Game 54, Orioles At Mariners

Dave · May 31, 2011 at 5:39 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Bedard vs Guthrie, 7:10 pm.

Because any attempt to talk about anything other than Chone Figgins is immediately rejected, let’s just start off with Chone Figgins news – he’s not playing tonight, and Eric Wedge says he’s going to get a couple of days off. His performance last night obviously is a driving factor here, but more than that, I think anyone following this team can feel the level of vitriol rising towards Figgins, and it’s getting close to what is probably an unhealthy level of anger from a fanbase towards a player. If Figgins struck out a few more times tonight, he was going to hear it from the crowd, and I don’t know that it would be all that helpful for him or the team. The Mariners don’t need Figgins to be the new Bobby Ayala.

So, he gets a few days off and the crowd gets a few days to let their anger subside. It’s probably in everyone’s best interests.

Ichiro, RF
Ryan, SS
Smoak, 1B
Cust, DH
Gutierrez, CF
Kennedy, 2B
Olivo, C
Rodriguez, 3B
Peguero, LF

Comments

187 Responses to “Game 54, Orioles At Mariners”

  1. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 5:45 pm

    Well since Figgins is out of the way…

    Peguero has been down right bad lately and Mike Wilson needs more playing time. Screw the platoon, send Pequeno back down, and start playing Big Mike every day/platooning with Saunders. Any objections to that?

  2. Spanky on May 31st, 2011 5:46 pm

    I hope that Figgins understands that we all want him to succeed and be the player we hoped we were getting when he was signed. Nobody is pulling for him to fail. It is unfortunate that he hasn’t been able to turn things around. But at some point, someone else needs to be given a chance because his performance has been atrocious…at least offensively. I also get the feeling that he and Ichiro have never meshed either. Any feelings on that? Could that be impacting his performance?

  3. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 5:49 pm

    By the way Dave, I know it’s still a bit early to be talking about it but do you expect the M’s to try to trade Bedard at the deadline whether or not we’re still in contention?

  4. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 5:49 pm

    I don’t think it’s time to quite abandon the Peguero experiment just yet. Wedge has be known to be a patient manager this year. I think with the move of Figgins right now, let’s slowly start to find pieces that work for this club. We’ve been winning quite a bit. There’s no one who can essentially step in for Carlos anyways. I saw Langerhans twice this year, and he’s not doing anything right now at AAA. I’d rather stick Carp’s ugly defense and hot stick out there, or Cust and use Carp as a DH than see Langerhans back up here.

  5. Snake Hippo on May 31st, 2011 5:55 pm

    I for one am glad to see Figgins sit, even if it’s just for a few days. He’s probably my least favorite Mariner since James Baldwin.

  6. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 6:01 pm

    The Figgins benching is the kicker between this game and the NBA finals. Looks like baseball for me tonight…

  7. Westside guy on May 31st, 2011 6:01 pm

    I think it’s obvious Peguero’s not going to amount to anything – but if we’re going to pull out the SSS argument for players we like, we should probably do the same for Peguero. :-D

  8. Chipanese on May 31st, 2011 6:02 pm

    I really hope Chone Figgins finds his stroke. If we want to contend going forward, we’re going to need his career OBP.

    I really don’t know what’s wrong with him. I was so excited when we signed him in the ’09 off-season. He looked so good when he was on the Angels.

  9. RRR on May 31st, 2011 6:05 pm

    Watching Morrow get blown up again. I hated the trade originally, but starting to think we got better value out of League.

  10. Chris_From_Bothell on May 31st, 2011 6:10 pm

    if we’re going to pull out the SSS argument for players we like, we should probably do the same for Peguero.

    Yep. I’d like to think something will click from getting coaching from the major league hitting coach, the chance to talk to and learn from guys on the big league club, etc.

    It’s not like they bring him up and then not talk to him about his pitch selection and swing at all, expecting him to just figure it out all by himself at the plate during games…

  11. spankystout on May 31st, 2011 6:20 pm

    Yay, no Figgins! He needs to start hitting or become a utility player, again.

  12. samregens on May 31st, 2011 6:21 pm

    I also get the feeling that he and Ichiro have never meshed either. Any feelings on that? Could that be impacting his performance?

    Great, let’s try to blame Figgin’s terrible performance on Ichiro somehow.

    From all I’ve seen and read, Ichiro seems quite supportive of Figgins.

  13. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 6:22 pm

    I hope my Mavericks and Dirk get they’re first ring!! Sucks what happened to Seattle and the Sonics. Glad I’ve always been a Dallas fan!! At least I’ll catch the rest of the M’s game after Game 1 of the Finals!

  14. Brzeczyszczykiewicza on May 31st, 2011 6:35 pm

    I wish the fans who booed Figgins would learn about regression. Rangers lose!

  15. SonOfZavaras on May 31st, 2011 6:48 pm

    I was at the game last night, third base side. The comments were pretty ugly.

    I don’t for one minute believe that Figgins truly is a .190 hitter in the major leagues.

    That being so said, it’s really best if he has a few days off. There comes a time when the fans get so frustrated that the situation becomes untenable, and the best recourse is to move the player away.

    If he’d kept on playing like even today’s game and failed, I see every sign that the situation would mushroom RAPIDLY.

  16. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 6:55 pm

    Wedge needs to dye his hair red and go for the complete Yosemite Sam package <_<

    This will also require him purchasing a new hat.

  17. texasmarinerfan on May 31st, 2011 7:12 pm

    I live in college station ( 3 hours from dallas) and here everyone loves the Heat, and no one (besides me) loves the Mariners. Its going to be heat in 5

  18. joser on May 31st, 2011 7:20 pm

    I think Wedge’s direction is less Yosemite Sam and more American Chopper. And Ryan seems to be riding in his wake.

    e Mariners don’t need Figgins to be the new Bobby Ayala.

    I couldn’t be the only person who twitched reflexively just hearing “Ayala” the other night, even if he was pitching to the M’s rather than for them. I wonder though if we can create a kind of spectrum of disgust by referencing past M’s. Figgins is nowhere yet at the full Ayala, but is past Yuni and heading for Speizio? After that, it’s the nether regions of Mateo / HoRam / Miguel Bautista?

  19. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 7:21 pm

    Dallas in 6! Used to live in HEB between DFW. I’ll be moving back shortly. Seattle is an awesome place, TO VISIT! Sucks to live. Love being close to my Mariners and Seahawks, however I miss the sunshine and all the gorgeous ladies!!

  20. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 7:21 pm

    The Mariners don’t need Figgins to be the new Bobby Ayala.

    I remember going to games when Ayala was brought in to a chorus of booing and catcalls. I thought it was really dumb of Mariners fans to do that. The guy didn’t need any less confidence than he already had. Yes, a pro athlete should be able to shut that stuff out, but they are human.Yes, the fans paid for their tickets and had the right. I was always thinking that this was a guy the fans were just hurting – just leave him alone.

