Since the weather is starting to turn, and it appears as if the Mariners luck is beginning to turn as well, I decided to head down to Safeco Field last night to watch the Mariners take on the Baltimore Orioles in the second game of their three-game series. As it turns out Brandon Maurer the young rookie pitcher got clobbered for four runs in the first inning by the feisty Orioles and the Mariners were never able to catch up, and went on to lose 7- 2 in front of 13,000+ fans at Safeco Field in Seattle.
By now I sort of have a system as far as procuring tickets parking, food etc. when I head to Mariners games. As usual I talked down one of the scalpers outside into giving me a box seat at a good price, in this case 25 bucks for a seat that was 12 rows back in section 125. As it turns out I was seated next to a guy who has been a season ticket holder since 1977, we chatted a bit but he was kind of a grumpy guy as one could expect from attending so many Seattle Mariners games over the years. In the box seats you generally get a little bit better of a baseball crowd or at least more dedicated than in other places in the stadium such as in the outfield drinking holes where the youngsters go to be seen, and have frat parties etc. Having said that the fans at Safeco as we all know are pretty dead. It is rare to hear our fans let out any catcalls, booing, or even talking about the game and paying strict attention to what’s going on the field versus their cell phones which doesn’t even driving crazy anymore I’ve gotten used to it. Or perhaps is the old Pink Floyd song goes I’ve just grown comfortably numb.
As you can see by the photo above the crowd really thinned out in the late innings of this one, and I swear to God that by the time the eighth inning started we were down to three or four thousand fans at Safeco Field. During the game the usual occurrences happened such as the goofy Hydro races, the casual fans insisting on doing a wave which is another one of my pet peeves along with that stupid find the ball under the hat game. For whatever reason unlike in Oakland, Boston, or New York our fans are pretty self-contained though I did hear several whistlers trying to outdo each other throughout the game last night which was somewhat amusing and different. As it turns out I kind I got a little goofy last night and started yelling stuff at the players, the umpire and even the bat boy who wouldn’t throw me a ball! It was fun and I know I was amusing some of the fans around me who were left, and some of them were also letting loose with some catcalls all in good fun and supportive of our local club. To top it off I led a cheer right before the start of the bottom of the ninth and for a minute had a couple hundred fans letting out a mighty roar that must have caught the attention of the players and media as otherwise it had gotten to the point where you could hear individual conversations around the stadium!
As you can see I haven’t been writing this Mariners Blog that often but I felt somewhat motivated after last night’s game in the comfortable feeling of being at my home ball field watching my home team after all these years whether they lose or not. In the final analysis when they say take me out to the ballgame, and I don’t care if I ever come back, I suppose they were talking about guys like me the infamous hard-core fan. You can tell the types like me to it are kind of odd and a little too focused on the Mariners when you look around the crowd, lots of times we are alone, or with a radio headset, or wearing old gaudy Mariners regalia. I suppose at this point my life I’m not going to change much and I am grateful to live in a city that still has Major League baseball, even though the ownership group knows that the Safeco experience is primarily for the casual fan not the infamous hard-core goofballs like me. Go Mariners!http://jeffsmariners.com
In professional athletics, it’s widely understood that players will often go on the road and engage in sexual relations with ladies who are neither a) their wives, nor b) their girlfriends. This culture of romantic infidelity in sports is nothing new. We’ve been hearing about it for years. If you aren’t onto the shenanigans by now, I urge you to get with the program. This happens in every sport, on every road trip, amongst a wide array of highly-paid infidels. God forbid you’re the poor love interest of an athlete who wasn’t aware this was occurring. It’s occurring, woman. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
For those athletes who are devoted to wedded bliss, it’s entirely possible that the sexy time they get away from their home city may in fact be better than it is within their own domicile. Instead of one woman who Joe Athlete has gotten used to bumping and grinding with, Joe gets to undress and play with a bevy of chicks who he has absolutely no obligations towards. If nothing else, one has to reckon that these affairs must be quite liberating. No, the ol’ ball and chain won’t let you put it there, but that Annie Savoy wannabe across the country? Oh yeah, she’s all about that.
