Blogs in general

September 22, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 9 Comments 

We’re in the Seattle Times today in which the Times, for the first time, mentions the bleachers.

Two things I want to mention:

Perhaps it takes the right hot-button issue. Zumsteg, a program manager at Expedia who writes the U.S.S. Mariner blog, just might have hit on one.

I don’t so much write the blog as for the blog. Given the massive contributions of Dave and Jason (yeah, I know he hasn’t been around — he’s got a new kid) I think that’s an important distinction.


“We’re like the Radio Free Europe for Mariners fans,” said Derek Zumsteg, 30, who blogs on the baseball fan site U.S.S. Mariner and says he wants to stimulate “a good fight with hair-pulling and name-calling.”

I did say the Radio Free Europe thing, but the other quote comes from the Comments Guidelines where that was supposed to come across as a comment by someone I don’t want hanging around, expressing a view entirely opposite to the one I hold. I’ve tried to make that a little clearer, going in and putting the header in quotes and making the text clearer that I’m responding… but unfortunately it’s too late for the article.

Mariners at Angels, 9/21

September 21, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 34 Comments 

One of the more interesting and laughable assertions of the last couple of years ties into this game: the Orioles, who before the 2000 season turned down Aaron Sele at the last minute, probably at the direct request of Peter Angelos, skipped out on a three-year deal. Sele, as you know, signed with the M’s for two years, where he did okay — a pretty good pickup for the money, I’d say. Then he went to the Angels, where he’s been bad and had shoulder surgery late in the 2002 season.

The Orioles, who’ve suffered through no GM, more than one GM, and general confused leadership, have tried to spin the story that they turned down the deal not because they thought it was too long, or too expensive, or whatever the reason was, but because they say, in the results of his physical, clear signs that he would break down in three years, so they decided not to sign the deal.

This is obvious balderdash. Even the best doctors, the Yokums and the Andrews (Andrewses? Andrewii?), look at photos of pitcher’s arms and have trouble telling if a guy like Rafael Soriano is injured right then. Given the same photos of a pitcher’s shoulder, different specialists will come to entirely different conclusions (smart teams look at this and figure out who’s right more often) about what’s going on right then. Team physicians and players often waffle over whether or not a player should have surgery or rehab right then, based on all available evidence.

To think that anyone could look at pitcures of Sele’s arm after the 1999 season and say “well, it’s frayed, but not badly, and at the current rate of decline he should start to lose effectiveness… 2002. Yup. Why, were you thinking of giving him a three-year deal?” is… well, I don’t fault them for floating it, but at least tone the lie back: “We thought there might be an injury risk, and it was serious enough that we backed off.”

That they have to go for the gold ring of prescience by pretending they knew he’d have two good years — and how do you even know any pitcher’s going to have a good year, much less two? — and then get injured… it’s wacky. It’s like shooting for the big lie and then hoping people give you credit for 50% of it.

Which reminds me: I don’t think I’ve mentioned lately that I invented the taco. It’s true. All by myself. Think of me the next time you enjoy one. Also, widescreen movies, that was me too.

Updating for 2005

September 21, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · Comments Off on Updating for 2005 

The 2005 M’s construction post is linked up on the left with the features now, and has been updated with salary information helpful reader Jason Rogers sent us. Yay, readers. We’ve also started linking up the names with the specific posts on that player, which should turn this into one happy conversational splinter-fest almost immediately but may also make it really cool for in-depth referencing.

Section 101 to go away

September 21, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 26 Comments 

… sort of.

At the Public Facilities District meeting yesterday, a woman (no info on who yet) got up and laid into the Mariners for the center-field landing bleachers and covering up her brick in particular.

Chuck Armstrong, Mariners president, apologized about the bleachers and said that they would only be deployed when the team had already sold out the game. Which I’d be a little angry about except that I don’t think the M’s are going to sell out a lot next year. Still, it does leave open the question of whether they’d push them out all the time if they could, or if they see this as an easy give-back to the public since they’re not selling anyway. If they were selling those 240 seats out every game, I don’t think they’d be coming out this early in the fight.

Talking to the PFD this morning, I asked them if they had anything to do with this and they said “I think it was the public that did it.”

Good job, public.

Fall of AT&T Wireless

September 21, 2004 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · 24 Comments 

You may already know that I spent over five years working at AT&T Wireless, and have some strong opinions on how the company managed to destroy itself. The Seattle PI has a long, insightful article on this today, which is the best piece I’ve seen written on it so far. It’s particularly good on the cultural and leadership issues that infected everything about the company. John Zeglis was paid many, many millions for the utter incompetence that destroyed AWS, and will receive tens of millions more when they snuff the candle. I think of this every time someone tells me that baseball players are overpaid.