  21. Edgar4Hall on May 31st, 2011 7:24 pm

    Figgins is nowhere yet at the full Ayala, but is past Yuni and heading for Speizio? After that, it’s the nether regions of Mateo / HoRam / Miguel Bautista?

    The person I always remember and shudder about is Jose Mesa. Especially blowing the first game in Safeco.

    And as for Figgins, I think that most of us want him to succeed but the way he has acted (with him getting Wak fired last year and trying to fight him) as well as his absolute horrendous play, I can’t even think of someone who has dropped off like he has in two years. Was cirillo this bad when he came over and I’m just repressing that memory?

  22. djw on May 31st, 2011 7:29 pm

    I also get the feeling that he and Ichiro have never meshed either. Any feelings on that? Could that be impacting his performance?

    I have absolutely no idea what you’re getting at here. In what way haven’t they “meshed”? How would “meshing” (please be specific and tangible) have an impact on his performance? Do you mean he’s somehow distracted by how Ichiro didn’t invite him out for a drink that he forgets how to hit? And what’s the evidence that there’s something awry in their relationship? Did you glean this perception from interviews somehows, somehow? Or from a careful study of body language?

  23. Edgar4Hall on May 31st, 2011 7:30 pm

    G-man, Think about it this way. If you have a favorite restaurant and they keep on giving you something horrible and you still have to go to that restaurant (IDK, maybe your parents make you go and your a kid or whatever) you’d gripe as well. Usually we can leave bad service or bad food. We complain about it once or twice, get pissed and never come back again.

    If you’re loyal to a sports team, you have a sickness. You willingly submit yourself to the bad “food” of players who sucked. Of course you’re going to be angry that you just paid your money and put your heart and sould into a team and you get this crap.

    If you constantly complained about a restaurant and say the food is horrible and you still go, people think your crazy. If you complain about a player on your favorite team but still go to see him, people say youre loyal.
    We live in a sick society

  24. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 7:31 pm

    Went on a first date once and was excited to hear the girl liked some baseball. I asked her who her favorite Mariner was. She replied with “Bobby Ayala”. The cleverness of it made me look past the fact that she was a Yankee fan for about a year…

  25. Spanky on May 31st, 2011 7:32 pm

    @Samregens

    You have twisted what I said and you’re showing to be a little sensitive to anything someone might say negatively about Ichiro. Any animosity there would be because Figgins cannot at the top of the order and he has to bat behind Ichiro. Maybe it should have stated it more as having to bat 2nd in the order rather than leadoff. Ichiro is fine.

  26. juneau_fan on May 31st, 2011 7:36 pm

    I hope you married that woman, mlathrop3.

  27. Auggeydog on May 31st, 2011 7:44 pm

    Bedard is nasty tonight, loking good, now let’s get some runs.

  28. jordan on May 31st, 2011 7:49 pm

    Whats up with the attendance? I thought there was a buzz with this team. This seems like the lowest attendance all year.

  29. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 7:50 pm

    I’m pretty sure Figgins entire problem on the Mariners is that he was always the snappiest dresser on the Angels…

    But when he joined the M’s, not only was he no longer the snappiest dresser, but he had no f’ing clue what the hell Ichiro was trying to accomplish with his 10 years in a row dominance of bizarre MLB attire…

    Also, even if he DID want to compete with Ichiro for our snappiest dresser, they don’t make Ichiro-type knickers in Figgins’ size (well, they DO– but they’re just called “shorts”).

  30. juneau_fan on May 31st, 2011 7:50 pm

    Boy, walking Ichiro in his slump for Ryan? Okay then!

  31. texasmarinerfan on May 31st, 2011 7:50 pm

    Why? Why? Why are they walking a guy batting .280 with no homeruns and 37 years old???
    Ohhh he’s Ichiro. Nevermind

  32. joser on May 31st, 2011 7:52 pm

    Figgins is in a negative feedback loop, and he needs some outside input to get out of the death spiral. Just look at this:
    O-Swing% (pitches outside the zone swung at)
    2009: 15.1%
    2010: 20.8%
    2011: 25.4%

    He’s not seeing more actual strikes, but he’s swinging at a lot more balls. And he’s actually making contact on a lot of those (his overall contact rate hasn’t dropped), but you can’t expect to be making good contact against pitches outside the zone (unless your name is Ichiro or Vlad). People have noted that his BABIP is low (.212 this year, vs .314 last and .356 in ’09) and so attributed much of this slump to “bad luck”; but I have to believe that some of those struck balls are finding gloves because it’s hard to scorch a pitch over/through the infield when it’s way outside the zone where you make good contact.

  33. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 7:59 pm

    No Juneau, she cheated on me in typical Yankee fan classiness. Screw the Yankees and their fans.

    Berate looks great.

  34. Breadbaker on May 31st, 2011 7:59 pm

    Okay, that was one helluva pitch to Vlad. Vlad may swing at anything but no one could make contact with that yakker.

  35. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 8:00 pm

    mlathrop3
    her name wasn’t “alex rodriguez” was it? if so, she cheated on ALL OF US, too! the bitch.

  36. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 8:01 pm

    Berate vs. Bedard is one of the funnier iPhone autocorrect results yet.

  37. juneau_fan on May 31st, 2011 8:02 pm

    No Juneau, she cheated on me in typical Yankee fan classiness.

    Oh, wow. Cold!

  38. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 8:03 pm

    Berate vs. Bedard is one of the funnier iPhone autocorrect results yet

    Mlathrop3-
    Yeah, that’s totally Bedarded…

  39. Paul B on May 31st, 2011 8:03 pm

    He’s not seeing more actual strikes, but he’s swinging at a lot more balls.

    It doesn’t seem like he gets it either. He’s just gradually taken fewer and fewer balls, month after month, since he joined the M’s.

    That’s a pattern we wouldn’t see if he understood what makes him a valuable player.

    It’s sort of like listening to Joe Morgan talk (I’m not saying Figgins is anywhere close to Morgan as a player), and realizing that although Morgan was a clear HOF’er and one of the best second basemen of all time, he really had no clue about what his value actually was.

  40. texasmarinerfan on May 31st, 2011 8:04 pm

    Smoak, SWING at strikes down the middle

  41. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 8:09 pm

    Is Bedard going for 20 straight scoreless in the 5th? Cool

  42. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 8:15 pm

    PEGGY!!!!!!!

  43. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 8:15 pm

    And that’s what we call luck right there ladies and gentlemen.

  44. Carson on May 31st, 2011 8:15 pm

    Ha. Well that was just ugly all over the place.

  45. Carson on May 31st, 2011 8:17 pm

    Wow, that route made Ibanez look smooth.

  46. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 8:17 pm

    OMG!!!!!! PEGUERO JUST SCARED THE SHIT OUT OF ME!!!!!

  47. Breadbaker on May 31st, 2011 8:17 pm

    To Peguero, playing the outfield isn’t a job, it’s an adventure.

