looks awful. That’s not relevant to anything, but as I’m sure you’ve noticed already, that’s not stopping me tonight. Spiezio swings at a pitch on his kneecap. Nice.
Cabrera steals second. Fairly rides him for not sliding, despite seeing clearly that there was no one on second to apply the tag, as the shortstop Young was moving towards first to make a leaping stop of the ball and Cabrera kind of had to slow and duck around Young to get to second at exactly the point he’d have started to slide if Young hadn’t been leaping. At that point, Cabrera’s probably thinking he might get a chance to round for third if it dribbles out to the outfield, and you can see him make the stutter-stop and look back to see if Young made the snag, itching to move for third.
Naturally, after this entirely rational heads-up if bad-looking play, Fairly rags on Cabrera for a good twenty seconds.
Spiezio waves at another breaking pitch way inside (which is not where it was supposed to be) and that’s the inning.
Commercials. The GMC Sierra has a super powerful engine for, presumably, towing or hauling things. It has 20′ chrome wheels available, for’ scratching up badly when doing heavy tasks that demand that huge, inefficient powerplant? I don’t get it.
First pitch to Mench is a fastball on the outside corner. Then they cut to a guy with a FSN microphone in an aisle, motioning for two rows of what appear to be good-natured 70-year olds to stand up. Why is he forcing these poor people to stand? Why are others nearby smiling, as if it’s funny that a guy armed with only a microphone should be able to make people stand and sit on a whim? I don’t think we’ll ever know.
Mench breaks his bat. This takes a couple minutes, and Mench is already a slow batter, prone to walking around. Fortunately, he flies to Winn, ending my fears of a 30-minute at bat.
Fairly comments that he’s surprised there aren’t more people at the game, and Niehaus reminds him about football on Fridays in Texas (Friday Night Lights, by Buzz Bissinger, by the way, one of the best sports books I’ve ever read). I’m surprised there’s anyone there at all.
Fairly talks about how the fastball touches 94 every once in a while, but rarely. We should remember that radar guns aren’t that accurate at measuring balls in flight, and given the variety of flight paths pitches can take, we should expect a little variance even if a pitcher repeats the same delivery over and over. So when you read a scouting report on someone that says ‘throws 92-94, touching 95’ consider that maybe his fastball’s 93 miles an hour.
And uhhp! Madritsch gets the swinging K on the fastball. Nice looking pitch.
Commercials. Those Money Tree ads get more hallucinatory every year. Who thought that advertising check-cashing and paycheck advance services, this era’s worst usurers, would be best accomplished by having people in face paint and worm suits talk about their fictional worm-lives and worm-problems?
Wilson singles. Bill Bavasi runs onto the field and signs him to a 2-year, $5.5m contract extension, desperate to retain a fan favorite in these dark times.
The other Young bobbles a double play ball, and Ichiro! is up. There are better times to make that kind of error. Ichiro! doesn’t have to wipe drool off his chin from salivating over this opportunity, because he’s far too cool to drool on himself.
Ichiro! softly taps it and flies by Teixiera, who attempts to apply a sweep tag to the cartoon-lettered ‘whoosh’ that trails Ichiro! by a couple of feet.
Deciphering the rolling signs the Rangers are using: it’s the last one, which is held for just a second longer than the fake signs. Winn singles. The Mariners are tied! Woo hoo! And Boone’s ‘ strikeout. Nice. But now we have clutch hitter Ibanez. Remember, he doesn’t waste home runs (as if home runs are ever wasted).
There should be ushers at every ballpark near the home-plate aisles. When someone walks down the aisle while talking on a cellphone, they should be zapped with a cattle prod. I’m serious. They’re on the phone with someone who is watching the game, and they’re walking to get on camera, so they can wave, or mug, or whatever. Texas seems to have a particular problem with this. Particularly during this at-bat.
Ibanez draws a walk on a close, close pitch. RBI walk. Nice. Cabrera bunts — wait, not with two strikes. Sacrifice flies, Ichiro! scores. Jeremy Reed has the highest batting average in the last ten games in another edition of Arbitrary Endpoint Statistic brought to you by the Nail Polish Commission. Reed, distracted by the statistic, grounds out.
