Trout Keeps Hitting Homers & The Mariners Keep Winning Ballgames

Look, all I’m saying is MAYBE Ryan Cook isn’t the guy you want on the mound to face Mike Trout.  Also, MAYBE just walk Mike Trout’s fuckin’ ass every single time he steps up to the plate, because this shit is getting ridiculous.  He’s in Barry Bonds In His Prime Minus All The Steroids Allegedly territory, where at this point as long as it doesn’t mean the go-ahead run comes in, I’d walk Trout with the bases fucking loaded!

And even then … I mean, do you have another set of at-bats coming up?  Maybe walking in that go-ahead run is better than the alternative of him clearing the bases?

He’s fucking Superman, what can you say?  I hate him.  I wish he was on any other team outside of the A.L. West (in which point, I’d probably love him).  He’s like Griffey in his prime, minus all the personality.  The fact that he isn’t the biggest superstar on the planet is ridiculous, because I’d venture to say he’s better at baseball than any other guy is better than everyone else in any other sport (aside from LeBron, of course).

Or, I dunno.  Maybe he’s just this great against the Mariners, and he’s a little more mortal against the rest of the league.  31 homers is the most against any team he’s faced in his career; 81 RBI is the second most against any team behind the 86 he’s hit in against the Rangers; 9 triples (tied for the most; again with the Rangers); 93 runs are again the second most (Rangers, 103).  I guess Texas has a claim in this argument.  Also, Trout’s 117 career strikeouts against the Mariners are the most against any team, but I would argue the lion’s share of those came against Felix in his prime.

Anyway, that’s all preamble to say Trout had 2 more homers last night, after having hit 2 homers on Monday.  He’s already at 23 homers on the season, and 5 of them have come against the Mariners.  Also, his slash line in 5 games is .636/.680/1.545; so if it feels like Mike Trout has fucking obliterated the Seattle Mariners this season, take whatever you’re feeling and quadruple it.

I should point out that the Angels have lost both of those games, so if we’re going to beat the Angels every time Mike Trout hits 2 homers in a game, then sign me up!

On Monday, Wade LeBlanc gave up back-to-back solo homers in the first and didn’t look to be long for this world.  He managed to gut his way through 5 innings, keeping them to just those 2 runs, and allowing the Mariners to overtake them.  Nelson Cruz matched Trout homer for homer, hitting a game-tying 2-run bomb in the bottom of the first, then a go-ahead solo homer in the fourth.  Ryon Healy hit the game-winning 2-run home run in the fourth as well, and the Mariners were able to hold onto a 5-3 victory.  Ryan Cook gave up the second Trout homer in this one, spoiler alert.

Aside from that, the bullpen was rock solid on Monday, going 4 innings and giving up just the 1 run.  Bradford and Pazos both took care of business, and Edwin Diaz got his 24th save of the season, no problem.

On Tuesday, Mike Leake’s only blemish was a solo homer to Trout in the fifth.  He went 6 innings, giving up that 1 run on only 4 hits and 3 walks, with 4 strikeouts.  Both Haniger AND Healy hit 2 homers apiece to pace Trout in this one, which is pretty cool.  It’s been a while since the Mariners brought their big boy sticks to the ballpark.  Haniger hit a solo homer in the first to take the lead; then a 2-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to RE-take the lead.  Healy’s homers were both of the solo variety (in the sixth & eighth), and Segura tacked on an RBI double in the seventh.  Trout’s 2-run homer (again, off of Cook) made it a 1-run game temporarily, but we put them away late by the score of 6-3.

Again, aside from Cook, the bullpen was great.  Pazos got us out of the 7th, Colome took care of business in the 8th, and Diaz got his 25th save of the season … oddly enough by striking Trout out swinging.

This obviously puts the Mariners in a better position.  We were 1-2 against the Angels heading into this series; after today, we can be no worse than .500 against them.  We’re 0.5 games up on the Astros for the division, and a whopping 6.5 games up on the Angels for the second wild card.

