Llive Tweeting the llamas

This here blog was made to talk about baseball. But then I never use it, and the outlets I do write for won’t llet me talk about llamas. So, llets talks anout llamas here, by way of showing you the best llive tweets of the llamas I saw. Besides, I am using one of the Mariners’ tweets to make this 0.00001% relevant.

I went to lunch and missed this shit llive, by the way. Annoying. I’ll never leave you again, even for a moment, Internet.

God bless you, Internet.

How Much Baseball is Too Much Baseball?

Last night, the Oakland Athletics played a game that had only six fewer innings than the number of letters in their opponent’s name; the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That’s about the only way you can take a 19-inning, three-and-a-half hour affair and make it feel not as long and painful as it actually was.

I’m one of those types that never leaves a ballgame early. I’ve never done it. Not even as a Mariners fan! I’ve wanted to, but I haven’t. You don’t want to be that guy who has to slump his head and shuffle his feet as you tell your friends that you weren’t there to see that game-winning knock. I don’t think it makes you any less of a fan if you want to leave early, though. Particularly in one of the cold, book-end months of the season or if it pits two bad teams against one another. I guess, in that way, I’m a sucker.

A grizzled veteran of the press box, I’ve covered six baseball games in my time. All of those were Tacoma Rainiers games down at Cheney in 2012. One time, I got to meet one of my most favorite baseball writers. Into the box popped Ryan Divish. I probably should have realized the type of night I was in for as soon as I saw him. What ensued was nothing short of hilarity.

It’s been covered well enough that I don’t need to dive into it too deep. But the cliff notes include position players pitching, failed rally attempts and Larry Stone pinch-tweeting in proxy to keep us apprised of the now-banned-from Twitter Divish’s thoughts. So, that wasn’t too much baseball.

The longest game I’ve attended in person — a 14-inning event in 2009 that saw Ken Griffey, Jr. get the walk off hit — wasn’t too much baseball. If I recall, it was a chilly night and I might have even been wearing shorts for some silly reason. But it ended with a franchise icon sending the fans home happy one last time.

So, how much baseball is too much baseball? Here are some candidates:

  1. The Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers in a 25-inning, 8hr 6m game on May 8, 1984.
  2. The record for innings played and longest no-contest? The Brooklyn Robins and Boston Braves battled to a 1-1 tie in 26 innings. And you think soccer draws suck?
  3. Of course the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox played the longest nine-inning game in history. On August 18, 2006, the Yankees topped the Sox 14-11 in 4h 45m.

But, the undisputed champion and winner for the title of “Too Much Baseball” goes to…

San Diego Padres at Philadelphia Phillies, June 2, 1993. Total time: 12h 5m

Game One

  • Started a little over an hour late due to rain.
  • 1h 56m rain delay in the fourth inning.
  • 2h 48m rain delay in the sixth inning.
  • Padres win 5-2.

After a 25-minute intermission…

Game Two

  • The game started at 1:28. No, not in the afternoon. 1:28 in the very early morning.
  • Perhaps miraculously, there were no rain delays.
  • …but of course it went to extra innings.
  • Luckily it only went to the 10th, when relief pitcher Mitch Williams — at 4:40 am, in his first at-bat of the year — singled to drive in the winning run.

How many different proxy tweeters would Ryan Divish have had to employ that day?

When the Ball Was Gone

There’s a place — just outside of “The Pen,” on the North-side of the ballpark along Royal Brougham — where you can peer in and see the green grass of Safeco Field. I remember the first time I discovered this now not-so-hidden gem. It was sometime in the winter before our new baseball cathedral opened. My buddy Ryan and I would drop by this spot and watch the progress as we anxiously awaited the gates to open for the first time.

As that date neared, the grass had been long installed and was growing in nicely. Sometimes, it would be late at night. We’d just stumbled out of a party or some such as kids that age did. There was only but a stream of light entering the ballpark from some opening up above the brick and metal. It was plenty, though. We could tell it was green. We could tell it was manicured. We already knew its beauty before getting out first full, official view.

