The Mariners Traded For Luis Castillo As They Were Nearly Swept (Again) By The Astros

I can’t wait for the Mariners to sneak into the playoffs as one of the wild card teams, only to get swept by the Asstros in the A.L.D.S.

I don’t want to talk about this weekend series. The Mariners won 1 out of 4 games, and they were LUCKY to even win that. Even worse, Julio Rodriguez went on the IL and Ty France is sitting out a few days, both with wrist injuries that figure to linger the rest of the season. It’s about as low as I can imagine feeling while still technically qualifying for the second Wild Card spot.

Anyway, the deal: the Mariners get Luis Castillo from the Reds in exchange for 4 prospects. Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, Andrew Moore, and Levi Stoudt.

Let’s talk about … the discourse. This deal, of course, happened over the weekend, so the best I could do is follow along on Twitter. It SOUNDS like there’s panic in the ranks of Mariners fandom. And I get it, this is a massive haul of prospects going away. Marte was probably our highest-rated prospect, and word on the street is that Arroyo has the potential to be even better. Two short stop prospects for a year and a half of a starting pitcher?! That’s a lot! To say nothing of the reliever who throws over 100 mph (Moore) and the lottery ticket of a starter (Stoudt).

I’ll just say this and move on: Twitter is a poor example of the general populace. They’re only the most vocal and complain-y members of the populace (and I absolutely acknowledge my very small part in that). But, I think more Mariners fans – especially the most casual Mariners fans – are deeply in favor of this move, because it means we’re FINALLY going for it, after all this time.

It’s the loons who obsess over prospects all the time that really get to me. How many prospects actually pan out and turn into stars? It’s a very small percentage. How many of those same loons pegged Jarred Kelenic as a can’t-miss uber-prospect? Well, I’d say he’s very much missed in his parts of two seasons in the bigs. And I don’t think it looks good for him going forward.

We all figured Marte was on the trade block. We’ve got J.P. Crawford locked up long-term, for starters. And even if Marte is destined to shift over to second or third base, he was probably at least two years away from being in a position to crack our roster. That’s for a guy who, again, is no guarantee. He’s not Julio. Now, he might turn into a very good player, but them’s the breaks. You need to trade some good prospects every now and then to get in some good players. Guys who, you know, will perform well at the Major League level right away.

Arroyo hurts, though. He’s not as highly-rated as Marte – at the moment – but his trajectory suggests his prospect rating is about to explode. He could go down as not just the one that got away, but the really embarrassing folly of this deal. For the two of them, plus a reliever with tremendous potential, plus a starter, again, it seems like the Mariners should’ve gotten more.

At the very least, I would’ve loved to have seen this deal at the beginning of the year, piggybacking on the Winker/Suarez deal.

The rational side of me understands this is what the Mariners need to do. First of all, they need to over-pay for literally everyone, because they’re not the Yankees. We’re all paying that fucking Yankees tax, because everyone in the world over-rates Yankees prospects to the point of insanity (when, in reality, the Yanks are the best in the world at keeping their very best guys, while jettisoning good-looking guys who will ultimately under-perform expectations).

But, moreover, the Mariners have to take this opportunity. To strike while the iron’s hot. Because you don’t get a lot of these chances in the game of baseball.

That being said, the irrational side of me sees this as the Erik Bedard Deal 2.0. Remember that disaster? Remember how the Orioles got marginally better with players we could’ve desperately used to actually contend? What are the Reds going to do with our guys, other than flip them down the road for more prospects, while maybe squeaking into a wild card once or twice?

Here’s the upside, though: Luis Castillo is legitimately amazing! He throws in the mid-to-high 90’s with a devastating change up. He’s been compared to young Felix (given how hard he throws) and veteran Felix (when he wrangled that change into a Cy Young-winning weapon of mass destruction), so I’m conditioned to like this guy!

He’s an ace, period. Now he’s in a rotation with Robbie Ray (shrug emoji), Logan Gilbert, Marco Gonzales, George Kirby, and Chris Flexen. Say what you will – and spoiler alert, I’ve got some thoughts – but that’s a pretty formidable rotation.

We needed another starting pitcher for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, Kirby is going to reach an innings limit and almost certainly won’t get to participate in the playoffs. There’s also talk about pulling back on Gilbert, since this is just his second season – and first full season – in the big leagues. Then, there’s always injuries to contend with. So far this year, we’ve seen the injury bug hit our bullpen pretty hard, and our everyday lineup a fair amount. But, our rotation has been wildly, unsustainably healthy through four months. I think everyone expects that to change at some point; at least now we’re better prepared. I shudder to think who might’ve stepped in had we not brought in Castillo.

He also gives us the best opportunity to make a significant impact at the deadline. If you’re like me, then you’re pretty sure the Mariners either don’t have what it takes to wrestle Juan Soto from the Nationals, or they’re not willing to do what it would take. My hunch is, what it would take starts with a Julio Rodriguez and goes from there. There just aren’t a ton of great bats out there! The best addition we’re likely to see is Mitch Haniger when he comes off of the IL.

What happens if we trade for a bat, and he’s like so many other guys we’ve brought in? Either he’ll need an adjustment period to get used to playing half his games in Seattle, or he’ll downright fucking suck his entire time here. We’re just as likely to see positive regression from the guys already on our roster (Winker, Frazier, Suarez) than we are to see a vast improvement from some outside bat (again, if you believe Soto is unreachable). So, I’m cool going this route and holding off until the offseason before addressing the offense again.

This team lives and dies with its pitching. That’s also – not for nothing – what most of the very best playoff teams do. If we’re going to make any kind of noise in the postseason, we need monster pitching (which is why I hope we make moves for another ace reliever or two).

I have high hopes for Castillo. He’s been elite even in that bandbox they play in over in Cincy. I’m a little annoyed that his first two appearances in a Mariners uniform are going to be against the Yankees and Gerrit Cole, but here we go! We’ll get a great look at how his stuff is going to play. If he comes in on fire, I think that bodes well for this year and next. If he struggles, then I think we’re going to be justifiably concerned. We HAVE guys who can dominate the Rangers and A’s; we need someone to take down the Yankees and Astros!

If he pans out, there’s nothing that says we can’t extend him beyond next year. If the Mariners are out of contention next season – and an extension doesn’t look likely – we can always flip him at the deadline. But, otherwise, heading into 2023, our rotation looks set, and it looks pretty fucking great. Castillo, Ray, Gilbert (with the training wheels fully off), Marco, and Kirby (who should be that much stronger in his second season in the bigs).

In the short term, that’s it for the Cheating Astros for the regular season. God willing, we won’t have to see them again until 2023. Don’t think they’re cheating anymore? Well, don’t tell Robbie Ray that, because they seem to be tipped off to what he’s throwing, better than most other teams in the A.L.

