Bow down to Ibanez

DMZ · September 12, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

Okay, first — Ibanez looks baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad at first. We can argue about whether he’d get better with regular play, but he’s baaaaaaaaaad right now.

HR for him was his first since Auguest 21st, his second since returning from injury. After the All-Star break Ibanez has hit for average but almost no power at all: his line is .292/.344/.400 compared to .262/. 344/.490 in the first half of the season. If we wanted a hollow OBP left-handed first baseman, we’d have been better off with Olerud.

All hail Gil Meche

DMZ · September 12, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

Something for everyone tonight.

For the Meche-as-awesome crowd: his first shutout since 2000. Only 1 walk.
For the Meche-as-not-awesome crowd: only 4K in nine innings of work, required a bizarre Manny mistake to get the shutout.
For the organization-as-dumb crowd: threw 129 pitches in the effort.

Your health at Safeco Field

DMZ · September 12, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

You may remember when Safeco Field opened that it had a little run in with the King County Health Board. Since then, you may not have heard anything.

You might want to bookmark this link. Then look it up before you’re thinking of eating at the park next time. I haven’t figured out how to read the numbers yet (S = suite, HIH = Hit it Here, but C = Terrace Club? M? B?), and connecting where you ate to the report’s not easy.

Like let’s say you got sick after you ate at the hot dog stand in early August.

Routine Inspection/Field Review 08/12/2004
20

-Food workers not washing hands after coughing, sneezing, or otherwise contaminating hands.
-Handwashing facilities not maintained, accessible, stocked.

Ugh. That coughing/sneezing bit, by the way — seems to be the most common serious violation I’ve seen looking through these.

I got food poisoning from the sushi stand a year ago, easily one of the worst experiences of my life. Mmm… sushi. Had good seats that day, too. I’m pretty much SOL on days I get a good seat, now that I consider it. I note that last year they were cited for ‘food on floor’ which is where you really want your raw fish to be. And also on this note, I want say that for that particular incident there was no doubt who the guilty party was.

Still, relative to other establishments, it’s not really that bad. Search for local watering holes yourself. I frequently hang out at the King Street Bar & Oven before games, and it just got dinged as badly:

Routine Inspection/Field Review 09/02/2004
12
-Lighting and ventilation not provided, maintained, cleaned.
-Foods not protected from actual and potential contamination (uncovered, double stacked, or not under a sneeze guard).
-Food stored on floor.
-Floors, walls, ceiling improperly installed, maintained, cleaned.

My favorite violation is the visiting clubhouse kitchen:

Routine Inspection/Field Review 08/12/2004
58

-Improper hot holding of potentially hazardous foods because of poor equipment design or maintenance, or not being operated correctly (129 degrees F and below).
-Hot potentially hazardous foods not properly cooled.
-In-use utensils not properly stored.

What’s the big deal, the Yankees get some bad meat, right?

Anyway, the site’s frequently really slow or down (mmm.. tax dollars at work…), but it’s worth checking out.

I should also point out that one of the reasons food isn’t safe at Safeco is that volunteers staff so many of the stations. If you bring in the Prisoner’s Friend Society to run one of the stands, the volunteers are probably going to get a crash course in food safety and then be put into an extremely high-pressure, high-volume job in which they have no long-term interest in the business itself. And while I’m reluctant to say that restaurant workers in general are dramatically more dilligent about safety, it’s their ass on the line, their job, and they should be regularly updated on regulations, etc (I’m sure now someone’s going to comment in the threads about their teenage recklessness in not cleaning the shake mixer at McDonald’s).

Off-topic ranting off-site

DMZ · September 12, 2004 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting

After the whole Transformers thing, and considering the problem of topicality in general, I’ve posted my latest thing on debate and belief (about how weird it is to see unreasonable opinion arise out of complicated questions, w/r/t this week’s CBS report) elsewhere. However in extending on my point about how the stathead debate uses a particular kind of triple-attack that generates hostility, I’ve moved off baseball entirely, so I moved the piece off. I don’t know if this is going to be the start anything.

I mentioned in the Transformers post that I was opposed to posting it and allowed myself to be talked into it. I’m still not sure that was the right choice. I think fundamentally there’s a point where off-topic stuff interferes with on-topic stuff (I could write a long story about why I have an emotional reaction to the word ‘interfere’ for instance).

