The slums of the 300 section of Mariners Safeco Field

It is difficult to report, but it must be told how the Mariners ignore the 300 section in Safeco while they cater to the 100 level. The Mariner’s are a class conscious corporate slumlord.  Yes it is true. Read on felloe baseball fan.

Here is what I have learned. I sit in the first few rows of the 300 level, have done so for years, usually right behind home plate. Great seats. During the game the Mariners, along with one of their corporate partners, have some give away or contest. On the huge scoreboard in center field you see what looks like a slot machine. The first number comes up with the section, the second with the row, and if needed the third is the seat. The Mariners will tell you it is random. It is partially true. The randomness is about which section in the 100 level wins something. Every game I go to it is always the same. The 300 level fans may as be in the deep gray sea of Elliot Bay being eaten by sharks.

But that is not all. In the 100 level you see many types of vendors, though never one selling hot dogs, which to me is a crime against baseball fans. But I digress. The only vendor I have seen in the 300 level is selling cotton candy. That would be okay if I were eight years old, but I was that age in the last century, and I mean very far back in the century. The other night I did see someone selling ice cold lemonade. Just what I want in the chill of the night. Any hot chocolate? Laughter fills the air.

The point is that the ballpark is a set up as a class structure where the rich people in the 100 level are catered to, fawned over, and loved, while the people in the 300 level are considered like people in a tenement. We are in the slum of Safeco Field. I find that odd that we sit in the Penthouse of the Park, but are considered third class steerage like passengers on the Titanic.

A revolution is needed. A protest must be organized. I want my hot dog vendor. I want the chance to win something. I want equality. I don’t want to sit in the back of the bus. There will be a class war. It is coming.

This is my pitch-a commercial

I wrote my first e-novel two years ago. It is based on the fascinating story of Charley Faust. If you are a diehard baseball fan and are familiar with the 1911 New York Giants you may have heard of Charley.

Though many of the players on his team wrote about him in their memoirs, there is still a mystery surrounding Charley. He may have been the biggest country hick of all time-how do explain his attempt to find a store that sold striped paint. It could be he was mental challenged, or in the term not considered politically correct, retarded. But there was something deficient in his mental state. Though his teammates played numerous practical on Charley, and his never realizing he was the punch line, his teammates loved him.

Here is a short description of the book on one of my webpages:

Just off a Minnesota farm, Chet Koski is a rookie on the 1911 New York Giants. He will have a memorable summer as he tries to woo chorus girl Eveleen Sullivan while trying to figure out National League pitching, both of which will be difficult. But he also must look after a strange man named Charley Faust who was told by a Topeka, Kansas, fortune teller, he would pitch the Giants to the pennant. Charley proves to be a good luck charm that he attributes to the power of apple pie. Based on a true story, the novel is a satire on fame and celebrity.

Even if you are not a big baseball fan, there is much more to the story, especially with Chet and Eveleen, and their summer romance of ups and downs. And of course there is Bat Masterson, George M. Cohan, Damon Runyon, and many others

Normally this e-novel is 2.99 but Friday through Monday morning it is on sale at Amazon for .99.

http://www.amazon.com/Loonies-Dugout-Book-1-ebook/dp/B00EEN7YNA/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

The curious case of the Mariners bullpen

The strength of the 2014 Mariners was pitching, especially a strong bullpen. They were 25-20 with a Major League leading 2.59 ERA with batting average against of .219.

But relief pitching is rarely consistent from year to year and this year they are blowing it-literally. They are 21st in ERA at 4.06, and have won 3 and lost 9, the most in baseball. They are responsible for 9 of the 17 losses. And five of their last six losses have been by one run.

What is curious is one of the changes in the bullpen Seattle recently made. Joe Beimel replacing rookie Tyler Olsen was expected from the left side. But why was Yoervis Medina sent down for Mark Lowe? In 12 innings Medina gave up 11 hits and 7 walks. Though the walks are high he struck out 9 and had an ERA of 3.00. Hardly numbers to be sent down to Tacoma.

