Tag:Seattle Mariners
Posted on: April 13, 2009 5:53 pm
 

A modest proposal to the schedule-makers

As the final batch of home openers is played this week, please join me in a standing ovation for those in Cleveland who braved that entire fiasco on Friday.

All 500 of them.

In case you somehow missed it, the Blue Jays beat Cleveland 13-7 in the Indians' home opener on an afternoon that included a 3-hour, 47-minute rain delay.

So for the few hundred fans who made it through the ninth inning -- out of a first-pitch crowd of some 42,000 -- score that a 7-hour, 12-minute opener.

Biggest reason they didn't call the game? Toronto was making its only trip to Cleveland of the year.

Which is exactly the problem. It was shades of Seattle playing Cleveland the first week of the Indians' home schedule two years ago, when a blizzard killed four games and sent the Indians' and Mariners' schedules into chaos.

I thought the schedule-makers would have learned their lesson then, that lesson being: In cold weather cities, early-season opponents should all be clubs that will make two or three visits to that particular city during the season.

But the schedule-makers are a stubborn lot.

Look, I'm not jumping on them, because they've got a tough, tough job. And I get tired each year of listening to the whining about how the cold-weather teams should all open on the West Coast or in domes.

Yes, it makes sense on the surface.

But in the big picture, you're going to tell the Indians, Detroit Tigers, Chicago Cubs and others that they can never open the season at home? And deprive those fans of ever getting the first game of the season at home?

And furthermore, possibly put other clubs at a competitive disadvantage because, if the eastern teams always open the season on the road, then they're going to get an inordinate share of home games later?

Sending the eastern teams west, or to domes, early in the season is not as obvious an answer as it seems. Bottom line is, it's baseball, it's outside, and in April there's going to be some weather. There was a 51-minute rain delay Friday night in San Diego, of all places.

But to send Seattle or Toronto to Cleveland early, when the Mariners and Blue Jays don't have a trip there the rest of the season (and, thus, no easy way to make up postponements), the schedule-makers have got to find ways around that.

Likes: Love all of the day games this early in the season. Wish there were more later. ... San Francisco coach Tim Flannery hitting fungos during batting practice, bouncing one final grounder to second baseman Emmanuel Burriss and shouting as he hits it, "I've got a 100-game hitting streak on the line!" -- and then running to first base to challenge Burriss as he fields the ball. ... Boston outfielder Jason Bay, a class act. ... The Rally Monkey video in Anaheim in which the primate plays the Tom Cruise role, dancing to Bob Seger's Old Time Rock and Roll. ... The chicken parmesan pizza at Spirito's in Carlsbad.

Dislikes: If the start of this season gets any sadder, we're all going to need extra boxes of tissues. First Angels pitcher Nick Adenhart is killed in an auto accident, and Monday Hall of Fame Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas is found passed out in the broadcast booth in Washington, D.C., roughly 30 minutes before the start of the Nationals' home opener. Sleep well, Harry. You're already sorely missed.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Lazy stadium night
"Catfish on the mound.
"'Strike three,' the umpire said,
"Batter have to go back and sit down.

"Catfish, million-dollar-man,
"Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can.

"Used to work on Mr. Finley's farm
"But the old man wouldn't pay
"So he packed his glove and took his arm
"An' one day he just ran away.

"Catfish, million-dollar-man,
"Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can.

"Come up where the Yankees are,
"Dress up in a pinstripe suit,
"Smoke a custom-made cigar,
"Wear an alligator boot.

"Catfish, million-dollar-man,
"Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can.

"Carolina born and bred,
"Love to hunt the little quail.
"Got a hundred-acre spread,
"Got some huntin' dogs for sale.

"Catfish, million-dollar-man,
"Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can.

"Reggie Jackson at the plate
"Seein' nothin' but the curve,
"Swing too early or too late
"Got to eat what Catfish serve.

"Catfish, million-dollar-man,
"Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can.

"Even Billy Martin grins
"When the Fish is in the game.
"Every season twenty wins
"Gonna make the Hall of Fame.