Pay That Myan Hees Munny: D.K. Metcalf Gets A Contract Extension

When in doubt, listen to Teddy KGB.

3 years, $72 million, with $30 million of that as a signing bonus, and just over $58 million guaranteed. It’s the highest signing bonus of any wide receiver in NFL history, but that’s mostly due to the way the Seahawks like to do business, with no second year guarantees built in.

So, we’ve got D.K. Metcalf through the 2025 season. He’ll still be a relative bargain – assuming he stays healthy – for the next two seasons. Then, in 2024, the contract starts to balloon, and we’ll assume after that the economics of the NFL will come into better focus. Either he’ll have earned another contract extension, or he’ll be cut because maybe he gets hurt or the Seahawks go on a rebuild, or maybe he just plays it out and we see what happens.

I’ll be very interested to see what the wide receiver market looks like after 2024. As we’ve seen this offseason, contracts for wide receivers are exploding. Some of them are downright stupid. What we’re seeing, though, is an unprecedented collection of young, elite wide receivers coming up for deals and getting paid accordingly.

It feels like a bubble, though, right? Every year there are more and more elite young receivers entering the NFL. The rules of the game today make it safer than ever to be a receiver and extend your career. At what point does the NFL unlock the magic system where teams start to realize they don’t need “elite” wide receivers? They just need some good ones, under reasonable contracts. When will Moneyball come to the NFL in regards to this wide receiver gold rush?

In the late 90s and early 2000s, the Denver Broncos showed the rest of the NFL that you could generate a quality running game with pretty much whatever running back you had on hand. If the scheme is right, and your linemen are capable, then it doesn’t totally matter who’s handling the rock. In the years since, we’ve seen running back contracts hit a definite ceiling. You have to be superman Derrick Henry to really set any kind of bar (or you have to have a senile old man running things, in the case of Ezekiel Elliott and the Dallas Cowboys). Running backs are now largely considered to be disposable and interchangable. Teams would rather have a collection of cheap, competent runners – making the lives of fantasy football owners miserable in the process – because of what I stated above, combined with the likely injury risk every running back faces.

In short, the running back bubble burst. I think that’s coming for the wide receivers next.

What we know for a fact is that the quarterback bubble is never going to stop expanding. It’s like the universe itself; it’s just going to keep going and going until the end of time. The quarterback bubble is going to likely expand at a greater rate than the NFL salary cap as a whole expands. So, teams are going to have to find a way to cut costs somewhere. Receiver seems like the most likely best option.

So, I guess, what I’m trying to say is good for D.K. Metcalf! Good on him for being drafted at the right place, at the right time in NFL history! Good for him being so elite!

Now, he’s gotta catch balls from the likes of Geno Smith or Drew Lock. Now, he’s gotta suffer through an uncertain quarterback future where a likely rookie takes over in 2023. Now he’s gotta try and help us bridge the gap between Russell Wilson and whoever our next elite quarterback ends up being.

My guess? D.K. Metcalf won’t be here the next time the Seahawks have an elite quarterback. That’s just playing the odds, though.

TL;DR, do I like the move?

This is one of those I struggle to have a strong opinion about. The pure, raw, emotional fan in me likes having D.K. Metcalf in a Seahawks uniform because he’s so damn fun to watch. I’ve been on him since the day we drafted him, and he’s yet to let me down. And, as we enter this period of shaky quarterback play, I know for a fact that this offense is going to be a fucking bummer to watch week-in and week-out. Give me SOMETHING to look forward to. If football is supposed to be entertainment, then from a pure entertainment perspective, there’s no one else like D.K. Metcalf on this team. His bigtime catches, his bruising playing style, his ability to get under the skin of opponents: inject it all into my veins.

The rational, analytical fan in me, however, wonders what the point is. Are we rebuilding or not? The team would never admit to such a thing, but it seems clear with the quarterbacks we’ve got on the roster that we’re not REALLY playing for 2022. It’s obvious to anyone with half a brain that – unless they make a deal for Jimmy G – the plan is to use a high draft pick next year on our quarterback of the future.

So, what we’ve done is effectively signed D.K. Metcalf through his prime years. He’s never going to be much better than he is right now. He might be smarter, more savvy. But, the combination of athleticism and speed is never going to be better than it is right now. For one of those prime years, he gets Geno/Drew throwing somewhere in his vicinity. For another of those prime years, he gets a rookie (who will likely be playing with training wheels, like Russ did for much of 2012). Then, we’ll see, but we know for sure that half of his remaining years here will be a struggle.

How will that affect his psyche? How will he respond on the sidelines? I don’t care who you are, when you make a name for yourself in the NFL and start getting paid at near the top of the market, you get a big head. It happens to everyone. And wide receivers are fucking divas, man. That’s just the way it is. When will he get disgruntled and start making scenes because he’s not getting the ball enough? You know it’s going to happen. Is this all going to be pointless, because he’s never going to be part of the next great Seahawks team, whenever that ends up being?

And, of course, the dynasty fantasy football owner of D.K. Metcalf is annoyed because his value is effectively decimated. I just have to hope that he gets enough TD opportunities throughout the years to make up for his dearth in actual receptions.

Overall, though, I think I’m more happy that he’s here and I get to continue watching him every week. I also do see the value in not totally bottoming out from a talent perspective. Having guys like D.K. around keeps everyone else engaged and trying hard. It shows that – in spite of our terrible QB situation – we’re still interested in turning things around and ultimately winning it all. It’s just going to require some patience.

That having been said, my philosophy hasn’t changed either. If I had my druthers, we’d be constantly running it back with the likes of Doug Baldwin, Jermaine Kearse, and Golden Tate. Give me mid-tier guys with good hands and clean route running over a monster #1 receiver. What’s good for fantasy football isn’t always good for winning NFL games.

Thankfully, I don’t expect the Seahawks to win too many of those over the next year or two. So, the least we can do is have some fun watching D.K. Metcalf make opponents’ lives miserable.

The Mariners Swept The Rangers After Being Swept By The Astros

Even weirder: the Astros just got swept by the Athletics after sweeping the Mariners. Baseball is idiotic.

Oh, what a difference a Julio Rodriguez makes!

He didn’t return in time for Monday’s game. But, the impact he made on Tuesday and Wednesday is pretty gargantuan.

