Ex-M's in the playoffs

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By special request, a post that I would have done over at GrandSalami.net had I not given up on that site as too much work for too little reward. The topic of which is: After the Mariners are eliminated from the postseason (not saying it's going to happen for sure, but…it's gonna happen, for almost sure), which playoff team should a Mariner fan root for if said fan has no preexisting rooting interest in any of these teams?

One metric is, which team has the most former Mariners on it? Guys you remember from before, whom you might have seen in person, who you fondly recall rooting for in the navy and teal of the Northwest. Another might be, who are the most interesting players still in the mix that you don't know yet but would enjoy? I'm sure there are other metrics, but those are the ones for this post.

So, who's playing for whom now? Let's go down the list of 12 (ugh, twelve? Really, Manfred? OK, fine) playoff teams and find the former M's:

  • Well, the Mariners themselves are one of the dozen clubs, so we'll just assume they're your first choice. Next!
  • Tampa Bay Rays (2 ex-M's likely on the playoff roster): The "extra" team this year filling out the new cash-grab Wild Card round, the Rays still have Mike Zunino, but he's injured. They also have former Seattle reliever J.T. Chargois, who had a really nice season in west Florida (2-0, 2.42 ERA, 0.940 WHIP in 21 games), and fellow relievers Shawn Armstrong and Jimmy Yacabonis (who probably isn't going to be on the roster), both of whom were technically Mariners once. Non-former-Mariner players worth watching are likely Cy Young Award winner Shane McClanahan, the lefty ace of the Rays' staff, and first baseman Ji-man Choi, who defies his physique with athletic plays on the infield.
  • Cleveland Guardians (0): The only former M the Guardians featured this year was relief pitcher Bryan Shaw, who was gawd-awful for Seattle in the mini-season of 2020. He was outrighted to the minors at the end of the season, though. But, Cleveland does have rookie outfielder Steve Kwan, who is worthy of attention, as is second baseman Andres Gimenez.
  • Toronto Blue Jays (3): Toronto is Seattle's opponent this weekend, but should they beat the M's and advance, the Jays might be a team to pull for the rest of the way. Not for any ex-Mariner reasons, though. Toronto has former M's Yusei Kikuchi, who lost his starting job for a bit and had a pretty lousy campaign, and reliever Anthony Bass, who had a pretty good year. Also, David Phelps and fellow reliever Casey Lawrence, but the latter doesn't figure to be active in the postseason. No, the really interesting guys are the second-generation big-leaguers, shortstop Bo Bichette and first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
  • New York Yankees (2): You'd hardly believe it's the same guy, but the Yankees' best pitcher is Nestor Cortes, who stunk up the joint for Seattle in 2020. They also have reliever Lucas Luetge, who was in the Seattle ’pen in 2012 and 2013 (plus cups of coffee in ’14 and ’15). They've also got outfielder Aaron Judge, who hits a lot of homers, and third baseman Josh Donaldson, who is a jerk and nobody likes him.
  • Houston Astros (1): Now, there's no reason whatever to root for the Astros—maybe unless they're up against the Yankees, but even then it's dubious—but they do have a former Mariner. But that former Mariner is reliever Rafael Montero, who was so bad with Seattle it'll be easy to root against him even though he's been really good for Houston. Or maybe because he's been really good for Houston. Either way.
  • Philadelphia Phillies (1): I don't know how the Phillies managed to get this far, but they did, somehow winning 87 games. Their ex-Mariner is infielder Jean Segura, an All-Star for Seattle in 2018 who's been steadily solid for the Phils since being traded for J.P. Crawford. They also have Bryce Harper, who's really good, and Kyle Schwarber, who is not but can hit a ball a very, very long way if he makes contact.
  • San Diego Padres (1): With all the dealing back and forth between the Mariners and Padres over the last couple of years you'd think there would be a lot of ex-M's there, but no. Just catcher Austin Nola, who was key to the trade that got Seattle Ty France, Andres Muñoz, Luis Torrens, and Taylor Trammell. There're a few other guys worth your notice, though—superstar Juan Soto hasn't hit well for San Diego since being traded there, but he's still Juan Soto; veteran third baseman Manny Machado had an outstanding season carrying the Friars' offense; and pitcher Yu Darvish is always interesting to watch. Oh, lest I forget their manager—Padre skipper Bob Melvin also helmed the Mariners in 2003 and 2004.
  • St. Louis Cardinals (0): No former Mariners grace the Cardinals' clubhouse, but a former Mariner farmhand does. Outfielder Tyler O'Neill was a highly regarded Seattle prospect when the M's traded him for pitcher Marco Gonzales. O'Neill is injured now and had a rather poor season, so you won't see him anyway. But, the Cards have the legendary Albert Pujols, ending his career back where it started, and MVP candidates Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
  • New York Mets (3): No, they don't still have Robinson Canó, they're just still paying him. But they do have some big names you'll remember: DH Daniel Vogelbach, starting pitcher Taijuan Walker, and relief ace Edwin Díaz. Vogey joined the Mets midseason after starting ’22 in Pittsburgh, and he's done pretty well—.393 OBP and six homers as a Met. Walker's been a solid back-end starter and Díaz has been lights-out with a career year. Oh, the Mets also have Max Scherzer and Jacob deGrom, two of the best pitchers to ever play in the Big Apple, as well as NL batting champ Jeff McNeil and NL RBI leader Pete Alonso.
  • Atlanta Braves (1): The lone ex-Mariner on the defending World Champions is outfielder Guillermo Heredia, who had a terrible year but still gives Atlanta some value as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement off the bench. Their big star is Ronald Acuña Jr., but to me the guy to watch is rookie outfielder Michael Harris, who was one homer short of a 20/20 season (20 home runs and 20 stolen bases).
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (2): Utilityman Chris Taylor has been with LA a while now, so it's not likely news that he's in the mix, but how about starting pitcher Tyler Anderson? After the M's passed on bringing him back to Seattle this year he hooked up with the Dodgers and had an All-Star year, going 15-5 with a 2.57 ERA. Would the Dodgers be where they are without him? Well, yeah, probably, because they're the Dodgers and have the deepest roster in the known universe, including shortstop Trea Turner and outfielder Mookie Betts, not to mention MVP candidate Freddie Freeman. These guys are loaded.

Who do you like? Mets? Blue Jays? Cleveland? Bo-Mel's underachieving San Diegans? The best teams here are the Dodgers and Astros. Please let that not be the World Series matchup again. Bleh.