September 20, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 29 Comments 

I know a bunch of people have seen the following quote from Ken Rosenthal’s latest piece and decided to hammer Bavasi for it, but I’m going to uncharacteristically defend the man. Here’s the quote:

“I know we will have some arguments in the future about his (Bobby Madritsch’s) role,” Mariners G.M. Bill Bavasi says. “Whitey (Herzog) always said to build a staff from the back — start with a closer so you can play your 27 outs vs. their 24. Bobby seems to have the mental makeup to close.”

There are three basic things we can say about this quote:

1. It lacks context. We have no idea what the question was, why it was brought up, or if Bavasi was intending this as a simple complement on Madritsch’s demeanor on the mound. Really, those two sentences alone tell us nothing about what Bavasi feels Madritsch’s future role should be.

2. The fact that Bill Bavasi is quoting Whitey Herzog is not a good thing. This quote, especially, is easily refutable and obviously incorrect.

3. Bavasi is right. So far, Madritsch has displayed all the traits that most people usually look for in a “closers mentality”. I personally believe it’s a ridiculously overplayed cliche, that most good relievers can close with few problems, and that mental makeup specific to closing out games is mostly a creation of the media looking for a story. However, if you were to identify the kinds of things that would usually be associated with a “closer mentality”, Madritsch would get check marks on just about every one.

So, what he essentially said was true, but why he said it we don’t know. It’s nothing to get worked up over. The biggest complaint I have about most more-than-casual fans is their obsesion with analyzing quotes in the media. Ignore it. It’s almost all crap. It gives little to no insight into what people actually believe, and trying to break down a manager or GM based off of answers giving in question and answer forums is doomed to failure.

Safeco Field cost

September 20, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 24 Comments 

To clarify something: we often refer to Safeco as being a $330-350m stadium financed by tax dollars. This is a little unfair to the team, but entirely fair in another sense.

The cost of the stadium was supposed to be in that range, with the M’s contribution slated to be about $40m, which they immediately recouped by selling the naming rights to Safeco Insurance.

However, the cost overruns, which the team was respoinsible for in the rush to build it, and which they had promised to pay for, were not paid for by the public. Though not for lack of trying, as the M’s attempted to get the public to pay for it (because the tax was collecting more revenue than anticipated, which is like going to lunch with someone and refusing to split the bill because they have more money then you). The final cost of the stadium was about $520m, and I’ve read the team ended up covering about $130m of the overruns (meaning the public paid $390m for the stadium). The team then went and tried to pursue legal action against everyone they’d hired to build the stadium. I don’t know if they recovered any of that money or not — I can’t remember reading anything about any settlements, but that’s the kind of detailed, no-story-here event that I imagine was probably on page 8 of the business section, if it ran at all.

If that’s the case, the Mariners ended up paying about a quarter of the cost of the new stadium out of pocket, which would make them one of the more generous contributors in the last stadium boom. But some points to consider:
– the overruns were entirely the fault of the team’s desire to open mid-season 1999, a move that made them about $75m in additional revenues (I could do a detailed breakdown of my guess there, but that’s probably in the ballpark — ha!) for that year
– they did try and go back on their promise to pay and made all kinds of dire predictions about what would happen if they were forced to pay their lunch tab

In that sense, I’m reluctant to credit them for this.

However, assume for moment that the team’s crack legal team went out into the wild to go hunt for settlement money and they came back with nothing. There would be a massive debt on the books the team would have to pay down as a result of their own actions. When they pay that off, it makes their profits look much smaller, even as their revenues may be spectacularly high. Even for a highly profitable team like the M’s, this means they can retire that debt quickly over the last couple of successful years, making it easy to make the profits of those boom years go away.

This is important to you because while the team’s lease with the PFD is laughably bad (I’d love to rent a place to live under the terms of this deal) it does contain limited profit-sharing. The team is supposed to share a portion of the money they make once they’ve paid off debt they supposedly (but did not actually) accumulated during the 1989-1999 years. The Mariners, if they never recovered any of the cost of the overruns, have $126m in postponement of the start of revenue sharing, of putting money back in the public coffers. As a result of thier own incompetence in project planning.

That’s a lot of money. That’s a lot of postponement.

Not that has anything to do with present events. It just occurred to me.

More section 101 coverage

September 19, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 7 Comments 

In the Seattle Times/PI Sunday edition sports section, there are two letters on Section 101:

John Ringler (Henderson Nevada!) blisters the Mariners up and down over it: “Someone in your organization has made the decision to destroy the center-field landing, a unique feature of Safeco Field, to insert about 240 more seats.” He talks about the current owners in contrast to the past ones, and even suggests that if the Mariners are going to sell everything in the stadium, we might as well charge them a license to use “Seattle” in their name… man, it’s a nice little piece of work.

Janine Grantski laments the loss of Mike Cameron and the center-field landing, and wonders “just how temporary these bleachers are going to be”. Janine: check out our seating audit for more on how often it’s there (most of the time and every game after the All-Star break).