  48. SenorStover on May 31st, 2011 8:18 pm

    Sometimes you need a little luck to win either way it was a great throw by Peguero.

  49. Breadbaker on May 31st, 2011 8:19 pm

    although Morgan was a clear HOF’er and one of the best second basemen of all time, he really had no clue about what his value actually was.

    Just a fascinating story. Bill James used an algorithm to say that Joe Morgan was the single smartest ballplayer ever (he was almost never picked off first, for example) and yet as an analyst he’d say some of the dumbest things you could imagine.

  50. SonOfZavaras on May 31st, 2011 8:20 pm

    Re: Peguero and the dance routines he calls his routes, on that last recorded out.

    Dave Sims: “That ball took a bad break on him!”

    Ah, Sims. C’mon. You and I both know that on a sedate, no-wind day like this, balls hit to the outfield don’t take “bad breaks” on an outfielder.

    Just say “He didn’t read the ball well off the bat!”. It’s the truth.

  51. Breadbaker on May 31st, 2011 8:33 pm

    Unless it hits a pigeon it’s not going to take a bad break.

  52. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 8:37 pm

    In the late innings of the game, when it’s dark out, on a clear night Peguero’s routes to the ball are known as “Dancing with the Stars” by the other players…

    Heard that from Dave Henderson.

    (I jest, of course…)

  53. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 8:38 pm

    Anemic offense is anemic tonight.

  54. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 8:40 pm

    Anemic offense is anemic tonight.

    Well, what do you expect without Figgins?

  55. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 8:41 pm

    Peguero is actually the Aztec word for “two left feet”, ironically enough.

    (Okay, made that one up too. It’s actually Spanish for “swings at the mere hint of a pitch in his general direction”… Okay, okay, more lies. But at least he’s not anywhere near boring out there!)

  56. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 8:42 pm

    So sign me up for the Free Mike Wilson Club.

  57. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 8:44 pm

    So sign me up for the Free Mike Wilson Club.

    Interesting idea G-man… Who’s Mike Wilson? (scratches head)

  58. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 8:49 pm

    Chris Ray? Oh… oh God.

  59. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 8:53 pm

    So now that Wedge discovered Ray and Gray in the back corner of the pen, maybe he’s going to trot them out every chance he gets?

    Kidding, just kidding.

  60. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 8:55 pm

    Oh, not well played, L Rod.

  61. kenshabby on May 31st, 2011 8:55 pm

    Nothing like being shut down by a mediocre pitcher. We should be used to it by now but it’s still humbling irritating as hell.

  62. Carson on May 31st, 2011 8:59 pm

    Chris Ray getting into that jam surprised no one. Getting out of it surprised all.

  63. Breadbaker on May 31st, 2011 9:00 pm

    Courageous pitch by Chris Ray there.

  64. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:04 pm

    Y’know, all kidding aside, this Guthrie kid is pitching a heckuva game. Making good pitches, keeping the ball out of the heart of the plate…

    Oh, good… Jinxed him. Nice hit, Adam!

  65. lalo on May 31st, 2011 9:05 pm

    Time for a homerun Olivo!

  66. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 9:16 pm

    Amazingly enough, we are still within striking distance. Good pitching is cool.

  67. lalo on May 31st, 2011 9:18 pm

    Carp with his 15 homer of the season, hitting .326

  68. lalo on May 31st, 2011 9:19 pm

    Call up Carp!!!, Peguero is awful:::

  69. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 9:19 pm

    Time for a Brendan Ryan home run? <_<

  70. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 9:21 pm

    I LOVE BRENDAN RYAN!!!

  71. OffensivelyChallenged on May 31st, 2011 9:21 pm

    Do it Smoak!

  72. Carson on May 31st, 2011 9:21 pm

    The flip flopping of Ichiro and Ryan’s streaks is mind numbing.

  73. Swungonandbelted on May 31st, 2011 9:22 pm

    SMOAK!

  74. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 9:22 pm

    SMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAK!

  75. Carson on May 31st, 2011 9:22 pm

    SMOAK BOMB!!!!!!!!!

  76. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 9:22 pm

    SMOAKYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  77. sniper61 on May 31st, 2011 9:22 pm

    SMOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAK!!!!

  78. OffensivelyChallenged on May 31st, 2011 9:22 pm

    Clutch

  79. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 9:22 pm

    YEAH!

  80. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 9:22 pm

    GET UP LEAGUER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  81. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:22 pm

    GOD DAMN he’s a beautiful man!

    Love it.

    Thank you, Gapper!

  82. lalo on May 31st, 2011 9:23 pm

    I love you Smoak!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  83. Andrew34 on May 31st, 2011 9:23 pm

    SMOAK BOMB
    !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  84. juneau_fan on May 31st, 2011 9:24 pm

    I do believe that’s how it’s supposed to work. Two speedsters get on, then the 3rd hitter knocks it out. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

  85. Westside guy on May 31st, 2011 9:24 pm

    SMOAK!!!!!

  86. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 9:24 pm

    We never would have gotten to Smoak if Figgins had still been there hitting number 2!! I LOVE IT WHEN A PLAN COMES TOGETHER!!!!

  87. sniper61 on May 31st, 2011 9:25 pm

    The best part is that, if we hold on, every other AL West team lost so we can gain some ground.

  88. OffensivelyChallenged on May 31st, 2011 9:25 pm

    I do believe that’s how it’s supposed to work. Two speedsters get on, then the 3rd hitter knocks it out. Sweet, sweet, sweet.

    Yeah I think Wedge had that one drawn down. Well executed.

  89. Westside guy on May 31st, 2011 9:25 pm

    Olivo, being #2 on the team in RBIs, must be nearly as good as Smoak.

    At least based on what I’ve been hearing from Sims tonight. :-D

  90. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 9:25 pm

    GET UP LEAGUER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Just before the bomb, Sims said League was starting to play catch. Then I saw the pitch coming in to Smoak’s happy zone, and I had a good feeling.

  91. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 9:26 pm

    Just want to reiterate the professional at bat by Ryan to set this all up. Going towards the hole just as he needed to. Smoak Bomb!

  92. Carson on May 31st, 2011 9:26 pm

    And that was the first time all year I leaped out of my chair.

    I’m in.

    Don’t crush me now.

  93. KiWiNiNjA on May 31st, 2011 9:26 pm

    Justin you sexy thing. <3

  94. TomC on May 31st, 2011 9:26 pm

    Helluva contrast between Smoak and Cust. Smoak was a stud – quick swing. Cust looked slow and seemed to be guessing (wrong as it turns out).

  95. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:26 pm

    That’s the way it’s done, kids…

    Ichiro hustles his way on… Ryan singles him over… Smoak brings ‘em home.

    Textbook. That was gorgeous…

    Smoak serves up some Goose bumps for the fans, straight from Goose Creek, SC!