Monday’s game was a run-of-the-mill 4-3 victory. Chris Flexen went 6 innings, giving up 2 runs. The offense manufactured a couple runs in the fourth, before Ty France hit a solo bomb in the fifth, with Santana beating out a fielder’s choice (avoiding the double play, in other words) to add an insurance run in the seventh. Diego Castillo didn’t have very good command – needing 22 pitches to get one out in the ninth, while giving up a solo homer to give the game its final score – but Erik Swanson only needed three pitches to get the final two outs for his second save of the year.

Tuesday’s 5-4 victory was anything but run-of-the-mill. George Kirby returned from his mini-sabbatical, tethered to a pretty severe pitch count as the team ramps him back up. He was expected to throw 60-70 pitches (thinking maybe 3-4 innings of work), but he only needed 51 pitches to make it through five innings, to potentially qualify for the victory. He looked outrageously impressive; sharp with his command, and nasty with his 2-seam fastball moving all over the place. All told, he gave up 2 hits and a walk, while striking out 4 and giving up 0 runs.

The aforementioned Julio Rodriguez returned for this one and homered in his first at bat of the game. The Mariners continued to make the Rangers’ starter work as we got another run in the same inning. It looked like he might get knocked out early, but those were the only two runs the Rangers’ starter gave up.

It was 2-0 heading into the seventh, before Texas closed the gap to 2-1. However, Cal Raleigh homered in the bottom half to make it 3-1, and seemingly pave the way to a safe and sound M’s victory. Not so fast, though, as Paul Sewald got two quick outs before suffering some insanely bad luck. Well, the two walks weren’t “bad luck” so much as “bad command”. But, the 2-run double to tie the game looked like it was going to go foul before bouncing the opposite way – just inside the first base bag – as if it was deflected by an invisible tennis racket or something.

Erik Swanson came in for the top of the ninth – game still tied – but the Rangers worked him over for a run to make it 4-3 heading into the bottom half. That’s when the offense got going again. J.P. Crawford led off with a single, followed by a Cal Raleigh double to tie it at 4-4. Adam Frazier sacrificed Cal over to third, and with one out on the inning, the Rangers did the sensible thing: they intentionally walked both Julio and Ty France to load the bases.

Unfortunately for them, we had Carlos Santana in the 3-hole. Having a veteran, professional hitter to take that spot means the world to this organization. Santana worked the count to his favor, then got a ball he could drive to center. It was JUST deep enough to score Cal on a tag-up from third base (after video evidence on replay review confirmed he didn’t leave early).

That set the stage for Wednesday’s afternoon sweeping, 4-2. Marco Gonzales gave up 2 runs in 7 innings (4 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts), though we were down 2-1 heading into the bottom of the seventh. That’s when the magic man did it again.

With one out, Cal walked and Sam Haggerty doubled to put runners on 2nd & 3rd. Instead of intentionally walking him again, the Rangers left their starter in there to face Julio, who made him pay with a 3-run jack to make it 4-2. Swanson and Munoz combined to endure the eighth, and Matt Festa worked the ninth for his second save of the season.

In hindsight, I don’t see how anyone pitches to Julio in that situation ever again, especially with first base open. The Rangers even had the benefit of not having to face Ty France, who was getting the day off to rest a sore wrist. I don’t know how likely it would’ve been to see him pinch hit, but it sure seemed like the M’s wanted him to rest ahead of our trip to Houston (first game later today). Regardless, you love to see two players of the calibre of J-Rod and France hitting back-to-back like that. Pick your poison, man! Or, walk them both and still have to go up against a professional hitter in that 3-hole.

I can’t tell you what it means to our season to not have fucked away this Rangers series after faceplanting against the Asstros last weekend. Now, we play those Asstros again, followed by the Yankees, which could make for a very LONG next seven days.

Bummer: Chris Carson Retired

It was announced yesterday that Chris Carson has retired. Really, it’s more of a medically-induced forced retirement, because I would say if it weren’t for a spinal injury, he’d have many more yards left to gain.

Carson packed a lot into his 5-year career. Even though he was a 7th round draft pick, you could tell right away that this was a different type of running back. He came to us in kind of a fallow period for Seahawks running backs. 2015 was Marshawn Lynch’s last year here, but by then Thomas Rawls appeared to be the heir apparent. That was short-lived, as 2016 was not only a step-back for him, but for the entire running game, with Christine Michael leading the way with less than 500 yards. 2017 was a running back nadir for this team; Russell Wilson led the team in rushing with 586 yards, and the next guy on the list was Mike Davis with 240.

However, even though Carson finished his rookie season with only 208 yards, he made quite an impression. It was unfortunate that his year ended with injury after 4 games, because if he’d stuck around, he surely would’ve propped up the entire running back room with his powerful running style.

Carson returned mostly healthy in 2018 and had back-to-back 1,000 yard seasons. However, he could never quite make it a full year unscathed. By 2020, injuries were starting to encroach more and more, culminating in another 4-game season in 2021, with his neck injury leading us to this point.

He finishes his career 8th in Seahawks history with 3,502 rushing yards. It’s right where you’d expect him to be, with the usual suspects in the top 7: Shaun Alexander, Chris Warren, Curt Warner, Marshawn Lynch, Russell Wilson, John L. Williams, and Ricky Watters all ahead of him. It’s impossible to project where he could’ve ended up had he stayed healthy, because that’s a relative term. Even if he didn’t have this spinal issue, you have to imagine there’d be usual bumps and bruises that would limit him at times.

But, I’ll say this: at his peak, there weren’t many guys I’d rather have on my team. Chris Carson was indeed one of the best running backs in the NFL. Good vision, great size, fierce tenacity to get those extra yards. He was the true heir apparent to Marshawn Lynch, and it’s just a damn shame he couldn’t extend his career out a few more years.

The only frustrating thing about his career was the fact that you never had any idea when it would happen, but make no mistake, you always knew an injury was lurking around every corner. In the early going, I’d cheer like crazy whenever he ran over a guy for a few extra yards. But, by the end, I was wincing every time he took any sort of hit.

In the end, Carson joins a long line of Seahawks legends who’ve had their careers cut drastically short in recent years due to injury. But, ultimately, you can’t risk it. You can’t risk being paralyzed just for the game of football. The note that came out says the Seahawks “took care of him” by … whatever they did when they released him. He’s supposedly getting a few extra million dollars on the way out, which is only right.

The real tragedy of it all is the fact that we could never really build a winner around him. Carson got saddled in a stupid period of Seahawks football, post-LOB, but still with Russell Wilson at the helm. In his five years, we made the playoffs three times, and went 1-3 in those games. And he didn’t even get to be part of the lone victory, thanks to being on IR by that point in the season.

Oh, what might’ve been. Still, I’ll always look back fondly on a punishing runner with sky-high potential.

How Long Will It Take The Seahawks To Find Their Franchise Quarterback?