With that said, I have a hypothesis. It involves our beloved Seattle Mariners, who we all can agree have struggled mightily at home this year. Inside the not-so-friendly confines of Safeco Field, the M’s have combined to tally a paltry .196 batting average, to go along with an equally tepid .563 on-base-plus-slugging percentage. Not good.
By contrast, those same scrappy road warriors have notched a .256/.715 line as guests in other ballparks. For those of you who happen to be good with the abacus, you know that’s a difference of 60 points where batting average is concerned, and another 152 points in the OPS department. There’s no debate: as a group, Mariner hitters are better on the road than they are at home.
The question we all ask ourselves after reaching this conclusion, naturally, is “Why?” Why are the Mariners so much better on the road than they are at home? It’s a logical inquiry. And not one without the support of its own set of hypotheses.
Most would argue that the nature of Safeco Field as a “pitcher’s park” creates a tough environment for the team’s bats. This is undoubtedly the most accepted hypothesis, and few can rebut its validity. But I’d like to think are other explanations beyond this one. This isn’t just about an unforgiving environment. As it turns out, I’m not the only one who thinks this way.
Fans and pundits alike have theorized that the struggles of Mariners’ hitters at The Safe comes as the result of some sort of stigma. The hurdles faced by the players are not physical so much as they are mental. This makes a ton of sense, and falls in line with what we often see when athletes fall short of expectations in a repetitive fashion, time and time again. We can reference the troubles endured by former big league catcher (and ex-Mariner, at that) Mackey Sasser, who suddenly could not toss the ball back to his pitcher. Or, perhaps, the travails of second basemen Steve Sax and Chuck Knoblauch, who grappled with the short throw to first base later in their respective careers. These are just a few examples of psychology affecting the physics of sport. The Mariners, with their evident inability to hit well at home, find themselves straddling this exact line separating physics and psychology.
But what about my hypothesis? Let’s get back to that. Because, while I agree that what we have on our hands is a full-blown mental stigma, I like to believe that this stigma goes beyond the parameters of Seattle’s most beautiful baseball diamond.
So I did some research (yes, I occasionally do that). And in researching, I set out to find the answer to the following question: Do those Mariner players who are married perform better on the road than those players who are not married?
Subsequently, the answer to this question would lead me to a conclusion which I admit is totally and non-scientifically inferred: Assuming those Mariner players who are married do, in fact, perform better on the road than their unmarried counterparts, we can surmise that the burdens of their married life, combined with the freedoms of their road endeavors, do actually play a role in the mental stigma that comes with being at home.
Yes, this is an interesting theory. I get that. But my logic behind both the question and conclusion is simple: I think married players get what they deem to be better ass on the road than at home. And they enjoy the crap out of that. Why the heck not, right? Whereas those players who are not married, well, they get an equal stock of ass no matter where they go. Home, road, doesn’t matter. To them, ass is ass. And they have no wives to worry about. So their focus? It’s mostly on baseball…and occasionally ass. The married dudes? They need to balance baseball, a domesticated home life, and the prospect of getting caught committing adultery. That has to be just terrifying.
So I did my research. And here’s what I found. The results, in my mind, are fantastic. Below, you’ll see that I’ve segmented Mariners’ hitters into three unique categories: Married, Engaged, and Single. The categories should be fairly self-explanatory. For further context, I’ve relegated my study to only those hitters with 50 or more at-bats on the year. My apologies to Munenori Kawasaki, who, among others, missed the cut. I wanted to appreciate a decent sample size of ABs before throwing this shit at the wall.
