Mariners Finish A Month Of June That Will Probably Torpedo Their Season

What’s the latest?  Well, Steve Clevenger broke a bone in his hand and is probably gone til November September.  In his place, Mike Zunino and his 248 at bats from Tacoma are back up here.  He hit a respectable .282/.366/.516/.882 down there, and now he has the double-bonus of learning from Edgar Martinez, and also not having to play every day.  We’re in a really critical part of his career development right now.  Has he had enough time to refine and focus on his hitting?  Or, is this too soon and he’s going to revert back to old habits?  Pray For Mojo.

The other move involves short-lived Mariners reliever Donn Roach, who on Wednesday gave up 3 runs in 1 inning, then was promptly demoted back to Tacoma in favor of Tom Wilhelmsen, who has apparently been cured of all his sucktitude after only two appearances down there!  WEEEEEE!

What does all that mean?  Well, luckily, neither Zunino nor Wilhelmsen were needed yesterday, as the Mariners got past the red hot Orioles, on the back of a fantastic Taijuan Walker start.  Apparently, the leg thing is not totally cured, as he was feeling it yet again last night, but maybe he knows how to control it better?  I have my doubts; I’d put solid money on him missing a few more starts -slash- having a few more starts cut drastically short.  Which is too bad, because you gotta think without this issue, he’d really be steamrolling towards a fine second half.

Joaquin Benoit has been a rugged disappointment this year, hasn’t he?  With Nick Vincent hitting the DL, with the team having already professed to keeping Mike Montgomery out of the 8th inning shitstorm, with the recent struggles of Vidal Nuno, with Karns relatively new to his bullpen role, and with Edwin Diaz having already been used in a higher-leverage situation in the 7th inning, Benoit was brought back into that 8th inning role clean, able to start it off with no runners on base.  And.  He.  SUCKED!

He’s earning $7.5 million, and he’s been a real dud.  Walking guys, leaving pitches up, having elevated pitch counts that prevent him from going on back-to-back days, and just generally getting finger blasted in the dick hole.  This is why you don’t pay relievers upwards of $8 million.  We’re paying Nick Vincent in peanuts and he’s been unquestionably better so far this year.

So, the epidemic that was the month of June has finally, mercifully, come to an end.  The Mariners got out of there with a 10-18 record.  We sit one game over .500 overall, third place in the A.L. West, 10.5 games behind the Rangers, and 2.5 games out of the Wild Card.  We’re two games from the exact midpoint of the season, and if you would’ve told me at the beginning of the season this is where we’d be, I would’ve told you to stick it up your ass.

I’m over the whole “Just Entertain Me For A Few Months” mentality.  You know what’s entertaining?  Winning enough games to make the playoffs.  You know what’s NOT entertaining?  Mediocre, .500 baseball.  It isn’t going to hold my interest anymore.  Oh, I’ll still watch from time to time.  I’ll still bitch about it; it’s what I do!  But, I don’t have to sit here and enjoy it.

The rest of these months better look a LOT more like the month of May did, because if I have to suffer any more Junes, I don’t know what I’ll do.

Doug Baldwin Signed His Extension

4 years, $46 million, to keep Doug Baldwin locked down through the 2020 season.

$24 million is guaranteed, including his entire 2017 salary and half of his 2018 salary.  So, at the very least (because I know this is what people like to think about as soon as a contract is signed – how soon can we break out of it?), figure Baldwin’s status with the team is safe at least through the 2018 season.  But, assuming his production remains where it has been, it’s pretty safe to say Baldwin will be a Seahawk for Life.

It’s impressive that this is one of the top 7 or 8 richest contracts for a wide receiver in the league today.  Which gets me to wondering:  what are people thinking about this deal outside of the bubble of Seattle?  Obviously, as Seahawks fans, I think you have to love the deal.  WE know the true value of someone like Doug Baldwin.  He’s not a guy who’s going to get 50 million targets like Antonio Brown or Julio Jones.  Baldwin’s eliteness doesn’t come with 10 force-fed targets per game.  Indeed, until his supernatural run in the second half of last season, where – starting with the Arizona game – he caught 12 of his 14 touchdowns, and 724 of his 1,069 yards, Doug Baldwin is the LAST name you’d want to see on your fantasy football team!