I know I made a lot of noise about how difficult June was looking, but with Tampa shitting the bed, and now the Angels losing a lot of important players to injury, the nagging doubter in my brain wants to poo-poo what the Mariners are doing.  But, this shit is seriously impressive any way you slice it.  If we’re all going to boil this season down to how the Mariners play against the Red Sox and Yankees, then feel free to be my guest.  I mean, odds are we’ll have to play one of those teams in the wild card game, and the other of those teams in the ALDS (if we get that far), so we better figure out a way to either beat them or avoid them.  All I’m trying to say is that this is pretty fun, and let’s keep the ball rolling!

I’m A Worrier: The Carolina Panthers

That’s why my friends call me Whiskers.

I more-or-less think the Seahawks are going to be the best team in football in 2013.  They’re young, talented, hungry, and they enjoyed playoff success as recently as last year.  They also tasted playoff defeat, which may not sound like a good thing (when is it ever?), but I would argue it makes them even hungrier.  Not just the fact that they lost, but the WAY that they lost.  The most notable trait of this team is that it’s led by a smart quarterback with the will to be the best.  I have no concern about the offense.  But, this defense will be the linchpin.  This team goes as far as its defense takes it.  Games like that Atlanta game can’t happen again (in the playoffs).

Anyway, I’m getting off topic.  Yes, I think this team is going to win the Super Bowl, but just because I think what I think doesn’t mean it’s actually going to happen.  I tend to think a lot of things.  And I tend to be moronic, short-sighted, and homerific more often than not.  It’s like playing a strategic board game like Chess.  I get so focused on my own plan, I’m blinded to what my opponent is doing, and before I know it, I’ve been king-fucked.  I believe that’s the technical term.  King-fucked.

There are other good teams too.  Right in our own back yard!  The NFC is riddled with quality football teams to the point that I envy good teams in the AFC.  Mostly because there aren’t many, and all of them have flaws.  If the Seahawks were in the AFC West, yeah, they’d have to worry about the Denver Broncos, but they’re not as good as the 49ers!  Their defense is kind of a joke, and I think our secondary could slow down Manning’s receivers just enough to whup his ass.  Houston’s a good team, but they’re mighty flawed.  They say you can’t count out Baltimore, but look at what I’m doing right now!  I’m counting out Baltimore!  And good luck to New England, because you’re going to need it with your total lack of weapons on offense and your joke of a defense.  If the Seahawks were in the AFC, I could guarantee a 14-2 record, home field advantage, and a Super Bowl appearance and it would most likely happen.  In the NFC, I’m looking a lot more foolish.

Even the non-elite NFC teams are pretty good.  For the record, the elite teams are the Seahawks, 49ers, Falcons, and Packers.  The next-level teams are better than MOST AFC teams:  Saints, Rams, Redskins (with RGIII), Bears, Vikings, Lions, Giants, Cowboys, Bucs & Panthers.  These are all teams the Seahawks should consistently beat, but they do just enough to scare the bejesus out of me.

The Panthers were 7-9 last year, but they were the “good” kind of 7-9.  You know, that “good” kind of 7-9 where they won 5 of their last 6 games to close out the season, including wins over Atlanta and New Orleans.  Essentially, they did just enough to save their head coach’s job, which absolutely blew my mind.

A lot of football experts like the Panthers to make a leap this year.  That seems like a tall order for them to fill, considering the talent in their division.  Still, they fared quite well in games within their own division in 2012, going 3-3 with their three losses all within one score.  In fact, they were one fumble (and one bone-headed coaching decision) from going 4-2 and beating the Falcons twice.

If there’s one thing that doesn’t scare me, it’s the Panthers’ coaching staff.  They’re too conservative and I don’t think they get the best out of the talent around them.  If you’re at mid-field, it’s 4th & 1, you’ve been averaging over 5 yards per carry on the ground, and you’re one first down away from winning the game, you do NOT punt and put the game in the hands of your defense with its non-existent secondary.

I still don’t think their defense is all that good, but they don’t have to be the best defense around.  They just have to be good enough.  And on any given Sunday, they CAN be good enough.

