The Go#$%! Clusterf*$k of a Circus That Is Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong’s Mariners | Seattle Sportsnet

The Goddamn Clusterfuck of a Circus That Is Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong’s Mariners | Seattle Sportsnet.

As Season Beckons We Have Optimism for Our Mariners

Looking toward Qwest (football) Field and Down...

Baseball season starts Monday for my Seattle Mariners and after years of low or no expectations we enter 2013 with just a we-tad bit of optimism. It seems possible, even likely, the Ms will have their first winning record since 2009. And while unlikely, I think we can have a prayer that our Northwest Nine can challenge for a playoff spot. Even if they don’t make it, how exciting would it be to have our baseball team hold our interests before falling out of contention at least until our beloved Seahawks get their Super Bowl season underway in early September.

Five things of undeniable significance allow me to hold this sense of optimism.

1. The young players have all got to get better, because they couldn’t do much worse.

2. The fences are coming in at Safeco Field.

3. The Houston Astros factor.

4. Oakland and Texas aren’t as good as last year.

5. Michael Morse and Kendry Morales are the real deal and great and necessary acquisitions.

First off, Seattle fans have had to endure some of the historically worst offenses in the history of Major League Baseball each of the past three seasons. The moribund offense was made so by being turned over to a bunch of diaper wearing toddlers who

English: Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik a...

Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik at Mariners FanFest

General Manager Jack Zduriencik placed high expectations on. Some of them didn’t live up to those lofty expectations and are gone (See Mike Carp, Trayvon Robinson). And only one came in and seemed to exceed expectations. That would be 3rd baseman Kyle Seager who took over the position by default  as a rookie last year and proceeded to lead the team in home runs (20) and RBI (86). Outfielder Michael Saunders last year was where 1st baseman Justin Smoak

Justin Smoak - Seattle - 2010 Home

is this year. It was his last chance to prove he can be a solid major league slugger. Saunders came through last year after four years of riding the Tacoma Express. Like he’s done before Smoak closed 2012 with a very impressive set of numbers in September, and like he’s done before he has carried it into a very impressive Spring Training. But in his three years since being acquired from Texas in the Cliff Lee trade he hasn’t hit except sporadically during the rest of the regular season. Manager Eric Wedge and

Justin Smoak

Justin Smoak

Zduriencik believe Smoak is going to do this year what Saunders did last. There is reason to believe them…this time.

The other former babies who must learn to walk this year are Dustin Ackley and Jesus Montero. The 2nd baseman and the catcher both under achieved with their bats last year and since they were both labelled “can’t miss” prospects just two years ago Seattle can calculate an improvement in 2013.

Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners

Second, the fences are coming in at Safeco. Changing the field’s configurations will undoubtedly allow the team to hit more home runs. Besides adding confidence to players like Smoak who will benefit by the 17 foot difference in home-plate to outfield fence in left field, you can subtract the emotionally crushing, motivationally discouraging effects on players the cavernous feeling of the previous Safeco dimensions provided. More than a few times in recent years we’ve seen players sulk over a ball they CRUSHED getting caught on the warning track. And bringing in the fences will make it easier for outfielders to play defense at Safeco. This undoubtedly gave Zduriencik freedom to go after less-than-stellar defensive outfielders like Raul Ibanez, Jason Bay, and Michael Morse; all of whom broke Spring Training in Cheney with the team and are expected to see a lot of action in the field this year since Morales is expected to hold down the designated hitter position regularly.

Seattle gets to play the

Gulf Coast League Astros

Houston Astros 19 times this year, and gets to play the Angels, Rangers, and A’s 19 fewer times. Houston had the worst record in baseball last year in the National League Central and many believe they’ll actually be worse this year. And while it’s true the other American League West teams get to play the Astros 19 times too, it’s much more significant for Seattle because Seattle will play a worse team rather than better teams each of those 19 times. The Angels, Ranger, and A’s will be substituting many of their games with Astros from a schedule that had them playing Seattle more where the results would be about the same.

