God Damn I Hate The Fucking Mariners

There’s a show on NBC right now called Community; have you heard of it?  If you have, then you’re probably a super-fan who has watched the show a million times through the first three seasons.  If you haven’t, then you are most of America, and that’s why the show is going to get cancelled.

Anyway, the first three seasons of Community were some of the best, most original seasons of comedy ever produced on television.  Dynamic writing, loony characters, eminently quotable lines you can repeat over and over, ad nauseum, for just about any situation.  Think back to seasons 4-6 of the Simpsons; THIS is the type of quality we’re talking about with the first three seasons of Community.

Then, the show’s creator was railroaded out of there, NBC somehow decided it wanted MORE Community (even though it has never had the ratings needed to succeed on primetime network television), and so NBC hired new show-runners to keep things limping along through a fourth season.

The fourth season has largely been a disappointment.  Whether that’s because the fans have been EXPECTING a disappointment (and thus only seeing what they want to see), or whether the quality of the show has objectively diminished, it doesn’t matter.  The bottom line is, the show isn’t the same.  It isn’t the same because it’s EXACTLY the same.

The great thing about Community is it was always pushing the boundaries of what it could be.  Yes, there were running themes or gags here and there, but this fourth season has relied upon, more than anything else, the success of Community’s past.  And it has suffered for it.  Community used to constantly innovate.  Now, it’s like watching a pale imitation of Dan Harmon’s Community.

I bring this up for two reasons.  First, I’m sick and tired of writing about how much the Mariners suck, so I thought I’d change it up a bit.  Second, you know how fans of Community are tiring of this fourth season because it feels like they’re watching the same ol’ thing dressed up in brand new clothes?  That’s how I feel about watching the 2013 Mariners.  Yeah, there’s a few new players here and there, but they’re essentially as terrible as they ever were.

The main difference between Community and the Mariners is that Community has been something worth watching the last three years.

I think we kind of expected this past weekend to be a trainwreck.  How could you not?  The pitching alone was enough to tip you off!  Saunders, Maurer, and Harang.  In Texas.  With the injury issues we’ve got going on with our offense.  Oh yeah, THIS was a series worth following …

23-3.  That’s the final score of the Texas Rangers over the Seattle Mariners the last three days.  If that was a final score in football, you’d think that was a pretty boring and worthless game.  You wouldn’t be too far off.  The Mariners have won 3 of their last 12.  Because while “it’s still early”, it’s not so early that you can’t take a chunk of the season and show just how pisspoor the Mariners have been over an arbitrary stretch of games.

I hate this team.  I hate almost everything about this team.  I love Felix, and I hate the other 24 guys with a passion.  This fucking team is boring and shitty and pathetic and IT’S THE SAME FUCKING THING EVERY FUCKING SEASON!

The Mariners have 7 wins on the season.  In five of those wins, our pitching held the other team to 1 run or less.  In another, we held the team to just 3 runs.  The same fucking thing:  we won’t win unless our pitching carries us.  Why?  Because let’s face it, Jackie Z hasn’t done his job.

Look, I think I’ve been pretty fucking patient with this man and this approach.  I understand you can’t just hire and fire guys every other year and expect sustained success.  I also understand he took over an organization that was the worst in all of baseball after Bill Bavasi left.  But, honestly, we can’t use Bavasi as a catch-all for what’s wrong with the Mariners anymore.  What’s wrong with the Mariners is that Jack Zduriencik is still the general manager of this team.  What’s wrong with the Mariners is that Eric Wedge isn’t getting anything out of his players.  I’m not saying the players have given up on him; I’m saying that Wedge is pretty much useless and is bringing nothing to the table.

Fuck these people.  Fuck ’em all!  I’m through defending these failing fucks!  The GM failed, it’s as simple as that.  He had a job to do:  evaluate & bring in talent.  He evaluated, he brought in, but ultimately those players don’t have the talent level required to succeed in the Majors.  He failed with Smoak, he failed with Montero, he failed with Ackley.  At best, Ackley’s going to be a league-average hitter with little power who plays decent second base defense.  THAT is a #2 overall pick?  No, it’s not.  It’s a guy you can find anywhere, for the league minimum (the Adam Kennedy Special, is what it’s called).  The #2 pick needs to be a dynamic game-changer!  Not a fucking low-average singles hitter.

This is it.  If this team doesn’t turn things around in the next two months, expect changes.  This team needs these players to start performing NOW.  Not when the season’s half over and we’re in the basement.  Not in September when it’s Glorified Spring Training and we’re playing for draft placement.  NOW.  Fucking RIGHT NOW!  Either it happens now, or it’s never going to happen and this team will be blown up.  Not a moment too fucking soon, if you ask me, because I’m sick and tired of this bullshit.

I swear to Christ, if the Mariners lose this series to the Astros, I’m turning this blog into a Veronica Mars fansite.  DON’T TEMPT ME, MARINERS!

The Last Five Years In Seattle Sports

2008 was the lowest point in Seattle sports.  It was our Absolute Zero.  Rock Bottom.  The total nadir of sports humanity!

It was the primary inspiration for the title of this website.  Take an already-crappy sports city, with practically no history of real success whatsoever, then rain down a million boulders while giving fans only a tiny umbrella to protect themselves.

We did NOT deserve this …

Well, we just finished the 2012 sports year with the 2012/2013 Husky basketball season coming to its conclusion.  As such, I have taken it upon myself to take a look back.  Five years ago, it was 2008; we were just getting started with the worst year ever.  How have things changed with our primary Seattle sports teams?

Seattle Mariners

The Mariners came off of a surprising 2007 campaign that saw them appearing to turn a corner.  Beltre, Ibanez, and Ichiro led the offense.  We hoped that a possible resurrection of Richie Sexson would bring about a further boost.  Two young guns up the middle – Lopez & Betancourt – were proof positive that what we were doing in our farm system wasn’t a complete joke.  Felix was coming into his own.  Losing Weaver & Horacio Ramirez was addition by subtraction.  You figured, with another quality starter, and another bat or two, and we’d be in business!

Well, we know what happened with 2008.  The Erik Bedard trade was a total and complete disaster (though, it went a long way towards the Orioles making their surprising playoff run in 2012).  The Mariners opted to let Jose Guillen walk and replaced him with the corpse of Brad Wilkerson.  Richie Sexson became a local pariah.  And, oh yeah, the other big pitching piece – Carlos Silva – was signed to the single-worst contract in recorded history.  You tack on little things – like J.J. Putz going from the greatest reliever in baseball in 2007, to an injured pile of crap in 2008 – and it all boils down to this team losing 101 games.  The first team with a payroll over $100 million to lose over 100 games.  Everyone was fired; it was brutal.