19 of the 32 NFL head coaches were hired in 2020 or later. That gives you some idea of the kind of turnover we’re talking about in the league. It also gives you a little bit of an idea of how many well-run franchises are out there. The teams with head coaches hired since 2020 by and large haven’t been very good. There are exceptions, of course; Tampa and New Orleans had legit guys either retire or take a year off. But, for the most part, when you think of the worst-run franchises in the NFL – the Giants, Jets, Texans, Jags, Bears, Lions, Commanders, Browns – and even the mediocre franchises – Panthers, Cowboys, Falcons, Dolphins, Eagles, Vikings, Raiders, Chargers – they’re all on this list.

I would say the best-run orgs with new head coaches are the Broncos, Saints, and Bucs. The Broncos just made a huge move to bring in Russell Wilson. The Saints are on year two of trying to replace Drew Brees. And we’re well aware of the Bucs and how they’ve done with Tom Brady.

It’s no coincidence that to win in the NFL – and therefore to be considered a well-run organization – you need a quality quarterback. But, even that doesn’t guarantee anything. Do we think the Bengals are a well-run organization? Of course not. But, they lucked into Joe Burrow, who seems to be a generational talent. Do we think the Cardinals are well-run? No way! But, they’re saddled with Kyler Murray through a second contract, and we’ll get to watch them fail to make a Super Bowl for many years to come. The Titans and Colts have won a lot of games in recent years, but I don’t think either franchise is super thrilled with their quarterback situations.

What I’m trying to get at here is the Chicken/Egg question: are well-run organizations more prone to finding quality franchise quarterbacks? Or, is it the quality franchise quarterback that makes an organization appear to be well-run?

What makes it tricky is the fact that head coaches don’t usually get opportunities to stick around through multiple quarterback changes. Either the coach finds his quarterback, and they make a pact to run it back for a long time, or the coach is brought in after the quarterback is already in place – maybe having underachieved during a prior head coach – and they make a pact to run it back for a long time. But, very rarely – especially in today’s game – do you bring in a coach, and he sticks around beyond the one main guy.

Bill Belichick, obviously, went from Drew Bledsoe to Tom Brady to Mac Jones (we’ll see on how good Jones ends up being). If Mac Jones pans out, I think that speaks very highly of Belichick and the organization as a whole being an environment that’s able to foster quarterback development. But, he’s also the greatest head coach of all time, so what are we talking about here? He’s a one of one. If anyone can do something like that, it’s him.

The Steelers will be an excellent case study, because Mike Tomlin is the second-longest tenured head coach in football, and as a whole they are considered to be probably a top five organization. They’re moving on from Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since Tomlin has been there. If they can turn Kenny Pickett into a star – especially when he wasn’t graded out super-high in this poor overall draft class for quarterbacks – then that’s another notch in the belt of Organization being more important than simply finding a fluke of a quarterback in the lottery that is the NFL Draft.

The Ravens succeeded pretty well in transitioning from Joe Flacco to Lamar Jackson (and even Tyler Huntley balled out in limited duty); the fact that they’ve won as much as they have speaks volumes. The Chiefs obviously hit the aforementioned lottery with Patrick Mahomes, but would he be the consensus #1 quarterback alive without Andy Reid’s system? The Rams certainly took it to another level when they brought Matthew Stafford into the fold, but they were winning at a tremendous clip with Jared Goff of all people. The 49ers have been pretty injury-prone under Shanahan, but he’s definitely built up a solid overall roster, and if Trey Lance hits, I think that’s another feather in his cap.

Clearly, this is all preamble before I talk about the Seahawks. I would put the Seahawks up there – at least in the top 10, if not the top 5 – in well-run organizations. But, maybe that’s mistaken. Maybe that’s the homer in me. After all, we’re talking about the VAST majority of our success coming in years where Russell Wilson was the starting quarterback. Clearly, we fared a lot better when we had a bomb-ass team around him – a bomb-ass team built through Pete Carroll and this organization – but even when the team around him faltered, Russell Wilson kept things afloat, almost by himself.

Before Russell Wilson, it was two years of rebuilding, with mediocre quarterback play (though, to be fair, I don’t know if even Russ could’ve won with the collection of “talent” we had in 2010 and 2011). Now, in 2022, it’ll be just the third season without Wilson at the helm for Pete Carroll & Co.

One thing’s for sure: I don’t believe our next franchise quarterback is on the roster at the moment. Geno Smith is a mediocre quarterback at best, Drew Lock might be even worse, and Jacob Eason seems to be destined for the XFL or USFL or working at a car dealership. Best case scenario, 2022 will be a rebuilding year akin to 2011. If everything goes right and we’re able to build up the roster around the quarterback position, maybe we luck into that franchise guy in 2023 and beyond.

Assuming we don’t trade for Jimmy G – who I would not place in that franchise quarterback bucket, especially since now we’re talking about not one but two teams who’ve given up on him – then we’re talking about 2023 at the earliest. But, even if we’re bad this year – which most people agree that we’ll be in the bottom 10, and maybe bottom 5 – that’s no guarantee that the guy we draft next year will be The Next Russell Wilson, or The Next Fill-In-The-Blank.

Think about all of those teams who’ve hired a new head coach since 2020. You don’t think they tried repeatedly to draft their franchise guy? For some of those organizations, that’s all they ever do! The Bears are STILL trying to find The Next Sid Luckman!

But, I also believe there’s something to the notion that better teams – with a solid foundation in place, both in coaching, as well as personnel – are better able to find those franchise guys, just as they’re better able to win with perhaps sub-par guys (see: the Titans). We’ll find out how true that is with the Seahawks, when they presumably draft a quarterback next year in one of the first three rounds (almost certainly in the first round, but you never know). I think that’ll give us a pretty good sense of what we’re dealing with here. There’s a good contingent of Pete Carroll haters out there – or, at least, Pete Carroll doubters – and I think they’re all of the same mind, that this team needs a breath of fresh air before we go out and find the next quarterback. I disagree. I want Pete Carroll here during these uncertain times. Why? Because he led us out of the wilderness during the LAST period of uncertainty.

Growing up, the Seahawks went from being a relatively well-run organization – through at least the early portion of the Chuck Knox era – to without question the worst-run organization. We were a laughingstock in the late 80s and early 90s. Really, it wasn’t until we hired Mike Holmgren before things turned around. He built us into winners. I don’t think that’s a coincidence, just as I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Pete Carroll was able to do what he did in the last decade. Winners find a way to win. They attract other winners.

Obviously, it’s fair to question whether or not the game has passed Carroll by. I think that’s the argument for a lot of the doubters. We’ll see. I think he’ll get through this year no matter what our record is. Then, I think he’ll get 2023 to see if we can turn things around and start looking competitive again. If we fade in 2023, then I highly doubt he’ll have 2024 or beyond to do anything.

