Tag Archives: Seattle

2015 NBA Playoff Preview: Eastern Conference, Round 1

Listen. Listen. Listen. That’s how I’ve been taught to get people’s attention—just repeating the word listen. Are you listening?

It’s been a while since I’ve written basketball things, but, like, it’s NBA basketball season 2.0, the never-ending, highlight-manufacturing, circus show that ends the never-ending, highlight-manufacturing, circus show that is the NBA season in a burning blaze of glory. And I should have plenty in the tank so to speak, since I haven’t exactly availed of the aforementioned idiomatic tank in a veritable long ass time.

Atlanta Hawks (1) v. Brooklyn Nets (8)

Alright, so Kyle Korver narrowly missed being the only dude ever to make the 90-50-50 club (with a paltry 89.8 FT%, 49.2 3PT%, 48.7 FG%), but let’s be honest and admit that back in November, this was what we, the basketball elite, and Hawks fans from Macedonia to Decatur were positive was going to be the most memorable thing the Hawks did this year.

Yet somehow Coach Mike Budenholzer has orchestrated a magical season, turning a watery (pretty muddy water at that) lineup into a fine, 60-win vintage with notes of juniper berry that finish with savory, peppery undertones (read: Coach Bud is Jesus, which makes Greg Popovich God). Four of the starters made the All-Star game, only the seventh time in the history of the NBA. Collectively, they balance the 10th best offense that assists the second highest total in the NBA with the 5th best defense—all without anyone averaging more than 17 points or 33 minutes per game (both: Paul Millsap).

The Hawks have given us shades of the Spurs-East, and at times have been the most entertaining team to watch in the NBA (sorry I’m not sorry, Steve Kerr). This has been in large part due to the revelation Al Horford has been, putting up numbers not unlike The Big Fundamental Tim Duncan, himself.

               Player A: 18.0p, 8.4r, 3.8a, 1.5b, 53.8fg%, 21.4 PER, 8.7 WS

               Player B: 17.3p, 11.4r, 3.7a, 2.4b, 51.2fg%, 22.6 PER, 9.6 WS

Hold the suspense. Horford is Player A. Let’s keep in mind, Horford played only 29 games last season and 11 games two seasons before that.

Lastly, in your NBA playoff bacchanalia that I’ve been assured other people do as well and is a perfectly normal ass thing to do in celebration of the greatest sports event ever, don’t’ forget to pour one out for Thabo.

PREDICTION: Give me the broom. Give me the broom. *sung to Biggie’s “Give Me the Loot.” Hawks sweep.

Toronto Raptors (4) v. Washington Wizards (5)

This will be the second most intriguing matchup in the East. 2 things to watch out for besides the backcourt battle:

  1. Toronto GM Masai Ujiri launching another f-bomb in a pre-playoff game hype train spinning off a geopolitical beef with Paul Pierce that may or may not include POTUS, launch codes, and chants of Buck the FlueJays till infinite.
  2. What banal and innocuous hygiene tool will DRAKE! turn into one of the most brilliant marketing schemes of the year? What could possibly be better than lint rollers? Floss? Toenail clippers (wait, Steve Ballmer, did we just stumble into something together?!)? Hair curlers? Those tiny paper cups that fancy people keep in a dispenser for rinsing mouthwash? Indentured servants? Lest we forget, since DRAKE! officially partnered with the Raptors organization as “Trill Ass Global Skrilla Ambassador” or T.A.G.S.A., they have gone from a 34-win team that hadn’t made the playoffs in 5 years to one of the best teams in the shitty Eastern Conference to get bounced in the first round.

PREDICTION: Toronto will make it to the second round for the first time since 2001 and for only their second time in franchise history. It will take all 7 games, a whole goddamn country’s sheer force of will, and a Jimmy Brooks type effort.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers (2) v. Boston Celtics (7)

Kyrie Irving has never played in a playoff game before. Neither has Kevin Love. The Celtics are surging. Brad Stevens is a wiz. All true statements. There’s also this:

Oof, harumph, and bazinga. Lebron James in the playoffs has averaged 28.0p, 6.4a, 8.4r on a crazy 48.2 fg% in an inhuman 42.7 playoff minutes per game. 2013 Finals, Game 6:

2008 First Round, Game 1 (LBJ first career playoff game):

2013 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 7:

2013 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 1:

2009 Eastern Conference Finals, Game 2:

2014 Finals:

He may just eat your babies:

PREDICTION: Cavs in 5.

 

Chicago Bulls (3) v. Milwaukee Bucks (6)

This matchup is super duper fun times for basketball wonks. The Bulls find themselves in a rare position where they’re facing a statistically superior defense come playoff time (although marginally so)—97.4 pts Bucks allowed per game v. 97.8 Bulls allow. Oddly, the Bucks score precisely the amount of points the Bulls allow—97.8. Jason Kidd has turned this band of long-armed avatars into the 8th best defense in the league with the most steals per game (9.6), all while sharing the ball at the 7th best clip with 23.6 assists per game. Unfortunately, the hustle J Kidd has inculcated into his young shapeshifters come at the cost of rebounds. They rank 24th in the rebounds while the Bulls tally the 3rd best rebounding rate in the NBA. Have I mentioned the Bucks height yet though? The starters come in averaging 6’9”, of which they’ll need every inch to corral Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, while staving off a deep and talented Bulls front court. The major storyline for the Bulls: emergence and resurgence.

