In my post of April 16th I said there were two things wrong with the Mariners, one of which was their poor on base percentage. That was after nine games. They have now played 25 and that has not changed. They are hitting .238, 12th in the American League and their on base percentage is .292, ahead of only the Angels of Disneyland.
It does not matter how many home runs Nelson Cruz hits as solo homers aren’t as good as three-run shots. Austin Jackson who twisted his ankle Sunday has an on base percentage of .294, not what you want from a batter ahead of Cano and Cruz in the lineup. The M’s need a rally starter and Jackson is not the guy. Ruggiano has a .344 OBP and Seth Smith is .333. After that it drops to .308 from Richie Weeks and Brad Miller’s .301. The first three names are the new guys in town.
As bad as the M’s lack of hitting and OBP is, the pitching has gone sour. Their 4.35 ERA is 11th in the league. It took a hit in Houston when the M’s came in trailing by 4 games, got swept, and gave up 11 homers in four games. I think it was 11, though it felt like 20. Now they are 8 games out.
The problem with pre season predictions is that when you listen to the experts before the season they look at what was added and figure, as in the Mariner’s case, that they would improve with the additions of Cruz, Weeks, Smith, Ruggiano, and Happ. On paper that makes sense, but what everyone forgets is that what players did last season, how a team played last season, does not carry over to the next year.
The starting pitching may not be as good, as in the Mariners case. Two young pitchers James Paxton, and especially Taijuan Walker have struggled; Iwakuma has back problems. The bullpen has not been as untouchable as 2014. One can not expect the same numbers every year.
The exception is the OBP of the Mariners. At least that has been consistently bad.
The M’s must improve this month to keep close to the streaking Astros. If they keep falling, then June will see Seattle fans talking Seahawks.
The first nationally televised baseball game was October 3rd, 1951. It was the playoff game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds in New York. Like the Seattle Seahawk-New England Patriot game it ended in dramatic fashion.
The Dodgers had a 4-1 lead heading into the bottom of the 9th. Their trip to the World Series to face the Yankees was not be as the Giants scored four times in the bottom of the 9th, the last three on Bobby Thompson’s homerun over the short porch in left-not even 300 yards from the plate at the Polo Grounds. It was the New York Daily News that gave the moniker of “The shot heard around the world” to the Thompson homerun. It has become the most famous homerun in baseball history.
I was 10 days short of my second birthday so I did not see the game, nor was even aware of it. But I became a Dodger fan in the fifties and as student of baseball history I hate that homerun. I hate the Giants winning. I hate it whenever the subject is brought up. I will not read the book about the game. I will not watch replays or listen to the famous Russ Hodges call.
Now I know how crushed the Brooklyn fans were that day. I understand their shock, their pain, their frustration. Russell Wilson threw the interception that will be heard throughout the world. It will be the most famous interception in Super Bowl history. It is the pick that snatched a second straight Super Bowl victory for the Seahawks.
There is no joy in Beastville. The mighty Beast Mode was turned off on the last Seahawk play. They should have fed the Beast.
As many of you know the Texas Rangers drafted Seattle Seahawk quarterback Russell Wilson in baseballs recent amateur draft. He has no intention of playing baseball and the Rangers have no desire for him to play-not that the Seahawks would allow that anyway. No the Rangers had something different in mind, and Russell said he will report to Rangers spring training and do what they ask. Maybe every year. But has Russell sold out the Seattle Mariners and the city of Seattle in the process?
What the Rangers are asking him to do is based on his reputation as an inspirational leader. They want to bring him to camp and talk to minor leaguers about preparation, about on the field and off the field success. In other words a motivator. This sounds like the beginning of a second career as motivational speaker for Russell, one perfectly apt ,and I wish him well. My thinking is that Russell should have turned Texas down, saying, “The Seattle Mariners are more in need of my services than the Rangers, who have twice gone to the World Series in recent years, who have signed Shin-Soo Choo and traded for Prince Fielder.” Their lineup is loaded, the Rangers minor leaguers stuck on the farm. How can you motivate someone when his path is blocked?
The Mariners have young players in need of help today, not in the future; these youngsters are at the major league level. Where is Russell’s loyalty to his next door neighbor at Safeco Field? Where is Russell’s loyalty to the city of Seattle? Russell is aiding, abetting, and consorting with a division rival, one that pounds Seattle every season. What will he do next, consort with the Oklahoma City Blunder, the team stolen from Seattle by Stern and his Okie buddy? Will the 49’ers ask Wilson to motivate Colin Copperhead?
