End of season potpourri
Well, that was a fun World Series, eh? The Washington Nationals won their first championship (as either the Nats or the Expos), the Astros were denied bragging rights, and weirdness abounded—the road team won every game (unprecedented); the umpiring was comically bad at times; an assistant GM got fired; Gerrit Cole lost a game; Justin Verlander lost two games; and on a team with Cole and Verlander, the best start for Houston came from a rookie most of us had never heard of.Solid. Too bad it was one of the lowest-rated ever in terms of TV viewers. People missed out.
Game 2: The schizophrenic game
For six innings, Game 2 of the World Series was much like Game 1: a tight, well-executed battle between two outstanding pitchers and pennant-winning defenses. With the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros tied at 2-2 since the first inning, every hit was tense, every baserunner potentially pivotal, every defensive play important.
World Series primer
And then there were two.
Player of the year
Last week, the Seattle chapter of the Baseball Writers of America tweeted their award winners for the Mariners' 2019 season:
2019: Actually not that bad
It's over. The long slog of the season, the Dog Days of Summer, the grind of 162 games. Done for another solar orbit. For the 18th year in a row, Your Seattle Mariners head into October as spectators for the playoffs, adding another number to their ignominious total of years as the only American League franchise never to reach the World Series.
M's Playoff Drought Reaches 18th Year
Yeah, not exactly news. We knew it in March. Or at least by the time the Mariners turned their shocking 13-2 start into a 20-23 deficit a month later. We were 11 games over .500 on April 11 and 11 games under .500 by May 30. Quick work. Hopes dashed. See you next year. Or the year after. Or...
Kyle and the Kids Take One from the Reds
I'm part of a season ticket group that meets every March to divvy up the season's games and talk about the year ahead. Mostly it's gallows humor. It's a good bunch of guys, with good humor and a deep knowledge of baseball history. I tend to buy tickets to 10 Mariner games, and last night was my last for the season. It was also the first time I ever saw the Cincinnati Reds live. I think. I grew up in an AL city.
Yanks Use Former M's to Crush M's on a Beautiful Sky-Blue Day in Seattle
So after the M’s managed to tie the game in the bottom of the 4th with a 2-run homer by Kyle Seager that eked out over the outstretched supertall glove of Aaron Judge in right field, making it 2-2, and the teams switched sides, I wondered how long before the Yankees retook the lead.
New Yankee Stadium
Getting back to the digression from a few weeks back, when I took off on a week-long east coast non-Mariner road trip, a look at new Yankee Stadium. This is out of order, as we went to Philadelphia before New York (and after Washington), but I still don't have my Philly photos available, so I'm shuffling the deck a bit.
Hey Jack Kerouac, I Think of Lopes' Homer
Last Tuesday, after Omar Narváez lined a single to right in the 7th inning, breaking up Dinelson Lamet's bid to become the first pitcher in San Diego Padres history to throw a no-hitter (the only MLB team that doesn't have one), and after the Padres scored 3 more in the top of the 8th, making it 8-0, there didn't seem to be much for a Mariners fan on a lovely Tuesday Seattle night to root for. But then baseball happened.
This week's non-Mariners road trip began with two games at Nationals Park in Washington, DC. Both games were against the Atlanta Braves and both were won by the visitors, though the home Nats did make things interesting at the end of the contests.Some thoughts on Nationals Park as a facility:
I wasn't supposed to be at tonight's Mariners-Angels game. In my season ticket group's draft, this game went to another guy, Grant. But Grant decided to head to Cooperstown to see Edgar Martínez get inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend, so he put tonight's tix up for grabs and I said, sure, I'll take ’em, even though it is the frickin' Angels AGAIN and not even a Marco Gonzales game.
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.
OK, we can give up hope now
Remember back when the Mariners were taking baseball by storm, the early surprise in the Majors with a 13-2 record that was this close to being 15-0? Yeah, fun times. It might seem now like those days were back in 2018, but really it was just a little over a month ago. Mariner fans were riding high, thinking this whole "step back," "sort-of-rebuild year" thing was just unwarranted pessimism.
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.
Changing the rules
Major League Baseball is once more tinkering with its rules. Is that a good thing? Bad? Just weird? Grandsalami.net's Erik Lundegaard and Tim Harrison try to sort it all out.
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.
"Thank you, sir"
He had to wait 10 years, often with low vote totals, before a push of SABRmetric dudes, the Mariners organization and its fans, and, maybe most importantly, the pitchers who faced him...
No one in the wings
If Edgar Martinez worked a corporate 9-to-5 job he’d be the guy who arrived early, performed, excelled, was slapped on the back by the boss, and when the time came for that big raise or promotion … someone else would get it.
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?
The Five Stages of Being a Mariner Fan
This article originally appeared in the July 2008 issue of The Grand Salami.
Dodging the Draft
This article originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of The Grand Salami.
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?
Paxton Trade: Passable or Pox?
I keep going back and forth on the Seattle Mariners trading ace James Paxton to the hated New York Yankees.
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?
In the first of what I hope will be a lengthy series of reader-submitted columns, Matt Estrada tells of his introduction to Mariner fandom and how Ichiro Suzuki became a favorite in the Estrada household.
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.
This was the profile I wrote about newcomer Ichiro Suzuki for The Grand Salami back in the spring of 2001:
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.
The King and the Commoners
King Felix stepped onto the castle balcony and gazed out at his kingdom, taking in the beauty of the white-capped mountain ranges on both sides, the sparkling blue waters stretching toward the ocean and the green forests spreading to the horizon. He also carefully averted his vision from the eyesore of the nearby tunnel-digging project, still stalled and going nowhere (why had he listened to his advisers on that idea?).
Secrets of a Successful Street Vendor
Hours before the crack of batting practice bats, Safeco Field’s ancillary businesses quietly prime for the harried hours leading up to the first pitch of the day. Service workers clad in Mariners gear jingle keys and talk on cell phones as they walk to jobs at nearby restaurants. Parking lot jockeys cordon off the ideal spot to work from while flagging down the day’s fares.
Scalpers Shake Up Image
It was time to get ready for work, so Mac McCool excused himself from his lunch at FX McRory’s in Pioneer Square. Up from Portland on business, he was heading back to his hotel to get changed out of his Seahawks sweatshirt and grab a quick shave. After work, he thought he might try to catch a Mariners game. And that maybe his son, also in Seattle on business, would join him.