Baldwin’s value is in how he does more with less.  His efficiency is tops in the game today.  Stick him in Tom Brady’s offense, and he’d put up better numbers than Wes Welker in his prime.  Stick him in San Diego, Green Bay, or pair him with Chip Kelly and any competent QB, and you’d see a guy making many multiple Pro Bowls on his way to a Hall of Fame career.  His proficiency in the slot is top notch, but his versatility to line up anywhere and catch passes anywhere is truly what sets him apart.  When you tack on the Jerry Rice work ethic and his intangible leadership qualities, as a Seahawks fan I can tell you that 4 years and $46 million is a bargain.

But, what does the rest of the nation think?  I’d be curious.  I think the more in touch commentators trust he’s a perfect fit in this system.  But, I have to believe, deep down, the vast majority of the football-viewing public saw this deal and laughed their asses off.  Not that it matters!  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not THAT insecure.  But, I think I’d like to see their faces over the next few years, as Baldwin is firmly entrenched in his prime, with this unequivocally being Russell Wilson’s team – understanding that the mentality will always be run-first, but let’s face it, you don’t keep a cherry red Corvette locked up in storage only to drive it three times a year – the numbers Baldwin will put up will be astonishing.  If Baldwin doesn’t finally make a Pro Bowl in the next four years, I’ll be legitimately shocked.

This deal ensures Baldwin will go down as the second-greatest receiver in franchise history.  Which is appropriate.  He’s already in the top 10 in franchise history in most important figures, and he’s only been here for 5 seasons.  Just imagine where he’ll be when you DOUBLE the number of seasons!  Especially if he takes off, like I think he can.

It Has Been Decided (For Now): Karns To The Bullpen

It was only a matter of time.  You can’t keep running a guy out there who can’t get past the 5th inning.  Not when you’re already rolling with guys like Paxton, Walker, Miley, and Iwakuma, who can all fall apart at any time.  Karns has only been able to mask it to this point with his solid win/loss record, which is mostly due to the high run support he’s been getting.

In his place, Wade LeBlanc gets a shot.  Hard to kill the move given what Karns has given us this year.  In 15 starts, Karns has gone 5 innings or less nine times, including 7 of the last 8 outings.  And, oh yeah, Karns has yet to go beyond 7 innings in a start this season.

On the flipside, the Mariners have two soft-tossing lefties in the rotation named Wade.  While that is almost certainly a Major League record, it CAN’T be a recipe for successful baseball!

Oddly enough, Karns has Karns to thank for not being sent down to Tacoma.  All of his bungled starts have led to the bullpen being over-worked, which has exposed the flaws in that area of our pitching staff, which ultimately has led management to believe Karns is better served in a long relief type role.  If it were up to me, he’d be in AAA trying to figure out how to not walk so many guys the third time through the lineup, and to avoid The Big Inning in general, but beggars can’t be choosers.  The bullpen needs to be improved, and the Major League roster takes precedence over individual player development.

Ultimately, I don’t think Karns is going to hack it as a starter.  He doesn’t really have a change up to speak of, so he’s primarily a fastball/curveball guy.  That’s going to hurt him unless he figures out how to pitch with pinpoint control.  What I’m REALLY afraid of is that he’s not going to hack it as a reliever either.  One would hope he’d gain some velocity while being used in shorter bursts.  But, it’s not like he’s got an out-pitch that’s worth a damn.  He projects more as a Yoervis Medina type than anyone, and as you can plainly see, that’s not a compliment.

Is this the beginning of the end for ol’ Karnsyboy?  My guess is:  yes.

Will Wade LeBlanc be the man to right the ship?  My guess is:  HURRY BACK FELIX!

Mariners Keep Throwing Shit Against The Wall, Desperate For Some To Stick

There have been a TON of moves this month, as the Mariners have tried to replace struggling players, have tried to overcome an over-worked bullpen, and have been dealing with a grip of injuries.  So, where do I begin?

Triple-A short stop Chris Taylor was traded to the Dodgers for a similarly-disappointing prospect, in Triple-A starter Zach Lee.  Lee went directly to Tacoma where he’s made one start so far, going 6 innings and giving up 5 runs in about what you’d expect the Mariners would get for someone like Chris Taylor.  Taylor, on the other hand, just got called up to the Dodgers today, making his first start for them, going 1 for 4 with a triple and a run scored, because fuck me.  Fuck us.  Fuck every God damn one of us.