Enter Jackie Z, who could seemingly do no wrong at first.  He replaced Sexson with Russell Branyan – big upgrade.  He traded Putz for Franklin Gutierrez, who had an amazing season both in the field and at the plate.  We also ended up with Jason Vargas in that Putz deal, who came in and earned his way into the starting rotation.  He brought in Ken Griffey Jr., who wasn’t a total disaster as a DH.  In short, there was an immediate turnaround thanks to God knows what.  Good vibrations?  Luck?  I dunno.  But, this team improved 24 games over 2008 and contended well into the summer.  Everyone thought we’d struck gold!

Then, like some kind of sick fucking plague, every move Jackie Z made to help bolster the 2010 team turned to shit.  Chone Figgins was signed to a 4-year deal and immediately was the worst player in baseball.  Branyan was allowed to walk in favor of Casey Kotchman; Kotchman was terrible and Branyan was brought back in a panic-deal mid-season, because we had the most punch-less lineup in all of baseball history.  Silva was traded for Milton Bradley – which was a move of pure GENIUS until it turned out trading one cancer for another still leaves you on your deathbed.  Griffey was brought back, because HEY!, he hit 19 home runs the year before and it’s not like players suddenly lose all of their ability to swing a bat all at once or anything.

Mind you, just about everything Jackie Z did in anticipation of the 2010 season was believed to be the right thing.  Except for Griffey, but really, if we didn’t make the playoffs that season, it wasn’t going to be exclusively the fault of our elderly DH.  And, to a lesser extent, the Brandon League for Brandon Morrow trade was a bit questionable.  I mean, who trades a bona fide Major League starting prospect for an 8th inning reliever type? Nevertheless, this was a bold move looking to shore up our bullpen.

The cherry on top was the Cliff Lee trade.  We gave a bunch of Bavasi draft rejects to the Phillies for Cliff Lee in his final season.  At best, he’d be the starting pitcher to put us over the top.  At worst, we’d be a losing team and trade him at the deadline to the highest bidder for the best crop of prospects.

Like everything else that happened in 2010, even THIS ended up backfiring.  Cliff Lee came with a built-in contingency plan!  And he was traded for Justin Smoak – a disappointment to date – Blake Beavan – a less-than-adequate starting pitcher – and what has turned into a season’s worth of Michael Morse, a season’s worth of John Jaso, and a season’s worth of Josh Lueke.  There’s still time to turn around our fortunes, but unless Smoak figures out a miracle cure to his sucking ways, this has bust written all over it.

So, what happens when every single offseason (and in-season) move you make backfires?  You lose another 101 games, your franchise icon retires mid-season, your manager gets fired, and your GM is lucky to still have a job.

2010 was a wake-up call, both for fans and for the organization.  The last two times the Mariners had winning records – 2007 and 2009 – they immediately went out the very next offseason and tried to Win Now.  All the moves they made in hopes to Win Now were total disasters, so they had to come up with a new plan.  Either you keep riding this rollercoaster, firing your manager and/or GM every two seasons, or you start over from scratch.

Even though Jackie Z managed to bungle every Major League move known to man, he had still built up the minor leagues a fair amount.  With another high draft pick in his pocket, he put his head down and went to work.

The 2011 season was essentially given over to the kids.  Our major offseason moves included bringing in Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust, Adam Kennedy, Brendan Ryan, and handing over the starting rotation to guys like Michael Pineda, Doug Fister, and Blake Beavan.  In addition, Ackley, Seager, and Carp all got their feet wet; Peguero was given an inordinate amount of playing time for what he was actually bringing to the table.  Others, like Wells, Trayvon Robinson, Saunders, and Halman all got varying amounts of playing time.  2011 was Try-Out central in Seattle.  Throw a bunch of spaghetti noodles into a pot of boiling water, take them out and see which ones would stick to the wall.

2012 took it a step further.  The big free agent pick-ups consisted of Millwood, Iwakuma, and a backup shortstop in Kawasaki.  We traded away Pineda – our best pitching prospect – to bring in Jesus Montero, because we absolutely could not live with the same old offense we’d had the past two seasons.

What did 2011 and 2012 accomplish?  Moderate gains in the win/loss column (+6 wins in 2011, +8 wins in 2012), moderate gains in our offensive production, and a whole lot of salary coming off the books.  The Silva/Bradley money, the Ichiro money, the Olivo money, another season’s worth of the Figgins money.

Now, it’s 2013.  The Mariners brought in some big bats via trade – Morse & Morales for Jaso & Vargas respectively – and some veteran bats via free agency – Ibanez and Bay.  They re-signed Iwakuma (when they realized he’s actually a quality starter), brought in Joe Saunders (who will probably be terrible), and have given the back-end of the rotation over to youth (Maurer and Beavan).  The crown jewel of the 2012/2013 offseason was re-signing Felix through 2019.  That’s huge.  The Mariners may never make the post-season while he’s with us, but God damn it, if they do WATCH OUT.

There is reason for optimism five years after bottoming out in 2008, but we’re still in a Show Me stage.  I’ll believe it when I see it, and all that.  2013 is critical, because if they don’t show some significant improvement, I think a lot of people will be out on their asses again and we’ll be looking at ANOTHER rebuild.

Husky Football

The Huskies ended their 2007 season with a 4-9 record.  Their 2007 schedule was deemed by many to be the toughest schedule in the nation.  Tyrone Willingham was coming off of his third consecutive losing season (going 2-9 in 2005 and 5-7 in 2006), and many believed he should have been fired then and there.  I was one of those simple-minded folks who said we should give him ONE more chance.  Jake Locker had a full season under his belt, why not give Willingham an opportunity to turn things around with the guy he brought in as his quarterback?

Well, we kicked off 2008 by being trounced in Oregon (who would go on to finish 10-3).  Then, we lost by a single point at home to BYU (thanks to the infamous penalty flag thrown on Locker as he ran in for the would-be game-tying touchdown and tossed the ball over his shoulder … thank you Pac-10 referees for being so damn competent) on a missed extra point at the end of the game.  Then, we lost at home to Oklahoma (who would go on to lose to Florida in the BCS National Championship Game).

THEN, we lost our quarterback, our best player, and really our only GOOD player, in the Stanford game.  After that, with the likes of Ronnie Fouch at the helm, we proceeded to lose all the rest of our games (including a pathetic heartbreaker of an Apple Cup, 16-13 in overtime).

0-12.  Doesn’t get any worse than that.  Can only go up from there, right?

Willingham:  gone.  Sarkisian:  in.

The 2009 Huskies improved by 5 games.  There was a signature win at home over the then-#3 USC Trojans, 16-13 on a last-minute field goal.  There was a signature near-win the first game of the season at home against LSU.  Jake Locker took huge strides in his development as a passer.  Everything looked great for the future.

