It was bound to happen sooner or later: Mike Zunino had to be called up to the big leagues. The end result was imminent, yet the timing of that end result was a point of contention for pundits and fans alike. It was never about if, but always about when. That “when” hit today, as news broke this morning that the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 Draft would be making his way to Seattle to take over as the team’s starting catcher (or at least part-time starting catcher, with a nod to Kelly Shoppach).
Almost immediately, opinions on the move flooded the internet. The prevailing sentiment, naturally, is that this promotion was more of a job-saving maneuver than anything else, a way for those on the hot seat — namely, general manager Jack Zduriencik and manager Eric Wedge — to try and salvage employment at season’s end.
As fast as one could ejaculate words onto the internet, the first person of note to comment on the matter was USS Mariner’s Dave Cameron, who cited that rushing prospects to the big leagues is “what bad organizations do.” And he’s absolutely right.
Fans will recall that back in 2007, the Mariners converted former No. 5 overall pick Brandon Morrow into a relief pitcher in order to maximize his value at the big league level. The move tabled Morrow’s development as a starter and ultimately backfired. It wasn’t enough to save the jobs of general manager Bill Bavasi and his staff, and ultimately resulted in Morrow losing his job, too, as he was traded to Toronto by the team’s current regime prior to the 2010 season. Of course, we all know now that Morrow as a Blue Jay has regained his form as a starting pitcher, while the M’s remain scalded by a transaction that netted them two now-departed commodities in reliever Brandon League and minor league outfielder Johermyn Chavez.
If the rash handling of Morrow was a lesson in desperation and stupidity, the organization seems to have not heeded a great deal from the teachings of the past.
It’s evident to almost anyone that pays close attention to the M’s that the Zunino call-up is cut from the same mold as that of Brandon Morrow. The team is in a similar state of struggle as they were some six years ago, and the men relied upon to build a successful on-field product have scuffled in their ability to provide exactly that. All of this leads to a cynical smirk of a reaction to the breaking news of the moment and the resulting effect it will have on this ballclub.
Regardless of how you feel about Zunino’s worthiness as a big leaguer (you can view his minor league statistics by clicking here), there is something to be said here about Jack Zduriencik’s ability to keep his head above water despite players determined to sink him.
At the season’s outset, Zduriencik and Co. were inextricably bound to the likes of Dustin Ackley, Jesus Montero, and Justin Smoak, or so we thought. General opinion was that if this trio faltered in what was seen as a make-or-break campaign for all three individuals, Zduriencik and staff would be axed before the calendar turned to 2014.
Alas, in what could be viewed as some sort of wizardry, Zduriencik has managed to untangle himself from the Ackley/Montero/Smoak mess and somehow intertwine his future with a completely different gaggle of players, namely the likes of Nick Franklin and the aforementioned Zunino. Ackley and Montero have been jettisoned to Triple-A (where Ackley’s now hitting over .400 and Montero faces bigger issues with the looming threat of a performance-enhancing drug suspension), while Smoak has provided mediocre results before finding himself on the disabled list. No matter, however, as Franklin and Zunino have spearheaded a damn near seamless changing of the guard.
Perhaps it’s a testament to Zduriencik’s restocking of the minor league system that the organization has managed to deftly sidestep the scuffles of one set of prospects in order to propagate another. Subsequently, even though at least one of these moves (Zunino) has been viewed as a redirection of attention — like a magician performing a sleight of hand or a department store photographer squeaking a stuffed animal to induce a child’s laughter, some might even call this a “distraction” — it won’t matter down the road if a) this new crop of young players succeeds, and b) the team wins, slash, shows visible signs of improvement.
Ultimately, the future of this organization and its key staff members comes down to an Al Davis quote: “Just win, baby.” If the Mariners, along with their newest contributors, can somehow find a way to scratch and claw their way back to relevance in the coming weeks, it won’t matter what we think of Jack Zduriencik right now. He and his staff may in fact do what many have thought to be impossible in the wake of seemingly foolhardy moves and the foibles of the past: they might just save their asses.