What if the team was gone? The turnstiles no longer spinning, the padlocks on the gates rusting because they haven’t been removed in some months. No one has entered, let alone played our pastime on this carefully groomed playing surface. Here we stand, looking at it all starting to fall apart. Only our memories keep the grass bright green instead of the brown our eyes refuse to see.

On a day like today, when the Sonics continued to not be a thing, this is oddly the first thought I had. See, I’m not much of an NBA fan. I never really was. I actually grew up near Sacramento, so this whole ordeal could have had some serious heartstrings tugging from my chest.

I guess it’s what almost happened with the Mariners back in the mid-90’s that has me thinking this way.

But, there is no opening in an arena for Sonics fans to peer into and try to form memories from the remnants.

They had something precious to them taken away. They felt like more could have been done and it wasn’t. Then, they had hope dangled in front of them by a hero who rode in on the whitest of white horses. His promises didn’t feel empty. They had substance and people truly believed.

Unfortunately, that hero’s attempts were thwarted. The attempt was valiant. Who knows, maybe more can be done. Maybe the league will reward his efforts yet. The picture may look bleak, but what do you have if you don’t have hope?

There was a punch-in-the-gut moment back in 2008. And while this moment may feel the same, try and remember how hopeless things felt back then. That you’d never have the opportunity to get this close. It’s not much of a consolation prize. I won’t insult you by serving you that dish. But, perhaps it’s enough to help you maintain hope.

There will be a day that the hardwood will be adorned with the green and yellow once more. That the drawn-out “SuuuuuuuuuuuuperSonics!” will fill your eardrums along with the screams of several thousand friends.

Keep the memories, but also keep fighting and keep that hope.

An Open Letter to Howard Lincoln

Dear Mr. Lincoln,

Being saddled with the frustration of sitting in traffic on my way to watch meaningful baseball games is a first world problem I’d happily welcome.

Thank you,

Alex

Fans went too far with Seepius reaction

Fans boo.

It’s something that has been around long before the days of our slaves building this grandiose Colosseum. They’ve booed since the days of neanderthals clubbing each other for the right to bone that hairy chick from Cave #40.

But fans of the Republic should not have booed Brutus Seepius as relentlessly as they did during Monday’s Lion Slaying Derby.

Sure, they were ticked that the mighty Seepius didn’t select local hero Thadius Tracaecusaes for this otherwise meaningless exhibition of killing beasts that were genetically altered to provide a more entertaining result than your typical sanctioned Colosseum game.

No, I say we remove even more meaning from this largely pointless event by picketing the cobblestone streets of the forum until that rotten dictator Gaius Julius Caesar changes the rules, allowing a local hero of the host city to participate.

Boy, my toga is really wound up tight in a knot right now.

Many years from now, some super important scribe of a sport that has yet to be invented will have a much easier time selling the people on this concept because of the groundwork I am laying now.

There is literally nothing more important right now than this. Join me, fellow sons of the Republic! All-Star contests are really, really important. And booing is stupid. We must stop the latter before it’s too late.

Right, Jon?

My Diamond Club Night

I’ve often wondered what it be like to experience the Diamond Club at Safeco Field.

We’ve all heard about what you get here. All inclusive food and drink, exclusive club bar and lounge, player cameos and seats that have a distance to the catcher shorter than that of the pitcher to his battery mate.

Oh, and one more detail: A lofty price tag.

Luckily for me, these seats were awarded to me as an incentive from a vendor partner. I don’t know that I can mention them here, but many thanks will be showered upon them come Monday.

Anyway, about the club!

As the ferry horn sounded — the audible denotation of the gates opening — we filed in. Chuckles were induced when I saw a few fans speed walking to get passed reception and into the club first.

“Must be the Viva Las Vargas glasses,” I quipped.

Walking into the club, though, it began to make sense. The food. Whoa, the food. The below shot of the deserts was just one example of the gorgeous display of fare put out for our gorging.