The next two years will say a lot about the question of Organization vs. Quarterback. Can we find and develop the next franchise guy? Can we win with just an okay guy? If not, then there’s no way this doesn’t get blown up by 2024. And if THAT comes to fruition, then who the fuck knows how long it’ll take to find our next franchise quarterback? We could be talking decades!

2024, not so coincidentally, will also likely coincide with the Seahawks potentially being sold to a new ownership group. That’s something else to keep in mind. Maybe that’s a reason to keep Carroll an extra year or two, to make the transition. But, all that uncertainty might make a clean break ideal for all parties, especially if the Seahawks are bottom-dwellers over the next couple seasons.

Same Ol’ Mariners Give Us That Sweet Home Cookin’

Were you getting a little too excited about the Seattle Mariners? Did you watch in awe as they completed one of the hottest streaks in franchise history? Indeed, one of the hottest streaks in MLB history, relatively speaking.

We’ve talked about this before. It’s a bit of a running joke with the Mariners. First, it requires decades upon decades of sucking: check. Then, it requires the M’s to get off to a slow-ish start to the season: check. Next, the Mariners need to play well enough to climb back into contention: check. Usually, this culminates with an impressive streak of wins (though, 14 is truly a bit much), maybe a well-timed series sweep or something, always on the road: check.

Now, the table is set. Sometimes, we get an off-day between games. An extra 24 hours to really sit and relish in our excitement. The Mariners are returning home! Let’s keep the good times rolling! This time, we had four days, the All-Star Break. We were the toast of baseball, our young phenom made a name for himself in the Home Run Derby and for an inning or so during the game itself (when Julio was interviewed while playing on the field). Fan interest was at a fever pitch!

I should also point out that invariably, the team we’re coming home to face after playing so well is almost always the Cheating Houston Astros. If there was ever a team that made you want to give up the sport of baseball and renounce your Mariners fandom in one fell swoop, it’s the Asstros. Whether actively cheating or not, they have our number. It won’t be that way forever, but it kinda feels like it will.

If I could’ve had one victory this weekend, I would’ve chosen Friday’s game. Get me to 15 consecutive wins, with Marco on the hill, in front of a sold out crowd. But, I couldn’t have ANY victory this weekend, as the M’s got completely obliterated. Oh sure, the scores all look close enough, but don’t let that fool you. The Mariners weren’t competitive. There was no point where we were realistically going to win any of these games.

Marco didn’t have it on Friday. He gave up 5 runs in 5.2 innings. The Astros’ starter – the worst in their rotation, and someone we’ve pounded multiple times this year – went 6 innings and gave up 1 run. That’s it. Game. 5-2.

No one had it on Saturday, as Verlander once again dominated us (7 innings, 1 measly run). Logan Gilbert gave us a nice quality start (6 innings, 2 runs), but the offense shit the bed, save a Carlos Santana homer. 3-1.

And Robbie Ray came back down to Earth on Sunday (3 innings, 6 runs). If we were still playing like we did during our winning streak, this would’ve been one for the win column, as the Astros managed to give up 5 runs on the day. However, we were already losing 6-0 through the first six innings before the offense woke up. We lost 8-5 when all was said and done.

It should be noted that Julio Rodriguez was scratched from all three games with a wrist injury. Apparently he hurt it in the Rangers’ series, and proceeded to do all the All Star festivities with it.

Part of me wants to be annoyed by this. Seems irresponsible. Seems like more of a Me First attitude. At the same time, he’s a 21 year old kid, he’s excited for his first All Star Game appearance. He’s trying to make a name for himself and build his brand. He’s literally trying to double his baseball salary on the year. And, he’s got that kind of attitude where he thinks he can do anything, he can succeed in whatever he wants. At some point, if you’re a fan of the kid, you’ve got to take him with all of his exuberance. He’s not perfect.

That being said, I hope this is a learning experience. Because at some point, I don’t think you can help but question his desire to win. What’s more important, a flashy All Star Break, or games against your bitter divisional rivals when you’re fighting for your playoff lives? Every game matters. All 162. They all count in the standings, and when the season’s over, it’s going to come down to just a small handful of them.

In this specific scenario, I wonder if it would’ve mattered. Would he have been 100% healed if he’d skipped the All Star festivities? Can’t say. He very well still might’ve been sore and the team might’ve held him back anyway. Maybe he would’ve been better, but still not 100%; would that have made a difference in the outcomes of these games? Would a Julio at 85% have made up for the 3, 2, and 3-run deficits we lost by? Seems like a stretch. Even if he WAS 100%, I don’t know if it would’ve mattered. We really would’ve needed him to be on fire, mashing all kinds of RBI throughout the weekend. That’s not totally outside the realm of possibility. But, the way the Astros were pitching – and the way we struggled to limit damage in two of the three games – I find it hard to believe he would’ve made a difference. Therefore, I find it hard to blame him for what he did.

I’ll say this, though, I’m going to be more than annoyed if he ends up on the IL. The longer this injury keeps him out, the harsher my opinion is going to be. Because you can’t put the kind of strain on an already-injured wrist that he put it through – with 80+ dingers in the Home Run Derby, to say nothing about all of his practice swings – and not do more damage to it.

The Rangers are up next. Let’s hope we can get right back on track, but I dunno. It kinda feels like we’re about to undo a lot of the good we just did.

The Mariners Are About To Have A Little Bit Of A Roster Crunch

File this under: Good Problem To Have.

You always like to hear people talking about the Mariners having too many good players and not enough roster spots to keep them all. Usually, there are plenty of roster spots for all the mediocre we’ve brought in.

Now, to be fair, there’s still a lot of mediocre. Don’t let the 14-game winning streak fool you; there are still improvements that need to be made. But, regardless, there are about to be some tough decisions (unless injuries happen, which would essentially make our decisions for us).

Kyle Lewis is slated to return today. I won’t know for sure what the corresponding move is slated to be until this afternoon (unless I’m lucky enough to see something come through on Twitter while I write this), but my hunch is that we’ve seen the last of Justin Upton. I’ll be honest, until I looked last night, I forgot he was still on the team. I would say he’s been greatly overshadowed by the addition of Carlos Santana, though there’s been at least a time or two where Upton aided significantly in the Mariners winning some games. But, overall, his numbers are just nonexistent.

Going forward, though, Mitch Haniger is starting his rehab assignment this weekend. According to what I’ve read on Twitter (I think Dipoto was on the Mike Salk program talking about this), Haniger will hopefully return to the Mariners in about three weeks. That, of course, puts us beyond the Trade Deadline – so I’m assuming plenty of moves will be made in that span – but it’ll be interesting to see whose roster spot Haniger ends up taking.