Filed under: Mariners
You know those “Jesus is _____” bumper stickers? Every time I see one of those, I want to walk up with a pen and write “only hitting .203″ on the blank line. Sure, the vehicle’s owner might not get nor appreciate the joke, but hey, don’t buy a fill-in-the-blank bumper sticker next time.
In fact, you could make all sorts of “Jesus is” wisecracks when it comes to Mariners catcher Jesus Montero. Jesus is 0-for-15 in throwing out stealing base runners. Jesus is unable to hit a curveball. Or how about this one: Jesus is destined for Triple-A. It’s that last “Jesus is” that might be most concerning. But based on current circumstances, it should become the team’s reality.
Montero has been abysmal both offensively and defensively in 2013. He hasn’t hit for average or for power, and he hasn’t even been close to adequate behind the plate. As alluded to earlier, Montero has yet to nab a base-stealer in 15 tries and has often looked stiff and uncomfortable receiving pitches. Were he hitting .300 with a handful of home runs, no one would care that the 23-year-old was providing less-than-serviceable defense. But as the owner of a .203/.250/.324 slash line, Montero certainly isn’t atoning for his shortcomings in the field right now.
Recently, it’s been rumored that manager Eric Wedge has been pressured from the organization’s front office to play Montero on a more frequent basis. Montero has received (note: not earned) a slight bump in playing time, taking about two-thirds of the starts to backup Kelly Shoppach’s one-third. Even with increased opportunity, however, the second-year big leaguer has yet to deliver. In his past 10 games, the ex-Yankee is performing no more remarkably than he was at the season’s outset, compiling a .194 batting average along the way (though, in fairness, he has belted his only two home runs of the year in that span). Nevertheless, settling in around the Mendoza Line does not a major leaguer make. Montero doesn’t necessarily have to hit for both average AND power (it’d be nice, though), but he can’t get by with a sub-.200 line.
Aside from his hitting struggles, where player and team have most failed to align is in their commitment to one another. The franchise seems committed to giving Montero a long look at catcher. Montero, meanwhile, seems committed to proving he is not that at all. Rock, meet hard place. The end result of this mutual stubbornness is a big ol’ crap sandwich. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Everyone and their mother knows that the M’s catcher of the future currently resides at Triple-A Tacoma. The uber-prospect that is Mike Zunino has had an up and down start to his 2013 campaign. This isn’t unanticipated. Zunino has yet to play a full season in the pros, and were all to go according to plan, he wouldn’t see his first action at Safeco Field until 2014. Problem is, Montero’s struggles have accelerated the demand for a Zunino call-up.
Zunino and Montero are mutually exclusive entities. No one should believe a demotion of Montero will necessarily result in a promotion of Zunino. Montero has done nothing to earn his spot on the big league roster, however, and shouldn’t be here anymore. Not if this team is truly committed to winning.
It’s clear that if the Mariners really want Montero to experience life behind the plate, he should be playing every single day. It’s also clear that, based on the way he’s been playing, Montero has done very little to warrant an everyday spot in the lineup. Therefore, all signs point to sending Montero to the minors, giving the majority of the big league starts (for now) to Kelly Shoppach, and promoting anyone else with a pulse not named Zunino to be Shoppach’s understudy. In this case, that might be Triple-A backup Jesus Sucre, who is nothing special with the bat, but can actually live up to his job title and, you know, catch.
Of course, this begs the question of what to do with Zunino in the interim. If Montero and Zunino share a clubhouse, only one can log time behind the plate. Fact is, the Mariners need to make a hard call on their catchers. Could they teach Montero how to play first base? Maybe. Could they let both players work on their hitting while splitting time as backstops? Possibly. Could they send Montero to Double-A to work on his receiving skills? That’s also an option. Honestly, it really doesn’t matter what the organization does so long as they jettison Montero to the farm and prove to both players and fans that they a) want to give opportunities to the most deserving players, and b) believe the 2013 Mariners aren’t losers. Seriously. Because, to date, the current regime has never shown much in the way of faith for their ballclub, regardless of how many wins the team can string together at any given moment. It’s about time they display some commitment to a winning mentality, and that starts by demoting those who deserve to be demoted.
