You Gotta Take An Aspirin With These Guys

Dave · May 5, 2009 at 8:14 am · Filed Under Mariners 

The Mariners have played 26 games so far. 12 of them, or 46% of the total, have been decided by one run, including the last four in a row. One run games are, essentially, a coinflip. A bad call, a lucky bounce, a tricky hop – these are the things that decide who wins one run games. The outcomes of those games don’t really prove anything. If you play too many of them, that just means you aren’t good enough to blow out your opponent and you have some areas to improve upon.

I know it’s tempting to look at the loss last night and the loss on Saturday as blown opportunities. They’re games we probably should have won. But likewise, we had no business winning the games on Friday or Sunday, and we really have no business being 3-2 in games started by Carlos Silva. That’s just how baseball works, though. You’ll win some you shouldn’t and lose some that you feel like were right there for the taking, but if you’re a really good team, you’ll win a lot more blowouts than you lose and the one run games won’t matter all that much.

I know it’s tempting to draw conclusions about the character/mental strength/will to win after a bunch of close games, but hopefully the last four days have illustrated the reality of baseball – the winner of one run games often has little to do with the moral fiber of the guys on the field, and a lot more to do with random chance.

Comments

39 Responses to “You Gotta Take An Aspirin With These Guys”

  1. jro on May 5th, 2009 8:45 am

    This season has simply shown me that we can be competitive, which is a far cry from last year’s catastrophe.

    I’ll take an aspirin with these guys anytime over drinking myself to the point of indifference with last year’s squad.

  2. henryv on May 5th, 2009 8:45 am

    Aspirin?

    Heck, here is the current list of my M’s related medication:

    -Pepto Bismol
    -Tums
    -Vicodin
    -Zantac
    -Xanax
    -Haldol
    -Repressitol

  3. RoninX on May 5th, 2009 8:50 am

    I’ll take an aspirin with these guys anytime over drinking myself to the point of indifference with last year’s squad.

    Don’t ever think there isn’t a reason why Schick Shadel advertises so heavily during M’s games.

  4. Colm on May 5th, 2009 9:09 am

    I’m just baffled that Schick Shadel use Pat O’Day as their pitchman, when he sounds like he’s never stopped drinking.

    It’s like AM-PM advertising their copious junk food with what sounds to me like the voice of a hugely obese guy who’s about to barf.

  5. Evan on May 5th, 2009 9:14 am

    We’d be doing better if our Japanese players could get a call at first.

    First Ichiro called out when he was clearly safe, and now Johjima called out when he not only beat the throw, but the fielder wasn’t even touching the bag.

  6. mwb on May 5th, 2009 9:40 am

    While it would clearly be nice to be dominant, there is one nice thing about one run games – they’re hella fun to watch.

  7. cdowley on May 5th, 2009 9:48 am

    Henryv – careful with the xanax and vicodin… Benzodiazepines and opiates don’t mix well. Don’t want you to die and miss the rest of these heart-straining games ;)

  8. alexD on May 5th, 2009 9:57 am

    Random chance or not, we have been in almost every single game we have played this season. The two comebacks against Oakland and the comeback last night (despite the loss) shows that we are always in the game.

    But this goes to show how much a big bat in our lineup could be helping us. If we had a guy who can drive in 120 runs, these one run deficits turn into ties, and the one run leads turn into two run leads, and the outcome of our season could be a bit different. Or for that matter, if Beltre was just having an average season, we might have a couple more Ws on the board right now. I’m looking forward for him to come out of this slump, hopefully sooner than later.

  9. ralphie81 on May 5th, 2009 10:11 am

    This explains why Griffey sat out yesterday.

  10. wabbles on May 5th, 2009 10:58 am

    Jerry Brewer has a column in today’s Seattle Times that I did NOT read after seeing the term “grit” in the headline. Gawd, that is one remnant of the previous regime I hoped never to see again although you just knew a column like that was coming.
    Yeah, one run games are a toss-up but really, could last year’s team have gone 2-2 in those last four games? I think NOT Abner! It’s talent, of course, but since the talent is spread across the roster (instead of three guys) it’s giving this team the confidence to keep going in games like those. Like I said, it’s 1993 all over again. We may only win 82 games but we’re going to have fun doing it!

  11. terry on May 5th, 2009 11:01 am

    This whole season wouldn’t be unfolding like it is without Jr’s presence in the clubhouse.

    Jr has been “crucial to the Mariners becoming one of baseball’s early surprises.”

  12. zjmuglidny on May 5th, 2009 11:15 am

    Glad to see this post, because I’m always quite skeptical when a team with a bunch of narrow victories is said to have strong “moral fiber”, or something else along those lines. It’s probably backward thinking. The (perceived) strong moral fiber is a product of all the close wins, not vice-versa.