I want people to read USSM because they think we’ve got something interesting to say about the Mariners. I think some amount of short off-topic rambling is perfectly fine (“I’m not posting because my computer’s on fire”). I also think it’s cool for us toss in random stuff while talking about something M’s related. If my criticism of the Mariners is tied into my larger concerns about the state of Seattle politics, that seems fine to me.

But I’m worried, probably more than is reasonable, that someone’s going to come by because they heard there was good M’s discussion here, and be turned off because I’m rambling about how Robotech was the best childhood cartoon I got to see, or… or whatever. There are blogs I actively avoid because the posts run:
Pinstriped Bible: Sheffield greatest RH power bat in Yankees history
Bush 0wn5 Kerry: 40 point lead in latest poll by NRA
Crazed man bites dog, voted Democrat in 2000

Where I think “that’s an interesting baseball point… you’re clearly wrong, that poll was discredited.. what does that have to do with anything?”

However… true objectivity is a myth. As much as I try to keep any post on an even keel, my conclusions are the product of reasoning and perceptions that are tinted by my belief and background. It’s reasonable for someone reading a long piece on how I think the Mariners abuse the public trust to know that I oppose public stadiums in general, that I hold certain views about what the government should be involved in anyway, and sports isn’t on that list. Or that my criticisms of local media and their coverage of the team comes from a larger belief in the ills of modern journalism and beyond that, media consolidation. Without putting up a brief bio with “relevant political and social views” the only way that a reader would learn any of that would the off-topic stuff.

Maybe then it’s worthwhile to provide a background. If you think I’m a nut to worry about media consolidation, maybe you’d decide what I had to say about the Mariners wasn’t worth your attention. It’s exactly the choice I’ve made with other sites: if your posts are examples of your thought process, then I can at least tell from them that you’re not open to debate, much less the complexities good analysis requires.

And now I’ve produced an off-topic rant of exactly the sort I’m worried about.

I don’t know. I’ll leave commenting open, or you can drop me a line.

Minor notes

Dave · September 11, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

With George Sherrill getting shut down for the year, the M’s called up Randy Williams so that Melvin could continue to play mix-and-match with his bullpen. Williams performance at Tacoma wasn’t much to write home about, but he has his fans in the scouting community. He pitched much better in the second half after adding some movement to his 4-seam fastball, and he could be a moderately effective LOOGY. Of course, there’s no chance he sticks on the 40-man through the offseason, so if he performs well in September, he’s simply increasing his odds of getting nabbed on waivers.

Also, with another loss today, the M’s have closed to just one game back of Kansas City in the Justin Upton Sweepstakes. The Royals grasp on the #2 pick is paper-thin at this point. We won’t catch Arizona for the worst record in baseball, but they are unlikely to select Upton #1 overall next year thanks to the ongoing negotiations with Stephen Drew. I’m not rooting for the M’s to lose, but you better believe I’m rooting for the Royals to win and win often.

Fan-bought bricks under 101

DMZ · September 11, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

There’s an additional issue with the Section 101 seats I haven’t touched on yet that several people have mentioned in the letters they’ve written: the Mariners are breaking their word (if not their contract) to those people who spent a good bit of money to buy a brick with a little message on it, and they’d be able to come see their contibution forever and feel a sense of pride.

I didn’t buy a brick, as at the time I was in college and had better things to do with my money like feed myself. But maybe someone here can speak more specifically to the deal they made with the Mariners — were they promised that the bricks would always be visit-able, for instance? I think it was clearly implied, but was it in the fine print?

Also, not to flog this too much, but if you haven’t complained already about the center field landing being taken over by bleachers, it’s a good time to do it. The team’s aware people are unhappy and they’re “evaluating” the issue for next year, but more importantly the local writers are aware of it even if they haven’t chosen to write about it, and getting someone in print to write this up means many thousands more people will find out and get mad (because, let’s be honest, the Times/PI sports sections still reach more people than we do).

Random stuff

Dave · September 10, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

I think I need to post before Derek completely takes over and we have to rename this thing U.S.S. Zumsteg. So, here’s a collection of random Mariner-related statistical quirks.

In the past 36 games, Ichiro has 73 hits. Dan Wilson has 66 hits all year.