    (My family lived there up till 2 years before I was born… No lie. Civil Service, before moving here for a job at Bangor Sub base… Such a tiny place for a big coincidence…)

  96. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 9:27 pm

    Man, I nearly dropped Ryan from my fantasy league team before his hot streak started. He is now my every day SS.

  97. SonOfZavaras on May 31st, 2011 9:27 pm

    Smoakstack Lightning. Love it. Stealing a win. Please. Love it some more.

  98. OffensivelyChallenged on May 31st, 2011 9:28 pm

    I like that pitch

  99. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 9:28 pm

    Oh that pitch was wicked…

  100. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 9:28 pm

    MrZD, did you hear that Matt Wieters is from the same area? I think they played together.

  101. Carson on May 31st, 2011 9:28 pm

    Go inside again.

  102. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 9:29 pm

    Go inside again.

    Nice call!

  103. juneau_fan on May 31st, 2011 9:29 pm

    now League sporting some bad Starsky and Hutch facial hair? Whatever works, I guess.

    Is it evil of me to chuckle at League just slapping Reynolds around, making him crap his pants?

  104. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:29 pm

    I LOVE those 1 strike strikeouts (nothing else was even NEAR the zone)…

    Nice work, “Major” League!

  105. SODOMOJO360 on May 31st, 2011 9:30 pm

    Bring Carp up already! Our LF’s suck and he has 12 HR in May

  106. Carson on May 31st, 2011 9:30 pm

    I hate to admit it, but I like Sims nickname for Smoak.

    Goose Creek Crusher.

    I wonder what Dave might have nicknamed him.

  107. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 9:30 pm

    Is it evil of me to chuckle at League just slapping that hitter around?

    My dad and I were laughing at it pretty hard so I think you may be in the clear.

  108. Carson on May 31st, 2011 9:31 pm

    Nice call!

    It’s what I teach the kids, especially when a batter is crowding. It’s common for coaches to try and get young kids afraid to pitch inside, though. Generally one pitch fixes that problem.

  109. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 9:32 pm

    LEAGUEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  110. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 9:32 pm

    Luke… I am your father….

  111. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 9:32 pm

    You know, this Brandon Morrow trade is looking better and better all the time.

  112. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:33 pm

    did you hear that Matt Wieters is from the same area? I think they played together.

    No, that makes it even a SMALLER world… Back in the ’60s it was sort of the cheap place to live if you worked at the Naval Station in Charleston.

  113. Carson on May 31st, 2011 9:33 pm

    Well, that was a total shitfest that turned exciting at the buzzer.

    Huzzah for winning.

  114. Westside guy on May 31st, 2011 9:33 pm

    YEAH!!!!!!

  115. Ibuprofen on May 31st, 2011 9:33 pm

    TWO GAMES ABOVE .500!

  116. lalo on May 31st, 2011 9:33 pm

    Great job League!!

  117. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:34 pm

    Hmmmmm… Wonder who the player of the game is? Ay thoughts?

    (Beauty, eh!)

  118. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 9:34 pm

    Dave would have called him Smoakie of course.

  119. juneau_fan on May 31st, 2011 9:34 pm

    Anyone else wondering if Figgins will get more than a few days off if the top of the lineup is successful again tomorrow?

  120. dingla on May 31st, 2011 9:34 pm

    MON-EY!!!!!

  121. sexymarinersfan on May 31st, 2011 9:34 pm

    Hooray for our 5th series win in a row!!!! Sweetness!! Let’s get the sweep boys!!!

  122. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 9:35 pm

    Wow, League leads the AL in saves. I did not imagine that.

  123. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 9:36 pm

    Juneau, completely agree. Figi couldn’t hit that right side hole if it was slow pitch softball.

  124. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:38 pm

    “Smoak ‘em if you got ‘em!”

  125. lalo on May 31st, 2011 9:39 pm

    Rangers will face David Price tomorrow, so we´ll have a chance to be in the first place tomorrow!!!

  126. OffensivelyChallenged on May 31st, 2011 9:40 pm

    I’d like to see Smoak go on another streak. Little Smoak streak.

  127. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:40 pm

    Wow, League leads the AL in saves.

    Astounding, alongside Pineda being 2nd in wins…

    Pleasant surprises abound this season… Despite Figgins, Cust, and the black hole to the left of Center Field…

    HALLELUJAH for being NOT like last year…

  128. ivan on May 31st, 2011 9:41 pm

    Well, nobody ever summed it up any better than the greatest Orioles manager of them all, Hall of Famer Earl Weaver: “You always like to have those big c*s*ckers who hit those three-run homers.”

  129. G-Man on May 31st, 2011 9:41 pm

    Guthrie is 2-7 with a 3.24 ERA; that’s Marineresque.

  130. daco on May 31st, 2011 9:42 pm

    I don’t know which was more fun, Smoak’s homer or watching League just toying with the Baltimore batters in the 9th.

    Man it’s fun when everything’s going well.

  131. kenshabby on May 31st, 2011 9:42 pm

    Half-game back of first…can taste it…just one little nibble…nom-nom-nom-nom…

  132. texasmarinerfan on May 31st, 2011 9:43 pm

    Want to hear a good joke? Brandon League as a closer! ( what, he is leading the AL in saves???) I stand corrected

  133. SonOfZavaras on May 31st, 2011 9:43 pm

    Smoakstack Lightning. Love it. Stealing a win. Please. Love it some more.

    Krueger’s kind of scary when he’s this giddy.

  134. Carson on May 31st, 2011 9:44 pm

    I just feel like every day Ackley isn’t in Seattle is a mistake at this point.

    I know, talk me out of this a bit. Rational thought tells me that the Mariners can’t keep this up. They just can’t.

    But who the hell knows? The Giants came out of nowhere. Why can’t we? Why can’t Ackley be our Posey?

    I’m just enjoying the hell out of this and even if it isn’t sustainable or rational, it beats the shit out of trudging through another season of 162 punches to the gut.

  135. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:44 pm

    Y’know, the way we’re playing a LOT of close games, as long as Aardsma doesn’t assume the role again, League has a chance for a MASSIVE tally of saves this season…

  136. kenshabby on May 31st, 2011 9:44 pm

    Here’s an oddity in baseball that should be corrected: even if the error is made by the pitcher he still isn’t charged with earned runs.

  137. Westside guy on May 31st, 2011 9:46 pm

    Mariners baseball is certainly fun this season…

  138. TomC on May 31st, 2011 9:48 pm

    A third of the way through the season and the Mariners are not out of it. Whoa, nostalgia.

  139. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 9:49 pm

    Why can’t Ackley be our Posey?

    Whoa, Carson… Don’t jinx the poor kid with the possibility of him REALLY being our Posey! (NO broken bones!)

    I want him up too, but we’re SO close to getting beyond Super Two it’s worth the extra few days… I mean, c’mon son, don’t be GREEDY– how many runs you wanna win by?!?! *laugh* (Meaning, were winning already, so he’ll be okay in Tacoma a couple more weeks…)

  140. Westside guy on May 31st, 2011 9:50 pm

    We’re 1/3 of the way through the season, and already have ~ 1/2 as many wins as last year…

  141. andym34 on May 31st, 2011 9:51 pm

    Ladies and Gentlemen, your SECOND PLACE Seattle Mariners! Damn these guys are fun to watch right now!

