Monday, October 27, 2008

Philly Fans "Title or bust!" Me "Bust away, then!"

As the Philadelphia Phillies were kicking the holy crap out of Tampa Bay last night the near inevitability of a Phillies World Series truly set upon me. My heart seized up, could the city of brotherly love really handle a championship? Or would the ensuing celebration turn into something that would put the L.A riots to shame? My guess is the former would happen. And if that's the case we, as sports fans, need to look deep inside our sporting souls answer this nagging question. Do the sports fans of the city of Philadelphia really deserve a championship?

It was the year 1983, I had just been born a few months earlier, Reagan had been in office for a little over two years, the Sunset Strip was filled with crappy hair bands, and the Philadelphia 76ers had just won a NBA title, the last title to be brought to the city. In the mean time Philly has had both the Iggles and The Sixers make it to a title game only to fall short to dynasties, The Pats and Lakers respectively. For such a drought many would agree that it is indeed time for Philly to get a title. I might even agree with this idea except for one thing, Philly fans.

For being named the city of brotherly love, Philly has some of the harshest fans in all of America. The old Vet(Veterans Stadium) had a jail underneath it so there was a space large enough to hold all the rowdy drunken phanatics. It even had it's own court and judge to process said drunks. I think this was and still is a unique feature among sports stadiums.

In 1999, when Michael Irvin went head first into the green carpet covered cement that passed for turf at the Vet he severely injured his neck and had to be carted off the field on a stretcher. Iggles fans, being the classy bunch they are, booed the hell out of Irvin as he left with what turned out to be a career ending injury.

Also in '99 Phillies fans rained down D batteries on J.D Drew, who, after being drafted by Philly, had held out for a trade to another team. This is a relatively tame example of Philly fans assholeishness.

1999 was a year that Philadelphia raised the bar for sports asshole all over the country. Matthew Scott, the first recipient of a total hand transplant threw out the first pitch for the Phillies but not to the satisfaction of the fans. When the ball he threw from his transplanted hand bounced up to the plate the fans let him have it with a chorus of boos.

When the Iggles drafted franchise quarterback Donovan McNabb, also in 1999, the pick was not met with cheers or even anything close. Wanting their team to take running back Ricky Williams
the fans booed the hell out of McNabb as he went up to the stage.

How'd that work out for ya Philly? McNabb do anything for you guys?

Earlier this year when whoring herself out for Pennsylvania's votes, republican VP nominee Sarah Palin decided to flaunt her "hockey mom" cred and attend a Flyers game. When warned before hand that Philly fans will boo any and everything she said something like "That's ok. I'll have my daughter, Piper, in a flyers jersey too they wouldn't dare boo her." Oh-ho-ho how little did she know. I guess in Alaska word hadn't gotten up there about Philly fans. Here's what happened.

Actually this is the one booing I'll give Philadelphia fans, good job guys. If only she got booed at every event she went to like she was booed at the Flyers game.

Even Santa Claus can't catch a break when he stops by Philly. In 1968, Frank Olivo, was dressed in a red Santa outfit in an attempt to spread christmas cheer at the last Iggles game of the year. Iggles fans have tried to distort the myth by sayin Olivo was drunk and his suit in tatters. This was not the case. Olivo was greeted not only with the standard Philly chorus of boos but also a hail of snow balls. So snowblind(not from coke, mind you) was he that officials had to come to his rescue and escort him off the field.

With all that said can you imagine what might happen if/when the Phillies win the Series? The streets will be like Neverland Ranch was for little kids, not safe under any circumstances. And for that matter, do Philly fans, with all that booing and jeering even dieserve a title? I think the answer is clearly a resounding NO!

I hope somehow, magically the Rays come back forwm being down 3-1 and steal the World Series from Philadelphia. Then my recently delfated schaudenfreude hard-on will be back to full mast and I will be a very happy man.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hey Hey, a win! We aint had one of them since McCain still had a chance!

It was like Ice Cube was looking out for Seattle 'cause today was a good day, for the Seahawks at least. It has been almost a month since the 'Hawks had one of those. In the time in between there has been much more down than up. There were the 3 straight losses, the loss of Hasslebeck for an extended period, mounting injuries, and Charlie Frye even started a game, which was lost, of course. But today all that was forgotten about as the 'Hawks trounced the 49ers 34-13.

The last time these two teams met 'Frisco had gotten off to a hot start under with JT O'Sullivan throwing the ball down field with abandon in Mike Martz's pass happy offense. That day they had a little luck in beating Seattle with two tipped picks, one of which was returned for a td. Since that time they have been pretty abysmal going just 1-4.

JT O'Sullivan has been like a punch drunk bare-knuckled boxer at QB. Coming into today's game he was responsible for 16 of San Fran's 19 turnovers with 10 ints and 6 fumbles. It's tough to win with that many turnovers.

The Niners had been playing so poorly that head coach Mike Nolan and his suit were fired coming into the game against Seattle. Many had stated they felt the suit was the only thing holding the team together. Mike Nolan had every right to be fired, many agreed, but did the suit really need to get axed along with him? That's like throwing out the bowl with the bongwater!

Luckily, Hall of Famer and former Monster of Midway, Mike Singletary was promoted to head coach. God knows Mike Martz doesn't need to kill another team with his terrible head coaching abilities,"Sure I have a hell of a running back and my QB has been getting drilled worse than Kim Kardashian but, fuck it, let's put the ball in the air 40-50 times!". Even Mike's fiery temper couldn't help the 49ers win this sunny Sunday.

JT O'Sullivan was looking potato famine weak as he fumbled twice, losing one, and throwing a TAINT(touchdown after an interception) to John Wilson. Coming back to the sideline after the pic O'Sullivan was blindsided by Singletary so hard his whiskey thinned blood was pouring out of his nose and he had to come out of the the game. Sean Hill went the rest of the way.

The game was decided on two plays, both were passes to Leonard Weaver. The weav turned two short passes into touchdowns of 43 and 62 yards by simply catching the ball and running past everyone one his way to the end zone, leaving only the tracers from the swaths of neon green on his shoes down the field .

This type of speed and agility from a FULLBACK makes me wonder about Holmgren, who seems content using The Weav purely as a blocking back. But with hands and feet like that I have often opined that Weaver's skills need be put to more use than just the occasional 3rd down draw. This goes double in a season when the Seahawks top seven wideouts have missed time with injury. If The Weav can do that with a simple dump off pass, imagine what he could to if he had plays drawn up for him occasionally.

Along with Seneca's athletic ability languishing on the bench in the role of back-up QB, this is one the more egregious misuses of athleticism I have been witness to. It would be like if you forced T-Mac to play power forward just because he's 6'10". As much as I like and respect Holmgren for his successes, his lack of imagination in using his players leaves me shaking my head quite often.

One of the other highlights from the game was Singletary's handling of the captain of the all-talent-no-heart team, Tight End Vernon Davis. Davis slapped the helmet of 'Hawks Safety Brian Russel and received a penalty, apparently upset that the lead footed, poor tackling Russel was anywhere near him to take him down. Singletary chewed out Davis to the point where David went sulking to the bench at which point Singletary told him to hit the showers. Davis did shaking his helmet at the non-existant fans at Candlestick Park.

This is exactly the kind of ass kick Davis needs as he is often seen dogging it on routes and alligator arming passes at the slighest hing of a hit like a latter day Freddie Mitchell. Davis is a absurd physical specimen who has the tools to dominate if he could ever have his head forcibly removed from up his ass which proabably pisses off Singletary all the more. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out after the 49ers bye next week.

It will also be interesting to see if The 'Hawks can put together a little bit of a winning streak starting with a tough Philly squad next week at home. With two games with Arizona left and old man Warner's fragile physique starting to fall apart there is still hope for winning the division. Right now though, I am just basking in the glow of this blow-out win.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

M's hire new GM: The Z Man Cometh

Let's hope Jay-Z(pictured on the left) has a better eye for talent than he does shirts.

I had been meaning to write a post about the M's GM search for quite some time but laziness impeded me from culminating my plans. The gist of the post was going to be that no matter who the M's picked out of the talked about crop of potential GM's the organization I was going to be happy. This would show that the M's were willing to take a step forward in looking at building a team due to the fact that the finalists all had strong backgrounds in well-run organizations that used statistical analysis as a main cog in player evaluation. I liked the idea of the M's taking a "flyer" on one of these young hot shots schooled in the A's, Jays, Rays, Sawks, D Backs, and Padres school of thought in building a team. Then old man river had to come in and shit in my cereal.

Don't get me wrong from what I have read about Jack Zduriencik( zur-EN-ah sik) has been really positive. He comes from a Brewers organization that focuses heavily on scouting and player development, a lot like the Angels of the Twins. The proof of his good work is apparent in the large amount of major league ready home grown talent available in the Brewers system. And that is something much needed with the M's. While Bill Bavasi did help rebuild the farm system he also instilled failed philosophies in player development that saw many players rushed to triple A only to languish there as they tried to learn facets of the game that should have been taught in the lower levels.

The reason this hiring kind of bums me out, despite it being a step in the right direction for this team that has been running the wrong direction at full speed for years, is complex. In my mind he was chosen By the tweedle dumb and tweedle dumber team of Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong not because he necesairly had the best plan to turn the organization around but because he was the safe pick. He was the oldest of the potential GM's(not that he's old per se, 57) and was closest to the old school of baseball thought of any of the others in the running. This quote pretty much sums up my fears on why he was hired.
"Jack is extremely well-respected throughout baseball," Lincoln said. "His track record in recognizing and developing young talent in Milwaukee was instrumental in the Brewers steady improvement over the past several seasons."
It's that whole respected throughout baseball and track record part that gets me. They point to a good outcome achived via poor decision making. Or take a look at Paul DePodesta's sucess matrix to see where it'd fit.

