Around the Horn
The "opener." The "headliner." You may have heard these terms being bandied about lately on Mariner and other Major League teams' broadcasts or read them elsewhere in the baseball press. It refers to a fad—some would charitably call it a "strategy"—that has become increasingly popular among big-league managers this season and that has infected Scott Servais and the Mariners over the past couple of weeks.
Don't despair (yet)
Last month I said don't get happy. The hot start for the 2019 Mariners was likely a mirage, but there was still real hope that it might not be. The offense was really cooking in the first couple of weeks and the only concerns were that the bullpen would blow up and that the defense would give way too many runs. Was it sustainable? Probably not, but still...
Don't Get Happy (Yet)
Don't look now, but Your Seattle Mariners are the best team in the American League.
With the Mariners opening the season in Tokyo and playing a couple of exhibitions against the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants beforehand—M's 2, Yomiuri 0, thank you very much—I thought it might be fun to take a look at not only those Giants, but the Japanese Majors in general. In this modern Internet age, it isn't terribly hard to follow Nippon Professional Baseball during the season, though it does help if you can read a little Japanese—at least enough for the box scores. Some games are even "televised" online, though one would have to do a little work to get around a...
Change of Clothes
Looking at the Mariners' new spring training duds and the new uniform set the Marlins have this year got me to thinking about the Mariners' history of sartorial styles. The current uniform concept is, aside from some minor tweaks in the wordmark and number outlining and an early addition of the compass rose on the road jersey, unchanged since it was introduced in 1993. Which isn't bad. It's a nice design, and light-years better than what came before it. But might it be time for something new?
The lack of activity around baseball this offseason has generated a lot of fretting and anxiety with the Major League Baseball Players' Association, with some voices alleging collusion among clubs not to offer high-priced free-agent contracts. Though the current collective bargaining agreement between the MLBPA and ownership, represented by commissioner Rob Manfred, is in place through 2021, some in the players' union are already talking about a strike if negotiations on the next CBA don't go their way.
On the Eve of Destruction: Universal DH proposed
Acouple weeks back, we noted that Major League Baseball had proposed some small rule changes for next season and beyond, tweaks to do with time a player would have to spend on the disabled list and time necessary to spend in the minors after being optioned down. Now, according to a piece by Ken Rosenthal in The Athletic, the players' union has responded with a counter-proposal that expands on MLB's change ideas and adds an explosive to the conversation.
Manfred's wish list
Unable to leave well enough alone, the powers that be at Major League Baseball are seeking more changes to the league rules, according to a source that spoke to the Associated Press this week. The proposed changes just heard about would be in off-field rules concerning the Disabled List and minor-league options, and they're not necessarily bad ideas, but these days when I see "new rule coming" I immediately become suspicious.
With General Manager Jerry Dipoto on another of his trading benders, the Mariners' roster is undergoing some stark change. Though Dipoto is by no means done tinkering—as we'll see, there are still some holes to fill—if games had to be played tomorrow, how things would look on the field?
By Any Other (Corporate) Name
We've known for a while now that the Mariners' home field would get a new name by next season. Safeco Insurance's deal for naming rights to the stadium expired at the end of the 2018 season and they were up front about not being interested in extending their association with the facility, so the speculation began in earnest last spring: Which corporate behemoth would step up to replace Safeco and brand their identity all over our beautiful ballpark?
Having two Game 163s to watch Monday was supposed to make for a great day, but it turned out to only be half a great day. Yeah, I have rooting interests, and they were only half met on Monday, but regardless of favored teams we saw one outstanding game with lots of drama and one snoozer with none at all.
Wait 'til next year
We all knew it was coming, but the Mariners were officially eliminated from playoff contention last Friday when the Oakland A's won their game against Minnesota. The promise and giddy joy of the first half of the season, slowly ebbing away since the loss to the Angels on the fourth of July, irrevocably crushed under the cleats of Matt Chapman and company.
I didn't go to any of the three Dodger games at Safeco Field this past weekend. I had other things going on and no affinity or special dislike of the Dodgers, plus I knew the ticket pricing would be exorbitant, so I skipped the series. This turned out to be a good choice.
Two in a row is a start(?)
The Mariners are on a winning streak. Not an impressive one, sure, but two games is technically a streak. And with the way the M's have performed since they broke their last actual win streak—eight games—on July 4th, two in a row feels like a notable achievement. We all hope this is the beginning of the resurgence Seattle needs to reclaim its playoff standing, but a win like tonight's doesn't do much to calm the nerves of the Mariner still-for-now-but-for-how-much-longer-faithful.
When the Royals were last in town, I was offered a ticket to my choice of one of the three games in that series. I looked at the schedule, saw that the Saturday game had the fun "Turn Ahead the Clock" promotion and nearly picked that one, but then I looked at the pitching rotation and saw Marco Gonzales' name for the Friday game. "Friday," I told my friend with the ticket connection, "no question." The King still reigns and Big Maple is the undisputed ace, but the guy I want to see pitch is Marco.
So, the fans, the players, and the Commissioner's office have spoken. Only three Seattle Mariners have been selected for the 2018 AL All-Star team: Edwin Díaz, Mitch Haniger, and Nelson Cruz. Something is broken.
Tom Hutyler is Bad at His Job
I've got a few pet peeves when it comes to the ballpark experience at Safeco Field. Aside from what the Mariners do on the field, I mean.
The Balancing Act of an MLB Schedule
Is it just me, or does anyone else think the Mariners' schedule is a bit wack?
PEDs: Make 'Em Pay
I was traveling yesterday and thus unable to write or post anything about yesterday's big news, the 80-game suspension of Robinson Canó, until now. I was, however, able to listen to sports radio as I drove and absorb what reactions the news was generating among the Mariner fanbase and mediascape. It was interesting.
An Unlikely Champion for Daniel Vogelbach
Now, don't get me wrong. Dee Gordon is my guy. He's fast, he bunts, he steals, he hits, he defends. My kind of player. But I've become an enthusiastic booster for Daniel Vogelbach.Vogey is not my kind of player. He's slow, he bashes, he has to work hard not to be relegated to DH. And to me, someone who grew up a devotee of Whitey Herzog's St. Louis Cardinals of the 1980s, he represents the antithesis of cool. Cool was Vince Coleman and Willie McGee burning up the basepaths, Ozzie Smith turning cartwheels as well as double-plays, and Tommy Herr...
New Minor League Rule Goes Too Far
Commissioner Rob Manfred and baseball executives in general have had a bee in their bonnet about "pace of play" for some time now. They think baseball is allowing games to take too long, that fans don't have the patience for a three-hour game in this modern age of short attention spans and digital distractions.
How Much is a Mariners Game Ticket?
Determining the price of a Mariners ticket is a complicated matter these days.