  142. SonOfZavaras on May 31st, 2011 9:51 pm

    Last year of Mariners baseball was the equivalent of having to go through a human gauntlet with every guy making up the gauntlet kicking and hitting you and going low when they can.

    Even if we wind up a .500 team, slightly above or slightly below at the end of the year…THIS official 1/3 of the season has been so much more fun.

  143. OffensivelyChallenged on May 31st, 2011 9:51 pm

    HALLELUJAH for being NOT like last year…

    Amen brotha.

  144. mlathrop3 on May 31st, 2011 9:54 pm

    Mr. Suckerfish on a hot streak looks mighty good in the lineup right now. But how? How much longer do you keep a guy down on that kind of tear?

  145. realsmack on May 31st, 2011 10:01 pm

    Hah! My wife just pointed out that Smoak looks like Sweet Pea, the baby in Popeye! Sweet Pea Smoak!

  146. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 10:06 pm

    Wow, poor Guthrie kid…

    His final line…

    Complete game
    5 hits
    9 K’s
    0 earned runs
    LOSS!

  147. MrZDevotee on May 31st, 2011 10:13 pm

    Biggest shame of a gorgeous game:

    “Tuesday’s crowd of 11,692 was the smallest in Safeco Field history.”

    Boo! (And of course, I include myself in those I boo.)

  148. gwangung on May 31st, 2011 10:13 pm

    Ya gotta admit, this has been fun….

  149. Carson on May 31st, 2011 10:23 pm

    Damn right, gwangung.

  150. frankb. on May 31st, 2011 10:27 pm

    Eric Bedard pitches a brilliant game (cliche: “gives us a chance to win”) I hope they keep him and he stays healthy. He’s a classy guy. Chris Ray gets a hold (But USSM bloggers hate him!) Smoak gets the clutch HR (there is no sabremetric “clutch”) and League gets over his Baltimore nightmare. Did you see Reynolds face? I’m glad Pee-ay was the final out. I hate that guy. The M’s stole this game. I love baseball.

  151. Carson on May 31st, 2011 10:29 pm

    Tonight’s comment thread world cloud says: “When he’s bigger than Smoak in the cloud, you know we hate the guy.”

    Also, the Dan Patrick Show is really awful.

  152. ck on May 31st, 2011 10:33 pm

    Re: Smallest crowd. Bring up Ackley now, and try different left field options until someone takes charge with good production both offensively and defensively. Third base by committee until someone wins that job as well. More wins will be more fun for all, and will sell more tickets…

  153. The_Waco_Kid on May 31st, 2011 10:33 pm

    Good win, M’s.

    Wedge needs to dye his hair red and go for the complete Yosemite Sam package <_<

    That’s probably the last piece of the puzzle towards making the playoffs!

  154. The_Waco_Kid on May 31st, 2011 10:38 pm

    Safeco felt like a library tonight :( I felt like I was doing half of the cheering.

  155. swood on May 31st, 2011 10:56 pm

    I can smell first place…

  156. DonStaggilioni on May 31st, 2011 11:41 pm

    mlathrop3

    Went on a first date once and was excited to hear the girl liked some baseball. I asked her who her favorite Mariner was. She replied with “Bobby Ayala”. The cleverness of it made me look past the fact that she was a Yankee fan for about a year…

    D’accord, my friend. Same wit took me for one once, until the green and gold of the A’s began to show through…

  157. Breadbaker on June 1st, 2011 12:38 am

    Smoak gets the clutch HR (there is no sabremetric “clutch”)

    That’s not quite accurate. The sabermetric position is not that there are no clutch performances, but that clutch performance has never been proven to be a replicable skill. Inside every sabermetrician is a baseball fan who marvels at clutch performance. He (or, increasingly, she) then asks of the statistics questions. The statistics, to this point in time, have indicated that good performance in clutch situations (and two outs, bottom of the eighth, two on, down by two, is pretty damn clutch) is random. So we roll our eyes at every announcer telling us about Matt Wieters’ batting average in 2011 with runners in scoring position. But we don’t deny that Justin Smoak hit a clutch home run tonight. We just don’t think there’s any evidence that the next time Justin Smoak gets up in the same situation he’s more likely to hit one out then because he did tonight.

  158. Paul B on June 1st, 2011 6:45 am

    If there really was a player that was “clutch” — that year after year hit better in clutch situations (whatever definition you want to use) than he did in nonclutch situations — then the obvious question to that player would be why he doesn’t try to hit when it is a non clutch situation?

  159. Paul B on June 1st, 2011 7:59 am

    Pythagorean W-L: 26-28

    Take that, Pythagoras!

  160. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2011 8:07 am

    Perhaps “clutch” is connected to “focused”?

    Taking into account:
    1)

    A high ability to block out increased distractions

    : this would seem to be the element behind “home field advantage” (easier with friendly fans), also why ultra loud football stadiums are the scene of more false starts/offsides calls (by players who have a lower “clutch” score)… Also see (in real world): Firefighters, Soldiers, EMT’s

    combined with:

    2)

    Ability to elevate your mental acumen

    : aka what gets called a “killer instinct”, the ability to let circumstances around you dictate a need for increased attention to the details of your abilities… In baseball I think this gets talked about the MOST in regards to the “mental makeup” of a closer, aka Mariano Rivera. Also, perhaps as shown by Tiger Woods, Michael Jordon, Reggie Miller, Joe Montana… Also see: Brain Surgeons, Code Breakers, Astro Physicists, Snipers

    both combined with:

    C) Opportunity/Fate: simply put, the circumstance that allows the players with the above 2 abilities to be put in a position to make use of those skills, which appear to elevate their already considerable “natural abilities”/”god given talents”/”1000′s of hours spent shooting free throws, or in the batting cage, or throwing a football through a swinging tire at 50 ft”

    There are obviously many more ticks and pieces to what might make up the “clutch” ability (a gene somewhere tied to ancient survival instincts? or, how adrenaline affects different people’s biology?), but I don’t think it is beyond definition, as much as simply “as yet” undefined.

    I think it is more than simply coincidence that certain players in different sports have been known to perform at their highest level when it “most counts”. Baseball shows this trait less than other sports simply because the percentages of success are so low to begin with (winning 6 out of 10 games makes you the best team in the league, and a 35% success rate at the plate is MVP level), and the moments are less clearly defined as they happen, and present themselves differently than in other sports (you don’t know a ball is about to be hit a foot over the centerfield wall UNTIL the centerfielder brings it back, you don’t know Ichiro is about to throw out Terrence Long at 3rd base with an amazing throw UNTIL the hard single is hit to right, and Long rounds 3rd…)

    Historic clutch baseball performances:

    Kirk Gibson hobbled homer
    Mr. October
    Mariano Rivera (many times)
    Dennis Eckersly (many times)
    Edgar Martinez “The Double”
    Justin Smoak 5/31/11

  161. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2011 8:20 am

    the obvious question to that player would be why he doesn’t try to hit when it is a non clutch situation?

