The last guy to lose the Mariners a ballgame in 2010? That award goes to Anthony Varvaro, a guy I know absolutely nothing about. I thought I’d take this opportunity to talk about the OTHER Mariners Manager who won’t be managing in the Major Leagues next year: Daren Brown. He ends his career in the majors with a 19-31 record. I don’t know where that ranks with the all time greats, but I gotta say it’s down there. Still, he seemed like a good guy – and obviously he’s a quality AAA manager – so it had to be a bittersweet day for him yesterday. Or maybe just bitter. I mean, I know he’ll get a token interview for the team’s open manager job next year, but he won’t get it! So many established managers out there would have to turn us down before he’d be considered for retention. Odds are, his career record will always be 19-31. On the one hand, these 50 games will probably stand as his life’s greatest achievement; I mean, how many guys can say they’ve managed a major league baseball team (even one with minor league hitting talent)? On the other hand, through no fault of his own, he went into yesterday pretty much guaranteed that it would be his last in a major league uniform. That must have been tough. So, here’s to you Daren Brown! Thanks for taking charge these last 50 games and doing the best job you could have possibly done! If you indeed aren’t kept on as the Mariners manager, I hope to see you back in Tacoma, helping the Rainiers defend their PCL title.
How do you give up 6 unearned runs in an inning? All it takes: one very ill-timed error by your second baseman. If Figgins makes the play to end the inning in the 7th, Felix is somewhere around 90 pitches and in good shape to go at least 1 if not 2 more innings (I’m reluctant to say, even with Felix going 2 more, that he’d get the Complete Game, with our offense what it is). Instead, I’ll be damned if he didn’t expend another 20 pitches just to get zero more outs. Now, I’m more than a little reluctant to criticize an interim manager in a lost cause season such as this, but Daren Brown left the King out there about 3 batters too long. I mean, when the guy is reluctant to throw anything offspeed to someone named Michael Brantley (hitting a whopping .203 this year in limited action), who hit a fastball up the middle for the first run of the ballgame, you know he’s probably done for the day. I don’t know what Felix was thinking on that one, to tell you the truth. He was ahead in the count. I was waiting for anything, curve, slider, change. Whiff that motherfucker! But anyway. I’m glad to see Sean White got tagged for the Earned Run (also in the 7th) when he gave up a homer. I guess they stop tallying unearned runs once you make a pitching change. Or, the official scorer realized that Sean White sucks and decided to score him accordingly.
Fire Daren Brown! He’ll never be as good as he is right now! I’m starting the call to arms to fire Daren Brown. Not because I don’t like him, or because I think he’s doing a bad job. It’s for his own good, really. If he sticks around any longer, the stink of the Mariners will get all over him and it’ll be sheer misery from here on in until he really is let go, a battered and broken man. On the plus side, everyone who leaves does great in their next lives, so in a way this really is for his own good. The sooner Daren Brown is canned, the sooner he can get on with his life in a more positive and winning environment. Also – not to completely get side-tracked here – but there’s nothing more awesome to witness than Felix in the 8th inning of a game where he’s dominating the other team. Because while he’s shutting them out, the game is invariably close as our offense is terrible. In last night’s case, it was a 1-0 affair (and, really, we were lucky to get that 1). Every at-bat is crucial. Every pitch is clutch. He’s almost always over 100 pitches at that point and last night was no exception. In these 8th innings, those fastballs are reaching uncharted speeds, those curveballs are biting into the zone like sharks, and those change-ups are burrowing into the dirt at the last possible moment. Every out is worthy of a fist pump, every strike out is cause to yell and scream like a madman. And that jaunt off the mound after the 8th inning is over is never more satisfying or electrifying. Felix is at his best at these moments; it’s why his starts are appointment television.
A Triple Play??? Are you kidding me? A 5-4-3 one at that, not one of those flukey line drive/tag-out type triple plays. An Around The Horn!!! You think the players came focused for today’s game? There are all kinds of Feel Good about this 3-1 victory over the A’s. First of all, let’s face it, it’s the fucking A’s. I LOVE beating the A’s! Secondly, Daren Brown: Interim Manager gets a victory his first shot out of the box. If he was fired today, he’d have the greatest winning percentage of any manager ever. Third on the ol’ Warm N’ Fuzzy List is Doug Fister getting his first victory since God knows when. He went 6 and gave up 1 while only throwing 91 pitches. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot of those types of 90-something pitch counts the rest of the way as nobody wants to overuse guys like Fister, Vargas, and even Felix in a season that no longer matters (saying nothing of French or Pauley, who’d be hard-pressed to go past 90 pitches while still being effective anyway). Fister is now 4-8, with an ERA under 4; something doesn’t jive here. Finally, kudos to the bullpen for going 3 scoreless. The Sean White Smoke & Mirror Experience rolled through the 7th; Brandon League: Shakiest Arm With A 3.10 ERA In Baseball plowed through the 8th; and David Aardsma mashed through the 9th for his 21st save of the year. May there still be life yet with this bullpen? I hope so; let’s release the tension of this season with a couple of winning months, with games like this.
It’s always a big day when a head coach or manager gets fired. I’m not gonna lie to you, I wasn’t ready for it to be today. Without question, the best manager the Mariners have ever employed was and is Lou Piniella. That’s obvious. He oversaw the rejuvination of baseball in Seattle as well as its most successful tenure. Not only that, but he was the longest-running manager in team history by a WIDE margin. 10 years. Not counting Tacoma’s Daren Brown, today announced as interim manager, there have been 16 managers in Mariners history (which, again, dates back to only 1977). That’s practically a new manager every 2 years! Now, discount Sweet Lou’s 10 year reign, and we’ve got 15 managers in 24 years … wow. Now THAT’S dysfunction. 10 times we’ve seen a manager either quit or be fired in the middle of a season (we also hold what HAS to be the rarest of feats: one of our managers only managed 1 game in the official capacity of manager back in 1986). Now, I don’t want to tell you how to run your damned railroad … but that ain’t right! Since Lou, we’ve had Bob Melvin (canned after 2 seasons), Mike Hargrove (quit after 2.5 seasons), John McLaren (canned after almost 2 half-seasons), Jim Riggleman (not retained after his half-season), and Don Wakamatsu (canned after a season and 2/3), and now Daren Brown for presumably just the other third of a season. We Can’t, Keep Doing, THIS! I don’t care how much a manager “actually” affects the outcome of any given game; you’ve GOT to have some sort of stability in your organization or else you’re going to be spinning your God damned tires until the end of time. I don’t care what it takes, but make this next guy count. If it’s a veteran, make sure he’s got a track record that commands respect (and make DAMN sure he still has a passion for managing and isn’t Grover 2.0). If it’s an ex-player, make sure he was a GOOD player, and not some schlub who rode the bench and batted less than his weight (and please, not Joey Cora; I don’t think I can handle the delirium of the elderly women of Seattle … again I said “a GOOD player”). If you’re not going to give an up-and-coming young managerial prospect a shot for longer than 2 seasons, and you’re not going to give a career bench coach a shot for longer than ah season, and you’re not going to retain quality baseball men like Jim Riggleman, then the next guy better blow my fucking socks clear off! Joe Torre or Bust!