Pau Gasol playing like it’s 2005, bumping Lil Wayne on his 512 GB iPod Shuffle on the way to a cool 18.5p on an alarming 49.5 fg% and even more alarming 46.2 3pt%—oh yeah, and there’s the career high in rebounding (11.8).

Nikola Mirotic making the case for Rookie of the Year and James (Harden) Beard Award honors averaging 20.8p, 7.6r on 44.1 fg% in just 30.8 mpg in March.

Jimmy Butler emerging as a go to offensive player in addition to the nightly guard-the-best-perimiter-player role he’s so dutifully filled the last few years; in addition to resurging this past month, following a few weeks of a bona fide injury scare.

Taj Gibson also coming back from injury in the last month to put up solid double-double-esque numbers.

Joakim Noah finally moving the floor like the 20something he is, running the floor, getting those assist numbers up from 3.5 in January to 7.2 in March.

Derrick Rose suiting up at all.

PREDICTION: Jason Kidd will find a way to get fined sans spilling drinks (though he’ll undoubtedly think about it), and it’ll be the most entertaining defensive slugfest you’ve ever seen. Bulls in 6

 

Doodads and Knickknacks

 

MVP for Lebron

Lebron James is a phenomenal basketball player and deserves the MVP award.

From a statistical standpoint, he scores more than Steph Curry but less than Harden. He assists more than Harden, but less than Curry. He outrebounds them all. He has the highest field goal percentage on the highest attempts. He is without a doubt the best defender of the group.

Then there’s the how-valuable-is-he-to-the-team wrinkle that gives blowhards like Colin Cowherd the leeway to say stupid shit on airwaves like Russell Westbrook is the second coming of Shaft and White Jesus.

But ultimately, I think it comes down to this: the Cavs we’re looking at now didn’t exist 12 months ago. The coach is new. Two of the three best players are new, and only four players remain from last season’s roster. Whereas the Golden State Warriors are effectively the same team. Even the Houston Rockets’ continued core brain trust of Kevin McHale, James Harden, Dwight Howard and those three other dudes that were also on the roster last season positively impacted this season’s record. If continuity establishes trust, which is the bedrock of the game within the game, the turnover and new environments must be considered. That James could perform comparably to Curry and Harden in brand new (old) conditions, points to his deservingness.

I tried to start this section with something like “Stephen Curry and James Harden have had prodigious years…” I really did try, and they totally have. But fuck that. I get it. Nobody likes to see the same person win everything for forever. But the shear amount of articles I get bombarded with about the closeness of this MVP race that don’t actually go into the argument for Lebron James is an insult. We only get Lebron for like another 5 years. Maybe. He deserves all of it. Everything.

Pitchforks for Michael Jordan

I had the good fortune of stumbling onto the below beauty of a quote from the G.O.A.T., His Royal Airness Michael Jordan. In a 2010 interview with CNBC, Jordan prophesized, “Ultimately, if you can say that I’m a bad owner and we’re winning championships, I can live with that. But if we’re not making the playoffs and we’re spending and losing money, then I have to look in the mirror and say maybe I’m not taking the necessary steps to doing what it takes to run an organization.” If by some miracle, MJ ever happened upon this paragraph (he won’t), I want to maintain a semblance of respect and dignity (a first), so I won’t say the thing I really want to say (also a first). I wouldn’t venture to say eat crow, but maybe the lackluster performance as owner is having disastrous effects on the legacy of MJ? Pish posh and thimbles and stuff. We love you anyway, you gambling, self-aggrandizing, conceited, arrogant, bald, beautiful old-ladykiller, you.

Bitterness and Glee Reign, Man

Last night, Shawn Kemp hosted a party in celebration of the Thunder missing the playoffs. It was amazing. Or at least, I think it was. I have kids and was building a bunk bed from IKEA while everyone was getting turnt at Neumos. Thank god for Twitter:

A Tale of Two Videos: Tony Stewart & Ray Rice

Tony Stewart will not face charges on the murder, the vehicular homicide or the accidental death of Kevin Ward, Jr.

I’ve lost all hope in humanity.

The American justice system has failed yet again. I can only surmise Eric Holder’s recently announced resignation comes as a result of the inaction by officials to hold yet another a popular white “athlete” accountable for his crimes (see: Duke Lacrosse team, Oscar Pistorius, baseball players).

 »«

Two weeks ago, the last apparent last bastion of the fourth estate TMZ released a video of Ray Rice shamelessly knocking out his then-fiancé Janay Palmer.

Once revered as maybe the top running back in the world, Rice’s career as it stands appears unredeemable. The Baltimore Ravens terminated Rice’s contract, and the NFL suspended him indefinitely. The NFL Players Association has since appealed on his behalf, sighting tired (but unfortunately, most likely true) slippery slope, two punishments for one crime arguments.

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On August 9th in upstate New York a 43-year old man driving a 1400 pound vehicle at a speeds of nearly 140 miles per hour hit a 20-year man—a boy really. The young man with a long, bright future ahead of him died, almost immediately. It was caught on tape.

One would hope—given the above circumstances—that the full weight of the law and public reaction would fall on the culprit. One would imagine that said culprit would be collapse under the pressure, a charged and convicted criminal as the world celebrates the triumph of justice.

 »«

So here we are. The NFL is the midst of a once-in-a-generation scandal. Employees are answering to the former Director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (the goddamn Director of the F-B-goddamn-I!), turning over communications, cataloging steps taken and not taken in an investigation completed or not completed. Even Commissioner Roger Goodell—the shoot-first sheriff, self-proclaimed judge and jury of the NFL when he ascended to power—finds himself in the unusual position of target practice.

