Re-evaluating Past Success and Scuffles: The Logan Morrison Story

With another series win over the Boston Red Sox, the Mariners have vaulted themselves forward in the standings amidst another manic episode within the context of their season’s untreated bi-polar disorder.

Having won 6 games in a row before finally dropping one to the Sox, the Mariners continue to not surprise, but rather amuse, as they toe the line between a team that looks unbeatable and a team that looks utterly inept on offense as so many Mariners squads in past years have appeared.

And yet, in this maddening sea of inconsistency, reality does actually align ever so delicately to expectations, with perhaps a smidgeon of optimism crème-fresh-ed on top.

Let us ignore what we have seen before and what has, by virtue of being old, become stale and tired. Robinson Cano continues to be exactly what we need him to be—a reliable source of offense within the middle of the order. Seager continues to produce every couple days or so, as his season continues to trend towards the best of his career but in that particularly awesome, unflashy, 5’11” way that Seager does it. Zunino has hit 4 dingers in the past 5 games and will inevitably suck for another month or so while playing some pretty spectacular defense behind the plate.

Ignore.

Let’s talk instead about Logan Morrison.

Logan Morrison became a forgotten character fairly quickly in his first Mariners’ season. He played very inconsistently and, despite having what was at worst a pretty average spring, he seemed to garner quite a bit of hate among the folks lurking around the usual Mariners internet-haunts such as Lookout Landing and U.S.S. Mariner.

I personally have always been, if not a believer, then at least a proponent of Logan Morrison as experiment. It seemed to me that there were worse things the Mariners could do than simply run the guy out there and see if he had anything to provide. Admittedly, the injuries were there and they weren’t exactly minor injuries either. But, looking upon his acquisition from a perspective that assumes a return to health, we can see that the Mariners may have lucked out huge when trading rosey-cheeked and basically useless Carter Capps for Lomo this offseason.

Let’s look at Logan Morrison’s rookie season. The 2 years since that season and the statistics that accompany said years should themselves be accompanied by a huge motherfuckin asterisk. Lomo was playing hurt. In addition to that one particular piece of adversity, he was also playing for an organization that didn’t seem to want anything to do with him, at one point even demoting him to AAA under some flimsy pretense to reprimand him for being too much of a beast on twitter. 

Let us look at a couple of quick lines side by side.

G BA OBP SLG OPS HR RBI OPS+
100 .218 .307 .371 .678 13 48 82
123 .247 .330 .468 .797 23 72 116

 

Those rows represent the statistics for Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison, each in their age-23 seasons. Morrison’s line is the decent one. Smoak’s is predictably the one that is terrible.

Both Justin Smoak and Logan Morrison were highly touted prospects as they moved through the Rangers and Marlins organizations, respectively. Smoak has played semi-regularly since he was acquired in the Cliff Lee trade by the Mariners and, for whatever reason, we have been subjected to him on a consistent basis since that time. Morrison came up with the Marlins and produced right away, showing the power that blew scouts away as a prospect—with his HR numbers from his slightly-abridged age-23 season prorating to 30+ over the course of 162 games. Smoak has never hit 23 HRs in a season. Lomo did it more or less instantaneously upon his first call-up.

Now, this is glossing over a pretty substantial period of time during which Morrison fell entirely from grace in Miami. He suffered a couple major leg injuries that kept him off the field for prolonged stretches and limited his effectiveness during those times he made it onto the field. He has said himself that he rushed himself back. Could you chalk this up to simply an excuse? Maybe. Though it certainly seems a plausible explanation for a dip in production from a player who is still just 26 years old. It is unlikely that the skills that produces the numbers above simply vanished. They were simply masked by injuries until frustration caused the Marlines to ship him off for what may end up being a pretty sub-par return, though Capps’ does have projectable stuff if he gets his shit together.

Smoak, by contrast, has been more or less healthy for his years in Seattle and has never so much as allowed us a glimpse of comparable offensive upside to what Lomo brings to the table. Smoak has also been a first baseman his entire career, a position where offensive production is expected for any team to have a chance to even feign competency. Lomo and Smoak have both been terrible for a couple years, but Lomo was terrible with a half-broken leg, Smoak’s terribleness is just par for the motherfucking course.

We have seen Lomo come on for the Mariners in a big way the past few games. His 4 for 4 night with multiple HRs was eye-opening to be sure—though if we pay attention than maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised. He will undoubtedly have plenty of slums in the near future and maybe some hot streaks similar to the one he has presently, that is just part of the game. What matters though is that Lomo appears to be 100% healthy and if the potential he showed as a rookie was any indication, a healthy Logan Morrison provides another presence in the middle of the order that the Mariners sorely need.

