Rumors, rumors, rumors. The Yankees have added all-stars Bruce McCann and Jacob Ellsbury, and rumor has it they could let Cano walk. Rumor also has it the Seattle Mariners have offered Cano 8 years and $200 million. But would Cano fit in with Seattle?
Seattle has wanted to make a splash with a free agent the last two years, going after Josh Hamilton in 2013 and Prince Fielder in 2012. I sense they are willing to overpay in order to strut like a happy rooster that they can land a top tier free agent. Mariner fans would love to get Cano, just as they were thrilled when the M’s landed Adrian Beltre.
Beltre was coming off a 2004 season having hit .334 with 48 homers and 121 RBIs. While that looked like a great bat to land, it was his career year. In 2003 he hit .240 with 23 homers and 80 rbis and his seasons prior to 2004 were along the lines of what he did in Seattle from 2005-2008. Beltre left for Boston, then Texas, where he became a solid hitter, much better than his Seattle days.
Landing Cano on the surface seems better because he has a track record of success. In nine seasons with New York he has hit at a .309 clip with 209 home runs. The question is whether he could duplicate those numbers with Seattle. The reason being the Yankees lineup is littered with major league hitters. With Seattle Cano doesn’t have the same protection in the lineup, thus teams are likely to pitch around him.
Still it is worth the risk because landing Cano may open the eyes of other free agents, like Curtis Granderson. New York now has Ellsbury for centerfield. The Mariners need outfielders as they have only three returning from 2013, Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte, and Michael Saunders. The other outfielders on the 40 man roster are minor leaguers or somebody like Carlos Peguero who has not impressed enough to be in the mix.
If the Mariners want to make a splash, landing both Cano and Granderson would be like a tsunami. It is fun to dream in the offseason before reality sets in, don’t you think.
If you are baseball fan you are either a Yankee lover or Yankee hater. There is no in-between. People hate the Yankees for the same reason they hate major corporations, mainly pinstripes, symbolic of money, corporate greed, the rich and powerful. The Yankees have won 27 World Series titles out of the 40 Fall Classics they have played. The St. Louis Cardinals are second with a mere 11 titles. Chances are by the end of this century they will still be the leader.
But is it not time to look at the Boston Red Sox as the new team on the block to despise, to hate, to root against. Are they the ‘new’ Yankees, the team with too much success?
It was fun in 2004 when Boston swept the Cardinals for their first title since 1918. They were the sentimental pick, the pick for those that love the underdog, the cute, cuddly pick. But things have changed.
Since 2004 Boston has won three titles, the Yankees one. After sweeping the Cardinals in 2004, they swept the Rockies in 2007 and took four of six from the 2013 Cardinals. That is a 12-2 World Series record in their last three appearances. Dominating. Of course those type of numbers appeal to the type of neutral fans who are front runners, the type who only pull for top teams. These type of fans are to be avoided. There is something wrong with these folk.
True, the Yankees have won 951 games in the last ten years and Boston 910. In 2012 Boston won only 69, but if you take their average season for the other nine years and replace the 69 with the 93, they still fall short of New York.
But what matters is the World Series. And with three dominating championships in ten years I no longer find the Red Sox the cute and cuddly choice. They are too good, too dominating, too powerful. The only thing missing is pinstripes. The pinstripes may not be visible, but they are there in spirit and intent.
It is time for new cute and cuddly choices. Some team needs to step up like the Cubs or the Mariners. Okay, neither team can step up quick enough, but at least Boston provides true fans with someone to root against come October.
For the record I am not a Yankee fan. I grew up a Dodger fan, now I am a fan of losers.
With the Seattle Mariners having lost 13 of their last 20, I must take pause from their looniness. I need to rest my addled brain from their downfall.
So let me answer the question of who the Kansas Squirrel Fodder was. The nickname comes from Damon Runyon, one of the great sports writers of the early 20th century. The name was applied to Charlie Faust, a rookie on the New York Giants team of 1911. I say rookie, in a sense he was, but truthfully he was a mascot. But Charlie was unaware of that. He believed he was a pitcher. In fact, at least according to Charlie, a fortune teller told him he would pitch the Giants to the pennant. So one day in July of 1911 he walked onto Robison Field in St. Louis before a game and told Giant manager John McGraw he was there to help the team win.