"Catfish, million-dollar-man,
"Nobody can throw the ball like Catfish can."

-- Bob Dylan, Catfish


 

Posted on: April 3, 2009 2:58 pm
 

Spring training: The outtakes

Spring training, that's a wrap. From the Grapefruit League to the Cactus League, a few of my favorite things:

Future song lyricist: At a Mariners' game in Peoria last week, they gave a public address microphone to a fan between innings for a daily contest in which the contestant must finish the lyrics to a Jimmy Buffett song, with the prize being a $25 gift certificate to Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville restaurant.

So they play part of the song Margaritaville, then cut it off. The guy successfully finished the line "Searching for my lost shaker of salt."

So far, so good.

Then he ad-libbed, singing something along the lines of "Yeah, and we don't have Richie Sexson anymore."

The red-faced Mariners quickly grabbed the microphone away from the dude, but not before it elicited quite a laugh from the Peoria Stadium crowd.

The joke, though, was on the contestant:

Quoth the Mariners: No way you're getting that gift certificate now, buddy.

Best nickname: One of the contestants for the Padres' rotation this spring was a young lefty named Cesar Ramos.

Or, as manager Bud Black referred to him, "The Joker."

Outstanding.

For those of you not old enough to remember the old Batman television show, the Joker was played by  Cesar Romero.

If I'm the Padres, I make Ramos pitch with that evil red grin painted onto his face. Not many hitters could deal with that.

So what is it, then? Everyone knows Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia, maybe the best in the business right now, creates his own culture inside his team's the clubhouse.

But he took creating the Angels' world to new extremes last week when downplaying ace John Lackey's sore right forearm.

"It's not really an injury," Scioscia said. "It's tightness and inflammation."

Uh, OK. The Angels had to scratch Lackey from his opening day start. He will open the season on the disabled list.

But it's not really an injury.

Forget "Save the Manatees", somebody save the Pirates: We know Pittsburgh has precious little at the major-league level. The Pirates are embarking upon what will be a record 17th consecutive losing season.

Judging by Thursday's exhibition game against Manatee Community College in Bradenton, Fla., the Pirates' immediate future doesn't look so hot, either.

Manatee beat the Pirates 6-4 at McKechnie Field in Bradenton.

Swear.

Did I mention it's a community college, not a four-year baseball factory offering scholarships?

The Pirates' regulars were elsewhere. It was a team consisting mostly of players who will play for Pittsburgh's Triple-A Indianapolis.

Still. Manatee is a community college.

As a chat-room poster going by Dubers 15801 noted on the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Web site:

"Another great moment in Pirates baseball!

"Schedule only gets tougher with Bradenton Central High School tomorrow. They have a kid who throws, like, 85."

Pizzeria Bianco: Knocked one more thing off of the spring training to-do list this week in Phoenix when I finally dined at the place that has gotten notoriety from coast to coast, thanks largely to rave reviews by Oprah and Rachel Ray, among others. Apparently, the Food Network did something from there recently as well.

Pizzeria Bianco is a tiny joint -- seats maybe 40 for dinner -- that has such buzz that, routinely, the wait is two or three hours. I mean, it's absurd. They're not open for lunch, and they do not do take-out pizzas, either. We got there early the other night -- 4 p.m., an hour before they open at 5 -- and there were 25 people waiting outside the doors at that point. We got in at 5 -- arriving that early apparently is the only way to wait an hour, instead of half the night.

It is very, very good. They have a white pizza, fennel sausage and sweet onions, that is incredible. We had that, and the salami pizza, which was mouth-watering. And we had the margherita pizza, which was world-class. The ingredients are as fresh as you'll find, and they make the mozzarella right on site.

Part of the experience is the wait, and the scene. But I'll tell you this: Bring a book to read. And if you're starving, or actually have things going on in your life that maybe make waiting two or three hours for dinner not so enticing, maybe there's other pizza alternatives in town you'd like to investigate.