The Mariners made another trade last week, getting starting pitcher Wade LeBlanc from the Blue Jays for Cash or a Player To Be Named Later.  LeBlanc had been in Triple-A for Toronto, putting up some pretty solid numbers, which leads me to believe that he’s better than everyone the Mariners have in Tacoma right now.  That goes double since Adrian Sampson – who made one start for the M’s in Boston last week – injured his arm and is out for the year.  So be it.  At least LeBlanc looked good, shutting out the Cardinals over 6 innings last Friday.

I don’t know if he forces the hand of the Mariners, but right now – believe it or not – there’s actually a numbers crunch in the rotation!  Count ’em out:  Kuma, Paxton, Walker returns this week after getting skipped in the rotation to rest his leg, Miley returns this week after making a start in Everett, and Karns is still a thing that exists for now.  That makes five, with LeBlanc possibly busting down the door.  I don’t know if one quality start is enough to supplant someone like Karns, but this may be more of a case of a guy playing his way OUT of the rotation, rather than LeBlanc playing his way in.

Of course, there’s also the bullpen to think about, running an absurd 8-deep at this point (with Aoki trying to regain his stroke in Tacoma).  The usual suspects are still hanging in there – Cishek, Benoit, Montgomery, Nuno, Vincent, Diaz – with Donn Roach and David Rollins currently rounding it out.  Roach pitched twice over the weekend, once well, once not so.  Rollins is more of a lefty specialist who has two scoreless appearances to his name so far.

Jonathan Aro got a call up for about a minute, making one scoreless appearance.  Cody Martin got a call up at the beginning of the month, making two appearances and getting a win in that crazy comeback game in San Diego.  Steve Johnson was DFA’d and I have no idea what he’s up to.  Tony Zych was bumped to the 60-day DL to clear room on the 40-man (looking no closer to returning to action whatsoever).  And … who’s that making his glorious return to Seattle?

WHO’S THAT WARMING UP IN THE BULLPEN?

OH MY GOD, IT’S TOM WILHELMSEN!!!

He of the 10.55 ERA with the Texas Rangers was released and refused an assignment with their Triple-A squad, so the Mariners snapped him up and yeah, even he made an appearance last week, pitching a scoreless inning before being sent down to Tacoma to work on his shit.

For what it’s worth, in what was once a multi-person (Wilhelmsen & Kivlehan have since returned to the Mariners’ organization for nothing) trade with the Rangers for Leonys Martin, it’s now turned into a straight up James Jones for Leonys Martin swap, which is a fucking STEAL for the Mariners rn.

Anyhoo, does everyone got it?  Are all those transactions registering?  Is your head swimming like mine?  At this point, it’s WAY too early to make assumptions that any of these moves are going to work or not work.  But, I think we can all agree this shitty month of June has made the Mariners as desperate as can be.  It’d be nice if at least a COUPLE guys went right.

The Mariners Finally Won A June Series!

I’m really struggling to maintain my want-to when it comes to watching the Mariners.  Is it because the season is insanely long?  I think that certainly plays a part in all of this.  If this were the NFL season, we’d already be 3/4 of the way through, with the month of July left to decide playoff standings.  Wouldn’t that be great?  If the baseball regular season ended at the end of July?  Knock out the MLB playoffs in August, and then BOOM, NFL season is here?  Wouldn’t that be something?

Instead, we’re not even fucking halfway through the God damn regular season, with the playoffs/World Series stretching into cocksucking November!

I would also fancy to guess that had the Mariners not completely shit the bed in the month of June, my interest would be a little more focused.  As it stands, the Mariners went from bona fide contender to Middle of the Pack over the last four weeks, and now it’s time to see what this team is really made of.

The Rangers are running away with the A.L. West, the Indians have started to separate themselves in the Central, and the Orioles are up a good chunk in the East.  Those are your teams to beat in the respective divisions.  Then, for the two Wild Card spots – for a chance to play an inane 1-game playoff to get into the REAL playoffs – you’ve got 8 teams all within 2.5 games.  Out of the 15 teams in the American League, there are only 4 that you could argue are officially out of the playoff hunt (at least 8 games out of the Wild Card), but any of those teams could run into a hot streak and make a case for contention.