A bad process of choosing someone because they fit into your pre-established concepts of what's good but still getting it right, that's down in the left hand corner under dumb luck.

The hope is that Zduriencik incorporates some statistical analysis into the organization as well by hiring young bright minds who would love nothing more than to crunch numbers for their hometown team. I'm sure Seattle has a lot of those types. Perhaps we can then build and front office where it's not a one man show but other bright minds can take the work they did here in Seattle with them as the become succesful assistant and full GM's through out the league. A new day has dawned and anything is possible.

I Believe in Nothing...Execept Taking Joy in the Suffering of Others

There is something very freeing about living in a shitty sports city and Seattle most definitely is that recently. The fiery passions that burn in my heart, once extinguished, can be replaced with a smothering hatred towards all things. I no longer have to root for my team to win but I can now root openly for other teams to fail, hoping for misery the way a contending fan hopes for a joyous outcome. It is a truly liberating feeling.

Watching the ALCS between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Bawston Red Sawks I came to the realization that I wasn't rooting so much for the Rays to win as I was rooting for the Sawks to lose. I was wishing their terribly annoying fans to disappear and go back to committing hate crimes on assorted minorities and quee-ahs. The Tampa Bay Rays could have been the terrible KC Royals and I would have been just as happy.

During that series I felt, for the first time in a long time, that there indeed was a God and he too hated the Sawks. Why else would he let them come back from a 7-0 deficit in the 7th inning of a potentially deciding game? What other explanation was there for the Sawks taking game 6 as well? This inflated Bawston sports fans egos to Sally Struthers proportions as the media talked about the experienced leadership of the Sawks, how they had been there before, twice, and come back. Then in one last final act of cruelty the Lord let Justin Pedroia hit a 1st inning homerun leading Sawks fans all over the country to blow their loads on their keep sake photos of the balding midget.

God has a hell of a sense of humor, just look at the platypus. He gave Sawks fans so much hope and hubris only to pull it all away with the gas powered arm of rookie David Price. Price came out and pitched the last two innings of ALCS game 7 and blew away the veteran Sawks line-up. What indignity! For such gritty and clutch vets to be cut down like wheat before the scythe by a rookie, was unthinkable to Sawks fans. The rook should have been like a young Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn, unable to find the strike zone and eventually walk in the winning run. That he didn't gave me a schadenfreude hard-on the would put Mr.Marcus to shame.

Just when I thought I couldn't revel anymore in the pain of others, came Sunday. America's Team was a team in turmoil. Missing their starting QB, Tony Romo, with a broken pinky, having lost "big play" corner/punt returner Pacman Jones due to idiocy, and superstar Terrell Owens whining like one of the dogs Mike Vick drowned because he wasn't getting enough touches. Both coach Wade Phillips and Owner Jerry Jones had to be worried about things, as this pre-season Super Bowl favorite had lost 2 of it's last 3 games going into Sunday. That one win was a squeaker against the winless Bungles.

The Rams were on a high after firing Coach Scott Linehan whose tactics, like benching $60 million man Marc Bulger for the walking concussion Trent Green, had lost him the team's respect. The high was extended as they rolled over Dallas 34-14. Steven Jackson ran through Dallas' once vaunted D for 160 yard and 3 td's. The whole while I was on a schadenfreude high cheesing my balls off. I hadn't been that giddy Since Monday Night Football where Elisha Manning reverted to the slobbering mongoloid we knew him as.

The implosion of the Cowboys looks to continue for at least few more weeks . Their schedule before the bye is imposing to put it lightly as The 5-2 Bucs come to Dallas, then The 'Boys go to NY to face the retard and his 5-1 VaGiants, after that is a bye and Romo may be back. At that point it might be too late like foreigner said "the damage is done".

I may not have a lot to look forward to sportswise in my black hole sunshine city, this is true. But I have more than enough sources to keep my hate filled heart overflowing in these coming weeks and that's all that really matters.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

New England's Sports Dominance Getting Old

I have to admit something to you, Dear readers. I am a Red Sox enabler. I'm sorry. I never imagined my enabling would lead to such moral lows.

4 years ago I was living abroad in Mexico. I remember stopping by a small bar and watching Curt"I'm the Biggest Asshole in the World" Schilling and The Red Sox break the sway the Yankees had held over them so long. In an innocent thought to myself I mused "Good for the Sox. I hate the fucking Yankees! I'd like to see the Sox win the series. After all they've been through they deserve it." Not long after that thought had passed I wanted it back so very bad.

Much like someone who jumps off a bridge in attempts to commit suicide but lives, I realized "No, this isn't what I want at all!". I wanted the Yankees to lose, sure. Those cocky New York fucks deserved to lose. But if Boston Made it to the Series I had no doubt that they would absolutely destroy whichever second class NL team they faced. Then everything would change.

No longer would the Sox be the lovable losers filled with fan faves like No-mah, Pay-dro, Big Papi and Man-Ram, none of who could win the big one. They would be the world champs. And that would suck. It was so much fun watching those Boston fans wallow in self-pity and believe in garbage like the curse of The Bambino. With a win, they would no longer be self-loathers and, if The Pats mini-dynasty is any reference, happy New Englanders are very annoying New Englanders.

Last year I watched as my surrogate team, the well run and smartly put together, Cleveland Indians go up 3-1 on the Sox in the ALCS. The Indians(and the most racist logo ever. Can you imagine similarly racist team names?) stood poised to clinch the 4th and deciding game at home in Cleveland , when I had another innocent thought. "I want this series to be at least a little interesting, maybe the Sox can have this one. Besides, how sweet would it be for the Fenway faithful witness the dismemberment of their beloved Sox there in Boston?"Again, almost immediately I realized my error.

My simple wish turned very sour and the Red Sox went on to take the next two in Boston, winning the games by a combined score of 24-4. I knew that this incredible turnaround would only add to the Sox lore and I hated it. I couldn't stand the thought of ever more bandwagon fans coming out of the woodwork in support of this grotesque monstrosity of a team. The Red Sox had become the new Yankees.

Working at the stadium when the Red Sox are in town is a confusing time. One never realizes just how close Boston is to Seattle until witnessing the flood of all sorts of Sox gear come flooding into the stadium, most of it freshly purchased. When cheers eurpt it is difficult to discern if it is for the M's or the Sox(except this year when with the M's ineptitude you knew it was for the Sox). This baseball blasphemy should never transpire in one's home stadium espescially not when the team you are playing's true fan base is over 3,000 miles away.

Now the Tampa Bay Rays have the Red Sox on the ropes 3-1 going into game 5 in Boston on Thursday. I want very badly for the upstart Rays to continue to kick the holy hell out of the Sox as they have done the past two games.

I've learned my lesson. I'm not rooting for a close series. I'm not even rooting for the sweet irony of Man-Ram coming back to play at Fenway in Dodgers blue in the series. No, All I want is a swift and painless victory on Thursday. Then I want the Rays to kick the shit out of Pat Gillick's Phillies in the series. I want all those tools who constantly claim that a team needs post-season experience to win it all to have to eat some serious crow. All those who doubted the Rays because they were "too young" and didn't see that they were also supremely talented, will weep as old baseball cliches are torn asunder. And I want to be there to watch.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Seattle Seahawks 2008: Epic Fail!!!

Seriously 'Hawks, how did you manage this?

Right after Charlie Frye threw his second terrible interception in a rout by the visiting Green Bay Packers, that was much greater than the 27-17 score would indicate, I realized something very disturbing. Like Slick Rick said, "it was the moment I feared." The Seattle Seattle Seahawks had become a tired internet meme in 2008. They were the epitome of Epic Fail.

I can spot an epic fail like a catholic priest can spot a supple altar boy ripe for molesting, too. In fact, I had one hell of an epic fail under the Friday night lights, just days earlier. I'm not referring to the football field, as I am much too out of shape and brittle for that kind of activity.

My epic fail came after drinking far too much at a work party and becoming completely useless, when the entire point of the party was to talk to this pretty girl I am interested in. Perhaps it was the combination of light and dark liquor plus beer that did it to me, but my Linda Blair came out as I twice projectile vomited. Thankfully no one saw the expulsion of my stomachs contents. After that point I became a little surly and a lot out of it. My grip on consciousness was slipping like Brian Russell attempting to cover a receiver. To the point that when my coveted girl was leaving I stubbornly stayed inside instead of walking her to her car. Like I said, epic fail.

So imagine my horror when a mere two days later another 'Hawks lost dropped us to 1-4 on the season, stamping "Epic Fail" on our foreheads. The parallels were too blatant to disregard.

This season was supposed to be Holmgren's last hurrah. The plan was to go out in a blaze of glory for The Walrus. Even after a rash of injuries decimated our receiving corp, hope still shined brightly. Our defense, with it's 3 returning pro-bowlers combined with the influx and growth of young talent, was going to carry us until the WR's got healthy.

Then we came out flat on the road against Buffalo in the season opener, giving up 34 points. An aberration, I thought. Like Sir Ben Kingsley in the movie BloodRayne, surely not a sign of things to come.

After a tough loss due to a little bad luck to the 49er's at home my confidence was a little shaken. How could we have let the walking dead corpse of Isaac Bruce absolutely torch us for 153 yards on 4 catches? The secondary was a revelation last year, this year it was giving it up like post-Tommy Mottola Mariah Carrey.

The 'Hawks dominated The Rams and confidence was restored a bit. It was reasoned by many that, even though it was the lowly Rams, we handled them like a good team should, by completely and utterly abusing them. This gave a lot of hope going into the bye week, coupled with the fact that Plexiglass Burress was going to suspended for the game against the 'Hawks and fans were clamoring like fan boys pre-Star Wars:Episode I.