Charlie was persistent, the players took to him, and within weeks of arriving in New York, not only was he on the Giant team, but was starring on Vaudeville. The New York Telegraph wrote he “was the worst act in vaudeville history. “But we know how tough New York critics are, even in 1911. But he did pitch in two meaningless games late in the season when the pennant was won.
Many of the players gave him credit for helping the team to the pennant, believing he was a lucky charm. When Charlie was at games and suited up the team was 37-2.
Charlie has become a kind of cult figure for baseball nuts, and not only because he got to pitch in two games when he had no talent whatsoever, but for the rest of the story.
The rest of the story is more a mystery. Who was Charlie Faust? Many of the Giant players wrote of him, mentioning him in there bios, but nobody ever mentioned whether Charlie was a bit daft, slow in the head, or a larger than life country bumpkin. We simply know little about him.
It is true he died a few years later at a mental hospital in Steilacoom, Washington, but he died of tuberculosis.
The players played cruel pranks on him, cruel by todays standards, but they all loved him.
Those are the reasons that led me to write a novel about Charlie and the Giants, as seen through the eyes of a fictional rookie on the team. Today, Friday the 16th, is a free day for my e-book, “Loonies in the Dugout,” on Amazon. So if you are interested about Charlie, enjoy satire on celebrity and fame, have a loony bent, and have a Kindle or Kindle app, here is a link to my page and my two books. http://www.amazon.com/Terry-Nelson/e/B00EEVHN38. Hey, its free!
There is a reason Felix Hernandez is called ‘King”, but there is one game he can not win, nor will he ever, unless one event happens and the odds are against him.
I said there is a reason he is called the King, but truthfully there are many. Here are a few. In the last five years he has the second best earned run average at 2.74; he is second in strikeouts with 950; he is first in starts with 142. Those are the numbers of a workhorse ace at the top of his game, truly the King. But there is more. He has won a Cy Young award and pitched a perfect game. There is still more. When the Mariners give the King two or more runs, his record is 96-24.
As every Mariner fans knows there is one thing he can not control, okay make that two, the second of which I will shortly get to. Felix has pitched 89 games in which the Mariners scored one run or less. If he had an offense these past five years he would be winning 20 games a season and be mentioned with Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Tom Seaver, Greg Maddox, any and all right handed Hall of Fame pitchers.
Instead the one game in can not win is the game of public perception in the media. When his contract was coming to an end, speculation rose about where he would go, and what the Mariners could get for him. Boston and todays opponent the New York Yankees were in the race. Instead the King signed an extension with the Mariners. He said he loves the Seattle area, it is a great home for his family and he wants to win in Seattle.
Why he can’t win no matter what he did is this. Because he chose to stay in Seattle, there is false perception that he did not want to play in the pressure of New York, or that he did not really want to go where he had a chance to win. But if had decided to leave Seattle, then he would be the guy who left for the money. He can’t win, dammed if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.
You hear an occasional baseball pundit bemoan the fact few players want to stay with their team, leaving for zillions of dollars. What happened to the George Brett’s and Cal Ripken’s who wanted to spend their career with one team? Felix wants to be one of those guys.
The one event that will change the perception of Felix staying in Seattle is if one year the Mariners win the World Series with Felix in a Mariner uniform. Then it will be “All Hail the King”.
According to the New York Times Felix is 4-1 at Yankee Stadium, old and new, with two shutouts, both two-hitters and has a 1.31 ERA. If he gets two runs or more today the odds look good he will once again win in New York. Let us now praise the King.
After winning two of three from bitter rival Oakland at the Safe, the Mariners are 10-5 in their last fifteen games, having won four series and splitting two games with Pittsburgh. Despite being hot, they are treading the cold, choppy waters of Elliot Bay.
They got within two games of .500 when they beat Toronto 8-1, May 4th, but lost the next two games before beating Pittsburgh 2-1 on May 8th. After beating Oakland Friday night they once again were within two games of .500, but lost Saturday. With Sundays win they are 18-20, again two games within playing .500 baseball.
It will be hard to get to that magic mark as they head out on the road for the roughest stretch of May. Beginning Tuesday the Mariners have three games in New York, then to Cleveland for four games, then to Disneyland for two with the Angels, and playing those 9 games without a day off.
