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52-81, Game Thoughts

When people find out I write about baseball online for a living, I usually get one of four responses:

(1) "Hey, that's so great, you must be living the dream!" <----- least frequent

(2) "Huh"

(3) "So what are your plans? Going to go to grad school any time soon? You'll need a real job eventually."

(4) "What do you write about during the offseason?"

This last one comes up all the time. The implication is that, when there isn't any baseball, there isn't anything to talk about. You and I know that's untrue, but most people don't. They figure one can only write about the sport as long as there are games to provide the material.

What follows from *that* is that people assume writing during the season is easy. I mean, there are games, right? How hard could it be to write about games? This happened, then this happened, and if this other thing didn't happen then who knows what might have happened. When people find out I write about baseball for a living, they ask about the offseason because that's when they figure I'd encounter a drought. During the season, it's so obvious. People give absolutely no thought to how simple or difficult it may be to write about a game during the year. They just presume it's a walk in the park.

To those people, I'd like to present this game, tonight. Not on its own. Writing about this game in isolation would be a breeze. No; I'd like to present this game, in the context of a long season overflowing with this game. This same exact game. How easy is it then? Sure, one could write something along the lines of "the Mariners got a good start but couldn't give their guy any run support, so they lost," and that would be fine. That would send the right message. But that wouldn't be interesting. That wouldn't be compelling. A writer's job isn't just to tell people what happened. A writer's job is to tell people what happened, and to capture their attention.

To those people, I'd like to present this game, in the context of the season, and ask them how easy they think it would be to capture other people's attention by talking about it.

When people find out I write about baseball online for a living, they'll usually ask me what I write about in the offseason. And I usually tell them I have a much easier time writing.

  • Jason Vargas had a classically Vargas start. Everything he did was very him, and nothing was not. I think it's safe to say he's a known entity at this point - a very solid back-of-the-rotation pitcher with another three years of team control. The only real interesting thing about his game is that, after giving up a lead-changing home run to Hideki Matsui in the seventh, Vargas admitted that he made a mistake pitching to Matsui in the first place rather than working around him and going after Brandon Wood on deck.

    As much as it comes up on the internet, it's interesting to hear lineup protection get talked about by an actual player. Granted, Vargas didn't change the way he pitched to Matsui because of the situation, but he says that he should've, which is enough. Jason Vargas acknowledged that he should've worked around Matsui because there was a worthless pile of shit standing on deck.

    I know the studies investigating lineup protection haven't uncovered very much, but it's because of quotes like this that I'm hesitant to believe it doesn't matter. There has to be some kind of effect, even if it's really small.

  • As soon as the game ended, all anyone on FSN wanted to talk about was Franklin Gutierrez's defense, as he robbed Howie Kendrick of a homer in the sixth and then made another fine running catch to steal a double away from Mike Napoli in the ninth. Guti was in true Endy Chavez form, and everything about his route on the Kendrick fly was flawless, from his read to his path to his timing to his air. Have you ever messed around with friends and tried to practice catching homers over the wall? Most of the time, you get there too early or too late, and the timing's all awkward. Guti did everything in one smooth motion. I wish someone would keep track of who does this the most. (ed. note: they do!)

    What I liked most about FSN's choice of postgame subject matter, however, was the tacit concession that Guti was the only thing worth talking about. Reggie Willits pulled in the final out, and then, bam, Gutierrez highlights. Why even pretend about anything else?

  • The Rangers have Neftali Feliz. The A's have Henry Rodriguez. The Mariners will soon have Dan Cortes. And the Angels now have Jordan Walden. In any given year, there are maybe a dozen guys in the Major Leagues with a hope of throwing 100 miles per hour. The AL West is going to have at least four of them.

    What's most interesting about Walden is that, as impressive as he looked in the seventh tonight, he averaged less than a strikeout per inning with AA Arkansas and AAA Salt Lake. I'm one of the first people who'll tell you that velocity isn't everything, but I didn't realize the same applied in the minors, where players are more shitty.

  • The Angels had Brandon Wood batting 8th, Peter Bourjos batting 9th, and Reggie Willits batting leadoff. This meant that the three of them could be seen consecutively, and it's a shame they were arranged the way they were, because in another order it would've resembled that old evolution image where a monkey turns into an ape man, who turns into less of an ape man, who turns into a person. It all starts with Brandon Wood. Brandon Wood is just a blank slate, armed with nothing. Add speed and some sense of the strike zone and you get Reggie Willits. Add power and a willingness to swing the bat and you get Peter Bourjos. Eventually, future superstar Mike Trout will arrive, and the Angels' white prospect evolution will be complete.