There were two things overlooked going into the into the game at New York that foreshadowed the outcome. Just like Episode I, where everyone forgot about George Lucas' penchant for cheapening his films with inane kiddie fare and inability to work with actors, so overlooked were The Seahawks dismal schedule coming off a bye and playing games on the east coast. After Brian Russell decided pregame to make Domenik Hixon a star, the outcome was forged. Eli went all Jerramy Stevens on our secondary, using his 'tard strength to hurl the ball to his nominally covered receivers. Brandon Jacobs only needed the first half of football to do his damage and run all over the once vaunted 'Hawks D.

The Seahawks nation, still coughing up spine fragments from their pounding the week before, were given a steel-toed boot to the teeth when on Friday the team announced Matt Hasselbeck would no be starting because of a knee injury suffered the week before. Seneca "I'm not retarded!" Wallace wouldn't start either due to a calf injury. Which left the hopes riding on 3rd String QB Charlie Frye.

Rational thought would preclude someone from ever hoping to win a game in which Charlie Frye is starting for your team. Sadly rational thought is often overshadowed by homerism. The hope was, that with a strong ground game and a solid display by our D against an injured and inconsistent O-Line, the team could eek out a win. These hopes were swatted down like so many late passes by Charlie Frye. Chuckles' penchant for holding onto the ball like my drunken roommate hangs onto a bottle of booze led to many sacks, two int's and the bevy of aforementioned late passes.

The defense failed to get any consistent pressure as Aaron Rodgers dissected our secondary, bum shoulder and all. The offense's inability to stay on the field and the d's inability to stay off it culminated in one hell of a stomping.

Sadly, all hopes of this team contending for a 5th straight year atop of the NFC West, let alone a Super Bowl berth, were crushed. The season, realistically, is dead. 1-4 is not an easy hole to climb out of even our incredibly weak division. For having such a Bagdhad-esque demolition of our hopes of a season we are reduced to being a very sad Epic Fail.

This is more like a perfect summation of the M's season. Even if everything goes right it still ain't gonna be that good of a time. But, holy hell, it's one epic fucking fail.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Whatsoever I've feared has come to life...Cause I fell on Black Days

How could Chris Cornell be so prescient?

More to the point, 14 years ago, when I was a long haired grunger listening to Superunknown, how could have I missed what Chris was trying to tell me? How could I have been so blind?

It's too late now, Black Days are upon me and the only light at the end of the tunnel is just a mack truck barrelling towards me.

Seattle sports, my life's blood, are at a soul scraping low unseen in recent memory. The wellspring that was Seattle sports has dried up into a dust bowl. Seattle fans, unlike the Joads, don't even have the promise of better times ahead.

Like a train wreck or a Nicolas Cage movie, I cannot tear my gaze from the spectacle no matter how gruesome the scene becomes.

Oh, what a gruesome spectacle my beloved sports are, too. The Mariners a flirting with a 100 loss season after giving up most of the farm system in the name of Contention '08. With a painful (and unnecessary) rebuild looming '09 looks lost too. Hell, that whole franchise may be lost as long as the two headed monster of Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong are around.

Despite the jaw-dropping athleticism displayed by Sophomore Quarterback Jake Locker, UW football is firmly stuck in the mire. A tough opening schedule against three top 25 teams to kick off the '08 leaves the Dawgs 0-3 going into the bye. The 55-14 drubbing handed to U-Dub by the Oklahoma Sooners thrusts Coach Ty Willingham's head closer to the guillotine.

Not helping matters is the glacially slow maturation process of Montlake Jake's passing game. Already a consistent threat to break a big gain running the ball Jake has yet to flash any sort of a consistently accurate arm. Often his passes more look destined for Lake Washington than his receivers.

Not long ago the sting of another putrid UW football season was soothed by Huskies Basketball. The '05-'06 season that culminated in a deep NCAA tournament run seems like a distant memory now. In a tough Pac-10 it may be a couple years before another rise to prominence.

Then there is the gaping wound left for the forced removal of Seattle's oldest and most decorated sports team, The Supersonics. The pain is still to fresh for me to talk about. Instead, I will leave my post on the matter to speak for me.

Finally, the rock of Gibraltar of Seattle sports, The Seahawks have fallen victim to the malaise that hangs around the city like a growing smog cloud. Not even a visit from the hapless 49ers could help the 'Hawks this past weekend. It what should have been a sure win at home, the 'Hawks dropped to 0-2 in a 33-30 OT loss.

Injuries have decimated this team. We are down 6 of our top wide receivers. Two are out for the season with knee injuries. This includes Nate Burleson, the 'Hawks biggest receiving threat. Even back-up QB cum WR Seneca Wallace left the field after warm-ups on Sunday with a calf pull and is not expected back for around a month.

Our normally stout defense has taken it's hits too. Pro-Bowl cornerback Marcus Trufant has a cracked bone in his hand and is playing with a mini-club-like cast making INTs almost impossible. 3rd year man and seemingly constant victim, Kelly Jennings suffered cracked ribs in the game but is expected to tough it out. Lofa Tatupu, the leader of the defense an injured his hand in the first game of the year. Professional "cover" safety Brian Russel is doing his best to play through one of the worst cases of suck-itis I have ever witnessed. Despite his efforts to be a gamer Russell appears to possess the footspeed of my grandma and is doing far more harm than good out there.

Right now Seattle sports are have one of the worst runs of bad luck in city history.  There were lean years where the Sonics were terrible, UW a wreck, and the M's underperforming, but Holmgren would have the 'Hawks in the playoffs. Never had every team been terrible. For a city used to rain and gloom, the cloud of poor sports performance hangs over the self-conscious city.

"So what you wanted to see good has made you blind." Damn it, why didn't we listen?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

The Seahawks' Season Begins...And It's Really Fucking Embarrassing

I always forget how fucking terrible the Seahawks are on the East Coast. Well, the insane 34-10 blowout at the hands of the FUCKING BUFFALO BILLS just provided a painful reminder.

The 'Hawks went in to the game with little depth at the receiver position—Deion Branch and Bobby Engram are both out with injuries, as is Ben Obamanu with a broken clavicle—leaving us with Nate Burleson and a bunch of green rookies. And then Burleson went down halfway through the game with a self-inflicted knee injury, leaving Hass' with zero targets. Courtney Taylor—the most experienced receiver of the mostly-rookie bunch—couldn't pull in the ball. Neither could Jordan Kent. Logan Payne made one catch.

The offensive line just collapsed, and Hass was sacked about every other series.

If that wasn't bad enough, it's clear that the stink of Shaun Alexander still lingers in the backfield.

I might've missed a run or two, but it looked like Julius Jones had all of ONE run fthat went for more than 3-4 yards. Meanwhile, Mo Morris pulled off a few nice 10+ yard runs and TJ Duckett was nowhere to be seen.

Special Teams was a mess, too. Ryan Plackemeier kick several punts that only went for about 30 yards, and no one seemed to be able to make tackles picking up the returner, which led to one kick being returned for a TD, and several other big yard returns. The Bills even managed to pick up an easy TD, faking a field goal and passing it in—to a completely uncovered receiver—for six.

Good thing Seattle's reliable defense was there to stop the bleeding and save the day, right?


Lee Evans shit all over Kelly Jennings, and the line never really figured out how to stop Marshawn Lynch, who ran for over 100 yards—which might've had something to do with MIA DT Rocky Bernard, who was suspended for the game, along with DB Jordan Babineaux. Even so, beastly Patrick Kerney was kept to out of Buffalo's backfield with single coverage, which is fucking ridiculous.

One would hope this game was just a fluke, but it sure as hell looks like the Hawks might be crippled by personell issues on offense. Although I still can't figure out what happened on defense.

Undoubtedly, the Walrus will lose his shit, make everyone run windsprints and straighten things out. I hope.

Next week we play San Francisco at Qwest. Let's hope next week is a little less soul crushing.

Monday, July 14, 2008

30 pieces of Silver: A City Betrayed

July 2, 2008. Remember this date as it will infamously go down as the day The Seattle SuperSonics were sold down river to Oklahoma City for a cool $45 mil. It will be remembered as the day professional basketball died in the fine city of Seattle.

July 2, 2008 was supposed to be the day the sporting world learned the fate of Seattle's oldest professional sports franchise as decreed by Judge Marsha Pechman. After two straight weeks of the circus that was the court case and the ups and downs that came along with it, it would all be over. Closure would finally be earned.

In 1925 T.S Eliot famously wrote "This is the way the world ends...Not with a bang but with a whimper." He may as well as have written those words about the conclusion of the Sonics tenure in Seattle in 2008. Before Judge Pechman could issue her decision an out of court settlement was reached. Instead hearing a much anticipated ruling on the case the only thing that was heard was a giant ripping sound coming from the rending hearts of Sonics fans as their team was violently torn from them.

The City of Seattle, whose argument throughout the trial was that no monetary value could be placed upon having the Sonics here, reached an agreement with the Professional Basketball Club(Bennet et al.) for $45 million, a monetary value if I have ever heard one. A sum that still doesn't fully pay for the Key Arena tab. An additional $30 mil will be granted to the city if a deal for a new arena or Key Arena remodel is passed sometime during the next session of the legislature and a team does not move into the facility by 2013. No team was promised to the city in return, unlike when The Hornets left Charlotte in 2002 and were granted the expansion Bobcats a mere 2 years later.

