Things I learned from this week’s Mariner Mailbag

Jeff · March 14, 2005 at 2:46 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Every time I think we’re never going to link to the mailbag on again, the cold slap of unreality makes my cheek (and brain) hurt.

This week’s gems:

* Pokey Reese might be a good defensive player, but he’s not as good as Bret Boone, who has three Gold Gloves to prove it; and

* Willie Bloomquist has developed into one of the best utility players in the majors; and …

… one last one that I have to quote in its entirety.

Why is everybody ragging on the Mariners pitching? Last year, it was considered their strong point and it hasn’t changed all that much. Just because they all had a down year at the same time doesn’t mean that they are going to struggle for life, right? I think they are severely underrated. — Rob S., Jefferson, N.J.

When fans notice that none of the starting pitchers won more than seven games last season, the natural reaction is to think it’s a bad group of pitchers. But insiders, like yourself, realize that if the Mariners’ hitters had provided more leads early in the games, the pitching would have been much better. An improved offense and defense should make things easier this season.

There is so much going on in that two paragraph excerpt, though it’s tempting to focus only on Jim Street calling a random guy from New Jersey who sent him email an “insider.”

What’s distressing is that a question like that is actually an opportunity to engage some important issues, like aging in pitchers and how it applies to rare specimens like Moyer; how wins are misleading, because they depend upon an array of factors outside a pitcher’s control; arm attrition among the M’s staff, two of whom are serious injury question marks; independent league talent, like Bobby Madritsch, and how valuable a pickup like him can be; and on and on and on.

But no, we get “if the hitters had been better, the pitchers would have been better.” More on this last bit later, possibly.


30 Responses to “Things I learned from this week’s Mariner Mailbag”

  1. Graham on March 14th, 2005 3:08 pm

    As soon as I saw the picture of Willie Bloomquist and the caption that stated he was one of the best utlity dudes in the minors, I knew that this would be a gem. And I wasn’t disappointed…

  2. petec on March 14th, 2005 3:17 pm

    I really enjoyed Street seconding the nomination of career .668 OPS Harold Reynolds for the M’s HOF because he once led the league in SBs. You just can’t find that rigorous reasoning elsewhere!

    Why stop there? Put Harold in the broadcasting HOF while you’re at it. After all, he’s the proponent of the theory that slow-running, high OBP guys hurt a team because they “clog the basepaths”. Why would you want a Frank Thomas or Edgar on your team if you could have the speedy Reynolds instead?

  3. jtopps on March 14th, 2005 3:25 pm

    Maybe if I email Street I can become an “insider” too. Or maybe Street was referring to the guy’s subscription…

  4. dw on March 14th, 2005 3:27 pm

    When fans notice that none of the starting pitchers won more than seven games last season, the natural reaction is to think it’s a bad group of pitchers.

    Really? Because my natural reaction is, “The 2004 M’s sucked so bad that James Dyson is selling a navy and teal version of his vacuum in their honor.”

    Admittedly, I’m not normal.

  5. Paul Covert on March 14th, 2005 3:29 pm

    Minor technicality: I’m pretty sure that Street meant “But insiders (realize), like (you) yourself (realize), … that if the Mariners’ hitters had…” (etc.). It takes a bit of grammatical disentangling, but it does give a more natural explanation of what Street was thinking.

    Whether it would have been more correct to replace “realize” by some other verb entirely, such as perhaps “fantasize,” is of course another question.

  6. bilbo on March 14th, 2005 3:31 pm

    somebody should tell Jim that the nice thing about getting these questions via email is that he has time to think about the answers! What a dolt.

  7. Ralph Malph on March 14th, 2005 3:34 pm

    I can’t decide which is stupider, the questions or the answers.

  8. Dash on March 14th, 2005 3:45 pm

    Ralph – I’m going to go with the answers. Only because they (and no I’m not sure who they are) say that the only stupid question is the one that goes unasked.

  9. Evan on March 14th, 2005 3:49 pm

    I would have liked to see Jim point out that Safeco made the pitchers look adequate, when they weren’t. Thus showing that the pitchers were in fact the weak point, and Rob from NJ knows nothing.

    I’m with Paul on the whole Insider thing. Reading that to mean Jim was calling Rob an insider is a sloppy interpretation of what I think was fairly careful comma placement.

  10. Jeff on March 14th, 2005 3:55 pm

    Fair enough, Paul. I think you’re right about Street’s intended meaning, but let me explain why I took the sentence the way I did.

    The word “yourself” is a reflexive pronoun, and reflexive pronouns are only used to refer back to (“Bloggers, like myself, engage in grammatical wankery.”)or intensify an existing subject phrase (i.e., “Mrs. Dalloway said that she would buy the flowers herself.”)

    Either way, using the -self construction means that the pronoun (yourself) references a subject (insiders) already used in the sentence.

    Of course, commas are used to separate subordinate clauses, so the sentence wouldn’t be grammatically perfect the way I read it either. As always, it’s meaning that matters — and clarity of expressing intended meaning.