Oh yeah, and he is hilarious on twitter.

Leave Smoak in AAA. Lomo party.

#BREAKING: Buffalo Wild Wings has designed a series of A/C units designed to break upon command

Inspired by the clever use of machines that did nothing during the 1st game of the most recent NBA finals, Buffalo Wild Wings, in their noble tradition of influencing games for the sake of their clientele, felt encouraged to have a stake in what they expect to be a burgeoning industry.

“The media attention the San Antonio Spurs developed with that first auto-breaking A/C unit was incredible. For a moment, our customers were actually talking about the Spurs, rather than simply bemoaning their boredom with the team while opining as to the number of hands Lebron would need surgically implanted into his chest in order to accommodate his 30-40 rings. Any press is good press.”

The company, noted for their willingness to intervene in sporting events like an Old Testament deity saturated in ranch dressing, noted that while the Spurs pioneered the invention of the not-working industrial A/C unit—they had only scratched the surface of the device’s ultimate potential.

“As a company, our intervention in human history is intended to work for the benefit of the greater good, assuming that greater good is the prolonging of an already lengthy sporting event for the sake of increased beer sales and the added strain and deterioration of marital relationships founded on anything other than a mutual respect of sports and bleu cheese. That is why our A/C units will reactivate upon command, our sleeper cell agents functioning to keep the temperature in the building at whatever state of limbo is deemed most profitable, while frequently pausing the action in order to get the thing up and running again, which, unlike the breaking portion, will actually be a pretty lengthy and tiresome process.”

Buffalo Wild Wings concluded by hinting that they were already through the 3rd stage of testing for titanium incisors modeled after Luis Suarez’ teeth, coated in a layer of rust.

“We’re hoping this next product of ours will push average stoppage time in international soccer matches to roughly the 10-15 minute range. Just enough time to order another basket of boneless honey BBQ wings, or melt a celery stick with nothing but human saliva.”

#BREAKING: RAY ALLEN EMBRACES NATION OF ISLAM, RENAMED MUHAMMAD SHUTTLESWORTH

According to an anonymous source, Ray Allen (Basketball player and one-time-actor who portrayed protagonist “Jesus Shuttlesworth” in Spike Lee’s film: “He Got Game”) has changed his name to Muhammad Shuttlesworth to better represent his own shifting spiritual paradigm and recent indoctrination into the Nation of Islam.

Praise Allah.

Our source reports that Denzel Washington plays Malcolm X in Spike Lee’s titular biopic regarding the notable civil rights leader. Malcolm X was a devotee of the Nation of Islam until he later became disillusioned with the movement as a whole, after which he did something else and likely hung out with different people.

Denzel also acts alongside Ray Allen as Allen’s character’s father in “He Got Game,” which is also a Spike Lee movie featuring a scene where Ray/Jesus actually gets mad at his girlfriend for getting pregnant, citing some time when he was banging her earlier in the movie and she had said, mid-coitus, that “you can’t get me pregnant,” which he, for whatever fucking reason, took at face value and believed with almost no argument or question whatsoever proving through the magic of cinema that young men trend towards idiocy whilst with boner.

I know what you’re thinking: “Mysteries within mysteries, this is all pretty Illuminati.”

But, similar to the all-seeing-eye in Natural Treasure, the details elude those of us with inferior insight and historical context.

Did Denzel’s portrayal of Malcolm X influence his portrayal of the young Jesus Shuttlesworth’s father trans-cinema to in turn influence the character of Jesus himself to then influence that character’s actor (NBA role player Ray Allen) to embark on a path of enlightenment through reverence of the teachings of the Holy Quran to promote a better social, spiritual, and economic condition for young African Americans worldwide?

Does this point to a larger truth existing behind a near-opaque worldwide fabric—where unseen governments manipulate our perception until we see the truth as but the shadow of the puppeteer’s hands, glimpsed seldom and even more rarely understood through the rampantly corrupt, smirking insinuations of the liberal, media-pandering elite?

Good questions.

Our source could not be contacted for further details, having run out of relevant shit to find fairly quickly in their investigation and lacking the creativity to expand upon what was, at best, a fairly mediocre story.

#BREAKING, JESUS MONTERO TESTED POSITIVE FOR STEROIDS OR SOMETHING UPON EATING A BURGER FROM THOSE DUDES WHO WERE THE BAD GUYS IN “GOOD BURGER”

Remember Jesus Montero? The catcher who couldn’t catch but could presumably hit (read: eat)?