Rice is at fault, and the NFL and Goodell screwed everything to hell.

«»

There is a video that shows Ward’s murder. It wasn’t shown on ESPN or your local news, because it’s a video of someone dying (as if all that war footage of rockets firing and landing on nightly network news weren’t). Watch it here—if you can bear it.

The 43-year old man—Stewart, let’s be painfully clear—is free. He woke up this morning to a loving family, doting fans, a dedicated racing team and a job that he loves.

Ward will never get a chance to realize the NASCAR dreams Stewart shamelessly tried preserved in his all-too-early return to the track.

But more than that, Ward will never get to find and marry the love of his life, to swell with pride as he watches his children stumble and get back up, to grow old and see the world change. Ward will never get to turn the ignition or choke the throttle of his beat up no. 13, joke around with his team or get angry at his opponents, relish in victory or rise again from a loss.

Ward graduated from high school two years ago. Two years ago. And will remain fixed in his family’s memory an eternal 20-year old.

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The institution of the NFL has been turned inside out—and rightfully so—for countless reasons. Among these include: the culture of violence that has been absorbed by the players’ family members for years, the countless players facing even more countless charges of violent crimes and the apparent cover-up (or shameful ineptitude, if you’re an optimist) of the Rice incident—only the most recent indication of the NFL’s unspoken mandate to “protect the shield.”

Despite all this, last Sunday came and went. Hundreds of thousands of fans across the country flocked to their football meccas and millions tuned in at home. Billions of dollars were made in salary and advertising revenue. The testament of sport.

It would be pretentious, and in many ways wrong, to call for a boycott of the NFL—and not just because it would never happen. After all, most football players are by-and-large good people (I think) who understand that they’re not actually allowed to pulverize other people off the field.

I would hope that recent events have disrupted fandom—at least for a blip—causing unease and skepticism. There has been some reporting on this, but not nearly enough.

Football is good. Ray Rice is bad. And the NFL fucked up.

End scene.

«»

Ray Rice knocked someone unconscious—his partner nonetheless. He may never face judge or a jury, but he is being punished—by the league he belonged to, the team he was a part of and the American public at large.

Tony Stewart Killed a person. Where’s the indignation? Why hasn’t ESPN rushed to Ward’s aide with hours of outraged Olbermanns and Wilbons?

When we were talking about Ward’s death—for that brief two week period that quickly was swept under the rug the moment Stewart gloriously returned to the race track to bravely not lose his position in the Sprint cup race—we seemed to shy away from what actually happened. Our headlines never used the words like “killed” or “fatally struck.” Instead it was an unfortunate accident that happened to an unfortunately young person.

“…an on-track accident that left 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr. dead.”

“…he was involved in an incident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.”

“Kevin Ward Jr.’s death…”

“A sprint car racing incident involving NASCAR driver Tony Stewart left another driver with fatal injuries…”

It’s no wonder that Stewart got away with murder. Our verbs hid him from the truth of it. I don’t know yet if that was for his sake or ours. Both are infuriating reasons.

Accidents and death are part of the machismo of racing. I get it. But Ward didn’t die in an accident. He died after an accident—when Stewart’s right front tire clipped Ward, throwing him in the air like a rag doll. As for machismo, the NFL certainly doesn’t lack in it, and they’ve still managed to hold individuals to a modicum of accountability—no matter how disjointed and backwards-ass the path is to get there.

Stewart Killed a person. It’s on tape. I’m still waiting for the Fury of God’s Own Thunder.

The Mariners, luck and overcoming adversity

So here we are.

Coming into the season, if you were to tell me that the Mariners would be a mere half game back from the Tigers in the Wild Card spot in September, I would have likely told you to politely go fuck yourself. That being said, now that the Mariners are in this situation, expectations have skyrocketed and the whole “at least we were competitive” argument doesn’t work for me anymore.

This Mariners team is good. Over the course of a season, many things can go right and many things can go wrong. Baseball mitigates some of this statistical chaos by virtue of having 162 games a season and with it, pretty enormous sample sizes. Despite this, there is a luck factor that inevitably worms its way into any conversation regarding professional sports and the Mariners are not exempt from this motif. Roenis Elias has been far better than anyone could have predicted as an untested rookie making his first starts above AA to begin the season. Chris Young has been astronomically better than his status as a last-ditch reclamation project would have indicated at the year’s beginning (though of late some chinks in the armor have revealed themselves). Both of these circumstances can be portrayed by nay-sayers as being instances of “luck” insofar as players wildly exceeded what would have been tepid expectations from even the most optimistic of fans.

Yet, cherry-picking feel-good stories as a means to discredit a ballclub that has been, if not play-off caliber then at least something approaching it, is fucking whack. There have been far more disappointments for the Mariners this year then there have been surprise contributors. At the beginning of Spring Training, we were looking at having Taijuan Walker and James Paxton in the rotation at year’s beginning. Taijuan found himself hurt at the beginning of camp and struggled to regain his form following an extended absence. James Paxton began the season with the club only to injure himself for the vast majority of the season following a dick-tickling display of early-season dominance.

While untested—a guy with Taijuan’s stuff could have undoubtedly made this team better. Recent history shows that untested pitching prospects with great stuff, while not always measuring up to their full potential, trend towards being at least serviceable guys which, when following proven veterans Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma in the rotation is certainly enough to assemble a solid rotation.