Jesus is not for long in the big leagues. It’s time the Mariners filled in the blank.
Filed under: Mariners
SSN Twitterbag: Antoine Winfield’s future, Mariner busts, the limit on what we’ll let fall in our beer, and more
It’s like a mailbag, but with Twitter. Because outside of work, no one sends emails anymore. To participate in future Twitterbags, look for the #SSNTwitterbag hashtag and follow along, @alexSSN.
Will Antoine Winfield sign [with the Seahawks]? -via @caseyc8
Winfield, a 35-year-old free agent cornerback just released by Minnesota, is one of the premier players at his position, even at this late stage in his career. A former All-Pro and three-time Pro Bowl honoree, Winfield reportedly worked out with the Seahawks just a few days ago.
To atone for my relative ignorance on Winfield’s contractual prospects, I went to one of the brightest football minds I know for some help. My buddy Curtis Crabtree (speaking of Twitter, follow him @Curtis_Crabtree) — who covers the Seahawks for Sports Radio KJR, as well as the west coast for ProFootballTalk — was able to provide some insight for us on the situation:
“Winfield would fill a big need for Seattle as a slot cornerback,” said Curtis. “Seattle has more cap space available than Minnesota and his release from the Vikings wasn’t particularly amicable. Minnesota is pushing hard to keep him, but the manner of his release may push him to head to the Seahawks.”
Winfield was released by the Vikings on March 12, a move made in large part to clear cap space. His termination was brought to his attention while he was working out at the team’s facility, hence the less-than-amicable separation.
With more money to offer and the potential of a Super Bowl season ahead, it certainly appears like the Seahawks may have the inside track on Winfield right now.
Is it still too early to call [Dustin] Ackley and/or [Jesus] Montero a bust? -via @AndyTheG
Yes. Without a doubt, yes.
Sure, both Ackley and Montero have struggled for the bulk of their tenures in Seattle, and have especially struggled of late. While each were deemed top prospects, both have been seemingly cursed by the expectations that come along with such lofty praise.
Though there’s still time for both Ackley and Montero to develop, perhaps most concerning is the fact that neither player has shown much in the way of improvement over much of the past year. Ackley has showcased a revamped batting stance that looks about as comfortable as a pair of skinny jeans, while Montero’s weight transfer has been atrocious, sending him flailing out in front of pitches before they’re halfway to home plate.
Ackley will be granted plenty of time to work out his issues, with seemingly no other options at second base. (Unless the team wants to shift Kyle Seager over there and see what they have in a third base prospect, such as Nick Franklin; unlikely at this point.) Montero, on the other hand, is under the gun with 2012 first-round draft pick Mike Zunino off to a blazing start at Triple-A Tacoma. Fans are already eager for Zunino’s arrival, and if the organization is forced to promote him out of merit, it will likely be Montero that either finds his way to the minors or suffers from limited playing time.
Another factor in all this is Justin Smoak, who may be closer to “bust” status than either of his younger counterparts. Smoak is hanging by a final thread with the M’s, and if he can’t reveal any promise over the first few weeks of the season, his days in a Mariners uniform are undoubtedly numbered. Smoak and Montero are inextricably tied to one another in that each can lay claim to a finite number of at-bats in the lineup. Should Zunino arrive in Seattle and remain entrenched behind the plate, as expected, the team will need to find an alternate plan for Montero. Were he to shift to designated hitter, that would push Kendrys Morales over to first base, eliminating Smoak’s role with the ballclub. Longer term, the M’s may have plans to utilize Montero as a first baseman, since that is really the only other position on the field he could capably play.
Either way, one fact remains: Zunino’s arrival in Seattle will dramatically alter the roles of either Montero or Smoak, and possibly both. And it’s not so much “if” Zunino arrives as it is “when.” Between Montero and Smoak, will a bust emerge in due time? Probably so.
How much are you going to miss Abdul Gaddy running the point next year? -via @AZinSeattle
About as much as I miss Ed Hardy shirts, episodes of Gilmore Girls, awkward middle school slow dances, and Chone Figgins, combined. Good riddance.