Likes: Atlanta's Derek Lowe starting against Philadelphia's Brett Myers on Sunday night. Play ball!. ... Derek Jeter and David Wright competing for charity with their batting averages this year. ... Still love pulling Sports Illustrated's baseball preview issue out of the mailbox every year. ... Absolutely thrilled to see television's Friday Night Lights get extended for two more years. ... The MLB Network is off to a terrific start. Check it out. If you get cable television, you get the network. ...  Baseball-Reference.com. ... Texas president Nolan Ryan attempting to make men out of his boy pitchers. ... Peter Gammons, still healthy and productive after suffering that aneurysm a couple of years back. For a lion in the industry, Peter always has been remarkably humble, and so many people are so happy he's not only recovered, but thriving. ... Leonard Cohen, one of the best songwriters of our time, on tour. Wish one of his shows would line up with my schedule (or vice-versa). ... Go Spartans this weekend in the Final Four. ... Getting home after seven weeks on the road. I can actually walk down to the park and watch my daughter's softball game this evening. Very cool, and about time.

Dislikes: Is there ever a good time to block out to get your taxes done? Short answer: No.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day

"Fat bottomed girls
"You make the rockin' world go round"

-- Queen, Fat Bottomed Girls

 

Posted on: February 16, 2009 10:12 pm
 

Atlanta makes more sense than Seattle for Griffey

TAMPA, Fla. -- As Ken Griffey Jr. sleeps one more night while rasslin' with what probably will be the last big decision of his career, the parameters are pretty simple.

Atlanta by far offers him the best situation, personally.

Seattle clearly is where he should go, professionally, from strictly a save-the-legs, extend-his-career point of view.

Assuming the money is roughly equal -- a year, somewhere between $1 and $2 million -- this doesn't make the decision any easier. But the parameters are very clear.

Remember when Junior asked the Mariners to trade him to Cincinnati so he could go home?

Turns out, he rarely felt at home.

Atlanta offers a far better home situation than Cincinnati ever did. He lives in Orlando, 15-20 minutes from the Braves' complex. He literally can live in his own house an extra six or seven weeks this year during spring training (as opposed to having to pack up and spend February and March in Peoria, Ariz.).

Atlanta, the city, is geographically closer to his Orlando home than Cincinnati is. At an hour away by air, Griffey could head home to Florida on off days if he wanted.

If he signs with Seattle, of course, he can't. But he may be able to acquire several more at-bats as a DH than he would as a platoon left fielder in Atlanta.

Meantime, while the Braves aren't necessarily favored in the NL East, they probably can hang with Philadelphia and the New York Mets longer than a Seattle team that lost 101 games last year can stay afloat in the AL West.

So, to recap. ...

Atlanta = home, family, playing meaningful games, possibly getting one more chance to play in October if all sorts of things fall into place.

Seattle = easier on the legs thanks to the DH slot and ... um ... well, far less humidity than Atlanta during the peak of the summer.

It's difficult to view a Griffey return to Seattle as anything more than a chance for the Mariners to help sell more tickets. At 39, he's certainly past his prime and isn't in position to significantly help them improve. He's a role player now.

Bottom line is, it's pretty clear.

Atlanta makes the most sense.

Likes: Mets manager Jerry Manuel's plan to shake up the lineup, and maybe give shortstop Jose Reyes more defensive responsibility in terms of helping to position guys. Terrific idea. Reyes has shown a lack of focus and a need to mature. Giving him more responsibility may be exactly what he needs to lock in and stay focused. ... Love Boston's David Ortiz and White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen saying anybody who tests positive for steroids should be suspended for an entire season. Somebody start that petition. ... Sean Penn has to win the Oscar for Best Actor over Mickey Rourke, doesn't he? Rourke's performance was powerful, but -- and not to diminish it -- he was largely playing Mickey Rourke. Penn was pure acting. ... B.B. King's latest disc, One Kind Favor, is really good. ... So is The Hold Steady's latest, Stay Positive. Vastly underrated group. ... Absolutely love the Blackberry "If Delivery People Ran the World" ad where the kid Callahan is missing from school and the delivery folks track him, grab him and deposit him before he knows what's hit him.