And now, without further ado, our findings…
(Listed by highest home batting average, in descending order)
Batting Average/OPS at home: .214/.544
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .297/.709
Difference on the road: +.083/.165
Batting Average/OPS at home: .210/.558
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .246/.686
Difference on the road: +.036/.128
Batting Average/OPS at home: .197/.537
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .299/.875
Difference on the road: +.102/.338
Batting Average/OPS at home: .181/.489
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .214/.628
Difference on the road: +.033/.139
Batting Average/OPS at home: .167/.539
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .313/.891
Difference on the road: +.146/.352
Batting Average/OPS at home: .160/.454
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .232/.698
Difference on the road: +.072/.244
Batting Average/OPS at home: .140/.461
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .213/.570
Difference on the road: +.073/.109
(Listed by highest home batting average, in descending order)
Batting Average/OPS at home: .294/.917
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .268/.774
Difference on the road: -.026/.140
Batting Average/OPS at home: .200/.580
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .169/.533
Difference on the road: -.031/.047
(Listed by highest home batting average, in descending order)
Batting Average/OPS at home: .269/.765
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .259/.742
Difference on the road: -.010/.023
Batting Average/OPS at home: .206/.580
Batting Average/OPS on the road: .279/.720
Difference on the road: +.073/.140
But soft, what’s this?! ALL the married players hit better on the road than they do at home. That makes sense, since we’ve already agreed that the M’s as a group tend to put bat on ball with relative success much more frequently away from Safeco Field than they do at Safeco Field. So we’re good there. And look at how well Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager are doing on the road. Amazing!
Hold on a minute, though. Here’s where things get interesting. The only three players who hit better at home than on the road? They’re all…unmarried! Eureka!
As a matter of fact, only one unmarried player in our study hits better on the road than he does at home: Jesus Montero. Our condolences to Jesus, who must not find himself in the company of beautiful strangers when taking off for allegedly greener pastures. I have heard, however, that the man frequents Pesos, in Lower Queen Anne, when he’s grounded in Seattle. If Pesos doesn’t help you get laid, I don’t know what would. So perhaps Montero, indeed, is doing just fine with the ladies in the Emerald City.
To contrast Montero, we have Casper Wells, Brendan Ryan, and John Jaso.
Wells has no female of which to speak. He’s been fairly consistent with his home-away splits. Good for him, staying balanced and all that.
Ryan is engaged, but as we all know, future wives tend to put out quite a bit more than current wives (this is what I’ve heard, at least). So does Ryan need to go beaver hunting on road trips? Maybe not so much.
Jaso? His fiance is a cheerleader for the Tampa Bay Rays — and yes, the Rays appear to have cheerleaders. Would you cheat on a cheerleader? Speaking from experience, I can say I would not. Right on, Jaso.
But then we have the married fellas. Wives, earmuffs.
The good news? This is fixable! It’s called divorce. If you’re cheating on your wife, get a GDMF divorce! It’s obviously not working. And you don’t want a Tiger Woods situation on your hands. Do we know for a fact you’re an adulterer? No. Do the stats and my hypothesis support the theory? Yes. Will your spouse find out? Maybe, maybe not. But do you really want to be burdened by your own conscience like this? It’s clearly affecting your performance (in the batter’s box, at least). We can’t have that. No one wants that. Not me, not the fans, not your teammates, not the organization, and especially not you. You have future contracts to worry about! And there’s always time for a family after your playing days are over.
That’s my advice. Wives, you can remove your earmuffs now. Thank you for your understanding.
What have we learned here today, anyhow?
First of all, we’ve learned that my theories are only kind of suspect. This wasn’t carried out to the exact specifics of science. But I was close. No one would accuse me of being Thomas Edison. But I’m no Colie Edison, either. (She’s a former Real World cast member, for those who don’t know. I’ll be honest, I had to Google “celebrities with last name Edison” to make that reference work.)
Second, we’ve learned that if you’re a married, professional athlete, you may in fact be prone to more difficulties than your unmarried foils under certain circumstances. Those difficulties can extend to hitting or scoring, if you get my drift.
Third, we’ve learned that not all Mariners hitters perform better on the road. Sure, the married ones, they do. But the non-married constituency? The vast majority of those guys are better at home. Go figure.