Consider that Danny Farquhar who has a 5.02 ERA, has two blown saves, and has a .278 batting average against. Medina .234. Dominic Leone has a 5.40 ERA in 8 innings along with six walks. So why was Medina chosen to be sent down? I wish I had the answer. Some guys get more of a chance then others; maybe Lloyd McClendon saw something he didn’t like in Medina. I know I see something I don’t like in Farquhar and Leone.

Seattle needs answers in the pen and need them soon. Felix has pitched great, Paxton and Elias are now pitching well, and Happ has had only one bad outing. They deserve better then they have gotten of late.

More changes could come soon. And that’s no bull.

Why preseason predictions on Mariners were wrong

In my post of April 16th I said there were two things wrong with the Mariners, one of which was their poor on base percentage. That was after nine games. They have now played 25 and that has not changed. They are hitting .238, 12th in the American League and their on base percentage is .292, ahead of only the Angels of Disneyland.

It does not matter how many home runs Nelson Cruz hits as solo homers aren’t as good as three-run shots. Austin Jackson who twisted his ankle Sunday has  an on base percentage of .294, not what you want from a batter ahead of Cano and Cruz in the lineup. The M’s need a rally starter and Jackson is not the guy. Ruggiano has a .344 OBP and Seth Smith is .333. After that it drops to .308 from Richie Weeks and Brad Miller’s .301. The first three names are the new guys in town.

As bad as the M’s lack of hitting and OBP is, the pitching has gone sour. Their 4.35 ERA is 11th in the league. It took a hit in Houston when the M’s came in trailing by 4 games, got swept, and gave up 11 homers in four games. I think it was 11, though it felt like 20. Now they are 8 games out.

The problem with pre season predictions is that when you listen to the experts before the season they look at what was added and figure, as in the Mariner’s case, that they would improve with the additions of Cruz, Weeks, Smith, Ruggiano, and Happ. On paper that makes sense, but what everyone forgets is that what players did last season, how a team played last season, does not carry over to the next year.

The starting pitching may not be as good, as in the Mariners case. Two young pitchers James Paxton, and especially Taijuan Walker have struggled; Iwakuma has back problems. The bullpen has not been as untouchable as 2014. One can not expect the same numbers every year.

The exception is the OBP of the Mariners. At least that has been consistently bad.

The M’s must improve this month to keep close to the streaking Astros. If they keep falling, then June will see Seattle fans talking Seahawks.

Two things wrong with Mariners

It is not the .210 batting average that bothers me. Though the Mariners are 26th in baseball and 12th in the American League is not the problem. Their on base percentage does bother me. At .258 they are 14th in the American league, ahead of only the Twins at .249. The reason for that is the same as last season and that is the inability to draw walks.

They are 13th in the league in walks with 18 in nine games. The Twins have 17 and the White Sox have 13, but they have played eight games. Last season the M’s drew 396 walks, last in the League. Oddly Kansas City was last with .380. who finished with a 89-73 record. The difference was Kansas City hit .263 while Seattle hit .244 and that is why the Mariners finished dead last in on base percentage at .300.

The Mariners survived a poor offensive output in 2014 because their pitching was one of the best in baseball.  It is early, but through nine games they have had only two good starts, one from Felix, the other from J.A. Happ. Paxton, Iwakuma, and Paxton have either struggled or floundered. And closer Fernando Rodney has blown up the last two games.

Everything looked good in spring training, but there is no pressure in those games; once the bell rings, high expectations can cause things to go wrong. I don’t know whether they feel the pressure of expectations or not. They say no, but what do you expect them to say. It could be the pitchers are not in their rhythm, are having trouble locating. 

The focus of the everyday players has not been there. Cano thought the bases were loaded when there were runners at second and third and began walking home from third when a batter walked and Cano was thrown out. Logan Morrison forgot how many outs there were in consecutive innings. Brad Miller Forgot to cover second base once.

The 3-6 record is disappointing and while the starting pitching has been poor, it should not mask the Mariners inability to get on base. Homers alone will not win games. You need to be patient, get pitchers deeper into counts, draw walks, and get clutch hitting. The M’s are doing none of that.

It is time for the Mariners to step and during this nine game home stand. Forget expectations and start playing fundamentally sound baseball.