The first question on my mind is: does the return of Haniger and Lewis mean the Mariners won’t be looking to add an outfielder over the next week and a half? Even with Haniger and Lewis being part-time outfielders for a bit – until they get more acclimated (though, I don’t think Lewis will ever be a full-time outfielder again, with his chronic knee issues) – there’s still obviously Julio and Winker, not to mention all the reserve outfielders we’ve got (Frazier, Moore, Haggerty, Toro).

I have to imagine – unless we end up trading Lewis and/or Haniger – the outfield is probably set as is.

There was also apparently talk on the Dipoto interview that Ty France might slide over and play some second base. That would allow Santana to play at first (when he’s not DHing), and give this team the option to DH one of those four outfielders. I don’t know how much I love that idea (though, I’m sure it would be far from an everyday thing), but if it gets all of our best bats in the lineup, maybe we can make it work. I would recommend NOT doing that on days when Marco Gonzales is pitching; save the France At Second experiment for when we have more of a strikeout guy on the mound.

There would be a further roster crunch in this scenario as well, if the Mariners end up trading for an improved second baseman. As it is – barring further injuries – it would seem to me Adam Frazier’s role on this team is going to diminish considerably. It would reduce to pretty much off the team if we trade for a quality replacement. So, maybe the Mariners are going to be on the hunt for a taker for Frazier, regardless of what we get in return.

I don’t think this is true at all, but it almost seems like the Mariners are going to stick with the offense we’ve got. Dipoto did mention that our highest priority is probably going to be adding to the pitching staff, which I agree with. But, you’re asking a lot of that pitching staff to have to continue carrying this team through the end of the season, without any improvements on offense whatsoever.

Ultimately, I’m left wondering what the future is for Toro. He’s still under control for four more years after 2022. From what I’m told, the Mariners really believe in his bat, but I can’t fathom what they’re basing that on. His track record has been underwhelming – except for a month or so after the trade to bring him in last year – and he doesn’t seem to be getting any better with increased playing time this year. He doesn’t hit for power, he sure as shit doesn’t hit for average, and his on-base percentage isn’t at all impressive. His biggest asset seems to be his team control, his inexpensiveness, and his ability to play multiple positions.

But, you know who else has all of that, and has actually produced at the plate? Sam Haggerty. You know who ELSE has all of that, and is still better than Toro (even if he’s no great shakes)? Dylan Moore.

What it’s almost certainly going to boil down to is who has minor league options left. If we can still send Toro down to Tacoma without running him through waivers, then I think that’s the ideal option for everyone involved. But, if Toro is out of options, then it’s clear you’re sending someone down who is vastly superior, which this offense can’t afford (unless, again, we trade for a significant upgrade).

A lot of this could be moot by the time we’re done with all the trades in the next week. But, put me firmly in the camp who’s over Toro, and would rather see his roster spot go to someone who has actually produced, and not someone who simply has potential.

How The 2022 Mariners Compare To The 2021 Mariners

I can’t remember specifically when I did this last, but I do remember that it was highly negative. At that time, the offense was so poor, we were looking dreadful by comparison to last year’s team that won 90 games. Now that we’ve turned everything around – and now that we’re at the All Star Break – I think it’s cool to look and see how much better things appear.

Before I get to that, it should be noted that the Mariners just suck in the month of May. According to the trends, that’s something that carried over in spades. Last year, we were 13-15 with a -43 run differential (on the year, we were -51 in run differential, which is a crazy-high percentage of our overall run differential in one month’s time); this year, we were 10-18 with a -25 run differential (on the year, we are +36, or +61 in all months besides May). In April & June of last year, we were five games over .500; in April & June of this year, we’re four games over .500.

Of course, the biggest difference so far is the month of July. Last year, we were 14-10; this year, we’re 14-1. Our best month last year was September, when we went 18-8; it would be a considerable disappointment if this July ends worse than last year’s September.

I seem to recall the last time I did this comparison, we were right around .500 in one-run games. Well, we’ve since improved to 21-12. We’re 9-1 in one-run games in this current 22-3 streak we’re on, which seems to jibe with that. We’ve also improved to 14-8 in blowouts (games decided by 5+ runs), which again is a huge improvement over last year’s 11-28 record in such games.

The craziest thing so far is that based on our +36 run differential, we’re right where we would be expected to be recordwise, at 51-42.

Our ERA is improved: 3.53 over 4.30. That corresponds to our opposing batting average and WHIP both being a tick better than last year. Even better, our hitting has gone up. We were, I believe, dead last (or very close to it) a month ago. Now, we’re 11th in BA (.236), 4th in OBP (.319), and 7th in SLG (.390) in the American League, which is good for 6th in OPS (.709). Last year, we were last in BA (.226), 14th in OBP (.303), and 14th in SLG (.385), which was good for 14th in OPS (.688). This is very encouraging! There’s still almost half a season left to improve upon those numbers! There’s also still almost half a season left to regress back to where we were last year, but that’s neither here nor there.

Something that feels very similar this year compared to last is the perceived unsustainability of it all. Teams with negative run differentials like we had last year don’t win 90 games very often. Likewise, teams this … average when it comes to talent on paper, they don’t regularly win 22 out of 25 games. It’s taken quite a mammoth effort to improve to where we are now, compared to where we were just a month ago. Now, you can argue this is a better team than it was a month ago, and I won’t fight you on it. But, where does the truth reside? Are the 2022 Mariners closer to what they were in mid-June? Or, are they closer to where they are now, in mid-July? Because that will determine where this team goes the rest of the season.

Are the Mariners fundamentally improved, through sheer development of younger players and positive regression of veterans? Or, have they just been unsustainably lucky this past month, and will revert to being more of the .500 ballclub we all expected them to be when the season started? Maybe this year is just one of those wild rollercoaster rides, where we experience dark lows and joyous highs, but we ultimately end right around 81-81.

Maybe it’s the homer in me, but I tend to see the positive in this team going forward. That doesn’t mean I see this .880 winning percentage continuing indefinitely. But, to get back to 90 wins, the Mariners just have to go 39-30 the rest of the way. That’s extremely do-able. Not only because of the development of the young players or the positive regression of he veterans, but because of the guys we’re soon to see return from injury, not to mention whoever we end up trading for by the deadline later this month. I have every reason to believe we can get back to 90 wins. In fact, I think that’s a number we’re likely to surpass. And, if that’s the case, I think the playoffs are a mortal lock, barring a disastrous string of poor injury luck.

What Should The Mariners Do At The Deadline?