It makes the July 31st trade deadline especially premature and especially stupid, but what are you gonna do?

The Mariners, for their part, tried to stem the tide of sucking by taking 2 of 3 against the Cardinals this weekend.  Friday’s game required a miracle 3-run homer by Lind in the bottom of the 9th inning to walk it off; Saturday’s game required a Herculean effort out of the bullpen to keep it scoreless over the final four frames.  Which made it not-at-all shocking that the team had nothing left in the tank on Sunday, whose over-used bullpen (rocking an extra arm thanks to the ineptitude of the starting pitchers this month, at the expense of Nori Aoki, who somehow still had options left) gave up a whopping 6 runs to keep the game out of reach.

Today is a much-needed home off-day before the stand continues with a short series against the Pirates and then a long series against the Orioles.  We’re just a couple weeks away from a VERY much-needed All Star Break, and a month of July that features three other off-days.

Time for Felix to get healthy.

Time to send Karns down to Tacoma to work on NOT blowing his wad in five innings every start.

Time for Walker to get his calf muscle right for the rest of the season.

Time for everyone to hitch up their big-boy pants and start winning some ballgames!

Oh Hey, Welcome Back Mariners!

Now THESE are the Mariners I’m used to!

Record under .500, double-digit games back of the divisional leader, predictably in third place behind an Astros team everyone and their mothers KNEW would rebound to eventually be good again.  6-16 in June, 0 series wins, 2 series ties, 5 series losses, with two of those being total sweeps, including this most recent 4-game fuckscape in Detroit.  We went 2-8 on the road trip, and get to go home for a heaping helping of bullshit.  If you thought Road Mariners turned into a miserable disappointment, just wait until you get another look at Home Mariners!  Against an organization in St. Louis that’s probably the polar opposite to the one in Seattle (stable, smart, winning, competent, you get the idea).

The team is a disaster.  That’s all there is to it.  We still have at least another month without Felix, and the rest of the starters we DO have are dealing with nagging injuries, terrible, or are terrible while dealing with nagging injuries.  The bullpen is savagely overworked, and not all that great to begin with.  And the hitting is running into some troubles, which had to be expected; they weren’t going to carry this team forever.

I can’t REMOTELY even right now.

This is it.  I’m calling it.  On Friday, June 24th, we’re officially in “Fuck It, When’s Football Season Start?” mode.  The Mariners may hover around .500 the rest of the year (although, at this point, I’ve got my doubts we’ll even be THAT good the rest of the way), and the Mariners will probably even hit a nice little hot patch somewhere in the next three months.  But, this is not a playoff team.

Since they’re reverting back to their Same Ol’ Mariners ways (in this case, not the same ol’ Mariners from the last decade, but rather the same ol’ Mariners from the late 90s that hit a lot but sucked at pitching), I’m going to revert back to my Same Ol’ Mariners Fan ways.  Numb the body, numb the mind, keep those expectations MIGHTY low, attend a few games, try to remember the good ol’ days, and recklessly bitch about this team on Twitter whenever I’ve got a free minute.

I don’t know about you, but my evenings will be spent NOT watching Mariners games (for the most part; as many of you, I can’t help but gawk at a good car accident from time to time).  Instead, I’ll be spending the rest of the summer enjoying my favorite 90s sitcoms.  Newsradio, Married … With Children, a little Roseanne, maybe some Third Rock From The Sun if I can find it.  The world is my oyster!

Thanks for nothing, Mariners!  Glad you could get our hopes up for a couple months before revealing your true form!  Maybe next year you can find a new and exciting way to torture your fans!

The Mariners Appear To Be Slowly Falling Apart

On the heels of Cleveland’s first professional sports championship since 1964, one might think 2016 is a year of endless possibilities.  But, then you remember that Cleveland is only a 2-hour drive away from where Ohio State plays their football and basketball games, and you stop feeling as sorry for a region that’s been laden with as much success in college sports as you could ever want (3 Final Fours in my lifetime, 2 college football national championships in the same span).  When you double down on all the amazing people who’ve met their maker in 2016 (Ali, Prince, Bowie, Shandling, Rickman, Haggard, fuckin’ Abe Vigoda!), and you know without a shadow of a doubt that 2016 is just as shitty as all the other years, probably moreso.