Why McClendon should not have used Rodney on Sunday

Many relief pitchers have a problem coming into the 9th in non-save situation. It is likely that thinking the lead is safe the pitcher throws strikes to get outs, but the strikes are too good and hits come, not outs; or the pitcher is relaxed and throws balls just out of the strike zone. It is only a surmise; the truth is a mystery.

But that is not the problem Sunday when Fernando Rodney came into the 9th with a 7-3 lead on Oakland. Lets look at the last of the 9th. Reddick a leadoff double, Semien a walk, then Sam Fuld 2-run double, 7-5. Canha infield single, Zobrist walks. McClendon visits mound and then Butler hits into double play, a run scores, 7-6, but two outs. The last out is the toughest and Sogard singles, Canha scores, 7-7.

Here is the problem. Rodney had pitched Saturday night so he was not in need of work and by bringing him in on Sunday throwing 25 pitches in a non save situation, it is unlikely he will be used for the Monday game against the Dodgers. Would it not have been better to start Medina in the 9th and if he gets into trouble, then bring in Rodney?

Managers tend to go with their closer and rarely take him out when he is not pitching well. The manager will, like the captain of the Titanic, go down with the ship, and the closer is the managers ship. That is why Rodney was allowed to either get out of the jam or lose the game. But if he lost, this would be one of those games you look back on and say this game was one that got away. And the M’s missed the playoffs by one game in 2014. Even early in the season you don’t want to let games slip away.

Nelson Cruz bailed the M’s out with a 10th inning homer and medina pitched a 1-2-3 9th for the save. Rodney got an undeserved win.

Closers are best in save situations.

 

 

The Mariner trolls are tweeting

Expectations are high for the Seattle Mariners, but after winning the season opener, the M’s lost twice to the Angels at home. After the first loss the trolls were tweeting  “Same old Mariners.” I am sure it is worse after Nelson Cruz struck out with runners 2nd and 3rd in the 8th and Richie Weeks struck out after Kyle Seager got a free pass to load the bases in the game three loss. As I write I am not listening to the trolls on their frequency so I am making an assumption. But experience tells me they are in the rant mode again.

For the unenlightened the trolls live underneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct as seen here.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct.jpg

During the day trolls remain in their bunkers tweeting and texting to sports talk radio stations in Seattle, watch reruns of “Glee,” fill out brackets for “Dancing with the Stars” and play fantasy soccer. The trolls do not go to games. They know as much about baseball as Kim Kardashian does about quantum physics. During the night the trolls come out, (never before blackness has settled in), go to Starbucks and debate what kind of metaphors the Munchkins represented in “Wizard of Oz.”

The troll epidemic is becoming like zombies in “The Walking Dead,”; they are everywhere. There is even one, a host on 710 ESPN Seattle, who after the M’s were shutout in game two was making troll sounds, hinting “Same old Mariners.” One could argue he was trying to stir up chatter for the talk show, but anyone who listens to him knows better. He is a troll.

One does not approach the baseball season the way a football season is approached. Baseball is a game of failure, of streaks that whether hot or cold is irrelevant. Streaks are a microcosm, a blip on the radar. To analyze even the first month of the baseball season is like looking at the first year of WW2; neither has the complete picture.

Even if the Mariners won their first 12 games, then lost, the trolls message would have been the same. That is what trolls do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the unenlightened about the Seattle trolls they live deep underground beneath the Alaska Way Viaduct.

Why King Felix and Mariners will lose opening day

Seattle has won on opening day eight consecutive years. They open at home with King Felix Hernandez on the mound before a full house and a jammed packed King’s Court. Felix is 6-0 on opening day. It looks like the Mariners have everything in their favor.

Normally home field advantage in baseball is not as strong as home field in the NFL and neither is as strong as home court in the NBA. But the King’s Court always pumps up Felix and he will also be pumped up for the opening of the season. If he can settle in during the first two innings he should be alright and that will be the key.

The Angels and Mariners should battle for the division title all season, so the game will be important as any game in September and the Angels will pitch Jeff Weaver who always seems to pitch well against Seattle. But Weaver is not the reason the Angels will win. No I take the blame for the loss by pointing out the obvious.