One can argue, and justifiably so, that the Mariners once again missed a golden opportunity. It would have been great publicity, superb public relations for the Mariners to extend such an invitation, not Texas. Of course that would mean the Mariners would have to cozy up and snuggle with the Seahawks, the number one sports franchise in the city, and that is not the Mariners style. They prefer thinking the Seahawks aren’t really there. Despite Mariner protestations, they did not want the Sonics back in town, for they knew that would drop the baseball team to third most popular. If I counted soccer, which I don’t, they would drop to fourth.
Maybe the Mariners can have a Russell Wilson bobblehead night where is bobble is wearing a Mariner uniform. Oh wait, I forgot, Russell is baseball property of the Texas Rangers. He will get his bobblehead in the Lone Star state. A nice coup for Texas and another missed opportunity for the Mariners. No wonder Texas will battle for the West title and the M’s will strive to stay out of the cellar.
With the Mariners getting swept at home by the lowly Houston Astros, getting outscored 25-7 in the process, and having lost 10 of their last 12 home games, what better time to look ahead to 2014. There will be time later to gnaw on the Mariner carcass.
Once upon a time, not that long ago, baseball teams released their schedule for the following season in the cold of Winter. No longer. Unlike the NFL which annually turns their schedule release into must see TV for NFL addicts; the schedule being digested, analyzed, and debated by NFL analysts like it really mattered, Major League Baseball sneaks their schedules out when no one is looking.
But I am here to provide commentary and make the schedule a must read.
The Mariners open the season April 1st (No jokes please) at the Disneyland Angels, They play two there, then on to Oakland for three before coming home with three games each against those teams. Of interest is that 21 of the first 24 Mariner games will be against divisional foes. Expect the same in September when 23 of their last 27 games are against the Angels, Rangers, Astros, and A’s.
If you enjoy National League teams, the only one appearing for a weekend will be the Washington Nationals, August 29-31. The Mets come in on a Monday, July 21, for three and the Atlanta Braves play on Tuesday and Wednesday beginning August 5. And yes the Mariners ‘natural rival’ the San Diego Padres are on the schedule, but I don’t know when. This series generates as much excitement as a Kansas City-Miami game played in Guam at midnight during monsoon season.
The early bird catches the foul ball
What I like about the schedule is that the Mariners only have two three city road trips and only one will be troublesome. In August they go to Detroit, Philadelphia, and Boston, but they have a day off after the first six games. The only bad trip (besides a 1960’s flashback) is in September. After an afternoon game with Oakland on Sunday the 14th, the Mariners go to Los Angeles to play four with the Angels, then to Houston for three, then up to Toronto for four games before returning home to play the last three games of the season with the Angels. Thus they finish the season with 17 straight games, 11 of which are on the road, and four of those in a foreign country.
The good news is that the trip comes at the very end of the season, by which time the Mariners will be playing for another 75 win season. And everyone will be watching the 2013 Super Bowl Champions, the Seattle Seahawks.
The Mariners are planning month long discounts for all fans coming to games. It is their way of saying thank you. Being the cynic I am, I see promotional activities to get more fans to Safeco where they will spend money. Which is okay. With the Seahawks and the NFL going strong in September the Mariners must compete for dollars.
The Mariners have always been kid oriented, so much in fact, kiddies appear to be the demographic the Mariners target. During Saturday and Sunday in September every kid 14 and younger will receive a voucher for a hot dog and soda. Truthfully it is a good deal. Not many kids 14 and under have an allowance large enough to buy food at Safeco. The parents will save though, and that is the idea.
Of course, as usual kids also get to run around the bases. College kids don’t during College Night. I doubt they want to anyway, they would rather mingle in the singles area, hoping to comingle after the game.
Nor do seniors get to go around the bases on Senior Day. It would be nice though if we could have wheel chair races around the bases.
Season ticket holders also get $10 credit for concessions or merchandise for each game they attend. But if you are not a kid, nor a season ticket holder, do not fret, there are still discounts at the team store for everybody. I am guessing it is on merchandise they are trying to get rid of, like Michael Morse jerseys, and other out of date items.
