The Seattle City Council Sux Cox N’ Dix

This isn’t even a thing I want to write about, to be perfectly honest.  It’s just a big ol’ shitshow in a long series of shitshows, perpetuated by pieces of shit who don’t know what the fuck they’re doing.

If there’s a way to clean up that sentence, I don’t want to hear it.

From what I understand, there are two issues going on.  First, there was the vote on whether or not to vacate Occidental Avenue, which is a nothing street in SoDo, adjacent to where a proposed new basketball and/or hockey arena may one day be built.  This street serves little-to-no purpose, has almost zero traffic on any given day (at least, when there’s not some sporting event going on with the Mariners, Sounders, or Seahawks), and has been vacated before when a certain segment of the city (*cough* THE MARINERS *cough*) needed it to be vacated.

The only people opposing this street vacation were the Port and the Mariners, because they’ve been against a new basketball and/or hockey arena in SoDo from the very beginning, and are willing to fight tooth & nail on every single issue, no matter how pointless and fucking stupid.

So, it came down to a vote by the Seattle City Council.  4 people voted in favor of vacating the street, 5 people voted against it.

In the grand scheme of things, considering the MOU and the whole agreement that’s been built between the city, the county, and the people trying to bring the Sonics back to Seattle, this street vacation was a no-brainer:  you ONLY vacate the street if the arena is going to be built, and you ONLY build the arena when you have a firm agreement to get an NBA team to come to Seattle (either via expansion or via another team moving here).  There may have been talk, down the line, of amending the MOU to bring in a hockey team first, but that’s not really important anymore (and not relevant to this discussion).

Now, I’m not the foremost authority on this whole saga, but I happen to follow people on Twitter who know quite a bit more than myself.  And, from how they reported it, I understand that the people who voted against the street vacation had little-to-no knowledge of what exactly they were talking about.  They were making completely false statements because they didn’t understand the MOU, and were unaware that this whole thing was contingent on getting a team FIRST, then building the arena based on that.  Or, they kept harping on the impossible dream of remodeling KeyArena, which is a terrible idea in its own right, and infeasible besides that, because the NBA and the Hansen group have repeatedly said KeyArena is a non-starter (dress it up however you want, but an NBA team will NEVER play there).

The whole vote, in a nutshell, was to be a city that was “shovel-ready” for when that opportunity came up.  If the NBA didn’t want to expand, or if no other teams wanted to sell or move here, then so be it.  But, to vote against the street vacation without knowing all the facts, or to vote against it because the NBA probably won’t cooperate anyway, isn’t a good-enough reason.

Truly, there IS no good reason to vote against the street vacation, unless you’re in the pocket of the Port and/or the Mariners, and THAT’S what I suspect is going on here.

Nevertheless, the vote is done, the deal is probably dead, and we should all stop getting our hopes up about an arena in SoDo in the next 20-50 years.

That brings us to the second issue:  the 4 people who voted for the street vacation were men; the 5 people who voted against it were women.

Naturally, among sports fans, and among people generally in favor of a peach of a deal for the city of Seattle, where it would be impossible for the city to not – at some point – recoup its investment, the results of the vote didn’t sit well.  And, among those people with hot tempers, and a means to reach out to the Seattle City Council – either via Twitter, e-mail, telephone, Facebook, or whatever – there was a vocal segment who colored their criticisms with foul language, threats, misogynistic rhetoric, and the like.  In short, it was pretty ugly.

I’m not going to absolve myself in this; I certainly made some statements on Twitter and @-ed the Seattle City Council accordingly.  Even one I would subsequently go back and delete, once I realized this issue was right on the Hot Button, and wouldn’t go away unpunished.  I consider myself pretty fortunate I don’t have much of a following on Twitter, because no one’s really going to pay me much nevermind, but I’ll go ahead and say that I wouldn’t delete something if I didn’t regret it afterwards.  I won’t apologize, because I still think they’re fucking wrong and ignorant, so we’ll just leave it at that.

The fucked up part in all of this is that yes, it’s a free country, and yes, we have freedom of speech and all that.  Doesn’t mean there’s freedom of consequences, but I would never ask for that.  My problem with this is, the Seattle City Council deserves to be criticized.  It deserves to be dragged through the mud.  We deserve the right to vent to our elected officials, who lie, cheat, and scam their way into office, and then fail the people time and time again.  They deserve to have their noses rubbed in this, and I’m not just talking about the people who voted against the street vacation.  I’m not just talking about the women.  I’m talking about all nine of them.  Because you know where we have the biggest failing?  In the four “Yes” votes, who apparently didn’t work hard enough or do a good-enough job educating the rest of the Council on the issues at hand.  The people on our side let Sally Bagshaw (who knows good and God damn well the gist of this deal, and is simply a backstabbing so-and-so) railroad the other four women (who apparently knew jack squat about this deal, and weren’t too keen in doing the research) into voting her way.  Because The Port, or whatever.  Yeah, the fucking Port is going to be SO damaged by a basketball arena.  Give me a fucking break; my hand hurts from how often I’ve had to do the jack-off motion whenever I hear someone from the Port speak on this issue.

Instead of holding the Council’s feet to the fire, and rubbing their noses in it, as usual, people on the Internet went too far (and again, I put myself shamefully in this boat).  I get it.  I get upset, I want to lash out, and I’m not always satisfied with the usual barbs lobbed over the wall.  I like to use lots of cuss words because I’m not very smart, and I just don’t give a fuck.  Cuss words are fun, and it feels good to call someone a cunt.

But, by doing so, we made this a Man vs. Woman issue.  And, as such, we lost ALL the cards we were holding.  Not that they’d do us much good, the Council voted how they voted, and no amount of angst among sports fans out there would change things.  Nevertheless, now you can’t even CRITICIZE the fucking Seattle City Council without being thought of as a He Man Woman Hater.  When truly, we’re talking about a group of bumbling buffoons who don’t know how to get anything done in this city.

I mean, shit, if you’re so worried about a back-alley road in SoDo, if “traffic” is so important to you, then why don’t you do A FUCKING THING to alleviate our plethora of traffic fucking issues in this city???

Instead of having the high road, and lamenting a bunch of insufferable pricks on our City Council, now they’ve got all the sympathy, and our cause to bring the Sonics back to Seattle is in even more dogshit.

Which is why:  you know what?  Fuck it.  Fuck Seattle.  Fuck the Seattle City Council right in their nine little assholes.  Fuck all the work they’ve torn asunder in one vote on one meaningless street vacation.

Bring the Sonics back to Bellevue.  I don’t give a shit anymore.  I’m fed up with this whole do-nothing town.  Let them have their shitty roads and their impossible traffic congestion; let them wallow in their utter lack of foresight when it comes to city planning, for a city that’s one of the fastest-growing in the nation.  Let Seattle have its clusterfuck.  Put the arena in Bellevue, where there are politicians we can work with.  I’d rather have to deal with I-405 and I-90 gridlock (and believe me, that’s saying a lot, because I hate 405 more than life itself) just to get to watch the Sonics in person, than not have the Sonics at all.

It’s time to move on.  The city of Seattle, and their worthless City Council, is nothing but a hindrance; leave the city to the fucking suckers who will inevitably run it into the ground.  Bellevue is where it’s at, as painful as that sounds.