    Paul-
    Why isn’t driving your brand new Corvette on the 300th day you own it as mentally thrilling as the day you drive it off the lot? OH WAIT!!! A ball just rolled into the street… AHHH… Oh crap, with a little kid chasing after it… THERE YOU GO! A clutch driving moment just presented itself…

    But seriously, I think in baseball asking someone to be at their peak level of performance all 600 AB’s during the season is unreasonable… Each player tries to find their level of peak performance that they can maintain over the course of an entire season, and tries to ride that sustained momentum as long as possible, and keep that momentum at its crest as long as possible. I think that’s why hitting streaks are such fascinating events in baseball when they get above 10 or 15 games. “How long can he keep this up!?”

    Or maybe it’s similar to asking a marathon runner why he doesn’t just sprint the entire race? The muscles aren’t capable of that sort of relentless peaking… And, likewise, the mind fatigues too after being at peak awareness for extended periods of time. (As a recording engineer, I can attest to this first hand– try remaining focused and giving your complete attention to the same song for three 12 hour days straight… It’s almost a shell shock feeling at the end of the sessions… No matter how invigorating the song or the performances are. And you need recovery time afterwards. I certainly couldn’t do it non-stop from April 1st to October 1st…)

  162. Paul B on June 1st, 2011 8:21 am

    Historic clutch baseball performances:

    Those were individual events. None of those people dogged their non clutch performance over their career. (that’s a better way to think about it, than saying that none of them exhibited statistically validated clutch performance over their career).

  163. Paul B on June 1st, 2011 8:23 am

    Why isn’t driving your brand new Corvette on the 300th day you own it as mentally thrilling as the day you drive it off the lot? OH WAIT!!! A ball just rolled into the street… AHHH… Oh crap, with a little kid chasing after it… THERE YOU GO! A clutch driving moment just presented itself…

    This has nothing to do with whether any player exhibits clutch performance.

    Go back and read breadbaker’s comment again, I think you have missed the point.

  164. Paul B on June 1st, 2011 8:28 am

    But seriously, I think in baseball asking someone to be at their peak level of performance all 600 AB’s during the season is unreasonable…

    And, yet, that is exactly what players are asked to do.

    Tell you what, go and find a clutch player. Define clutch any way you want (close score + late innings, or whatever) and then find a player who performed significantly better in those situations than in other situations for his career.

    If you find one, you will be the first person to have done so, and you’ll be able to publish an amazing article.

  165. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2011 8:33 am

    Read his points. Think it’s relevant. Sorry.

    The fact it isn’t replicable has as much to do with fate (the ball, the kid– chance to not kill him/her) as whether clutch can be quantified.

    Think of “clutch” as a scale…

    From low to high… the “clutch” factor.

    A clutch driver saves the kid most of the time… The most clutch performer saves the kid the most. Others don’t save him nearly as often. (Poor kid).

    I’m supposing “fate” is what staticians don’t appreciate about being “clutch”.

    (Also: Dennis Eckersly and Mariano Rivera were not individual events… And exactly why is it that you’re claiming a single event can’t be “clutch” again?)

  166. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2011 8:37 am

    So you’re suggesting if Kirk Gibson was up in the 9th inning of a blowout loss to San Diego in the middle of May, his mistress and his wife were both at the game, he had to be at the dentist before 5pm (it was a day game), and the sun was reflecting off a window out beyond centerfield, his focus/desire/performance would/should be exactly the same as it was that October day by the Bay?

  167. jjenson on June 1st, 2011 9:00 am

    I think this is a funny conversation. I think clutch is real but I think its a little different than what the conversation is making it out to be.

    There are players who crash and burn in high pressure moments. We all acknowledge these players exist I am sure. Then there are players who don’t crack under pressure but they love it. They want to be the player with the bat and despite stats or anything else you know you want that person in that situation over anyone else.

    I think its harder to classify clutch in baseball only because its the nature of that game. In football was Joe Montana clutch or just lucky to have all those 4th Quarter comebacks?

    Was John Elway clutch or just in the right place at the right time sort of thing?

    Basketball it was easy to see I lived in Utah Micheal Jordan was cluth but Karl Malone was not he sucked in the last half of 4th quarters.

    To say there are people that just don’t perform better in high pressure situations than others is just not true.

  168. eric531 on June 1st, 2011 9:08 am

    It’s what I teach the kids, especially when a batter is crowding. It’s common for coaches to try and get young kids afraid to pitch inside, though. Generally one pitch fixes that problem.

    When my son pitched in Little League one year there was a coach who liked to yell “toes on the line!” to get his batters to crowd the plate. That was probably 4 years ago but I bet if you asked him what hearing “toes on the line” means he’d say “my next pitch goes inside” :-)

  169. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2011 9:11 am

    Tell you what, go and find a clutch player. Define clutch any way you want (close score + late innings, or whatever) and then find a player who performed significantly better in those situations than in other situations for his career.

    If you find one, you will be the first person to have done so, and you’ll be able to publish an amazing article.

    The fact that no one has discovered this yet does not necessitate that it doesn’t exist.

    Baseball specifically? How ’bout Cliff Lee’s playoff statistics, versus regular season? Some of us would call that “clutch”– though not 100% successful, so it depends on what YOU want “clutch” to mean, not how I try to define it. If you’re predisposed to believe it doesn’t exist, your sports life simply isn’t as “rich” as mine– whether I imagine it or not.

    And I’m not trying to be adversarial, not at all, it’s more a matter of being perplexed. So you don’t enjoy (believe?) the poetry of the game? Justin Smoak’s at bat in the bottom of the eighth last night was just another at bat to you?

    Did you see Vince Young beat USC almost single-handedly in the National Title game?

    Michael Jordan’s 6 NBA Finals MVP awards?

    Tiger Woods winning the Masters by 12 strokes? Golf is an amazingly difficult game to succeed at, and he has a 14-1 record when leading (or tied for the lead) going into the final round. 8-1 in Majors. That TO ME, is clutch.

    Reggie Jackson’s 18 homeruns in the post season (10 in the world series, 3 in one game on consecutive pitches– 3 pitches, 3 HR’s in the WORLD SERIES) doesn’t ring some chord in your heart as an absurdly above average, “clutch” performance?

    We probably just have different ideas what “clutch” actually means.

    Perhaps you don’t agree with me that simply performing at any moment above and beyond what normal expectations would predict is the very definition of “clutch”, although certain events and circumstances have to be in place to elevate the moment to a level where “clutch” applies?

    I mean, almost BY definition, if you could sustain that sort of performance it wouldn’t be “clutch” at all, it would be ordinary by that person’s standards, yeah?