The 2010 Huskies weren’t all that much more improved than the 2009 team, but they managed to win six regular season games (winning out after starting 3-6, thanks to a soft schedule to finish things) and earned a bowl game against Nebraska.  Of course, they got killed by Nebraska, IN Husky Stadium, earlier that season.  But, in the rematch, this Husky team was totally reborn and they took it to the Cornhuskers, stifling them 19-7.

That led to somewhat higher expectations for 2011, but how high could we possibly make them?  Let’s face it, we’d lost our best player and were breaking in a new quarterback.  Our defense was still on the fritz, and we were still in a very tough conference with Oregon, Stanford, and USC.  Not to mention we had to go to Nebraska, where we most certainly got our shit kicked in.

2011 was a disappointment because there was no Signature Win.  In 2009 and 2010, we had victories over USC and Nebraska in the Holiday Bowl.  In 2011, we barely squeaked by Eastern Washington in the first game.  We were absolutely terrorized by the aforementioned heavy hitters (losing the games to USC, Oregon, Stanford, and Nebraska by a combined 190-93).  In spite of losing ALL the games were were technically “supposed” to lose, we were still in line for a 1-game improvement over 2010.  That officially died when A. we went into Oregon State and lost (they ended the season with 3 wins) and B. we faced RGIII and the Baylor Bears and gave up 67 points on 777 yards of offense in losing by 11.

Back-to-back 7-6 seasons left a bitter taste in our mouths.  After storming the field against the Cornhuskers, we bent over and grabbed our ankles against the Bears.  2012 would SURELY be different, though.  We had a full season with Keith Price, he had surpassed our wildest expectations by throwing for over 3,000 yards with 33 touchdowns and only 11 interceptions.  How could 2012 NOT be a huge improvement?  On top of all that, we didn’t wait that extra season to see if Nick Holt could turn things around on defense.  We went out, brought in some heavy hitters at recruiting and defensive coaching, and nabbed some top prospects in the process.

Well, there was improvement.  The 2012 Huskies DID manage some signature wins against the likes of Stanford and Oregon State (both in the top 10 at the time we beat them), but they also fell completely flat against the likes of #3 LSU, #2 Oregon, and #11 USC.  In spite of yet another 3-game losing streak in the middle of the season, these Huskies were looking at possibly winning 8 or 9 games when all was said and done!

They were 7-4 (riding a 4-game winning streak) going into the Apple Cup in Pullman.  They had an 18-point lead going into the final quarter … so of COURSE they ended up blowing the game in overtime.  This ultimately led to the Huskies facing Boise State in the Las Vegas Bowl and ending up – once again – 7-6.

In short, the Huskies went from 0-12 in 2008, to 5-7 in 2009, to 7-6 in 2010, 2011, and 2012.  No 7-6 record is created equal, obviously, but at the end of the day people don’t remember how you got there.  They just see where you were and shake their heads.

Keith Price showed all the promise in the world in 2011.  But, he lost all his major weapons (Kearse and Aguilar at receiver, Chris Polk at running back) and couldn’t recover in 2012.  In the Baylor bowl game, Price accounted for 7 touchdowns on offense and looked like the best quarterback on the field – even better than the Heisman Trophy winner and ultimate #2 overall draft pick.  However, in the Apple Cup and again in the Boise State bowl game, Price ended both with interceptions.  He was going into the 2013 season fighting for his job, but from all accounts he’s got it locked up after Spring Ball.  Nevertheless, I have to imagine he’s on a short leash.  We can’t suffer the kind of downgrade in production again.

At this point in Sark’s tenure, he’s got all his own guys now.  2013 is the year we’re expected to win and win consistently.  The non-conference schedule is relatively easy, and the conference schedule isn’t too bad either.  We’ve got veterans in all the right places, we’ve got some serious talent on defense for the first time since he got here, and Price has had a chance to gel with his offensive weapons.  2013 isn’t a Rose Bowl or Bust, but it’s close.  The Huskies have to at least be in the conversation.

I’m not gonna lie to you, beating the Ducks for the first time in eons would go a long way towards cementing Sark’s status as a legend ’round these parts.

Husky Basketball

The 2007/2008 Huskies were a definite low-point in the Romar era.  They finished the regular season 16-16, losing in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, and received the #1 seed in the College Basketball Invitational.  You know, that post-season tournament for the teams not even good enough for the N.I.T.

We lost.  To Valparaiso.

In 2008/2009, we brought in Isaiah Thomas and he was a firecracker right from the start.  We enjoyed Brockman’s senior season, and we rode that wave to a 4-seed in the NCAA Tournament and a Round of 32 loss to 5-seed Purdue by two points.  More or less, it was a successful season, but once again it ended prematurely.

In 2009/2010, we had another senior leader taking to the forefront.  This time, it was Q-Pon, who averaged 19 and 7 per game in leading us to a Pac-10 Tournament victory, an 11-seed in the tournament, and upset wins over #6 Marquette (where he hit the clutch game winner) and #3 New Mexico.

Once again, though, the Romar-era Huskies couldn’t get past the Sweet 16.  This time, we lost to West Virginia, thanks to them totally having the length advantage on us.

In 2010/2011, we had our version of a Big 3 with Thomas, MBA, and Holiday.  The last two were seniors and Thomas was playing in what would be his final season.  We rode this squad to another Pac-10 Tournament victory (you all remember COLD BLOODED don’t you?).  This resulted in a 7-seed – our third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance – and a victory over 10-seed Georgia before losing in the Round of 32 to 2-seeded North Carolina (by only 3 points, but still).

The 2011/2012 season saw the emergence of Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.  Both were young, extremely talented, and irritatingly inconsistent.  Ross would disappear for minutes at a time.  Wroten had no jump shot whatsoever, so he had to fight for every single basket in the paint.  This team ended up winning the Pac-12 outright, but since the Pac-12 sucked dick that season, and since the Huskies lost in the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament, AND since they had no quality wins over ranked non-conference opponents, the Huskies were denied a fourth consecutive NCAA invite.  Instead, they locked down the #1-overall N.I.T. seeding and ran with it to the Final Four in New York City.  It ended with a loss to Minnesota, who would end up losing to eventual-champion Stanford the very next game.

The less said about the 2012/2013 season, the better.  Wroten and Ross both bolted for the NBA, and absolutely no one came in to replace them.  That’s what happens when you’re a good-not-great recruiter in a good-not-great university for basketball:  sometimes you DON’T bring in a player of quality and you suffer as a result.

Gaddy, Wilcox, Suggs, and N’Diaye were left to pick up the pieces.  This team was pretty solid on defense, but ultimately inept on offense, and now at least three of those guys are gone (with Wilcox having a difficult decision to make regarding his final year of eligibility).  The 2012/2013 Huskies didn’t beat a single ranked team, only beat three teams who ended up going to the NCAAs (Saint Louis, California, and Colorado), and wound up being a 6-seed in the N.I.T., where the subsequently got their shit kicked in at BYU.