Are The Mariners (Gulp) Only Built For The Regular Season?

As we cruise into the final days of May, in first place in the division and one of the best teams in all of baseball, it’s only natural to be excited.  PLAYOFF FEVER, COMIN’ ATCHA!

It’s been so, so, SO LONG since we’ve had a baseball team this good, this well built.  It’s not like 2007 or 2009 where the winning was flukey and unsustainable.  It’s not even like 2014, where pretty much everything went right and we STILL came up a game short of vying for the Wild Card.  This is a team, from 1-25, that’s good enough to sustain through the whole season.  Yes, there will be lows, but I’d argue fewer and further between.  With a lineup this good and this veteran; with a rotation that looks pretty steady, and a bullpen that might be better than we thought (though, one might argue, some of these guys were due to regress in the positive direction after having down years in 2015), this team should be able to nip a lot of losing streaks in the bud, before they turn into total calamities.

So, let’s just take that for granted.  And, let’s assume that the team stays reasonably healthy, and doesn’t totally fall apart with injuries.  This, right here, in 2016, will be the Mariners team to take us back to the post-season.

What happens then?

One of my all-time sports regrets – and there are more than a few – is that 2001 Mariners team.  It’s a different feeling than the gut punch that was losing the Sonics, or the two Super Bowl defeats.  It’s even different from the other good Mariners teams who fell short.  In 1995, we were more or less just happy to be there (and just ecstatic to reach the ALCS); in 1997, it didn’t feel like an end of an era so much as the beginning of a long and fruitful stretch of post-season runs with the best core of players in all of baseball (it was, in fact, the end of an era, as Randy, Griffey, and A-Rod would all leave in ensuing losing seasons).

2001 stands alone, because it’s all at once a source of tremendous pride and abject horror.  I look back on that year with fond memories, because we won 116 motherfucking games!  We tied the all-time record!  We even hosted the All Star Game and got to show the world how great Safeco Field was and is!  It might be another 90-something years before we see a 6-month stretch of dominance like that again.  Sure, there will be 100-game winners, but 116?  In the American League?  That feels like a pretty safe number.  I had SO MUCH FUN watching that team day-in and day-out; I never wanted that season to end!

And then it did.  And HOO BOY was I miserable.

When you’re a kid (unless you’re some spoiled brat of a rich kid), you learn pretty early on that life isn’t fair.  You’re not going to get your way, and it’s totally arbitrary, and you don’t understand why, and it sucks, and you’re pissed.  But, in sports, you want to believe that the best team WILL win it.  You root for a team like the Mariners, you pay your dues (for the most part; as much dues paying as you can do when you become a fan in September of 1995), you wait your turn, and then here it is!  2001!  116 wins!  FINALLY!  It’s OUR time!  We are, clearly, far and away, the best team in all of baseball, and this is the year we get our championship trophy to celebrate it!

I didn’t get to root for a lot of successful teams growing up.  The Seahawks were the local turd in the punchbowl for the entire 1990s, I was never into college sports as a child, so I had the Sonics.  The Sonics may or may not have been the best team in 1994 – when they lost in the first round to the Nuggets as a 1-seed – but I find it truly hard to believe that they were the best team, when they couldn’t even beat an 8-seed who was just happy to be there.  That team, even if it managed to find a way to get to the next round, probably would’ve ended up losing to the Rockets or Jazz or Spurs.  It was flawed, and feasted upon all the bad teams, while cleaning up at home.  Then, by 1996, the Sonics were clearly NOT the best team, because they ran into the buzzsaw that was the 72-win Bulls.

Really, in my lifetime, the first team I rooted for that was LEGITIMATELY the best team in that particular sport that particular year was indeed the 2001 Mariners.  And, as such, that’s really the first time I got a taste of not only life not being fair, but sports not being fair.

With a little perspective, you start to throw caveats into the mix.  Sadly, the 2001 Mariners weren’t the best baseball team that year, they were just the best REGULAR SEASON team that year.

For, you see, a team like the Yankees, they won 21 fewer games in the regular season, but they were built for the post-season.  Our lineup was good, theirs was a little bit better.  Our pitching feasted upon all the run support they were given, their pitching was battle tested.  Their starting rotation was dynamic – with Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, and Orlando Hernandez.  Our starting rotation was entirely unremarkable – with Freddy Garcia, Jamie Moyer, Aaron Sele, and Paul Abbott.  Their bullpen featured the greatest closer of all time in Mariano Rivera; our bullpen relied on a closer in Kaz Sasaki with a nothing fastball, who needed pinpoint command of both his pitches – especially his splitter – to get the job done.

In the end, what happened?  Well, the Mariners lost in 5 games, and didn’t score more than 3 runs in any of their defeats.  Likewise, an over-worked bullpen in the regular season ended up faltering in key moments late in the 50/50 games of that series, giving the Yankees a decided advantage.  We were a team built for the regular season.  Guys like Sele and Garcia absolutely thrived until the spotlight shone too brightly and they were forced to truly bear down.  And the hitting, solid up and down the lineup, simply couldn’t find a way to push runners home when they had the opportunities.

So, with all of this as preamble, I say again, if the 2016 Mariners make the post-season, as we’re all starting to expect they will, what happens when we get there?

In an ideal world, I’d just be sitting here enjoying the ride.  Let Future Steven worry about what happens in October; this is May!  October is MONTHS away!

But, I can’t help it.  I see a team like the Red Sox, and they look really poised to do well in the playoffs.  They’ve got an ace, just like we’ve got an ace, but they’ve got a couple starters behind their ace that look pretty great.  The Cubs and White Sox, shit, they’re ALL pitching!  The Royals have been there before, and you figure they’ve got another run in them to get back into contention.

The Mariners, you can tell right now, are going to need a lot of help if they end up making the post-season.

I like Felix, but I’m not sure about ANYONE after him.  That includes Taijuan Walker, who can be dominating, but is still young, and is still finding himself.  Kuma is not the rock-solid #2 starter we all remember from 2013.  Wade Miley is the epitome of a guy built for the regular season.  And Karns?  Who knows if he’ll still be pitching, or if he’ll run into an innings limit?  Sure, we’ve got Paxton down in Tacoma, just waiting for his opportunity to prove he’s got what it takes, but I think we can all agree, if this team is going to make a bunch of noise in the playoffs, it is GOING to need another dominant starter after Felix.

With Felix and Ace #2, I think I could be okay with Taijuan Walker holding the fort as our third starter.  Now, whether or not the team will go with him, or the more veteran Iwakuma, is up for debate.  We’ll have to see where those guys are by season’s end.  If Walker proves he has what it takes to really lock things up in the important games in September, I could see him supplanting Kuma.  But, if not, then you’re looking at Walker as your 4th starter, which means you probably don’t need him until the ALCS (although, I’d be PRETTY interested to see Walker out of the ‘pen in the ALDS, just to get some work in, throwing in the upper-90s, with his awesome change-up as an equalizer).

If we’re unable to make that deal for another ace, then you gotta really hang onto your butts and hope the hitting lineup has enough juice.  With no other incoming starting pitcher, we’re probably forced to go with Miley in a more prominent role, and that frightens me to no end.