Paxton, on the other hand, has picked up right where he left off at the beginning of the year. The rotation this year has been a strength. I shudder to think what it could have been like with a full season of healthy James Paxton pitching the way he is presently.

On the position side of things—remember the insane MDMA-fueled optimism regarding Brad Miller at the beginning of the season? He has lost his job to a guy drafted in the 6th round labelled as a glove-only shortstop with some speed being his only serviceable offensive tool. While I think those reports regarding the aforementioned shortstop (Chris Taylor) were largely unfair, it does little to change the reality that the Mariners were forced to compensate for Brad Miller losing all semblance respectability at the plate and cratering in a way that most deemed, if not impossible, then comically unlikely.

Remember our starting centerfielder? Which one(?) you may ask if you are one of the few people who hasn’t amnesia-fucked Abraham Almonte out of your brain-cube by now. The Mariners have had several starting centerfielders this season including the aforementioned Almonte, non-prospect James Jones, Endy Chavez, Michael Saunders and now the far more reliable Austin Jackson. Of those players (disregarding recent acquisition Austin Jackson who I have coveted for years) Michael Saunders is the only player better than replacement level. Michael Saunders, who could be one of the better players on the club, has not been healthy all year and is presently mired in an extended rehab stint with no definitive date of return.

How about Cory Hart and Justin Smoak? Hart, a player who I had tabbed for a big-time resurgence has been utterly worthless. Smoak, a player who I had tabbed to remain a waste of the space he occupies continued to be himself, which is to say, bad.

The replacements? Logan Morrison who has yet to raise his head above the stagnant nether-regions of his sub-0.700 OPS and Kendrys Morales who has yet to return to the form we saw last year when he was the most consistent offensive producer on the team.

Despite all of this, the Mariners are a good team. We have had our fair share of disappointments and despite them, have felt like a team that is capable of winning games without them seeming like wild flukes. We have one of the best run differentials in the league, a bullpen that has been largely lights out and a rotation headed by two of the best pitchers in the game. We have 2 position players in the middle of the order (Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano) who are, as we stand right now, worth more than 5 WAR apiece.

Now we head to a 4 game series against the Rangers. While the Mariners are an example of a team that has exceeded expectations by responding favorably to adversity, the Rangers are an example of a projectably superior club at season’s beginning that has been subsequently sodomized by injuries and negative regression.

On paper, this is an opportunity for the Mariners to do some damage and firmly entrench ourselves as leaders in the playoff race. Now we just need to do the damn thing.

Go M’s…

…and Seahawks too. By the way HOW FUCKING SICK would it be for the Mariners to sneak their way into the playoffs during the NFL season? If I could watch the Seahawks continue their dominant run in the regular season while also getting the privilege of watching playoff baseball with something at stake…needless to say work, responsibility and human interaction may have to be reduced to beer, pizza, hot dogs and escapism. Oh and what a sweet escape it will be. I’m gonna live forever.

Mariners scoff at modern, civilized notions of consent, abduct Kendrys Morales with possibly leud intent

The ever-reluctant Kendrys Morales just got abducted by the Mariners front office. The “Hit-it-here Café” never sounded less like a place to drink beer and eat sandwiches and more like a fuck-dungeon

Kendrys Morales has recently, against his will, been bound and gagged and dragged to Safeco Field under the guise of darkness in exchange for Hard-throwing but control-challenged reliever Stephen Pryor

I am not entirely sure what to make of this exchange. Honestly, it is hard to be excited or terribly dejected about this trade. It is just about as Mariners a move as I have seen in awhile. The fact that it weirdly corresponds to a Jesus Montero promotion makes it even a tad more head-scratching, not in light of the Montero promotion itself (he will almost certainly be sent straight back down upon Morales’ arriving with the club) but in light of how I am reminded that Montero is mashing down in AAA and could actually maybe be exactly the same sort of player Kendrys will be. Whatever.

In the meantime, the Mariners have placed WFB (Willie Fucking Bloomquist) on the DL to make way for Montero. Since Chris Taylor was called up as well, there will need to be some other room made on the roster for Kendrys. I imagine we will just send Montero back down but what we could see is a Hart DFA corresponding to a situation where Lomo sees some outfield playing time which ought to be terrible.

Kendrys Morales has been worth -.9 WAR in limited action this year. This is a bad number.

We know he is a good hitter from last year where he proved that he was more or less recovered to his pre-leg-injury self (or some such approximation of that bygone state of being). He has not been good this season- though he has recently embarked on a 12 game hitting streak during which he has batted .292 with some walks and doubles thrown in for funsies. Morales has a career wRC+ of 114 so we know at least that the generalized, platonic form of Kendrys Morales is a player worth having in your lineup. That value is increased when you look at the disparity between that wRC of 114 and Cory Hart’s present wRC+ of 77. When looking to assess value in a trade or acquisition, it pays to look at the player being replaced as well as the general need of the organization. Kendrys would be a downgrade on many teams but the Mariners offense is ostensibly inferior to many teams.

The above paragraph is all well and good but my sunny outlook gets smothered and covered cumulonimbus-style when we realize that the positive picture I misleadingly portrayed earlier totally is totally cloud-metaphor’d by the admittance of Cory Hart’s career wRC+ of 115. When you compare career numbers between the two players, they are basically the same guy from an offensive standpoint, with Hart being less of a liability on the basepaths. These have been 2 solid career hitters who each have sucked mightily this year due to rust.