Turns out he wasn’t very good at either. Jesus spent most of last year rolling around the basepaths as his weight continued to fluctuate and his potential continued to wither on the vine. At least he would roll around the basepaths if he ever got on base. But, lost in the general awfulness of his performance in 2013 is that said terrible underachieving performance was also aided by cheating. This means that he had to cheat to be terrible.

But there is more to this story than meets the eye!

Upon further testing and an ongoing investigation into both Montero’s suspension as well as local burger place “Mondo Burger” (Noted rival to “Good Burger” which is apparently oft overlooked by locals despite a very tasty and yet a little bit too ambiguously crafted, ingredient-wise, sauce) our source revealed that Montero’s suspension was actually due to the consumption of whatever the bad guys from the movie Good Burger put into their burgers to make them huge. Air? Chemicals? Chemical air?

Regardless, we can now blame Disney villains for Montero’s suspension. That, and his penchant for eating the largest thing within arm’s reach at any time.

We will now expend our covert source’s resources to pin Ryan Braun’s suspension on the Icelandic Youth Hockey Team from Mighty Ducks 2.

#BREAKING: ERIK SPOELSTRA LOANS LEBRON JAMES OUT TO US MEN’S SOCCER TEAM

According to sources close to the situation and totally not wasted on Copacabana Beach, Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra has loaned out all-NBA forward Lebron James to the U.S. National Men’s Soccer Team.

The surprising act of patriotism comes in response to the uncertain condition of U.S. striker Jozy Altidore.

Spoelstra was spared a few minutes of his daily flagellation from team owner and czar Pat Riley to speak to Luckswing’s sources (who is, again, deeply embedded in the Heat organization and definitely, definitely not drinking his ass off in Brazil somewhere).

“PatI mean I. Did I say Pat? I meant I. I call the shots. Me, Erik Riley. Shit. I mean—Pat Spoelstra. I know my name—REEK!!—I call the shots! All of them! Pat? No. Pat who?”

After a few more minutes of an apparent mind-melting existential breakdown, Spoelstra went on to say, “we’ve played Lebron, like, a bazillion minutes in the last four years, not including the Olympics and the playoffs. I’m absolutely sure he’s totally fine. He’s like a superhuman breed of things that are better than humans.”

Upon hearing the news, U.S. Coach Jürgen Klinsmann shit his pants and kissed the closes man to him who was apparently a naked Clint Dempsey. 

Minutes ago, James tweeted his response: “Fuck. #classicSpo”

Why We Play: NBA Finals Coverage Pt. 2

“There is another world, but it is inside this one.” –W.B. Yeats

“It makes last year okay.” –Tim Duncan

»«

The pinnacle of basketball achievement. The crown of buckets. The chef-d’œuvre of the hardwood. The Pink Panther diamond for the Inspector Clouseaus of the NBA world. The highest holiness of hoops.

Last night capped a thrilling—if somewhat surprising—2014 NBA Finals.

For the casual observer, Tim Duncan hoisting his fifth Larry O’Brien trophy and the youngest player ever to win the Bill Russell Finals MVP was just another cool thing that happened in the landscape of the ever-cool NBA. And it was. Cool. Really, really, really cool.

But it was also more than that.

From the moment the NBA Finals ended last year, the San Antonio Spurs have diligently, unwaveringly been working to craft all of what this past season would be about for them (if this sounds familiar, read: crush a narrative, little narrative, roll a narrative, take a narrative). Like a mantra or a basketball bouncing in an empty gym, you could hear it reverberating with every pass, every swish, every bank: Run it back.

Since June 20th, 2013: run it back. After watching the Heat celebrate on their court: run it back. For 361 consecutive days: run it back. From the start of training camp: run it back. For every practice: run it back. To every reporter’s question: run it back. The 20 regular season games they lost: wait till we run it back.

Last night the Spurs finally paid off that promise uttered countless times on pick up courts the world over.

As the simple three word phrase flatly implies, “run it back” is a statement of ego. A dare, a provocation, a challenge to the opposing player, the opposing team to score on me, win it all—again.

Anyone with half a brain, who has seen any Spurs games over any period of time in the last 12 months could see in the way they played, they were “Run it back” mode.  And until Tim Duncan’s post-game sideline interview with Doris Burke, I never gave much thought to the Spurs’ reaction—other than the almost obligatory, “This team is ridonkulous. They’ll probably get what exactly what they want and make the Finals again.”