Finally, we’ve learned that it may not pay to be one of the Mariner wives, Okay, it might pay in the checkbook, sure. But long-term? That’s suspect at this point.
At the end of the day, the one lasting thing I leave you with is this: If I’m the wife of a Mariner player, at the very least I’m asking what, pray tell, is leading my husband to perform so much better on the road.
Good luck getting an answer.
Filed under: Mariners
I attended the annual meeting of the NW SABR group I belong to yesterday as part of Mariners Fan Fest at the Ellis Pavillion inside the bowels of Safeco Field away from the hoopla happening on the diamond. I got there a little late but caught the tail end of Jack Z’s preseason pep talk and was able to listen to the indomitable Eric Wedge and his view on where we are at and where we are going.
Of course it is hard not buy into anything Eric Wedge has to say as he is genuinely an optimistic guy with great positive energy. Both he and Jack Z. were quite frank about how last year was a failure but that 2012 would be the year when we started to see things take shape. Wedge was quite candid about a lot of topics and I got to ask him if this year’s daily lineup would have some more consistency, to which he replied that it should be a little more predictable this season now that we have some known entities, but he has to see his team in Peoria to tighten things up. Wedge brought his wonderful wife Kate Wedge in for a brief introduction which was nice as well in that she is such a down to earth woman who seems to really care about the team and its relationship to the folks here in Seattle.
What I took away from the meeting was that the Seattle Mariners will field an improved team this year but nobody is expecting to make a serious run at the AL West title. The rebuilding process is going to take shape this year and we may actually be able to see it for our own eyes, but I got to say I’m more of a baseball fan than a “rebuilding of a Team”. Now of course lots of Bloggers and diehard fans seem to love talking about prospects, keeping within budget and future draft picks which is fine but after 35 years many of us a re just tired of losing and waiting for our shot at glory. The truth is lots of Mariners fans have already given up hope and moved on to soccer, hiking and boating during our brief summer months here. Of course the diehards like those who write and read Mariners Blogs will be there as usual, along with the casual fans who come for the hydro races and bobbleheads, but the last 10 years have been brutal and thus it looks like attendance will continue to suffer barring a miracle. I do have confidence we may be contenders within 2-3 years, but by then Safeco Field may continue to serve more as a theme park for baseball rather than the home of an exciting baseball team in the hunt down the stretch. Oh well at least we know the Mariners are following the blueprint that Jack Z. brought with him which appears to be ready to look real in 2012 with or without the support of the local Fan base. Go M’s! http://jeffsmariners.com
I made my final trek of the year from Fremont down to Safeco Field tonight and was rewarded with a pitching gem by Jason Vargas combined with a couple of timely homers by Miguel Olivo and Justin Smoak in the 4-2 win. I usually attend about 15 games a year so I can experience the sensation of watching Major League baseball live even though I invariably spend $75 each time when I could probably just watch all the games on TV. But there is something about the sound of the ball off the bat and the smells and energy of a home game that is comforting to me and tonight it did the trick.
I grabbed a $3o seat outside the park as usual then began my migration around the stadium resting in six different spots including the Hit it Here Cafe for dinner as well as a couple innings in the bullpen area. I usually don’t interact much with the other fans and prefer to roam around checking things out as if I owned the Safe. And why not after all these years of following this club through thick and thin not to mention all the money I have spent I kind of feel entitled.
I showed up earlier than usual and watched the A’s take BP down with a swarm of Japanese tourists who still fly over here year after year to catch a glimpse of their hero Ichiro. I was kind of in awe as I noticed how big and graceful the players looked from the ground level and maybe for the first time in my life watched a game as if I wasn’t in it and was just observing a game played by a group of men who I will never speak to. It was kind of sad watching this game with the cool damp air and empty seats reminding me that again it is time to settle in for another long wet winter in Seattle after another long losing season.