In accepting the $45 mil settlement being offered Greg Nickels might as well as have been Judas accepting 30 pieces of silver. The man testified that he had only attended 2(!!!) Sonics games in the past ten years. Why should he care about the team the put Seattle sports on the map? He seemed only interested in covering the remaining amount on the lease than actually trying to keep the team here. Mayor Nickels probably felt that all in all the team could add enough monetarily to the city to be worth the fight. Not like, say, his beloved condos and other soul stealing buildings, that add near countless funds to his coffers(perhaps I am overstating the financial impact of all this new housing but to me the massive influx of new people into the city combined with the tearing down of anything that resembles "old" Seattle dovetails nicely into Nickels' goal to rid Seattle of it's soul in a conquistadors quest for the loot, the Sonics being the latest victim unfortunate enough to be in the way)

Greg Nickels was tittering and giggling like a school girl with a secret during the press conference at which the settlement was announced to the public. On the most somber day in Seattle sports history he was acting as if he just found out the cutest boy in the class had a crush on him. This did not go unnoticed, however. It was a fact that the news media immediately picked up on and even the normally collected Kevin Calabro had something to say on this in a recent PI article "I suppose I should be muzzling myself and painting a rosy picture, but I can't do that, it's not honest." He then added "I was embarrassed for the city, I was enraged that our council members would sit up there and titter and laugh nervously and congratulate themselves over being part of a 41-year history being sold. I was deeply embarrassed and still am.

"I get incensed because people, particularly leadership in the town and the region, don't seem to have the same pride in the area that I do. They sold the legacy away for less monetarily than they should have for a promise down the road of an NBA team from a league run by a commissioner that disrespected them and the region.

"What you're doing now is going after a theoretical building for a hypothetical team. I find that failed logic."

When the voice of the Sonics says things like this with so much anger and disappointment, people listen. I agree whole heartedly with his statements. There is no guarantee that by going along with the NBA and their scorched earth policies that the city will ever get another team. A funding deal could be put together for a Key Arena remodel an upgrade and still no team could come.

This is all rather analogous to the chapter from Cannery Row where John Steinbeck lovingly tells the story of a male gopher who builds a mansion among gopher burrows, replete with a ransom on fresh mallow weeds, in attempts to woo a mate. The poor gopher finds out that despite a prime location away from predators, with readily available food, and a top-notch floor plan there are simply no females near to court. He eventually leaves his home, following a females scent down a another distant burrow only to find that she is already spoken for and her mate doesn't take too kindly to the bachelors advances. For his troubles the young gopher is mauled badly and forced to return to his den and lick his wounds, alone.

Seattle is not the only city on the prowl for an NBA franchise. Las Vegas, Kansas City, and San Diego are hoping to lure a team away from floundering market and give it a shiny new home. Like a sad Vh1 reality TV show, Seattle will have to compete against the rest of the contestant/cities in order to impress a team enough to be chose as said franchises new home. I can envision Seattle losing every shred of dignity as it grovels to the NBA for a new team. We could call the show "I love David Stern". Challenges could include cooking Stern's favorite meal(liver and fava beans with a nice chianti) and getting into a hot tub with sexy Davey while whispering into his ear all the nasty things our city would do for him if he were to choose Seattle. If the city were lucky it'd be the last one standing and we would get to hear those beautiful words "Seattle, you get to have the Memphis Grizzlies!"

This brings me to another point that Art Thiel brought up. Namely, can the city of Seattle and it's sports fans feel good about themselves if they turn around and steal a team from some other struggling city? For once I totally agree with Mr.Curmudgeon. As a Seattle sports fan I can't hope to subject another city to the BS Seattle just had to endure.

Already I've tried to reconcile my misgivings about stealing another team like a Memphis. I've tried to rationalize that Memphis s a college sports town, that the Grizzlies were moved there from Vancouver, BC not too long ago, and even then it was on a billionaire's whim not due to any huge groundswell of fans begging for an NBA franchise. But it doesn't matter, you can't have a list of caveats wherein it is alright to steal a team from another city. You have to either not care and plunder away with glee or not do it at all. To try to talk oneself into such a theft is what the NBA is counting on. It will only embolden them to let established teams leave in search of "greener pastures". If the city scorned wants a team back bad enough they will steal another franchise from elsewhere.

If this stolen team were to come here and play the current best option is a renovated Key Arena. It is interesting to note that, now, David Stern says a remodel of Key Arena is good enough to receive a team. With these latest statements Stern has done a complete 360 on The Key's viability. In 1995, during a Sonics/Lakers game, The Commish was on the local broadcast stating he thought the former Seattle Center Colosseum was a world class facility. Then, some12 years later, he says that a remodeled Key Arena is a "non-starter" as far as a viable place for the Sonics to continue to play and thus won't be accepted as a means to keep the Sonics here. Now, with our 41 years of history out the door, Stern is back to claiming a remodeled Key is a perfectly fine place for the new team to play. How is anyone expected to trust a single word that comes out of Stern's mouth? I sure don't.

One of the other things that really pisses me off about this whole mess is, as I stated in my previous sonics posts, this: The Sonics organization, for the first time in years, is positioned to become of of the best young franchises in the NBA. We have two young Stars in Kevin Durant and Jeff Green...Their season-long growth was given it's true test in the last two games of the season against the Nuggets and Mavs in which they both posted career highs and made countless big shots in games that were must-wins for the opponent. The idea of these two playing alongside each other and getting only better in the coming years is exciting enough as it is but throw in the fact that we have 6!!!!! first round draft picks in the next 3 years. That includes two this year in one of the more loaded drafts of recent memory.

This was written well before we drafted the point guard of the future, Russel Westbrook, from point guard U, UCLA. His drafting only adds to the sting. Another solid young player to build around, a component that will help out both Jeff Green and Kevin Durant but Seattle doesn't get to reap the rewards. I want so desperately to root for these guys, it kills me. They belong to the enemy now. They no longer play for my Seattle Sonics because that team no longer exists. When I read article saying that Westbrook is the best player not named Kevin Durant in the summer league, it makes me extremely bitter. And I'm already like goddamned lemon. Clay Bennett should just punch me in the face, just to really rub it in.

I feel sorry for the fans, for losing the only mens pro sports team to have ever won a title. I feel sorry that we never got to give The Glove a proper send off and retire his jersey as a way to thank him for all he did for this town. I feel sorry for the city of Seattle, it is less of a place without the Sonics here. I feel sorry for Kevin Calabro, he can longer engage in his love of calling Sonics basketball.

Mostly I feel sorry for KD and Jeff Green. Kevin Durant bought a $2.8 mil house on Mercer Island when he was drafted here last year. He got to enjoy living in a small quiet neighborhood only minutes from downtown. He was surrounded by Lake Washington and as any Seattlite who has been on the lake in a boat on a beautiful summer's day can tell you, there are few better places in the world to be. I've never been to OKC so I can't say what they do on their hot summer days, but I can tell you it's nothing like lamping beachside on mercer island or boating out on the lake. I'm sorry the KD and Jeff only got a small, albeit delicious, taste of Seattle life. I'm sorry that they will now have to call OKC home, no knock on OKC but I doubt there is a soul north from Everett south down to Tacoma that would rather live in Oklahoma. Sorry guys, I wish you could stay and grow in this beautiful northwest haven but David Stern, Clay Bennett, Mayor Nichols, Gov.Gregoire, et al. all didn't see it that way. They fucked up, so you two, like all us fans, have to live with that fuck-up. As much as that may suck. Sorry, again.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Real Men, DO Cry

Our city just folded before a decision. Before the trial, we were assured this was all about enforcing a lease - that dollars could not be put on our love for the oldest professional team in City. Maybe they knew something we didn't, I wouldn't bet on it.

Nichols said the NBA told him that a renovated Key would be a viable stadium in the league. That comes as a surprise. I thought only 100% publicly financed 500 million dollar stadiums were necessary for a team to make a living in today's NBA.

Nichol's can't save face in this, he can't act like he gives a rats ass. I'm not buying it, he himself admitted to only going to two games in the last decade! He's the goddamn mayor of the City, and he probably only made it out to 1 game in 2004. It's really surprising that for a mayor notorious for pandering to developers like no other, he didn't rally harder for this team and a new world class facility. But then again, he never gave a shit to begin with.

I'm really stoked that Starbucks is closing 600 stores, a very good start indeed. Every time I see a Dunkin Donuts commercial, I say to myself "build it, I will go." Tully's is my option now, that and little underground coffee stands. Schultz, you chicken fat spineless fakest wannabe owner there ever was, you suck! You're one of the bad guys here! I remember feeling good after you first purchased the team, you'd pacing the courtside in your ivy league sweater vests, high fiving fans - I bought it all. Then when it was bad times a few years in a row, you sold the team! The only person that knew this team was leaving more than us, was you... YOU! Kahhhhhhhhhn!!!!!!!

Only now, can we make a decision - because the band-aid has been ripped off. You have a couple of options.
  1. Sit at home and cry jinks hoping that Stern plants another team here once we come up with our arena solution.
  2. Ignore the fucking NBA altogather.
  3. Or the worst of the worst, become a Blazers fan. They deserve more than that, this was a true rivalry we had going, you can't root for them, its not right!
Lets look at the bigger picture my friends, the NBA model is busted. Plain and simple. And the precedent set with the Supes is a dangerous move for the league. If large market teams keep moving to small market cities, where the owners don't have to compete with the NFL and MLB, the league will die. Imagine the LA v Boston rivalry, now imagine that were the Oklahoma City v Omaha rivalry. Yep, its one busted model if the trend continues.

I'm for choice two out of pure spite. Lets put the choke hold on the league and deny them the luxury of putting their product in our city again. The good times I've had, those were good times. Let's not make the same mistake twice.

As my grandfather once put it, "I've been married three times, and divorced three times. Either I'm a bad husband or a piss poor judge of character. I dont need a fourth wife to find out which."

Teamsters Unite! Come Align For The Big Fight

In my previous post I extolled the virtues of Shawn Chacon for living every working Americans dream by beating down his boss, Astros GM, Ed Wade. I still stand behind these sentiments. But I fully expected for Chacon to lose his job after the incident. Chances are that if you grab your boss by his neck and proceed to slam him to the ground you are going to lose your job, regardless of if you are a highly paid professional athlete. So when Chacon was released by the 'Stros I barely even blinked.