What’s in store for 2013/2014?  Well, a solid incoming class with one McDonalds All American at point guard in Nigel Williams-Goss.  If Wilcox comes back, that gives us a veteran scoring presence (for the record, he’s a fool if he leaves; his past season was absolutely dreadful and injury-plagued).  If we can get anything from our young forwards, you could look at a team that surprises a lot of people.  Or, you could be looking at a third-straight N.I.T. bid.  If it’s the latter, I’m not so sure I’d be confident about my job security if I was Romar.

Seattle Supersonics

I won’t go into excruciating detail on this end.  We all know what the last five years have been like for the Sonics.  They went 20-62 in their final season in Seattle (after drafting Kevin Durant and bringing in one of the finest GMs in the game from the San Antonio organization).  They were given away by the city of Seattle, they struggled again the following season, and then they went to the playoffs four straight seasons (losing most recently in the Finals to the beloved Miami Heat).

Now, we’ve got an ownership group and an arena deal in place, and we’re fighting like crazy to steal the Kings from Sacramento.  If all goes according to plan, we will have pro basketball back in Seattle for the 2013/2014 season.  If it doesn’t, then this part of next year’s “Five Years” post is going to be REAL fucking depressing.

Seattle Seahawks

I’m saving the best for last because I can.  Because, honestly, it’s all a little too much and I can hardly believe it myself.  There is cautious optimism for the Mariners and their young core to turn things around.  There’s more confident optimism that the Husky football team will turn some heads this fall.  There’s hope that the Husky basketball team can somehow gel with their new incoming players and make an improbable Tourney run.  There’s delusions that the NBA will be back in Seattle this time next year.

But, that’s nothing.  There is outright SWAGGER for the Seattle Seahawks.  How did we get HERE?

In 2008, we went 4-12.  We had dicked around with Mike Holmgren, we signed on his replacement – Jim Mora Jr. – to be his defensive backs coach, and all the major veterans took a huge dump.  This was coming off of a 2007 season where the Seahawks once again won the division.  But, Shaun Alexander was released at the end, losing out to another injury.  So, Tim Ruskell opted to reload via free agency.  Julius Jones and T.J. Duckett were brought in to liven up the running game, but no dice.  Hasselbeck missed a bunch of games, Walter Jones tried surgery but wasn’t the same and was forced to retire at season’s end … it was just a mess.

In 2009, there was something of a fresh start expected with Mora.  T.J. Houshmandzadeh was brought in on a huge free agent deal, Aaron Curry was signed as our can’t-lose first round draft pick … in short, we were one of the oldest and least-talented teams in the NFL.  When all was said and done, these Seahawks improved by only 1 game and both Mora and Ruskell were fired.

2010 was the REAL fresh start.  Pete Carroll and John Schneider tag-teamed this roster from head to toe.  They traded for Marshawn Lynch, Leon Washington, and Charlie Whitehurst (hey, they can’t all be winners).  They got rid of Housh (taking a healthy bath in the cap hit) and later Deion Branch.  They brought in a rejuvinated Mike Williams who led the team in receiving.  They drafted Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, and Kam Chancellor.  They made hundreds upon hundreds of free agent moves, giving tryouts to anyone and everyone who they thought might be an upgrade.  They got significantly younger, and thanks to a piss-poor division, ended up making the playoffs with a 7-9 record.

Understand, this wasn’t a legitimate playoff team.  Yes, after two years in the wilderness, they found their way back to civilization, but it was totally phony!  The fact that we beat the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints at Qwest Field is a travesty of common decency (though, it did provide us with the greatest NFL play ever, Beastmode’s Touchdown Scamper).  Our “Cinderella” run ended the following week in Chicago, and you had to wonder how long it would be before the Seahawks made the playoffs again.

The 2011 Seahawks were hamstrung by the NFL Lockout.  They fired their offensive coordinator and hired Darrell Bevell from Minnesota.  Which meant, if they stood any chance of competing in ANY games that season, they’d have to bring some people in who knew Bevell’s system.  This meant Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback.  They let Hasselbeck go with a cordial goodbye and handed the keys to the team over to Tarvar (without so much as a second look at Whitehurst, who was as bad as we all remember him being and then some).

Tarvar proved tough, but ultimately inept when the game was on the line.  Those 2011 Seahawks also finished the regular season 7-9 and weren’t given the benefit of a lousy NFC West to “earn” a home playoff game.

With a full offseason going into 2012, the Seahawks needed to make a change.  They’d drafted well, bringing in guys like Richard Sherman and K.J. Wright.  But, they needed a signal-caller with some zazz!  So, they signed Matt Flynn to a three-year deal, and they went out and drafted Russell Wilson in the third round.

People say if Wilson was just 2-3 inches taller, he would’ve been a Top 10 pick.  But, he’s not, so now he’s ours.

Wilson earned his opportunity to have an Open Competition in Training Camp.  This led to him wowing us in the Pre-Season, which ultimately led to him winning the job and running with it.  The 2012 Seahawks took it easy with him for the first few weeks, but once they knew he could handle himself, they opened things up.  This resulted in the Seahawks being the best team in football over the second half of the season.  Still, their early-season slip-ups meant that the 49ers won the division, relegating us to the fifth seed in the NFC.

We went into Washington and somehow came away with a victory.  Then, we went into Atlanta, gave them a 20-point lead, and somehow led in the game with 30 seconds to go.  That was choked away, but the message was sent.  It wasn’t, “Wait Until Next Year,” the way most fanbases say it, more resigned to their current fate as losers, sorely, bitterly hoping that things will turn around for them in short order.

No, this is, “Just you WAIT until next year, chickenfuckers!”  Because the 2013 Seahawks are a runaway train that has Super Bowl or Bust written all over them!

In five years, the Seahawks have gone from one of the oldest and worst teams in the NFL to one of the youngest and best teams.  In five years, the Seahawks have gone from bottom-feeders to would-be kings.  We fans are cashing in our 401Ks in anticipation of buying Super Bowl tickets in 2014.  It’s never been so clear and so positive in the city of Seattle.  They can single-handedly reverse the fortunes of this desolate sports city.  All they need to do is win.

What’s more, they’re spreading around the positivity.  People are stoked on the Mariners WAY more than they should be thanks to the good will generated by the Seahawks.  Sports fans have something to look forward to and spirits are bright.  This is carrying over to the other sports in hopes that the good vibes will roll on.

We’ll see.  If the Seahawks win it all, the Mariners contend for a playoff spot, the Huskies make a run at the Rose Bowl, the basketball Huskies make a run at the NCAA Tournament, and the Sonics return to Seattle, we could be talking about the greatest 5-year turnaround any sports city has ever seen.  Fingers crossed.