What will our NHL team be called? Thunderbirds, or something new and fierce like Seattle Frozen Rain Droplets? -via @waltswarriors
First of all, nicknames that invoke nature or acts of nature are usually reserved for WNBA teams. The Sun, the Storm, the Sky, the list goes on. That said, a fiercer act of nature like Frozen Rain Droplets may have potential. Perhaps something even more geographically relevant — like Seattle Icy Pavement, or Seattle Drive Slow In The Rain — might be worth considering.
In reality, the favorites in the clubhouse so far seem to be Thunderbirds and Metropolitans, with Metropolitans getting the early nod. The Metropolitans reference is a tip of the cap to days gone by — the Seattle Mets were the first Stanley Cup Champions, after all — while the Thunderbirds are of course most pertinent to today’s generation of local hockey fans. Personally, I’m not really biased towards either nickname, which may mean we need something new altogether. Perhaps a naming contest is in order…
How good will Husky hoops in general be next year? Nationally ranked? Tourney bound at least? -via @AndersJorstad
Over the span of a few weeks, the Huskies have gone about revamping their roster in a curious fashion, putting themselves in the conversation for a return to Pac-12 relevance in 2013-2014.
Back in March, the Huskies landed a verbal commitment from JUCO swingman Mike Anderson, a 6-5 guard-forward who averaged 16.9 points and 9.8 rebounds at Moberly Area Community College this past season. Though not a big name, Anderson’s résumé immediately invoked memories of another former junior college transfer from days gone by, Tre Simmons.
In addition to Anderson, it’s been rumored in recent days that UNLV forward Mike Moser will be playing his senior season on Montlake as a graduate transfer, meaning he’s eligible to contribute immediately and will not need to redshirt. Moser is finishing up his undergraduate studies this year and because of a prior redshirt season taken when he migrated from UCLA to Las Vegas, still maintains a year of NCAA eligibility. Though he’d only play one year with the Huskies, the 6-8 Moser would undoubtedly be a major contributor if healthy. Coming out of high school in the Portland area, Moser was heavily recruited by a number of teams across the nation, including Washington. Though Lorenzo Romar ultimately missed out on Moser, he may have a chance to secure the ex-Rebel for his collegiate swan song. You can read more about the impending transfer here.
With another senior, 6-9 power forward Perris Blackwell, set to make his Washington debut in 2013, the Huskies suddenly become an intriguing blend of young and old. Should C.J. Wilcox forgo the temptations of the NBA and return for his senior campaign, the Dawgs will boast a trio of fifth-year players who could lead them back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in three seasons.
Beyond the aforementioned additions, Washington brings in a freshman recruiting class led by McDonald’s All-American Nigel Williams-Goss, a 6-3 point guard from Happy Valley, Oregon. Darin Johnson, a 6-4 shooting guard from Sacramento, and Jahmel Taylor, a 5-11 point guard from Los Angeles, round out the crop of first-year players. Williams-Goss, especially, should have an instant impact, offloading some of the playmaking duties from returning redshirt sophomore Andrew Andrews, and likely assuming a fair share of the scoring duties, as well.
It will be interesting to see how the new players blend with the returning roster. With a marked improvement in talent, at least on paper, it will be up to Coach Romar and staff to mold personalities and ensure a comfortable working environment for all involved. Should this team play up to its potential, and more importantly play together, a return to the Big Dance and national relevance isn’t out of the question at all.
You seemed so confident about the Sonics next season. Are you still? -via @bryanwhite05
For months, I’ve operated under the assumption that the Sonics will be playing in Seattle in 2013. All of Kevin Johnson’s pomp and circumstance, all of the NBA’s rhetoric, and all the back-and-forth between the Maloofs and the city of Sacramento can’t change my opinion: I’m convinced the Kings are destined to become Seattle’s team before year’s end.
Sure, I’ve followed the saga on sports radio, in the news, on Twitter, etc., but I’m not letting the roller coaster ride sway me. I’d rather stay positive, trust the businessmen (and the lawyers) involved, and look towards that light at the end of the tunnel. I’m absolutely confident.