There are three schools of thought: trade for more Major League-ready (albeit shorter-term) talent, trade away our Major League talent for more prospects, or stand pat.

The Stand Pat option is the least-satisfying one, not to mention pretty psychologically damaging to the mental well-being of the players and coaches in that clubhouse (not to mention to us as fans). While I’m sure they’re very confident in each other and their own abilities, even the biggest World Series contenders could always use a little help in some key areas. That being said, the Stand Pat option also might not be the worst one of the three, though I couldn’t possibly advocate for it here.

You only get so many bites at the apple, as they say. If you’re not doing everything in your power to take advantage of the opportunity your strong play has created, then you’re just not doing your job as a General Manager. This is especially true in baseball, since it’s so damn wonky.

Maybe I’m just spoiled by following the Seahawks, but it seems like in the NFL – as long as you have a top tier franchise quarterback – you’re always going to be in contention for a playoff spot. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything when it comes to making the Super Bowl – you need so many things to go right for that to happen – but you frequently see teams with quality quarterbacks go on hot streaks at just the right time.

With baseball, I think you see teams catch fire in the playoffs even more often; the key is simply getting there. What do we remember about the Mariners from 1995-2003? A lot of good, right? All of our post-season appearances took place in this period of time. But, in those 9 seasons, we actually made the playoffs only 4 times (heartbreakingly, we won 93 games in 2002 and 2003, yet failed to reach the post-season). What happened those other five years?

Well, we obviously had the talented core to put up a lot of great stats, and win a lot of ballgames, but we failed in our charge to add to the team when the playoffs were within our grasp. The Pat Gillick years were unmatched in our level of on-field success. But, there’s a reason why he was derisively called Stand Pat. Because more often than not, he did nothing when he should have done something; and the few times he went and made a move, it ended up being the wrong one (hello: Al Martin).

There’s a part of me that sees the level of talent we’ve been able to draft and trade for in recent years, and wants to continue on this course where we have a young, cheap core of players for the next decade. But, there’s absolutely no guarantee that any of the guys in the minors right now will amount to a hill of beans in the majors. Meanwhile, we’ve got some pretty good ones in the bigs right now who need some help around them, if we want to make a dent in the playoffs.

The Mariners are 51-42, right in the thick of the Wild Card hunt. Not just in the hunt, but IN the playoffs, if the season ended today. Our current playoff odds place us at 80% to make it; I couldn’t possibly tell you the last time it was that high! Probably 2003.

As such, it makes zero sense to ship off our veterans for more prospects. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen. I could see maybe one or two veterans getting moved. But, that would almost certainly be in conjunction with bringing in other veterans to take their place. Maybe we find a taker for Adam Frazier; he is an unrestricted free agent next year, after all. But, if we do that, that would probably be because we’ve found a replacement at second base who looks a little more promising, either for the remainder of this year, or hopefully for the next year or two. Maybe we package Jesse Winker with some prospects to help bring in a high-falutin’ outfielder who’s a little less volatile at the plate. Maybe we flip Carlos Santana – now that we’re confident Ty France is healthy – and would rather save the DH spot for Kyle Lewis and Mitch Haniger, to bring them back more slowly when they return.

Really, what needs to happen is what I’ve been alluding to all along: the Mariners need to do (almost) whatever it takes to improve the Major League ballclub, whether or not it’s a combination of veterans and prospects. And, at this point, I don’t think you can afford to leave any stone unturned.

There are obvious guys you don’t deal. You have to keep Julio and Cal. You’re probably locked into J.P. and Suarez given their contracts. And I really don’t think Haniger or France are going anywhere (especially Hangier, given he’s more valuable to your team than he would be on the trade market). On the pitching side of things, Robbie and Marco aren’t going anywhere. You’d probably be idiotic to trade Gilbert, Kirby, or Munoz. And there might literally be a mutiny if you trade Sewald.

But, as far as minor league prospects are concerned, or anyone else on the Major League roster I haven’t mentioned, I think they’re fair game. Now, obviously, this is where Jarred Kelenic comes into question. I don’t think he’s totally fallen off the map when it comes to prospect status – he could still very well turn into a great Major Leaguer. But, there’s no question that his value has taken a significant hit. This is the second consecutive year since he was called up to the bigs where he’s had to spend a good portion of the season in Tacoma. He’s got massive holes in his swing, on top of confidence issues that have left him endlessly tinkering with his approach. Before the 2021 season, you could’ve asked for the moon and stars when it came to a potential Kelenic deal; now, he’d be little more than thrown into a package of prospects to bring in a quality Major Leaguer. It would be Kelenic plus 2-3 other high-level prospects to bring in an All Star.

So, would I do that? It depends on the All Star. I’d love to lock down another premium spot on the field that we’re currently filling with a replacement-level guy. Maybe a corner outfield spot, maybe second base. I would need that guy to come with a big bat that’s not going to falter in T-Mobile Park, nor require a platoon because his splits are so stark.

The question on everyone’s mind is Juan Soto, who apparently rejected a 15-year, $440 million contract extension with the Nationals. He’s under team control through 2024. If he’s turning down THAT deal, then what are we looking at? He’s already earning over $17 million in his first Arb year this year. So, not only are you paying an arm and a leg over the next two years, but you’re probably giving him the biggest contract in Major League history to stay here long term. How do you get that done, and then turn around and extend Julio Rodriguez (who, I would argue, is the higher of the two priorities, in this hypothetical scenario where Soto gets traded to the Mariners)?

Do you just pull the trigger and let the chips fall where they may, hoping you win it all at some point between now and 2024? Do you pull the trigger, give it a couple years, and then maybe trade Soto at some point in 2024 to try to recoup? Do you try to pay both him and J-Rod and just pray you have enough pieces making the minimum around them to continue contending for the playoffs?

Half measures are a great way to win nothing, both in the short and long term. Trading for Soto would be anything BUT a half measure. However, is he enough? It seems to me, you make a Soto deal when you need that final piece to the puzzle (or, if you’re looking for a boost and a superstar to build around). The Mariners have their superstar to build around in Julio. We’re also more than one piece away from World Series contention. If we’re going to drastically trade off prospects to bolster the Major League roster, then I’d like to see them go to other areas of need.

I’d love to trade for another ace-level pitcher, for instance. What does Ray, Gilbert, and Ace 3 look like, when surrouned by Marco, Kirby, and Flexen as a 6th guy/long reliever type? Pretty great, right? Maybe add another reliever or two who throw in the upper 90s with filthy breaking stuff? Can’t have enough relievers! And, I think you can get away with middling another bat, either as an outfield platoon/insurance, or as a starting second baseman, to spare us the combo of Frazier/Toro/Moore.

