Akira Kurosawa: Justin Smoak (.375 WPA)
Uwe Boll: Hisashi Iwakuma (-.207 WPA)
So the Mariners won today, and it was a crazy game. Lead changes, dingers, back and forths and traded hits until an eventual 6-4 victory. What exactly happened?
- Hisashi Iwakuma gave up a solo home run to Delmon Young in the second inning. A lot of people have written about how awful Delmon Young is. None of this has much of anything to do with baseball. I'm just annoyed it had to be him.
- Raul Ibanez hit a second pitch home runn off Rays' starter Alex Cobb in the bottom of the 4th, bringing his total to 27, only two away from Ted Williams' record for single season 41-year old dingers. I'm absolutely convinced this is why Raul Ibanez is starting like...every game in September with Michael Saunders, Dustin Ackley, Abraham Almonte, and Franklin Gutierrez available. But, fuck it. Records are records, and in a lost season, I'll go for the old man dinger record if wins are out of the picture. Just...maybe next time...let's plan for wins by December, okay?
- The Mariners actually produced a series of good innings, helped plentifully by leadoff hitter Brad Miller, who ended the night 2-4. The Mariners scored in the first, third, fourth, and eighth innings. Most impressive of these was the third: after a Dustin Ackley single (on a curveball, mind you), Nick Franklin replaced Ack on first with a groundout. Brad Miller moved Franklin to third, and then Franklin Gutierrez singled in the run. Then Guti stole second and scored after Kyle Seager singled in the next at bat, which leads us to the bizarre fact that...
- This entire game was decided on stolen bases. Without looking at the numbers, I feel like the Mariners have Billy Beane'd themselves into not stealing more than twenty bases all season, but today, it was the difference in the entire game. Nick Franklin and Franklin Gutierrez stole and scored in the third. Carter Capps threw out David DeJesus at second, limiting the damage in the eighth to one run, tying the game.
Giants pitcher and guy you've never heard of Yusmeiro Petit was a pitch away from a perfect game today, and then Hunter Pence blew a catch to sink the ship and let the first runner reach base in the bottom of the ninth in a full count with two outs. I'm not sure why I'm typing this other than to say that Carter Capps did much the opposite of pitching a perfect game in the eighth inning and it was miserable. I don't know which of these stories I would have rather had as a Mariners fan. How about this: Iwakuma pitched a great game, going 5.2, striking out 5. Capps tied the game in the eighth and then he got the win. Holy shit, it's 2013 and I'm still complaining about how stupid the win is. But seriously. Just. What. Stop. I. Just. Ugh.
Kendrys Morales took off his batting gloves earlier in the game, and then threw his bat into the stands twice, injuring a fan before striking out. Then he put on his batting gloves and walked. I'm not sure if these events are related, but it's kind of weird that a baseball player would be so nonchalant with something like wearing batting gloves between each at bat, while others don't shave their beards on hot streaks because they are that superstitious. Maybe Kendrys is just wiser than all of this. Maybe he knows that luck and chance are just that--randomness embodied. Maybe he's the key to the playoffs--mind, body, and soul. Maybe not. But this is kind of weird, and we should acknowledge that.
- The Mariners produced an incredible bottom of the eighth, taking advantage of two misplayed outfield hits sending Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak to second on two separate plays. Even better- after Seager reached and Kendrys walked, Eric Wedge put in Abraham Almonte on first for Morales, who is now the Mariners' resident four-minute-miler, and scored easily from first on a Justin Smoak double. It wouldn't even matter, as it put the M's up two with the extra legs, but the fact remains that Almonte adds a weapon of speed in with his glove, bat, and outfield flexibility. I repeat: this is my favorite new Mariner. His name is Abraham. He is fast as all get out. He can hit. He's short as crap. Just...amazing. Danny Farquhar came in and plowed through four hitters to end the game. Once more, the Mariners tease us with youth and promise and efficiency and secret, unrealized potential. Once again, it's September and none of it really matters, because half this team could be blown up in the offseason.
Kurt Vonnegut wrote his college thesis on graphing stories along an x/y axis, tracing plot and development on a linear, physical scale. A bunch of people balked at it, thinking it was foolish. Many refused to accept it. But they look a lot like some of our win expectancy charts, telling a story by graphing each event on a linear axis, pitch by pitch, moment by moment, to tell a story that moves from right to left and start to finish. Look at these:
Man in Hole story:
This is a classic plotline. Fits the entire original Star Wars trilogy with each movie being the three movements. Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, The Matrix...heck. A lot of popular Hollywood, Joseph Campbell storytelling. This is a score five runs in the second, give up ten in the sixth, then rally in the ninth, game. That's an incredible evening of sports. That's the kind of game you tell people about years after the fact. That wasn't today.
Boy Meets Girl story:
This is your standard romantic comedy. 500 Days of Summer. Rushmore. High Fidelity. This is an entirely different kind of game...a score one run in the first, go down two in the seventh, then win in extras with two outs in the bottom of the 13th. This is a story and a game about extreme swings and shifts, moves from A-Z with a second of thought and quick, heightened breath. These are also games you tell everyone about for years...and if they are done in the playoffs, all the better. This is emotion to the extreme--Red Sox/Yankees 2004 ALCS. This wasn't today.
So what did today look like?
Welp. This is all over the place. I have no idea what story this is. This is a Oh yeah hits! Oh shit, hits. Oh yeah, dingers! Oh shit, dingers. Oh yeah errors! Oh shit, errors game. But the Mariners won, and ultimately, that's all that matters. What movie is this? What story is this? Who knows. The Mariners are just doing whatever they want at this point. I'll just take a win, thank you very much. Now lets have a straight line for James Paxton tomorrow, what do you think?
1. Favorite college class (if you went):
2. Favorite Mariners' relief pitcher in team history:
3. If you could do away with one M's uniform...which would it be?
4. If the M's fire Eric Wedge, who should they get to replace him with?