The Major Moves Of Jack Zduriencik

On October 22, 2008, Jack Zduriencik was hired by the Seattle Mariners to be their General Manager.  Here are the major player personnel moves the Mariners have made in that time.

For the 2009 Season:

12/3/2008 – Signed Russell Branyan to 1-year contract
12/10/2008 – Traded J.J. Putz, Jeremy Reed, Sean Green, and others for Jason Vargas, Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, Mike Carp and others.
1/20/2009 – Traded for David Aardsma
1/29/2009 – Signed Mike Sweeney to 1-year contract
2/18/2009 – Signed Ken Griffey Jr. to 1-year contract
7/29/2009 – Traded for Jack Wilson & Ian Snell

For the 2010 Season:

11/11/2009 – Re-Signed Ken Griffey Jr. to 1-year contract
12/8/2009 – Signed Chone Figgins to 4-year contract
12/16/2009 – Traded for Cliff Lee
12/18/2009 – Traded Carlos Silva for Milton Bradley
12/23/2009 – Traded Brandon Morrow for Brandon League
1/7/2010 – Traded for Casey Kotchman
1/21/2010 – Re-Signed Felix Hernandez to 5-year extension
1/29/2010 – Signed Eric Byrnes to 1-year contract
2/6/2010 – Re-Signed Erik Bedard to 1-year contract
2/12/2010 – Re-Signed Mike Sweeney to 1-year contract
6/27/2010 – Traded for Russell Branyan
7/9/2010 – Traded Cliff Lee & Mark Lowe for Justin Smoak, Blake Beavan & others

For the 2011 Season:

12/2/2010 – Re-Signed Erik Bedard to 1-year contract
12/10/2010 – Signed Jack Cust to 1-year contract
12/12/2010 – Traded for Brendan Ryan
1/3/2011 – Signed Miguel Olivo to 2-year contract
1/10/2011 – Signed Adam Kennedy to 1-year contract
7/30/2011 – Traded Doug Fister for Casper Wells, Charlie Furbush, & others
7/31/2011 – Traded Erik Bedard & others for Trayvon Robinson & others

For the 2012 Season:

11/27/2011 – Traded Josh Lueke for John Jaso
12/8/2011 – Claimed Lucas Luetge in Rule 5 Draft
12/21/2011 – Signed Munenori Kawasaki to 1-year contract
12/30/2011 – Signed George Sherrill to 1-year contract
1/5/2012 – Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to 1-year contract
1/18/2012 – Signed Oliver Perez to 1-year contract
1/23/2012 – Traded Michael Pineda & Jose Campos for Jesus Montero & Hector Noesi
1/24/2012 – Signed Kevin Millwood to 1-year contract
7/31/2012 – Traded Steve Delabar for Eric Thames.  Traded Brandon League for others

For the 2013 Season:

11/2/2012 – Re-Signed Hisashi Iwakuma to 2-3-year contract
11/3/2012 – Re-Signed Oliver Perez to a 1-year contract

These by no means comprise ALL of the moves, but if I tried to list ALL the moves I’d be here all fucking month.  These are the guys who, more or less, made some kind of an impact on the major league ballclub.  I left out anything related to the draft, because it’s not draft season and that’s not really the point of this post.

What has Jackie Z done to improve the Major League ballclub?

You can see on the timeline where it all went awry.  Just about all of his major moves before the 2009 season were solid gold!  And, of course, what happened in 2009?  The Mariners ended up with 85 wins and somehow found themselves contending to the last month (or so).  It was only natural to think, given a few tweaks here and there, the 2010 season could be pure magic.

So, what did Jackie Z do?  He brought out the whuppin’ stick.  Within a 10-day period, we had our first MAJOR major signing of the Jack Zduriencik era:  Chone Figgins, 4 years.  No one at the time thought that was a stupid idea.  Piggybacking on that, in the aforementioned 10-day period, we brought in Cliff Lee to have one of the better 1-2 punches of all baseball starting rotations; and THEN we traded the dead weight of Carlos Silva for a possible reclamation project in Milton Bradley!  Hell, a bag of turds would’ve been better than Carlos Silva, so either way, there’s no losing THAT deal, right?  To top off his offseson, Jackie Z traded for League (to bolster the back-end of our bullpen), Kotchman (to give us some defense and decent pop at first base), and re-signed Felix to a 5-year extension.

I mean, my GOD, if Jackie Z wanted me to suck his dick after that string of moves, I gladly would’ve closed my eyes and opened my mouth.  THIS is exactly what we’ve been missing out of our baseball GM all these years!  He was doing it, he was really doing it!  There could be no downside to these moves!

Except, Figgins turned to crap.  Kotchman continued being crap.  Bradley continued being crap.  Griffey fell off the map.  Cliff Lee was hurt for the first month of the season.  League was nothing special (and Morrow still might be for someone else).  Byrnes was a fucking disgrace to the game of baseball.  We eventually had to bring back Branyan in a mid-season trade (and even THAT couldn’t prevent our offense from being the worst in the modern era).  And, since we weren’t contending, there was no point in holding onto Cliff Lee; we traded him for what looks like utter shit and disappointment.

Every move for that 2010 season (save re-signing Felix) COMPLETELY backfired.  And yet, at the time, every move was completely defensible!  The only thing you could possibly argue is:  the Mariners didn’t go far ENOUGH.  Of course, that’s the story of this franchise (see:  1996-2003).

After that, the organization put a total and complete halt on trying to contend whatsoever.  Going into 2011, the Mariners signed two veterans at the minimum (Cust & Kennedy), traded for a defense-only shortstop (Ryan), and their only major signing was Olivo on a 2-year deal with an option for a 3rd (that has since been denied, because Olivo).  That was it!  Four guys!  One of which was released before season’s end!

2012 was no picnic either.  Three more veterans at the minimum (Millwood, Sherrill, Perez), a backup shortstop (Kawasaki) who was somehow worse at the plate than Ryan, a Japanese pitcher coming off a major shoulder injury (Iwakuma), a Rule 5 reliever (Luetge), a backup catcher who somehow turned into the cream of the crop (Jaso), and another backup catcher in trade (Montero) who will hopefully be a future designated hitter for years to come.

It’s been two straight years of sifting through a muddy river of shit hoping to find a few tiny flecks of gold.

Now, with enough money off the books, and with the fanbase completely up in arms over all the losing, the Mariners are ready to spend money and hopefully try to compete once again.

Which got me to thinking.  Well, this blog post by Geoff Baker got me to thinking.  The money quote:

Towards the end of the call, I asked Zduriencik about the Chone Figgins experience and whether it caused any hesitation for him going forward when it comes to this winter’s crop of free agents — especially when it comes to inking longer-term deals of more than three years. I wasn’t doing it to rub his face in the Figgins mess — which no one really could have seen imploding as badly as it did — but rather to gauge whether this current administration is prepared to go longer than three years on any deal this winter.

