- The obvious analogy right now is that watching the Mariners is akin to watching a horror film. But while that worked well enough for the recent string of embarrassing blowouts, today was something special requiring greater detail. Let's say you have a friend. You go over to his place to hang out pretty often, and every time you go he pulls a movie out of his collection that he wants you to see. You like movies, so you open a few beers and go along with it, but lately you've started to notice that he's picking everything out of the horror genre and you start to think to yourself "hey this kid's a little messed up." Then one day you go over and he puts in a movie and it's actually quite pleasant, and it puts you at ease. The hot brown-haired protagonist is overcome with grief when she loses her dog in the big city, but after relying on intuition and the kindness of strangers, she and Puppy Chow Chow are reunited in a scene so touching that you find yourself on the verge of tears. You glance over at your friend and think "oh this is so wonderful." Then a man in a mask jumps out of the bushes and grabs the dog and clubs its little legs to powder with a crimson-stained cinder block and the girl screams and the crazy man laughs all crazy-like and the dog is on the ground whimpering and the crazy man shouts at the girl to run away as fast as she can and the girl runs away in heartbroken disbelief with tears flowing down her cheeks and after a few minutes she sits down on a park bench with her head in her hands and a street vendor asks her what's wrong and she sobs "oh my dog my dog-" and the street vendor punches her in the face and your friend falls over laughing. That's kind of what today was like.
- With Raul and Beltre each going hitless today, we officially don't have a single batter with an OPS of .800 or above. There are 140 such batters in the Majors at the moment. Think about the people we look to to drive in runs right now. Look at the middle of our lineup. It's embarrassing. Even the Giants have it better. Compared to 2007, our only offensive bright spot right now is Jose Lopez. Jose Lopez has a .710 OPS. Good teams wouldn't stand for this, and it's only because our standards have been lowered more than you might realize that we're not all uniformly incensed. I hate player labels, but we need a slugging cleanup bat something terrible.
- JJ's still not right. I'm not going to pretend like he was hit all over the park, because he wasn't - he generated two weak grounders, two fly balls, a walk, and a "strikeout" - but the pinpoint command and high-90s velocity remain absent, leaving him a shell of what he was. I don't know if he's still hurt or if this is just because he's not getting regular work, but watching him is a struggle. He doesn't have anything even close to that air of invincibility that we're so used to him carrying. I hope he's able to work his way back to stardom before long, although given how quickly he rose to prominence, I suppose it would be appropriate if his demise also took place overnight.
- I put strikeout in quotes because uh
Yeah, that's a called strike three on a pitch well off the plate. Giambi obviously didn't think much of it, but then, this isn't a new phenomenon - umpires just have a crazy different strike zone for left-handed hitters. Check out this article by John Walsh, and, if you want to skip the meat, scroll down to the bottom. Hello, outside strikes. I don't know how or why this is the way it is, but a smart pitcher - that is, someone who's aware of PITCHf/x - that is, Brian Bannister - - should absolutely be using this to his advantage. Unfair or not, that's the reality, and it would be silly not to exploit it.
- Also on JJ, he never should've even attempted that throw to try and get Matsui at first. JJ still had the ball in his hand when Matsui was two steps from the bag. I know infield singles are frustrating, but that's a textbook example of making a bad situation much much worse. It's like a quarterback scrambling out of the pocket and forcing a bad pass. Smart QB's eat the ball and take the sack. Take the sack next time, JJ.
- The Molina double. First things first: I don't blame the outfield for playing shallow, because (A) Molina is bad, and (B) you need to make sure you can either prevent a single or keep Matsui on third base in the event that a ball drops in front of you. So that's forgiven. Anyway, I've been fighting myself for a little while about Ichiro's effort on that play. On the one hand, that's a difficult play to make when you're running with your back to the infield and the ball is splitting the gap, but on the other, Ichiro really should've taken charge, it looked catchable, and it seemed like he gave up when the ball hit the ground. It's happened a few times these last several days, and it didn't look good to the naked eye.
After thinking about it for a while, I've shifted away from the idea that Ichiro gave less than 100% and I've arrived at the following truth: teams look worse when they're losing. It sounds really simple, but think about it. If Team A faces off against Team B in a four-game series, and Team B gets swept, the casual observer will see Team A make plays that Team B doesn't. That's because those plays lead to runs, and those runs lead to final scores. If Team B were actually making those plays, they would be less likely to fall short at the end. Not making those plays is kind of a necessary component of the losing.
I don't think I'm explaining this very well. Think about it as a hindsight issue. Fans of Team A will look back on the series and see a lot of tough plays that they made, whereas fans of Team B will look back on the series and see a lot of tough plays that they didn't. That's because winning teams win in part because they turned balls into outs, while losing teams lose in part because they turned balls into hits. That's just how it is. You'll never reflect on a slump and think the team played well because teams don't play well and lose very often.
It's kind of confusing, and I'm twisting my own brain into knots trying to explain it. I guess what I'm trying to say is that, if you put any sequence of standard losses together in a row, there will be plays in there that could've made a difference. But those plays won't have been made, and while you might be inclined to accuse the players of dogging it and giving up, the fact of the matter is that every slump will have plays like this by necessity, and unless you believe that every slump involves players who throw in the towel, I think it's a lot safer to err on the side of caution and write it off as bad luck. Most of the time Ichiro probably makes that catch. This time he didn't. Shit happens, and after everything he's been through with this team, I don't think it's right to accuse him of sinister or unsportsmanlike motives.
- I don't know why MLB.tv airs ads encouraging people to use MLB.tv exclusively to people who're already signed up for MLB.tv, but I hope that decision got somebody fired.
- There's talk that the organization may consider stretching Brandon Morrow out to give him a shot at starting. I think at this point that plan is pretty much mandatory. Morrow is with the big club as a reliever because they thought they needed him in order to further their efforts to win now. Since they're not winning now, does that idea not go straight out the window? With the team playing for nothing but Strasburg, he's no longer serving any critical purpose. They have to stretch him out. They have to. This is the perfect opportunity to at least get some hope out of a miserable season. I don't know that he'd actually make a good starter and I'm kind of skeptical that he has the ability, but if the team leaves him in the bullpen all year without ever giving him a shot at more innings, then that'll be strike...what, twenty? thirty? against a front office that hasn't learned a damn thing since the day it came to power. How could a team be so aggressive in so many areas and yet refuse to give Morrow so much as a trial? It wouldn't make any sense. This needs to happen.
- Boston tomorrow. Fuck Boston.