The question about the bricks has been raised repeatedly, most pointedly by PI columnist John Levesque as a metaphor for the arrogance and greedy nature of local ownership. But as important as that is, and as clear-cut a wrong as it is, it’s only one part of this. If the Mariners move the bricks, for instance, and still have the stands in the center-field landing, they’ll still have taken one of the few unique, cool features of the ballpark we paid for and turned it into some crappy seats. That’s still wrong even if they’re not built on top of people’s bricks, breaking their deal with the most enthusiastic of their supporters.

If you haven’t already, join the dogpile on the Mariners. Express your discontent, and you may particularly want to point out that the Seattle Times has yet to print a word on this that isn’t a reader mail in the combined Times/PI Sunday edition. Though I understand the issue might get a sentence or two soon… but we’ll see.

Game Report, Athletics over Mariners 7-4

September 18, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 21 Comments 

I go to a lot of games. With its combination of ten-minute funeral dirge national anthem, pervasive boredom, low temperature with slight warmth-stealing breeze, many pitchers for no reason, futility, long inning breaks for the national broadcast, slow, slow A’s team that on the bases would take their sweet time walking back… this was the worst game of the year for me. Even worse than the couple of times I’ve eaten there and gotten an upset stomach free with my $10 purchase of concession food.

Here’s my question, though, and I mean this sincerely: the Mariners are out of the race, yeah, sure, I understand there’s a natural tendency to Boone it and not try so hard. But when one of your teammates is making a run at a historic achievement, one that he will certainly hit if everyone can only feed him enough plate appearances, shouldn’t this be an occasion where you try and fight that?

I’m frustrated with the hacking, the dumb plate appearances in general, the stupid baserunning that costs us outs and Ichiro! a chance to set a cool record. Run those balls out. Work that count. If you’re that distracted thinking about how tonight you’re going to order the other item on the room service menu you passed up yesterday that you can’t give a respectable account of yourself, you shouldn’t be in the lineup. You shouldn’t be written into the lineup.

I also got mad because I was walking to the Ivar’s stand where I buy my stomach-upsetting concessions (seriously, it’s a three-game streak for them now as I type this), and they were playing the pre-game show over the PA. It featured a discussion between whoever, Larry LaRue of the Tacoma News Tribune, and Norm Charlton, and LaRue was the only one who seemed to have two brain cells to rub together. Charlton is chock-full of the old-school baseball cliches, and between him and whoever was running the show (Waltz? Hutler?) every couple of seconds you got a factual error and a bizarre error in reasoning.

Will anyone ever win 30 games again?
LaRue: No, the 5-man rotation requires pitchers to be too perfect, and they’d need a great bullpen.
Charlton: No way, pitchers today are wimps.
Host: Yeah, you talked earlier about how pitchers used to throw 140-pitch innings (yes, I know what he meant)…

Charlton then managed to say that the 4-man wouldn’t come back because it was more expensive than the 5-man (because it requires that you hire four really good pitchers, who are expensive, which was another weird jump in logic), and then also that the Yankees had gone to the 6-man for a while this year because “it was a luxury only the Yankees can afford” (which, again, not true, and ineffective rotations are a luxury teams would build if they had the money? what?)

People worked on that program — somewhere, there were engineers, and producers, and the end result of their efforts was Norm Charlton claiming that all the workouts and pitch counts that were part of a modern pitcher’s life hadn’t “paid off” because they couldn’t pitch both ends of a double-header and then go 12 rounds bare-knuckle with a notorious boxing bear from Vladivostok. Do these people go home at night and dream of producing intelligent baseball programming?

On another note, Eric Chavez’s home run was impressive. It was one of those home runs where it comes off his bat, I said “woah” and by the time I got to the “h” it was three quarters of the way to its final destination in the stands. That dude can hit.


September 18, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 12 Comments 

I didn’t watch today’s game, so I’m hoping there was some kind of real explanation for this that I’m missing. Here’s the 9th inning game log:

-O Dotel relieved T Hudson.
-M Olivo struck out looking.
-J Reed walked.
-J Reed to second on fielder’s indifference.
-J Lopez singled to center, J Reed scored.
-I Suzuki struck out swinging.
-R Winn walked, J Lopez to second.
J Cabrera hit for E Martinez.
J Cabrera grounded into fielder’s choice to shortstop, J Lopez out at third.

1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors
Oakland 7, Seattle 4

Was Edgar ill? Hurt? Saving a cat from being dropped off the roof?

Because if not, why would you ever pinch hit Jolbert Cabrera for Edgar Martinez? Much less when Edgar is playing in his 5th-to-last-ever home game, representing the tying run at the plate in the bottom of the 9th inning.

Seriously, if this was a “strategy” move, I don’t have words for the stupidity of it. Someone tell me there were mitigating circumstances. Please.

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