I begrudgingly like Cam Newton.  I don’t think he’ll ever be one of the elite passers in the game, but I think he can top out as a Donovan McNabb-type passer, which is certainly good enough to compete in this league year-in and year-out.  When you tack on his ability to run and his ability to stay healthy, that puts Newton into an entirely different class.  He strikes me as a younger LeBron James – a mental head-case who every so often can completely take over a game and win it by himself.  Their overall running game is as strong as can be, and they’ve got just enough weapons in the passing game to keep defenses honest.

The Seahawks play the Panthers in Week 1.  I know there are plenty of other, scarier opponents on our schedule in 2013, but for some reason I can’t shake this feeling that this Panthers game is a must-win.  It’s a road game, and if the Seahawks are going to contend for a playoff BYE, they’re going to need a good road record.  Anything less than 5-3 is unacceptable.  So, it would be good to not be in a hole right out of the gate.

This Panthers game also comes immediately before our huge showdown at home against the 49ers.  I would argue it’s impossible to overlook your first opponent of a regular season, but if it’s even remotely possible, it’s because those 49ers loom large the following week.  You really want to go into that game 1-0, with the opportunity to go 2-0 and run wire-to-wire in the NFC West.

Truth be told, there isn’t an easy road game in the bunch.  After the Panthers, we head out to Houston and Indianapolis in weeks 4 & 5.  Then, it’s off to Arizona and St. Louis (two tough divisional foes) in weeks 7 & 8.  Then, we go to the Falcons in week 10, followed by our final two road games in San Francisco and New York (against the Giants) in weeks 14 & 15.  If I had to rank these games on the toughness scale, quite honestly the game against the Panthers would be pretty low on that list.  But, that doesn’t make them any less difficult of an opponent.

My nerves are going to be on edge throughout the 2013 season, but they’re going to be at an all-time high going into that first game.  Until we’re able to hold a comfortable lead, I’m just going to have to live with this tightness in my chest.  And this numbness of my arms and legs.  And this profuse sweating and panicked breathing … heart attack.  I’m having a heart attack.  LASSIE, GO GET HELP GIRL!

Isaiah Thomas Is Still Great For Husky Recruiting

What does it take to bring in top-flight talent into a college basketball program?  Top-flight talent.

In other words, if you’re starting where the Huskies started when Lorenzo Romar was hired, you’ve got a VERY daunting task ahead.  But, thanks to him, we had a big influx of talent.  And he took that talent and turned it into more talent.  And now he’s continuing the cycle.

A 4-star recruit, Nigel Williams-Goss, just declared that he will sign with the Huskies in their 2013 recruiting class.  In the Seattle Times blog post I read today, he’s attributed to this quote:

They have a track record of sending a lot of pros through the years …

Which got me to thinking.  That’s true!  That:  is a true statement!  You’ve got Nate Robinson, Brandon Roy, Spencer Hawes, Jon Brockman, Quincy Pondexter, Isaiah Thomas, and soon to be pros in Tony Wroten and Terrence Ross.  Those are eight guys who have had (or will have had) extended periods of time in the NBA.  But, how good are they really?

Nate Rob has the most experience, having played in 448 games, winning multiple Slam Dunk contests.  But, he’s an old man by basketball standards, being a 7-year pro and all.

Brandon Roy probably had the greatest NBA career (or, at least, he was the best of the bunch in the NBA), but he suffered chronic injuries and was forced into early retirement.  Plus, for as great as he was, it’s not like he was a flashy, me-first type of guy.  He was never one to grab the glory, so for the most part the country as a whole didn’t pay a lot of attention to him (compared to other superstars who shall remain nameless).

Hawes, Brockman, and Pondexter have all had nice little careers, but they’ve been role players at best, and bench-warmers at worst.  No 4-star recruit comes to college with a dream to one day play 3 minutes per game in the NBA.  They all want to be the Next LeBron, or the Next Kobe, or whatever.