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Season finale

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The baseball season is over. You can put 2022 in the books for MLB, and it was a good one. Well, it had its moments. It was fun despite some issues. I mean, the DH thing is a horror show and Commissioner Manfred keeps dicking around with things he should leave alone, and there was that whole lockout thing, and hoo-boy were there a lot of strikeouts, but yeah. Good time.

For one thing, Your Seattle Mariners are still playing. Game 162 has come and gone—a dramatic one, at that, so far as a game with no bearing on the standings can be dramatic—and the M's are still in the mix for a title. As fellow baseball aficionado Craig Calcaterra put it, "For the first time in forever the Mariners' season is not ending on the final day of the regular season. Crazy." They'll play at least two more games, in Toronto against the Blue Jays this weekend, and maybe even more than that. Boggles the mind.

Other notables from 2022:

  • LADThe Los Angeles Dodgers won more games than any other National League team save the 1908 Chicago Cubs, who share the record of 116 with the American League record-holder, the 2001 Seattle Mariners. LA's 111 victories were fairly evenly split across home and road games, night and day games, first and second halves, in-division and not. The only category they didn't stand out in is tight games: the Dodgers were 16-15 in one-run decisions and 6-9 in extra innings. Which really just means that they were so good they had breathing room for more wins than 25 other teams had in total. They'll open the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday evening against either the Mets or the Padres.
  • Aaron JudgeAaron Judge of the New York Yankees hit 62 home runs, besting the previous American League record of 61 held by Roger Maris of the New York Yankees (set in 1961), which bested the prior record of 60 held by Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees (1927). Record hogs. Roger Maris Junior has opined that Judge's new record of 62 should be the official Major League record and the National League feats of 73 (Barry Bonds, 2001), 70 (Mark McGwire, 1998), 66 (Sammy Sosa, 1998), 65 (McGwire, 1999), 64 (Sosa, 2001), and 63 (Sosa again, 1999) homers should be dismissed as unofficial because Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa all cheated with performance-enhancing drugs. OK, I see his point, but I have to point out that tons of people back in 1961 said Maris Senior's record shouldn't count because the season schedule had the modern standard 162 games in it whereas Ruth played in 154-game seasons. So, not the same issue but still...irony.
  • The Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets finished the year tied for first place in the National League East, and while in years past that would mean an exciting Game 163 tiebreaker would be played for the division crown, we now have Commissioner Manfred's lame Wild Card playoff round that simply declares Atlanta the division champ based on the fact that they beat NYMthe Mets ten times, while the Mets beat them only nine times. Now, the Mets won 50 games overall against the NL East while Atlanta only won 48 intradivision contests, which seems to me like a better way to break a tie for first place in the division, but then I am not commissioner of baseball. (If I were, there would be no "Wild Card round" of playoffs in the first place and there would be Game 163, but as we say on Earth, c'est la vie.) The Metropolitans will thus have to play the Wild Card round against the San Diego Padres while Atlanta can sit back and cool their heels until the NLDS starts.
  • Minnesota Twins infielder Luis Arraez won the American League batting title with a paltry .316 batting average, lowest top figure since Carl Yastrzemski's .301 in "the year of the pitcher," 1968. Perhaps most impressively, Arraez did it while striking out only 43 times, which is nigh-unheard of in today's Major Leagues. The only other guy with at least 600 plate appearances and fewer than 70 Ks was Cleveland rookie Steve Kwan (who is a really fun player to watch and perhaps the only reason I'll watch the Cleveland/Tampa Bay WC series), who had 60. Also, Arraez's .316 prevented Aaron Judge's .311 from being the top spot which would have given Judge a Triple Crown. So I'm now a Luis Arraez fan.

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Good seats still available! Until 2027, after which the Rays are out of here.

  • The Oakland A's, who play in one of the worst facilities in the game, and the Miami Marlins, who play in a modern retractable-roof park with all the amenities, both had season attendance totals under a million. They're both terrible teams this year, so OK, I guess. The Tampa Bay Rays, who made the postseason thanks to the new participation-trophy Wild Card setup and who have been good for years now, barely topped 1,000,000. If not for Miami's relatively new and expensive stadium, all three would be looking for new hometowns as soon as possible; as it is, the A's and Rays will surely skip out as soon as their respective leases allow. (Weirdly, the Cleveland Guardians also had lousy attendance this year, shy of 1.3M, despite winning their division and having a splendid ballpark. The downstate Reds outdrew them, and the Reds are bad.)
  • Lowest-payroll playoff team? The Guardians, roughly $66M (the Mariners are next at $78M, then the Rays at $86M). Highest-payroll playoff team? The Dodgers at $289.3M. (Yankees, Mets, and Phillies follow close behind at $239M, $237.5M, and 209.5M, respectively.) Bit of a spread.
  • The average Major League batter (using a benchmark of 600 PAs) struck out 136 times in 2022. In 2001, the last time Seattle made a postseason, the average figure was 105. Two decades before that, it was 79. Not a good trend.

Personally, I saw just 16 games in person this year, all here in Seattle. The Mariners won 11 of them. I saw six Marco Gonzales-started games (1-4, 2.35 ERA when I went; the guy just couldn't catch a break this season), four Robbie Ray starts (1-2, 3.70), two Logan Gilbert starts (2-0, 0.00), two Chris Flexen starts (1-0, 3.27), a George Kirby (0-0, 4.15), and a Justus Sheffield (1-0, 9.00). Mitch Haniger was the best Seattle hitter when I attended (.469), Julio Rodríguez hit .311. Worst with me in the seats, Jarred Kelenic (.150) and, weirdly, Ty France (.161). Best game might have been the home opener, when Marco beat the hated Astros 11-0, though Logan Gilbert's seven shutout frames in a 6-0 win on May 28, also against Houston, is up there. Worst was definitely September 27th, Seattle lost 5-0 to nobody pitchers for Texas in a snoozer (had great seats for it, though).

Of course, it ain't over yet, there's still a remote possibility I could add one more in-person game for ’22. Fingers crossed. We'll see.

Playoffs start in about 12 hours.

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Good company, bad baseball

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We are nearing the close of the 2022 baseball season, and as the weather has been unseasonably warm—climate change is catastrophic, but for the here and now it does give us warm sunny October afternoons when by all rights it should be damp and cool enough to be uncomfortable—I've stocked up on games for the last few days of the campaign. Today I went with a number of my softball teammates from the Smiling Potatoes of Death, sitting out in the left field bleachers to witness what was, for most of the game, a contender for Worst Mariner Game Attended This Year.