    It’s similar to last year in the Red Sox/Rays ALCS when the Red Sox success was credited to strong veteran leadership and having guys who have been there before, while the Rays success was credited to youthful fearlessness. Of course the common thread was that both teams had a bunch of guys who could pitch, hit and play defense.

  13. Paul B on May 5th, 2009 11:15 am

    Jr has been “crucial to the Mariners becoming one of baseball’s early surprises.”

    Not sure if that is a quote from the article, but at best that is a guess. I haven’t seen any evidence that is true. In fact, if the M’s had found a DH that could hit righties with better than a .308 SLG (hopefully Jr’s will go up as the season goes along) they could be scoring more runs.

    So far, Junior’s contributions are to walk (which is something this team needs), and to be a leader in the clubhouse (which has unknown impact).

  14. mark s on May 5th, 2009 11:16 am

    “You Gotta Take An Aspirin With These Guys”

    I don’t see that will be slogan the team will be picking up anytime soon. But that is very true.

  15. fermorules on May 5th, 2009 11:16 am

    Hold on one doggone second there, buster!

    I attended those four games, and while you can talk about random chance and articulate all that stuff on paper, let’s give credit where credit is due.

    For example, that five-hour epic on Sunday, the Mariners led exactly once in 15 innings-at the end of the game!

    Friday, they were buried early and came back from five runs.

    Last night, Felix got shelled and they almost came all the way back.

    Oakland, I’m sure, left town realistically thinking they should have won all three games, and indeed the A’s played well in all three. They won one.

    I’m not going to be like Jerry Brewer and talk about “grit.” But to just say that random chance dictates that you win some/lose one, does not give the Mariners the credit they are due.

    I understand you can’t quantify it on paper, but there is something to be said for a team that battles hard the whole game.

  16. Paul B on May 5th, 2009 11:19 am

    and indeed the A’s played well in all three

    No, they didn’t. For example, they made several crucial mistakes in that 15 inning game.

    Any very close game could turn out different if any number of things had happened.

  17. Dave on May 5th, 2009 11:31 am

    But to just say that random chance dictates that you win some/lose one, does not give the Mariners the credit they are due.

    Would they be due less credit had Rajai Davis played Lopez’s little blooper like he hadn’t been drinking too much in the 15th inning? Would they be due more credit if the umpire rules Kenji Johjima safe on the play at first base last night?

    I’m not making any comments about the relative merit of the team’s willingness to keep playing hard over the weekend. This post isn’t about whether they should be congratulated for their efforts. That’s kind of a given, I think. Yay team. Good job.

    My point is that the actual outcomes of who won and lost each game had nothing to do with the character of the players on the respective teams. The M’s didn’t display more character than the A’s over the weekend, and the Rangers didn’t show more heart than the M’s last night. In all the contests, the games were closely fought and even battles, and the winner was not determined by inner moral fiber.

  18. mkd on May 5th, 2009 11:35 am

    Jr has been “crucial to the Mariners becoming one of baseball’s early surprises.”

    I was out at a bar on Friday watching the game with a friend who doesn’t follow baseball. He asked me if the Ms still sucked and I said that, no, all things considered they’re playing pretty well right now. Then a little light went off in his head and he was like “Oh yeah, they brought Griffey back…” I then spent three innings explaining why that was really really not the case.

    Awhile later our waiter came around and remarked without prompting that the Mariners were good again now that Griffey was back. I’m not sure whether to try to fight it or not, but the “Griffey Back = Mariners Good Again” is a meme that is definitely taking root in the casual non-fan community. Be aware.

  19. The Ancient Mariner on May 5th, 2009 11:44 am

    It should be noted that this game, with Felix el Rey on the mound, shouldn’t have been a one-run game . . .

  20. UpOrDownMsFan on May 5th, 2009 11:49 am

    Fate/Luck/Credit where Credit is Due… Whatever it’s called, that’s what I love about baseball… It’s the only sport where a team that dominates still only wins 6 out of every 10 games. And the rest of the pack is 1 game back (with a few exceptions).

    And! Where an off day can have the Yankees get beat by the Indians by 40 something runs (okay, a little over the top, but not by much… what was it, 22-4?).

    And! Where the best of the best succeed 3 out of 10 times at the plate (a little more, but still…).

    It’s great to suppose attitudes and buddy-buddy-ness make the difference in those 1 or 2 games out of every 10, or the difference between batting .200 or .400 with RISP, all those things that decide a winning or losing season, but like mentioned above, it’s just fun to actually be 1 run up or down in this year’s games. (Paul I honestly think a good clubhouse leader has a real impact, it’s just not quantifiable to what degree, or why).