IT, on the other hand, is doing what none of those other Huskies have been able to do.  He’s young – having just completed his rookie campaign.  He’s awesome – having made a real case for Rookie of the Year.  He’s getting all the right kinds of publicity – starting as a rookie at point guard, with his size, etc.  He’s one year removed from the college program that helped make him a star – the same college program that just featured two guys who are pretty much guaranteed to be First Round draft picks in the upcoming NBA draft.

When high school guys talk about the Washington Huskies as a program that “sends a lot of pros through,” they’re talking about Isaiah Thomas.  He’s the cocky underdog, a fighter with a sass-mouth that can back up all his shit-talk on the court.  And even though he plays for Sac-town, he’s always going to be a Husky.  He’s always going to be an asset to the program (just like Wroten and Ross will be assets, even if they didn’t exactly lead us to a title while they were here).

Washington has a reputation now.  We’ve always had a reputation, but now we’ve got a GOOD reputation.  We’re a program who has seen elite guys come and go.  We’ve got a head coach who has made NBA players out of raw, unsculpted Play Doh.  We’ve got a community in the 206, 253, and 425 that continues to come back home and remind the world there are some elite basketball players playing in the Pacific Northwest.

And the better IT does as a pro (not to mention all the other guys mentioned), the better the University of Washington is going to do as a program.  We will never be lacking in guard talent, I’ll tell you that for free.

Seattle’s Worst Trades, Draft Picks & Free Agent Signings (Part 3)

Editor’s NoteThis is the original blog post.  If you want to see the comprehensive list, click HERE.  I update the master list semi-regularly, whenever I can find the time.

Here we go with Part 3.  As far as Part 3’s go, this one is probably The Matrix Revolutions:  I bring up a couple of good points, but it’s mostly just filler and getting-it-over-with-already.

Since there were a bunch of moves left off of the first two installments, I still haven’t gotten around to the “Omissions” part yet.  Then again, there aren’t all that many supposed bad moves I’ve found defense-worthy yet.  Here we go.

October 16, 1984 – (Sonics) – 1986 1st Round Draft Pick to Boston Celtics for Gerald Henderson:  this pick ended up being the #2 overall, so that right there is pretty indefensible.  The fact that the #2 pick that year was Len Bias marginally softens the blow; of course, had he not overdosed, we might be talking about this as one of the worst Sonics moves of all time.  Still, it kept us from drafting at all in the first round that year, and Gerald Henderson really didn’t give us a whole lot (until we traded him to the Knicks for their 1st round pick in the 1987 draft; see below for repercussions of THAT move).

June 22, 1987 – (Sonics) – Scottie Pippen to Chicago Bulls for Olden Polynice:  with the draft pick we received from the Knicks for Gerald Henderson, the Sonics drafted Scottie Pippen (5th overall).  On the same day, we traded Scottie Pippen to the Bulls for Olden Polynice; ouch.  On the one hand, this would open the door for Shawn Kemp to flourish when we picked him up in the draft two years later.  On the other hand, Scottie Pippen made the Bulls into a championship juggernaut (without Pippen, who’s to say Michael Jordan wouldn’t have been the LeBron James of his time?).  Besides that, what would our team have looked like with Payton, Kemp, and Pippen?  I’m thinking, it would’ve looked like an early 90s dynasty.

February 20, 1997 – (Mariners) – Dennis Martinez signs 1-year, $250,000 deal:  this isn’t a deal about the money.  It was simple common sense that eluded the Mariners.  El Presidente was 42 years old at the time of signing!  You’re telling me there was NOBODY else out there who could’ve signed for the minimum and given us better than a 1-5 record in 9 starts, with a 7.71 ERA?  No triple-A kid who could’ve done better?  I hated this deal at the time, because it was yet another representation of a stacked team not doing what it took to go the extra mile.  Martinez was cut on May 24th.

February 6, 1998 – (Mariners) – Bobby Ayala re-signs for 2-year, $3.3 million deal:  yes, Ayala managed a decent 1997 season; but the two years before that he was an absolute trainwreck!  And, in spite of his numbers, he was ALWAYS a blown save waiting to happen.  After an attrocious 1998 campaign, he was traded and never heard from again.