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There was so much to eat that I quickly started envisioning myself having nothing but celery and water for the next week as a result of what I was about to partake in.

My first round saw my plate fill with a small clump of both Cesar and chef salads. A dollop of garlic mashed potatoes was flanked by a sliver of chipotle chicken under a blanket of smooth avocado sauce on one side and two smallish pieces of brisket on the other.

Why, yes madam, I will take a chilly Manny’s Pale Ale to wash this feast down!

My second foraging trip brought back Philly cheesesteak makings that were prepared out in the open. I passed on the roll to save room for desert.

I needed a Blue Moon to accompany this plate of goodness.

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And what of the aforementioned desert? A quarter piece of cheesecake. A strawberry and banana chunk that we were able to submerge under a chocolate fountain using skewers.

At this point I was pretty stuffed. My strategy to take small bits of items so I could sample as much as possible worked out well.

But I never got to the crab stuffed rolls, the bacon wrapped scallops or the other table where a cook was surely sizzling up some awesomeness. There were tons of items I could have shoveled down my throat but had no room for.

You know what I did get, though? To meet Dave Henderson! He was in town to do color on radio for the series.

While I was half way into my cheesesteak, he appeared. Talking to a table of old ladies, he’d glance over numerous times and could see the look in my eyes.

Now, I’ve not always said kind things about Hendu’s broadcasting skills but the man was a fun ballplayer in his day. Not quite a legend, but a household name. And he was flat out funny as heck to talk to in person.

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I feel like I’ve already told a full story. But we haven’t even emerged from the club to our seats yet.

With another round of Blue Moons in hand, we weaved our way through the tables and lounge to the tunnel. Day light and a gorgeous ballpark calling, we emerged to what should have been a familiar sight.

In my many, many trips to Safeco Field, I’d never had a view like this. The voices of personnel on the field rang clear. The view into the dugout was like nothing I’ve had before without use of a long-range lens.

This isn’t a game recap, so I’ll avoid all the inning-by-inning details of this particular tilt and instead talk about the surroundings that continued to make the night amazing.

The usher in our row was a sweetheart. She told me she’d been working there for 13 years. That’s the entire history of the ballyard, of course. She was every bit I to the game without losing focus on providing us tremendous service.

It was something else to see someone who has witnessed so many live games still enjoy the drama unfolding on the grass before us. The other users and members of the wait staff and security seemed to share this same feeling.

Included in that is my favorite Mariners employee, marketing whiz Gregg Greene. He’s always someone I try meeting up with at the park. I truly believe he cares about both the product on the field and the enjoyment of every fan that spins the turnstiles. Tanks for dropping by, Gregg!

And there’s more! I was able to snap lots of photos at close range of our hometown boys in white.

Being so close to the pops of the mitt, the chatter of players and feeling like you’re in the game was something I didn’t want to end.

So, the Mariners rewarded me with a couple extra frames.

It would all have to come to an end eventually of course. In the bottom of the 11th inning, the Mariners offense decided it was time for them — and me — to end this night and go home. A night that couldn’t seem to get any more amazing again blew away my expectations when Chone Figgins of all people drove in the winning run with a walk-off-sacrifice-fly to right.

I’d like to end this post with one final note. One last thing about the night that wasn’t really shocking. Something that I’ve sort of known but the above picture and some very .gifable moments in the wake of the win confirmed: Munenori Kawasaki is one weird dude.

Thank you to the Mariners for a wonderful evening.

How Much Does a Manager Matter?

Ignore the post below. It never happened. Carsoncalc fail.

This blog is more for my personal amusement and megaphoning than analysis or any sort of reasonable thought. I write at Prospect Insider when I want to present myself as a passably intelligent person. That won’t be happening below.

So, today, I wanted to briefly soapbox about the importance of managers and how much value they do or don’t add to a ballclub. It’s one of those arguments that fill my ear in the local pub and I sort of just shrug off. There’s no real way to quantify manager value, after all, so why bother? In in the past I’ve just shrugged it off and figured that things probably even themselves out. Good teams will be good. Bad teams will be bad. Managers may meddle, but over a large sample it doesn’t mean much.