Yesterday, as I was browsing, I came across an article that said the union was grieving Chacon's release as an "unlawful termination". I had to do a double take, and slam my head into the wall to make sure my optics were functioning properly. They were. The players association was really grieving one of the more lawful terminations I'd ever heard of. If pretending that you are on an episode of WWE's Monday Night Raw and chokeslamming your boss to the ground isn't grounds for termination, well, I have no idea what the fuck is.

This brings me to the point of this point of this post. What the fuck good are unions? Don't get me wrong, I understand the history of the unions. I know the struggle the unions went through in their early days fighting for workers rights. Many of the perks I enjoy at my job, like seniority and guaranteed pay, are the products of the groundwork the union laid down years prior. But it seems like the union of today is a joke.

I know my union rep, kind of. He shows up at my work maybe once a month walks around, makes small talk with some people, then leaves. I once tried to file a grievance due to highly inappropriate racial comments made to me by my boss and his 'stache. After I got done explaining to my rep what happened and made clear to him that this really pissed me off, I was expecting some solid advice on my next move. His response to my fuming recounting of the story was"Well, how far do you want to take this? I mean, we can file a grievance but they may very well make life harder for you because you did. I'd say just give him a warning and if it happens again we can think of filing a grievance."

I was shocked. Every paycheck the union bops me for my dues, whether I want to pay or not. When I actually need the union's help this is the type of help I get? So, what good is the union exactly?

I told a co-worker the story who is actually kind of friends with the rep. His advice, you have to engage him in conversation about something he likes. They always discuss hockey. He loves hockey.

Well, that's just fucking great! As I mentioned in my first post all I know about hockey I learned from Blades of Steel. And even if I did know anything about that bastard child 4th sport, why should that even matter? Why do I have to placate the man whose salary I help pay just to get some real advice? That seems to go against what the union is all about.

I get the union making sure I can't get fired for not restocking the beer fridge one time. I'm glad they ensure my job security. At the same time, that job security allows some of my less work inclined co-workers to skate by without fear of reprisal, being fired. Not having to pull your weight but still getting paid the same amount as those that do is Un-American. In fact, that's commie talk right there. Let's just set up breadlines instead of our normal employee meal while we are at it.

I appreciate the union protects me from undue discrimination. I'm glad that i can't get canned after my first minor offense. At the same time the union makes it hard to trim the fat off the workforce.

Case in point, a few years back I had a co-worker who was a notorious flake. In my mind he already had one strike against him because he was hired over me for a position that was never offered to me. This despite the union contract mandating I be given a fair chance at said position. Combine that with the fact I could do his job with my eyes closed where as he needed his hand held the entire time, I yearned to see him get the ax.

For the sake of anonymity we'll call him "Dupey-Doo" or "Dupey" for short. Dupey was constantly struggling to get food out to his suites. He had to be constantly reminded on the smallest things like putting out condiments for his food. His general incompetence would have him shit-canned in no time at a non-union workplace. Lucky for ol' Dupes he had the union safety net to prevent his much deserved dismissal.

Eventually he did get fired. Granted it took one of the more egregious fuck-ups I've witnessed at that place to get it done.

Dupey managed to steal the fruit tray that was destined for the Press Box Suite. He then hid it in the cupboard of one of his suites, a suite that had customers in it. Eventually the customers noticed him sneaking to the cupboard and apparently eating something. They complained to management, who came to his suite for a sit-rep and found him with a mouthful of contraband fruit. After that he got the long overdue boot.

Sadly that was not the end of the Dupester. He managed to mobilize the union to get him his job back, much to everyones chagrin. Bobby Ayala-esque rumors swirled. Did he possess photos of our boss with a goat? Was he connected with the mob and had trigger-men outside someones house?

In reality he just managed to find some loophole and forced the union to act on it. The worst part was that the union heralded his re-hiring as a major win. A real stick in the eye of corporate America. a win for the working man

So I ask, What good is a union? If people like Dupey and Shawn Chacon, who are rightly fired, can get their jobs back via the union, does that mean the union is broken? If there is no motivation in a workplace to go above and beyond, or hell even put forth par effort, is that a sign the union has failed us?

All we ever hear bout steroids these days is "Steroids are bad!" and "So and so did 'roids that means they're bad!". One of the many glossed over parts of the steroid saga is no one wanted steroids out of baseball. The MLB players union fought hard to make sure steroid testing was not in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. They held so much power that neither the Commissioners Office nor the Owners wanted to fight the Union on 'roid testing for fear of another strike. Not that either the Owners or the commissioner wanted to stop the gravy train of the longball era.

So I ask, again, What good is the union?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

No drinking, no standing, no heckling the outa towners pretty please

• Foul, obscene, offensive or abusive language or actions
• Standing and/or obstructing the view of other fans
• Intoxication or other signs of impairment
• Smoking except in designated areas
• Fighting and unruly or inconsiderate behavior
• Obscene or indecent clothing or signs
• Harassment of visiting team fans
• Selling items or tickets in the stadium or on sports complex grounds
• Attempting to sit in a location other than the guest’s ticketed seat

This aint the poster at your local high-school debate club folks! Thems is the rules and secondary cause of why it sucks ass to go to a Kansas City Chiefs game. The first reason is obviously because they suck and lost the best offensive line coach to ever hold the whistle, our very own Mike Solari. No standing!! Are you freaking serious!! Who came up with these goddamn rules, Tipper Gore? Ya gotta be joking! And to think, I thought they had a great tailgating scene, I'd rather shotgun beers in a Sodo alley than go to a tailgate at Arrowhead!

Its about these times that Washington voters always seem to ask themselves, "are we liberal enough? Its time we outdo those do-gooders!"

I'm afraid within 10 years, I wont be able to drink and yell at players who drop passes, even from my own living room.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Enough is Enough and It's Time for a Change

Finally, a candidate who can be trusted

My fellow Ranier beer swigging Mariner fans, for too long have we dwelt in me mediocrity!

Too often have we felt the eerie numb silence that is a lost season!

If the history of this team has taught us anything, it is that it takes a miracle only to achieve a slight modicum of success.

And I for one can stand it no longer! I have straddled the line for a long while and I am dangerously close to cutting my northwest ties and devoting myself full time to the Red Sox nation. An act that makes me physically ill.

I propose to you, my fellow M-Heads, my actions if elected General Manager for the 2009 season. I know, I know, it will probably never happen. Just like a Black man being a viable candidate for the presidency of the nation only forty years after the civil rights movement...

Philosophy: Rebuilding

Anyone who has watched this season unfold thus far should note that rebuilding no longer means dwelling in the basement of the division. This is not basketball here, where players mope and grow indifferent with going through the long grind of a season. No, in the modern era, in which prospects are coveted more than anything, rebuilding is becoming quite the norm.

I propose that the Mariners do everything in our power to start the season with as many young players as possible on staff. While many will deem this foolish, given how weak the farm system compares to the rest of baseball, I am a firm believer that young players can flourish when given a chance to play without constantly fearing a demotion to the minors. A young team grows together and that is the clubhouse I want to foster. A place that sparks cohesion and leads to the unit playing out of their ability. Sound familiar? Its only the same principles that compelled a team of castoffs and unproven talent to win 116 games. Its the same principle that has made the Brewers, Rays, and Diamondbacks viable contenders for the playoffs this season.

Prediction: The Mariners will rebuild, but to a far less drastic degree. If the current team continues to adequate baseball, then look for a comparable roster to begin the season next year. The front office is playing tough at the moment, but we shall see if they are leading with thier head's or their heart's come the trade deadline.

Coach: Larry Bowa

While I want a young team, I want a grumpy old cuss as a coach. If anything, to only avert the impression that this is a soft team. While no one will ever truly recapture the essence of "Sweet" Lou Pinella, the M's certainly need someone with some fire in the belly. Especially after the three previous regimes.

Bowa is a wild man, who has calmed slightly since his time on Joe Torres' staffs. He brings passion to the park and will not accept any laze faire performances on the field. Furthermore, he is an old school hard nose type, who will bring a young team together if only to stay on his good side.

When I think back to spring training 2008, the most compelling storyline was that of the Tampa Bay Rays scuffling with the Yankees over a hard slide by Shelley Duncan. I view this moment as the turning point at which the Rays realized that they no longer had to bend over to what was perceived to be superior competition. Not only did they send a message to the Yankees that game, but they followed it up later in the year, with a scuffle with the Red Sox as well.

With Larry Bowa at the helm, I would be shocked not to see him leading the charge out of the dugout if said situation arose. This is not to say that I condone fighting on the field, so much as I feel that this is a way to gain synergy amongst members of a youthful squad. Bench clearing brawls allow players to realize that they have people backing them. When players back one each other all the time, then the unit has a higher chance of success. Provided that the players do not unite under their great hatred of Larry Bowa, then I see this working out favorably in changing the culture of the franchise.

It should also be noted that I would offer the position of bench coach back to John McLaren. He was the perfect foil to Pinnella and would work very well at mentoring the youngsters along. His abilities are comparable to that of Bob Melvin, who failed in Seattle, but has succeeded in an environment in which his calm demeanor is favorable.

It is my hope that in 2009, McLaren will be right there with a steaming cup of hot cocoa after a pitcher gets called into Bowa's office to be verbally lambasted. Kind of like the Oscar and Felix of the clubhouse.

Prediction: Jim Riggleman

Riggleman actually fits this mold as well, albeit in a more controlled manner. The M's will probably finish out the year playing like a .500 ball club and that will probably be enough to keep him on staff.

First Base: Kenji Johjima

First things first, we are designating Richie Sexson for assignment. Not only are we doing so in the middle of a home stand, but we are doing so immediately before he comes to the plate for his first at bat. Immediately following the announcement, Steam's 1969 "Kiss Him Goodbye (Na Na Na Na)" will be played for forty five minutes straight on a continuous loop. My only regret is that I have been brought in too late for this to occur on Richie Sexson bobblehead night.