    All in all, it’s a great season so far. Should stay fun for a long while. I’m loving it.

  21. DMZ on May 5th, 2009 12:10 pm

    a good clubhouse leader has a real impact, it’s just not quantifiable to what degree, or why

    sooo not a real impact, then. Got it.

  22. gwangung on May 5th, 2009 12:10 pm

    All the grit and heart in the world will get you ZERO wins if you’re batting .200 and slugging .300.

    All that stuff is 2nd order stuff; it probably gets you wins when talent is equal—but talent goes a lot further in getting wins than the 2nd order stuff.

  23. UpOrDownMsFan on May 5th, 2009 12:21 pm

    “sooo not a real impact, then. Got it.”

    Ah man, Derek- (that was an easy shot to take)

    Quantify- “to determine, express, or measure the quantity of…”

    Things exist that aren’t easily measured– that doesn’t make them not real. Like talent. That’s the whole point of sabermetrics, yeah? There are plenty of other variables that are left out of every one of the statistical generators we enjoy, but that doesn’t mean we discount the reality of what we’re observing, or call what’s being measured unreal?

    When Morrow blew that first save, and Griffey had his arms around him in the dugout, immediately, staring him in the eye, saying “We need you all year, this is one game”… You’re boyhood hero tells you he believes in you, when you’re feeling worthless… I can’t give you the equation, or any mathematical results, but I’m pretty sure that has a more positive impact versus throwing shit at him and saying “Leave this dugout and never come back?”

  24. DMZ on May 5th, 2009 12:29 pm

    Touching yet unconvincing.

  25. vern on May 5th, 2009 12:37 pm

    Why do we only consider the loving feel good intangibles? If competition for jobs in spring training is considered a good thing, then is it possible to extend that to a team of guys who hate each other and are just trying to out-do each other?

    Seems like a team of guys who hate each other have as much incentive to do well to spite someone as they do out of love and good feelings.

    Overall, I believe that objects in motion want to stay in motion, but that could be fueled by burning hatred and petty jealousy as much as anything else.

  26. nvn8vbryce on May 5th, 2009 12:38 pm

    I’ll take an aspirin with these guys anytime over drinking myself to the point of indifference with last year’s squad.

    Don’t ever think there isn’t a reason why Schick Shadel advertises so heavily during M’s games.

    Schick Shadel probably gets 90% of their business from Seattle sports fans… between the drama of the Sonics to the yo-yo that has been the past couple of baseball seasons…

  27. emonger33 on May 5th, 2009 12:39 pm

    I think some credit must be given to our bullpen.

  28. nvn8vbryce on May 5th, 2009 12:40 pm

    I think some credit must be given to our bullpen.

    I agree 100%… now, if only Jack in the Box would open up in the bullpen so Silva can practice his new career as a burger flipper…

  29. UpOrDownMsFan on May 5th, 2009 12:41 pm

    “Touching yet unconvincing…”

    *laughs*
    Of course.

    So I’m assuming “Win one for the Gipper” wouldn’t stir you in my direction either?

    But seriously, are you saying that Griffey’s pep talk had absolutely NO effect on Morrow’s emotional makeup or confidence, versus if it had not happened at all, and that none of that has any possibility of translating into any effect on his future performance?

    Forget whether the impact is positive or negative. All I’m suggesting is that there is an impact, and that it’s intricate to the level of not being able to adequately (with “equate” purposely there in the middle) be defined.

    If it was definable (at this point in time), I’d tell you what it is– and everyone would know my name. And I’d buy you a really really expensive dinner, with any one of my many platinum cards. (As it is, I can maybe pony up for a mini sirloin burger… *sigh*)

  30. Jeff Nye on May 5th, 2009 12:45 pm

    We’ve had this discussion ad nauseam. If you can’t quantify something’s effect, you can’t really say for sure that it exists.

    And honestly, given all the (unjustified by performance) credit Griffey’s been getting for the team’s good start, while the players who are actually producing that start have gone relatively ignored, is probably having a detrimental overall effect in the clubhouse, not a positive one. But again, I can’t quantify that, and that’s the entire point.

  31. UpOrDownMsFan on May 5th, 2009 12:49 pm

    Vern-
    Agreed… There have definitely been teams, and certainly coaches, who got unexpected results by using their disdain for each other as motivation.

  32. UpOrDownMsFan on May 5th, 2009 12:56 pm

    Sorry, Jeff. (Seriously, not trying to be smart…)

    If it’s preferred by most here that we not discuss things that we can’t actually prove (which I can totally understand on a site that spends a good deal of time showing solid evidence to support its hypotheses), I’ll respect that.