Speaking of Dan Wilson:

Wilson, since the all-star break: .162/.234/.191
National League pitchers in 2004: .146/.160/.189

The only difference between Dan Wilson at the plate and the average pitcher is Wilson occasionally gets walked.

While we’re talking about catchers, Miguel Olivo is hitting .227/.288/.445 and has 40 strikeouts in 128 at-bats since coming over in the Garcia trade. Justin Leone hit .216/.298/.441 and had 32 strikeouts in 102 at-bats before he broke his wrist. You never hear anyone say that Olivo is a 4-A hitter, do you?

Let’s drive one final nail into the “Willie Bloomquist will hit better with regular playing time” myth, shall we? Before the all-star break, as a utility player, he hit .250/.288/.316. Since the break, as a semi-regular, he’s hit .232/.269/.313.

For as much as we talk about Ichiro being a streak hitter, how about Randy Winn? His OPS by month this year: .603, .676, .863, .971, .788, .648. This isn’t a new thing, either. Last year: .664, .829, .479(!), .957, .770, .871.

Last offseason, four corner outfielders signed the exact same contract, 2 years for $6 million; Jose Cruz Jr, Reggie Sanders, Rondell White, and Jose Guillen. They all signed after Raul Ibanez “set the market” with his deal. Using VORP rather than raw stats to give Ibanez the bump for hitting in Safeco, here are the five side by side:

Guillen: 39.1
White: 23.4
Sanders: 21.6
Cruz: 15.4
Ibanez: 14.1

Hmm, I should find a positive one to wrap this up on. Okay, here we go. Bobby Madritsch has allowed 3 HR in his first 60 major league innings, which would put him on pace to allow 10 homers in a full 200 inning season. That’s just an absurd rate of keeping the ball in the park. If we look at it by home runs allowed per batter faced, Madritsch’s performance so far is about as good as it gets. He’s allowing 1 HR every 80 batters he faced. How good is that? Here’s a list of the best starting pitchers at keeping the ball in the park this year (minimum 100 innings).

1. Tim Hudson: 1 HR every 159.8 batters
2. Kris Benson: 1 HR every 80.6 batters
3. Jaret Wright: 1 HR every 77.0 batters
4. Carlos Zambrano: 1 HR every 62.1 batters
5. Carl Pavano: 1 HR every 59.0 batters

If Madritsch qualified, he’d rank third in the majors by this metric. And this list is dominated by awesome pitchers. Obviously, the above five are all having terrific years. The top 20 includes names like Roy Oswalt, Freddy Garcia, Jake Peavy, Tom Glavine, Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson, Brad Penny, and A.J. Burnett. There’s a few headscratchers (Jeff Fassero, one every 55.1 while pitching in Coors? Seriously?), but by in large, if you keep the ball in the park at the rate that Madritsch is, you’re probably pitching like an all-star. Also, Tim Hudson’s performance this year has been other worldly. He’s giving up half as many homers as the next best guy.

Oh, and if you want a comparison to the rest of the M’s staff, it’s not quite as pretty.

Moyer: 1 HR every 19.4 battters (worst in majors)
Franklin: 1 HR every 25.2 batters
Meche: 1 HR every 26.4 batters
Pineiro: 1 HR every 28.4 batters

Madritsch only gave up 3 HR’s in 62 innings for Tacoma, so this has the makings of more than a good run. If he can keep the ball in the park consistently, he’s going to have a great deal of success.

Derek and Jonah on the Transformers

DMZ · September 10, 2004 · Filed Under Off-topic ranting

I’m posting this because Jonah swears it’s hilarious and people will get a kick out of it. So I had a brief argument in which I argued against posting this, because I don’t want to be Simmons, and Jonah said I should go ahead and do it, and if reaction’s bad, I can delete it. Well, he didn’t say I could delete it.

Or you can skip ahead to the next normal USSM posting.

(Jonah makes a reference to Megatron in an email about something else)

Derek:

I always thought Megatron and Shockwave were ridiculously bad-ass compared to the Autobots, though clearly the size issue (huge robots compacting into guns) was unbelievable, even compared to the other robot/item size issues

Optimus Prime:
18-wheeler, low acceleration, poor handling, can haul cargo oorrr…
prissy leader robot guy who seems content with no vision on how to win war

Megatron:
Gun or
Psychotic meglamaniac with new plan every week

Which of those should be the more effective in a quest for world domination?