But in Tim Duncan’s disarming quietness, in his unflinching and somehow original expression of trite sports clichés in the face of an aspirationally awkward first question, he unearthed something deeper than ego, truer to the condition of humanity, necessary to the human psyche.

          Burke: How does your team climb the mountain back to NBA Champion?

          Duncan: Great coaching. Persistence. Drive. Love for the game. We remembered what happened last year and how it felt in that locker room. And we used it and built on it and got back here, and it’s amazing. It makes last year okay.

Did you hear that? It makes last year okay. He hesitates, then lets it spill. It makes last year okay.

Up until that moment, I had never thought forgiveness (true forgiveness, not the good-sportsmanship-I’ll-help-you-out-after-that-flagrant-foul-slash-flop-city forgiveness) had a place in the world of sports—professional or amateur.

In the testosterone driven, ultra-competitive sporting arena, it’s no surprise we use the metaphors of war: our athletes are warriors and we expect them to battle. Yet Duncan—demonstrating true bravery and more than any other professional athlete today—stands as a vanguard for the kind, the loving, the sensitive—the warrior with feelings. He has always been a great teammate. The way he holds Tony after a victory, or goes forehead-to-forehead with Manu speaks volumes on Duncan’s passion and reliability.

What makes this particular confession from Duncan so startlingly profound though is the subject of his forgiveness: himself and his team (but mostly himself).

If forgiveness is “the release of all hope for a better past,” then that moment, that hesitation was the release. And without the past driving his actions, Duncan was finally able to  (perhaps for the first time all season) be present, live and experience that moment of joy.

Even in that definitive moment of triumph, wherein he had all the right to say some shit about We The Champs or Being King of the World (read: Kevin Garnett), Duncan—as he has consistently, and more so as of late—acquiesces into an apparently honest expression, letting slip the profound humanity of basketball.

Basketball is the most team of sports (I’m pretty sure I’ve written that a dozen times now), and within these lines, positions and roles, there is and always has been another game happening (the most important one). That game within the game relies, fundamentally and absolutely, on the relationships and understanding built from the players involved.

It should come as no surprise that feelings, aspirations, being sensitive to others needs and desires play a critical role in the formulation of a basketball team. After all, they mean a lot to our day-to-day lives and the narrative we impose on them. They—along with ego, forgiveness, joy, heartbreak and the like—are a necessary part of navigating the world, and being, you know, human.

Yet yesterday, thanks to Tim Duncan, I discovered—maybe re-remembered—yet another layer of this sport that I have loved for so long. Every facet of humanity has a place and, more importantly, belongs out there on the court—even forgiveness, self-forgiveness.

And so it was with an ambivalent heart that I celebrated a San Antonio victory last night.

Despite my fanatical impulses, I still feel like I managed to take this NBA season for granted—as if I hadn’t milked every possible triumph and tragedy, small or large, out of it. I had expected the Finals series to last at least six, probably seven games—I would milk another couple blog posts and few more thousand words out it.

But that wasn’t the case, and as giddy as the season began, it ended.

Here are the five things from the five games worth remembering in five years:

The Spurs Were Better Than the Heat

It seems so obvious. But all too often in our headline-driven sports world, the biggest characters dominate the narrative—even if they don’t deserve it (see: Johnny Manziel, Jimmer Fredette). Maybe this time will be different (it won’t) but I hold out for the 2014 Finals being remembered as one of the greatest demonstrations of excellence exhibited by any team ever, not the Finals were Lebron cramped, Wade showed his age, or the last run of Miami’s big three.

In the last three games, the Spurs played the kind of basketball that makes coaches wet themselves. Ball movement, team defense, ball movement, excellent shot selection, ball movement, off-ball screens, ball movement, fantastic shooting, ball movement.

They passed so much, it made heads spin. In last night’s stupor, I did manage one coherent thought: I will not spend the off-season disparaging the Miami Heat for their generally crappy play.

They lost their losses badly—by the margins of 15, 19, 21 and 17. Their only victory came by one possession.

In a twist of fate architected by the forces responsible for Benjamin Button, the Heat looked older, slower, and unfocused down the stretch.

Pretty much the exact opposite of Brad Pitt:

Lebron seemed to the only player who was trying—until Michael Beasley came in. Thank God for Michael Beasley, I remembered thinking.

(WHAT THE HELL! AT ONE POINT, I ACTUALLY FOUND MYSELF WONDERING IF MICHAEL BEASLEY IS THE ANSWER TO ALL THE HEAT’S PROBLEMS. THAT’S HOW BAD IT GOT, THAT WE’RE WRITING SENTENCES LIKE THAT!!)