So, no, this won’t be the year the Seattle Mariners end their drought.  This team, as currently constructed, will not make the World Series.  And, if things don’t turn around in a hurry, this team won’t even contend for a post-season spot.

Let’s see, where do we begin?  OH I KNOW THE PITCHING, DUMMY!

Felix Hernandez is just now starting his throwing program.  To this point, while in a boot, he’s only been able to throw while sitting in a chair, so it’s pretty safe to say we’ve got a way to go before he’s back in action.  It’s been somewhat okay, since James Paxton has looked remarkably solid in his first four starts.

But, then there’s Wade Miley.  He was struggling before he went on the DL, and now he’s been replaced by call-up Adrian Sampson, who started on Saturday.  He went 4.2 innings, giving up 4 runs.  It’s hard to say how he looked, mostly because I was busy for the first half of that game and unable to watch him perform.  Plus, he was going up against the Red Sox, who have the American League’s best lineup by FAR.  Probably have to give him a couple starts before you figure out what you’ve got, but by that point Wade Miley should be back, and even then I highly doubt Sampson is going to give you anything better than what Miley could, so whatever.

Which brings us to Taijuan Walker, who has some sort of calf issue that has flared up in multiple games this year, causing those starts to be cut short.  Including the last two times out, including yesterday’s 2-1 nailbiting loss.  Might that game have gone differently with a healthy Walker?  Well, considering he threw 5 shutout innings without the full use of the lower half of his body, and that he was still only at 88 pitches at that point, you have to figure he had at least one more inning in him.  That might’ve saved us from one of the bullpen guys who gave up those runs, and left us in a better position to win it late.  Then again, with the way the Red Sox are all-around great, it probably wouldn’t have made a lick of difference.

Either way, it’s looking like Walker will need to be shut down for a start or two, which means we’ll have to dip even FURTHER into our AAA reserves.  I think it’s putting it kindly (and wildly understating things) that we’re seeing diminishing returns from this market.

Now, with word that Tony Zych isn’t anywhere CLOSE to returning, you have to look at a bullpen that’s average at best.  Edwin Diaz has looked pretty good, but not great, and I’ve noticed an immediate drop in his fastball velocity since his first start.  Was he just amped up for his first Major League appearance, and this is closer to who he really is?  Or, is it something more sinister that we don’t know about?

The hitting is still more or less fine, but it’s not good enough to overcome all the shortcomings on the pitching side of things, and it’s still going to be shut down by dominant pitchers from time to time.

I don’t know what else to say.  There really ISN’T anything else to say!  The Mariners have four games in Detroit this week before a nice, long homestand, with a day off next Monday.  We’ve still got the best road record in the A.L., but it’s dropping.  We’re still 3 games under .500 at home.  And, oh yeah, the stupid fucking Rangers have manhandled everything in their path; they currently hold an 8.5 game lead over us in the West.  Our poor play has even cost us our Wild Card spot, as we’re 2 games out, with the Blue Jays wedged in between us and the Royals.

We’re in a real bad spot right now.  I’m no longer having any fun with this season.  I think it’s almost time to crawl into my hole and wait out the summer until Training Camp starts.

The Mariners Played Baseball Yesterday, Will Play Again Today

Try not to hold this one against me, I got an extra day off today and am thoroughly mailing this in.  Feel free to skip ahead to Monday, where my hangover from the 3-day weekend will surely have me at the top of my game.

The Mariners got out of Tampa with a win yesterday.  This game looked like all the other games this past week – with the Mariners jumping out to an early lead, then hoping to hold on through the end – except Mike Montgomery wasn’t available to pitch, so we were actually able to prevail for once.

This June has been an unmitigated disaster, and if the Mariners are going to try to turn things around and salvage this season, they’re going to need to start performing at all levels, starting right now.  Today.  There’s no help out on the horizon (well, except for some bullpen reinforcements from AAA, who will only be here because the arms we have now are so tired from over-use).  The Mariners are who they are, at least through the end of the month, if not until the trade deadline at the end of July.  So, it’s up to them.  The guys on that 25-man roster.  To right the ship.