I can't quite believe this is a playoff team. And yet, Your Seattle Mariners are officially in the postseason, having clinched no worse a finish than the final Wild Card berth in the standings on Friday night in dramatic fashion. Erik can tell you about it.

Of course, it remains to be seen if the M's would have made the playoffs under the system that existed through last year. Or the system that existed from 1994-2012. We can be reasonably sure they would not have qualified under the pre-1994 system, though it's possible; they do have a better 2022 record than any of the other teams that were in their division pre-1994, but the scheduling was a lot different then, it figures things would have played out differently (on the other hand, the Twins won the World Series in 1987 after topping the American League West with just 85 wins, sometimes weird things happen). No, all the Mariners of ’22 have done so far is qualify for what would properly be called the Commissioner Rob Manfred Cash Grab Wild Card Playoff Round That Cheapens the Regular Season and Unfairly Screws a Division Champion.

While it's still technically possible for the M's to play the CRMCGWCPRTCRSUSDC games at home, that scenario will likely vanish tomorrow, and since I have… well, not zero hope, but let's call them realistic/jaded expectations that whomever the M's play in the CRMCGWCPRTCRSUSDC (either Cleveland or Toronto) will beat them relatively easily. Meaning the next three days will be the last games played in Seattle this year. So I went today. I'm going Wednesday for the last game of the season as well. Thought about going tomorrow, but this afternoon's lameness put me off the idea.

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J.P. Crawford
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Ty France
FattyTuna
Abraham Toro

The Mariners were hosting the Oakland A's, otherwise known as The Worst Team in the American League. A playoff club versus a team that lost over 100 games. Much like last Tuesday's experience vs. the not-quite-as-bad-but-still-bad Texas Rangers, the Mariners stunk up the joint, not even getting a hit until there were two out in the 6th. They finally made some noise in the 9th, but by then they were down 10-0 and it hardly mattered. Yep, 10-0. To the A's. And Tony Kemp wasn't even in the lineup.

This, along with last Tuesday and even Friday night's clinching game, illustrated in bold strokes why I don't see the M's surviving the CRMCGWCPRTCRSUSDC. They just don't have the depth. Someone gets hurt, someone makes a costly error, one bad pitch is grooved to the wrong batter, and that's it, the M's have no margin for error. Everything has to go right. Twice. The bench stinks except for Haggerty (who probably should start), the starting lineup has too many all-or-nothing hitters, and the manager is strategically-challenged.

Anyway, so this is likely last chance for in-person baseball before the long winter. The M's reeked of ineptitude this afternoon, but my friends and I still enjoyed the day. I don't see my "Spuddie" teammates much outside of the early-summer softball season, so it's good to have an excuse to hang out and catch up. So I got to hear about D¹ & P's trip to Ireland, discussed the nuance of regional UK accents with C, co-heckled with M, covered a little baseball history with D², and, of course, debated with J and several others who the best-looking Mariners are.

There was no consensus on the latter point, largely because J has an aversion to facial hair. Just not her jam. She went with Adam Frazier and Ty France, who strike me as unremarkable-looking bland generic dudes. (I mean, as pro athletes go.) Aside from J, though, both male and female debaters named J.P. Crawford as a hot number. B chose Abraham Toro, and, sure, he's good-looking guy (and speaks three languages); he's just a crap Major League hitter. But that wasn't the metric of the moment.

Such was the focus of several innings since the M's were doing jack squat on the field, but it was still a good time.

Even though some of my favorite Spuddies did not attend. Where were my gay gals at? S & A¹? L & A²? We missed you. Well, I did, anyway. Next time.

 

SpuddiesMs

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How deep is your fandom

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Mariner infielder Adam Frazier exuding the team's current level of energy and enthusiasm for life

I went to the ballgame tonight with my friends K & E, who are relatively new converts to the roller coaster ride that is the Seattle Mariners. Well, K is, anyway, E was half in the bag beforehand. But they're into it, and this year has been especially fun for them as well as lots of other longer-suffering fans as the team has been contending for the playoffs for most of the season. If the season ended today, they'd be in. (Sure, only because of Rob Manfred's BS expansion of the playoffs, but still, they'd be in.)

But as I've said a few times to various people over the past few weeks, there's still time for them to screw it up. The Mariners have psyched us out before, so it's easy to be jaded. And in the last two weeks, they've reminded us of why jaded is the default emotion for Seattle baseball fans.

From September 15th onward, the Mariners' schedule featured 20 more games, none against even remotely intimidating opponents, and on paper it looked like an easy cruise to a Wild Card berth—the top of those three positions, even. But what did they do? First the went to Anaheim to play the pathetic, perpetually snakebit and geographically confused Los Angeles Angels for four games. The M's lost three of them. Then they hopped up the coast to the East Bay and played the last-place Oakland Athletics. The M's lost two of three. Then a jaunt to Kansas City to play the 28-games-under-.500 Royals. The M's not only dropped two of three to KC, in the finale they blew a nine-run lead, allowing the Royals—who had topped ten runs in a game only five times all year—to score eleven runs in a single inning on the way to beating them 13-12.

Which brings us to tonight. I had by flukey happenstance gotten my pals and myself outstanding seats for tonight's game, right below the pressbox on the club level. The teams that the M's are competing with for playoff spots had already lost or were losing (though Tampa Bay came back and won in extras). The Mariners' big offseason free-agent star, defending Cy young winner Robbie Ray, was pitching against the visiting Texas Rangers, who were 22 games under break-even and ranked near the bottom of the SEAlogoleague in most pitching categories. Time to right the ship and stake a claim to that postseason berth.

Naturally, they got shut out.

It would be one thing if the Mariners lost 5-0 to a pitcher having a brilliant game, or a team that made astounding defensive plays to keep them off the scoreboard. But no. This was still the Texas Rangers. And to rub salt in the wound, they even used the stupid "opener" strategy of starting a relief pitcher for the first inning or two before going to the guy that they expect to pitch the bulk of the game, a tactic that has so much going against it that it tends to backfire spectacularly. Nothing-special Triple-A callups pitched the first 523 innings and nothing-special veteran relievers pitched the rest, a total of six guys, all of whom looked rather "meh" on the mound. This is the crack staff that held the ostensibly playoff-bound Mariners to just two hits over the first six innings.

The M's would get three more hits before it was done, but one was immediately erased on a double-play and the others came with two outs (in the 7th and 9th) down 5-0 and were inconsequential nuisances akin to a single gnat buzzing one's hairline as far as the Rangers were concerned.