Dislikes: I will see you on Tuesday live from the Alex Rodriguez press conference in Yankee camp. I don't think anybody wants to be there -- A-Rod, the Yankees, the media, anybody. But we've all got to play our parts before we can move on with the spring, know what I mean? I'll be happy to get past it and get back to writing baseball.

Sunblock day? Warm sun, cool air. Probably around 70 which, for you Northerners eating your hearts out, is still pretty darn good down here.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I think she drove a new Mustang
"I guess it might be a rental
"I remember she had satellite radio
"I guess she seemed a bit nervous
"Do you think I’m that stupid?
"Well look, what the hell, I’ll tell my story again …"

-- The Hold Steady, Sequestered in Memphis

Posted on: December 9, 2008 7:19 pm
 

Tigers, Brewers inquire on M's Putz

LAS VEGAS -- The market for closers began taking shape Tuesday with the New York Mets signing Francisco Rodriguez and Cleveland nearing a deal with Kerry Wood, and some clubs with little money to spend began positioning themselves to avoid getting shut out.

Specifically, the Detroit Tigers and Milwaukee Brewers, two clubs in need of a ninth-inning guy, are talking with Seattle about acquiring J.J. Putz, sources with knowledge of the Mariners' activities said.

One source cautioned that nothing is imminent because neither the Tigers nor the Brewers appear to have the proper package of players that would satisfy the Mariners. Or, at least, they weren't offering them as of late Tuesday afternoon.

One thing to keep in mind is that new Seattle general manager Jack Zdurencik spent the past nine seasons in Milwaukee's organization, most recently serving as the vice-president and special assistant to the general manager for player personnel. As such, Zdurencik knows the Brewers' organization as well as anyone.

The Mariners, sources say, have not necessarily decided to trade Putz, but Zdurencik is said to be investigating all of his options. And one of them is to move set-up man Brandon Morrow into the closer's role and deal Putz.

The Mariners also are said to be listening to offers for third baseman Adrian Beltre.

 

Posted on: July 1, 2008 1:38 am
 

What if Brandon Morrow was a starter?

From his perch in the Seattle Mariners' bullpen, where he is chief set-up man to closer J.J. Putz, Brandon Morrow can't help but keep an eye on his old college rival.

He isn't alone. San Francisco's Tim Lincecum is tearing it up at 9-1 with a 2.38 ERA (second in the National League) and an NL-leading 114 strikeouts.

They pitched against each other in college, sort of, Lincecum starring for the University of Washington and Morrow for Pac-10 rival University of California.

"They were rained out or something right before we played them, and they jumbled their rotation and he didn't pitch that Friday," says Morrow, who did.

He wasn't exactly disappointed at the time -- "Gave us a better chance to win," he says -- and the two would run into each other across the country in the Cape Cod League as well.

Morrow was Seattle's first-round pick in the 2006 draft, fifth overall. The Giants chose Lincecum 10th overall in '06.

Morrow made the majors to stay in '07, ahead of Seattle's schedule, because the Mariners had a need in their bullpen. He was good as a set-up man last summer, going 3-4 with a 4.12 ERA over 60 appearances, but as Lincecum deals, he can't help but wonder what life might be like back in the rotation.

"I was always a starter," Morrow says. "You can't put enough importance on a quality start. If you don't get a good start, the relievers don't matter."

Until the Mariners traded for Erik Bedard and signed Carlos Silva as a free agent last winter, the club intended to slot Morrow in the rotation this season. He even made seven starts in the Venezuelan Winter League, working on building his endurance so he could pitch more innings.

"I was slightly disappointed I went through all that" and then was pushed back to the bullpen, Morrow says. "But anytime you're in the big leagues, you can't complain."

Meanwhile, several hundred miles south of Morrow, Lincecum's All-Star season continues for San Francisco.

"He's been throwing the hell out of the ball all year," says Morrow, who's seen it before.