Absolutely nobody expected Oakland to win the division last year. Few expect them to repeat, and most expect that last year was an aberration. The Rangers just lost Josh Hamilton, their best player. And they didn’t replace him with anybody. Nuff said.

Michael Morse

Michael Morse

Morse hit his 9th home run of the Spring yesterday, setting a new Mariner Cactus League record. I liked him tremendously when he played as a rookie shortstop and part-time outfielder with the Mariners in 2008. Hitting either #3 or clean up will be such a tremendous improvement for Seattle’s offense.

Kendry Morales

Kendry Morales

And Morales is also a huge improvement, whether he hits #3 or 4. Both players have hit 30 home runs in a season and unlike past veteran acquisitions by this franchise these guys are not so deep into their careers to be nearing their inevitable age-required decline or have it well underway. Morse is 31. Morales is only 29.

Seattle can win between 83-85 games this year. That 8-10 win improvement over last season’s 75-87 team can be mathematically expected just based on the 19 games against the Astros, all other things staying equal. But things are not equal. The Mariner pitching on paper (at least) is equal to last year, with hopeful expectations that some of their minor leagues can make late season appearances and improve the starting rotation. The offense is considerably better. Call me crazy but I’m predicting 88-89 wins and a pennant race at least into the start of September. God I hope I’m right. It would be so much fun.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

 

Seahawks Blew It! And We Ought to be Mad.

Russell Wilson after brilliant performance in Atlanta

The big bold headlines to the Seattle Times this morning says “End of a Super Season” with a subtitle of “Heartache after fearless comeback; finale to thrilling year”. To me it sounds all to familiar. “That’s OK boys. It’s OK that you blew a chance to bring this city its first ever football title and first major championship in more than a generation. We still love you”. A Seattle sports team gives our city some excitement one week, wins a few games and proceeds to take a bow from adoring fans devoid of much sports success to embrace when ultimately all they did was perform a face plant in front of the entire nation.

In case you missed it let me inform you of all you need to know about yesterday’s 30-28 loss to the Falcons in AtlantaSeattle had the lead with 25 seconds to go in the game and Atlanta had the ball at its own 27 yard line, 34 yards away from the possibility of a LONG field goal. It turns out, Atlanta only needed 12 seconds to complete two long passes to the Seattle 31 where kicker Matt Bryant

Matt Bryant | Atlanta Falcons

Matt Bryant

lofted a chip shot 49 yard field goal for the win. For the uninformed football fan let me inform you: THAT SHOULD NEVER HAPPEN! Not to a championship caliber team it shouldn’t.

But wait…it has happened before…to this same team. Please recall Chicago, December 2. Seattle scores a wonderful comeback touchdown with only seconds to play to take the lead on the 8-3 Bears and seemingly wins the game remarkably. Only they didn’t. Like Matt Ryan yesterday, Bears quarterback Jay Cutler completes a pass of about 50 yards to Brandon Marshal against Richard Sherman and a befuddled Seahawk secondary.

English: Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears warmi...

Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears

Putting Chicago in position to kick the tying field-goal as time expired, forcing overtime. Had it not been for the flip of a coin going Seattle’s way, giving them first possession of overtime, the Seahawks could have lost that game. Having lost that game Seattle doesn’t make the playoffs. Chicago does.

So what does it say about a team that twice in 7 games allows an opposing team to move from deep in their own territory into field goal position in mere seconds and lose a game they led. To me it says some really bad coaching is taking place. When it happened the first time you could blame Richard Sherman for not trying to knock the ball down and instead trying to intercept it. When it happens a second time and it involves other players besides Sherman, you have a pattern and you have a problem.

The thing Seattle fans need to learn and still haven’t is the team had an opportunity and you can’t blow opportunities like that. The team had the momentum and a realistic shot at going to and winning the Super Bowl. I’m not talking about a “punchers chance”; which everyone in the NFL playoffs has. I’m saying, and so were a lot of other people by the way, that Seattle was possibly the best team in the playoffs. Period! Of the 4 teams left in this years playoffs Seattle has already beaten two of the teams this year, and woulda, coulda, shoulda beaten a third, Atlanta, yesterday. Yes, they are THAT good. But they blew it.

