Happy New Year’s

December 31, 2004 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · 53 Comments 

Since Dave did the holiday wish, I’ll go ahead and say my New Year’s bit.

I love this site. Almost universally, I love the people who read this site. I have been continually impressed with the quality and quantity of people who read. When we have site outages, I’m going down the list of support contacts and giving them an earful because I know there are people out there that want to read about the Mariners, or baseball, or whatever I’m whining about that day, and I don’t want to disappoint them.

I may whine about the comments, sure. But we rule with a pretty light hand considering the volume of posts and readers. I hope almost everyone would agree with me that the USSM crowd engages in debate that’s both interesting and civil, where any view’s respected as long as you keep the swearing and insults out of it.

I hope in this next year we’ll continue to grow as fast as we have since we launched. I think the Mariners fan base is one of the smartest in baseball, and I want to serve them well. As always, if you have ideas for how we can get better, or story topics, or random thoughts, we’re happy to hear from you.


Cut comments, #1, Mickey Lopez

December 31, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 37 Comments 

In the interest of getting this year’s chapter in without it looking like a new translation of the Iliad, I cut a lot of player comments from my submitted Prospectus M’s chapters. I’ve been thinking of posting a couple of them here, since as unsubmitted material for players who won’t go into the book, they’re copyright me and don’t compete with the book in any way. I won’t put stat lines or anything with them, since that’s BP IP.

Mickey Lopez 2B Bats: B Throws: R Born: 17-Nov-1973 Age: 31
Mickey Lopez got to the major leagues after many, many years of being a minor league mercenary of some usefulness, and so the team tried to sneak him enough at-bats for him to get a hit. He almost didn’t make it: he got beaned, he got walked… and on October 3rd, he got his first, and possibly last, major league hit, on an infield single. It’s always nice to see good things happen to those who appreciate them. Lopez doesn’t have a bright future, but his face sure lit up that day.

Randy to the Yankees…mmmaybe

December 30, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 51 Comments 

So yeah, the Yankees and Diamondbacks, at it again. I don’t have anything to say about whether or not it’s a good eadl until something actually happens, but… what I thought was interesting today, reading these stories, was the weird sniping going on. Yankees president Randy Levine, quoted in the MLB.com story:

“It was disappointing,” Levine said of the three-team deal which fell through. “We thought we had an agreement, and the Dodgers reneged after they called and asked to get involved. That’s life. It moves on.”

Now, I understand that a huge amount of raw bullflop is shoveled out by front offices on all transactions. LA made a seven-year offer on Beltre, the M’s weren’t trying to trade Mike Cameron that one time, the reason for this move was x, or y, or… whatever. In many cases, as fans, we have to throw our hands up and say “There is no way, without tape recordings of phone conversations, that I’ll ever know the truth about this.”

I accept that. I also know that a huge part of the baseball rumor mill is fueled by front offices, some of which like to float rumors that another team’s shopping player x so they’ll have some pretense to call that team and say “so, what would you want for player x?” And also that many baseball rumors are entirely the creation of someone, from someone in the front office with an agenda to a reporter with a deadline and no story written.

This is unusual because it’s a nasty little shot at the Dodgers. It’s petty. Baseball’s a small, small industry: there aren’t many major league teams, and it’s in everyone’s best interests to have good relations with everyone else. Personalities get in the way, of course, and you see some teams never deal with each other, but that’s normal, and even then it’s rare for someone to be called out like this.

It means either — New York’s really so angry about LA pulling out of the deal that they’re willing to talk about it in public, or New York’s even more petty of an organization than their enemies think.

In the wake of the first three-way deal falling through, it was weird to see how crazy and scattered the fallout was, with different stories about DePodesta losing his nerve to LA nixing the deal as a favor to Vazquez. And now, there’s still open ill will towards LA over it… it’s strange.

Sonics hire Statistical Analyst

December 30, 2004 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · 48 Comments 

Okay, two consecutive non-Mariner related posts. I promise my next one will have to do with baseball.

The P-I has an article today on the Sonics hiring of Dean Oliver, one of the more prominant statistical analysts of the NBA. I do find it interesting how the NBA has been much more friendly to “math geek” analysts who never played the game than MLB has.

Off-season tinkering

December 29, 2004 · Filed Under Site information · 13 Comments 

Updated a couple of links (the NGFT link, as I guess they never got a redirect working, and the grandfathered Sports & Bremertonians, the only link to a site not exclusively about the M’s or Mariner-related stuff), added a new blog (“Mariner Madness“).

Astros, Beltran, FA roundup

December 29, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 50 Comments 

The Astros are reportedly offering a 7th year to Beltran, but it’s an option ($14m or $5m buyout), for a guaranteed 5/$70m + a year. If Beltran takes an offer in the neighborhood of this, it’ll almost certainly going to be a better value for the lucky club that gets him than Sexson’s over the life of a five-year deal.