Regardless of how you may feel, however, we should have a better idea of where things are headed within the next eight days. Assuming everything goes according to schedule, we’ll know by April 20 whether we will or will not have an NBA team in the Emerald City next season.
Will Saved By the Bell ever do any 20- or 30-year high school reunion specials? -via @HuskyThor
This is one of those things that’s near and dear to my heart. Saved By the Bell is without a doubt one of my favorite sitcoms of all-time, and in recent years the people behind the show have gone about teasing us with the prospect of a reunion special on more than one occasion. Problem is, there are two holdups: Lisa and Screech, or more accurately, the real-life actors who play them, Lark Voorhies and Dustin Diamond.
Voorhies has battled her own personal demons, a battle that has been documented in the press over the past year or so. It’s rumored that she may be bipolar and, as a result, has all but given up acting while she sorts out her personal life.
Diamond is the cast’s pariah, an abrasive figure who has fallen out with just about all of his former Bell-mates. Whether or not he’d be on board for a reunion wouldn’t so much be determined by his own desires as it would by his standing with those he’d be working with. If Screech can’t get along with everyone else, a reunion project probably can’t be green-lit. While spinoffs of the original show have done okay without Lisa’s character (Lisa did not appear in recurring fashion during The College Years), the role of Screech has graced every SBTB-related project to date.
It’s been two decades since Bayside High School’s most famous class received their diplomas. A 20-year reunion would be well-received by an entire generation that still watches SBTB reruns to this day. For now, though, we continue to wait.
What is the limit to what you would let fall in a beer while still chugging it? Given that a sports beer is ~$8, when is enough, enough? We saw [the beer catch] but what about an earpiece, etc? -via @johng365
First of all, if you haven’t seen Wednesday night’s beer catch, go, now. It’s pretty amazing. Definitely worth a few seconds of your time. Catching a baseball in one’s plastic pint cup has got to be a bucket list item for any self-respecting, beer-drinking baseball fan. Would any of us not be willing to sacrifice a cold one for a souvenir as coveted as a foul ball? I like to think we’d all give up our beers for that.
This raises that all-important question, however: Where is that line on stadium beer sacrifice? A debate for the ages, without a doubt.
For me, personally, the cost of a stadium beer pales in comparison to a moment of infamy. Catching just about anything worth YouTubing in my drink would be valuable. But I’m a media whore, so naturally a bit biased. And this all assumes that a camera is in place to capture the moment of (glory?) glory. For instance, if someone chucked an earpiece into my Coors Light and it wasn’t recorded, then I’d just be some poor sap who wasted $8 or $9 on a now-tainted beer. The thought of guzzling a drink that may contain a fair amount of ear wax turns my stomach, so that beer is bound for the garbage either way. I can happily live with it, though, if I’ve found my way to the pages of Deadspin as a result.
If we operate under the hypothetical of a camera-free world, the list of things I’d let fall into my beer dramatically shortens. A baseball is still a definite yes, and likely rises to the top of the list when it comes to exciting beer finds. Anyone who’s ever taken a baseball home from the ballpark understands the excitement associated with that moment. Including me:
After the prospect of a foul ball gracing your beverage, the awesome sports-related paraphernalia you could drop into an already-full pint glass are few and far between. A hockey puck? Totally cool. A golf ball? Absolutely. A tennis ball? Sure. But then what?
A player’s mouthpiece? Eh, probably not worth it.
A batting glove? Maybe.
A wad of Bazooka chewed by your favorite player? Some might go for it, but not me.
A shooting sleeve? No.
Really, outside of a baseball, there aren’t many coveted stadium items that would warrant losing a beer over. If you want to open the book up to include the likes of a World Series ring or a $100 bill then yes, we can absolutely talk about ditching that ale you’ve been chugging. Beyond that? Well, let’s just be thankful for cameras and the world of social media. Because really, those fleeting seconds of fame and relevance are all that make an $8 waste of money okay.
Thanks to everyone for contributing their questions to this edition of the Twitterbag. Stay tuned via Twitter for our next Twitterbag request.