February 14, 1998 – (Mariners) – Bill Swift signs 1-year, $425,000 deal:  all you need to know is that we gave this assclown 26 starts in 1998.  26!  He boasted a 5.85 ERA and his services were not retained further.  One thing about Lou Piniella I’ll never understand:  his devotion to aging pitchers over giving a young guy a chance to prove himself.  I mean, you can only go to that 1995 well (with Belcher, Bosio, etc.) so many times!

November 13, 1998 – (Mariners) – Jose Mesa signs 2-year, $6.8 million deal:  he hadn’t been a closer since he fell apart in Cleveland a few years prior, but we said, “What the hell?” and brought him in for two years and handed him the 9th inning.  After a full season in the job, he was beaten out by Japanese rookie Kazuhiro Sasaki and that was the end of that experiment.  How he managed to play another seven years is truly a testament to the idiocy of Major League Baseball.

April 17, 1999 – (Seahawks) – Lamar King, 1st Round Draft Pick:  22nd overall.  This is the primary pick most people pointed to when they wanted to take the GM responsibilities away from Mike Holmgren.  It’s not just that Lamar King was terrible – 5 seasons, 12 sacks – it’s that there was so much TALENT after him!  We could’ve had Patrick Kerney BEFORE he was a washed up shell!  In keeping with the defensive end theme, Mike Rucker was picked early in the 2nd round; Aaron Smith was drafted in the 4th round!  But, instead, we had Lamar King.  This was NOT a case of giving a defensive end more time to mature; this was a case of a defensive end being a suck-ass.

April 15, 2000 – (Seahawks) – Chris McIntosh, 1st Round Draft Pick:  sometimes busts aren’t made out of stupidity (or Monday Morning Quarterbacking).  Sometimes guys who might’ve been great get injured early in their careers and never see the light of day (see:  Steve Emtman).  Nevertheless, McIntosh WAS a bust.  Had he made it, with Walter and Hutch, we might never have seen Sean Locklear in a Seahawks uniform.  Too bad.

September 20, 2000 – (Sonics) – Emanual Davis, Greg Foster, Horace Grant & Chuck Person to Los Angeles Lakers; Lazaro Borrell, Vernon Maxwell, Vladimir Stepania & Two 2001 2nd Round Draft Picks + One 2002 1st Round Draft Pick to New York Knicks for Patrick Ewing:  I originally wasn’t going to put this one in my list, but the haul of players we gave up is pretty extraordinary!  Ever wonder what Tayshaun Prince would’ve looked like in a Sonics uniform had we had our 2002 1st round pick?  I haven’t either, because I can’t get the sight of Patrick Ewing to leave my brain!  I don’t really remember the point of this trade (except, I guess, to clear a lot of crappy players off our roster and end the agony with Ewing’s final year on his deal), but I distinctly remember him starting most every game and giving us nothing in return.  And what did we do with all that money coming off the books?  Oh yeah, Calvin Booth.  Burning all this money would’ve been more satisfying to Sonics fans!

October 18, 2000 – (Mariners) – Damaso Marte granted Free Agency:  some bad moves aren’t moves that you make.  Sometimes, they’re the moves you don’t.  Not giving Marte a chance at our bullpen – again, in favor of aging veterans – was a brutal mistake.  He had PLENTY of good-to-great years ahead of him.  Too bad he was once a former Mariner.

December 21, 2000 – (Mariners) – Raul Ibanez granted Free Agency:  another one of these non-moves that bit us pretty hard.  Ibanez was just starting to come into his own!  He left for Kansas City for three quality seasons; meanwhile we had the likes of Al Martin in left field.  Pity.

June 27, 2001 – (Sonics) – Vladimir Radmanovic, 1st Round Draft Pick:  12th overall.  Could have had Richard Jefferson.  Could have went guard and picked up Tony Parker or Gilbert Arenas.  Instead, we had Radman, who did nothing with the Sonics.  He went on to win a bunch with the Lakers, but no one is calling Radman instrumental to their success.