I get it, it's a long season. The guys have been playing hard for six months and they're tired. They're a little banged up (Eugenio Suárez was even batting with a broken finger). But tonight it looked like they weren't even trying. Like they didn't care anymore. And that includes their manager.

Sure, Scott Servais often appears not to care about his team winning games when he "strategizes," so that's not new. But here's what he did today. First, he made out a lineup card featuring a middle three that are all all-or-nothing guys: .200 hitters, more or less, that will bop a home run if they make good contact but strike out a lot more. (You could add a fourth consecutive guy if you count No. 7-batting Jarred Kelenic as all-or-nothing, but really he's still just an underachieving mystery surprise.) This is in keeping with the Servais (and Mariners in general) history of living and dying by the home run while giving no more than lip service to other methods of baseball offense and it annoys me. I'm not saying you don't use those guys in your order, I'm just saying don't bunch them all up together. So, of course, the first time the M's had an offensive threat it fizzled—Ty France and Mitch Haniger led off the home 4th with hits, the first of Seattle's night. Two on, none out, middle of the order due up. Home-run threats all, but incapable of much else. Predictable result: strikeout, fly ball, strikeout.

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It's a crap photo, but the dude can play the sax.

At that point it's still just 1-0, not that bad. We get to the 8th at just 2-0 and Servais goes to the bullpen for his only lefty reliever, Matt Boyd—who strangely got the sirens and the light-show "Los Bamberos" introduction despite not being (a) a particularly hard thrower or (b) in to put out a fire of some kind or (c) in a position to hold a lead or even a tie—to face the left-handed-batting Corey Seager and Nathaniel Lowe. Not the worst move, but still a bit of a head-scratcher given the circumstance. Boyd promptly hits Seager on the wrist and gets Lowe on a foul out. Then the inexplicable: Servais has Boyd intentionally walk Adolis García to get rookie Josh Jung to the plate with two aboard, but not trusting Boyd to continue he goes to the ’pen again for Diego Castillo. Jung had already homered in the game and driven in the second Texas run with a hard single, but that's the guy Servais wanted to face and what do you know, Jung crushed another one deep into the night for a three-run bomb. Jung had all five RBI for his team.

Not done yet, Servais also made us channel Professor Farnsworth in the 9th, when the M's were trying to keep hope alive with two runners aboard and one out he went to his bench to send up pinch-hitter…Abraham Toro. Eh, whaa? Toro popped up, which was surprising in that he managed to actually make contact with a pitch. Last man up Adam Frazier tried to make it mildly interesting with a deep liner, but it was caught on the warning track to end things with a whimper.

But really, no matter what the manager chose to do or not do wasn't going to matter tonight. These guys didn't have it in them. They're dragging. Listless. Playing as if they are all feeling as I do in the midst of a black-hole episode that has all my senses seemingly encased in a thick layer of gauze.

As we were making our way out of the stadium, we went by a guy playing the saxophone near the parking garage. He was belting out a pretty fine rendition of "How Deep is Your Love" by the Bee Gees and I wondered if he was making a comment on the Mariners and their late-season crash-and-maybe-burn. As in, hey, what a crap couple of weeks for these guys! They look like toast! But we'll love them no matter what. I think. Wait, will we? 'Cause we're living in a world of fools, breaking us down...

My friends and I still had a nice evening. It was a warm night out at the ballyard in good company with a terrific view from seats that are generally well beyond my price range, and I feel like I need to get at least one game per season in with these particular pals or things just go off-kilter, so totally worth it.

I just wish the team we came to see play had been up to the task.

EKT

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New Rules

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Commissioner of Baseball Rob Manfred, laughing maniacally as he continues to mold the game of baseball like a toddler pounding a lump of play-doh into an unrecognizable blob

He's at it again.

The Commissioner of Baseball, one Robert D. Manfred, has made it his mission to turn the game he is the current custodian of into something all of its previous custodians would not recognize. So far, he has instituted a swarm of smallish rule changes as well as a few huge ones to Major League Baseball and he's got more coming next year.

If I may paraphrase J. Jonah Jameson, the man is a menace.

Manfred simply does not like baseball, at least not in the sense of the game as a whole, balanced concept that requires strategic thinking and intellectual trade-offs to navigating the game. Nor does he value competitive integrity or the richness of detail. He likes simple. He likes not to have to think. He likes short attention spans.

Thus far, the Manfred regime has given us:

  • The no-pitch intentional walk
  • The "universal" designated hitter (ugh)
  • Requiring teams to declare in advance who is a pitcher and who is not and imposing a limit on how many pitchers a team can carry
  • The "zombie runner" in extra innings (which some of a certain age have humorously taken to calling the "Manfred Man")
  • An entirely avoidable and self-inflicted labor stoppage that delayed the opening of this season
  • Expanded playoffs, the first taste of which we'll get next month, which now allows nearly half the teams in the Majors into the postseason and devalues both the season as a whole and the winning of a division title
  • Advertising on the fields, not just on stadium walls and scoreboard signage, but on the fields themselves (in foul territory and on the pitcher's mound)
  • Advertising on uniforms, which we'll start to see in this year's playoffs and will be an everyday thing starting next year
  • The three-batter minimum for pitchers (this one I actually don't have a problem with, though the reason it came into being is no better than the rest of this)
  • Ugly unis for the All-Star Games
  • Effective acceptance of the Houston Astros' cheating scandal with virtually no repercussions for the perpetrators

Starting in 2023 we will also now have:

  • A pitch clock. No longer will baseball be the game with no clock, there will be one to mandate that pitchers and batters move things along regardless of circumstance. Well, not quite regardless—the clock will have 15 seconds on it when the bases are empty, 20 when a runner is on base. If a pitcher takes too long before delivering a pitch, a ball will be added to the count; likewise, if a batter steps out or isn't ready to go within eight seconds (he will be permitted to request a time out once per plate appearance) a strike will be added. Further, only 30 seconds will be permitted between batters; if the next batter in the lineup isn't ready to go 30 seconds after the previous play, he starts with a count of strike one. Despite this having been experimented with in the minor leagues in recent seasons, it remains to be seen how this will play out; it might be OK. Used to be that the players that were slower to deliver a pitch or who took "excessive" time at the batter's box between pitches were relatively rare, but today they're more commonplace and it will at least be interesting to see if this cuts down on so-called dead time without disrupting anything else. But the law of unintended consequences pretty much guarantees there will be issues.
  • A limit on how often a pitcher can try to pick off a baserunner. This is a clear and blatant declaration that pitchers should not care about runners; Manfred has openly said he wants to "create more action," which apparently means preventing a defense from trying to get runners out. I love the stolen base, it's one of my favorite plays, but all this does is cheapen it.
  • A restriction on where defenders can play. For the history of the game, only the pitcher and catcher were required to be at any specific point on the field. No longer. Two infielders must begin each play on either side of second base and forward of the outfield grass. No more shifting three infielders to one side, no more moving your second baseman into the outfield, no more four-outfielder defenses. This also is based on Manfred's desire for "more action," and because batters as a whole have chosen not to combat defensive shifts over the years, it probably will result in more base hits as fielders will be prevented form playing where they should be allowed to play. The language of the rule is vague enough that someone will at some point cause it to be clarified; it's intention is to maintain the restriction until "the pitcher releases the ball," but it also says the infielders "may not switch sides during the game." So when J.P. Crawford makes a great play running from his shortstop position to flag down a hard grounder on the outfield grass at the right side of second base, is he in violation of the rule? I think not, but someone will exploit the language to challenge such a play.
  • Larger bases. The bases on the field will grow from 12" square to 15" square. This will be odd at first but quickly folded into expected norm, I think. Again, this is to give offenses a boost by making it that much harder to get baserunners out. The one positive to this is the extra area will give first basemen a little more of a safety margin on potential collisions on close plays at first, but this could have been accomplished simply by extending the base an inch or two into foul territory instead.
  • The completion of the destruction of the American and National Leagues as anything more than labels. Manfred's predecessor started this process in the ’90s, but with this year's adoption of the designated hitter rule (pause for dry heaves) by the National League and next year's change in the schedule that has every team play every other team in both leagues during the regular season, the merger from two distinct entities into one is concluded.

Not one of these changes was made with the good of the game in mind. Every one has been with an eye toward getting bigger short-term profits for a business that already rakes in $10 billion in annual revenue.

Manfred believes that the game needs to be dumbed down and sped up in order to attract younger viewers with short attention spans. He thinks that making the game into something else will get him bigger television ratings. He things more playoff games will mean more TV money overall. He thinks that the baseball audience likes hitting and doesn't care about fielding and by making these changes to unbalance things a bit that people who do not watch baseball will decide they now will watch baseball.

Which is just dumb.

You don't say, "hey, non-fans, I know my game is slow and boring because it requires thinking and thus doesn't appeal to you, so I've dumbed it down closer to your level and made it a little bit more frenetic! You like that, right?" and expect to convert everyone. People who come to baseball come to it because it's different. Because if you know what's going on, that so-called dead time isn't usually so, there's actually tension and stuff going on strategically.

A pitcher worried about a stolen base threat on first was actually valuable to both sides if you understood the situation. Having the pitcher in the lineup made for decisions during the game and a thought process about building your team and planning a game that are just wiped out now. Having the option to dare a batter to hit the other way by leaving a whole third of the field undefended was an opportunity for both teams to exploit. Gone. Sure, few if any people will miss the Nomar Garciaparra-like ritual of stepping out of the box, re-fastening the batting gloves, and taking three practice swings like a mini-hokey-pokey before every pitch, but not many guys did that. 

Frankly, the 2023 changes aren't going to be as big a deal as the ones we're already seeing now (or have known are coming, like the jersey ads), which are far more damaging. The pitch clock, the shift ban, sure, I object to them on principle, but in the old days shifts were rare and few players took a lot of time between pitches anyway, so it won't seem too bad. The step-off rule, that I hate and can't figure why any pitcher would approve of it.

Still, I'd accept it all gladly if Manfred would use his new, negotiated ultimate power to impose changes without union approval to abolish the DH and consign it to a fiery death.

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The Apple problem

TL

I'm late to the Ted Lasso party. I had heard from many people in many contexts how it was a great show that I would really enjoy and the I was missing out by not watching it, but there were two issues in addition to the general reality of there's-so-much-enjoyable-TV-these-days-and-only-so-much-time-I-can-watch. They were: a) It's a show set in the world of English soccer, and I do not like soccer; and b) It is a show on Apple TV+.

Now, (a) is not a problem, as it turns out; as with many workplace shows, the soccer thing is merely a setting for the characters and not liking soccer is not a detriment to enjoying the show. But (b) was a real trouble spot.

Apple's streaming platform has garnered a reputation (deserved) for quality. The programming is high-end, no doubt, and the high-definition stream is as good or better than anyone else's, but on that technical side of things there is no accommodation for viewers who do not have one of the following: An Apple-made television; a Roku or other reception device dedicated to streaming video; an Apple device like a Macintosh computer or an up-to-date iPhone that can run the TV+ app (there is an Android app, but it won't work on most Android devices); or a PC equipped with a top-end internet connection and supercharged modern processing hardware. They clearly tailor the service for Apple machines as a way to try and increase the Apple marketshare.

As I don't own any Apple hardware or a Roku-like dedicated streaming device, the Apple TV+ service was incredibly problematic to use. My dedicated streaming device is an old laptop PC running Windows 10 and hooked up to my television. It has perfectly adequate processing power to run any other streaming service with no problems. But trying to watch Apple TV+ on it was nearly impossible—livestreams, like when the Mariners are on the exclusive Apple TV Friday night telecast, play with more buffering and stuttering than is even remotely tolerable; and their shows would load and play through the opening preroll ad and then freeze up on a black screen. So, even though the Apple TV+ subscription fee is quite reasonable, it was basically worthless to me.

Still, I had two or three times signed up for the service in an attempt to legitimately watch one of the greatest shows ever made for television, For All Mankind. When I could not make the service work, I resorted to piracy to watch that excellent program. Because it is awesome, and I had given Apple a month's worth of subscription fee for zero return so I felt OK about it. But after the last time the Mariners game was unwatchable on Apple TV+, I went on a quest to find a way to make the damn thing work, and the ultimate solution was to completely wipe the laptop and reload a bare-bones Windows installation, add no programs to the machine except for browsers, a video player, and antivirus software. Give it the lightest workload possible while still running a relatively modern operating system, then tweak the browser settings in every conceivable way to prioritize the handling of video streams.

It now works. I can watch Apple TV+. Livestreams still suck, presumably because I don't have a T1 line and a massive quad-core processor on that old laptop, but recorded programming does play properly so long as nothing else is running concurrently. (Apple TV+ livestreams, incidentally, also suck on my office machine, which is considerably more powerful.)