The two biggest free agent acquisitions of the Jack Zduriencik era (not counting Felix, since he was already under contract) before this offseason’s Iwakuma deal have been Chone Figgins (4 years, $36 million) and Miguel Olivo (2 years, $7 million).  That’s IT!  The rest of his moves have either been in trade or of the bottom-feeding veteran minimum variety.

Obviously, this has been by design.  The organization wanted to rid itself of burdensome contracts.  The organization wanted to let some of the young kids play, to see if a “youth movement” could jumpstart things.  But, also, the organization was patently unwilling to increase payroll for the types of free agents that were becoming available the last two offseasons.  Let’s call a spade a spade here; the Seattle Mariners were pushing the Reset Button on this whole thing and starting over from scratch.  I don’t mean that literally, of course; it’s not like they could just waive everyone they didn’t like and bring up all new guys.  But, essentially, the Reset Button is what they did.

Up until now, I would say that the Figgins contract had little to do with the Mariners’ overall plan (except, obviously, they needed to fill their third base position with a rookie).  I don’t think being gunshy about Figgins’ 4-year deal prevented the Mariners from signing other guys to long-term contracts.  I think it was all the reasons I stated above.  That having been said, though, if the Mariners don’t sign someone to a long-term contract THIS off-season … then I’d have to say the Figgins deal is weighing on them.

It would only be natural, after all.  I mean, who WOULDN’T be gunshy?!  From the day Jackie Z took this job, give me the names of the free agents who have worked out beyond even a decent first season?  Yeah, the answer you’re looking for is ZERO.  Hisashi Iwakuma would be the first, if he comes back in 2013 and does well (which is no guarantee, let me tell you).

So, yeah, they SHOULD be apprehensive!  They SHOULD do as much due diligence as humanly possible on this offseason’s free agent crop.  Because it’s fucking NASTY out there!  You’ve got lemons and land mines all OVER the place!

Kyle Seager Is A Seattle Mariner, I Guess

So, I guess all you have to do is get really hot down in Tacoma for a couple weeks and you’re the next hot Seattle Mariner prospect.

Because that’s LITERALLY what just happened yesterday.  We’re willing to ride whatever gravy train we can get our hands on, if it means not having to watch guys like Chone Figgins and Jack Cust flail around like assholes.

Granted, you could probably take any player from any level of the minor leagues and he’d be a better fit for this team than Chone Figgins, but still.  This says almost NOTHING of the ability of Kyle Seager and everything of the abilities of these current Mariner hitters.  How fucked up is it that we can pencil in performances like yesterday’s 2-hit comedy festival before they even happen, based solely on the fact that Chone Figgins is starting at third base?

Not that he’s our only problem, or even our MAIN problem anymore.  Franklin Gutierrez isn’t a Major League baseball player right now.  Carlos Peguero has NEVER been a Major Leaguer.  Justin Smoak is in a full-fledged nosedive, Brendan Ryan is barely clinging to a .250 batting average, and Adam Kennedy is 35 fucking years old.

At least we have Ackley.  And now, we’ve got his college teammate.  If Kyle Seager works out, we may have to bring in that entire North Carolina baseball team and give them their hacks.

This year is truly unprecedented.  All these young hitters getting a chance with the Major League club when, by all rights, most of them should still be in Triple-A.  Obviously, you can’t expect them all to shake out in your favor.  Ackley looks like a winner, Smoak looks like he’s here to stay (though, he’s going to need to run into a hot streak sooner or later), and Halman looks like he could be a decent fourth outfielder.  Is Kyle Seager our new third baseman going forward?  I guess we’ll find out.

That’s one good thing about being dead last in all important offensive catagories:  we’re ALWAYS going to have a chance to find out if a player is ready for promotion or not.

The San Diego Padres Play Ball Like A Girl!

Except, that’s degrading to women and not a true reflection of how sucky the Padres really are.

There was a lot to like about last night’s game, but really, what amongst all that action could you really count on the Mariners replicating?  Ryan and Kennedy both had 2 hits (each with 1 double), drove in 2 runs, and scored 3 times.  Carlos Peguero had a bases-loaded 2 RBI single.  Hell, Chone Figgins had a hit and made two fantastic defensive plays!

I would point to all of those guys and say that yesterday was the exception and not the rule.  If only we could play the Padres 162 times a year …

Yesterday was like one of those April Mariner games.  Our hitters took pitches, worked counts, generated walks (6), and knocked the starter out of the game with a high pitch count (93) in a low-numbered inning (4.2).  By choosing to go aggressive – or whatever the Mariners call NOT taking pitches, NOT working counts, NOT generating walks, and NOT knocking the starter out of games – our offense has just gotten worse and worse.

A lot of people like to bring up BABIP (batting average on balls in play), or some such variation, and say that a lot of what’s wrong with the Mariners’ offense can be boiled down to some really bad luck.  I don’t really care for that argument because A. it tries to cover up the fact that our hitters just plain stink, and B. with that rationale you could say the entire game of baseball can be boiled down to luck!

What makes the Mariners so bad at getting hits and the Red Sox so good?  Is it because they have a high BABIP (.309) and we have a very low BABIP (.269)?  Of course not.  They have better players than we do.  The fact that they have a much better BABIP is just a byproduct of them being better than us, plain and simple.

Since it’s a proven fact that this Mariners team is not good at hitting, then if we’re going to score enough runs, enough times, to make this summer more interesting than “How long can the Mariners stay within a handful of games of .500?” we’re going to have to return to our April roots.  Stop being afraid of going deep in counts!  Having two strikes on you isn’t the worst thing in the world!  Just because you let a ball go right down the middle doesn’t mean you’ll never see a pitch so good again!

I’m sorry, Eric Wedge, but you’re wrong.  You’re wrong and your team just showed you WHY you’re wrong with all this aggressiveness bullshit.  Chone Figgins, Jack Cust, Franklin Gutierrez and everyone else who’s struggling mightily right now won’t be getting out of their funks by swinging even MORE.  They all need to be swinging a lot less.  Getting back to their roots, playing THEIR games.  Not all hitters are created equal.  Some would rather take pitches and occasionally pick their spots to get hits.

Let’s get back to April baseball!  Don’t you remember how much better this offense was in April?  Don’t you remember that it was the pitching back then that was (somewhat) holding us down?  Well, the pitching is 150% better now!  Combined with more walks and deeper pitch counts, we can’t lose!

Here’s to the last two Padre games being the start of something great.  I’ll see you all at Safeco tonight; we’ll try to put those hideous brown and gold jerseys they were wearing last night out of our minds.

When Will The Mariners Release Chone Figgins?

I keep writing these things with the secret hope that the more I badmouth someone, the quicker he’ll turn things around and make me eat my words.  But, it’s readily apparent that no matter how much shit I talk, I’ll never have to eat this crow.