I also don’t think it would hurt to bring in a superstar reliever.  For the regular season, I like our bullpen as is (when you factor in the eventual return of Zych and Furbush).  In the post-season, though, my confidence is wavering.  Cishek strikes me as the type of guy who’s MUCH too volatile in a post-season setting.  Benoit’s got a good, but not great arm.  Nick Vincent has been good against right handed hitters, but I don’t want to see him in a situation where he has to face someone like Big Papi or something.  Right now, I think I’m only REALLY sold on Mike Montgomery, who has looked OUTSTANDING in his bullpen role.  He’s got an additional 3-4 miles per hour on his fastball, he’s good to throw multiple innings, so he can really bridge the gap if a starter needs to be pulled after five innings.  He’s also super strong against lefties, in the event we need to mix & match late in a game.

I’m not saying you completely throw out the bullpen and try to start over with a bunch of deadline trades.  But, I’d like to see us take advantage of some sellers out there.  Maybe bring in another guy with closing experience, in the event Cishek falters down the stretch and we need to go with more of a bullpen by committee approach.  Like, for instance, maybe we’re able to work out a deal for one of the better Yankees relievers?  Maybe we offer them a package that features James Paxton or Nathan Karns as the centerpiece?

Maybe we go all-in on 2016, because let’s face it, there’s no such thing as dynasties in baseball, and you’ve GOT to strike while the iron’s hot, damn the consequences?

If we make the playoffs and look more or less the same in October as we do in May, I’m afraid there are going to be issues.  2016 looks to be the funnest season we’ve had ’round these parts in well over a decade, but just having fun can’t be the only goal.  In years past (and I’ve said this many times), I would have gladly taken a baseball team that’s just entertaining enough, just interesting enough to contend until football season starts, and then go ahead and fall apart if you have to.  But, this year?  When we’ve got Cano, Cruz, and Seager all in their primes, when we’re FINALLY able to make good with King Felix and give him a winner for the first time in his Hall of Fame career, we can’t just crack the ALDS and act like we’re just happy to be there.  We can’t go into this thing ready to say, “Well, there’s always next year.”  If the opportunity arises, and it costs us everything in our God damn farm system, I don’t care, you have to make the moves that transform this team from a Regular Season Dandy into a Post-Season Juggernaut.

Let 2001 be a lesson to you, Mariners.  That team was pretty happy just to be there.  That team was CONVINCED there would be plenty more chances to get back to the show and win it all.

That team was the last one in franchise history to make the post-season, in what has become the second-longest playoff drought in all of the major American professional sports, behind the Buffalo Bills.  And you don’t want to be compared to the Buffalo Bills, trust me.

The M’s Made The A’s Their B’s

17 hits, 13 runs, and a big early lead led to a cruise control effort out of Iwakuma in yesterday’s 13-3 win.

You can’t talk about yesterday’s game without talking about a certain maligned first baseman.  I can’t stand these exercises, but I’m going to show you two slash lines and you tell me who they belong to:

  • Player A – .216/.246/.319/.565
  • Player B – .242/.270/.400/.670

Give up?  (don’t follow me on Twitter?)  Player A is Adam Lind, at the end of Tuesday’s game; Player B is Adam Lind, at the end of last night’s game.  That’s what going 4 for 4, with 2 homers, a double, 6 RBI, and 3 runs scored looks like.  He went from being more or less a joke, to being a decent contributor in the matter of four at bats.

Would you like to see him walk more?  Of course.  Would you like that slugging to be a bit higher?  Who WOULDN’T want that?  But, if you look at those numbers now, compared to the rest of the lineup – which we should all agree by now, is a very good hitting lineup – he’s not that far off.  He’s lumped right in there with Aoki and Lee and Seager, which isn’t bad company.

Next up, I don’t want to spend a ton of time praising him, because I still think he’s been pretty disappointing this season, but Hisashi Iwakuma did a good job doing his job.  The Mariners were up 7-1 after three innings, and from there it was just a matter of running through the rest of the game without mucking things up too badly.  Iwakuma went 7 innings, and sure, he gave up 3 runs, but he didn’t walk anybody, he was economical with his pitches, and he picked up a bullpen that had been a little over-worked over the last week.  Just going that extra inning, getting through seven, can really make all the difference.

From there, the Benoit Recovery Train muscled through another shutout inning, and Steve Johnson got some work in a low-leverage situation.  I’m particularly interested in how Benoit comes back from his DL stint, especially after that rocky first outing back on the team.  He’s a VERY important part of this bullpen, so it’ll be nice to have him back to his usual dominating self.

The lone bit of bad news was Leonys Martin – superstar from the last week, including Tuesday’s game-winning homer – pulled a hammy in an attempt to steal second base.  Martin is hopeful – with today’s off day – that he’ll only miss a couple/few days.  Obviously, it’s a problem if it continues to nag at him and requires a DL stint.  So soon after Ketel Marte’s injury, when he too was showing a lot of promise at the plate, it’s a little frustrating.  But, you’re never going to make it through the season 100% healthy.  Nevertheless, the guys you hate to lose the most are the guys playing up the middle – catcher, short stop, second base, centerfield.  Our defense takes a hit, and weirdly enough, so does our offense.  Without Marte and Martin, our baserunning is affected, and we haven’t had a defensive centerfielder this good since Guti’s prime.  So, get well soon you kids!

Props to Cruz & Cano for each hitting a homer.  Props to Aoki for two more hits.  Props to Sardinas for two hits in his return to the Bigs (in place of the overmatched Chris Taylor).  Props to Seager as well for two more hits, in his continuing climb out of the cellar.

Well-deserved day off today before a mean stretch of ballgames heading into June.  The Mariners are clinging to that 1.5 game lead over the Rangers – who simply WILL NOT slag off, even though our run differential is crushing theirs!

You want to hear something cool, almost two months into the season?  The Mariners are currently 1 game behind the Boston Red Sox for the best record in the American League.  How about THAT?  I know it’s too early to scoreboard watch, or to focus in on the standings, but you know what?  That’s all I would do as a kid when I followed sports, and I remember having a MUCH better time of it.  RIDE THOSE HIGHS, BABY!  We’re 28-18, 10 games over .500!

In the immediate future, we’ve got three games at home against the worst team in all of baseball – the Minnesota Twins (which should finally get our home record above .500 for the first time all year) – followed by four more games against the Padres, who are 10 games under .500 as we speak.  You’d REALLY like to see the Mariners pad their record over those next seven games (5-2 or better would be ideal), because then we get to a fun patch.

Once we dispose of those losers, we hit a run where we play those very pesky Texas Rangers six times in ten days.  We’re talking about a REAL opportunity to put some distance between ourselves and our most prominent divisional rival at the moment.  You see, we have these six games, and then we don’t play the Rangers again until the last three days of August (who knows?  By then, the Rangers might not even be in it anymore!).  So, it’s going to be really important to continue padding our lead while we’re playing so well.  Winter is coming The dog days are coming.  And Hell’s coming with them.

What Going To Bed Before The 9th Inning Looks Like

It was all lining up against me.  The A’s were in town; they’ve been notoriously tough to beat in Safeco Field the last couple years for some reason (even though they’ve been largely terrible in general).  Jay Buhner was in the booth, riding a 1-40 streak when calling Mariners games.  We let another starter off the hook and then our bullpen largely prevented our own starter from getting the win it looked like he deserved through five innings.  Plus, it was already past 10pm, and I gotta wake up before 6am to go to work!