In terms of the field, I want Kenji Johjima learning the position. I expect a steep learning curve, but I never agreed with the concept of him catching for my team full team. If I bring on a non-native speaking catcher, I am leaning towards those of Latin decent, due largely to the versatility of the language. Both Erik Beddard and Carlos Silva have openly complained about tossing to Johjima, which leads me to believe that their is no cohesion between pitchers and catchers. Jeff Clement is young enough to grow my future arms (Aumont, Morrow, Hernandez) and Johjima's contract is too large to deal him. Since his bat is not good enough to DH full time, the only way he makes this team is at first.

Designated Hitter: Bryan LaHair

Their is also a large part of me that wants to cut bait with Jose Vidro as well, but after much deliberation I feel it best to let him ride out the season on the the bench. Vidro reminds me a lot of Stan Javier, the perpetually underrated pinch hitter that was a major cog in the 2001 big blue machine. If he takes a pay cut on his vesting option, I would consider him for the bench. Otherwise he is most certainly finishing his career in 2009 as an unsigned free agent.

Sexson's roster spot will be given to Bryan LaHair, whom will start out as DH. From what I have been told, this kid flat out rakes. While I rarely believe what I read about Mariner prospects, I will take my chances over Mr. 220. I predict LaHair to be comparable to Casey Blake of the Cleveland Indians. Classic moneyball player.

Second Base: Yung Chi Chen

Jose Lopez must be dealt ASAP. His value is very high now, due to his incredible ability to produce brilliant half seasons. I know that the previous GM had envisioned Betancourt and Lopez growing up together as a double play tandem, but we have all seen where his logic got us. Meanwhile, I have watched enough professional wrestling to insist that sometimes the best tag teams are comprised of a rehash of an old idea with new pieces. DX version two perhaps? The one with X-Pac, Badass Billy Gunn, and The Road Dogg, over Sean Michaels, HHH, and Chyna? How about NWO Wolfpack versus NWO Black?

Case and point. Lopez can be dealt for prospects, preferably of the pitching variety, and Yung Chi Chen will be brought up from AAA. I heard that he was MLB ready at the beginning of the season and if anything he will only be a modest drop off talent wise.

This off season has a particularly bad free agent class, meaning that I have no intention throwing top value dollars at mid level players. This being said, we are selling where we are strong and filling in holes when we can.

Prediction: Lopez will maintain his numbers for the entire season, prompting the front office to keep him on staff. His contract will also factor into this decision, as he is signed through 2010 at a reasonable rate.

Shortstop: Yuniesky Betancourt

Shortstop is actually a position of strength in the farm system, given the ridiculous contracts Bill Bavasi handed out to several foreign born prospects. Still, these players are at least a couple of years away from truly showing their talents.

That being said, Betancourt is the man for now. Hopefully he continues to improve, as he is locked up until 2011. Ideally he will play out of his mind for a half season, like he did in 2007 and we can deal him to a competitor. If not, then his play is still consistent enough to warrant a starting position.

Prediction: Yuniesky Betancourt

Probably the biggest no brainer on the list. The chances of upgrading at this position are scarce and he is still young enough that he could develop into an All Star yet. The modern shortstop position is not nearly what it used to be in the late 90's.

Third Base: Adrian Beltre

This one goes against a lot of my theories, as Beltre may be one of the more trade able veterans on staff. Still, the farm system lacks any real possible breakthrough stars at third, barring the Tuiasosopo kid catching fire.

Beltre has played well enough to warrant his contract (which is actually quite reasonable by today's standards) and he would be a solid bastion for a youthful infield. I wish that he was a better leader of men, but this is to be expected from another Bavasi hiring.

Prediction: Adrian Beltre

Baseball pundits are calling for the M's to deal Beltre to kick start the rebuilding effort. While he has value on the market, he does have a limited no trade clause. Thank agent Scott Boras for that one.

Third base is the premiere position in baseball now, with many budding stars (Evan Longoria, Alex Gordon, Kevin Kouzmanoff) coming into their own. Since Beltre is on the books for 2009, it is highly unlikely that a team like the Dodgers will take him on at the sacrifice of developing their own corner stalwart.

Outfield: Ichiro, Jeremy Reed, Wladimir Balentin

Ichiro is a God in Seattle. I know that this sentiment has caused some derisive rumblings in the
clubhouse, but the city would never allow him to be dealt.

The knock on Ichiro as of late revolves around his ability to lead. Like Erik Bedard, he is a rather introverted individual, who prefers to lead through example. But, he does have the ability to cause a stir, if prompted to.

Take his performance in the World Baseball Classic. In that given situation he was surrounded by his fellow countrymen, who looked at him as a once in a lifetime athlete. Think Michael Jordan if he had joined the Wizards in his prime. Ichiro not only fired the team up through public comments regarding arch nemesis Korea, he single handedly forced the team to get better, by adding an element of grit to his game.

Not only did he play hard, but his cadence in the locker room was that of a man who would accept nothing less than perfection from his teammates. Truth be told, this was the only time that I have ever watched Ichiro's mannerisms and believed him to be a viable coach in the future.

Still, ideally the coach will handle the leadership role and Ichiro can be allowed to do his own thing. If 2001 proved anything, its that Ichiro can get along in the clubhouse if the team is winning. What people forget about that year, was that he was permanently affixed next to Lou Pinnella, whenever he was in the dugout. Having a manager that Ichiro respects is the key to channeling his abilities.

I will not be bringing back Raul Ibanez. I like him a lot. I always have. I still think he can play at a high level and in many ways would be great if moved back to first base.

However the Mariners have too long of a history of holding onto sentimental players for far too long. While it was fun watching Edgar Martinez and Dan Wilson rot in front of our eyes, I just can't continue the tradition. The synergy of the team has been week ever since his arrival, so he doesn't have the same club house clout. Raul, its been fun, but your spot in the outfield is better served going to a prospect or a low level free agent (Kevin Mench, Juan Rivera, or Willy Mo Pena perhaps).

The rest of the outfield is a wash. Willie Bloomquist will never be more than a poor man's Mark McLemore. Wladimir Balentin is probably a year or so away from showing his true talent. Mike Morse is an embarrassment to the organization and should have been dealt a when he had value.

The only real hope lies in Jeremy Reed. The same Jeremy Reed that was at the centerpiece of the Freddy Garcia trade. The same guy who could have landed the M's either Clay Bucholz or John Lester from the Red Sox two years ago.

While Reed has always underperformed, he still projects to be a Lenny Dykstra type outfielder, who would compliment Ichiro well at the top of the order. Let's allow him to enter the season as the starter in center, without anyone directly chasing him. This will be the best way to gauge how much he has matured in his two years since being demoted to the minors.

Prediction: Jeremy Reed, Ichiro, Mike Cameron

The Mariners have been notorious for treating their outfield like a turnstile. 2009 will not be any different. Reed will be given a short leash, probably getting most of his playing time in late innings as a defensive replacement. Balentin will start the season on the bench and lose out on valuable at bats. And of course, the front brass will sleep on any undervalued veterans and settle for a has been big bat.

Mike Cameron fits the mold the best, as he will command less money than some of the big names on the open market and Mariners faithful still have fond memories of his time roaming the field. He also became fast friends with Ichiro and will be a boon to his attitude entering a year with an unproven squad.

Starting Rotation: Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, Carlos Silva, Jarrod Washburn, Brandon Morrow

Closer: Phillip Aumont

Erik Bedard, if we are lucky, can be resigned. I honestly feel that the biggest mistake the Mariners made was by naming him the opening day starter. If anyone has read an interview about the guy, they should see that he is not a spotlight type of player. In Baltimore, he was an overachiever in a bad situation. After the trade he was suddenly viewed as Baseball Jesus in the northwest. After all, Seattle only gave up more for him than the Met's did for Johan Santana.

But I digress.

Felix is our Jordan figure and Bedard can be a Pippen, provided we get him in good with Clement.

With C.C. Sabathia recently shipped to Milwaukee and Rich Harden sent to Chicago, their is a chance that Bedard could fetch interest at the trade deadline. Nothing would disgust me more than taking five cents on the dollar for Bavasi's biggest acquisition. Unless a can't miss outfield prospect is offered, then the M's would be wise to avoid cutting bait early.

Morrow needs to be starting. No questions asked. I am going to be like Hank Steinbrenner on the Joba issue about this. I am sick of hearing the hype and seeing him pitching out of the bullpen.

Putz is coming back soon enough (hopefully successfully so we can trade him) and we have Josh Fields, who is very close to being big league ready. Closer is the most over rated position in baseball. So while other teams push K-Rod and Brian Fuentes into a new tax bracket, I am targeting middle relievers with my dollars. I want my budget in the $80 million range maximum, but I think that this is achievable through relying more on youth than veterans. Still, Dan Wheeler and Juan Rincon are much higher on my wish list than Trevor Hoffman or Jason Isringhausen. It is my intention to groom Aumont like Morrow this season and have him eventually move to starting next year when Fields is called up.

I am actually relatively content with the spot starters and long relief. When Washburn and Batista are off the books in 2010, I will be ecstatic.

It is really a shame that Silva is only an adequate pitcher, as his competitive fire is greatly appreciated. I hope that he can help in mentoring some of the staff.

Prediction: Felix Hernandez, Erik Bedard, Carlos Silva, Miguel Batista, Jarrod Washburn
Closer: J.J. Putz

The brass adores Putz and will not trade him. Morrow will start in the bullpen and be moved into the starting rotation finally when the imminent starter injury occurs sometime in June.

Bedard will be dangled at the trade deadline, but his lingering injuries will be enough to scare off any interested suitors.

Expect at least one more over priced arm added to the fold.