No. The Spurs played a brand of basketball barely conceivable by a single human mind. They made honest yet another trite sports cliché: that a true team of solid players can beat one truly great player. This off-season shall remain a celebration of San Antonio.

The Duncan Shot

I’ve already waxed poetic on Tim Duncan. I could almost certainly continue for another thousand words, but instead:

(How many words are gif worth?)

Duncan was among the first to criticize his missed “bunny” shot in last year’s Finals that would have sealed the deal. Given the weight of the last eleven months, this prevails as the only Duncan shot in the Finals that matters.

The Karowning of Kawhi

At the start of the month, Greg Popovich told everyone, Kawhi Leonard was the “future of the Spurs.” Pop failed mention, however, that “the future” meant two weeks from now.

Heralded now and for the rest of his life as the youngest NBA Finals MVP ever, Kawhi took over games four, five and six. No doubt, Kawhi led the Spurs team, and he did it entirely in deed, averaging 23.6 points, 7 rebounds and 2 steals on a ridiculous 69% shooting over the least three games. In that stretch he also lead the team in both minutes played (112) and +/1 (+59)—an incredibly difficult feat.

More impressive than Leonard’s obvious statistical effort was his abrupt lack of deference. It was as if he suddenly flipped the switch for a well-spring of confidence. On two-on-ones (which he earned fairly often post-steals), instead of passing the rock up, or worse, hesitating, Kawhi would determinedly put his head down around the free throw line and take it to whoever happened to be in his way—if there was anyone there at all:

His hand checking defense is almost as fun to watch:

Then there was this…

I was holding my six month old son when Sugar K Leonard happened all over that put-back. It may have been the metric ton of baby food he just ate, but he literally shit his pants.

Another angle (including Duncan’s reaction—only adding to the list of reasons he’d be fun to play with):

Ultimately, the question with Kawhi going forward will be what kind of leader will he become?

In his first two NBA seasons, even in his last three games, he didn’t have to be the vocal leader. With the triumvirate of mentors and Pop at the helm, he only had to bring the passion, meet their words with play (which is, alone, an incredible feat for anyone, much less a 22 year old).

Sugar K clearly has the skill set, but the person he chooses to be on the basketball court will most likely be the biggest self-determinant to his hoops success. Will he continue the tradition of the quiet and sensitive Duncan? Will something snap in the depths of his psyche that turns him into Gary Payton? What happens if, somehow beyond reason, Kawhi changes teams, changes coaches?

Fortunately with Pop on the side line, K’s got quiet the safety net to experiment with.

Old man got game, not old man game

I’ve written a lot about old man game. I have a special affinity for old man game. That’s because I have never played near the rim, much less above it, so I only know how to play with old man game.

My fault in talking about NBA practitioners of Old Man Game is that I often cheer on their methods, forgetting entirely that those players didn’t come into the NBA ancient. Fortunately, a couple almost-40-somethings wore their Marty McFlies and reminded the world that the 90s were not that long ago. I swear.

First there was Ray #Jesussaves Allen:

Then Manu turning back the clock—clearly inspired by fellow Argentine Lionel Messi’s goal earlier that day:

Then again there’s Duncan. He’s 38. And I’ve already written a novella about him in the last month.

Zero to hero: A Spurs Rite of Passage

In the 2013 Finals before the Heat went nuts, I thought the Spurs had found the future big three in Kawhi Leonard, Gary Neal, and Danny Green. Silly me.

Neal parlayed a pretty okay playoff run into a $3.25 million check signed the Milwaukee Bucks. Green returned to Earth and saw his production and minutes decrease (which is sort of a non-sequitur for the Spurs).

Entering the off-season as a free agent, Mills is poised to follow in Neal’s footsteps.

  2013 Finals Neal: 9.4 p, 0.9 a, 2.4 r, 47% 3pt, 41% fg

          2014 Finals Mills: 10.2 p, 1.6 a, 1.4 r, 57% 3pt, 54% fg

Make it rain, Patty. Make it rain.

Since Tony Parker was sidelined for 14 games and Mills stepped into the starting lineup, all he did was play out of his mind.

In a blind player comparison for these Finals:*

Player A: 24.2 p, 3.8 a, 3.3 r, 57% 3pt, 54% fg

Player B: 15.9 p, 2.7 a, 4 r, 34% 3pt, 44% fg

Player C: 18.4 p, 4.7 a, 0.4 r, 42% 3pt, 48% fg

Player D: 18.1 p, 5.5 a, 3.8 r, 42% 3pt, 50% fg

*per 36 minutes

Can you guess which one is Patty Mills? In order: Patty, Dwyane Wade, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili.