So basically the Mariners have made a lateral move with the expectation (read: desperate, clawing, raving, drug-addict-in-a-methadone-clinic hope against hope. Like a bigger long shot then sending the fucking ring to Mordor) that Morales has less rust to shake than Hart. The difference here is that Hart missed an entire season with injury rather than missing a few months of a season waiting for a contract during which time we can assume that Kendrys was at least able to play some sort of baseball against someone whereas I imagine Cory was just able to lift weights and shoot things down in wherever the hell he is from, which I imagine is the sort of place where one would shoot things because like holy fucking Christ have you seen the guy?)

Despite my inclination to think every move the Mariners make is a poor one—I am willing to let this one play out a bit. I have been disappointed that Hart has been unable to turn it around this year and I was never terribly disappointed with what I saw from Morales as recently as last year. Sure, he is a nightmare on the basepaths and he can’t really field a position but he was a guy who could help a team score a run or two that they might not otherwise have scored without him around. Conversely, Hart has been a black hole of suck for a while now and his prospects of improvement grow bleaker with each passing day. The word ‘bleaker’ should be eradicated from existence, it sounds like the name of my 3rd favorite muppet.

If the Mariners want a rental to help out in this contrived, ridiculous playoff-push of ours than there are certainly more costly rentals than buying low on a fairly consistent performer at a position of need for a young reliever recovering from a serious injury who is struggling in AAA.

I am sure most Mariners fans and bloggers wildly disagree with this, but I am willing to bet some of that is just based on the whole cringe-inducing notion of trading for a guy we could have potentially resigned. But if that is the case, consider this: the Mariners offered Kendrys a 3-year deal worth substantially more than he was ever offered by another team and he turned that money down to hold out and potentially waste an entire season. Kendrys really doesn’t want to be a Mariner, but the Mariners really want Kendrys. By trading for him, he has no choice in the matter. The Mariners scoff at modern notions of consent thereby ostracizing themselves from Jezebel writers nationwide. Given this paradigm, perhaps we should all reconsider our fandom?

Welcome to Seattle, come die with us Kendrys! You figuratively don’t have any choice.

Everyone Needs A Hobby

[dropcap style=”font-size: 60px; color: #9b9b9b;”] S [/dropcap] eems appropriate at this point in time, in light of a few recent victories that could be readily classified as very un-Mariners insofar as said victories were not only emphatic but, in a way, expected, to address the elephant in the room: this Mariners’ season has coincided with the invention and subsequent growth of the blog you are reading today. Luckswing may be responsible for the Mariners’ successes.

What are the things required as a winning baseball team? Good players are certainly nice. Baseball is a good place for identifying good players because the numbers over large sample sizes tend to allow for some pretty well-thought predictions as to a players’ future successes  and failures. That being said, Chris Young sort of flies in the face of that. Chris Young sort of flies in the face of everything though. The term “Flies in the face of” is an unexamined idiom. Idioms are pretty much always unexamined which is why idiomatic language pretty much never translates well between languages. They just do not make sense divorced from the cultural context that birthed them. To shatter the generalization I just made, apparently this particular idiom’s origins involve some rural-ass scenario where a hen flies in the face of whatever predator, probably some canine like the dogs we keep as pets or the foxes we wish we could keep as pets, attacks her. So basically Chris Young is waging an assault against conventional metrics and expectations fueled by sheer farm-animal-desperation and he, like the rest of this improbable team, is succeeding.

Now that we have introduced improbability and desperation into the scenario, let us subsequently introduce the creation of this blog and by doing so really obviously connote (the words obvious and connote are also indirectly competing words but fuck you) that there was a certain degree of desperation in this blog’s creation—the quiet sort of desperation that manifests itself in really boring symptoms from probably more boring causes.

Luckswing was created, in a way, out of desperation. It shouldn’t take any reader a very long time to realize that this blog is more of a hobby than a job. Jobs pay you money and are almost by definition boring. If you think your job is exciting, there is a fairly decent chance that you are a habitual abuser of anti-depressants and are rapidly accelerating towards a hell of a wake-up call or you simply haven’t worked at your job for a very long time.

Hunter S. Thompson has a quote for this scenario that I have liked for some time: “Old whores don’t giggle.” Seems simple enough given a brief, cursory look. Great job on that first glance because it is every bit as simple as it seems initially or “out of the gate,” (to further estrange this from whatever subaltern other we feel like alienating today by using more idiomatic language).

Fuck it though. Let’s dig into the aforementioned simple-ass quotation just for funsies. Sex is fun and that is probably the jump-off point Hunter is trying to construct to then jump to the second axiom “jobs are boring” and see where he gets from there. Sex is fun because the chemical response to orgasm is literally a volcanic eruption of fun-chemicals attributed to the release of the neurohormones oxytocin and prolactin as well as endogenous morphine. But that is not all that there is. Obviously this is not the case. There is a different part of people who enjoy sex because it intrinsically validates a perception that is browbeaten into young people in American society and likely several other societies as well: the idea that the subject, male or female, can attain objects of their sexual desire and in doing so simultaneously validate their own need to be desired as well. It is the exultation in possessing and being possessed. Feelings of attachment post-sex make sense because the act correlates so strongly with notions of objectification that it will usually take real, mental work to adopt the kind of loosey-goosey collegiate attitude towards sex that most people can only get or at least pretend to get once they have done it enough. But even then, this work can often only be internally justified if the sexual subject is themselves confident of their own ability to possess multiple objects and thereby require less of an attachment to just the one, in which case they are more a collector than anything and they still covet the sexual object of possession but in their case what they covet is less of a single entity and more of a state of mind whose passivity is only supported by the ability to switch into successful attainment of a unique object at any given point in time. Basically this is like the Spotify of people fucking each other and similar to Spotify once your wifi connection ends up sucking i.e. you get fat or old and can no longer possess the multifarious objects of attainment at will any longer and are forced to either A) settle down, a term that explicitly includes the uncomfortably connoted “settle” or B) die cold and alone with your better years behind you and the distinct feeling that you may have wasted whatever energy you had on something that ended up being about as frivolous as a heroin addiction except perhaps even more expensive if you managed to knock/get knocked up along the way.