I have therefore, as of last night, become a Ted Lasso convert.

All the folks who sang its praises to me were right. It unabashedly showcases a hero that is the nicest, most generous guy that ever lived, who takes mounds of abuse and lets it roll off his back, and who slowly wins over the critics by simply doing his own thing and being dedicated to his values. Totally my kind of thing. I love it. Even though it's ostensibly about a soccer team.

I'm about halfway through the first season now, so please no spoilers, but since the Mariners are off tonight I will likely spend my late-night tonight watching a few more episodes after I get home from my umpiring shift and will no doubt binge through the rest over the next few weeks.

Unless, of course, my brilliant machinations to run Apple TV+ stop working.

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Collecting

storage

“Why do you even have these?” a friend of mine asked me.

I was applying some paint to the recently-constructed cabinets I'd made in my garage, cabinets that were custom-designed to hold comic books. I stopped, looked up, and found myself at a loss.

I mean, I had an answer, it was there, but articulating it was proving difficult.

See, I love comics. The medium, the wide variety of cartooning styles found in them, the characters that have permeated our culture, the more obscure works that most people have never heard of. (Well, not all of them, but a lot.) I started reading them longer ago than I can remember and was a fan from a young age of Batman and Captain Marvel (the original '40s one, during his '70s revival) and Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four and other superheroes. I read the occasional Archie comic or Yogi Bear issue too, but mostly I was into the standard DC and Marvel superhero soap operas.

Then, when I was around 11 or 12, I discovered comic-book specialty stores. Back issues. The collector's market.

It was a revelation. At that point I became not merely a fan, but a collector. I learned that the condition of one's comics is vital. That one needed to invest in protective sleeves for them, that storing them lying flat is bad—they don't actually lie flat, you see, the spine side creates a bend in the stack and bent comics are worth less—they should be stored upright. That comics drawn by certain artists are in more demand than those by other artists, that there are "key issues" of long-running titles that command big bucks (or at least "big bucks" by the standards of a 12-year-old in the early 1980s).

FF23
Back in the day, my goal was to acquire every issue of Fantastic Four. Never did it, as the first dozen-plus were too pricey for me.

My friend had been holding a copy of Secret Avengers, which was in a small pile of comics destined for the "eBay box," which had by then become a series of boxes. I stalled a little bit in answering her question as I tried to find the right words for my response by going on a tangent. "Well, that pile I'm not keeping," I said. "Those are eventually going on eBay. Even with these new cabinets, I don't have enough room for everything so some stuff will have to go."

But the majority of them, yeah, I was keeping. And I was adding to the mix all the time, spending anywhere from $40 to $100 a month on new comics (which, accounting for both inflation and the changes in the comics biz since then, equates to what about $8-$20 would have bought in 1987, so I feel like I've cut down a lot since my teenage comic-buying heyday). Why do I have them?

NaR
One of the more fun new comics right now is Not All Robots, by Mark Russell and Mike Deodato Jr.

Sure, some of them have decent monetary value well above what I paid for them and keep increasing over time. But most just kind of hold steady or never had much to begin with. If it was about "investing," I'd only have kept about 30% of my collection over the years.

I have them because I like them. Because it's a hobby. Because I am, at my core, a huge nerd. Because my growing-up years were so influenced and tied to the morality plays of Marvel Comics and because I developed a deep appreciation for the talents of people like Marshall Rogers (RIP) and Steve Rude and Neal Adams (RIP) and Mike Deodato Jr. and Terry Moore and Alex Ross and Brian Bolland and Clay Mann and the recently-deceased George Pérez (RIP), among quite a few others.

But that doesn't really get at why I keep them and collect them. I mean, they take up a lot of space. Moving them is a royal pain. Keeping them organized is time-consuming. I've spent a lot of money on their storage (though a lot of that was fun too, building the cabinetry on my own and, on some of them, with my dad). There are reasons not to.

Yet, I do keep them and I do have them. My inventory software (yes, I have inventory software for this) has my current tally at about 8,700 comics, not including some of the 1,000-plus in the eBay boxes. Storage capacity is now once again full up. More keep coming in. Why do I have these?

Because I want to.

Any attempt at articulating the not-rational yet deeply held reasons for it basically comes down to that. I have these because I like them, or in some cases because I did at one time. I keep them because I want to.

As space continues to get tighter more chaff will be moved into the eBay piles, but eventually I will probably make yet another storage unit. It's my own version of the never-ending battle.

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Frequent flier miles

SEAlogo2

As part of the collective bargaining agreement adopted by Major League Baseball and its players' union earlier this year, a number of changes (mostly unwelcome) have come to the game this season and more are coming next year. The most egregious of these, of course, is the "universal designated hitter" rule that began this season, which is a crime against the sport. Other heinous changes include advertising on uniforms, which will either begin this postseason or next season; expanded playoffs, which we will see in a little over a month; and a tripling of the number of games devoted to Interleague-play, starting next year.

That last point became less abstract today when MLB released its tentative schedules for 2023. The new formula has teams playing clubs in their own division 13 times each (down from 19) and clubs from the other two same-league divisions six or seven times each (roughly the same as now), with the remainder of the schedule devoted to Interleague—teams will play every team in the other league three times, four in the case of its so-called "rival team." (One issue I can't figure—why 13 per intradivision team? Make it 14, take the those four games out of the same-league interdivision mix, which has seven games against four teams and six against the other six; make it equitable all around. That wrinkle is just dumb.)

As a concept, I don't object to this, at least not any more than I object to Interleague play generally; I preferred it when the leagues were contained unto themselves and only met at the All-Star Game and the World Series. Since it came into existence in 1997—as a gimmick to sell more tickets in the wake of the disastrous work stoppage of 1994, which itself was supposed to be the first year of expanded playoffs that were designed to be a gimmick to sell more tickets—it had been limited to 15-20 games ostensibly limited to a single division; greed got in the way of fairness, of course, and over the years it was tweaked to give extra games against opposite-league teams that sold more tickets in the major markets. The new norm of 46 Interleague games is much more suitably apportioned, with only one Interleague game differing from team to team; the current setup has been absurd when looked at in terms of competitive fairness for winning a title, so in a lot of ways the new system will be better.

Still rankles me a little, though.

