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43-70, Game Thoughts

Interim managers seldom last long. Many of them last a few days. Some last a few weeks. Some, like Daren Brown, last a few months. When the managerial position is officially opened to job-seekers, the interim will almost always get an interview, but this is generally just a courtesy, and they rarely remain under real consideration. Being named a team's interim manager, then, is kind of like getting bumped to first class on a flight. You take advantage of the fleeting opportunity.

I don't know what this is like. I don't know how it feels to take over a highly visible and desirable job and know that you won't have it for more than a little while. I don't know how it feels for Daren Brown to know that the odds are good that he'll get two months in Seattle before going right back to Tacoma. I guess he might feel kind of like a prospect. A bad one, like Bryan LaHair. The feelings are probably quite complicated. Daren Brown has a lot of reasons to be excited, a lot of reasons to be nervous, and a lot of reasons to be a little reluctant.

So as far as I'm concerned, I'm just thrilled that Brown was able to pick up a win. I barely know anything about him. I've never spoken to him, I've only heard him talk on a handful of occasions, and I've only read quotes on a handful more. The bulk of my Daren Brown experience has been gleaned from video shot this afternoon. But from what I can tell, Brown is just your average, well-meaning, down-to-earth guy, a guy who doesn't ask for much and gets just enough. This opportunity probably took him by surprise, and I doubt he expects it to last very long.

And he got a win in his first game. For an interim, that has to be the greatest feeling in the world. Or maybe second only to this:

Mariner players wheeled Daren Brown into shower room in a laundry cart after the game for a beer shower. Lots of whoops and laughter.

Daren Brown, I imagine, has thought about managing in the Major Leagues, and Daren Brown, I imagine, never really expected it to happen. Now that he's here, Daren Brown, I imagine, is prepared to go right back to his familiar old standard of living in a number of months. But Daren Brown just picked up a win, and he picked it up in his first big league game. And that's one of those lifetime achievements, like marrying a good woman or learning to surf. Nobody can ever take this away from him, and even if he never manages in the Major Leagues again, Daren Brown will always be able to remind himself that he managed the Seattle Mariners in 2010, and he won his first game. A fun, efficient, competitive game.

After Franklin Gutierrez made the final catch, Brown turned, smiled, and came out of the dugout. That was all I wanted out of this. I don't know why it matters to me that some guy I'd hardly ever thought about before will have a nice story to tell for the rest of his life, but as mysteries go, why it's pleasing to watch good things happen to strangers is one to which I don't need an answer. I just know that it is, and that's enough.

  • Daren Brown has been described as humble, no-nonsense, easy but demanding, steady, professional, committed, determined, reasonable, and strategically traditional, a list of attributes you might recognize as belonging to every AAA manager ever. Which isn't to say that they're all actually the same, or that Brown isn't in some way better, but this is how they always end up being billed. Whenever a AAA manager comes up to the bigs, he's just going to take things one day at a time, and work hard, and try to get everyone united to work towards a common goal. Every AAA manager is an old white guy from Oklahoma.

  • The Daren Brown Range Of Emotions:

    I'm managing in the Major Leagues!

    It could be worse. One time there was a buffalo outside of the cabin and it trapped me inside for four days.


    What do you mean I have Chris Woodward again?

  • In the first inning, after Franklin Gutierrez fisted an RBI single over Mark Ellis at second base, the A's pitching coach came out to the mound for a visit with Vin Mazzaro. Mazzaro, at that point, was laboring, and had allowed four baserunners and two runs, but I've never quite understood the mound visit after a lucky bloop hit. You'll see a million mound visits after an RBI bloop or an infield single, but you'll never see a mound visit after a lineout to third.

    Maybe that's the whole point? Maybe the pitching coach is always going out there to say "don't worry, that was a fluke." Pitchers are kind of stupid. I don't know. It's just weird timing to me.

  • The big highlight of the day, of course, was the fourth inning's 5-4-3 triple play off the bat of Mark Ellis. With Jack Cust at second, Kevin Kouzmanoff at first, and nobody out, Ellis got a 1-1 fastball from Doug Fister and grounded it sharply to Jose Lopez, who alertly stepped on third base before flipping the ball to Chone Figgins, who then made the turn to Casey Kotchman. Replays showed that Ellis very barely beat the throw, but the ump called him out anyway for the tenth triple play the M's have turned in their history. Two things came to mind:

    (1) How hard of a time must Figgins have at second trying to make turn throws over or around the outstretched arms of approaching baserunners? Isn't it interference if the runner touches the ball, since it prevents a play from being made on another runner? Maybe Figgins should just throw the ball at the approaching baserunner.

    (2) How many times has the first base umpire incorrectly called the runner out to finish off a triple play? Groundball triple plays are pretty much always going to be close. Triple plays are sufficiently rare that you notice them when they're happening. It's silly to think that the umpires don't notice. By noticing, do the umpires in any way get caught up in the whole thing, even if only subconsciously? Does this make them more likely to rule a close play out? Does it make them more likely to rule a close play safe? No umpire wants to be the guy who blew a triple play, so is it just safer to assume the out?

  • Doug Fister was excellent. He did very little poorly, and he did very little wrong.

  • Sean White since coming back from Tacoma: five appearances, four strikeouts. It took Sean White 14 appearances to pick up his fourth strikeout of the season on May 17th. I'm looking at his pitch mix right now and he isn't doing anything differently, but I'd rather have inexplicable Sean White success than the usual. 

  • With a three-run, homerless effort, the M's managed to put together a solid win without straying from their paces. Currently gunning for 526 runs and 96 dingers, neither of which has changed very much for a while.