January 30, 2002 – (Mariners) – James Baldwin signs 1-year, $1.25 million deal:  we brought in a guy who was never all that great and decided to make him an everyday starter with no contingency plan.  He started 23 games and had a 5.28 ERA.

June 26, 2003 – (Sonics) – Luke Ridnour, 1st Round Draft Pick:  if, in our 2001 draft, we went with Tony Parker, we would’ve already HAD our Point Guard of the Future.  Instead, we had no such guy and went after the Oregon grad and he STUNK.

January 20, 2004 – (Mariners) – Joel Pineiro re-signs for 3-year, $14.5 million deal:  these were some frustrating seasons for the Mariners.  Maybe not as frustrating as the mid-to-late 90s when we had all that offensive talent but little in the way of pitching; but pretty damned frustrating nonetheless.  We thought we had our rotation of the future shaping up with the likes of Pineiro and Gil Meche (and, to a lesser extent, Mr. 5-pitch Wonder himself Ryan Franklin).  All were draft picks, all were guys we furiously refused to trade away to other teams for more-productive players.  In fact, we went so far as to give Pineiro a 3-year deal instead of going to arbitration, after a studly 2003 season.  Pineiro promptly went on to get worse and worse every year after, until he was finally tossed from our rotation and ultimately not re-signed thereafter.  I shudder to think of what we could’ve hauled in if we would’ve sold high on the likes of Pineiro and Meche.  Instead, we ended up with a whole lotta nothin’.

April 24, 2004 – (Seahawks) – Marcus Tubbs, 1st Round Draft Pick:  23rd overall.  Unfortunately in this draft, we missed out on some better defensive tackles (including Vince Wilfork a mere two picks prior), but it was hard to argue with Tubbs’ selection with the 2005 season he gave us.  Knee injuries kept him off the field; potential recovery kept hope alive, but Tubbs never gave us much of anything after our Super Bowl run.

January 19, 2005 – (Mariners) – Aaron Sele signs 1-year, $700,000 deal:  until last night, I’d forgotten that we brought Sele back four seasons after he was remarkably productive for us in the 2000 and 2001 seasons.  After his 3-years of futility in Anaheim, we took a flyer on him in 2005; but he was as done as done could be.  After 21 starts and a 6-12 record, he was waived on July 31st.  Fun fact:  Felix Hernandez was called up and took over his rotation slot on August 4th and never looked back.

June 28, 2005 – (Sonics) – Johan Petro, 1st Round Draft Pick:  28th overall.  The Frenchman was another in a long line of busted center prospects for the Sonics.  Not the first, not the last, but ultimately just as irrelevant.

March 5, 2006 – (Seahawks) – Shaun Alexander re-signs for 8-year, $62 million deal:  after an MVP season, we re-signed the 28 year old to a max deal.  Some might blame the loss of Steve Hutchinson; others will surely blame his foot injuries.  Either way, Alexander was never the same.  He played two more years in a Seahawks uniform, giving us production he’d normally churn out in a single season, and that was the end of that.  We ended up paying him more to NOT play for us.  The moral of the story:  don’t sign running backs to big deals when they’re approaching 30 years of age.

June 28, 2006 – (Sonics) – Mouhamed Sene, 1st Round Draft Pick:  10th overall.  This whole draft was pretty much a bust, aside from just a few players; but that doesn’t make the Sene pick any less difficult to swallow.  By this point, Sonics fans were fed up with the team picking up foreign prospects with little in the way of actual basketball skills.  Sene was the end of the road for Sonics going after non-sensical big men; a run that went back as far as I can remember.

July 13, 2007 – (Mariners) – Ichiro re-signs for 5-year, $90 million deal:  I can’t imagine another Major League Baseball team giving a leadoff hitter who does nothing but slap singles and steal bases this kind of money, but honestly, what were the Mariners supposed to do?  At this point, Ichiro was the only bona fide superstar the team had seen since A-Rod left; he was the face of the franchise and our only true All Star.  The PR hit the team would’ve taken would’ve been a nightmare.  Nevertheless, his contract has crippled this organization in subsequent years.  Nearly $18 million in cap space per season for a singles hitter … yowza.