Likes: Tampa Bay and Boston this week in a meaningful series. What fun. ... Roy Halladay, and six complete games. He would have fit in very well alongside Mickey Lolich,  Gaylord Perry, Catfish Hunter and Bert Blyleven. ... Safeco Field. Still beautiful after all these years. ... The way they arrange the AL flags in order of standing at Safeco. And yes, what an odd thing to see the Rays flag flying ahead of Boston's and the Yankees'. ... Seattle's "Countdown to Cooperstown" -- it's at 27 days -- in anticipation of legendary broadcaster Dave Niehaus' impending induction into the broadcasters' wing. ... Tim Lincecum pitching, any night. ... ... Ferndale, Wash., from Sandy Point to Barlean's Fishery.

Dislikes: Racial threats against Boston Red Sox players? What is this, 1859? Sad to say, that kind of backwater thinking continues to exist. Look at the Democratic primaries this year, where a stunning number of voters in West Virginia and Kentucky admitted in exit polls that race factored into the way they voted.

Rock 'N' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Racism lives in the U.S. today
"Better get hip to what Martin Luther King had to say
"I don't want my kids being brought up this way
"Hatred to each other is not okay
"Well, I'm not a preacher just a singer son
"But I can see more work to be done
"It's what you do and not what you say
"If you're not part of the future then get out of the way"

-- John Mellencamp, Peaceful World

Posted on: February 8, 2008 5:02 pm
Edited on: February 9, 2008 9:14 am
 

Orioles getting younger, smarter

In dealing Erik Bedard to Seattle on Friday and Miguel Tejada to Houston in December, Baltimore president Andy MacPhail acquired 10 different players, and even if the Orioles now may have to summon Charlie Brown to be their opening day starter, this is exactly the kind of thinking this decrepit organization needs.

Amassing young players -- not sending Snoopy's master to the hill.

The Orioles, rotting to the core in the Peter Angelos years, stink. They're long overdue for an overhaul, and the fact that MacPhail now has been able to pull off two major deals in the past two months signals that things are as promised when he accepted the job, that he's got the freedom to re-make the team without Angelos' mitts interfering.

The crown jewel of the haul is Adam Jones, a 22-year-old phenom from Seattle who likely will be Baltimore's opening day center fielder and one day could be an All-Star. The rest of the prospects acquired from the Mariners and Astros range from hard-throwing pitching prospects to unpolished position players.

Maybe not all of them will turn out. Maybe many of them won't click.

Odds are, however, that Jones and at least a couple others will -- lefty Troy Patton and righty Matt Albers, perhaps? -- and that still leaves the Orioles far ahead of where they are now.

Without Bedard, one of the best young pitchers in the game, the Orioles right now probably can't even hazard a guess on their opening day starter.

And that makes things even worse for Baltimore than they were last year, or two or three years ago, when the Orioles knew who would start on opening day?

Au contraire.

Enough of swinging for the fences in Baltimore. Boog Powell is gone, Brady Anderson's one year of power was a mirage and so, too, have been the Orioles. The standings over the past decade have shown as much and the fans have spoken by a mass exodus from Camden Yards.

Baltimore's current run of 10 consecutive sub-.500 seasons is the worst in club history. Tejada, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Brian Roberts, B.J. Ryan, Bedard ... new hopes have come, new hopes have gone, and all it's proven is that you can slap a new coat of paint on the house, but if the wood is bad, it ain't going to last.

The Orioles need depth, not sheen, and they finally have an executive who understands this.

It was a heavy price to pay for Seattle, five players for a lefty pitcher who can be a free agent following the 2009 season, but the Mariners are buoyed by the hope of last season's second-place finish (six games behind the Angels in the AL West) following a three-season freefall.

Man-for-man, they don't yet measure up with the Angels, AL West winners in three of the past four seasons. But Bedard and Felix Hernandez present an imposing one-two punch atop the Seattle rotation, and free agent Carlos Silva joins Jarrod Washburn and Miguel Batista to lengthen a rotation that should keep the Mariners in contention for much of the summer at worst, and, with a few breaks, maybe even sneak past the Angels at best.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com