Filed under: Twitterbag
In between Sunday afternoons spent watching Nickelodeon Guts and Family Double Dare and all the other kid shows that permeated every kid’s existence in the kid-friendly, kid-centric Nineties, I was a baseball fan. My summers were punctuated by bruises and scuffed knees and mosquito bites that only seemed to multiply each time I scratched them. I had a glove with Ken Griffey Jr.’s name burned into the pocket, a wardrobe full of blue and yellow Mariners apparel, snapback caps with an “S” on the crown, and this belief, however foolish, that I would one day grow up to be them.
Throughout the duration of every season, I would type up, print out, and maintain a list of each player on the Mariners’ active roster. Jersey number, name, and position. If Dann Howitt got called up from Triple-A, then by god you’d find me in front of a Macintosh Classic typing Howitt’s information into Microsoft Works. And if I went to a game to discover that Howitt’s jersey number had inexplicably been switched from 23 to 44, upon arriving home that edit would be made, saved, printed, and kept. I could give you the details on every single player, from No. 1 (Greg Briley and Brian Turang) all the way to No. 96 (Mak Suzuki).
Fashion conscious as I was, my mother let me dress myself from an early age. So unlike many of my elementary school peers, adorned in expensive button-ups from Nordstrom and pants that didn’t have an elastic waistband, I was as comfortable and content as any child could possibly be — in third grade, for example, I wore shorts for an entire school year, just because. Mostly, though, I attired myself in t-shirts with cartoon images of Junior on the front, “life-size” jersey replicas of Randy Johnson, and colorful advertisements for the American League Western Division. I wore those shirts down to their last threads. I sweat and fought and bled and cried in those shirts. I had unforgettable experiences in those shirts. I lived an entire adolescence with sweatshirts tied around my waist, securing those shirts through recess after recess as we tossed Nerf Vortex Screamers, held footraces, shot baskets, kicked red rubber spheres, and chased our imaginations across wood chips and dirt fields.
I sat on metal benches — some with red backs, some with orange — and devoured nachos, peanuts, hot dogs, Milk Duds, and any other stadium fare one could conceivably dream up. I blew bubbles of Green Apple Bubblicious gum, then stuffed the popped remains into my lower lip to look like the ballplayers with their chewing tobacco, the ones whose bad habits I couldn’t help but emulate. I stood in the Kingdome concourse and marveled at the souvenir stands, staring down brand new caps, jerseys, jackets, pennants, trading card sets, pins, replica helmets, mini bats, photo balls, blow up bones, everything. Who didn’t want a gold No. 24 necklace? So what if it was $10? It was $10 well spent.
There was no cynicism in those days. We were bad, but we were a dignified sort of bad. We had never won, so there was no expectation to win. Our guys, they just played baseball. And when they won, we were happy. And when they lost, we moved on. We watched players come and go, the ones who wanted to be here staying until those star-crossed seasons when we actually began to win. They led us proudly into a world of expectation. When they left, when we lost again, our innocence was replaced by that cynicism, by a bit of newfound impatience that couldn’t be satiated until we won again. We won again. And even those players left. We lost again. We haven’t won since.
Every spring we find ourselves in this position. The days get longer, the sun shines brighter, and we start believing that maybe, just maybe, this will be the year. So what if we were downright mediocre last season? So what if our competition improved? Do you see that sunshine? Do you feel that warmth? It’s almost summertime! If the clouds can dissipate and the rain can cease and the sun can shine here, now…well, anything must be possible. We are easily swayed, us Mariner fans. Or maybe we’re just blessed with bigger hearts, bigger imaginations, and smaller whatever-it-is that makes you think clearly even in the face of sheer obviousness.
There’s a chance. We get to play the Astros 19 times this year. Nineteen! And the Astros might not even win a game. Really, they’re that bad.
We have a middle-of-the-order now: Kendrys Morales, Mike Morse, Jesus Montero. We have hitters that actually scare pitchers — or if not scare them, perhaps make their blood pressure rise just a tad.
We have an ace, a King, and he’s not going anywhere for a long time. Players want to play with him, for him. They certainly don’t want to go against him. He’s our fulcrum. Everyone knows it, and everyone respects it.