However, it’s getting increasingly hard to feel this way when I watch the things Eric Wedge does on a daily basis.

Last night, the Angels marched into Seattle with their right-handed heavy lineup. There are currently only two left-handed batters on their roster. They’ve got a beer barrel* full of switch hitters, of course, but those guys just hit righty against Jason Vargas. This comes just hours after punting the only capable left fielder, Casper Wells, from the roster. Heck, even Mike Carp has a little experience out there. Instead, Wedge trots Alex Liddi out there because his bat has coming alive.

If you absolutely wanted Carp and Liddi in the lineup last night, why not just swap them with Liddi playing first base? Neither provides a gold glove at either spot, and Carp for sure has more experience manning the first bag but tossing Liddi out in left was akin to slaves being nudged to the lions in the coliseum.

Oh, and let’s not forget Miguel Olivo. You see, Eric Wedge said before the game last night “I told Miggy we’d work him back in slow.” Wedge’s definition of working a guy back in slow is apparently sticking him behind the plate and in the lineup against a tough right-hander. Who knows, maybe Jaso is stilled feeling something from that foul ball a few days ago. Or, maybe Eric Wedge is doing backflips because his favorite toy is back at his disposal.

If John Jaso was hurt, why make the comment about working Olivo back in slow? If Jaso was available, there was absolutely no good reason for Olivo to be in that lineup. Forget about how poorly the rest of the lineup hit or how it wouldn’t have mattered because Haren was so good. This was a bad decision. Period.

I fully expect to see Olivo trot back out there tonight. He’s tough. He provides leadership!

As I said in the open, this doesn’t matter much in the grand scheme of things when it comes to wins and losses. And if it does, I can’t quantify it and neither can you. But what kind of tone does it set in the dugout? What does John Jaso think about his future when he can fill in nicely in his first real opportunity in Seattle, only to be shot straight back to the pine at the first possible moment? What sort of message does it send to fans who are being fed the same plate of youth growing pains for dinner every night? If you want us to buy into this new wave of players, why do you send one packing to Tacoma and tuck another away in the darkest corner of the dugout?

I really have no answer for all this. It’s a frustrating matter that I can’t help resolve and that I should probably just get over.

But if I’m going to watch a young group of players lose ballgames while chasing their potential, it’d sure be nice if the man calling the shots would stop making decisions that one of the middle school kids I coach have labeled as “really perplexing.”

You can do better than this, Eric.

Here Comes Olivo, There Goes ?

The ever-great Mike Curto, voice of the Rainiers (What? You don’t follow him on twitter? Shame on you!), reported this morning that Miguel Olivo is not with the Rainiers this morning and that catcher Ralph Hernandez is on his way to Tacoma from Double-A Jackson.

You don’t require a crystal ball to figure this one out. Miguel Olivo is on his way back to Seattle. Now, after you’ve finished your fist pumps and whoo-hoo out your car window, let’s discuss what this could mean for the big league 25-man roster. Someone has to go when Olivo comes back, after all.

Scenario 1 – Say Goodbye to Chone Figgins

This is probably the clubhouse leader for the move favored amongst most fans. Figgins is in Wedge’s doghouse and there isn’t a scenario remaining where he comes back out to get significant playing time.

Alex Liddi has seized his opportunity as far as Wedge is concerned and has likely captured the left field starts when a left-hander is on the bump. There’s Mike Carp and Casper Wells around, too, so left field is no longer an option. Liddi also blocks Figgins at third base, playing there when Kyle Seager slides over to second when Dustin Ackley gets a day off from the field.

Right now, Figgins is basically a pinch-runner and third string infielder making $8 million. The Mariners won’t even lose anything there should they part ways with him as they have Munenori Kawasaki on the roster.

While eating the rest of his contract has been avoided thus far — and still not something management would like to do — there’s simply no trade partner out there. Though most of us feel like we’ll be forced to look at his stupid smirk after making a mistake for the next year-plus, I think this could finally be the time we see Figgins punted.