It is the case of taking two steps forward and one step back. While they have been hot, improving from 8-15 to 18-20, they must become road warriors during this nine game stretch. Winning five would be nice, four acceptable. Winning less than four would put them, at the least, four games below .500 heading into a three game series with Texas at the Safe. It is not a make or break season with this stretch of nine games, but it could be for attendance which has picked up with the Oakland series.
If Seattle struggles on the road, then drops two of three to Texas, or worse, get swept, fans may give up the ship once again. Mariner fans, what few are left, live on hope the way Christians live for an afterlife; this team, like life, is okay, but the future will be better. I am sure the front office is hoping the hot streak will continue as they live, not on the future, but the present, the key work being green backs. We shall see how many fans are still on board after the Texas series. The Mariners ordered lots of hot dogs and beer for the summer.
If I have the months right for the Sinatra song, it is “Riding high in April, shot down in May.”
The Mariners were not riding high in April, not with a 12-17 record, but they definitely could be “shot down in May,” as they spend most of the month on the road, with one stretch being particularly brutal.
The Mariners have five of May’s thirty-one days off. They spend 17 games on the road, with only 9 home games. Two thirds of the month they will be out of town, but since fewer and fewer baseball fans are going to Safeco, not many will know they are gone, nor miss them anyway. If they have a bad road month, June may have even more empty seats.
The Mariners must have ticked off someone in the MLB executive offices. Consider this: Friday the 3rd though Sunday they are in Toronto, they take Monday off, play in Pittsburgh two days, fly back to Seattle for three games with Oakland, then fly back to New York for three, before going to Cleveland for three, then Anaheim at Los Angeles in Disneyland-or whatever they call themselves-for two.
The second game in Pittsburgh is a day game on the 8th, Seattle will fly home, then five days later fly back to the East Coast. And this is in the middle of a stretch where they play 14 of 17 on the road with two trips east. That is brutal. My guess is that all the players will be getting a few days off here and there.
When they come back from that awful stretch, they have three home games with the Texas Rangers. Thanks Mr. Schedule maker.
Every team can make some complaint about their schedule, but Seattle, being close to the North Pole, just a few sled runs from Santa’s workshop, always end up flying more miles than ant team in baseball. But to make two east coast trips with in five days of each other is cruel. It is a schedule made by a bully, someone with a grudge against Seattle. And here I thought David Stern was the only one.
Seattle looked great in their first two games. King Felix and the bullpen shutout Oakland. Obviously pitching will be a strong suit. It was also evident in game two in which Hisashi Iwakuma dominated like he did last season. And Michael Morse powered two home runs, the offense generating six runs in the win.
True Seattle lost game three to Oakland, but Joe Saunders was pitching and the last few years have not been kind to him. The Mariners were not going undefeated, but they improved enough in the offseason to show in the early going they are heading to the World Series to face the Washington Nationals.
The reason I wrote those two opening paragraphs is based on what I heard on radio shows Monday and Tuesday. After New York lost to Boston on opening day, I heard a national sports talk radio host ask a national baseball writer a question. He wanted to know if Yankee ownership would be worried enough about that loss that Yankee manager, Joe Girardi, should be worried about his job. After a brief pause the writer said no. He went on to explain that it was only one game, that the Yankees had all their star players on the DL and so on.
The tone of the question by the radio host, the concern in his voice sounded like he was serious. I also heard some concern from a radio host in Seattle who was worried about the lack of offense in Seattle’s opening day 2-0 win.
In mulling over this overreaction to one game from these two samples, as well as few others, I have come to the conclusion that people bring a football mentality to baseball. That does not work. Football is played once a week, it is more an event than anything. In a sixteen game schedule more is at stake every Sunday. Not so in baseball.
A baseball team can not be judged on one or two games. Football is a sprint, baseball is a marathon. If football was a meal it would be a starving man tearing into barbecued ribs like it was his last meal. Baseball is a nine course black tie dinner where guests chew each bite 32 times and savor each and every mouthful of sumptuous food.
You can not judge what kind of baseball team you have until after forty or fifty games. I will not worry about losses, but I will savor each win. But they better win today, otherwise we need to look at call ups or trades.