This is gut-check time.  This is the part of the season where the contenders separate themselves from the pack.  Yes, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played, but largely your season is decided in these next few weeks.  Will the Mariners be buyers, sellers, or will they just stand pat because there aren’t any good deals out there and we don’t want to mortgage next year, when we’ll still be in that window with all our veterans still playing at a high level?  If the Mariners continue free falling, then who knows?  Maybe the GM & Co. will have a difficult decision to make on the future direction of this team.  If the Mariners start winning again, though, maybe there WILL be help on the way!

I’m not looking for a miracle turnaround here.  I’m not asking for a 15-game winning streak or anything.  Just start winning series again like you used to.  More importantly, let’s start winning these Game 1’s.  Put the other team on the defensive, then all you gotta do is win one of the next two to take the series.  Not greedy, just put together another run of winning series.  The Mariners were great when they were slowly building up their winning record over the course of months; then, they practically gave it all away over the next few weeks.  Let’s get back on that horse, let’s start climbing that mountain, let’s have a small step for man and a giant leap for mankind, huh?

Happy Friday, everyone!  Fuck the Sawks!

Ichiro Is The Hit King America Deserves

I should start out by acknowledging that this comes from a place of total and complete bias.  I’m a huge Ichiro fan; I bought in from Day 1.  I know, I’m from the Seattle area, and you’d think it could be taken for granted that I’d be a huge Ichiro fan, but as many of you well know, there are PLENTY of local haters in the area.  Mariners fans who don’t understand Ichiro, who like him well enough but like to mock him just as often, or who simply dislike Ichiro and everything he stands for.  You’ll find plenty of Mariners fans who think Ichiro is a me-first prima donna – and maybe he was!  I have no idea.  All I know is that Ichiro is the greatest right fielder the Mariners have ever had – which is saying something, considering I was also a pretty huge Buhner fan.  Ichiro was a 10-time All Star in his first 10 seasons in the Major Leagues, a 10-time Gold Glover in the same period, a 3-time Silver Slugger, and an American League MVP and Rookie of the Year in the SAME SEASON.  If you took just his 11.5 seasons with the Mariners, right there you’ve got a Hall of Famer, discounting all that came before and all that’s come since.  How you couldn’t at least appreciate him for what he was, I’ll never understand.

He wasn’t Griffey.  He wasn’t some middle-of-the-order power hitter.  And, as a leadoff man, he didn’t even walk all that much.  But, he was (and, apparently still IS) a hitting machine, a guy who could steal you an elite number of bases (anywhere from 26-56 in his first 12 seasons), a guy who played flawless outfield defense, and oh yeah, a guy who also had a rocket arm.  The sheer number of runs he saved this team, by either chasing down balls, throwing runners out, or more importantly, preventing runners from advancing an extra base, has to be staggering.

Ichiro was the whole package, minus the power.  And, in an era where MLB contracts just started to get into the ridiculously staggering levels they are today, Ichiro never really felt like a burden financially.  He had 4 years with the Mariners where he averaged $17-18 million per season.  Over his entire Mariners career, he averaged approximately $12 million per season, which feels about right.  Hell, for a Hall of Famer, it feels like a BARGAIN!

On the All Time Mariners list, here are some of his ranks:

  • WAR – 3rd, behind Griffey & Edgar
  • Batting Average – 1st, at .322
  • OBP – 9th, at .366
  • Games Played – 2nd, at 1,844 (behind Edgar)
  • Runs Scored – 2nd, at 1,176 (behind Edgar)
  • Hits – 1st, at 2,533
  • Doubles – 3rd, at 295 (behind Edgar & Griffey)
  • Triples – 1st, at 79 (next highest has 48)
  • Stolen Bases – 1st, with 438 (next highest has 290)

I don’t care what anyone says, Ichiro in his prime was undeniably great.  And, now he’s back in the news.

Yesterday, he passed Pete Rose for most hits as a professional, with 4,257 and counting.  Pete Rose, famously, was known as the Hit King, with his 4,256 hits in the MLB.  Of course, to get Ichiro to his number, you have to include the 1,278 hits he accumulated in the Japanese professional league, which many like to denigrate as inferior.  I dunno.  Do they get paid to play the game of baseball?  Is that what they do for a living?

