Archive: October, 2022
There's an election in a week. You might have heard about it.
Or, maybe not. Despite the plethora of campaign ads on television and dotting the side of roads and on your favored social media platforms, there are plenty of Americans who simply do not pay attention to such things. We're supposed to be the world's foremost democracy—at least, we used to be thought of that way—but we haven't acted like it for well over a hundred years.
2020 saw a voter turnout that was two-thirds of the voting-eligible population, a surprisingly high percentage—the last time the country saw more than 67% of the VEP cast votes was in 1900. Of course, the portion of the general population that was voting-eligible was, shall we say, a bit different then, so it's not an apples-to-apples measurement. But the trend has been positive from 1996 (under 52% in a presidential campaign that was not terribly competitive), so I'm hopeful that we'll get a good turnout here in 2022.
Of course, ’22 is not a presidential year. Midterms tend to draw 10-20% fewer voters. In 2018, when flipping Congress was essential to saving the world, turnout was all of 50%, the largest for a midterm election since World War I. Half.
Half!! Half of the American voting-eligible public chose not to vote in the last midterm election, and it was to that point the highest-stakes midterm election in the history of humankind. And it was an improvement!
This year's stakes are just as high if not higher. The Republican party has gone full fascist and if they regain control of Congress it is no exaggeration to say that democracy in America will be, if not irreparably destroyed, severely undermined and damaged and corrupted into a tool for autocrats. It isn't just Senators and Congressional representatives, either. Governorships, secretaries of state, every level of government is being invaded by fascist-minded candidates running as Republicans and god help us all if they win.
The Republicans are not trying to be even slightly subtle about their fear-mongering bullshitting appeal to voters who won't think critically, who are naive and malleable and can be manipulated by audacious bald-faced lies. Or more plainly, as the former president put it, “[they] love the poorly educated."
It's nothing new for Republicans to court votes by trying to terrorize their constituents into believing the opposition is some version of the devil, but in the 21st Century, that tactic has been increasingly ratcheted up to open calls for violence and we now see these malleable, manipulated, radicalized voters (or supporters, anyway) openly threaten Congresspeople, plot to kidnap and murder governors, intimidate voters at ballot boxes, and invade the home of the Speaker of the House and bludgeon her husband with a hammer and none of it is shocking.
Yet, people will choose not to vote. Worse still, others will choose to vote and base their votes on propaganda that bears little resemblance to facts. The longtime Republican strategy has been and continues to be—now on steroids, if you will—discourage/suppress voting to keep turnout as low as possible, because they know their base of manipulated malleables is small. If more than 50-55% of the VEP shows up, they believe they have no chance at all, and rightly so in all probability.
So scare the public. "Flood the zone with shit," as Steve Bannon put it. Confuse people. Lie to them. Intimidate them. Terrorize them. Keep them dumb, keep them frightened, keep them ignorant, and above all keep them from voting. Except the crazies, them the R's need to win.
In the years leading up to the Civil War, there was a political party that proudly called themselves the "Know-Nothings." Those xenophobic bigots were geniuses compared to the rubes recruited to and targeted by the modern Republican party. Not only do they know nothing, the party is doing all it can to keep them ignorant long enough to give its candidates enough power to make the will of the people and constitutional principles even more utterly irrelevant than the corrupt Supreme Court has already made them.
They. Must. Be. Stopped.
I've already voted; my ballot was relatively short and each of the races had an obvious positive choice and an obvious threat. It was easy. Plus, I live in Washington state, where voting is perhaps simpler than in any other state with a 100% mail-in system and no party registration (that latter point is a bone of contention for me, but I fully support the all-mail balloting). It took all of five minutes and I dropped the ballot at a collection box at the nearby public library. But so, so many people won't bother to do the same, even in easy-as-pie WA.
Please, whatever state you live in, assuming you're an American eligible to vote, do it. Cast your ballot. But think about it first.
People dissatisfied with issue X and therefore voting against incumbents, what's your logic?
You folks that are telling pollsters that gas prices are influencing your vote? Think about it. Why are gas prices high? What are you expecting whomever you vote for to do about it? What has that bloc already attempted, what has that bloc already prevented, what actions will they take to affect the issue? Every Republican in congress voted against the measure passed by the House that would have addressed high fuel prices. Every Republican senator united to kill the bill in their chamber. Who do you think is going to help you here?
More concerned with inflation generally? Well, why do we have inflation? What will each bloc try to do about it? The Republicans have openly avowed to do everything they can to destroy the economy in order to kill social security, including forcing the United States to default on its debts and throw the global financial system into chaos. Will that help you?
Are you worried about crime? As noted above, Republicans are openly encouraging violent crime. How do you think your candidate of choice will address the issue? "Tough on crime" as a political slogan has translated into anti-liberty, pro-incarceration, police-can-do-no-wrong policies rooted in racism and brutality; rather than "tough on crime," those policies might more accurately be described as "crime is OK so long as you're not poor and/or brown, which in and of itself we will treat as crime."
Think it through. Use your head. Question all the slogans, evaluate your source of news, examine your priorities.
Then vote. Let's shoot for at least 60% this time, shall we?No Comments yet
Playoff highs and lows
Having quit maintaining that other website that was all about baseball and the Seattle Mariners, one might think I'm not interested in writing more about them. But even though that endeavor was ultimately a bust, I am still a fan and it is October, when the MLB postseason rules the mind.
And the surprising Mariners continued to surprise. I had every expectation that the M's would not survive the new Wild Card round, a more difficult hill to climb than the prior system which would have required them to win one game to play-in to the American League Division Series. But they did survive it, and did so in dramatic, historic fashion, coming back from seven runs down to beat the offensively-superior Toronto Blue Jays 10-9 in the second game of the best-of-three series and thus advancing.