We have pitchers who can pitch, hitters who can hit, fielders who can field, we got real jerseys and everything! Okay, so maybe that’s oversimplifying things a bit. But we’re not bad. We’re at least okay. And okay sometimes has a way of spiraling its way into good, which can sometimes spiral its way into great. And from there, who knows.
Mostly, though, we have players who won’t make a mockery of our memories. We have guys who want to wear a Mariners uniform. Guys like Felix Hernandez, who cried tears of joy when he inked a contract that will keep him here for the better part of the next decade. Guys like the aforementioned Morse, who was ecstatic upon learning he had been traded to the first organization that ever let him play in the big leagues. Guys like Raul Ibanez, who signed on to finish his career in Seattle just because he likes it here. Every time we’ve ever won, we’ve had players who truly wanted to be in Seattle. Players that made you like them, if for no other reason than the fact that they seemed to understand, in some way or another, that you as a child had worn the same logo they now wore, had scraped your knees in that logo the way they scraped theirs, had sweat in that logo just as they now sweat.
We don’t ask for much in Seattle. We’re an enigma to sports fans outside our corner of the map. We don’t demand winners so much as we beg for them. We don’t expect success so much as we bask in its aura. At the end of the day, all we really ask for is new memories to be made and old memories to be enhanced. Winning, as it turns out, has a way of fulfilling both those requests.
The Seattle Mariners are dealing with a generation of fans who grew up wearing the colors and the emblem of a team that sucked, but sucked in a beautifully organic, pure, simple way. Our innocence mirrored the innocence of an entire organization. We grew up together, and as we’ve grown up, our experiences have shaped the way we approach the future in tandem with one another. We can be cynical at times, we can be unsatisfied quite frequently, we can be down on our prospects, upset with our situation.
But every spring, right about this time of year, all of that is replaced by unbridled optimism. We see the good in one another — us in them, them in us — and we believe that this might just possibly be the year. Maybe. Maybe this is the year.
Filed under: Mariners
Hello, Seattle. The news says we’re going to get between one and twelve inches of snow on Wednesday. One and twelve. That’s a hell of a range. I told my last date that she’d be getting between one and twelve inches when we got home and we never went out again, so, yeah. Good work, local meteorologists. Way to narrow it down for us.
I was at the grocery store preparing for this monstrosity earlier today. I scoured the aisles like I was on Supermarket Sweep, stockpiling all the essentials: microwaveable meals, cookies, Red Bull, string cheese. My cart was a dietician’s worst nightmare. But whatever, right? That’s why we have the Wroten Workout Plan. Unclogs the arteries. Oh, and the Red Bull was sugar free, so there’s that.
Anyway, the grocery store was absolutely packed. I would not recommend going shopping in this pre-Snowmageddon era. If you haven’t loaded up on provisions, you’re probably better off going on a hunger strike for the next couple days. I was in Safeway around lunchtime and it was like a Bayside High School pep rally at The Max. There were seemingly a thousand more people in this single location than you thought previously existed. Hey, you in the crimson track jacket! I’ve never seen you in any episode before. Where have you been hiding, jerk? You just come here for the pep rallies or something? Try getting to class sometime, slacker. Yeah, I’ve seen every show, you’re not gonna fool me.
The great thing about a Seattle snow storm is it causes people to irrationally freak the hell out. Take, for instance, the guy standing in front of me in the checkout line. For one thing, he had about 50 items (granted, he was obese). For another, most of these items were completely unnecessary. Example: he had not one but TWO giant jars of real mayonnaise. Because when the power goes out and the heat shuts off, you’ll need BOTH jars of mayonnaise, sir. Giant sub sandwiches for all! We’re gonna make it. Got mayo for days. We’ll pull through…
Here we are late on Tuesday night and we have yet to see many flakes in the metro area. I’m daring it to snow right now. Let’s bring Jim Forman home! He’s tired of having to go up to Granite Falls and down to Vader just to cover people doing stupid shit on ice. “Hi, Jean and Dennis! You’ll notice we’ve found a man in a 1987 Honda Civic willing to slide down the cliff behind me and jump this ravine while drinking a Pabst Blue Ribbon and wearing nothing but this Hawaiian lei we purchased at a second-hand store. Are you ready for this? I know I am!” Jim Forman deserves better. I hope he’s making commission off this.