The Seattle Times headline this morning is so typically Seattle and so pathetic. I want a championship and am no longer going to settle for “Nice Try”. And if the rest of the city joined me and insisted that our sports teams get their acts together I’m sure a championship could actually come our way.

Being stubborn and demanding and often annoying in ones drive to excellence is a BIG part of what makes champions. Watching U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor last night on CBS’ 60 Minutes, she said as much. She said, “I’m sure my stubbornness has a lot to do with what success I’ve achieved in life”. She elaborated more…but…there ya go.

I have a brother one year older than me, raised in the same house, same parents, and we are as completely different as two people can be. My brother is a millionaire. He’s also a stubborn bull-headed, my-way-or-the-highway jerk. He always has been. Even when we are kids. I’m no pushover. But I would never be accused of being a sore loser, or poor-sport. I have always tried to be positive and complimentary to my teams, my opponents, and in every situation. Not my brother. As a child he used to cry whenever his team lost. He still can’t stand losing. A few years ago while spending a New Years Eve at his 4500 square-foot home we were playing pool. Pool is a game I can play. Not my brother. I was beating him repeatedly. At one point after 3-5 game after he missed another shot he threw his cue stick on the table scattering the balls and ending the pool play for the night. I’ve played pool in bars ever since lying about my age at 19 and being a frequent customer at the Mustard Seed Two tavern in Bellevue. I have a table in my home. I have never seen anyone do that before…show such poor sportsmanship. For my brother…it was predictable.

So what I’m saying is don’t be so accommodating Seattle. Expect more. The Seahawks blew it yesterday and deserve to be criticized not praised . They lost a very important game they should have won and we have no business patting them on the back. We ought to be kicking them in the ass and saying…“Don’t mess up next year! We’re sick of your mediocrity. And we deserve better”. By the way…same goes for you Mariners.

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

JAWS and the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot: Edgar Martinez

JAWS and the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot: Edgar Martinez.

Seattle Sports Doldrums. Time to get Mad.

 

 

 

English: The top of the Space Needle in Seattl...

 

 

 

A weekend of ineptitude from the Seattle Seahawks and the Seattle Mariners has me frustrated and wanting to take a pound of flesh from some of the teams administrators.

 

 

 

The Seattle Mariners wrap up another losing season in the next three days with a young team that has some promise, but none of it in the vicinity of an acceptable Major League offense. Our swabbies were swept in Oakland the past three games by an equally young Athletics team. The Athletics youth is just about the only resemblance they bear to our Northwest 9. Oakland will play in the American league playoffs, probably as a Wildcard entrant. But given they possess the best record in baseball since the start of June they can be counted on to make some noise.

 

 

 

The Mariner’s too have had a better second-half of the season than they had in the first half. Since July 5 Seattle actually has a winning record at 38-37; compared to a miserable 35-49 in the first half. But as reporter Geoff Baker writes in this morning’s Seattle Times the league worst offense has only gotten worse, scoring just 3.63 runs per game compared to 3.87. It’s a familiar story too many Northwest baseball fans have become used to. Seattle has been at the bottom of the Major League offensive categories for 4 straight years. Their losing record reflecting accordingly.

 

 

 

What’s sad is during this time they’ve possessed arguably the best pitcher in the American League in Felix Hernandez. During this time Hernandez has won a Cy Young Award, finished second in the voting another year, and is likely to be among the top 5 vote getters again this year. Seattle’s other pitching has been less impressive but good enough were the offense not so completely inadequate.