  170. djw on June 1st, 2011 9:22 am

    I think it is more than simply coincidence that certain players in different sports have been known to perform at their highest level when it “most counts”.

    This is correct, but not for the reasons you think it is. The passive construction of “have been known” is important here–they become “known” to be clutch because the media loves to talk about this sort of thing. The “more than coincidence” you speak of is “media narrative,” but it doesn’t have a sound factual or analytic basis.

    Most of what you’re arguing takes the form of a narrative about why it makes sense, psychologically, that clutchiness might exist. I see no point in arguing with that, because it’s been shown, repeatedly, that it’s not a replicable skill. Define “high leverage” however you like, and identify a bunch of players that were “clutch” under your definition. It turns out this has no predictive value for future clutchiness.

    Some outcomes of human activity are the product of random chance, and some are the product of a unique skill (in this case, hypothesized as a psychological skill). The single best way we have to distinguish the two is to determine whether the outcomes form a predictable and stable pattern. Most baseball skills–generating swinging strikes or ground balls, drawing walks, hitting for power, etc., clearly and obviously do. Elevating your baseline skill set in clutch situations does not. All the pyschological explanations for how clutchiness might work (if it did exist) don’t change that.

    If human pyschology is at work here, it’s the propensity of humans to interpret random events via coherent narratives, which explains as well as anything why “clutchiness” is so widely assumed to be real.

  171. djw on June 1st, 2011 9:28 am

    If you’re predisposed to believe it doesn’t exist, your sports life simply isn’t as “rich” as mine– whether I imagine it or not.

    And I’m not trying to be adversarial, not at all, it’s more a matter of being perplexed. So you don’t enjoy (believe?) the poetry of the game? Justin Smoak’s at bat in the bottom of the eighth last night was just another at bat to you?

    Please explain how believing Justin Smoak’s home run was the product of a good hitter with fortuitous timing, rather than the product of a special ability to elevate above and beyond his baseline skill set at certain, select moments would somehow diminish my ability to enjoy the moment. (For the record, I can assure you it doesn’t. A reality-based conception of how baseball works has enhanced my enjoyment of the game, rather than diminished it.)

  172. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2011 9:56 am

    Hey Paul-
    Sorry. Yep, I blew it… As the Sumatra started to work I realized what you said was an extrapolation of an angle of Breadbaker’s comment– when intitially I was responding to just your comment without recognizing what you were pinpointing. Even AFTER you tried to point me there. But, slowly the caffeine has caused the bullseye to move back to the center of the target, so I could then realize how far I missed it (might be time for new prescriptions).

    Actually reminds me of a joke that makes light of statistical relevance:

    3 Statisticians go hunting and come upon a 6 point buck a couple hundred yards away… First guy shoots and misses 3 feet to the left… “Damn!” The deer nonchalantly looks to the left where the bullet passed, then goes back to munching grass… The second guy shoots and misses too, the exact same distance to the right… “Damn!”

    The 3rd statistician, ever vigilant to his craft, jumps up and down excitedly yelling “WE HIT IT! WE HIT IT!”

  173. rsrobinson on June 1st, 2011 9:58 am

    Anyone who has played competitive sports at a fairly high level (I played college basketball) knows that some people perform better under pressure than others. I doubt you could find an athlete or coach who believes otherwise.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that these people suddenly elevate their skills during “clutch” situations but rather they are able to maintain focus and play at a high level while under intense pressure while others do not. It flies in the face of human nature to believe that pressure doesn’t affect people in different ways, especially at the level that elite athletes must perform.

  174. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2011 10:13 am

    rsrobinson-
    Agreed, but this concept is what I initially failed to realize was NOT what Paul/DJW/Breadbaker were referencing.

    It takes YEARS to develop the type of concentration and focus it takes to perform during 4th and 1 of the Super Bowl with :03 seconds on the clock, down by 5, at the 2 yard line. The average person couldn’t. This IS a psychological skill, practiced and perfected as much as any physical skill, by endless repetition– and likewise which some will be able to develop, and others not so much. Or the ability to make the game winning free throws while down by 1, standing at the line, watching opposing fans through the clear acrylic backboard do their most to distract you, with :01 on the clock. The opposing coach calling back to back timeouts just as you’re about to shoot…

    Successful people might be termed “clutch” in these moments, but it was always part of their skillset (and moreso perhaps than their surrounding teammates), not some mysterious new ability that only appears in those key moments.

    I don’t think folks are necessarily disagreeing here as much as describing different events: (mental acumen as a player-to-player varying skill -vs- a reliable repeatable physical act dependent on circumstance– ie, this ability is ALREADY a part of certain players skillset and not something that just shows up and extends above their common abilities at key moments)

    Is this the idea, guys? (I might still be way off– who knows? Definitely not me. I’m far from clutch in intellectual moments *laugh*)

  175. dingla on June 1st, 2011 10:36 am

    It takes YEARS to develop the type of concentration and focus it takes to perform during 4th and 1 of the Super Bowl with :03 seconds on the clock, down by 5, at the 2 yard line.

    not really :) All do you gotta do is punch it in. Back to basics. Heck, back to pee wee football. ;)

  176. Paul B on June 1st, 2011 10:37 am

    One last comment, on this statement:

    The fact that no one has discovered this yet does not necessitate that it doesn’t exist.

    No, but since many people have looked, over many years, using many different methods, means that it really is highly likely that it doesn’t exist.

    rsrobinson also just summed up a major part of it quite well.

    Sure, sometimes players do great things in an important situation (like Smoak last night). And when it happens, we’re happy.

  177. jjenson on June 1st, 2011 10:39 am

    I think you are right in the discussion. I am also not saying that the player elevates their skill-set in the particular moment more that they can still maintain top form during high pressure moments.

    Like rsrobinson said athletes that played at higher levels know this. I played semi-pro tennis and you knew when players couldn’t handle the pressure.

    So I can agree that this is not a new skill-set that arises in that moment. But I cannot agree that clutch players don’t exist.

  178. rsrobinson on June 1st, 2011 10:45 am

    One of the most pressure packed situations in all of sports is shooting free throws at the end of a close game. Play stops, the player is alone on the line, and everyone in the building is watching him and how he performs. An elite basketball player spends years developing free throw shooting skills so, if I’m understanding the sabermetrics argument correctly, he should continue to shoot at his normal free throw percentage in this situation. Makes and misses are simply a product of small sample statistical variations and, if given enough opportunities, the player would shoot his normal percentage during these pressure-packed situations.

    Sorry, but I’ve seen enough good free throw shooters pull the string on a clutch free throw to believe this. Clutch free throw shooters may not always make the free throw but they maintain their normal shooting form while others noticeably tighten up and do not. I find it hard to believe that this would be the case in basketball and not in baseball.

  179. jjenson on June 1st, 2011 10:48 am

    100% agree rsrobinson this I have to believe is true in all sports.