    I’m new here and still learning.

  33. Jeff Nye on May 5th, 2009 1:05 pm

    It’s not about any sort of rules we’re trying to impose; it’s that you just simply can’t talk intelligently about nebulous factors that you can’t quantify, so what’s the point?

    I could say that the reason that the Mariners are winning is because they’re washing the Moose costume more often and the smell isn’t distracting the players as much; but without any actual evidence in that regard, there’s no real point in trying to convince anyone of my theory.

  34. alexD on May 5th, 2009 1:26 pm

    Let’s just assume that the unquantifiable statistics manifest themselves in the quantifiable statistics. For example, during practice Silva might be the most accurate pitcher in the world (not saying it’s true, just a made-up example). When it comes game time, he has the least confidence in the world and that is reflected in his statistics.

  35. joser on May 5th, 2009 1:29 pm

    Considering how many people here seem to go from chest-thumping jubilation to being coaxed off a ledge from one game to the next, the appropriate drug for this fanbase might be lithium or lamotrigine.

  36. gwangung on May 5th, 2009 1:34 pm

    We’ve had this discussion ad nauseam. If you can’t quantify something’s effect, you can’t really say for sure that it exists.

    I’d say that A) what we usually talk about (OPS, etc.) are using interval and ratio scales. B) We can correlate these measures to overall team offense, defense and wins. C) The intangibles are, AT BEST, on ordinal scales (and they may be on categorical scales). D) No one has been able to correlate these to offense, defense or winning through use of non-parametric stats (which can handle ordinal and categorical scales).

    I’m pretty sure the intangibles exist. But we can’t connect them to offense, defense, pitching or wins.

  37. gwangung on May 5th, 2009 1:36 pm

    Let’s just assume that the unquantifiable statistics manifest themselves in the quantifiable statistics.

    That’s backwards. Null hypothesis is that there’s no effect; your job is to develop some statistical test to allow us to reject the null hypothesis.

    Non-parametric stats are your friend.

  38. UpOrDownMsFan on May 5th, 2009 1:46 pm

    Jeff-
    But, see I think you can talk intelligently about these things. I don’t think washing the Moose costume is an attempt to intelligently discuss these ideas, but I think discussing the role leadership plays in performance is a step towards discussing it intelligently.

    (Hell, we’re all heaping praise on the new M’s leadership in pretty esoteric terms, considering the only indicators of better performance are that we have a relatively different team than we had last year, especially while we’re winning with some of our key players peforming well below their career levels of expectation.)

    I understand that if you want good hard evidence, some of these discussions can be a bit like being in a leaky boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with only a broken paddle in hand. But some of us are more curious about the things that aren’t yet well defined, than we are the things that already have intricate definitions.

    And I think it’s worth wondering about- just as the first folks who knew there must be better ways to measure performance than batting average and ERA had to initially begin down those roads by having intelligent discussions/debates with people who thought why bother.

    (Not suggesting I’m gonna figure any of this out, but only suggesting I’m curious about these things– y’know, because American sports movies have raised this hero/cowboy stuff to epic tear-jerking levels of feel good.)

    I believe there are ultimately psychological signifiers in athletes that can be measured, differentiated, and quantified (whether chemically, or via scientific imaging), and I believe interpersonal relationships have major impacts on human performance, confidence, and satisfaction. And I certainly don’t believe that leaving out these relatively unknown quantities will somehow make conversations more accurate.

    But, as I was saying in my last post, I’m also becoming aware that this site might not be the place to pursue these interests (ie- people respond with words like “nauseum”, or suggest that we “simply can’t talk intelligently” about this stuff. And I’m not saying that with any ill will either, just saying I enjoy talking about this stuff, and would hope those around me would enjoy the discussions too, and want to be respectful if not.)

    Oops, game’s on!

  39. moocow on May 5th, 2009 3:14 pm

    One run games are, essentially, a coinflip. A bad call, a lucky bounce, a tricky hop – these are the things that decide who wins one run games. The outcomes of those games don’t really prove anything.

    If anything, it does prove that the team is good enough not to lose by 2+ runs more often, which is more than you can say for last year’s team. A team that’s built for low scoring games (good pitching + good defense + average lineup) will play more 1-run games than a team with a stellar offense and awful pitching and/or defense, but I’d probably rather have the former.

    In poker terms, you’d much rather be in a coinflip situation with your whole chip stack on the line than a 70-30 underdog. There may still be a significant element of luck involved, but you need a lot less of it to win.

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