Being a more-or-less traditionalist when it comes to baseball, I am sad to see the death of the two separate and distinct major leagues. Really, that kicked in this year with the metastisization of the DH cancer to the National League, but the new schedule just underlines the point. The American and National Leagues are mere labels now, the slow merger into one entity (which began in the '90s) is complete. So that's one thing.

The other issue I have is how it affects my hometown Seattle Mariners.

Just by nature of geography, the Mariners already travel a lot more than most teams do. Occasionally a schedule will have the Oakland A's or the Not-Really-Los-Angeles-You-Don't-Fool-Me-I-Know-You-Play-in-Orange-County Angels traveling more miles over the course of the year, but usually it's the M's. Seattle is an isolated outpost far from every other team's home, it figures they'd have the biggest travel burden. So I was concerned that the new normal would eliminate road trips to California and Texas in favor of more east-coast trips, and adding even more travel to the already well-traveled Mariners could be detrimental. But that's not going to be the case.

Looking at the ’23 draft schedule I see the number of road trips remains the same at 11. The M's make five trips to the Eastern time zone (one of which is Cleveland after Chicago then home, not bad; another ends with a stopover in Oakland on the way home, which isn't great but is probably better than shoehorning that Oakland stop in elsewhere) and six to the Central, most of which are paired with Pacific Time stops on one end or the other. And there are no instances of backtracking weirdness like they had in 2019, when they had trips that went Seattle-Anaheim-Minneapolis-Oakland-Seattle and Seattle-Dallas/Ft. Worth-Chicago-Houston-Seattle. The closest one to something like that in the ’23 grid is Seattle-Kansas City-Houston-Chicago-Seattle, which seems not as dumb/wasteful. Otherwise, all of the trips make geographic sense; ideally, of course, you would pair the visit to Phoenix with a stop in San Diego or Anaheim instead of Minneapolis (July 24-30), play in San Francisco back-to-back with a stop in Oakland, and get the Rangers and Astros on one jaunt. But it's a mess getting every date to fall into place with 30 teams, so I guess this is OK.

milesmap

All told, we get a season sum of 49,007 miles flown. More than this year's just-over 47,000 and last year's 48,400, but not as bad as I thought it'd be. In 2014, the Mariners' schedule had them flying 51,500 miles; I figured it would be that every year now. Glad to be wrong.

One other good thing: despite the news media calling it a "balanced schedule," it remains division-weighted, which I consider a necessity. For a while there, MLB used an actual balanced schedule (mostly) which made standings in a division artificial. At least this plan continues to make it meaningful to be a division champ. Now, if we could just get Commissioner Manfred and company to change the stupid new playoff format that lumps a division winner in with Wild Card teams to one that respects the division flag...

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Streaming service economics

streamers

I watch a lot of TV. My friend Erik watches tons of movies, which I don't do that much; he's your go-to if you want to know what recent release is worth your time. But I revel in the age of television we now live in.

Which is becoming a problem.

Not in the couch-potato, get-off-your-duff-and-go-outside sense, though I could definitely use a bit more exercise. But in the how-much-is-this-costing-me? sense.

Used to be TV was the free alternative to movies. You had to sit through 10-18 minutes of commercials per hour, but no out-of-pocket. Then we had cable, which still had commercials to sit through but gave a wider selection of content for a fee. Then satellite gave cable real competition, but it was still the model of pay-for-a-variety-of-content.

Then came the internet. As shows and news and sports went online, we began cutting cords, as it were. I dropped my DirecTV service several years ago when baseball became available to watch online. Cable shows I enjoyed were still out there to see on websites and/or with DVD releases (and Netflix came around, providing easy DVD rentals).

Now it's internet streaming. Cool. At least, cool when it was just Netflix. Then Netflix and maybe Hulu. OK. Netflix and Hulu cost a bit, but it's still way cheaper than paying for cable/satellite.

Today it's a different story. Everyone, it seems, has a streaming service, and each one has some great stuff one wants to see. To subscribe to every service with a show you want to watch you're now having to, once again, pay the amount of money you dropped cable to save. And more services keep appearing.

Some of us work around this by sharing accounts. Netflix in particular wants to crack down on this and make every user pay their own way. If they succeed, I'm not sure it will redound to their benefit—for a lot of us it simply isn't affordable to pay everyone, there's a finite sum to pay out for TV streaming and some services will be dropped.

I absolutely love shows on several services, and most of the best TV is now streaming-only:

Subscribing to all of these services at the no-ads rate would run you about $75 each month. You can save a little by opting for commercials, but not a lot. And that's just today, rates are of course going to eventually go up. So now we're over the cost of cable TV, except none of this stuff is available there. And we're not even counting the lesser-known services like Peacock Premium or Starz.

Is this model tenable? Or will the proliferation of new services that snatch content away from the existing ones, ala Marvel's Netflix originals moving to D+ and Star Treks to P+, reach a breaking point?

One of the chief benefits of these services is that they're 100% on-demand, you can choose what to watch when you want to watch it, but how much is it worth when you're only interested in one or two of the service's offerings? Especially since a TV "season" on streaming is half of what we grew up with on network. Or less—Paper Girls' first season was only eight episodes.

Those of us that are more cash-strapped are sharing for now. The more services make that difficult/impossible the more we'll start to see if this can continue or if the model needs to change and consolidate. Hulu might be the first casualty now that all the corporate merging has brought it under the Disney umbrella; after various rights agreements run their course it might just get absorbed into D+ (which would inevitably up the fee for D+).

I suppose a patient person could wait until a show's season has run its course and subscribe for one month, binge the season, and cancel. Stagger the services you pay for throughout the year. At least with traditional TV you can record stuff to watch multiple times, you can't do that with streaming, so you'd have to be content with one-and-done if you staggered the binges. Or "buy" seasons if/when they become available on Vudu or iTunes or the like.

Anyway. It's a bigger budget item all the time. Eventually it will max out.

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More maintenance

ITgraphic

I'm sure this is going to keep happening for a while, but hey, more broken stuff!

Commenting was broken unless logged in with a user account, and since the only one with such an account is me, that meant nobody could comment. An endless feedback of captchas was there as a very specific circle of hell apparently designed for trolls. If only it could be deployed just for them.

It's gone now. New anti-spam code in place, but will it work? Probably not, but it won't keep commenters out either. Since I do not trust this code to actually block spam, the moderator function remains on. Comments will go through now, but not show up until I approve them. Damn spambots.

Two minutes later...

Damn, those bots work fast! Russian spam almost immediately. This is gonna be a long-term issue, isn't it.

Two days later...