Yes, I’m weak.  But, I’ve seen the meager defeat go out with a whimper in the 9th inning far too many times.  True, Robinson Cano mashed a 2-run homer in the 8th to bring the game to within one run, but come on!  What were the odds the team would repeat that feat just one inning later?  With two outs.  In a 1-2 count …

Hell, this is why people tell you to never leave a game early.  I can’t argue with ’em!  People who stuck it out to the bitter end – people who left the TV on for another 20-30 minutes – were rewarded with the kinds of positive memories those of us who found out about the result this morning can only dream about.

That’s the difference with this team, compared to years past.  Count them out at your own risk.  I’ve seen this team come back from large deficits that would’ve been impossible for prior Mariners squads.  It’s one telltale sign – at least from an eyeball test perspective – that this team is for real.

It’s remarkably impressive the way Scott Servais’ moves are working out.  He hasn’t done a ton of tinkering with the batting lineup this year.  For the most part, he’s got a lefty-heavy and a righty-heavy lineup, where certain guys will move up or down in the lineup depending on which way they bat.  But, within those splits, there haven’t been any real major shakeups until this week, where Leonys Martin took over leadoff duties from Nori Aoki.  We’ve seen this in past seasons, and it generally deserves the world’s biggest eye roll.  “Going with the hot hand” in baseball is pretty pointless, because most good hot streaks last about a week, and then the player reverts to prior form; conversely, most cold streaks don’t last very long either, and it’s only a matter of time before a veteran will turn things around.

I mean, how many times have we seen Dustin Ackley, batting in the bottom third of the lineup, start to spray the ball around pretty good, followed by the manager moving him up to leadoff, followed by him not getting a hit for a week, followed by him moving back down to the bottom third of the lineup?

Oh, so you’re telling me Leonys Martin sprays the ball around on the road against the likes of the Orioles and Reds – in two very hitter-friendly ballparks – and now all of a sudden he’s worthy of batting in the leadoff spot?

But, shit man, I’ll be damned if he isn’t worthy!  Two hits on Monday, the game-winning 2-run homer last night, he’s striking the ball well, his power is showing no signs of reverting back to career norms, his confidence is through the roof, and I’m, like, one more hitting career being turned around for the better before I start a Church of Edgar Martinez and worship him as our lord and savior

(we’ll meet on Friday nights; if you don’t have your own Light Bat, one will be provided; B.Y.O. Bud Lights)

Servais isn’t all lineup shuffling either.  I think his bullpen usage has been outstanding.  While it takes most other managers at least a good, solid month of sucking before they move on from a trusted veteran arm, Servais has been on top of this thing!  Joel Peralta hadn’t looked superb when his numbers were great, but the team needed him in that 8th inning role, what with all the injuries.  Once his numbers started to reflect just how poorly he’d been throwing, it wasn’t more than a few outings before he was busted to the back-end of the bullpen, in favor of guys like Nick Vincent and Mike Montgomery.  Now, I know they weren’t perfect last night – Vincent, in relief of Karns in the 6th, gave up a couple of inherited runners; then Montgomery gave up a couple of Vincent’s runners in that same inning – but I think those moves were totally, 100% defensible.

Nick Vincent has the best K-rate of anyone in the bullpen worth a damn.  Karns was running into that third time through the order and gave up a couple of hard-hit balls; given his youth, I think it’s reasonable to doubt that he’d be able to get out of that jam.  When you need a strikeout, put in your best strikeout guy, in this case Vincent.  Now, it didn’t work out, but the move is justified.  And, while Montgomery was unable to get out of the 6th without giving up more damage, he ended up going another three innings of shutout ball to 1) get the win, and 2) save the bullpen from further usage.

Where would we be without Mike Montgomery right now?  To think, he was a guy on the bubble going into Spring Training, and very well may have been cut or traded had everyone been healthy!

The rest of the kudos will be spread around:

Seth Smith had a 3-hit day to bump his average back up to respectability.

Robbie Cano had a 3-RBI day to maintain his league lead.

Nelson Cruz had a timely and overlooked RBI single in the 3rd, when it looked like the Mariners might squander a scoring opportunity after putting the first two batters on base.

Nori Aoki had a couple of hits, including that double in the bottom of the 9th, with 2 outs, to prolong the game and get it to the hero of the evening.  That’s one of those deals that also gets overlooked, but without that hit, we’re singing a different tune this morning.

Do The Mariners Have Any All Stars This Year?

Yeah, the All Star Game isn’t until mid-July (and, frankly, doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things), but you and I know these things are determined in the first couple months of the season.  One good early-season hot streak can seep into the minds of the voting public (not to mention the fantasy baseball-playing public), and shape everyone’s opinions even if that player isn’t doing quite so hot by the time July 12th rolls around.

So, should we expect to have any Mariners on the team this year?

For starters, I think you gotta make Robinson Cano a lock.  Granted, he’s coming off of a down year, but he’s been not just one of the best second basemen in the league, he’s been one of the best all-around players in the league!  The early-season tear that he was on has cooled off a little bit, but he’s still 2nd in the A.L. in home runs, and tops in RBI.  This is pretty much a no-brainer, even with Jose Altuve’s high batting average.

Beyond Cano, I think you can make a sound argument for Nelson Cruz as the DH.  Even though the game is being played in San Diego’s Petco Park, the American League is still considered the “home team” and as such, the game will feature the DH (unless that rule has changed, and they stick with the DH regardless of who is considered the home team; in my mind, it’s home team-dependant for some reason).  I think Cruz is a solid second option behind who will surely get voted in as the starter, and that’s David Ortiz.  Ortiz is supposedly retiring after this year – so his sympathy vote will be off the charts – plus he’s just having the all-around best year as a designated hitter.  He leads Cruz in all hitting categories (except walks), and Cruz really hasn’t had any sort of hot streak to put his name on the map.  I still think Cruz makes it as a backup (because he still is one of the top power hitters in the game), but it would help his cause to have a really blistering June.

Seager has been coming on of late, but he still finds himself around 4th or 5th in most pertinent hitting categories among third basemen.  The thing is, his month of May has been re-DonkeyLips, and if he were to keep that going through most of June, he might hit his way back into the conversation.  Otherwise, there are a couple guys in Baltimore and Detroit with something to say.

That’s pretty much it, as far as hitters go.  Ketel Marte would’ve been an interesting argument before he went on the DL, as he was starting to play himself into more national recognition.  But, there are so many really good short stops in the league, Marte is probably a year or two away from really getting the sort of attention he needs.  Leonys Martin is another, what with his power numbers, but he’s never going to supplant a healthy Mike Trout, and I just think there are too many other big names out there for him to become a reserve.  He’d have to somehow maintain this hot stretch – maybe start batting in the .270s overall – and continue out-playing his career power number norms for him to make a dent.  It also wouldn’t hurt for the Mariners to keep winning.  Teams that lead the league in wins tend to have among the most All Star representatives (see:  2001 Mariners, with 8).

On the pitching side, I know a lot of fans are down on him, but Felix Hernandez is currently third among qualified starters in ERA.  It hasn’t been totally pretty, but he’s been getting the job done, and figures to be as close to a lock as there is among starting pitchers on this team.