The obvious is that everything is in Seattle’s favor. Playing at home; eight game win streak on opening days; Felix 6-0 on opening day; an excited sellout crowd at Safeco; the rapid King’s Court. When everything is in your favor karma rears its head like a cobra and strikes you in the caboose. That’s why.

All that and the fact I am revealing everything in the M’s favor will be a jinx, a hex, a win killer.

So it will be my fault. I will take the loss.

On the other hand it could be that blaming myself for what has yet to happen may upset the karma cart. By telling you that karma will change for the M’s and they will lose might make karma show me up by changing its mind and making the M’s win. As a baseball fan I know the players have nothing to do with winning or losing. It is which fan base is using or abusing karma; how we work sub-rosa trying to outfox karma.

Monday will tell if I am right or if I am right.

 

 

 

 

 

Why the new batters box rule is good and some hitters can’t think

I like the new rule about keeping the hitters in the batting box-at least one foot after every pitch. I hope the rule will be enforced as I loathe and detest batters who step out after every pitch and walk around like they are looking for a park bench to sit on while feeding pigeons. 

I think it was David Ortiz who said he did not like the rule, as hitters need to step out and think about the next pitch, the count, what the pitcher is likely to throw, and all that jazz.

Sorry to bring up the old days, but I have no choice. When I was growing up-and you can see footage on YouTube-batters never got out of the box, not even one foot. Never I say. They stayed in the box and were able to think about the next pitch at the same time. I know you are thinking ‘but how can this be?’ You think I am kidding, that it is impossible for a hitter to stay in the batters box and think at the same time. But I assure you this is true.

Somehow Willie Mays hit 660 home runs without getting out of the box between pitches. You can look it up.

I don’t know the reason hitters of yore were able to think about the next pitch in a short time. Maybe they prepared better, maybe they knew the pitchers better, maybe they went under  the adage of ‘see ball, hit ball’.

Some of today’s hitters overthink, or they can’t think, or are trying to figure out how to think, but I have figured out one thing and it is this. From opening day forward my favorite players will be those who stay in the batters box and players I will jeer, boo, and heckle will be those complainers who can’t stay in the box because it affects their thinking.

I’m believe their brain waves are spinning in foul territory.

Mariners to platoon two second basemen in left field

 

I heard on ESPN 710 Seattle the other day that Richie Weeks and Dustin Ackley will platoon in left. Ackley, the Mariners former second baseman,  learned to play left field after being sent to minors to straighten out his hitting. Last season he played left and this season he will be joined by fellow second baseman Richie Weeks, if that report turns out to be true. And Weeks is listed 2nd on left field depth chart.

That would give Seattle five outfielders, Ackley, Weeks, Austin Jackson, Justin Ruggiano, and Seth Smith. Since Nelson Cruz may get time in the outfield if needed, that leaves speedy James Jones with little chance of making the team and likely ending up in Tacoma.

It has also been said that the whoever losses the shortstop competition between Chris Taylor and Brad Miller will end up in Tacoma with Willie Bloomquist as the utility player.

Since the Mariners are likely to have 12 pitchers because manager Lloyd McClendon does not care about complete games that leaves 13 position players. With the five outfielders listed above, plus DH Cruz and two catchers, that leaves five infielders; Logan Morrison, Robinson Cano, one shortstop from the above mentioned competition, Kyle Seager and Willie Bloomquist as Mr. Utility.

If all that has been said is true it appears the Mariners have their position players already set. The team has flexibility with  interchangeable parts in the outfield depending on whether they are facing a left or right handed pitcher. And while the infield will be set, Cruz will get an occasional day at first or in one of the corner spots. Bench players will be a non-description of the 2015 Mariners as all will be seeing action on a regular basis, though Bloomquist could get lonely with Cano, and Seager being everyday players. Willie will get playing time at short, at first, and can play the outfield if needed.

And even with Jesus Montero having lost 40 pounds he may be in Tacoma along with other quality players. Tacoma could win the PCL with the Mariners having a strong roster. And we haven’t even talked about what pitchers will be down the I-5 freeway.

If you keep score at Mariner games, bring a pencil rather than a pen. You may need it as the scorecard will no doubt fill up on many days.

 

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