 Found a new method that seems to be way more effective and turned off the moderation function. We'll see how it goes.

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My Favorite Marti—er, Mariner

HaggertyLAA
Sam Haggerty steals a base against the Angels

Not long ago, on a day like this I would be spending a couple of hours writing an opposition primer for the series the Seattle Mariners are about to embark on for grandsalami.net. And then three or four people might read part of it. Wasn't a good ROI, if you will, which is why I'm not doing that today in advance of the Mariners' three-game set in Oakland vs. the Athletics.

But this is a landmark year for the M's and I'm following closely even if I'm not keeping up that site. Currently in position to make the postseason for the first time in more than 20 years, the Mariners have been fun to watch. Also frustrating to watch. Because they are still the Mariners, managed by a guy (Scott Servais) that by all accounts is outstanding when it comes to keeping up morale and handling all the egos but by all observable evidence is, shall we say, intellectually challenged when it comes to actual baseball strategy. But thanks in large part to personnel moves made by Servais' boss, Jerry Dipoto—and by a new rule in Major League Baseball that I do not like but works to advantage here, a limit on the number of pitchers a team can carry—Servias' strategic deficiencies have been minimized and the team is flourishing. (Relatively speaking.)

Having just swept the hapless Los Angeles Angels of Orange County Not Really Los Angeles at All, the Mariners play their next five games against teams at the bottom of the standings, Oakland (43-76) and Washington (40-80). Those two are in a race to see which will be the first of the 30 MLB clubs to be eliminated from playoff contention, so it looks like a good next few days.

Especially since there was a personnel move I expected to be made that wasn't.

The M's had been enduring a number of injuries and absences for much of the year and now everyone (mostly) is healthy again, which created a roster crunch. Some guys were going to have to be sent down or let go, and based on Servais' history with various players I thought that infielder Abraham "Fatty Tuna" Toro would remain with the team despite his near-uselessness this season, while utilityman Sam Haggerty, who had already been relegated to the minor leagues twice this year, would again be demoted. Because history.

Instead, Fatty Tuna got optioned out. I mean, that should have happened months ago, but instead Servais kept putting him in the starting lineup to provide a black hole in the order (.180/.239/.322 batting line in 84 games) while Sammy and his .369 on-base percentage stayed at Triple-A until the end of June.

I'd been a Sam Haggerty booster since the M's acquired him after the 2019 campaign. In five minor-league seasons he'd put up great on-base numbers and stolen lots of bags while playing solid defense at six different positions. He looked like a speedier version of José Oquendo. Here's what I wrote in his player profile over at gs.net when he was first called up to the Major League club in August of 2020:

No one paid much attention to the line on the transactions page when this switch-hitting infielder was claimed off the waiver wire last winter, but you might want to sit up and take notice now. Haggerty started his pro career in Cleveland's organization, but despite exceptional on-base numbers and stellar baserunning, he didn't hit much so the Indians deemed him expendable and traded him to the Mets for next-to-nothing. The Mets didn't respect his abilities that much either, despite a nice performance at three of their minor-league levels last year, and put him on release waivers. Thankfully, Seattle GM Jerry Dipoto thought he was worth a look and snagged Haggerty for the M's.

He was having a nice spring training before the pandemic shut everything down, but with manager Scott Servais' penchant for overstuffing his bullpen, there was no room for Haggerty when the truncated season finally got going. The M's finally promoted him from the satellite training facility in Tacoma in mid-August, though, and all he's done since then is hit, drive in runs, and steal bases. With Shed Long struggling to perform as an everyday player, Servais and the M's might be wise to give Haggerty a shot at that everyday second-base job.

Meanwhile, we'll keep enjoying seeing Sam get aboard and run the basepaths. One other observation: Haggerty has one of the best slide techniques of anyone playing now. Check it out next time he steals a bag—it's short, quick, and gets him back to a standing position right away in case of errant throws. It's a small thing, but with so many players sloppily diving headlong from eight feet away and struggling to either stay on the base after they get there or keep from hurting themselves and getting spiked, it's refreshing to see someone slide with such fundamental elegance.

Sam finished 2020 batting only .260, but it was a tiny sample size (13 games). He started the next year with the M's but did poorly (.186) and hurt his shoulder (or, maybe, did poorly because his shoulder was hurt), causing him to miss most of the season. This year he wasn't even given a chance to make the team out of spring camp over the likes of Toro and Dylan Moore (.202 career BA). So you can understand why I figured he'd get the short end of it again despite the fact that he's been the Mariners' best hitter since he was called up on June 29th (.330/.371/.536).

Also, I've been negatively prejudiced by the Mariners' historical tendencies (in the Servais era as well as before) to live and die by the home run, and Sammy is most definitely not that kind of ballplayer. Sam is a throwback to the style of baseball played by the favored teams of my youth: a switch-hitter that relies on swiftness, putting the ball in play, smart baserunning, and exceptional defense. He might occasionally crank a homer, but it's never the plan. It's decidedly more fun than swinging for the fences all the time, and I'm surprised the Mariner brass even noticed.

But they did. At least, Dipoto did. “It may be the most fun that we have every day is smiling every time Sam does something else that’s just awesome in a game,” the Seattle GM said to a radio show earlier this month. Servais is still batting Sam at the bottom of the order for some reason (I'd bat him second), but hey, I'm glad he's starting at all. I'm glad he's on the team at all.

Sure, Seattle has bigger names—your Julio Rodríguezes, your Mitch Hanigers, your Ty Frances—and those guys are great. Love ’em. But me, I want more Sam Haggerty.

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Behind the scenes

ITgraphic

So, being 99% decided on shuttering grandsalami.net and moving stuff over here, I've spent some time going over the under-the-hood code over here to see what needs attention after a few years of neglect. The feedbox at right was broken thanks to some changes in browser security; that's now fixed on Chrome-based browsers but still busted on Firefox for reasons I've yet to identify (and I am looking for an additional feed or two to replace the couple I had before that have been abandoned). I see the main logo animation has some issues on some browsers (not Firefox, works fine there unlike the feedbox), I may need to adjust that somehow. I'm also looking at replacing the headline font to be less in-your-face Trekkie for when I invite the GS audience over for baseball posts. Anything else people are having technical difficulties with? Let me know, I will add them to the agenda.

4 hours later...

OK, feedbox should work in Firefox now, logo now runs properly in Chrome/Safari/Opera, we have a new headline font, and the RSS feed is fixed. Again, anyone having issues or noticing weirdness, please let me know.

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