Commercials. President Bush, who’s had control of the White House and Congress for four years, wants me to vote for him because he’ll implement health care reform if I give him a do-over. That’s not really a convincing argument for me. In my quest to be fair and balanced, I should note that the Democratic National Congressional Committee aired ads against Dave Reichert that provided a pretty convincing case to me that I should vote for him, while trying to raise doubts that he was ready for national politics (and who is, Patty Murray? Maria Cantwell? Can’t people be consistent in their arguments, at least?). If you donated money to these campaigns, wouldn’t you want it back?
Niehaus’ narration of the ‘we suck, but you’re great fans, and we’re going to try really hard next season’ commercial is a little — do you think he felt weird about doing it? He’s essentially promising something that’s out of his hands.
Woah, Reed’s leap was crazy — that’s a huge jump to elevate, and he does a belly-flop that almost takes his hat and pants off. I wrote belly-flop before Fairly comes out with it, by the way.
Seriously, cattle prods. There are some people that need electric shocking.
More information without meaning: Niehaus and Fairly discuss how deep Madritsch has worked into games. This obscures the fact that there have been times when that extra inning’s been needless and also that it’s gotten him into trouble, even as I acknowledge that Madritsch has generally been effective even when he’s high on the pitch count.
Also, to this point Madritsch has never gone 3-0 on a batter. He gets rocked on 2-0 but he puts that strike out there.
Okay, on the play at the plate: Ichiro plays the bounce off the wall perfectly, fires spot on to Boone. Boone’s relay from shallow right takes two hops to get to Wilson, is a couple feet up the line, and the run scores. A good relay by Boone, even a higher but just-as-far-off one that would have gotten there faster, gets Eric Young out at home and the inning’s over. Argh.
Wilson’s now been faulted twice for not ‘holding on to it’, even though the throw was bouncing and up the line and he was forced into making a desperate lunge.
Madritsch is unaffected by that, or the next hit, and gets the K to get out of the inning. Madritsch doesn’t have the stuff of say, Freddy Garcia, but you have to love that he also doesn’t get rattled like Garcia by a cheap hit, a cheap hit, an error. Madrtisch came right back at them until he got the out. He didn’t start arguing with the ump over strikes, he just got on with it.
Spiezio’s chin hair intercepts a communication and lets Spiezio know what’s coming. He singles to right. Melvin’s shown with a knee up on the steps up from the dugout, giving some signs. Oddly, the closed captioning translated it for me:
‘Send my resume to monster.com and also see if Brenley has any leads.’
Seems like a reasonable play to call. Wilson bites on a change.
Lopez ropes that ball, and Spiezio scores. The Mariners take the lead, but more importantly, Ichiro! is up again. Woooo! Notice that Ichiro! is tinkering with his stance again: look at the knees and position of the front leg. No hit, instead it’s a sac fly. Sigh.
As Winn works Benoit, there’s a shot of Melvin in the dugout, with a vacant expression on his face. Closed captioning actually read ‘I wonder if my resume is up already. Should I go check my email?’
Commercials. If the auto dealer you’re going to is more concerned about providing you credit, you probably don’t want to buy a car from them.
Winn runs a long way to snag a fly and makes it look cool. As frustrated as I was with Winn early this season, as he started to hit and play center better I’ve really come around to acceptance. Weird check-swing single by Jordan.
Foul out. Walk. Then Barajas hits it to left, Winn comes up and tries to slide under it, catching it with glove pointed down, weirdly, and he almost snowcones the ball, but it comes off the crown of the webbing and it’s a single. Fairly wants to remind us how they (the broadcasters) frequently say that it’s important to put up a zero after you score a run. Well, jeez, obviously, you don’t ever want the other team to score, and — argh. Another hit and it’s tied. Madritsch gets the ball back, exhales, and goes after Blalock.
Another single to left. Winn’s getting a lot of work today. Melvin pulls Madritsch for Atchison. The crowd boos. Isn’t Atchison a Texas boy? I don’t know that I agree with this move. Generally, a guy gets slapped around, but he’s not giving up walks or home runs, I’m inclined to ride it out until they’re tiring or there’s something obviously wrong with the pitcher, neither of which I saw. But whatever, it’s a perfectly normal move.