    Playing high level tennis and being in a 5th set tie break and serving to win the match I have seen players completely blow up and lose. While others can handle the pressure and win.

    Its more the fact that clutch players maintain their level of skills in that situation rather than crumble under the pressure.

    I never meant to say that a player turns into a player he is not during those situations cause I also don’t believe that is true either.

  180. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2011 10:53 am

    To put my OWN thoughts in context:

    I too was a “semi-professional” athlete at one time, although in an individual rather than team sport, which presents a much more “controllable” environment (junior-olympics trapshooter).

    So, using my own perspective, I was remembering the idea of “being clutch” when you were down to your last 10 birds, of a perfect round, and the nerves and resolve it took to finish a perfect 100. OR, the sense of failure you could experience if you “choked” and short shot the 96th, 97th, or GOD forbid the 100th target (been there, done that).

    Also, that’s why I was relating it to focus– because “pumping yourself up”, getting “in the zone”, all that psychological stuff is really just ways to pinpoint and articulate your focus, to the extreme. Routines, superstition, bouncing the ball 3 times before a free throw attempt (Jordan’s tongue sticking out?), all that stuff is a way of confirming for yourself you are repeating steps that were successful once before…

    I used to sing songs in my head, something that would keep my adrenaline level going, and yell “pull” at the same point in the phrase each time.

    Call it what you want, if it works more times than it doesn’t, I thought it was a key to being “clutch”, and getting through a round unscathed.

  181. Hopmacker on June 1st, 2011 11:21 am

    Kirk Gibson hobbled homerMr. October
    Mariano Rivera (many times)
    Dennis Eckersly (many times)
    Edgar Martinez “The Double”
    Justin Smoak 5/31/11

    So was Eckersly “not clutch” in giving up the HR to Gibson?

  182. jjenson on June 1st, 2011 11:29 am

    So was Eckersly “not clutch” in giving up the HR to Gibson?

    Clutch doesn’t mean you are perfect. That is not what anyone is saying.

  183. Hopmacker on June 1st, 2011 11:33 am

    I just found it interesting that Gibson and Eckersly were listed together.

    I also find it interesting that really good players are “clutch”.

  184. Westside guy on June 1st, 2011 11:34 am

    Anyone who has played competitive sports at a fairly high level (I played college basketball) knows that some people perform better under pressure than others. I doubt you could find an athlete or coach who believes otherwise.

    Usually when people talk about “clutch” they’re talking about players who supposedly elevate their game – they are perceived to perform better when the pressure is on. In baseball that’s fairly easy to quantify, has been studied, and has demonstrably been shown not to be a repeatable skill from year to year.

    What you seem to be saying, though, is more in line with what I believe. There are players that are able to maintain their focus and continue to perform at their expected high level even when the pressure is on. Then there are other players who, one way or another, let the pressure of the moment affect their concentration, which deleteriously impacts their performance. So while I don’t believe in “clutch”, I do believe in “anti-clutch” – Jose Mesa when he was with the Mariners, for example. :-)

    I find it funny that some people think there are professional athletes who apparently are so good they don’t normally need to be performing at their best to keep their jobs. Because, basically, that’s what the arguments about “clutch” boil down to – a guy who apparently can just phone it in most of the time because he’s so amazingly skilled, then he can just turn it on at will when it really matters.

  185. MrZDevotee on June 1st, 2011 12:19 pm

    Westside,

    a guy who apparently can just phone it in most of the time because he’s so amazingly skilled, then he can just turn it on at will when it really matters.

    I think the mistake is thinking that particular behavior is a purposeful, conscious decision– because it absolutely happens.

    Perhaps we can define “clutchiness” as a DEFICIENCY, not an attribute… ie, Guys who DON’T perform their best against inferior opponents, or in lame conditions, which would seem to imply the inverse, that they perform their best when challenged and in the limelight. (“Ego” say hello to your ideal home– the professional athlete!)

    Afterall, isn’t this what we call an “upset”, or why half the world watches the NCAA tournament?

    Or when we say a team “played down to their competition”?

    Rulon Gardner defeats Alexander Karelin (Karelin phoned it in?)

    Valparaiso beats #3 Mississippi (Miss didn’t want to win it all that year, for some reason?)

    US Hockey Team beats Russia to advance to the gold medal round (Russia wasn’t interested that day?)…

    Or lest we forget, Randy Johnson the 1st half of his final Mariner’s season, and the Randy Johnson newly acquired by the Astros? (I don’t suppose he was phoning it in, but he certainly performed more poorly in a situation he wasn’t happy with…)

    To think that professional athletes somehow are NOT affected by circumstances, or are able to maintain an exacting level of performance at all times, is to lean in the opposite wrong direction, in my mind. And equally funny.

    Again, I propose it boils down to one’s ability to focus, which varies from player to player. Some folks take more dramatic circumstances to elevate their focus to its greatest level. While some folks LOSE some of their focus when extenuating circumstances arise, and their focus peaks under different conditions…

    Heck, if that WASN’T the situation, wouldn’t we all be Felix Hernandez? Tiger Woods? Barry Saunders?

    (Actually, Tiger is perhaps exhibit A: Tiger BEFORE the sex addict revelations, and Tiger with that baggage dragging around his neck…)

  186. joser on June 1st, 2011 1:06 pm

    Actually, there’s a lot of selective memory going on too. My favorite example (because it came up so often), is Jeter getting dubbed “Mr. November” because he hit that walk-off game winner in Game 4 of the 2001 WS in the wee hours of November 1. Totally clutch, right? But over the rest of the WS games played that Novemeber, he went 3 for 12, which is worse than his career average. So is he “Captain Clutch” for the one at-bat that everybody remembers, or is he “anti-clutch” for all the failed at-bats everybody forgets? Or maybe he’s a career ~.300 hitter who can be expected to do about the same in high-leverage situations, but the hits in those situations loom larger in our memory.

    This is especially true for batters because their failures are rarely memorable — they’re just one out of three in that inning, after all — but key hits usually are. Closers are kind of the reverse for the same reason — League leads the AL in saves, but the ones we remember are those blown ones in Baltimore; Mariano Rivera gets saves all the time but I’ll always remember him giving up the hit to Luis Gonzalez in Game 7 of that 2001 WS, or the walk-off he gave up to Ichiro, or the one he gave up to Kennedy last week. The numbers say he’s the furthest thing from the definition of “anti-clutch” but that’s sure not how my mental highlight reel plays out.

    BTW, there have been various attempts to quantify “clutch.” Check out this list. You might see some surprises. A.J. Pierzynski? Juan Pierre? Bill Hall? (And note #8, and the guys near the bottom).

  187. Westside guy on June 1st, 2011 10:37 pm

    Heck, if that WASN’T the situation, wouldn’t we all be Felix Hernandez? Tiger Woods? Barry Saunders?

    I imagine there isn’t anyone – including you – who believes every player is equally talented. So obviously this strawman falls apart right there.

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