Free Agents: Dan Wheeler, Brendan Donnelly, Hideki Okajima, Juan Rincon, Juan Rivera, Bobby Abreu, Freddy Garcia

Wheeler's cost is going to be driven up if the Rays season continues at this pace. Donnelly on the other hand, is a retread, that if given an opportunity can still throw heat.

Rivera is in a similar position, as he has yet to recover from a broken leg suffered last year. He will be cheap and hungry to prove himself.

Abreu is my dream player for the outfield, as his presence would make this roster ideal for small ball. However it is almost assured that he will re up in New York. This is probably for the best, as his lack of leadership qualities are what single handedly contributed to him getting booed out of Philly.

Garcia may seem like a sacriligeous name on this list, but if he is not signed this season, he will be available for a minor league deal, (think Bartolo Colon in Boston). Garcia may be soft and not nearly as dominant as he once was, but hew thrives as a lower tiered starter. Anytime a team can add a former ERA champion for a minimal contract you make that move.

Prediction: Ben Sheets, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn, Mike Cameron, Ken Griffey Jr.

If the Mariners look to address pitching through free agency, they will most certainly end up with an oft injured phenom. Thankfully, I am going to assume that they learned their lesson with Bedard.

What is all but guaranteed, is that the M's will sign on underachieving slugger to fill in the gaping void left by Sexson.

The next GM would be wise to jump all over Griffey if he is in fact available, as it will buy the franchise one year to develop before fan duress takes over. While I personally would rather see a young team gel together and prosper, I would welcome back "The Kid" for one last run.

So there you have it M's fans. Unlike the presidential candidates, I have actually laid out for you exactly what I intend to do if elected to general manager in 2009. And just like Ralph Nader, I will sit back and watch someone else screw everything up and use these failures as confirmation that I was right all along...

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Major League Baseball: Bastion of Professionalism

Shawn Chacon, Working Class Hero

In a non-Seattle related sports story *gasp* Astros pitcher Shawn Chacon may be out of a job. Not a big deal, right? He's probably sucks, you say. Actually, of the little I know about the 'Stros, he is their best pitcher. Well then what possible reason could Houston have for wanting to get rid of him?

The answer? Performing an act we have all spent countless work hours dreaming about over our working careers. He went all Undertaker on his boss, GM Ed Wade, during a heated argument where Wade would not get out of Chacon's face. Check out the full story here.

Way to go Shawn Chacon, we here at NLS tip our cap to you. Here's to you for pulling of a feat I have dreamed about since I was advising people not to rent "Master of Disguise", to no avail, at the local video store. In your choke slamming your boss you have become a hero to working class Americans everywhere, way to be.

Perhaps next time my boss pulls out the classic "Are you working or are you watching?" line despite witnessing me bust my hump all day, I'll rise up like Mr.Chacon and let him have it. I can see my boss and his mustache quivering in fear as security pulls me off him, it warms my heart. Keep the dream alive Shawn.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

How Ya Like Me Now?

According to Jose Romero over at The Times the 'Hawks have signed rookie long snapper, Tyler Schmitt. I, for one, am super stoked about the signing of the 6th round pick.

Many people questioned GM Tim Ruskell's sanity when he took this kid in the 6th, when normally long snappers are undrafted free-agents signings, not something to "waste" a draft pick on. I, however, trusted the man. I saw how horrid our long snapping was last year, which is why I defended the pick thusly in my 'Hawks '08 Draft recap.

rd.6 #189 Schmitt, again. This time it's Tyler Schmitt long-snapper from San Diego State. Some people questioned the logic of taking a long-snapper in the 6th round when they are normally picked up as undrafted free-agents after the draft. But anyone who watched the 'Hawks vs. Saints game last year knows just exactly how important a long-snapper can be.

I was vindicated by a this little video out on the always brilliant Here you can see why, exactly, the 'Hawks felt like "wasting a pick" on this guy. His snapping is just gorgeous. After being subjected to the painful events of long snapping last year, watching this workout really gets me excited.

Seeing Tyler hit the "perfect laces" drill 9/10 times(the last he missed cuz he was pressing to be a perfect 10/10) I feel like something out of a Tex Avery cartoon. My eyes pop out of my head and grow absurdly large as my jaw hits the floor and my tongue rolls out like a red carpet. This is followed by a guttural howl of appreciation and admiration, to let 'em know, I'm diggin it.

Just look at how tight those spirals are. And he's SNAPPING the ball!!! I know most of us here at NLS couldn't dream of having a spiral that tight throwing it normally. Granted, we are a bunch of pale "indoor" kids, for the most part. Point remains, I don't think we are going to see very many botched punts/kicks this year due to long snapping. And that makes me a happy panda.

I said that the '08 Draft class was The New Mutants, and that we would have to see who is ready to contribute on the X-Men(The 'Hawks). If that's the case then Tyler is "Armor", a character from Joss "Buffy" Whedon's arc on the X-Men. A person who wasn't even a blip on the radar to join the team that made the jump to the X-Men faster than anyone would have thought, when given the opportunity. To me, my X-Men!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Page 2 luv for Seattle

It's great getting a little love when you're stuck between a rock and a hard place. Currently, I'm watching the M's win a big one, 10-0 8th in NYM land, and reading this ESPN Page2 article from Jim Caple:

Bennett acknowledged during the trial that Key Arena has excellent sight lines for watching basketball but dismissed this as inconsequential. Meanwhile, he complained that the arena isn't large enough to account for separate seating areas with special amenities for the wealthiest fans. So what interests Bennett and fellow owners is further establishing the stratification of classes in our society. This is the precise opposite of why we value sports. Sports should unite a community, giving young and old, rich and poor, doctors and laborers, meat lovers and vegans something they all can cheer. Instead, the new wave of sports arenas and stadiums further divides us into the rich who have private clubs, the richer who have private clubs and private ushers, and the richest who sit in luxury suites with the darkened windows sealed and their backs turned to the action while they watch the games on plasma screen TVs.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

An Exercise in Fine Simile and Metaphor

Remember that episode of "The Simpsons” in which Lyle Lanley (voiced by the late great Phil Hartman) convinces the town of Springfield to purchase a monorail with excess city funds? You know the one that Leonard Nimoy made a cameo in?

Yes of course you do.

In retrospect, that episode is eerily similar to Bill Bavasi era of Mariner baseball. After the city grew weary of Pat Gillicks’ disdain for major activity as a GM, it succumbed to the allure of a salacious shill. A rook, which brought promises of greatness. Of prosperity. Of Championships.

This and more could all be achieved… Through investing just a tad bit more cash than normally allotted. In the range of say, twenty million.

The logic made sense at the time. The Mariners had remained a fringe contender for the better part of the decade. Imagine adding one more potent bat to the 2003 lineup that won 97 games and still came in second in the division. Or for that matter, another solid pitcher to the 2002 team that won 93 games and finished third.

And so under Bavasi’s rule, Seattle took the gambit and became a large market team.

Then immediately began playing like a small market team.

Coaches were fired. Players vilified.

It did not take long for the mojo to die.

And in the end, Mariners faithful and the residents of Springfield were faced with the same dilemma. A train wreck to clean up.

My biggest fear entering this season was the fact that it was common knowledge that Bavasi was on his last rope with management. Desperate GM’s are always scary, as they mortgage everything on the hopes of a playoff appearance that will assure them job security. This is why we traded for Erik Beddard, why we were rumored to be getting Griffey for months and why we cut bait on Brad Wilkerson’s 3 million dollar contract.

But we have taken the first step to righting the ship. Bavasi is no more. Seattle bars are still replenishing their supplies of bourbon after the announcement was made.

Seattle also bid adieu to Jon McLaren. A necessary move, yes. However McLaren never really stood a chance. When his contract was extended entering this season, it reminded me of “Transformers: Heavy Metal,” when Optimus Prime bequeaths the Autobot matrix to Ultra Magnus. A soldier thrust into a leadership role. You would have thought that Seattle would be cognizant to the perils of promoting longtime assistants after the Bob Weiss debacle.

So the stage is set for a new era in Mariners baseball. Which direction will they go? What moves will they make? That is for time to decide.

In the meantime, while I wait it out, I am going to go watch the episode of “The Simpsons” where Bart saws the head off of the statue of Jebediah Springfield. You know the one where he hangs out with Jimbo, Kearney, and Dolph? The one where he redeemed himself by admitting his character flaws and threw himself upon the mercy of the mob?

Howard Lincoln, I suggest you go dig out the DVD player and look this one up. It’s a classic.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It was only yesterday...

Watching Ray Allen set the 3 point record in game 6 the other night brought me back a few years. It seems like only yesterday shortly after turning 21, that I got the chance to watch the Supes pwn the Spurs - live at a bar, it was great.

I got completely belligerent with my fellow Seattleites, yelling, clapping, drinking, and chest bumping as the Sonics went on to win their first game in the 2nd round of the playoffs. My Dad and brother were at the game, so we all met up afterward as the arena was emptying out. Everyone was totally stoked and rowdy. Fans from all molds - skinny, fat, black, white, bald, dreaded, stoned, sober -- you name it (we're a diverse bunch); we were all together as one, basking in the short term glory of a 2nd round playoff win. None of this would be possible without #34 Ray Allen.

I spent the long walk to the car cheerfully chanting with my bro, "FUCK THE SPURS, FUCK THE SPURS, FUCK THE SPURS." Clearly we were drunk off of our asses, but nonetheless, the feeling of winning in the playoffs and pure inebriation overcame me like a 200 hundred dollar bar tab and a last-call whore.