Commercial. Cadillac has a ‘performance utility’ now, because I guess their line of SUVs weren’t dangerous and fuel-inefficent enough already. That’s just super. When did everything advertised become an SUV? Instead of compact cars, there’s the Ford Escape, the compact SUV. Instead of a sports car, now there’s the performance utility.
Atchison introduces himself to Michael Young by walking him. Teixeira does what one of the many guys to hit off Madritsch should have done, and lines right to someone.
Boone pops out. Showalter pulls Benoit for a lefty, because when you have 40-man rosters you can’t start playing these lefty-righty games too early.
Commercials. Again with the credit-as-item-you-buy commercials.
Tejera versus Ibanez in a gripping matchup. They’re doing the wave in Texas out of excitement. They can’t control themselves. Ibanez gets another single. Yay, he’s now tied the club record for consecutive hits.
Cabrera celebrates by popping out. Tejera celebrates by hitting Reed. Fairly says Showalter has a decision to make, whether he wants Spiezio batting lefty or righty. Since the more-deadly version of Spiezio (the lefty) only hits .214/.291/.355, I’d say it doesn’t really matter that much which way Spiezio hits. Spiezio, annoyed at this kind of talk, hits a single to score Ibanez.
Showalter brings in Wasdin to pitch to Wilson. The crowd yawns.
Commercials. Kitsap Farm Garden Tractor claims they ‘flat invented low prices’ which seems a little unlikely since at some point in human history there’s probably been a low price before.
Brian Jordan chases a foul into the stands and then looks at his glove, which he opens and closes.
‘Still nothing there,’ I tell him.
‘There’s nothing in there, Brian,’ Niehaus says. ‘Look again.’
Headline: Wasdin Walks Wilson! Wanton Win Wasting!
Nix runs a ways to make a forward leaping stab and gets out of the inning.
Commercials. Man, I’m tired of these things.
Headed into the bottom of the 5th and it’s time for that dreaded phrase: ‘Hi again, everybody, it’s Rick Rizzs along with Dave Valle” ugh. I complain about Niehaus and Fairly, but now it’s time to go get another beer, and a backup beer. I predict that updates will become much less frequent from here out as I nod off from boredom at the soothing insincere tones of Rizzs. Ahhhhh.
Sorry, fell asleep on the keyboard there. Hang on, I’m muting the TV — that’s better, K to end the inning.
Commercials. The same stupid commercials.
Ichiro! I’m awake, I’m awake.
249, folks. Hitting machine! Winn chops a single to left. Showalter’s on the bullpen phone, because with only five innings complete and 2:20 elapsed, clearly this game needs to slow down and take a breather. I love baseball’s clockless nature, but games should be three hours unless they’re extra inning games, and two hours and thirty minutes is even better.
Advance to second and third on a passed ball, Boone strikes out, Ibanez is — intentionally walked? Well, to get to Cabrera and righty-righty — but with one out? Cabrera sacs, and Valle starts into his ‘got to continue to add on’ — PITCHING CHANGE!! I’m so excited! I thought this game couldn’t get slower and it is! Buck Showalter is apparantly conducting advanced experiments in time dilation on behalf of the University of Texas.
Lefthander Erasmo Ramirez. They remove the graphic mid-Valle-read, and Valle’s forced to go ‘uh.. 5-3 record’ because his next line’s gone. Awesome. If I was a discontented production guy, I would do that all the time on Fairly and Valle.
Atchison played and beat Star Ocean: Till the End of Time on the clubhouse Playstation 2 during that inning, and emerges rested and with honed hand-eye coordination.
Rizzs/Valle remind me of the DJ 3000 on the Simpsons (‘It plays CDs automatically, and it has three distinct varieties of inane chatter.’)
And now Melvin gets into the action. ‘You want to see pitching changes, Showalter? You think you can play lefty righty matchups?’ he yells at the other dugout. ‘You haven’t seen anything. I’m crazy, I’ve got nothing to lose. I’ll pitch Ramon Santiago lefty and righty, and then bring in Bloomquist to spit the ball towards home plate.’
Randy Williams comes in.