Jonah:

I’m with you on Megatron, but Soundwave? Sure he was really big, but he changed into a Sony tape deck for gosh sakes! It became even more implausible when the Autobots decided to integrate a loaded AIWA sound system (Blaster) as Soundwave’s supposed rival. All we needed was a breakdancing throwdown between Starscream and Bumblebee and you could have called it Breakin’ 3, Cybertron boogaloo.

Derek:

Shockwave, the big purple laser blaster who took over for Megatron.

Though Soundwave was also cool: she could birth those cassettes that turned into other robots. It was the only female robot, though they never really got into that aspect of things.

Jonah:

Oh good point about the cassettes…Laserbeak, Ravage…that was key–the Autobots HATED Laserbeak. You’re right about Shockwave. Seemed a waste to maroon him on Cybertron and only break him out for key confrontations. I’d have relegated Astrotrain or some other benchwarmer to Cybertron and chucked Shockwave right into the starting rotation.

Derek:

Oh, let’s not even get into the whole Cybertron/Earth thing. It’s
ridiculous that having Cybertron for a possible setting that the show was
*better* centered on Earth.

Also, that there were only two planets available, and that the Earth was
the only place they could produce Energon cubes.

Jonah:

Wow, I never really pondered that re: the energon cubes, or why Cybertron was the only other planet of note. I guess you just take certain things for granted when you’re 10.

Another thing that got me: In the episode where Beachcomber discovered Electrum, that golden liquid that’s presumably magic urine that makes you invulnerable to attack–if he knew what Electrum was, doesn’t it stand to reason that it exists somewhere? Since it makes you absolutely invulnerable, why wouldn’t both the Autobots and especially the Decepticons spend every episode looking for a source of electrum, given they’d win the war in a walk if they could find it? Just because one pond full of it was blown up somewhere in Ohio or wherever they were supposed to be doesn’t mean more doesn’t exist.

Derek:

The Electrum thing ranks with Lex Luthor’s discarding of the crystal-that-kills-Superfriends during the greatest/worst episode of Challenge of the Superfriends ever.

Jonah:

So did the Autobots essntially stay on Earth, instead of returning to Cybertron, because they were out of energy, or because they wanted to prevent the Decepticons from getting all of Earth’s energy, which would presumably enabled them to win the war and conquer the galaxy? Or were the Autobots just big fans of the Big Mac?

Derek:

Well, as you’ll recall, they land on earth because they’re on this ship
duking it out in Cybertron orbit, then it goes out of control and lands on Earth. The Decepticons decide to take it over, the Autobots oppose this takeover. Repairing the ship initially isn’t even an option.

However, I find the Autobots’ view short-sighted. Both sides need energy to survive, and much more of it to sway the course of war on Cybertron. The Decepticons take an aggressive approach to the problem, and considering how easy it is to hold up a gas station and turn that into energon cubes, it’d be pretty easy for them to prey on rural America for their own supplies, and then plan out from there. The Autobots are
good-hearted, for whatever programming flaw, and also decide to remain concealed from humanity.

Think about the scope of that idiotic decision, by the way.
Decepticons: don’t care if humans know they exist, though it’s easier to operate on the down-low they make no attempts at operational security and terrorize people all the time, thus instilling terror of giant robots who steal your energy

Autobots: don’t want humans to know they exist, though they sometimes have to fight Decepticons openly, they immediately run off, thus instilling fear of giant robots who steal your energy and for no reason then fight each other with massive laser weapons that wreck widescale devestation.

Seriously, Optimus: the word will get out pretty quickly. Get ahead of the news, announce your presence like you’re Interpol for giant robot civilizations, ally with the UN to get access to world police organizations and funding, and suddenly you’re the good guys, you can help countries harden their infrastructure against attack and develop early-warning systems, etc. This forces the Decepticons to more and more
desperate attacks at the periphery, and soon they’re allied with North Korea and you get to wipe them out in set battles, rather than chasing them around the Urals all the time.

As an aside, that was my plan for the *Decepticons* to take over the planet, by announcing themselves as the good guys and then framing the autobots for energy thefts.

Jonah:

Here’s another question: Why the hell didn’t the Autobots just sic Omega Supreme on the Decpticons and wipe ’em out once and for all? Geez, that guy was like 3 Devastators.