Walker might have an outside chance, but he’s going to need to start putting up more zeroes, and start pitching more innings.  Iwakuma and Miley are both non-starters.  Indeed, if you want a REAL dark horse, Nathan Karns is currently 17th among American League starters in ERA.  He’s in a similar boat as Walker – and probably a year behind him from a national recognition standpoint – but that might be someone to keep an eye on over the next month.

As far as relievers go, it’s a little too soon to properly rate and compare among the league leaders.  I will say that Steve Cishek is tied for the A.L. lead in saves, and we all know closers are WAY more likely to make an All Star team than non-closers.  Cishek is also tied for 2nd in the league in blown saves, so that could be trouble.  If he can keep his blown saves under 5 or 6, keep his ERA below or right around 3.00, and be among the top two or three in saves, he should get in there.  Again, the more the Mariners win, the more it’ll help someone like Cishek.

And, the more it might help any relievers behind Cishek.  Like I just said, it’s really hard for a non-closer to make it.  You kinda need numbers that will blow everyone else away.  Like, an ERA under 1.00, or a fuckload of strikeouts or something.  I know Nuno has the better ERA, but if I’m making an argument for any other reliever besides Cishek, it would be Nick Vincent.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s almost nothing Vincent can do to be an All Star this year, aside from strike out literally every batter he faces between now and the end of June (or whenever voting ends for the ASG).  But, he’s got an ERA under 1.50, he’s pitched a lot of innings, he’s being used in higher-leverage situations, and he’s striking out WELL over a batter per inning.  For a guy like Vincent to make the team, we’d have to be looking at a crop of very mediocre relievers around the rest of the A.L. and I just don’t see that being the case.

In tl;dr, look for Cano to be a starter, look for Felix to be one of the top starters (but likely won’t actually start the game as long as Chris Sale has anything to say about it), look for Cruz to probably be a reserve DH after Ortiz, look for Cishek to be one of the top closers selected, and probably figure everyone else has too long of a shot to make it.

Still, that’s probably four Mariners in the All Star Game this year.  When was the last time we could say THAT?

(2014.  It was 2014.  Felix, Seager, Cano, and Fernando Rodney.  God Bless America)

Mariners Swept Reds, Maintain First Place

Friday’s game looked like a distressing start to the season.  Iwakuma was once again just okay, in giving up 3 runs over 6 innings.  The Reds were up 3-1 by the time we got to their bullpen, at which point everything changed.

Last year, the Mariners had a pretty awful bullpen.  But, this year’s Reds team might have the worst-ever!  Save the numbers for some Reds blogger, but I’ll say they really saved our bacon on this night.

In the final three innings on Friday, we managed to turn a 3-1 deficit into an 8-3 victory.  Dae-ho Lee was the big hero, with a pinch-hit 2-run single in the 7th to give us the lead; he’d follow that up with a solo homer in the 9th, as a little icing on that cake.  Cruz also had a homer, Seager had a double, and Martin had a nice day where he got on base all four times.

Saturday’s game was a 4-0 victory for Felix Hernandez, but wasn’t nearly as dominating as the score suggests.  Felix once again had awesome stuff, moving all around the plate, and was able to go 6 innings of 4-hit ball, but he did walk 3 batters, and had a couple of scary bases-loaded situations in the 3rd & 5th innings.  Fortunately, Joey Votto has been having just a horrific season, and was the final out both times.

Martin had another fantastic game, with a homer and a couple walks.  But, it was Guti who broke the game wide open with a 3-run blast in the 4th inning.  It was an upper deck shot (official distances vary) and easily the longest home run for the Mariners this season (and likely one of the top 5 in all of baseball).

Sunday’s game, once again, felt like a real cold fish.  I feel bad automatically assuming the worst out of every Wade Miley start, but to his credit he didn’t do a whole lot to elicit any confidence out of me.  In the first inning alone, he gave up three hard hits and hit a batter, en route to putting us in a 3-0 hole.  As is his way, he quickly settled down after that, ending up with a so-so line of 6 innings and 4 earned runs, with 6 strikeouts against 1 walk.

The Mariners managed to chip away against their starter, getting 2 back in the 3rd, and the other 3 in the 5th.  Martin had the series to end all series, finishing the weekend 4 of 5 on Sunday.  He’s lifted his average from .182 on May 2nd, to .252 today.  That’s big.  He’s shown vastly unusual power numbers – compared to the rest of his career – with 8 homers so far, while his career high in ANY season has been 8, (and with 20 homers TOTAL through his career before this season), but if he can get his regular hitting numbers up to snuff, he might be the greatest pickup in an offseason full of tremendous pickups.

Couple other notes from the weekend:

Ketel Marte sprained his thumb from sliding into 2nd base, which is going to cost him a 15-day DL stint.  Chris Taylor was brought up as insurance, with Shawn O’Malley taking over the everyday short stop role until his return.  It doesn’t sound like anything serious, but this team could ill afford to play with a 24-man roster (while Marte heals up), when literally no one else on the team is qualified to play short stop, so they HAD to make the move.

As a quick aside, I wondered what the Mariners might do with Marte out, if O’Malley got hurt and the team never called up anyone to fill in as insurance.  My best guess:  the team would have to make due with Kyle Seager at short stop (I THINK he has some experience, maybe in the low minors, or in his college days), and slide Dae-ho Lee over to third base, where he has experience from playing in Korea.  THAT … would be entertaining for about an inning, and then I think I’d have my fill (sort of like when you have a position player pitch in a blowout game to save your bullpen).

My final note is on that bullpen, specifically the Mariners’.  I don’t know if it was because we were playing in a National League park, or if it was just coincidence, but every starter this weekend went exactly 6 innings, leaving the remaining 3 innings – each game – for the bullpen.  On Friday, we had Montgomery, Vincent, and Peralta each pitch a scoreless inning (Peralta getting those garbage innings, what with his recent struggles).  On Saturday, we had Nuno, Montgomery, and Peralta each pitch a scoreless inning (Montgomery looks like he’s going to take over for Peralta and start getting some of those high-leverage situations, since he’s been so rock solid this year).  On Sunday, we had Vincent, Benoit, and Cishek each pitch a scoreless inning (Vincent appears to be the right-handed option behind Benoit – and sometimes in place of Benoit – since he’s been a monster against right-handed batters).

It’s interesting how quickly things have shaken out in the bullpen.  Peralta’s usage will, hopefully, continue to go down as guys like Vincent, Montgomery, and Nuno continue to show their value.  Steve Johnson – the last man in the ‘pen – appears to be reserved for blowouts and desperate, extra innings-type situations, at least until Furbush comes back, at which point – in spite of there being three lefties in the ‘pen – we will have some semblance of a FULL bullpen.  And, I know we’re a ways off, but when Zych comes back, we might have a difficult decision to make (not so difficult in my eyes – just dump Peralta – but it might be difficult for the team/management).

At least for now, it’s nice to know the team can take a long approach with Zych, making sure he’s at full strength, before thinking about bringing him back up.  Anyway, it might be another 3-4 weeks AT LEAST before a bullpen move is made, for either Furbush or Zych.

Don’t look now, but the Mariners are smack dab in the middle of a stretch of 26 games in 27 days.  They get another home off-day this Thursday, before 17 in a row.  It’s been a remarkably friendly schedule for the Mariners so far this season – with 7 off days through the first 7 weeks (including this Thursday).  While June is a bit of a bear with a 10-game East-Coast road trip, we still have 2 off days there, and another bunch of off-days in July with the All Star Break.  But, if you take a look at late July, all the way through August, the Mariners will play 33 games in 34 days.