If we’re going to reduce the impact of hits in the Japanese league – likening it to hitting in AAA – then do we get to do the same to the era in which Pete Rose played?  I mean, come on!  Are you trying to tell me the pitchers and level of athlete in the 60s, 70s, and 80s were just as good as they are in the new Willennium millennium?  I’m afraid not, mon frere!  If I had to find an apt comparison for those bygone athletes who chain-smoked, drank religiously, hardly ever worked out, and couldn’t tell you what a “carb” was if their lives depended on it, I MIGHT be so bold and so insensitive as to compare their level of talent and athleticism to those playing in the Japanese league when Ichiro was over there getting his 1,278 hits (but, to be honest, that would be unfair to our overseas friends).

Look, I know these are meaningless numbers.  All of them.  Who cares who has the most professional hits?  If you care, then you’re doing it wrong.  The whole numbers thing with baseball is so pointless, I don’t even know why anyone talks about it anymore.  Didn’t Sosa and McGwire, and then Bonds and A-Rod already make a mockery of the whole thing with their steroids-fuelled abominations?  If you care enough to continue calling Pete Rose the Hit King, then you’re admitting that you condone Barry Bonds as the Home Run King and all that his numbers stand for.

If you’re going to get your panties in a bunch, then I’m afraid we’re just going to have to stop comparing different eras of baseball, because it’s really too much.  If you got in a time machine, pulled Pete Rose out of the 1960s, and had him start his playing career in Japan in the early 1990s, then had him follow a similar career trajectory as Ichiro, would he have become the animal he was in the 70s and 80s?  Or, would this generation’s level of talent and athleticism have overwhelmed him to the point where we’d never know the name Pete Rose?

Sorry ol’ Petey Pants, but I’m not buying it, and I’m not buying you as the Hit King anymore.  Ichiro’s my man!  Ichiro, the erstwhile 27 year old MLB rookie, who later this year is going to get his 3,000th MLB hit (21 away, as of this post), is the single greatest hit machine the sport of baseball has ever seen.  Granted, they may mostly be singles, and he may have a ton of the infield variety padding those stats, but no one said Ichiro is the greatest hitter.  Just like no one said Pete Rose was the game’s best hitter.  If that’s who you’re looking for, then you should probably go grab Ted Williams.  But, the Hit King is a different beast.  And today, that beast goes by the name Ichiro.

Look, America is swell, and it has a lot going for it.  But, America doesn’t need to be the best at EVERYTHING.  We don’t need to make every facet of our lives about who has the biggest cock, okay?  On this one, Japan gets to hold the record.  It’ll be all right!  America will still be good at other things!  Like mass gun murders!  And electing worthless, pieces of shit to be our political leaders!  And obesity, probably!

America:  All These Things & More! (just not the Hit King).

Who Are The Real Mariners?

I use this logic a lot when I’m describing a team:  good teams find a way to win close games.  Conversely, bad teams find ways to lose those games.  In the first two months, by and large, the Mariners were finding ways to win those 50/50 games they would’ve lost in years past.  In June, where we’re halfway through and the Mariners are already 4-9, the Mariners are finding every way imaginable to lose the games they were just winning a few weeks ago!

Last night, the Mariners did everything right.  They jumped all over a good pitcher early, locking in a 5-2 lead before Walker fell apart and had to be pulled due to an achilles injury.  Still, it was 5-4 heading into the 7th inning, and you know what?  That should be enough.  The bullpen has one fucking job.  Each guy in that bullpen, ALL they have to do, is get somewhere between 1-3 batters out when you’re at that point in the game.  Generally:  one guy pitches the 7th, one guy pitches the 8th, and Cishek comes in to close it out in the 9th.

HOW FUCKING HARD IS IT TO GET THREE HITTERS OUT?

A one run lead heading into the 7th should just be a victory for your team, period.  If you can’t hold that down, then you have no business playing in this league.

But, fine, you know what?  The Mariners did this bullpen a huge favor by tacking on TWO MORE runs in the top of the 7th!  So, a 1-run lead became what should’ve been an insurmountable 3-run lead, and at this point you’re just TRYING to give away baseball games if you blow a 3-run lead with three innings to go!