It changed my attitude. My borne-of-two-decades-of-futility jaded pessimism, reinforced by the team's performance in the last couple of weeks of the regular season, had given way to the thrill of unlikely victory and, in true Ted Lasso fashion, belief. These guys could really do it.
Then came yesterday.
In the opening game of the best-of-five series, matched up against their principal nemeses from Houston, the Mariners faced the great and historically dominant Justin Verlander, the Houston ace pitcher that had eaten the M's for lunch all season long. They didn't flinch and hit Verlander hard and bounced him out of the game early, scoring six runs off of him. They took a 7-3 lead into the eighth inning. Even when reliever Andres Muñoz faltered and gave up a two-run homer to Alex Bregman, they were still in good shape, heading into the bottom of the ninth up by two. "Believe" seemed to be holding strong.
But you can never completely believe with this team, because the Mariners are managed by a guy named Scott Servais. As I've repeatedly said, Servais has got to be absolutely brilliant at the off-the-field aspects of his job. Handling the egos of 26 young men with varying degrees of maturity and more money than they know what to do with, keeping that group in a good frame of mind, all that stuff. But during the actual game, when his job requires executing baseball strategy, he is, well, not brilliant. Dim, you might say. Often the players are good enough to overcome this deficiency, which is why the team won 90 games and got into the postseason in the first place. But it's not always possible.
I was watching yesterday's game with my friend Bill, and we were naturally enjoying how things were unfolding. But in the ninth inning the TV cameras cut to the Seattle bullpen, where a left-hander was warming up, presumably readying himself to pitch in the bottom of the ninth. That left-hander was number 38, the high-priced free-agent starting pitcher that won the Cy Young Award last year but this year has been all kinds of mediocre, and over the last few weeks has been eminently hittable and homer-prone.
"Uh-oh," Bill said.
"What the fuck?" I said.
Bill's concern was more general—he feels, and with good reason, that when managers in the postseason use pitchers who had been starters their whole career in relief it usually blows up in their faces. Not always—see Johnson, Randall J., 2001—but when it succeeds there's often (though not always) some extenuating circumstance, like you've burned all your regular relievers already, or the pitcher's specific attributes are especially suited to the situation at hand. You can find numbers to back up either side of the argument, but Bill was adamant. He didn't want to see a starter, any starter, go into the game in relief. Sometimes even when it seems to work it doesn't; see last year's National League Division Series, when Dodger manager Dave Roberts brought starting pitcher Max Scherzer in to close out a win in Game 5—the Dodgers won and advanced, but Scherzer tried to make his next start and had nothing, then couldn't pitch at all for the remainder of the postseason (Scherzer had been called upon in this way before, in Game 5 of the NLDS in 2017, and was terrible and lost the series).
My concern was more specific. Robbie Ray was bad the last three times he started a game. Five of the last six, actually, a stretch in which he racked up an ERA just shy of 6.00 and surrendered ten home runs. It was my judgment that he was only on the playoff roster because he was a very pricey free-agent acquisition prior to the season and the team would have been better off with Marco Gonzales on the active roster and Ray off of it (Marco had one poor start vs. Houston this year and two excellent ones).
So, the ninth begins and the pitcher on the mound to begin things is Paul Sewald, who rather inexplicably has excellent numbers on the season. He always struck me as punching above his weight, but OK, sure, Sewald. I'd have Erik Swanson ready to go to back him up, though, just in case. Anyway, Sewald gets a couple of outs, but also gives up a hit and puts a runner on with a hit-by-pitch, bringing up Yordan Alvarez, a left-hand batter and the Astros' best hitter.
Servais has a few options here. 1) Do nothing, let Sewald try and get Alvarez out (Alvarez is 1-for-7 career vs. Sewald). 2) Walk Alvarez. This would be risky, loading the bases and moving the tying run to scoring position, but would let Sewald or another reliever face a right-hander. 3) Go to the bullpen for Erik Swanson, a proven quantity in late-inning relief who had surrendered all of one home run to lefties this year (though with no real history vs. Houston). 4) Go to the ’pen for left-hander Matt Boyd. 5) Go to the ’pen for Robbie Ray.
He went with (5), which was the obviously worst option (though (4) was not much better). Alvarez actually hits left-handers better than righties, Ray was abysmal vs. the Astros all season (as a team, Houston hit .442/.509/.865 off of Ray in three games for a nearly-11.00 ERA and a WHIP of almost 3.000), and as noted before Ray had been homer-prone when a home run would lose the game. It was a decision with no merit to it at all. Calling it stupid is too kind. And it wasn't all that surprising, ’cause Servais has always been a dunce at strategy.
Sadly, Ray only threw two pitches in the game, with the second one sailing over the fence for a walk-off Astro victory, so he didn't pitch enough to prevent him from perhaps starting in Game three or, if it gets that far, four. He shouldn't anyway, but, you know, Servais.
So, the M's are in a hole now, down one game to none in a best-of-five to the arch-enemy rival, and it's their manager's fault. I feel OK about tomorrow's Game Two, with Luis Castillo starting for Seattle against another Houston All-Star in Framber Valdez; Castillo is who you want out there in a do-or-die game. (And while not an elimination game, it does feel like it's do-or-die.) But Castillo can pitch the game of his life, and if it remains close by the late innings one will have to wonder: What nonsense will occur to Scott Servais to do with the game on the line? And will he turn to Ray for the next game?
"Believe" was short-lived. Sorry, Ted Lasso.No Comments yet
Ex-M's in the playoffs
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.No Comments yet
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:
- The 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 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 the 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.
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.No Comments yet
Good company, bad baseball
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.
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.
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