Figgins sucks.  Let’s just get that out of the way.  He is TERRIBLE.  The only redeeming quality he has is that he’s a threat to steal bases; but of course, that would require him to actually GET ON BASE.  But, he can’t.  He can’t get hits, he no longer gets walks, and his defense makes me long for the days of Russ Davis.  These are the reasons we brought him in; these are the reasons we’re paying him $9 million over four years.

For as bad as he was in the first half last year, he’s worse across the board in the first half of this year.  And we have no reason to expect even the modest turnaround he had in the second half of last year will replicate itself.  At this point, he’s a bench player, getting spot starts whenever 35 year old Adam Kennedy needs a day off.

There’s a growing chorus of fans out there screaming at the top of their lungs, “WHY DON’T WE RELEASE THIS WORTHLESS PILE OF CRAP?”  I think many of us know exactly why the team can’t do that:  he’s signed for two more seasons and he’s making the aforementioned $9 million per year.  Also, we don’t have any hotshot third base prospects knocking down the door of the Major Leagues.  The best we can do is give an aging journeyman the job in the interim (an aging journeyman whose natural position isn’t even third base).

Even though I know why we can’t just DFA him out of spite, at this point nothing would make me happier.  When I don’t find myself actively enraged whenever I see him fail at the game of baseball, I’m simply resigned to the fact that he’s GOING to go 0 for 4 with at least one error every game he starts.  Anything more (or less) is a plus.

Still, if he keeps this up, I don’t know what else the Mariners can do!  Fake an injury, put him on the DL for the rest of the season?  Keep him buried on the bench?  What then?  Insert him back into the starting lineup next spring?  If he’s worthless now, I don’t see what a year’s worth of aging is going to accomplish.  A year’s worth of snarky commentary from the media and blogger types.  A year’s worth of venomous booing from the fans.  You have to think, if he doesn’t turn it around this year, and if he goes into next season in the same funk, the team will HAVE to make a move.  Right?  I mean, he HAS to be a sunk cost at that point!

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really want to wait around and find out.  He’s done.  Just bite the bullet and release him.  No one is ever going to trade for his services; he’s not going to come back and stick it to us.  Just get rid of him!

The Mariners Just Got Swept By The Fucking Nationals

And apparently, this is a team we’ve NEVER beaten.  So, that’s cool.  Is it just because they’re fire-hot (winning 11 of their last 12) or because we’re doomed to never beat the fucking Nationals?  I don’t know.  I don’t know!  What I do know is that they’re now 38-37 and we’re 37-38, which means they’ve screwed us to the wall with a sub-.500 record (and also means we’re basically equal in talent).

In Game 1 of the series (The Jinx Game), we were up 5-0 after five innings.  Over the next 22 innings, we scored a grand total of 1 run.

That doesn’t even BEGIN to tell you how pathetic these games were!  How about 3 unearned runs (well, 3 is all we’re getting from the official scorer, though I would argue all 5 runs in the 9th were unearned thanks to the Smoak error) in the first game to lose it for us?  How about another 2 unearned runs in the second game to lose it for us AGAIN?  And, to add insult to motherfucking injury, in the 9th inning of the finale, ANOTHER defensive miscue led to the eventual game-winning sacrifice fly in a scoreless game.  In this case, not technically an error, but still a poor decision from Adam Kennedy who tried to get the lead runner instead of the sure out (which, after the subsequent batter hit into a fielder’s choice to nab the runner at home, meant that there would’ve been two outs and a fly ball wouldn’t have won it).

Defense, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  Four errors in three games!  All leading to runs that pretty much decided the games!

Listen, we’re not a good offensive team.  Everyone knows this.  WE know this.  We CAN’T be fucking up this badly in the field with an offense this SHITTY!

Our starters gave up 1 earned run in 21 innings.  Our entire pitching unit pretty much only gave up 2 earned runs TOTAL.  The rest is on this defense.  This defense is why we’re under .500 again.  This defense has been pretty mediocre all season, but at least it hasn’t realistically been costing us ballgames.

Well, now it is.  Now, this defense needs to fucking be dealt with.  Figgins, Smoak, Olivo, Kennedy, CarPeguero, and yeah, you too Ichiro.  You’re all on notice.  Don’t make me take off this belt!

Mariners Call Up Dustin Ackley

FINALLY!

It’s always exciting when new players are promoted from the minor leagues, especially when you’re a Not Very Good Team.  While the Mariners are currently 1 game over .500 and 1 game behind first place Texas, they’re still a Not Very Good Team.  They’re GOOD, but not Very Good.  Good teams don’t make the playoffs.

It’s even more exciting when new players are promoted from the minor leagues and start to show signs of real Major League success.  ESPECIALLY after a long string of failures (of which I’ll list but a few):

  • Michael Saunders
  • Matt Tuiasosopo
  • Wladimir Balentien
  • Jeff Clement
  • Bryan LaHair
  • Mike Morse
  • Jeremy Reed
  • Justin Leone
  • Bucky Jacobsen

This year, I would argue, we’ve promoted guys who are ALL better than the chumps I’ve just listed.  Guys like Carlos Peguero, Greg Halman, Michael Pineda, and I would even include Justin Smoak in that list, since he played primarily in Tacoma last season after we traded for him. 

The jury is still out on Peguero, but I think it’s very telling that he’s played in 30 games already and doesn’t look TOTALLY overwhelmed.  Granted, his batting average is only .223, and he’s averaging a little over a strikeout per game, but he doesn’t inspire the same sense of doom that guys like Balentien and Clement once did.  I honestly believe that on any given pitch, Peguero could hit one out of the park.

As for Halman, you’re looking at an even smaller sample size of 9 games, but the kid is showing an uncanny ability to hit the ball up the middle and the other way.  For a right-handed hitter in Safeco, that’s CRUCIAL to making it.  I hope he gets a chance to continue this run he’s on; I’d rather see Halman patrolling left field than Carp or Peguero.  And if that means Cust continues to ride pine, then so be it.

Mike Carp hasn’t made a tremendous impression since his call-up last week, but he’s limiting mistakes and that’s just as good for now.  I’d be more worried if his batting average were under .100 and he was striking out 2 of every 3 at bats.  But, he’s not doing those things, and the power will come as soon as he’s comfortable.  Or, it won’t, and he’ll be sent down; either way, he deserves at least a small modicum of our attention.

Justin Smoak, obviously, is our first baseman of the future, and he’s shown it this year.  For a guy who’s not quite a rookie anymore, but is still getting his first full season as the established first baseman under his belt, I’ll take .250/.350/.450 every damn time.  The sky is the limit for this kid; I firmly believe it’s only Up from here.