Neither of these seem like good options, which is why people will struggle with notions of “want” wherein they claim to want somebody to see past their own ability to be objectified and bitch and moan and wail about how nobody perceives the real them when in reality the only “real” thing under the surface essentially is anxiety regarding the desirability of the surface. Sucks to suck, as they say.

Ignoring all of that, let’s just accept the supposition that yeah, sex is fun. If that is the case then sex as a job is inviting tedium into what should be qualified as an escape from tedium. That is essentially Hunter’s point then when he says that “Old whores don’t giggle.” Any activity when pursued for and subsequently equated to financial benefit for too long shifts from having its end as something pleasant to having its end as something we deem necessary. It becomes an act of survival and the performance of that act repetitively until elevated to the rank of “profession” becomes just a faculty or aptitude, an adaptation for capitalist survival.

Fun things become un-fun very quickly when you are forced to participate in these activities against your will for extended periods of time for fiscal compensation that is in no way related to the object, subject or product of your labor but is instead a function of whether or not you are doing whatever it is you told somebody you were going to be doing for money. Somebody thinks that what you are doing for work is worthwhile. They have to. “Worth” is even in the fucking word and worth in this context is referring to money. To then retranslate the sentence above: Someone is giving you money to do something that they think is worth money. If they are paying you to do something that they did not think was worth money, then they are either extremely generous people or clinically insane and these two possibilities are not mutually exclusive in the least.

Operating within the worth-as-fiscal-compensation paradigm it is pretty easy to see that this site, what I am doing presently, is “worthless.” Writing doesn’t intrinsically benefit anyone if your notion of benefit is restricted to those things that allow you to, as they say, “put food on the table” or “pay the bills” or whatever else. Earning money for doing something has become the human equivalent of being say, a hunter or a gatherer, except that in this case there are actually just a few entities providing the necessary elements to living such as food and shelter while the rest of us basically just wallow in our own compensatory filth. Homeless or unemployed people in this setting become sort of the equivalent of a lion with a broken leg or a really lazy vulture and basically have no place in the edifice we have constructed over time beginning with whatever fuck thought capitalism as a system was a good idea when really it was just a way to create a society that flits from distraction to distraction and constructs flimsy, lazy narratives to ascribe meaning to what is essentially a living breathing game of flappy-bird untowards death with the worst part about that ride being the fact that we evolved to realize how pointless it is and in so evolving now strive to counter that helpless feeling by assembling a meaning as to “why” we have this awareness when really all we want is a compelling reason to stick our fingers in our ears going ”LALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALALA.”

So yeah, blogging is worthless. It compounds its worthlessness by virtue of it being but one of many blogs amidst an absolute sea of un-edited unrestricted buttfuckery that plagues every deep corner of the internet—millions of people advocating their right to be heard without realizing that the cacophony of the group and the singular lack of specialness inherent to each individual entity makes their voice but one dissonant tone amidst a garbled scream that sounds like a stadium filled with teenage girls all enacting some sort of reverse-peristaltic apocalypse. Word vomit. It’s like Mean Girls, basically.

So yeah. This site was created as one of those voices amidst the cacophony-orchestra (the cacophestra?) as a means to exert some sense of voice or will or something that is pointless. If the rantings and ravings of this post haven’t made it abundantly clear how I feel on the matter there is this tidbit: participating in activities for one’s own survival are necessary but necessity is not enjoyable and necessity does not satisfy the “want” to feel as though the ever-elusive and ever-self-deluding “I” has a voice separate from its efficacy within a system of buying and selling.

The worst way to conceive of this voice is the whole “My voice matters, I am going to change the world, blah blah blah.” These are the words of deluded millionaires and their children-turned-sofa-activists who probably aren’t even 100% sure what their definition would be of “the world” and certainly do not seem conscious of the fact that the pedestal for ignored reform and change is itself a luxury inherited by being born to the royalty of the system they pretend to hate. Seems kind of shitty that “change the world” has become a cliché, but it has. The whole notion of changing the world has become one wherein it is less important that this nebulous “world” has changed but rather that the person wants it to be themselves who have changed it and thereby validate their status as a precious little snowflake for which there is none other so special and unique and just lovely.

So instead: Sports! Why not? Has there ever been anything as meaningless as opining as to the outcomes of events structured within arbitrary rule-sets for which people are paid millions of dollars to skip their formative educations and hit round things with sticks? There probably has! But that doesn’t mean that this isn’t some pretty meaningless shit we are hitting on here. This is the point. If you ever find yourself taking things too seriously or losing grasp on the meaningless expressions within life’s little hell-ride towards extinction than you do so at your own loss. You lose the joy of, “wow that orgasm sure was nice” and creep ever closer to Hunter Thompson’s hypothetical whore being dully pounded into oblivion without so much as batting an eyelid and all of those little giggles become yawns and you have turned pointless hobby into vocation into job into total bore.