I attended the rally on Monday, chanting Save our Sonics, Gary, Super [pause] Sonics!, and whatever else the crowd felt like yelling. It reminded me of the comradery I shared with these otherwise total strangers shortly after becoming 21. The day after rallying in front of the court house, I got to see Ray Allen win a ring with a team that has also had a similar terrible stretch minus an unexpected playoff run 2 years ago (17 Championships is another realm of glory). I have also had the pleasure to see Gary play for the Heat and win their Championship in 2006. Through them, I have felt like a winner and a Champ as well. It fills me with great pride that my heroes who've escaped the shitty decade of Wally Walker have gone onto winning it all with another team (And Gary getting it without Malone and the Lakers is even sweeter!!!!!).

Isn't it ironic, that a man who was a minority owner for the team that took our hopes of a championship in the 2nd round only a few years back, manifests into the creeper that conspires to take our very team away?

I have more respect for a man who let's me know where he stands, even if he's wrong. Than the one who comes up like an angel and is nothing but a devil. - Malcolm X

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"Where do we go from here?The words are coming out all weird..." More On The Bavasi Firing

In an effort to realize the deep seeded fears I expressed in my previous post Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong answered questions from the press corps after announcing the firing of GM Bill Bavasi. Suffice it to say, their answers did little to quell the mounting fears growing in my heart.

I could find no official transcript of the press conference but luckily for me DMZ at USSMariner did his best to transcribe what he could. So that's where i will be pulling my quotes from. "L" denotes Howard Lincoln and "A" denotes Chuck Armstrong.

It is interesting to note that for most of the season upper management has been publicly backing Bavasi and said he was doing a "good job" despite the fact he obviously was not.

When asked something along the lines of "How is this ship going to right itself?" Howard responds
L: I’m sure our players and coaches will get going and get this thing turned around. New approach, new thoughts, new direction. But we’re all responsible. Players, coaches, managers, all of us.
This is what bothers me about Lincoln and Armstrong. There is no mention that He or Chuck Armstrong are responsible. He says "all of us" but still leaves the responsibility squarely on the players and managers. Pass that buck, Howie.

When asked about he fact that he was a part of he decisions that led to this happening, Amrstrong passes the buck again.
A: We’ve been improving every year since 2004, seemed to me we were doing great, didn’t want to change horses in midstream. All of us, and all of you, recognized that we made some great moves, thought we’d get even better.
First off improving every year after nearly losing 100 games is not hard.

Second what great moves did "we" all recognize and in doing so think we would get better? If the FO really believes many of Bavasi's moves made us better, then they are horribly out of touch with reality.

These beliefs without any given evidence to back them up is what scares the crap out of me. Hiring a new general manger shouldn't hinge on some antiquated belief system lacking any kind of supporting evidence, i.e. "He's been around baseball for a long time so he must know what makes a good team."

When asked about John McLaren's job security...
John’s our manager. I’m not in the mood to sing the praises of anyone right now. I expect John and the players to get going and turn this thing around, and if that doesn’t happen, further changes.
"...John and the players to turn it around."? How do they expect this to happen, exactly? The no-talent bums with over sized contracts prior to BB's firing are still the same no talent bums wit over-sized contracts post-firing.

Richie Sexson, open stance and all, won't suddenly become the Richie Sexson of 2004-2005 era and magically recover his long lost bat-speed.

No firing will me cringe any less when Jarrod Washburn comes back out for the 6th after 95 pitches thrown This is because nothing has changed, he won't all of sudden be able to go deeper into ball games, and also not suck. Tremendously.

Q: You said Bill was awesome

A: Things got worse (he’s mad about this question)

Q: Where are you going to get names?
A: I know a lot of people in baseball, I’ll talk to the commish, come up with a list of names. It’ll be hard to interview people.

Q: Do you have a mental list already?
A: Yes.

Q: Are you satisfied with the job Chuck is doing?
L: Yes. I’m not oblivious to the blogs. I’m not oblivious to the emails we receive. … my entire focus is getting this turned around, don’t take lightly, I believe in it, M’s are part of the community, fans deserve to see it get turned around, they’re as disappointed as I am. I serve at the pleasure of the 7-person board, Nintendo, pleasure of Nintendo as well. I’ve let the ownership group and Nintendo know that I bear ultimate responsibility, they appreciate that.

I enjoyed that Armstrong is annoyed that the reporters ask about his recent "Bill's doing a great job!" stance of just over a month ago. I mean, c'mon, you publicly stated you were behind the man, despite the fact that watching Neil LaBute's 2006 "The Wicker Man" remake is a more enjoyale experience than catching an M's game. And then to get all butt-hurt about the question is ridiculous. Though, I guess if I had no real explanation to why I went from singing the praises of my crappy GM when we were losing, to firing him mere weeks later when nothing has really changed, I may be a little testy too.

The statement that sent chill's down my spine? The comment of talking to the people he's known in baseball for his twenty-some-odd-years. This team doesn't need a mind steeped in the traditional, old, out dated ideas of Armstrong's long time friends in baseball. We had that, often, and it doesn't work. In fact, it's long crippled this team, and is posed to cripple this team in the future if that is the direction the organization takes.

This team needs new blood, new ways to look at things, fresh approaches to the problems the team faces. Throwing obscene amounts of money at crap-tastic free-agents is not sustainable means to build a winning team. The Mariners need to look at organizations like The Tampa Bay Rays or The Cleveland Indians as a guideline. But unlike those two teams the M's play in much larger market, and thus, have far more resources to put into the team. This gives them an advantage that, if done properly, to remain competitive while rebuilding.

The Man for the job, Chris Atonetti . The guy helped turn Cleveland into the team it is today after suffering through a stretch not too dissimilar from the '04-current stretch of M's suckitude. I, and many other far more educated people, believe his fresh take is exactly what he M's need.

Also Lincoln is aware of blogs? News to me. I had no idea he was aware of the series of tubes that is the interwebs. Nothing, from the way they interact with the fans, to the way they evaluate talent leads me to believe they are very techno savvy.

There's more genius stuff, but my keyboard is on the fritz ad it's becoming increasingly annoying to attempt to type. Go to USSMariner, to see what else Chuck and Howie had to say, then bang your head into a wall out of frustration. I'll attempt to post more on this late if I don't end up throwing my computer out the window.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Bill Bavasi Fired! "And There Was Much Rejoicing."

As loyal readers of the blog know, I have a very passionate dislike for Bill Bavasi. So when I heard rumors that he was to be fired after the Mariners were swept at home by the worst team in the National League, I was giddy with anticipation. "Could this possibly be true?" I wondered. "Or is it just another cruel trick?" Minutes later it was confirmed Bavasi's horrible regime was brought to an end. Time to use out tanks to tear down those giant bronze Bavasi statues he had erected around Safeco field.

Tons has been written about why Bill Bavasi was one of the worst GM's in the league. Much of it by me. Often ranting against this evil tyrant as I saw him turn my childhood team into a mockery of sport. But most of what I wrote was from an emotional level with a few examples thrown in in attempts to make my point. But to truly grasps why Bill Bavasi is like the Neil Young song "The Needle and The Damage Done" you should read this well thought out post on by Dave of USSM fame, entitled Mariners Foibles.

I am extremely excited about this move, as one might imagine. A chance at a new beginning for everyone is exactly what this organization needs. The New GM, when hired, will bring in his own coaching staff and we will finally be rid of John McLaren, his insipid explanations/rationalizations, terrible in game strategy and shameful lineup construction.

At the same time my head is soaring in the clouds like I just re-lost my virginity, my heart is gripped with a very real and tangible fear. That fear is this, the person who is hired in the off-season to replace Bavasi will be only a slightly marked improvement and will be in the same "old school baseball" mindset, only paying lip service to the proven tools of statistical analysis.

Let us not forget that the root of the evil that plagued this ball club remains intact, Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln. These are the two people that hired Bavasi in the first place.

When Pat Gillick left the team after the '03 season Armstrong and Lincoln presided over the search and hiring of the next man to run this team. Out of all the many qualified GM's, many who have gone on to be successful elsewhere, these two chose Bavasi to be their man.

Nothing in the 5 years since that point has shown me, a dyed in the wool M's fan, that the mindset that led the Front Office to hire Bavasi, has changed in the least. Or that the abuse my beloved franchise has gone through these past years will end anytime soon.

The FO still talks to their fans like they believe that the fans feeble minds cannot truly grasps the will of God. That the moves they make in order to "better" the team, while seems odd and obtuse to the casual fan, would be made perfectly clear if the fans had the "baseball knowledge" and resources the FO does. And this type of talking down to the fan base infuriates me to no end.

I have followed the M's since The Kid was just a kid, fresh out of high school. Not the future first ballot Hall of Famer who just hit 600. Most of my life of watching the M's I was a casual observer, stuck in the old baseball modes, it was all I had ever known. Years later I would read a little book called Moneyball, in which the author lays out how A's GM Billy Beane fields a competitive team year in and year out on a minuscule budget. I saw then, the cracks in the Mariners facade, but did not fully grasps how deep those cracks went.

A couple years after that I was introduced, by a friend, to A Mariners website with a Moneyball-ish bent. It was here that I was shown all that truly plagued the team, not the crap like chemistry and grit that the local beat writers loved spewing on about.

I can see clearly now that if there is any hope that the fortunes of my team to be turned around that it must start at the top. That change could come in the form of a change of heart/mindset in the FO, but a complete 180 degrees change in terms of thought processes are rare. The more likely way to attain this change would be a cleaning of the house.

Short of one of those two events taking place it is hard for me to see a true change coming. I hope so very much that by some stroke of fate that the FO goes with the change of heart. That they now see we live in the 21st century. And that people who use the many statistical tools to help guide decisions do so not because they seek to rip the soul and mystique out of the game but because time and again this tools have been proven highly effective.

If they embrace this forward thinking approach to the game I will be the happiest man alive. Then I can openly root for this team without fear that their success only emboldens poor decision making, something I long to do so very much. Sadly, I worry that this will not be the case and in 5 years from now I will be writing about the sorry state the team is in, still. Please, Chuck and Howie, prove me wrong. I will love you for it.