Of course, aside from Pineda, the most anticipated call-up of 2011 has surely been Dustin Ackley.  He hit .303, with a .421 on-base percentage and an OPS of .908 down in Tacoma.  That’s as a second baseman!  I’m not expecting him to do that for the Mariners this year, but I’m also not putting it past him.  Either way, I have to expect those are the kinds of numbers he’s CAPABLE of producing, at some point in the future.  And now, FINALLY, we get to see him in action.  Real action.  Life or death action.

You know what I want to see?  I want to see this lineup:

  1. Ichiro – RF
  2. Ryan – SS
  3. Smoak – 1B
  4. Peguero – DH
  5. Olivo – C
  6. Kennedy – 3B
  7. Gutierrez – CF
  8. Ackley – 2B
  9. Halman – LF

That’s what I want to see, at least once this weekend.  And eventually, if everything I wish for turns to gold – with every single one of these prospects realizing their full potential – I’d like to see THIS lineup:

  1. Ichiro – RF
  2. Ackley – 2B
  3. Halman – LF
  4. Smoak – 1B
  5. Peguero – DH
  6. Olivo – C
  7. Gutierrez – CF
  8. Ryan – SS
  9. Figgins/Kennedy/Other – 3B

Wouldn’t that be somethin’?  Huh?  Ackley lookin’ like a left-handed Derek Jeter.  Halman lookin’ like A-Rod with a personality.  Smoak lookin’ like a switch-hitting Mark McGwire (minus the bacne & ‘roid rage).  Peguero lookin’ like a left-handed Jay Buhner.  Olivo, Ryan, and Figgins/Kennedy down in the order where they belong …

I love days off after a thrilling win.  I love days when hot shot prospects are called up and let us dream about a future filled with World Series banners.  I love living in total and complete denial, if only for a few hours before reality comes crashing down.

Damn You Kids, Get Off My Lawn!

Anybody else glad it’s Friday?  This road trip this week has just been the WORST.

As our batting average with runners in scoring position slogs back down toward its .215 norm, I’m constantly reminded that this is a team in flux.  It seems like a million years ago that Jack Wilson was our starting, everyday 2nd baseman.  Now he’s lucky to get 2 games a week.  The breath of fresh air that has been every other incoming outfielder has really done wonders for making me forget that Milton Bradley ever existed.  And wasn’t it cute back when Chone Figgins batted second in our lineup and was an everyday player?  Awww.

It’s been a slow, gradual churn, but here we are.  The Youth Movement in full effect.  Mike Carp is DHing, Greg Halman and Carlos Peguero are running down balls in the outfield, Justin Smoak has seemingly locked down first base for a while, Dustin Ackley is something like a week or two (tops) from being in the Majors, Michael Pineda is working miracles with a 100-pitch-count-limit.

The ranks of the Triple-A are infiltrating our big ballclub!  That’s a good thing, obviously, for two reasons.  First, you always want to see what you have in your farm system.  Generating Major League ball players from within is the primary objective for any organization that wants to be a winner.  Especially for a team that’s been as bad as the Mariners in the last decade.  You NEED guys to fill your holes (huh huh), and by season’s end, if a few holes still remain:  well, now you know what to go after in free agency.

Incidentally, the second reason why the Youth Movement is a good thing is more for the fans:  we get sick and tired of watching the same overpaid veterans suck dick night in and night out.  If we’re going to lose anyway, we’d rather lose with the young’uns with the hope that over time they’ll get better and replace the veteran losers we loathe so much.

The Youth Movement is also a bad thing, though.  VERY bad.  Guys just starting out, trying to make it in the Major Leagues … they’re not Major Leaguers!  They’re Triple-A guys getting a shot.  It takes time and success to prove you belong in the Major Leagues.  The kids will get time, sure.  No one was banking on contending in 2011 anyway.  But the longer they fail, the likelier it’ll prove they really don’t belong. 

Let’s face it, unless your name is Ichiro, you’re not going to make the jump to the Major Leagues and hit .300.  It’s just not gonna happen.  You’re GOING to struggle, you’re GOING to bat around Mendoza, you’re GOING to strike out with men on base and the pitch in the dirt.  It’s just going to happen.  The same qualities that got you INTO the Majors – usually “hitting the fastball real hard” – are the same qualities that will make you look foolish when you run into pitcher after pitcher with quality curveballs.

This Youth Movement makes me yearn now more than ever for quality baseball veterans to hit like the back of their baseball cards.  We’re going to be playing anywhere from 3-5 kids a night who are all going to have a few good days mixed in with a lot more bad days.  We NEED guys like Ichiro, Figgins, Ryan, Olivo, and Gutierrez to pick up the slack.  And, not that it matters much beyond this year, but it would be nice if Kennedy kept his hot streak going (and, for that matter, it would be nice if Cust didn’t totally blow ass all the time).

Once the second half of this season starts, I fully expect the notion of “contending” to be a thing of the recent past.  At that point, it’ll be a full-blown Youth Explosion.  Be that as it may, I’m still not ready to watch the kind of crappy baseball I had to endure last year.  To avoid this, one of two things needs to happen:  either the kids all come together and start blowing everyone away, or the veterans get their shit together and start carrying this team like veterans are supposed to do.

If we get neither, then look out.  It could get real ugly real quick in Marinerland.  The Youth Movement is sexy and new, but it’s also unreliable and inconsistent.

Basking In The Glow Of Another Series Win

Boy, was I ever doubting that we’d win that game yesterday.  And I mean that going in; once the game started and we were down 3-0, I was SURE we were going to lose.

But, these are your Comeback Kids; time and time again they’ve done the unthinkable.  At least, unthinkable by last year’s standards.  THIS year, I dunno, maybe we have to realize, once and for all, that these are NOT the 2010 Seattle Mariners.

Yesterday’s game had it all.  Ichiro tripled home two runs; Brendan Ryan succeeded in getting down the suicide squeeze to tie the game; Greg Halman – in his first game as a Mariner this season – went 3 for 4 with a triple and two RBI; Jamey Wright blew the 8th inning (when we had a 2-run lead) by giving up three runs; the M’s came right back in the bottom of the 8th with a Kennedy RBI single and an Olivo 3-run bomb; and Brandon League notched his 16th save.

That sealed it.  6th consecutive series win.  A crazy-good record since April 26th.  And yet, we’re still 2.5 games back of Texas because they’ve been on a tear of late.  They just went on the road and swept Cleveland in 4 games!  If Cleveland can’t slow this team down, who will?

I dunno, but there’s still reason to be optimistic for the rest of this month.  We have seven games against the White Sox and the Tigers (who we’ve dominated thus far).  Then, we’re at home against a couple of good teams (Anaheim & Philly) before a quick 3-game set in D.C. before coming right back home to play Florida (where we’ll be the road team in our own stadium) and Atlanta to close out June.  That’s a lot of home cookin’.

Here’s to keeping the streak of series wins alive!  Game time 5pm tonight.