By all accounts, Mills seems to be a pretty funny Aussie, too, so he’ll probably end up sticking with the Spurs. Let’s hope so.

 

Jesus Montero is back and agility drills cannot save you

Jesus Montero is back in a Mariner’s uniform.

If you are anything like me then you had already more or less forgotten about Montero’s existence, save in those few moments where you chuckle to yourself whilst wondering if he could eat an entire lasagna and still find time to take some steroids.

The answer is yes motherfuckers and Jesus is back to show you just how effective he can be. Maybe.

A once prized prospect, Jesus Montero’s first season with the Mariners was bad(ish) but bad in a pretty forgivable, lets-wait-and-see sort of way that inspired people to hope for progress and made said progress seem inevitable in the same way as say, getting fat when you’re older. This expectation was framed by the narrative that accompanied Montero. Basically, his ceiling was fixed in the minds of those who had heard the scouting reports and saw the minor league production. His performance was then characterized as a low to medium baseline from which we expected Montero to steadily ascend and grow into the right-handed masher he was all but assured to be when poring through the scouting reports documenting his performance in the Yankees’ farm system.

Little did we know that those cheese eating fucks over in New York likely doctored those reports, wrote his SAT for him, proposed to his nonexistent wife for him, and genuinely disguised his all-up shittiness in every facet of his life for the sake of return value in the form of Michael Pineda who (haha) has ended up being fuck-awful (and a pretty bad/ineffective cheater) as well.

To add insult to injury and to build on the inevitability of getting-fat-whilst-aging comparison I lobbed to myself in the prior paragraph; Jesus went ahead and made a literalist out of me this year by showing up to spring training having eaten a swimming pool of sour cream and borrowed Guy Fieri’s thyroid glands. He got fat.

Hyperbole aside, he was more or less unapologetic for his mockery of the term “athlete,” saying straightaway that he had done figuratively nothing but eat all offseason.

To be entirely honest, Montero can totally be fat and probably still play baseball. Having watched Montero pretend to be a catcher and then subsequently mime around first base for a few months, it is clear to even the most aggressively casual observer that Montero cannot play any position on a baseball field. Note here that when I say “casual observer” I am not even referring to the observations of a non-baseball-fan. That degree of casualness does not convey the hyperbolic message for which I am striving. When I say “casual observer,” think instead of your hypothetical Grandma, having recently immigrated from Serbia or some such place and having never even seen baseball before watching Montero play baseball on a satellite TV over a poor signal out of the corner of her eye while you try to teach her how to text with her new iPhone at the same time.

The dumbed down message is: it is abundantly clear that Jesus Montero will never play in the field. He is a DH and that is all he will ever hope to be. The thought process that leads people to occasionally believe that any rube with 7+ fingers can play first base has been proven incorrect.

Jesus Montero committed 9 errors in 59 games at first base down in AAA Tacoma. This number looks pretty bad on the surface. It looks worse when one considers that 1st basemen will typically only get an error assigned to them if they fuck up in an extremely egregious, obvious, and costly way. Often times a catchable throw across the diamond that the 1st baseman cannot pick will simply result in an error for the poor guy making the throw—even if everybody in the stands, having watched major league baseball or even minor league baseball once or twice knows that a 1st baseman should catch any throw that he can get his glove to. It is pretty much his only job.

The resulting logic suggests then that if Montero was assigned 9 errors in 59 games then it is fairly safe to assume that he was responsible for even more buttfuckery on defense that simply didn’t get charged to him and statistically qualified as his own personal little error—even though everyone watching, scorer included, was likely aware that, similar to 9/11, it was all Jesus’ fault.

So Jesus Montero is a DH and a DH he will always be. As of right now—despite my obvious misgivings regarding Jesus Montero, the player—I prefer seeing his name slotted into the lineup against left-handed pitching than say, Willie Bloomquist. While I appreciate that Willie has been less than completely useless in his starts this year that does not change the reality that an offense featuring Bloomquist as either a 1st baseman or DH is likely to be an offense that is terrible. While I have pretty much zero confidence in Montero as a player or human being, the guy at the very least has some power, which is something our current roster lacks in pretty much any capacity. The Mariners can do worse than rolling out Montero against lefties. They already have done worse.