So, you know, good to pad our record now, while the going is still good.

The Long Shadow of the Randy Johnson Trade

I had an idea recently, where I was going to look into the most damaging moves of all the local franchises.  True, I’ve already got my important and award-winning rundown of all the Worst Trades, Draft Picks, & Free Agent Signings (located in the bar above, with splits per team, and per GM), but this would be a look at the very worst.  The moves with long-lasting damage beyond just a crappy signing or a couple of crappy seasons.  Moves with ramifications beyond just the listed parties.

Like the Supersonics signing Jim McIlvaine, which was an onerous deal in its own right (7 years, $35 million, which is still bad in 2016 numbers) for a player who brought absolutely nothing to the table, and effectively derailed what was otherwise a championship organization (they’d lost to the 72-win Bulls team the season prior to his signing) by making Shawn Kemp disgruntled and eventually seeing him force his way into a trade for Vin Baker, who alongside Kemp, added about 60 lbs of unwanted lard to his frame during the 1998-1999 lockout, which ultimately ended both careers prematurely, and accelerated the Sonics’ decline into an also-ran in the 21st century.

Or the Percy Harvin deal and contract, which cost us three draft picks, a whole lotta money, Golden Tate, and the first half of our 2014 season before the offense was finally back to its old self.

Or the Steve Hutchinson Poison Pill fiasco in 2006, which cost us our Hall of Fame left side of the offensive line, ultimately speeding up our offensive decline overall, possibly assisting in Shaun Alexander getting repeatedly injured behind a less-effective line, and definitely over-paying for Nate Burleson in retaliation, who was a fine return man, but less than ideal as a wide receiver.  The 2006 Seahawks should’ve been a championship contender, but instead fell to 9-7, BARELY won a mediocre NFC West, and was a 4th seed that had to go on the road to top-seeded Chicago in the Divisional Round (where we lost in overtime to Rex Grossman of all quarterbacks).

I mean, I could go on and on.  The Mariners trading Tino Martinez and Jeff Nelson to the Yankees so they could go on to win all of the World Series titles, while we had a shit-house bullpen and less-than-spectacular play at first base.  The Seahawks drafting Dan McGwire over Brett Favre (which probably set us back two decades and almost led to us being moved out of state).

But, instead I thought I’d take a look at just the Randy Johnson deal.  Made on July 31, 1998, during a losing Mariners season in the midst of our overall prime years, we were apparently concerned about his back, and how many more years he had left in baseball.  He would go on to play 11 more years, making the All Star Game 5 more times, winning 4 consecutive Cy Young Awards, and 1 World Series title and a share of that series’ MVP award.  Thanks to our lack of foresight, Randy Johnson sits in the Baseball Hall of Fame with a Diamondbacks cap on, and I won’t be the first to say he looks ridiculous in it.  But, them’s the breaks.

In return, the Mariners received Freddy Garcia, Carlos Guillen, and John Halama.  While I’m man enough to admit that these three players were solid building blocks on our best teams of 2000 and 2001, I will never shake the feeling that we would’ve been better off with Randy Johnson and two other replacement players on those teams.  So, let’s take a look at how those players fared, and who we would end up getting back in trade for these players!

John Halama (1998-2002)

I’ll start here, because it’s easiest.  Halama was with Seattle for 4 seasons, from 1999-2002.  In his first two seasons, he was primarily a back-of-the-rotation starter, and a fairly mediocre one at that.  He faced more of a relief role, with some spot starts sprinkled in over the last two years of his deal.  Then, at the end of the 2002 season, he was granted free agency, and would go on to play 4 more years in various cities.

Carlos Guillen (1998-2003)

Guillen had a cup of coffee in 1998 & 1999 before getting more of a chance in 2000, and becoming the team’s starting short stop in 2001.  He played in Seattle through the 2003 season, but injuries would hamper him and he was dealt to the Detroit Tigers, where he was an All Star three times, and played a big part of some great Tigers offenses/teams around that time.  In return, the Mariners received minor league pitcher Juan Gonzalez (N/A), who never saw the light of day with the Mariners, or any of our minor league squads; and infielder Ramon Santiago (2004-2005), who played in all of 27 games with Seattle before he was released after the 2005 season, and picked back up by the Tigers where he was a solid reserve player for them for the next 8 seasons.

Freddy Garcia (1998-2004)

This is the guy who almost makes the Randy Johnson trade worthwhile.  ALMOST.  Maybe, if the Mariners had more foresight to hang onto Guillen during the prime years he spent in Detroit, this trade could’ve worked out better than it did.  But, Freddy was a solid, if unspectacular ace for us during our best seasons.  He came up in 1999 and started for us up until the 2004 trade deadline (the year where the franchise totally bottomed out, and was looking for anything it could find to rebuild on the cheap).  Freddy had two All Star appearances and came in 3rd in Cy Young voting in his best season of 2001.  He won a ton of games (helped in large part by some really spectacular offenses) and held or holds a bunch of Mariners pitching records (probably “held” when you think about how great Felix is).  And while he was fine, as far as aces go, he was never really overwhelming, particularly in the playoffs, where he had okay numbers, but never dominating.

On June 27, 2004, he was traded with reserve catcher Ben Davis for the following:

Mike Morse (2004-2009, 2013)

This was back when Morse was a short stop, in his smaller, skinnier days.  He was a prospect who always thrived in Tacoma, but never could in Seattle, either because of health or ineffectiveness.  On June 28, 2009, he was traded by Jackie Z to the Washington Nationals for Ryan Langerhans – where he would go on to have his very best seasons as a power-hitting outfielder.  We would go on to make a deal with them to bring him back in 2013 (which cost us effective on-base-getter John Jaso), but by then the ‘roids had probably worn off or whatever, because he returned to his injury-plagued self and would be traded in August of that same year to Baltimore for Xavier Avery (2013-2014) (who never made it past Tacoma before leaving in free agency).

Ryan Langerhans (2009-2011)

Here’s a reserve outfielder who had his ups & downs.  Late game heroics led to his being nicknamed Ryan Jagerbombs, but he was otherwise unimpressive in his three seasons with the Mariners.  He would go on to be traded to Arizona for cash in July of 2011.

Miguel Olivo (2004-2005, 2011-2012)

Olivo was a shitty all-around catcher whose only positive contribution was the long ball, which he didn’t even hit all that well to justify how long he stayed in the league.  He was with Seattle for about a year before being traded again at the 2005 deadline to San Diego for pitcher Nathaniel Mateo (2005-2006), who never got past AA ball, and backup catcher Miguel Ojeda (2005), who was waived and picked up by Colorado at the end of the season.  Meanwhile, Miguel Olivo would end up returning to Seattle on a free agent deal in 2011, thanks to Jackie Z, because he had one solid season hitting dingers in Colorado of all places.  Olivo started for two more years to the chagrin of us all.