This whole thing about ‘you can see’ as they read the stats is a toss-in to make it seem like they know how dumb it is to read the stats. But if they really were reading them for people with bad vision watching, isn’t that aside also insulting?
Melvin comes out, barking at Showalter. ‘Yeah, you like that? You like one pitcher a batter? I’ll go to one pitcher per pitch! I don’t give a crap, Buck!’ Williams leaves, Mateo comes on.
Valle believes Mateo’s ‘just off the disabled list’. It was a week ago, which puts it about mid-way through the fourth inning. Mateo gets an out to end the inning. Melvin brings in lefty Villone to walk off the mound for him.
Spiezio flies out. Showalter comes out, ignoring Melvin (who is yelling ‘you let that guy face two batters, you wussy!’) and Rizzs says ‘So Buck Showalter really using his bullpen tonight.’ Yeah. We’re 2:50 into this game in top of the 7th. You think?
Commercials. The same fricking commercials every fricking break.
Doug Brocail comes in. Valle reads his stats. Thanks, Dave. A fly out. Sweet relief. A shot of the Rangers bullpen, still stocked with fodder, and then of Showalter looking at what appears to me to be a large card with the names of each of his relievers, in small black pen lettering.
Ichiro! Be the ball, Ichiro! Ahh, Ichiro strikes out, but on the other hand, the inning ends.
On the first hand, it’s time for another commercial break. Look, if I wasn’t convinced to buy your stupid SUV the first 90 times you showed me this commercial, the 91st viewing isn’t going to break my spirit.
Mateo stays in the game. This has to be a trick. There must have been some kind of switch for a Mateo brother, like the Molina catching cadre in Anaheim.
Spiezio catches a foul, Jordan drives a home run to left. Valle starts to advance his controversial confidence-as-contagion theory. I look to more beer for patience. Beer provides. We’re tied again. If this game goes into extra innings I will have officially have chosen the worst game ever to try this experiment with. Fly out to Reed.
Commercials. I love that Ichiro! ad, I really do. It’s the standout of this season’s batch.
Brocail’s still in, so I wonder if Selig called both managers and told them to stop their insane reliever war. Winn flies out. Boone strikes out. Winn singles for the record for consecutive base hits– but he got a walk tonight. That’s not a hit. Is it hits-in-at-bats? Reaching safely in 11 consecutive appearances ties a record, and Cabrera flies out. I’m suspicious of this record.
New pitcher for the Mainers! The temporary truce breaks! Ron Villone comes into the game. He’s the Mariners MVP, I hear. Yup. He gets the strikeout. Popup and then one more — yes! The inning’s over!
New pitcher. K for Reed. Let’s not go to extra innings, okay? How about a HR for Spiezio. Spiezio gets a single. Willie Bloomquist makes his guest appearance, running for Spiezio. If memory serves, this means he’ll get picked off or caught stealing to end the inning. Let’s see what happens. Many pickoff moves. Because the game wasn’t slow enough. Ol’ hit and run gets Willie to third and Dan on first, and now ‘ holy mackerel ‘ Edgar’s up. Now there’s a pinch-hitter. Mound conference.
Cordero: Pinch hitters aren’t supposed to be the best hitters in baseball history.
Hersheiser: Relax, he’s having an off year.
Cordero: Easy for you to say, Orel. Why don’t you pitch to him?
Hersheiser: I would, but my shoulder’s been acting up..
Cordero: Then shut up already.
Hersheiser: Okay, okay, here’s how I’m thinking you pitch him…
Edgar strikes out. Dammit. They walk Ichiro, dammit. Come ooooooooooooonnn, Randy. Infield hit, run scores! Randy’s safe! Boone’s up’ ‘So, I see we have a rally going. May I… end it?’
Villone stays in. Defensive changes. Single for Blalock. PITCHING CHANGE!!! YAYYYY!!
J.J. Putz enters the game. Double play! Hooo-wah. Valle offers that defensive substitutions attract the ball, which if true is a revolutionary discovery about the forces that affect the way our universe works. Teixeira grounds out and that’s the game. Mariners win! The game is over! The Mariners win! And the game is over!
I’ve got to go ice my fingers down.