 

 

 

First Baseman Justin Smoak is an unquestioned failure. He has blown up his batting average over the past two weeks with some solid hitting; but for the season that’s only lifted his average to a woeful .214 with 19 home runs and 50-something RBI (no I’m not looking up the exact number. What’s the difference between 51 and 59?). My only hesitation in making this proclamation is that outfielder Michael Saunders has rectified his carrier with a .250 average and 19 homers this season. I would have written him off before the season after he’d managed more yawns than thrills during parts of four seasons with the Mariner’s prior to this season. But seriously, how excited should we be about a fourth year player who’s best season is .250 with 19 home runs? At best he’s a fourth outfielder on a good team.

 

 

 

The number of disappointing Mariners doesn’t stop with Smoak and Saunders. Dustin Ackley, Mike Carp, Franklin Gutierrez, Casper Wells, Brendan Ryan, and Miguel Olivo arte all hitting what used to be considered pathetic offensive numbers. Seattle not only doesn’t have a .300 hitter this season. They don’t have a .290 or .280 hitter. They have catcher John Jaso as a part-time player hitting .277 as the only representative north of .260.

 

 

 

As we watch the playoffs this October with young American League teams like the A’s and Orioles competing for a championship, devoid of a Seattle representative for an 11th consecutive year, let’s forget the pathetic cliche` “wait until next year”. Next year won’t be any better if Mariner management doesn’t get its act together and throw out some of the young experiments that didn’t work. Specifically any of Seattle’s outfielders could be a solid forth outfielder. The rest can be discarded. We need a whole new outfield. One that can hit. Smoak should also be shown the door in favor of a 1st baseman that can hit for power and at-least a respectable average.

 

 

 

Safeco Field in Seattle.

Safeco Field in Seattle.

 

And Mariner management needs to do three more things unrelated to on field personnel. Chuck Armstrong needs to go as Mariner President. Outfield fences need to be moved in. And a policy to keep the Safeco Field roof closed unless it’s sunny and 60+ degrees needs to be established. Everyone from Ken Griffey Junior to Jesus Montero knows the ball carries better with the roof closed. And it’s warmer, for better fan comfort.

 

 

 

Speaking of missed opportunities. We’re watching a big one with the Seattle Seahawks this season. The Seahawks possess a championship-caliber defense, running game and special teams. All three of those areas of the team have performed spectacularly in the teams first four games. And yet all the team could manage was a 2-2 record that’s one controversial call away from being 1-3.

 

 

 

An active volcano, Mount Rainier is one of thr...

 

It was acknowledged by everyone that the choice to go with Russell Wilson at quarterback to start the year would require some sacrifice while the young player grows into an NFL caliber QB. Coach Pete Carroll was and is enthralled with the potential of his 5′ 10″ third round draft choice. But here is one thing Carroll seems to have ignored, Matt Flynn is young and loaded with potential too. But Flynn has something Wilson doesn’t…four years in the NFL. Flynn also has a Super Bowl ring, and an NCAA National Championship. Put those two together, along with some other factors, and what do you have? A WINNER. Matt Flynn is a proven winner. Having him stand on the sidelines while Wilson slowly learns his craft is a waste of the other very talented aspects of this Seahawk team.

 

English: Green Bay Packers back-up quarterback...

Quarterback Matt Flynn 

 

The argument that Wilson gives Seattle a better chance to win in the long run is simply stupid since Flynn too possesses plenty of attributes that would lead a reasonable football fans to conclude his growth is currently ahead of Wilson’s and could potentially be great too.

 

 

 

There is no question Wilson is an outstanding young man worthy of respect and praise. But with the worst passing attack in the NFL, a-quarter of the season is long enough to determine that the Seahawks need better play at quarterback right now or they could blow a season the is rife with promise and potential. Flynn is just as capable of handing the ball to Marshawn Lynch as Wilson, he can see and read the field better, and he CAN throw the ball extremely accurately according to most observers.

 

 

 

Please Pete Carroll; make the change. Install Flynn as the starter this week against Carolina. A trip all the way across the U.S. is tough enough. Tougher still, when you’re a rookie. It’s time to see Matt Flynn.

 

 

 

Thanks. I had to get that off my chest.

 

 

 

Thanks for visiting. Comments are welcome.

 

 

 

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