Jeremy Reed (2004-2008)

I guess, if you had to pick a “centerpiece” to the Freddy Garcia trade to the White Sox, Reed would be it.  The Mariners had let Mike Cameron leave at the end of the 2003 season, where he would go on to sign with the Mets in 2004 (Cammy would go on to have a few more productive seasons – through at least 2009, before falling off the cliff the last couple years of his career), so we had a significant need to find a new centerfielder.  Reed had never played in the Majors when we acquired him, but he was as “Major League-ready” as they got, yet he didn’t see his call-up with us until September of 2004.  He started right off the bat in 2005, after an encouraging 2004 call-up, and produced some VERY underwhelming numbers.  He never hit for a high average, was just so-so at getting on base, and had no power to speak of whatsoever.  On top of that, he was carrying about a 50% success rate on stolen bases, and wasn’t exactly Willie Mays in the outfield.  His playing time decreased significantly through the 2007 season before picking back up on a bad 2008 Mariners team.  After that season, though, is where things get a little interesting.  In the offseason, on December 11, 2008, he was part of a 3-way trade between us, the Mets, and the Indians (in one of Jackie Z’s very first moves as GM of the Mariners); we traded him with relievers Sean Green and J.J. Putz, and utility infielder Luis Valbuena, and in return the Mariners received:

Mike Carp (2009-2012)

Carp was a reserve corner outfielder and first baseman who for whatever reason (injuries, Justin Smoak, Jackie Z’s overall incompetence) never was more than a reserve player.  We traded him to Boston for cash prior to 2013, where he had a number of memorable moments for the World Series champs.

Ezequiel Carrera (2009-2010)

Carrera never made it past Tacoma in our system as an outfielder, before being traded in June 2010 with other career minor leaguer Juan Diaz for Russell Branyan.

Russell Branyan (2009, 2010)

Prior to the 2009 season, the Mariners signed Branyan as a low-cost/high-upside first baseman option.  He proved to be pretty effective in that role (31 homers on a mostly punchless team); so effective, in fact, that the Mariners decided to let him walk in Free Agency after the season!  He went to Cleveland, which is where we come back in, as the Mariners were so fucking inept at hitting in 2010, we had to tuck our tails between our legs and trade the Indians two minor leaguers (the aforementioned Ezequiel Carrera & Juan Diaz, which brought with it horrifying visions of Bavasi disaster deals to Cleveland for Choo and Cabrera; thankfully that wasn’t the case here) to bring Branyan back for a stretch run on a historically-terrible offense.  Without Branyan’s help, we may not have gotten anywhere NEAR the 513 runs we scored that year (which, in the annals of MLB history, is among the worst all time, outside of the Dead Ball Era).  Branyan would – once again – be granted free agency after the year ended, and would not return to Seattle, as his career quickly dwindled into nothingness.

Endy Chavez (2009, 2013-2014)

Chavez was a spectacular corner/reserve outfielder for us in 2009, until Yuniesky Betancourt ran into him on a shallow pop fly, causing him to tear his ACL.  We released Chavez after that year, and he didn’t play in the bigs in 2010.  He would come back to Seattle on a series of 1-year minor league deals, starting in 2013, always finding a way to make it to the Big League roster, until Spring Training of 2015, where he was released and never played in the Bigs again.

Maikel Cleto (2009-2010)

Cleto was a starting pitcher at the very low minors for the Mariners.  He would be traded in December 2010 to the Cardinals for short stop Brendan Ryan.

Brendan Ryan (2011-2013)

Known exclusively for his superb defense, this no-hit wonder at the plate would start WAY too many games for the Mariners in his time here (thanks to absolutely no better options anywhere else in the minors).  He was sent to the Yankees in September 2013 for, I think, cash.

Aaron Heilman (N/A)

Heilman was a reliever who never pitched an inning at any level for the Mariners.  He was acquired in trade and traded away in less than 7 weeks, before the 2009 season would start.  In a deal with the Cubs in January 2009, the Mariners would get back the following:

Ronny Cedeno (2009)

Reserve infielder, who played in 59 games, before being traded to Pittsburgh (with a bunch of other minor leaguers) at the trade deadline for the following:

Ian Snell (2009-2010)

Crappy starting pitcher who could not resurrect his career, would never pitch again in the Majors after 2010.

Jack Wilson (2009-2011)

Crappy short stop who was good defensively, but would eventually be replaced by Brendan Ryan, who was better defensively, yet somehow even worse offensively.  Wilson was traded at the August 31st deadline to the Braves in hopes of giving this veteran – who had never experienced the post-season – a chance to play some meaningful baseball.  It would never happen, as the Braves fell one game short of the Wild Card.  Wilson was traded for minor league infielder Luis Caballero (2012-2015), who was still in the Mariners’ minor league system as of 2015, but has yet to get past AA.

Garrett Olson (2009-2010)

The other player we got in the Heilman deal was Garrett Olson, a reliever who could spot-start on occasion.  He was here for two years, then the Pirates picked him up off of waivers in March 2011.

Jason Vargas (2009-2012)

One of the best, if not THE best, players in this whole Jeremy Reed mega-deal was Jason Vargas, a 4-year starting pitcher who really took off once he found his changeup.  From 2010-2012, he averaged over 200 innings per year.  After the 2012 season, we ended up trading him at the height of his value, to Anaheim for Kendrys Morales.

Kendrys Morales (2013, 2014)

This was supposed to be a deal that was beneficial to both teams.  Vargas and Morales were on the last years of their original deals, and would be full-on free agents after 2013.  The Angels would let Vargas leave in free agency after 2013 (where he was okay for them, but injured for a lot of the season).  The Mariners offered Morales the tender after a pretty solid 2013, but he wouldn’t sign, and waited until the 2014 regular season started before signing with the Twins.  Much like the Branyan deal, we would come a-callin’ at the deadline in 2014, trading away reliever Stephen Pryor to bring Morales back.  But, he wouldn’t be sufficient-enough to push us into post-season play, and he ended up leaving again in free agency, for the Royals.

Franklin Gutierrez (2009-Present)

The last vestige of the Randy Johnson trade, everyone!  In case you’ve been trying to keep track all this way, all the other players have left us.  Now, there is only Guti, a reserve corner outfielder who was once a Gold Glove defensive centerfielder until a bevy of health issues sapped his energy, speed, and strength.  Now, he’s a right-handed platoon partner with Seth Smith, who will likely be allowed to leave in free agency after this season, never to be heard from again.

In case you couldn’t follow all of that, I’ll try to quickly summarize here:  in exchange for Randy Johnson, the Mariners got a crappy 5th starter/Jamie Moyer clone on a team that already employed Jamie Moyer, a decent short stop who was traded away IMMEDIATELY before his prime, and a pretty good/solid starting pitcher for 5+ years … and ultimately, beyond all those original three guys, a whole lotta crap, with a few gems (Vargas, Guti, Chavez, Jagerbombs) mixed in.  We’re now about 18 years later, and if I had it all to do over again, I would 100% give back all the players we ended up with in return for just a handful more of years out of The Big Unit in his prime.

Predictable Loss For The Mariners Is Predictable

Chris Tillman defeated us once again.  Adam Jones made some nice plays in the field, and Bill Bavasi is a cunt.

Edgar Martinez is a little TOO good at his job as hitting coach, what with the fact he somehow managed to turn Mark Trumbo into a viable offensive weapon (also doesn’t hurt he plays half his games in Baltimore).

Taijuan Walker struggled against a lineup that was probably always going to give him fits.  Luckily, we only play Baltimore once more this season, and it’ll be in Safeco.