October 30, 2007 – (Mariners) – Jose Guillen granted Free Agency:  this isn’t the kind of move you have to kill in hindsight; most fans and pundits agreed that losing Jose Guillen almost single-handedly ushered in our 2008 disaster.  Maybe a 2-year deal for Guillen would’ve been a year too much, but you can’t argue that even his lackluster numbers in ’08 were better than Jose Vidro’s.

March 4, 2008 – (Seahawks) – T.J. Duckett signs 5-year, $14 million deal:  once it was apparent that Shaun Alexander’s best days were behind him, Tim Ruskell went on the offensive the only way he knew how:  bring in past-their-prime veterans to pick up the slack.  I’m certain Duckett never saw the majority of that money, but still.  What was he thinking with a 5-year deal?  He had 8 goal line touchdowns in 2008, then was released.

March 7, 2008 – (Seahawks) – Julius Jones signs 4-year, $11.8 million deal:  Julius Jones is 4 years younger than Shaun Alexander, but his skills had already deteriorated to the same point.  Jones was a castoff from Dallas – who quickly learned that he would never be a productive every-down back – and we lapped him up as a quick fix.  Jones gave us 2 years and 2 games and never had more than 700 yards in a single season.  Probably would’ve been smarter to just draft ANY running back and pay him a rookie’s salary, but “smarter” was never really Tim Ruskell’s forte.

April 25, 2008 – (Mariners) – Kenji Johjima re-signs for 3-year, $24 million deal:  the Mariners went back to the Japanese well one more time and struck a modest amount of gold.  Johjima was as productive as you could hope in his first two seasons, but it was odd that they’d re-sign him to a contract extension so early on in the 2008 season.  Most believe it was a call from the owners, but whoever’s to blame, it doesn’t change the fact that Johjima took a huge nosedive in 2008.  He was eventually supplanted as the starting catcher by Rob Johnson (mostly because pitchers hated pitching to Johjima, but also because his bat disappeared), and that’s all you need to know about where he was at the end.  The only good thing to come out of this contract was that Johjima asked for his release after the 2009 season, saving the team a solid $16 million.

November 11, 2009 – (Mariners) – Ken Griffey Jr. re-signs for 1-year, $2.35 million deal:  after the miraculous 2009 season – where we came out of nowhere to post a winning record amid tidings of joy and hugs of glee – it was a no-brainer to bring Griffey back for the 2010 season.  Yes, the .214 batting average was a concern.  But they drained fluid from his knees (maybe another red flag, perhaps?) and Griffey hit the treadmill a little bit in his offseason.  SURELY he could get the batting average up to … what?  .225?  .230?  And those 19 home runs he hit in 2009; SURELY he could keep up that production inside the confines of the House That Griffey Built!  Except, no.  He played in 33 games, had 2 extra base hits (0 homers), allegedly fell asleep during a game, and abruptly retired in early June.  Everything could’ve been so much more magical had he just retired after 2009 … he could’ve ridden off into the sunset like a conquering hero.

December 8, 2009 – (Mariners) – Chone Figgins signs 4-year, $36 million deal:  it’s getting harder and harder to ignore this deal.  Until Figgins proves otherwise (at which hypothetical point, I’ll retract this statement and take him off the list), here he stays.  This is the first real Bavasi-esque misstep from Jackie Z.  Only, instead of being seduced by the long ball of an aging veteran, Z was seduced by a high batting average, higher on-base percentage, and a tremendous base-running threat.  Except, one problem:  Figgins was a little over a month away from turning 32 years old BEFORE he signed the contract.  His 2010 season was half-unmitigated disaster, half-just okay.  His 2011 season, two months in, has been dramatically worse.  Not only does he have to finish this season – while making $9 million – but he has to go two more (making a combined $18 million).  We can’t trade him, we can’t cut him, we can’t NOT play him – just in case he DOES turn it around and we can trade him later – we’re just stuck.  Like we were with Sexson and Silva and so many others.