Jason Vargas used his new delivery with the added twist to his advantage tonight and fanned 10 A’s only allowing 5 hits and 1 run in the first inning to finish strong in 2011. Miguel Olivo also had a nice night belting a solo shot to tie the game in the fifth off A’s starter Brandon McCarthy and adding a double in the sixth. With his 19th homer Olivo passes Dan Wilson and Kenji Johjima to set the record for home runs by a catcher since the Mariners came to Seattle in 1977. Oliva has played with heart all season and barring an offseason trade deserves to come into camp next year as the starting catcher for this club.
The big blow in the game came in the sixth when Justin Smoak smashed a 2-out 3-run bomb to right for his 15th homer of his injury plagued season. Smoak should be able to hit 25 home runs next year if he can stay healthy and is another guy who comes into camp as a starter in 2012. The real question marks in my mind are left and third where things are up in the air and possibly the spots where we could add a more seasoned player with a proven history of producing at the plate this winter. We shall see what Jack Z. comes up this winter but for now I am emotionally detaching from this season and preparing for what looks to be an exciting postseason in baseball.
With the Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays now tied for the AL wild card there is still some suspense left and I was watching the scoreboard all night at the Safe including the Cardinals Astros game which ended up going to Houston denying the Cards the chance to catch the Braves who lost tonight. Also of note our old friend Doug Fister won his 7th straight game since being traded to Detroit and is billed as their #2 starter going forward which is hard to believe after watching him pitch here the past couple of seasons. Fister is a nice enough guy and never complained while pitching here about his lack of run support so I am happy for him.
I will be writing my final Mariners Blog post of 2011 Tuesday night as I am flying to Italy Wednesday for a business/pleasure trip and won’t be around for the final game of the season. I hope to put together a more comprehensive season overview with thoughts on 2012 when I get back on Oct. 11th along with some postseason Sea-stories once I finally pick my bandwagon team for 2011. See you next year Safeco Field. Go M’s http://jeffsmariners.com
Today is an off day for the Mariners as we await the start of a home stand featuring the Reds and Cubs. Jack Z. has stated he is not throwing in the towel just yet and wants to see what happens in these games. Fair enough however should things not go as planned and we begin the next round of rebuilding the Mariners, I would like to propose that we move in the fences before next season starts. As we all know Safeco Field is considered a pitcher-friendly ballpark. In addition to the heavy moisture laden air, the fences as you can see on the left are deep. In order to entice a real Power Hitter to come to play for the Mariners it may help if we make it a little easier to actually hit 30-40 homers here. I have done a little research into the official rules for Major League Baseball and found the following under rule 1.04 The Playing Field : a) Any Playing Field constructed by a professional club after June 1, 1958, shall provide a minimum distance of 325 feet from home base to the nearest fence, stand or other obstruction on the right and left field foul lines, and a minimum distance of 400 feet to the center field fence.
b) No existing playing field shall be remodeled after June 1, 1958, in such a manner as to reduce the distance from home base to the foul poles and to the center field fence below the minimum specified in paragraph (a) above.
So there you have it, we can indeed move in the fences as long as we follow the parameters contained in the above rules. I suggest we move dead-center into 400 feet and the left field foul pole into 325. This will enable the Mariners to take 8-10 feet out of the no-mans land in left center as well as moving in the fence in right center a little as well. The Mariners fans like fans everywhere love the home run, it is probably the most exciting aspect of the game of baseball. Yes I know bringing in the fences applies to both teams and the advantage is not strictly in favor of the home team, but the current mind-set of building a team around pitching and defense has proven to be a bust. Maybe I’m alone on this idea but I figure if we are going rebuild let’s do it right and start with the things we can control.
Now I’m sure Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong will say it costs too much. My response is that this project will probably cost about half as much as we spent on Ian Snell’s salary to date. And since we most likely won’t be playing much ball in October, we could start drawing up the plans after the Cubs leave town and begin construction on October 4th. That is unless someone happens to be getting married in the bullpen that day…. http://jeffsmariners.com
Tagged: Mariners, move in the fences, Safeco Field