Joel Peralta is fucking done.  Injured bullpen guys can’t get healthy fast enough.

The game was decided in the top of the 8th inning, when Cano, Cruz, and Seager loaded the bases with one out.  Dae-ho Lee struck out on a low-and-away fastball, and Iannetta grounded out to end the inning.  We were down by two runs, and it was then or never.  Turns out it was never.

Must be nice to be Baltimore, who only needs to get a lead into the 6th or 7th inning, before they let their league-leading bullpen smash everyone to bits.

Rubber match this morning.  If Walker struggled, it would stand to reason Karns might meet a similar fate.  Luckily, I’ll be at work and won’t have to watch.

The Mariners Got The Blowout Victory They Were Looking For

Come for the dangling prepositions in the title, stay for the analysis of a game I didn’t even watch!

Boy, that was really something, wasn’t it?  Here’s Baltimore – one of the hottest teams in the American League – having feasted on the bottom-feeders in recent weeks, to achieve the best record in the league, hosting Seattle, who just lost three in a row at home to the struggling, infirmed Angels.  Shirley, the Mariners would find it tough sledding in the bandbox that is … whatever they call the Orioles’ stadium (don’t call me surely).

That’s when the 3-4-5 hitters decided to drop the boogie woogie bugle boy of Company B all over the place.

  • Cano – 3 for 4 with a double, 2 RBI, and 3 runs scored
  • Cruz – 3 for 3 with a homer, 5 RBI, and 2 runs scored
  • Seager – 2 for 4 with a homer, 3 RBI, and 1 run scored

All 10 runs batted in were batted in by those three players in a 10-0 rout to open up the series.  Wade Miley had a semi-efficient 6 innings of 2-hit ball, Nuno pitched in (!) with a couple of perfect innings, and Steve Johnson got some work in as our last man out of the bullpen (now that Mayckol Guaipe has been returned to Tacoma, with Benoit coming off of the DL).

The Mariners really needed a win, they really needed a soft landing for the bullpen, they needed to give an extra day off to Peralta and Cishek to get their heads clear, and they needed to get the game completed under the shadow of some suspect weather conditions.  It was really the most perfect start to this road trip (where it’ll be a MIRACLE if we get through it without a game being cancelled and needing to be made up during the dog days of the season where the Mariners are short on extra days off).

Also, as I said before, I didn’t watch the game, but my hat’s off to Miley for repeatedly getting through that lineup without getting killed.  I’m not holding out hope that he’s going to be anything more than what we thought he was, but as long as he’s not anything less, I think we can be okay.  A guy like Miley is just what this team needs.  THIS team.  Where the hitting is professional, and runs are scored at a respectable pace.  But, if you put Miley in the rotation in some of those prior Mariners teams – with the likes of Ackley, Smoak, and the rest of those duds – we’d be constantly pulling our hair out whenever Miley took the mound.

Miley needs run support.  Those infantile offenses who struggled to score 3 runs on a nightly basis would NEVER be able to do the job.  Yeah, Miley will eat up innings, and he’ll “keep you in ballgames”, but only if your offense is scoring 4+ runs a night.  Anything less and you might as well roll with me out there on the mound, because I’ll get you pretty close to the number of Quality Starts that Miley will get you on an annual basis (relatively speaking).

Honestly, it always feels good when we make it through a Miley start with a victory, because I know Taijuan Walker is right around the corner.  And then we’ve got an increasingly more interesting Karns, before it’s right back to the top of the rotation with Felix again.  I guess what I’m really trying to say is:

Wade Miley shouldn't be a chore!

Wade Miley shouldn’t be a chore!

Husky Pre-Season Hype Is For Real

Have you seen this?  Have you heard about this?

I honestly don’t know what to make of this.  I never did bother to do a season-end recap of last year’s team, mostly because of being out of it during the Christmas holiday week, plus being in the midst of Seahawks playoff hysteria.  I’m not a smart, thoughtful man, and sometimes my Husky coverage suffers accordingly.

For the 6th straight season, the Huskies finished pretty middling in the conference (either 5-4 or 4-5, with 2015 being a 4-5 season) and unlocked a middling bowl game achievement in the process thanks to taking care of business in the non-conference games.  6-6 meant the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Southern Miss, who we handled easily.

Without much in the way of defections to the NFL – when we saw four players from our defense alone go in the first two rounds a year ago – there’s a lot of hope in Huskyville for 2016.

For starters, you have to look at the schedule.  The non-conference slate is as cushy as it comes:  all at home, with the “toughest” being a Rutgers team that was 4-8 a year ago.  We follow that up with a 4-8 Idaho team, before closing out against the pride of the FCS, Portland State.

The Huskies kick off their Pac-12 schedule on the road against Arizona, coming off of a down year.  The rest of the road schedule includes Oregon (breaking in a new starting quarterback), Utah (seemingly always tough), Cal (minus the top quarterback in this year’s NFL Draft), and then Wazzu for the Apple Cup (a team also getting a lot of pre-season buzz).  At home, we get Stanford, Oregon State, USC, and Arizona State (we avoid UCLA and Colorado this year).  I, obviously, have no idea how good those teams are going to be.  One would think Stanford will be strong as usual, and USC is always a tough one.  Catching ASU at home seems to be best for all involved (since I can’t remember how many years it’s been since we won on their home turf), and Oregon State is Oregon State; you’d think that would be an easy one.

All in all, in spite of having five road conference games and only four at home, you have to like the way it shapes up.

For the real reason why the Huskies are the chic pick, look no further than our returning starters (7 on offense, 8 on defense).  We made it through the full year with Jake Browning as a True Freshman, and will hopefully be rewarded with a significant bump in his performance (which was starting to really improve as the season went on last year).  That, coupled with Myles Gaskin returning as The Man at running back, and John Ross returning from an injured year off (and looking just as fast as ever) at wide receiver, and you could see a big jump in explosive plays on offense.  When you factor in most of our studs on defense (Budda Baker and Co. in the secondary, particularly) are back, we really shouldn’t miss a beat on that side of the ball.

What does all that mean?  Well, in what’s looking like a possible down year in the Pac-12 North (Stanford, Cal, and Oregon all breaking in new QBs), this could be Washington’s time to shine!  Or, you know, Wazzu’s (who also returns a bunch of players from a year ago, where they won 9 games – including impressive wins over Oregon and UCLA on the road – before losing their quarterback ahead of the Apple Cup and getting routed by the Huskies); but who wants to think about the best chance the Huskies have had in YEARS to play for the conference title, only to lose out to the fucking Cougs?

Either way, there’s a lot of love for the Dawgs.  ESPN ranked us 17th in the nation recently, and now Athlon Sports has us at 11th!  There’s a pretty general consensus that the Huskies will land somewhere in the Top 25 by the time September rolls around, and that’s a pretty rare statement ’round these parts over the last decade-plus.

Which is about right when you think about it.  We’ll be in Chris Petersen’s third year as the head guy, we’ll be finding more and more of his recruits in major roles going forward, so now we can really assess the man’s ability as a recruiter and coach.  The time is now!  All the pieces are in place!  If we’re not playing for the Pac-12 North title in the Apple Cup this year, if we’re fucking 7-6 again for the umpteenth time when all is said and done, there are going to be a lot of upset Dawg fans this time next year.