It's fine you guys, don't worry, that's why there's such thing as vacation days. You're forgiven this once. But know that there's a reason we have a workplace policy when it comes to matters like these, and it's so we don't end up scheduling things for when you're gone. We had a baseball game scheduled today and there was no one to play it. We had to use the cleaning lady and the vending machine re-stocker, and Jeff Gray.
Last week, in southern California, the Society for American Baseball Research - SABR - held its big annual national convention. It had Scott Boras delivering the keynote speech and everything. I didn't attend, obviously, and I'm not a SABR member, but I am somewhat SABR-curious, so I found myself reading somebody's convention recap a few days ago, just to see what went on.
In the recap, the author described a panel that includedgeneral manager Jed Hoyer. I don't remember what the panel was about, but I remember that it was taking place during a Padres game, and Hoyer had his phone off. So at one point he asked for a score update, and somebody told him "0-0 in the sixth." To which Hoyer replied, "great, another pillow fight."
I laughed the laugh you laugh when you read something funny that you also understand. It's true - the Padres get into a lot of pillow fights. That particular game Hoyer asked about was one the Padres wound up losing 1-0 after they no-hit thefor 8.2 innings. But the do it too. The Mariners get into a lot of pillow fights. It's been a part of their 2011 identity.
And a lot of times, it's worked out. A lot of times, the Mariners have won those pillow fights. But because they always go in expecting a regular pillow fight, they're never prepared for anything more. They're never prepared for somebody deciding to escalate things, like thedid tonight. Tonight, the Mariners showed up in their footie pajamas, clutching goose down pillows in their hands, like they always do. But the Rangers showed up swinging nunchucks over their heads, and the Mariners didn't have an answer. The Mariners only have the pillows they have, and too often those pillows have proven insufficient.
Contention is gone. Like a visiting friend from afar, it left before we were ready for it to leave, and now we're back to normal shitty life. But in case you're not ready to give up on caring about the day-to-day just yet, I suggest you focus on the offense. Pay close attention to this offense. Take mental notes on this offense. Shoot mental videos of this offense. Publish mental journal articles about this offense. Do what you can to make sure you see this offense and understand this offense, so that when we see another Mariner offense, a better Mariner offense later on, you can appreciate it for what it is instead of critique it for what it isn't.
Some bullet holes, although not many, because my brain quit above after three and a half paragraphs:
- This felt like a game straight out of the dog days of 2010. I don't mean to suggest that things are nearly as bad now as they were then, because they aren't. The team is in a much better situation now. The team is much better now. But this game, on its own, felt the wrong kind of familiar. I'm sure the sweep in Anaheim and then the All-Star break contributed, because we began the second half of the season pretty certain the dream was dead. So the emotional leverage wasn't there. Then you add in the immediate deficit, the hopeless flailing, the inability to keep the opponent where it was, and the consequently quiet environment - this was an unpleasant baseball experience. This was one of those games where, as a Mariners fan, there is absolutely no reason for me to come away glad that I watched.
- The official statistics show that Jason Vargas allowed five runs and 12 hits in six innings, while Derek Holland allowed zero runs and five hits in nine innings. The official statistics also show that Jason Vargas allowed 24 balls in play and four line drives, while Derek Holland allowed 24 balls in play and ten line drives.
- Perhaps a stranger statistic is that, of the 55 swings the Mariners took against Holland, only ten of them missed. Off the top of my head I would've sworn it was something like twice that many. I've always known that Holland has good stuff, which is why my expectations of him have always exceeded his performance, but he came out tonight throwing harder than I expected, and it felt like he was killing the M's with fastballs and then breaking balls in the dirt. And he was, but not necessarily with a ton of whiffs.
- In the top of the second, Nelson Cruz blasted a low line drive out to right field that just sneaked over the fence for a solo homer. Ichiro drifted back towards the wall and put himself in position to making a leaping attempt, but rather than make a clean jump, Ichiro appeared to misjudge how close to the wall he actually was, and barely got off the ground. Anyone who's ever played the Steal Home Runs game with a friend against a fence knows how tricky these plays are, so I can't blame Ichiro for coming up short, but it was the first time I can remember seeing him look so clumsy attempting a play like that. For most fielders, it's an unremarkable nothing; for Ichiro, is a conspicuous mistake.
Dear future space robot that we refer to as Ichiro Suzuki: I get that you're trying to broaden your appeal and relatability by seeming more human this year, but for real we liked you plenty before.
- Three pitches after Cruz's home run, Yorvit Torrealba lifted a moderately deep fly ball to center field. Franklin Gutierrez jogged back, tracing the path, but he appeared to get mixed up, and as he reached over to pull the ball in, the ball bounced off the heel of his glove and dropped for what we will generously refer to as Yorvit Torrealba's 135th career double. Where Ichiro's play was somewhat understandable, this one was just bad, and whether right or wrong, the consecutive early mistakes left one with the distinct impression that the Mariners would've rather been doing like literally anything else.
- A minute or two after Ichiro's mistake and Guti's mistake, Mike Napoli stole second base. If you continued to watch beyond that point you forfeited your right to complain.
- The record will show that the Mariners have had extended no-hit bids snapped by Carlos Peguero, Michael Pineda and Chone Figgins.
- Jeff Gray has now pitched twice in July, which is twice as often as he pitched in June.