Carsoncalc odds of this scenario: 70%

Scenario 2 – Hisashi Iwakuma Goes 

Eric Wedge doesn’t seem too inclined to use Hisashi Iwakuma, so he’s the most likely option should Wedge feel comfortable with a smaller bullpen and can convince Jack Zduriencik that this is the right call.

There’s Steve Delabar, too. He’s been bad, but his xFIP is 3.33 so there’s reason to believe he’s had some bad luck in a small sample. Wedge continues to use him, so this option doesn’t seem likely unless Jack overrules.

The rest of the bullpen seems safe.

Carsoncalc odds of this scenario: 18%

Scenario 3 – Casper Wells or Mike Carp Go Down

Some people have thrown this out as an option but I just don’t see it happening. There is nothing for either of these guys to prove in Tacoma and they have useful skills that can be applied in the big leagues.

Carsoncalc odds of this scenario: 10%

Scenario 4 – Some Sort of Trade is Cooking

I really shouldn’t even list this because I can’t figure anything in my head that makes sense. No team is taking Figgins. Why would anyone trade for Iwakuma or Kawasaki? Is the team willing to part with any of the young bullpen arms with a shaky rotation in place? What team is going to come calling for League in May when his performance hasn’t screamed shut-down closer?

There are certainly GMs in the game still that will bake bad decisions. That’s the only thing keeping this scenario on the radar. However, unless Zduriencik’s socks are knocked off or he’s left with no choice but to pull the trigger before the guy on the other end realizes how dumb of a proposal he made, this scenario doesn’t really have legs.

Carsoncalc odds of this scenario: 2%

Honestly, the first scenario should probably have odds closer to 80-95% at this point. But if that were the case, I’d have no reason to write these 619 words.

Reactions to Yoenis Cespedes Homer

There are several reactions you can have to a home run. If it’s a player on your favorite team, you may pump a fist. If it’s a player on team facing your team, you may let out a deep sigh. These reactions can vary, depending on the magnitude of the moment and the importance of the game.

With the Mariners up five runs, your only reaction to this bomb should have been one of amazement and admiration. Yoenis Cespedes absolutely demolished this baseball and sent it to a place most balls don’t go in this particular ballpark, especially on a cool damp night in April.

So, I don’t know what your reaction was, but here are 17 reactions I noticed thanks to the beauty of screen shots.

1 – “Oh, my.”

2 – “Hey, oh!”

3 – “Whooo!”

4 – “Yeah, baby!”

5 – “Whoa. I mean, whoa, man.”

6 – “Oh no. Now everyone is going to see me picking my nose.”

7 – “Ahhh!”

8 – “That’s the most amazing homer I’ve ever seen. And I’m really old, so you know this ain’t based on a small sample, sonny.”

9 – “Yes!”

10 – “Man, our offense sucks. Trust me, Tim, this was a good time to hit the head.”

11 – “Wait, so if the guy hits it over the fence, he can just round the bases uncontested? And we get a run?”

12 – “Yeah, broski! YEAH! Get me another brew!”

13 – “I knew my lucky visor would pay off!”

14 – “Seems like a good time to adjust myself.”

15 – “I’d better run out to make the call. Just in case!”

16 – “Yup. That was so tight, I’m roundin’ the bases backwards.”

17 – “So, anyways…”

The Importance of Local Ownership in Seattle Sports

While the Mariners were on their jaunt across the globe, there sat a secondary interest in the back of some people’s minds: Would team principle owner Hiroshi Yamauchi finally watch his Mariners play a game?

He didn’t. Feathers have again been ruffled amongst the masses. I’d ask, though: who cares? Does it really matter?

Our city’s sports history is littered with outsiders trying to run for the hills with our teams in tow.

Ken Behring isn’t from Washington. He wasn’t even a transplant who ran a big business here. While the Seahawks remained in Seattle under his control for the better part of a decade, he actually packed the operations into boxes and had them neatly stacked into a moving truck with Anaheim as the destination.