So take heart in low expectations my morbidly-obese-but-working-slowly-towards-being-just-chubby friend—you can’t possibly disappoint us more than you already have! And to you Mariners’ fans: take heart in the weird optimism that comes with the thought that Jesus can’t possibly get any worse than last year (can he?) and therefore he really has nowhere to go but up!

Optimism reigns supreme in Mariners’ town.

#BREAKING: SOLANGE KNOWLES FURIOUS THAT SOME PEOPLE THINK HER NAME RHYMES WITH “MERINGUE”

According to an anonymous source, Solange Knowles, professional celebrity and sister of talented family member Beyonce Knowles, played sports in High School thusly qualifying her as a subject for breaking news stories on a sports blog.

Having buried the lead, Solange’s recent outburst with her talented family member’s “boo,” Jay-Z was reportedly due to a misunderstanding in regards to the pronunciation of “Solange.”

“The name Solange is not exactly intuitive to pronounce, nor am I even sure it’s a name at all,” Mr. Z likely said in a recent press conference, “there is literally no precedent I can think of that makes that a name. Was her grandma named Solange? Who named her then? How am I supposed to know how to pronounce a name if the letters comprising it look like a schizophrenixzplaying Bananagrams?”

Trying to make a good impression, Mr. Z pronounced the name to the best of his abilities—assuming that the name rhymed with popular pie-ingredient-thing: “meringue.”

“I don’t know why her parents named her ‘Solange’ but I am familiar with lemon meringue pie. Seemed to be a perfect fit,” Jay-Z reasoned while wiping his ass with a copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’ as Leonardo DiCaprio snorted a massive line of coke off of Mr. Z’s hardcover version in the shower.

“Don’t know why she got so upset being tangentially related to a delicious dessert. Makes me wonder if this girl has ever even been to a fucking Marie Callender’s before. Fascist”

Relations between the two remain strained.

Mariners draft profiles: Alex Jackson and Garreth Morgan

So the Mariners went ahead and drafted another catcher. I know what you must be thinking: “But wait! The Mariners already have a highly drafted catcher playing for them RIGHT NOW and he was the only one of several first round catchers the Mariners have taken in years passed to pan out and even still, he is not playing particularly well and our opinion of him is inflated by solid defense and the reality that his only tool at his disposal just so happens to be the flashiest offensive tool a player can have, even if it hasn’t really shown itself in months as he is basically a guess hitter still who can only run into pitches like a somewhat more lithe and certainly more Italian iteration of Paul Bunyan.”

Whoa! Watch the run-on sentences, reader. As you do so, listen to me preach.

Alex Jackson is a boom-or-bust prospect. The excitement for him comes from his bat, which profiles as plus in the majors, with most of that value and projection coming from his 60 grade power which has a chance to grade higher should he develop as many anticipate he will.

Jackson stands at 6’3” and weighs in officially at 220lbs though some scouts claim that number is actually a bit low. He is athletic but not particularly fleet of foot and most likely profiles as a slightly-above average outfield defender with slightly below-average range due principally to an excellent arm which undoubtedly comes as no surprise given his background as a High School catcher (and a fairly well-regarded one).

Watching some brief highlight tapes of Jackson are clearly misleading—as highlights are a very honest and open skewing of a player’s median talent level being a compilation of things that player has done well, looped together to erect the fairly flimsy façade that this is how that player performs all the time.

That being said, there are some pretty damn impressive highlights. Straight away it is easy to notice why scouts fell in love with Jackson’s bat. The only hiccup that I could foresee is in regards to a timing mechanism that may cause some issues during slumps. Essentially I see a guy who will likely be a timing hitter, and being such will find himself prone to occasional slumps when his slightly-complex hitting mechanism “falls out of alignment” so to speak. Though, as these sorts of hitters tend to be, the hot streaks will likely balance out the former cold ones, provided his power grades out to its expected levels and, with his frame, work ethic and general bat-to-ball skills I expect that it should.

All-up, I am very impressed and pleased that Jackson fell to the Mariners as are most scouts in the baseball world. It seems the Mariners have fallen into a situation where they have added a player who will likely become almost immediately the top prospect in our organization while simultaneously filling a need that they have sought in vain for a few years now: a true power hitting corner outfielder. Note that when I say corner outfielder I actually MEAN a corner outfielder and not some 40-something first baseman that is being trotted out there for a lark, providing little with the bat and mitigating that production completely with the glove (or lack thereof) *cough* Ibanez *cough.*

On to the next, Minnestora to the Netherlands, Caravans, getting cheddah mannnnn. Round the world in a day, up in LA, Oklahoma, Dallas, Kansas City to the Bay!