Perhaps the best thing about all this snow is how it’s taken all the pressure off the city’s newest resident, Jesus Montero. Yes, Jesus, who will save us all, is coming to Seattle. And all we had to do to get him here was relinquish everyone’s second-favorite starting pitcher, Michael Pineda. It’s like we traded two of our best goats for our neighbor’s finest cow. You hate to lose these two, fantastic goats. Buuuuuuuut, that cow is gonna help out quite a bit on the family farm. Pineda was great. We all loved him. But Montero? He’s pretty great, too. We’ll find a way to pour our hearts out in his honor.
By now, I’m sure you’ve read all the specs on Montero. If you haven’t, go here. The dude’s a six-foot-three-inch, twenty-two-year-old power-hitting catcher. The rarest of the rare breeds, an über-prospect with unrivaled physical talent. He’s been compared to Miguel Cabrera. He projects to be a future All-Star. He’s everything you want in an everyday player. We’re absolutely lucky to have him.
There’s always a “but.”
Pineda is an ace-in-the-making. A gargantuan, hard-throwing right-hander who will take to New York City like Godzilla to Tokyo. We, as Mariner faithful, envisioned him as a fixture in our rotation for years to come. His sophomore campaign was going to be the stellar encore to his phenomenal freshman debut. Like Montero, Pineda is just twenty-two years of age. He’s been compared to his former teammate, Felix Hernandez. In his only major league season, he’s already earned an All-Star nod. We were absolutely lucky to have him.
On top of all that, Pineda was wildly popular with the fan base. Almost as popular as the inimitable Green Hydro, I’d reckon. Which is probably what makes this bittersweet pill that much tougher to swallow for all of us. We loved Pineda. And we knew he’d be great. There was no getting around that.
Montero? We think he’ll be a stud. We hope to love him. But we’re not there yet. We just broke up with Kelly Kapowski. And now we’re being asked to believe in Stacy Carosi. I guess it’s okay. We’ll need some time to mend our hearts, however. Can we trust the Jack Z. blueprint? Sure. Do we have to love it right this moment? No, we don’t. That’s the emotional nature of fanaticism.
There is a forecast. It says we’ll likely get a lot of snow soon. We don’t know if they’ll be right, those weather people, but we certainly believe in what they have to say.
There’s a forecast for Jesus Montero, too. It says he’ll be something special. We don’t know if they’ll be right, those baseball people. But we believe they probably will be.
For better or worse, this is our guy now. Jesus. Bring on the storm.
Filed under: Mariners
Like the rest of Mariners Nation I have had a few days to digest the recent blockbuster trade of pitcher Michael Pineda to the New York Yankees for Jesus Montero. This trade which included a couple other less significant players, came out of nowhere and has created quite a stir here in Seattle. For the record as much as I loved Michael Pineda the fun-loving Dominican as you can see in the above video that I shot of him last spring training , I think this trade was a good move by Jack Z.
Having said that I want to wish Pineda well in his future as a Yankee and want let him know that in addition to his wicked fastball we appreciated his boyish enthusiasm and genuine warm personality. Every time Pineda came to the mound like a lot of you I would watch the big righty closely. It was things like his somewhat awkward attempts to move around in his giant body, the way he wore his hat, and that big warm and authentic smile which helped make another long dismal season last year more bearable.
We will miss you Michael though our time together was short you made an impact on the hearts of all of us here in the NW. I hope you can stay yourself under the bright lights and pressure of the New York scene where the fans and press don’t care about anything but winning. Someday you will look back at our quirky city and maybe miss us too.
As for the Mariners it is time to move on with a new offensive threat by the name of Jesus Montero. The expectations are going to be high for him given the emotional attachment that many of made with Pineda, but it is time to move on with a slightly better future for our struggling club and it’s die-hard fans. Go M’s http://jeffsmariners.com