Paul Allen saved the day.

In 2006, the Seattle SuperSonics were up for sale. The team’s owner, a billionaire who runs a massive corporation just down the street, wants out of the hardwood game. It’s a business, after all. It wasn’t making him money, so why continue to invest? The state was unwilling to fund a new arena, and Schultz sure wasn’t going to kick in his own dough.

His Majesty of Mocha decided to sell the franchise to an out-of-state owner known to have aspirations of running a team back home. After the sale, Schultz could have slowly faded back to the land of money-pouring espresso machines, lining his pockets with cash one drip of java at a time. Instead, he filed a lawsuit. He claimed Clay Bennett deceived him. Here, we have one of the most brilliant businessmen in the world trying to tell us he was duped. Not surprisingly, the lawsuit quickly faded.

The Sonics were gone.

Two decades ago, sandwiched between a debacle and a close call, Yamauchi stepped in to buy a Seattle baseball club that had one foot in sunny Tampa and a second eager to escape the rainy Pacific Northwest. Baseball didn’t like the idea initially. An owner abroad? How could this possibly work? With the help of a senator and the promise that Yamauchi would not be involved in the operation of the club, the sale was finally approved.

Think about this for a moment. A powerful businessman was willing to invest millions into something he had no interest in and wanted no control of. Could he really be trusted?

In America, we’ve seen too many stories like Enron and AIG. We’ve watched the ponzi schemes unfold. Executives blinded by greed, willing to roll the dice with their employees futures as their wager. Wearing their Armani suits, they collect millions in bonuses as thousands of their grunts are sent to the cheese line. Lies, cover-ups and scams leave honest folks wondering how they’ll feed their children.

That wasn’t Yamauchi. He decided to give, knowing there would be little return.

Fast forward to 2012.

During times where the win column shows scary figures, the pitch forks and torches come out. The results on the field during Yamauchi’s tenure haven’t always been favorable. He’s been at the helm for two 101-loss seasons. He was in charge when three of the franchise’s icons wanted out.

What about 1995, though? Oh, glorious 1995! We love celebrating that team. There was also the 1997, 2000 and 2001 playoff clubs. If you chip in the 93-win 2002 and 2003 squads that each narrowly missed the post-season, should Yamauchi not be given credit for the only relevant stretch of baseball in franchise history?

People love Paul Allen around here. He saved the Seahawks. The 121-119 record amassed under his watch is good for a .504 winning percentage. The Mariners, since Yamauchi’s investment, are at a .467 clip.

We can split hairs over which owner has presided over a more successful team, but the fact remains that neither has held a parade through the streets of Seattle. And neither is particularly close to doing so today.

Of course, we know Nintendo of America is the actual owner of the Mariners after Yamauchi transferred control of the club for estate planning purposes. So who is bothered if the man, now 84 years-old, doesn’t put on a smile while watching the club in person?

The Seattle Times’ Steve Kelley apparently was bothered:

Mariners owner Hiroshi Yamauchi cares so little about his team he didn’t attend either game at the Tokyo Dome. Isn’t it past time to sell?

Kelley has a press pass. He attends games. There’s a chance he even possesses Howard Lincoln’s telephone number. Instead of asking tough questions to those who can answer them, he opts to protect his credentials and cast stones around the globe with a snarky bullet point.

There is a local ownership group in place. They may be proxy owners, but these are people who actually get paid a salary to run this club. They’re the decision makers who should be held accountable for the outcomes of their choices.

There aren’t any World Series banners hanging from the retractable roof at Safeco Field. But the reason that multi-million-dollar roof sits above our baseball paradise is due to an unselfish man half a world away who chose to give when no one on our own shores cared to be bothered.

We were given an incredibly kind gift, and we show our thanks by spitting in Yamauchi’s face when the waters get choppy.

How insulting and unappreciative can we Seattleites be?

 
 
Alex Carson can be reached via email at carson@prospectinsider.com. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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