The Mariners second round pick in the 2014 draft will undoubtedly have fans salivating over his potential. Listen to this one scout’s ridiculous and probably lazy but still pretty awesome and optimism-inspiring scouting comparison for Mr. Garreth Morgan:

“He has Edwin Encarnacion’s power and body with Jose Bautista’s outfield tools,” said one veteran scout. “Gareth is unlike any Canadian player I can think of. He has Justin Morneau’s power from right side.

“But Gareth is a better athlete. Justin was a catcher than couldn’t catch, Michael Saunders was a really good outfielder, Gareth has way more power than Saunders. Brett Lawrie, doesn’t have that kind of power. Joey Votto didn’t have his power, he’s more of a gap hitter.”

The fuck.

According to the paranoid schizophrenic Canadian interviewed here, Morgan projects to be probably the best player in the MLB. That is obviously unlikely. That being said, to warrant anything even resembling these glowing comparisons merits a second look. Morgan appears to be in a remarkably similar mold to the Mariners’ first round pick Jackson insofar as he is a young player with extremely high upside.

Where Morgan diverges curiously is in the competition he faced.

As a member of the Canadian Junior National team, Morgan faced players who were on their way to the MLB, and in facing those players he had the opportunity to let the bat play against pitchers who were throwing closer to the 90-92MPH range than the 82-84MPH range that most high school-aged players face on a daily basis. Additionally, he has ample experience using a wooden bat—which does nothing but enhance the perception of him as a legitimate threat in the middle of the order. His power is real, his power is impressive, and further his power is not inflated by an aluminum bat.

What excites me the most about the first 2 picks of this draft is the3 fact that Z has finally determined that we don’t need guys to simply rush through the system to the majors. It has been the MO of the Mariners for the past few years to go for guys with higher floor and somewhat lower ceilings for the sake of quick, safe production at the major league level. What we have discovered with these picks is that there is no such thing as a safe bet when drafting and evaluating baseball talent from college. If there are no safe bets, and everything is a gamble, does it not make more sense to invest those gambles in players with ceilings comparable to Major League stars? If you have 5 draft picks, would you rather draft 5 guys who each have a 20% chance to become average major league regulars, or draft 5 guys who each have a 5% chance of becoming legitimate stars? Average grows on trees in baseball. Average trees. The Mariners organization has had a whole motherfucking grove of average trees cultivating in Tacoma and the fruits of said trees have been decidedly average, which isn’t surprising, as that is the function of the average tree.

Playoff teams are differentiated by superstar performers. Do you think the A’s don’t have superstars on their roster? Josh Donaldson is worth 3 WAR and we aren’t even halfway through the season.  When I hear a guy has high upside but is high risk, I am happy. Every single one of these guys that teams draft is high risk insofar as the risk is that they do not become a productive major leaguer. The fact that all of these low-floor low-ceiling guys make it to the big leagues quickly only to be terrible is evidence as to the fact that the “draft safe” strategy is not a good one. AAAA players are worthless. AAAA is not even a league that exists.

Who cares if a guy never makes it to the majors or if a guy makes it to the majors only to be useless when he gets there? Neither of them are helping you win. In fact, the second guy in that scenario might even hinder your opportunities to win actively.

Anyway, regardless of your opinions of the Mariners, they are sitting a few games above .500 right now and just added two potential impact bats to develop in their hopefully-soon-to-be-less depleted farm system. Legitimate reasons exist to get excited about this club, which is more than we have been able to say in quite some time. Glide with the thermal effervescence of hope and progress and drink your weight in hopskip when you later come crashing into the volcano of this team’s regression.

 

 

#BREAKING: ADAM SILVER FIXES GAME ONE OF NBA FINALS, INDUCES CRAMPGATE

Sources working in the Samsung Galaxy S5 maintenance department of the AT&T Center recently revealed that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was single-handedly responsible for the suspiciously high temperature on court for game one of the NBA Finals.

The conditions resulted in Lebron James’ inability to finish the game due to cramps, and the subsequent stupid people party on Twitter (as per the norm). #crampgate

Widely lauded for his recent swift and decisive action against raging racist team owners, an apparently half-naked Silver was found in one of the facility’s air vents in possession of a monkey wrench and “an unnatural look in his eye.”

Reportedly, Silver was only discovered after he had banged away the entire bass line to Katy Perry and Juicy J’s “Dark Horse.”

Upon being discovered, Silver screamed “Gotcha motherfuckers!” and sprinted off muttering something about cocktails with Bill Belichick and the Chinese Minister of Sports…