Also, Milton, bleah, to the Reds, for a huge chunk of money. I don’t understand either.
Did we mention Alou? Because that’s a pretty crazy deal, especially if they’re really going to play him in center. [update: why did I type that? what was I thinking?]

Who are these people?

December 28, 2004 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · 26 Comments 

All the really long posts I’ve been working on aren’t ready yet, and I have nothing insightful to add but don’t want to feel like I’m neglecting the blog, so I’m going to take a cue from Derek and post something completely irrelevant to the Mariners.

Regifting Etiquette

Julia Cousineau of Tacoma created a system “more complex than an astrological chart” to avoid this most egregious of regifting faux pas.

Using a spreadsheet, she logged gifts she received by noting who gave it to her, for what occasion — and who else might enjoy getting it.

Seriously, who are these people? Ms. Cousineau gets so many gifts that she needs a spreadsheet to keep track of who gave her what? Apparently, I need new friends.

Cousineau, who works as an auditor at a leasing company, said none of her friends have caught on.

If the goal is to make sure your friends don’t catch on, then you may not want to give attributable quotes to the largest daily newspaper in the city. Just a thought.

Check the gift for telltale signs of regifting. Is there an inscription on the flyleaf of a book? Your wedding date engraved on the bottom of a vase? A long-past expiration date on a box of treats?

Seriously, is anyone out there really giving friends a “box of treats with a long-past expiration date”? Is this something we really need to warn people not to do? And hey, while your at it, stop offering people sour milk when they come over for breakfast…

Regifting, by the way, gets Dave’s Official Endorsement.

Interleague play doesn’t boost attendance

December 28, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners · 36 Comments 

You might want to check out “Interleague Play” a subscriber article o’er at Baseball Prospectus by Jeff Hildebrand. Hildebrand looks at the interleague games and finds that the attendance boost is pretty small, with the apparant boost due to the fact that interleague matchups are all summer games, and disproportionately weekend games. Check it out if you’re a subscriber.

Plug for the 2005 Fred Hutchinson Lunch

December 27, 2004 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting · Comments Off on Plug for the 2005 Fred Hutchinson Lunch 

A brief charity plug for the Fred Hutchinson Luncheon January 19th. Good cause, you get to hang out at Safeco, so if you’ve got $150 left over from the holidays, check it out. Here’s the writeup Mr. Bregel sent us:

[Update: Trevor Hoffman won]

[The Fred Hutchinson Award] is one of the premier awards given out each year outside of those awarded by the MLB for an active player. I have included the list of winners of the award at the bottom of the mail so you can see just how amazing the list of recipients has been including 11 members of the Hall of Fame, 9 World Series MVPs, & 12 league MVPs. The luncheon itself is great. It is held out on the field in left field at Safeco Field. This year is the 40th anniversary of the award and many of the previous winners are expected to be in attendance. If you like to collect autographs here is a great opportunity to do so. The luncheon also includes a great auction.

Date: Wednesday, January 19, 2005
Time: 11:30-1:30 pm
Location: Safeco Field, Seattle, WA
Cost: Suggested minimum donation of $150 ($85 FMV)

Proceeds of the 2005 Hutch Award Luncheon will benefit Fred Hutchinson’s Gregory Fund for early cancer detection research. Fred Hutchinson is an independent, non-profit research institution dedicated to the understanding, treatment and prevention of cancer and other potentially fatal diseases.

Read more

Game accounts

December 26, 2004 · Filed Under General baseball · 48 Comments 

I’ve been doing a ton of baseball research as part of a bunch of projects I’m writing, and I miss old-style game reports. Today’s game recaps go

Result, big event or two as selected by the reporter. (“The team won 5-4 in league play today on the strength of four solo home runs and a suicide squeeze in the ninth.”)
Quote or two.
Lesser events, notes of interest.
Quote or two.
Wrap it up. (“Jason Barker’s sacrifice bunt in the eighth was his 28th of the season, tying a team record”)

It’s based on the application of the pyramid style of newspaper story writing, where the more you read the more atomic knowledge you gain. Read the headline, you’ll see if the team won or lost. The lead sentence, you’ll get the who/what/when/where/why/how.

It wasn’t always like this. There was a time when baseball games were laid out chronologically, and the writers tried to give the reader a sense of what it was like to be there, including the highs, lows, when it seemed like there was hope, or even what it felt like to be crushed in the first inning. Interesting plays were applauded as they happened. There are drawbacks to this approach: the writers often try wayyyy too hard, and the purple prose gets thick and hard to read. And yet, it reminds me of the finer qualities of Dave Niehaus in the 1980s, when the rhythm and interest inherent in the event drove the coverage, but the love of the game brought forth a kind of… quest for the hidden item.

That’s lost now. Game recaps don’t sing with the emotions of that game, and I miss it.

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