Shameless Jeff-promotion: I've got a story about Scuba diving in today's Bellingham Herald. Check it out if you're so inclined.
posted by Jefflink 4:51 PM 
Tuesday, August 17, 2004
There can be only one ... or two at most: Many of you have no doubt taken a peek at the new home for my Mariner thoughts. A team blog makes more sense for me, given that interplay with a talented writer like Peter White will be fun, and that both of us are getting busier.
This blog will stay alive, though posting will be less Mariner, more politics and writing. In the meantime, check out Mariner Musings!
posted by Jefflink 9:29 PM 
Ichiro Is Everywhere!:
"Yeah, everybody's got a little bit of Elvis in 'em.
Everybody except one person.
The evil opposite of Elvis.
If, as Mojo posits, we are all moving in perfect peace and harmony toward Elvisness -- as part of a process called ElvisLution -- then Ichiro is surely further along than most.
Musically, Nixon suggests that The King's doppelganger is Michael J. Fox, who reflected very little Elvisness in his role as Alex P. Keaton. After tonight's paean to Ichiro!, I asked myself: Self, who is the evil opposite of Ichiro?
Just then came the dulcet tones of Ron Fairly. "And there's strike three on Bloomquist, his second strikeout in as many at bats since he replaced Justin Leone."
Follow me as I prove using undisputable scientific facts that Willie Bloomquist is, in fact, the evil opposite of Ichiro: the Anti-Ichiro.
Bloomquist: from Port Orchard
Ichiro: from Kasugai, Japan, about as far from Port Orchard as you can get
Bloomquist: can't get down a bunt, even as a sacrifice
Ichiro: regularly bunts for base hits
Bloomquist: considered a poor man's Charles Gipson
Ichiro: considered a rich man's Kenny Lofton, or maybe is just much richer than Kenny Lofton
Bloomquist: primarily an infielder, allegedly can play the outfield
Ichiro: outstanding defensive outfielder
Bloomquist: slogan associated with him is "Wolf Pride"
Ichiro: slogan "baseball is just baseball" embodies philosophy of Zen-like grace, has inspired book
Bloomquist: He'll turn 27 in November, and is batting .239 with an OBP of .261 and a SLG of .291, may be league's Least Valuable Player
Ichiro: When he was 27, was hitting .350 and stealing 56 bases on his way to the league Most Valuable Player award
The non-similarities are eerie. Anyone else feel those Twilight Zone chills?
Let's just hope Ichiro doesn't high-five Bloomquist after a base hit. The reaction might be like matter versus anti-matter.
Lest the blog become to pessimistic: Is there a more enjoyable player to watch on the Mariners than Bobby Madritsch? Ichiro! and Bucky Jacobsen are the only players that I have as much fun tracking. Even if the guy weren't a great story -- a tattooed Lakota refugee from the independent leagues -- he pitches fearlessly, and there's a lot to be said for that in terms of watchability. This is somebody to root for.
Between the third and fourth innings yesterday, the Safeco Field grounds crew stopped grooming the infield to perform one of its cutesy dance routines to the tune, "There's No Business Like Show Business."
One fan in the spendy seats was so stirred that she gave the crew a standing ovation.
In truth, it wasn't deserved. The dancers' spacing was off and their movements out of sync.
Hey Mike, maybe Levesque should start posting his reviews of grounds crew dance performances on the P-I blog. It could be like American Bandstand meets Rob Ryder's ESPN column: "Well, I liked the guy with the rake, I gave him a 43."
I smell a boost to unique hits! Or maybe that's just the bullpen that stinks.
posted by Jefflink 10:40 AM 
Saturday, August 14, 2004
Bad thing to come out of today's game: Doesn't Shigetoshi Hasegawa coming into tie games give you that Ayala-esque "well, there's no way the Green Hornet is getting out of this one" feeling?
Good thing to come out of today's game: Rico on the radio broadcast: "The Mariners and Yankees actually are about even in hits on the year. But the Yankees walk more, and they hit more home runs, and that translates to more runs."
Based upon this one, simple revelation, I'm willing to make The Rick general manager if Bavasi's willing to swap jobs.
Though this means he can be traded before Aug. 31, I don't expect him to be. If the market was bad for him before, it likely still is, and he'll probably be back with us at $9 million for next year.
posted by Jefflink 4:45 PM 
Another reason to like Bret Boone: Hit streak, whatever. I love that Boone pooh-poohs this sort of thing, especially because the M's commentators seem obsessed with "hit streaks." Ron Fairly earlier this year said that Dan Wilson was "working on a little two-game hitting streak."
Can we just agree, as a society, that such a "streak" doesn't start until it reaches double digits? I'll ask for 15, plead to 10, settle for eight. At least eight.
Maddening: Just finished a season of Madden 2004 in anticipation of the new 2005 game's release this week, so I was pumped to read all the anticipatory propaganda foreshadowing the world's greatest video game. Sadly, save the usually reliable Sports Guy, almost all of it sucked. One example:
Is it just me, or does this guy come across as the one lamer who always manages to put the wet blanket treatment on group gatherings? "Sure, you beat me ... but you went for it on fourth down! That doesn't count!" "OK, you won ... but you hit pause when your girlfriend brought the nachos in! That's cheating!"