So now we can make claims like, “The Mariners’ successes coincide with Luckswing being created. We are responsible for their success.” Why not? I invite all readers to come bury their heads in the sand with us. Everyone needs a hobby, right?

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.

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.

 

 

Mariners diddle mediocrity, Kyle Seager flirts with a perhaps underestimated ceiling

 

The Mariners, having recently crushed the Yankees in their own stadium for the third time in a row, have crawled back above .500, continuing the trend where they diddle with mediocrity while various players experience cavernous lows and inexplicable highs—often in such a way as to balance out the latter with the former, producing the same sort of mediocrity you see now except typically worse because, you know, Jason Bay.

The Mariners story this year was supposed to be one of change- like Barack Obama in the 2004 Presidential election, these bleeding-heart liberal fuckers just don’t know when to quit! Yet, similar but also not at all similar to Obama’s reign as supreme high sultan of the White House, the Mariners are not changed insofar as they are relying on new faces, they are changed instead by the increased production of old ones.

Utterly worthless analogies aside, much was made regarding Robinson Cano’s arrival with the Mariners this past offseason—and reasonably so. Cano came with an enormous price tag. The money Cano received to be the Mariners’ second baseman for the next 10 years was more than “go buy yourself a new car” sort of money; it more closely approximated “Sylvio Burlesconi sodomizing 15 Italian prostitutes in a pile of cocaine” sort of money.

Cano has been very good yet simultaneously disappointing since his arrival. He is without question the steadiest source of offense on the squad and far less prone to the precipitous ups and downs that plague even the more talented and productive of the Mariners’ other offensive contributors. That being said, the power numbers have yet to show up. Admittedly, this has hindered his production, as his slugging percentage is presently sitting well below his career average. Though really, anyone who thinks this is a long-term issue is a buffoon. Cano did not forget how to hit dingers out of the blue. In fact, Cano is not even a guy whose offensive game is predicated around trying to hit the ball out of the park all of the time anyway. Cano likes to spray the ball around the field. In doing so, he achieves a level of consistency that most Mariners (who commonly feature all-or-nothing approaches spurred by either the ignorance of youth or the ignorance of their coaching staff) lack.

If this sounds familiar, then you are one of about 20 people to have read my prior post from about a month ago pertaining to Kyle Seager. In this post I discussed Seager’s approach at the plate as well as his batted ball profile. Seager is a fly ball hitter who tends to pull the ball to right field—that is his greatest asset but it is also one of the reasons that his production tends to fluctuate between the frigid, Regina George-esque slump with which he entered the season and the zesty, Michelle Rodriguez-style hot streak that he has been riding ever since.

Guys who pull the ball and guys who hit the ball in the air suffer when the ball doesn’t leave the yard. These same guys tend to post below average BABIP (Batting average on balls in play) as well. Both of these trends make sense as most fly balls that do not go for dingers tend to be caught by the oft very good and in the worst case probably adequate fielders who are literally paid millions of dollars to ensure these balls do not touch the ground. Further, by pulling the ball all the time those few ground balls that these types of hitters DO hit are far more likely to be gobbled up by the shift—something that has become increasingly en-vogue in Major League Baseball since managers have apparently realized finally that you do not need to look like David Ortiz in order to pull the ball all of the goddamn time.

As I discussed earlier, Kyle Seager will get his. That has been proven over the course of two years and I am of the mind that the numbers Seager has had in the past will likely resemble the numbers he puts up in the near future, until age and injury eventually catch up to him, though those two events may exist in a place relatively far in the future.

All that being said, I think I (and other like-minded Mariners’ fans) may have been unfair to Seager in making this assumption. The Mariners have been so consistently terrible over the past few years that our appreciation for Seager has probably been greater than say, a fan of the Red Sox rooting for a similar player over a similar period of time. We have not been accustomed to good players, so when we have actually had one, we cherish him and do not demand any more than the 3.6 WAR that Seager seems readily capable of. In adopting that sort of mindset, however, we lose some of the space for hope in terms of progressing towards something even better than what we have now.

It is possible that Seager, as of right now, is simply in the midst of one of his many hot streak to which we have become accustomed. He will ride this wave of productivity like Patrick Swayze in Point Break until the wave crashes and he dies and comes back to haunt his wife like Patrick Swayze in Ghost. I can live with that progression, as the hot and cold streaks have thus far happily balanced out to an effective aggregate product. But I cannot help but wonder if there isn’t more to see here.

Seager is only 26 years old. He came out the same year Ackley did and while Ackley is commonly pegged as somebody to whom the “Breakout Candidate” tag can be fairly attached; Seager is represented as a guy who has reached his potential and will coast until decline inevitably seizes him by the balls and renders him old, wealthy and chubby with a flaccid power stroke and a struggling libido.

But why not discard this notion and instead believe that this is Seager’s breakout year. In doing so we are taking a leap of faith only insofar as Seager’s stature indicates a player whose ceiling could not possibly be that high. But hey, is that really a fair judgment to make, seeing as that same player with that same stature has been crushing dingers like these to right fields all over the league for 2 years and doing so with only about 2 years of major league experience under his belt?

I’m hardly guaranteeing that this is the case. In fact, I really doubt that it is. That being said though, why not wish for something better? It has been a long time since we have had a homegrown position player who has panned out as someone who contributes. It has been even longer since we have had a homegrown talent who has become a star. Seager is 26 years old and should only now be entering the prime of his career. He has been tearing the cover off the ball.