So, in trots Nick Vincent, he of the 87 mph fastball that lopes gently across the plate; it’s a wonder how he’s not hit harder more often.  He, of course, gave up a hit and a walk before allowing the game-tying 3-run homer, and it was all academic at that point.  Mike Montgomery came in and proceeded to suck the dick of everyone in the Tampa Bay Rays organization, and what was once a sure-thing victory turned into yet another demoralizing defeat.

Did you know the Mariners are winless in the last five games decided by 1 run?  That, of course, is dating back to the series with the Twins, where all this misery started in the first place.  So, what is it?  Who are the REAL Mariners?  Was it the team rocking and rolling through most of the first two months of the season?  Is that team just hitting a rough patch?  Or, are THESE the real Mariners?  And THESE Mariners just happened to have been playing an unsustainably-good brand of baseball for the first 8 weeks of the season?

I’m afraid I’m out of answers on this one.  Trying to figure out the Seattle Mariners makes my head hurt.

Again, I hate to be a broken record, but I have no problem whatsoever with the hitting.  Granted, the Mariners were 3 for 14 with runners in scoring position last night … BUT THEY SCORED SEVEN FUCKING RUNS!  I don’t give a SHIT how they score them; if they’re consistently averaging over 5 runs per game, they’re doing their jobs!  If they score SEVEN runs in a game, they should damn well win that motherfucking game!  So, shove your devil’s advocate argument up your fucking asshole, because I’m not buying it!

This is all on the pitching, which is – for the record – the part of the team that was most overhauled in the offseason.  I’ll praise Jerry Dipoto until the cows come home for the way he invigorated the lineup and our defensive presence; but by the same token, you have to criticize him a little bit for the way the pitching was handled.

If you even want to call Iwakuma a “positive” presence on this team, then I’ll give you that, but you’ve got to give ME the fact that Dipoto was lucky to have him fall in his lap.  Iwakuma was all but a Dodger until they backed out of the deal, at which point suddenly Mariners ownership found a few extra sheckles to give him a deal.  But, I wouldn’t say that was Dipoto working his Dipoto Magic.

Wade Miley has been a disaster to this point.  That’s not to say he won’t turn it around, but halfway into June, Miley sucks.  To get him, we gave up a young, cheap starter with lots of club control (Roenis Elias, who by the way, we’ll be seeing start against us when we hit Boston this weekend) and a potentially-elite reliever in Carson Smith, who is awesome when healthy (and also cheap, with lots of club control), but obviously hasn’t been this year.

I’m not actually mad at the Karns deal at all.  I’ll give Dipoto a pass on this one, considering he got Karns by trading away a lot of our garbage from the previous regime (Brad Miller, LoMo, and Danny Farquhar).  Karns still has upside, and/or could be trade bait for someone better in the short term.

That takes us to the bullpen, which was largely overhauled.  A couple of guys haven’t even pitched for us yet, so their injury-plagued seasons are on Dipoto.  Benoit missed a bunch of time, and hasn’t been the lockdown set-up man we all thought he was going to be (he also has a ridiculous salary to boot).  Peralta was a disaster who we kept around for as long as we did due to injuries to other guys.  Cishek has 3 losses and 4 blown saves on his record already.  Nick Vincent has looked okay, but he’s probably not fit for the advanced bullpen role he’s been thrust into.  Am I missing anyone?  I guess Steve Johnson is a thing, and not a very good thing at that.

I dunno.  We’re talking about a lot of guys who are coming off of down years.  The Mariners under Jackie Z were largely predicated on bringing in guys on value deals, who were good TWO years ago, but struggled the year prior, thus why they were so cheap to bring in to begin with.  I hate that line of thinking, even if it’s probably best applied to the bullpen, whose wonky nature will see guys dominate one year, then look like total and complete ass the next year, while largely throwing the same exact stuff (see Benoit, for instance; or see Fernando Rodney in San Diego, who has STILL not given up an earned run, after sucking all ass around town for the Mariners last year).

Are these good Mariners having a bad run, or bad Mariners finally showing their true colors?  I suspect the answer is somewhere in between.  These are the Mariners.  Sometimes they’re going to look like world-beaters, sometimes they’re going to look like the worst team in baseball.  They’re a whole lot closer to being a .500 team than anyone wants to believe, especially considering exactly 3 weeks ago, we were 10 games OVER .500.

I hate sports.