    [On preview, Evan’s right about the comma placement, as I just noted. Apologies for the GrammarFilter.]

  11. Jeff on March 14th, 2005 3:57 pm

    In case it wasn’t clear from the above, the sentence that would have expressed what we assume Street meant most accurately would be “Insiders, like you, know …”

  12. J.R. on March 14th, 2005 3:58 pm

    Wow, Street seems to get dummer each week.

  13. Lou on March 14th, 2005 3:59 pm

    What is the purpose of this thread? To point out that Jim Street and the “other” fans are stupid?

  14. J.R. on March 14th, 2005 4:13 pm

    I don’t care if the “other fans” are stupid or not, they aren’t being paid to be smart about baseball or the Mariners.

  15. Brian Rust on March 14th, 2005 4:13 pm

    Actually, the best way to say what Street probably means is “Insiders realize, as you do, . . .”

    In any case, at a very basic level, Street is correct. Poor defense and lack of offensive support can be detrimental to pitcher performance. That being said, his answer misses so much as to be a non-answer.

    But complaining about it seems a waste of bandwidth, as is not the place for readers who seek great depth or keen insight. That’s why we read USSM.

  16. Pilots fan on March 14th, 2005 4:14 pm

    I wonder what the criteria for the M’s HOF is and who chooses/votes? Can anyone list who is in right now? I’ve always been a Reynolds fan, but can’t really take a position on whether he should be in or not.

  17. Bill J on March 14th, 2005 4:17 pm

    Too funny. Earlier this afternoon I read that “insider” answer three times trying to make sense of it. I suspect Mr. Covert’s analysis is correct because it doesn’t make much sense otherwise.

  18. Christopher Michael on March 14th, 2005 4:18 pm

    All though I’m not sure what kind of defense would have kept those baseballs in the ballpark. Its not like it was our offense contributing to those HR totals.

  19. Christopher Michael on March 14th, 2005 4:19 pm

    And I can’t believe I just wrote out “All though”.

    As if that wasn’t bad enough in a thread where we are talking about gramar.

  20. Aaron on March 14th, 2005 5:01 pm

    Certainly, Christopher, you know of the Conventional Wisdom that says pitchers will usually pitch to the score. If the Mariners didn’t score any runs early, the pitchers gave up on the game, saving thier best stuff for the next start.

    Now, if that’s the case, the starting 5 should all be Hall of Fame calibre this year, since they never did get to use thier good stuff last year, so they should be twice as good as thier previous best this time around!!!

  21. ChrisK on March 14th, 2005 5:02 pm

    By Street’s reasoning, Raffy Palmiero is also a superior defensive player to Pokey b/c he once won a Gold Glove. Even though Raffy played 19 games in the field that year. Or maybe Street was one of the people who voted for him?

  22. ChrisK on March 14th, 2005 5:09 pm

    To clarify my last post, Raffy has 3 GGs compared to Pokey’s 2. So that means Raffy is definitely better than Pokey, and the same as Boone. This must be Street’s attempt at being a “stathead”.

  23. Ralph Malph on March 14th, 2005 5:36 pm

    #13: Yes.

  24. Scraps on March 14th, 2005 7:32 pm

    What is the purpose of this thread? To point out that Jim Street and the “other” fans are stupid?

    What is the “purpose” of this comment? To express vague exasperation and telepathically question people’s motives without taking the time to compose a thoughtful disagreeing argument?

  25. ray on March 15th, 2005 1:29 am

    Maybe Street was just being sarcastic.

  26. Jeff on March 15th, 2005 9:02 am

    “Willie Bloomquist has developed into one of the best utility players in the majors”

    Has anyone sent an email to Street calling him on this. Asking him to give some… oh… i dunno… evidence? proof? stats (stat is a four-letter word)?

  27. Evan on March 15th, 2005 9:32 am

    Jeff is right that Steet used the wrong pronoun. The use of “yourself” in place of “you” and “myself” in place of “me” is becoming quite common, and it creates significant confusion among readers and listeners.

    I should start a business writing seminar where I teach people proper grammar.

  28. Joshua Buergel on March 15th, 2005 11:15 am

    I wonder what the criteria for the M’s HOF is and who chooses/votes?

    They do publish the criteria for the Mariners HoF, and it’s no cakewalk to get in. It’s published in the media guide every year, so if somebody has it handy, they can type it up. I will when I get home if nobody has in the meantime.

  29. David J Corcoran on March 15th, 2005 1:37 pm

    Re 21: Jeter also won a GG, so he must be a better d-player than Pokey!

  30. John D. on March 15th, 2005 5:54 pm

    Speaking of Willie Bloomquist, this from today’s (3/15/05) ROTOWORLD:

    Willie Bloomquist will replace Raul Ibanez as the Mariners’ emergency catcher this season.

    When the headline read ”Mariners find another way to utilize Bloomquist,” we were thinking ticket taker or new team mascot. Instead, it looks like he’ll have a spot on the 25-man roster again this year. Mar. 15 – 5:22 pm et