Who says he can’t keep it up?

Go Mariners.

#BREAKING: JUSTIN SMOAK TRYING OUT FOR TEAM THIGH-GAP

According to an anonymous source: Justin Smoak, in an effort to participate in a new movement sweeping the nation (rhymes with clanorexia) took time off from his baseball career to join team thigh-gap.

“I just want to be a thinspiration” said Smoak between mouthfuls of brown construction paper labelled ‘Quinoa’ in periwinkle crayon.

“Kids these days grow up idolizing athletes, so I figured I may as well try to appear athletic.” 

Smoak has been seen attending agility drills with fellow Seattle Mariner infielder Kyle Seager, with whom he shares a special bond. The two have reportedly been superglueing sandpaper to the inside of their thighs before running sprints as motivation.

“I figure, as a role model, it is my responsibility to set a good example for these kids” Smoak stated, voice raised over the dull whine of shredding plastic as he shoved a log of Grizz-Mint chewing tobacco into a juicer.

“It’s either that or stop dipping, and there’s no fucking way that’s gonna happen.”

Justin was later seen sobbing into a bowl of kale beneath a poster reading simply: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”

The Seattle Mariners, reclaimers of optimism

The Mariners recently decided to take 3 of 4 games from the Oakland A’s. They wrapped the series with a completely unnecessary doubleheader yesterday brought on by a situation earlier in the year where Oakland’s poverty literally leaked on to the field of play, turning it into a Swamp of Sadness-equivalent and resulting in several of the Mariners’ ponies losing the will to live, languishing in the muck adrift in their own sense of desperate apathy, the faint call to carry on muted through the mufflers of their own helplessness until they were utterly submerged.

 

Yesterday’s doubleheader played itself out in about the oddest way imaginable. The Mariners picked up a win in the first game, going to extras following a weird start by Felix Hernandez in which we didn’t appear to have any of his pitches working. Felix surrendered eleven hits and 3 runs, yet the Mariners, behind a couple well-timed dingers by team strongmen Hart and Zunino managed to make it out alive from a game where Yoervis fucking Medina was credited for the win. Oddness.

 

The second game saw a resurgent Erasmo Ramirez return briefly from AAA in order to turn in possibly his most serviceable effort of the season, going 6 innings and allowing only 2 earned runs in the process. The problem in this second game was offense, which seems to hardly be surprising when the lineup includes the corpse of Brad Miller, Willie Bloomquist, John Buck, Cole Gillespie and Stefen Romero. I understand we want righties in the lineup but you need to have quality right handed hitters for this to make sense. If I want beer but don’t have any beer I don’t start fermenting my own urine. The Mariners are fermenting their own urine. It smells like Bloomquist’s grit.

 

A big positive to come out of the 1st of these two games is James Jones’ play in center field. The guy looks infinitely superior to anybody else the Mariners have wheeled out there since Franklin Gutierrez was patrolling center. He made a fantastic diving catch in the seventh inning and made a few excellent plays in the early innings besides. His routes look rather…sober…compared to those we have become accustomed to with Abe Almonte scurrying about. To cap it all off he flashed a plus throwing arm and was able to reach base a few times as well.

 

I still have no fucking clue why McClendon went ahead and slotted him in the 2 hole for his first start in the Major Leagues, but I am willing to suspend my disbelief if the guy continues to play well because frankly, the Mariners need good defensive outfielders to man center and if he can make the tiniest bit of noise at the plate and on the base paths I think he could be a valuable addition moving forward. The tools are there, if the polish can come with it on the job, then welcome to the squad Mr. Jones.

 

The Mariners are heading home following a road trip that took them to a game above .500 where they will be taking on the Kansas City Royals who presently mirror the M’s location around the mythical .500 line. Royals fans probably expected more from their squad moving into 2014—they experienced one of their better seasons in recent memory last year and have been posturing as though gripped by a win-now mindset as evidenced by their (probably idiotic) trade of former No.1 prospect in all of baseball, Will Myers, for serviceable former Rays’ starter James Shields.

 

The trade reeked of the same desperation-spunk surrounding the Mariners’ trade for disgruntled Canadian injury-enthusiast Erik Bedard in which we gave up Adam Jones, now a perennial All-Star for the Orioles and emerged no closer to “winning now” than we had been before, with the added caveat of lacking even the “winning then” that perhaps Jones could have helped with.

 

In that sense—I feel for the Royals’ fan base as a similarly afflicted bunch. The Royals also have several home grown positional prospects-turned-regulars who have taken forever to develop and often developed into something that rested well below their perceived ceilings as prospects. Eric Hosmer never became really as cool as he seemed, Alex Gordon didn’t figure it out until he was like 26, etc.

 

I suppose both of those players are better than their Mariners’ counterparts in Smoak and Ackley, but regardless, the results have not been there with a similar organizational approach.

 

So hey Royals, throw us a bone here. We can’t both make it to the playoffs can we? And you had George Brett once! Your franchise has even won/been to the World Series before!

 

At this point, as a Mariners fan, it is cool to even be able to care still. I have seen optimism dwindle so much faster than it has this season and for the team to remain afloat at this point in time is a revelation. I look forward to going home and seeing the Mariners play baseball and I have been able to do this for more than a month. I think this is what it must feel like to be a fan of a team that is good. I like the feeling. It makes it easier to sleep at night and it saves me money on liquor.

 

Go Mariners.