January 29, 2010 – (Mariners) – Eric Byrnes signs 1-year, $400,000 deal:  he was waived by the Diamondbacks (who had to pay the rest of his $11 million contract) and he figured out a way to make it onto our team in 2010.  The money isn’t an issue.  What’s unforgivable is the April 30th contest (and Cliff Lee’s first start).  He was SUPPOSED to suicide squeeze the ball with our runner going from third base; instead he pulled the bat back in what has to be the most moronic baseball play I’ve ever seen.  That led to us losing in extra innings and me forever hating Eric Byrnes.  He was released 3 days later.

Who Gives A Fuck: High School Basketball Stars Picking Their College Edition

Tony Wroten Jr. verbally committed to the University of Washington yesterday.  I think that’s fantastic!  Big time college basketball is really a Rich Get Richer kind of scheme.  First, you have to win ballgames.  Then, you have to get better players to sign with your team.  Then, you have to win some more.  THEN, you start getting really good players.  And the more really good players you get, the more you’re likely to get in the future because good players like playing for good teams where they’ll get noticed on a national stage and ultimately land a bigtime basketball contract with the NBA.

The Washington Huskies are currently involved in this cycle.  And it’s exciting as all hell.

Tony Wroten Jr. verbally committed to the University of Washington yesterday.  And of course what you hear and what you read after some big prospect commits to a college in front of family and friends and classmates in his high school gym, with reporters and television cameras and ESPN and the like waiting in the wings like panthers about to pounce on a feeble-minded gazelle … it’s always the same: 

I Don’t Like This. 
I Don’t Think We Should Be Making A Big Deal About A High School Kid. 
I Don’t Think We Should Be Putting All This Pressure On A High School Kid.
I Don’t Understand This.
What Has The World Come To?

You know what I hear when I hear people argue this point:

“I’m An Old, Out Of Shape White Man Whose Athletic Zenith Happened When I Hit A Grand Slam In Tee-Ball.  And Because I Was Never Anything More Than A Pale, Friendless Virgin In High School, I’m Jealous Of All The Attention This Kid’s Receiving Now.  This Kid Who Will Ultimately Make More Money In A Season Than I Will In My Life.  This Kid Who Will Ultimately Amount To More In His Profession Than I Ever Will In Mine Is A Threat To My Sanity And So I Must Tear Down This Experience.”

Can we all, for a second, just sit back and try to put ourselves in his shoes?  Why does this … I dunno, press conference?  Why does this experience automatically have to be a bad thing?

Remember when YOU were in high school?  What did you want more than anything besides getting laid?  You wanted attention.  You wanted validation for the things you did well.  And maybe that didn’t involve an A you received on that presentation about the Kent State shootings.  You didn’t necessarily want validation and attention from your teachers; but you sure as shit wanted it from your peers.  You wanted to be held in high regard, regardless of what you did to get it.

The class clown wants to crack up his fellow students during a quiet moment in a test.  The rich kid wants to bring his fancy new gadget to school and show everyone how it works, thereby making them incredibly jealous.  The tough kid won’t take no shit and wants to show off how bad ass he is by beating the shit out of anyone who crosses him.  And the basketball player wants you to leap out of your seat when he jams over the outstretched arms of someone taller than him.

That’s high school in a nutshell.

In other words, you don’t have the experience of life to tell you what’s right and what’s wrong.  You’re not wise enough to have your ego in check.  All you want is to soak in all the adulation that you can.  And what’s wrong with that?

It’s only when you become a grown-ass man and are still pulling the same high school stunts (LeBron), that you become a joke.  If you haven’t at least learned how to fake humility by the time you’ve made it to the Show, then there’s something wrong with you.

There’s nothing wrong with a high school senior relishing his time in the sun.  And you old white pricks need to get a life and move on.  Don’t like all the attention being heaped on Tony Wroten Jr.?  Then don’t watch.