Someone page Spaulding Smails, I think we have a new gold medal favorite in the Whining Olympics.
This serves me right for actually looking at ESPN's Page 3. And it could be worse: I could be playing one of these.
posted by Jefflink 8:55 AM 
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
David Cameron's right. The injuries to Guardado and Soriano deal a real blow -- maybe the death blow -- to Mariner contention for next year. All year long, whenever I've wanted to play Bavasi's Advocate, I'd point to the Guardado signing as one that hadn't turned into a big sack of broken glass. So much for that.
Yes, I know that Eddie Guardado's injury isn't the GM's fault. Ultimately, though, the man at the top takes responsibility for the sundry dilemmas created by his choices. And let me tell you, the decision not to trade Guardado is looking mighty bad right now. Another reason that relief pitchers ought not be overvalued when considering untouchable trade commodities.
One more thought: Guardado is getting a second medical opinion in the hopes that he might be back on a mound before the 8-12 month forecast. The obvious thing to do would be to root for a more favorable diagnosis.
The contrarian part of me, though, says "Eddie, go get the surgery. Forget about the second opinion." That part of has two words on its lips: Scott. Spiezio.
Remember at the beginning of the year, when it seemed Sand Frog would be done with back surgery? One doc wanted him to get the ol' bones sawed on posthaste. But he got that second opinion, and glory be! He could do rehab instead.
I don't think I need to tell you how the year has turned out for the Speez. And it should be apparent that I'm suggesting his back just ain't what it needs to be.
Sure, we should have expected a decline from Spiezio anyway. This is more of a Wile E. Coyote death plunge with an Acme anvil attached to his leg, though, and I wonder if he should have just gone ahead and went with the surgical solution.
I'm not a medhead, so I don't know the physiological implications of much other than "that sixth beer is not a good idea". Doesn't it seem to you like Scott Spiezio still isn't right, though? And mightn't this offer us cautionary implications regarding player injuries? Someone page Will Carroll.
And make me a reservation for last place next year. I have a feeling the Mariners are headed there again.
posted by Jefflink 10:57 PM 
As it turns out, Edgar is retiring at the end of the year after all. This is good. Consider my tinfoil hat removed.
posted by Jefflink 2:32 PM 
Monday, August 09, 2004
So long, Edgar: Others will come with the requiems for a hall of famer, a legend and a local icon with more eloquence than I. Since it's my policy not to pile on, but to fill in gaps where I have something to offer, I will say simply this: we will all miss Edgar, a quiet and classy player, one of the top 50 hitters of all time, a Hall of Famer in our hearts and hopefully Cooperstown as well.
Maybe it's the suspicious investigative reporter gene in me, but I think we're going to hear more on this.
Do I have a rational basis for believing in the dark lining to this dark cloud? Yes and no. Here are the dots we can see so far:
As the ESPN story points out, Edgar was upset about Olerud's release. He'd also been losing at-bats, of course.
It's also unusual for a player to up and retire immediately, in the middle of a season like this. It could be that Edgar, ever the class act, didn't want to go out as a show pony on a last meaningless trot through ballyards dragging a last-place record. That would be consistent with his character.
When Lou Piniella left, though, it didn't come out immediately that he had been effectively forced out due to conflicts with management. Is it beyond the realm of possibility that someone had a talk with Edgar, saying that the plate appearances would be hard to come by? Or that this is Edgar's quiet protest against the dismantling of the team?
Typing these words, the notion seems a little silly. If it turns out to be the case, chalk it up to not wanting to believe the news: that Edgar Martinez has just decided not to be a Mariner any more.
posted by Jefflink 2:05 PM 
A little help: Can someone please tell me the Mariners didn't get shut down by Rob Bell yesterday? Anyone? Yes, it would be dishonest to tell me this. But it would make me feel better.
Some of my friends have made the same argument Jason Barker suggests here -- maybe Bob Melvin was the right man for the job for a veteran team, but changes have come, and the new blood is in town.
There's something to this. Certainly, people have different strengths, and laid-back Bob might have been better suited for vets than kids. The best managers can adapt, I believe -- but like any workplace, some situations are better than others.
That said, my take is that Melvin just isn't a very good manager at this stage of the game. I don't know what his clubhouse demeanor or people skills are like, but from a game-management perspective, he's brutal. Thus, it doesn't really matter if you have rookies or veterans -- if you're bunting with a power hitter or letting Willie Bloomquist hit late in the game, you're not doing what it takes to win.
Jason hopes the Mariners are "willing to consider the possibility that he's not the right guy," but I'll go a step further. I hope they use this "veteran/youth" dichotomy as an excuse to get rid of Melvin, which might help save a bit of face for the extension gaffe.
Personally, I don't care what the stated cause of dismissal is, but I get the feeling that a warm-and-fuzzy readymade excuse might make Melvin's departure more likely.
New articles: A bunch of them have happened or are coming, and I'm not keeping pace with 'em all. Today, though, I have a letter at Romenesko about the Unity conference. One of my pieces (that isn't online, unfortunately) is quoted in a ZNet story about Bush's environmental record. Trying to track down English versions of my latest two stories for the Okinawa Times, but I'm not having much luck.
In the next few days, I'll have something up at Grist and hopefully a story in E! fairly soon as well.
posted by Jefflink 12:04 PM