Derek:

They’re like the British when they had the chance to assasinate Hitler… they decided it wouldn’t be sporting.

Jonah:

Yeah…better to finesse ’em with a pansy VW Bug and a dunebuggy instead. Geez, even Grimlock could have hatched better plans than Optimus did.

Derek:

Optimus: Autobots, roll out!
Grimlock: Me Grimlock say plan stupid! Listen to Grimlock!
Optimus: No, don’t! We’ve got to get on the road so we can get to the hydroelectric dam.
Grimlock: Optimus dummy! Me Grimlock go to army base! Dinobots steal big nukes, drop on dam! Decepticons go boom! Ha ha ha ha!
Optimus: Blowing up that dam will release a flood of water that will destroy the town. Come on, we’ve got to go beat traffic, since only you Dinobots and Skyfire can fly.
Grimlock: Bomb vaporize water! No harm to humans!
Jazz: Heyyyyyy, uh, Optimus, this isn’t a bad idea, riiiiight?
Optimus: What about the thousands of people who depend on the free electric power of the dam?
Grimlock: We autobots rebuild dam better! Take us two days! Me Grimlock
design new generator! Twice as much free power for hu-mans!
Optimus: But stealing is wrong.
Grimlock: Stealing not so bad! Decepticons worse! Net good for universe!
Optimus: We Autobots will never steal, no matter how large the potential gain.
Grimlock: Me Grimlock laugh at moral absolutes! Ha ha ha! You Optimus thank Grimlock Grimlock destroy Decepticons and we go back to Cybertron heros.
Optimus: Nope, sorry. If I have to fight the Decepticons by myself, then
so be it!
(whirrr….)
Jazz: Soo heeyyyyy, Grimlock, I was thinking.
Grimlock: Grimlock listening.
Jazz: How many Decepticons would we wipe out, seeeeeeeeee?
Grimlock: Grimlock understand. Noble sacrifice of Optimus not be forgotten. Dinobots — we get bomb now!

ESPN: Worldwide leader in fact-checking

DMZ · September 10, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

Wait, no…

John Kruk’s latest column of garbage includes this:

SHORTSTOP: Rich Aurilia, Seattle Mariners — Right, the Mariners again. Hey, they aren’t in last place by accident. Well, Rich is out in San Diego now — he wore out his welcome in Seattle after 73 games. The M’s didn’t trade him, either. Outrighted him. Kicked him to the curb. He wasn’t that expensive ($3 million per), but when you hit .241 with four homers and 28 RBIs, any price is too much.

Really, John? That’s weird because the Mariners actually traded him to San Diego for a PTBNL. Also, $3.5m, which if you round, is $4m. Doesn’t anyone — seriously, anyone — even proof-read what goes up on ESPN.com anymore?

Side rant: ESPN’s quest to diversify and wean itself off sports coverage may have built its audience, but it cost them serious fans like me, and I would bet that young ESPN would kick current ESPN’s ass if young ESPN launched right now with solid financial backing (except that current ESPN could easily revert… but that’s not my point).

More compare and contrast:

CATCHER: Mike Piazza, New York Mets — I know Mike has been hurt, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t been a disappointment

comes after

FIRST BASE: Carlos Delgado, Toronto Blue Jays — […] Second, this guy used to be an offensive force. Now? Well let me ask you this: Outside of the trade talk and that story about the national anthem, have you even heard of Delgado this year?

Yes. One thing I heard was that he was injured, which I guess Kruk missed.

… Actually, I don’t want to go off on a rant here, I wanted to point out that ESPN can’t get even the most basic facts about transactions right.

Madritsch: 126 pitches

JMB · September 9, 2004 · Filed Under Mariners

Well, Derek, you beat me to that one. 7-0 lead, meaningless game in a lost season… hell, why not let him pitch the 9th as well? Madritsch’s starts, by pitches, have run: 105, 117, 119, 109, 118, 101 and now 126, for a 114 average. That’s not a horrible workload, but it’s not exactly taking things easy, either. Tonight was a perfect example of a situation where you can get your starter out an inning early with little or no effect on the game.

Oh, and that’s two games in a row in which Ichiro has bunted with a runner on second and two outs. He’s going to love playing for Don Baylor next season (don’t worry, that’s a joke).

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