And there will be special experiences. You could win a chance to meet Edgar Martinez at his restaurant in left field, Edgars Cantina, or free wine tasting with chef Ethan Stowell. If you don’t win either of those, you can get seat upgrades.
The big night will be the 27th against Oakland. It is college night, team poster night, fireworks night, and a big give away. Some lucky fan, probably a kid, will win a Ford C-May Hybrid. I am sure, as in years past, there will be those winning autographed balls, jerseys, bats, rosin bags, anything, maybe a date with the Moose.
The downside to a fun month is that if you win nothing and the Mariners lose the game, you really come away empty handed. And that has been my experience. I win nothing, the Mariners lose, and I feel like the world is a tuxedo and I am a pair of brown shoes.
Sometimes fun is changing the channel. Go Hawks!
It came as no surprise to me, nor will it surprise anyone in the Pacific Northwest, that the City of Seattle is rated # 1 as the Most Miserable Sports City.
The misery in no way reflects the ambiance of either Safeco Field or Century Link Field, (better know as The Clink). Both venues are among the best in sports. Nor does it have anything to do with the fine food (gag) in these venues, though it may have something to do with the pricing.
No the misery comes from futility, including getting to the brink of championships, then losing.
Consider that the Seahawks, Mariners, Pilots, and Sonics have a cumulative total of 115 seasons. They have one championship, the 1979 Sonics, some 34 years ago.
Consider also that the Pilots lasted one year in Seattle before a used car salesman in Milwaukee bought the franchise and moved it out of Seattle, changing the name to the Brewers. Then the franchise was moved to the National League to further distance themselves from the Emerald City. Speaking of moving, The Sonics changed colors, changed their nickname, and are now disguised as the Oklahoma City Blunder-I mean Thunder.
And despite what looked like a shoo-in for getting the Sacramento Kings, NBA commissioner David Stern, who likes Seattle as much as he would like a Charlotte-Portland NBA championship, let the Kings stay in Sacramento, stiffing the fine city of Seattle.
And keep in mind when the Mariners won 116 games in 2001 they lost in the first round of the playoffs. That is misery. Want more misery? How about the Seahawks getting to the 2005 Super Bowl only to outplay and outgain the Pittsburgh Steelers, and have more than one controversial call go against the Hawks. Years later one of the referees even apologized to the Seahawks. Thanks ref!
Yes, it has been miserable for Seattle, especially the years that the University of Washington football team was coached by Tyrone Willingham. Technically it does not count. But misery loves company, so they say, so why not pile on more miserable company. It’s great to be number 1.
If you have not bought the DVD of “42” about Jackie Robinson, here is my film review: http://terrynelson.net/42.html
They are the only players remaining from the 2010 Mariner team, and Smoak only played 30 games for Seattle after coming over from Texas in the Cliff Lee trade.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and John Schneider, the GM, have gotten attention for quickly turning over their roster, making multiple players moves, all towards getting the players they want to fit their mold. But the Seahawks with all their moves, still have at least, by my quick count, at least eight players from 2010. Considering the short career span for NFL players, that is pretty good. It has been players surrounding, Marshawn Lynch, Golden Tate, Russell Okung, Earl Thomas, Chris Clemons, Kam Chancellor, Jon Ryan, and Breno Giacomini, that have come and gone.
The Mariners used 32 players in 2010, so using that number the Mariners have 9% left from 2010 (Hernandez, Smoak, and Saunders). Even using the 25 roster number, it is 12%. It could be argued the Mariners are turning over their roster at a bigger percentage.
The Seahawks, according to everyone who is writing about, and talking about, football, are saying the Seahawks are poised to get to the Super Bowl. They have young, quick, hard hitting, and tough minded players, the kind Carroll and Schneider wanted. They built this team.
Now the Mariners have young players like Brad Miller, Nick Franklin, Kyle Seager, Mike Zunino; and if they continue to get back on track ,Dustin Ackley and Michael Saunders. I would mention pitchers Danny Hultzen and Taijuan walker, but as good as they have been in the minor leagues, they have yet to prove themselves at the big league level.
The point is that both Seattle franchises have been doing the same thing, and while the Seahawks have gotten to where they want to be, the Mariners have not, but in a couple years their plan may have played out like the Seahawks. Baseball is a slower paced game, both on the field and off. And as we all know with the Mariners the future is never now, but always is the future. But maybe it is getting here soon.