If we can do that, while not completely decimating our minor league system – to save some prospects for next year and beyond, either to bolster our Major League roster, or to trade for more help – then I think I’ll be happy with the effort put forth to contend in 2022.

I already believe this is going to be a playoff team, barring more injuries. It’s not unfathomable that this could be a team that makes some noise in the post-season. With the right collection of players, and a good amount of injury luck, we might even make the World Series for the first time!

Julio Rodriguez Made The Home Run Derby Fun Again

As Mariners fans, we have a love/hate relationship with the Home Run Derby. Our last entrant was Robinson Cano, who flamed out in 2016. Before that, we had Bret Boone in 2003, who managed a whopping 0 homers, and again in 2001, when he got all of 3 (turns out, when your specialty is hitting them the opposite way, that’s not necessarily the best way to win a derby). We also got Edgar in there in 2000, which I had totally blocked from my memory; even back then he felt out of place. Maybe if you arranged a Doubles Derby or something …

But, then you’ve also got the 1990s, and all the times Ken Griffey Jr. made it fun and relevant. Although, I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t specifically recall any of his three victories. I feel like I must have watched them, but they don’t really stand out except in reruns on ESPN The Ocho.

It’s funny, I couldn’t tell you for sure the last time I sat down and watched the Home Run Derby in its entirety. I’m guessing it wasn’t in 2016, since I didn’t write about it. But, Cano was never built for something like that; I don’t care that he won it all with the Yankees in 2011. Anyway, that’s pretty damning for the derby itself, since there’s literally nothing else going on in sports the week of the All Star Break. Although, it’s hard to blame the event itself. Usually, the Mariners are so mediocre by this point in the season, all I want is a fucking break where I can focus on literally anything BUT baseball.

This year, however, excitement for baseball is back! All it took was a 14-game winning streak, and 22 wins in 25 games!

I know for a fact I haven’t seen the Home Run Derby since they changed it from 10 “outs” to a time limit each round. I don’t know which way I like more. It feels like there’s more urgency when the outs start ticking upward; that makes those runs guys go on feel more impressive. If you’re down to your last out, and you rip off four or five more dingers, that can make all the difference, in a relatively pressure-packed situation! But, on the other hand, we’re definitely getting more bang for our buck with the time limit. Especially over the last three years, we’re seeing higher home run totals across the board, and isn’t that the point? More dingers = more fun & excitement!

It’s a little silly, though, to be regularly tinkering with the rules, because the derby grows stale or whatever. They seem to have a similar “problem” as the Academy Awards: everyone tries and fails to make the event shorter and more popular with the youths of today. There are eight participants, they each get three minutes to hit as many homers as possible. That’s 24 minutes in round one, 12 more minutes in round two, followed by a two-minute final per person: 40 minutes of home run action. So, why does it take three hours to put on this event? Well, everyone gets 30 seconds of “bonus time”, automatically built in. How is it bonus time if everyone gets it? WHO CARES?! Then, you get an additional 30 seconds if – during your allotted three-minute round – you hit two home runs of 440 feet or more. Then, there’s a brief rest period between your round and the bonus time, plus you’re allowed to take a time out during your three-minute round.

Look, I’m not complaining. I’m just saying, if your goal is to make this thing shorter, you’ve got a funny way of going about it. Honestly, three hours feels appropriate for this sort of nonsense.

I will say that it can get a little confusing, as oftentimes they’re already throwing the next pitch before we can even see if the last one went out or not. There were times when the counter was a little slow, so you’ll forgive me if Conspiracy Theory Steven wasn’t on alert when Juan Soto’s total jumped up a few extra homers in the final round out of nowhere.

But, in the grand scheme of things – even in the grand scheme of baseball things – you have to remember none of this means anything. This is the consummate Just Happy To Be There sort of occasion. Did Julio Rodriguez have fun? Did he more than double his 2022 Major League salary by finishing in second place? Did he make a name for himself on a national level, to the point where he even overshadowed the winner? Yes, yes, and yes, and that’s all that matters.

I always forget how irrelevant we are up here in the Seattle area, when it comes to the national perspective. We were pretty well known for our professional football when Russell Wilson was around. In soccer circles, I guess we’re kind of a big deal. But, by and large, unless you live in an A.L. West market, you don’t get to see the Mariners very much. It was funny to hear – even among other baseball players at the event – all the guys who had never seen Julio in person before. Not to mention all the people around the country who had never seen him period!

It’s a shame that ESPN doesn’t cover the sport like it used to. Even in the summer, Sportscenter and the like are focused more on the goings on of the NFL and NBA offseasons. Used to be, you could flip on ESPN in the evenings and see a nonstop barrage of highlights from the day’s MLB games. That would be the opportunity for the rest of the nation to see what’s happening (or not happening) in Seattle. Now, it takes a 14-game winning streak to finally break through; something that happens maybe once a generation.

It’s safe to say, though, Julio Rodriguez made a big impact yesterday. He led off the event by hitting 32 homers, easily defeating Corey Seager, who had 24 (which was the most by anyone in a single round at the Home Run Derby not named Julio Rodriguez, making his the unluckiest of draws). Then, he followed that up by mashing 31 more in the second round, to defeat last year’s winner, Pete Alonso (who looked like he was taking the thing WAY too seriously; do you really need to meditate heading into your turn?).

With the reduction in time for the finals (from 3 minutes to 2), it was disconcerting to see Julio struggle in regulation. He didn’t even qualify for the extra 30 seconds, as he only hit one home run 440 feet or beyond. Still, it was impressive that he managed 18 of them in total, which gave him a glimmer of hope to win it all (since Juan Soto did barely just enough in each of his victorious rounds). It even seemed likely that Julio would win, after Soto struggled through his first minute. But, then he caught fire. And, he managed to unlock the extra 30 seconds that Julio couldn’t, which gave him plenty of time to get that 19th home run during his bonus period.

Kind of a bummer of an anticlimactic ending, but all in all it was super fun to see Julio do his thing. It’s even cooler to witness the world getting their first glimpse of our latest superstar. Julio Rodriguez has already made a big impact on the field for the Mariners this year. He’s a big reason for our success and an even bigger reason for our hope for the future. He’s only missing a couple things so far: he’s yet to take away a home run over the fence, and he’s yet to have that signature at bat that endures the test of time (though, I would say that grand slam against the Rangers – blowing open a game that was only a 1-run lead – was pretty special).

The cool thing, though, is that he’s only 21 years old. He’s got PLENTY of time to make his lasting mark on the game of baseball. Even cooler, now he’s going to have the eyes of the world on him. If anyone can rise to that occasion, it’s Julio.