Mariners players, a mystery off the field

   The Mariners get a day to rest before starting a series with the Cleveland Indians tomorrow so there is no need for my usual ranting about the dismal state of this fading season. Instead I thought I would talk a little about the players themselves and their lives off the field. Of course being that I am simply a blogger and have no access to the players outside of my brief interactions in spring training, much of my profiles will have to be speculative. It is also difficult to keep track of exactly who has been on the 25 man roster at times this year, as well as the coaching staff which has recently undergone a major transformation, but I will do my best.

  There was a time in America say 30-40 years ago that the fans in a city with a major league team were fascinated with the lives of their hometown heroes down to the smallest details. Of course this was before twitter, facebook, free agency and the infamous short attention span of the average fan. Guys like Willie Mays used to play stickball with the kids in his neighborhood in New York in the early 50’s and players actually lived in the cities they played for and were embraced in a much less cynical manner than the current scenario. But we are here now in 2010 with a team playing for the Seattle Mariners that really we know little about, and since no one else in the media seems to be trying to figure out who these guys really are off the playing field I thought I would give it a shot.

  Ok well the first mystery guy is the new manager Daren Brown. Daren strikes me as a nice guy who probably hunts a little in the offseason and though not quite your average Texan in his political views, I think it is fair to say he won’t be moving to Wallingford soon to be around like- minded progressives. Daren played some ball and his father and uncle did as well so I imagine he has some sort of memorabilia collection, and has a fair but not extensive historical knowledge of the game dating back at least to the 60’s.

  Next we will take a look at another relative newcomer Brian Sweeney. Sweeney seems like an earnest guy who has been around the block and judging from his accent likes Italian food. While not attempting to stereo type, I hear he likes Mafia movies and probably has a hot wife who has stuck with Brian through all the ups and downs on his road to his current role as a multipurpose reliever for the Mariners.

   Josh Bard is about as difficult guy to read as possible due to his rather bland personality and demeanor (a common theme with this club unfortunately) but I do have a gut feeling he rides a Harley and like heavy metal music.

  Josh Wilson the “Paper boy” strikes me as the intellectual type who quite possibly is a sharp dresser and a bit of a ladies man. Josh also looks like he could enjoy surfing and perhaps like to fiddle around with computers in his never-ending quest to figure out things.

  Then there are the boys from Venezuela Jose Lopez and Felix Hernandez as well as the heart-throb Franklin Gutierrez. Jose obviously enjoys food, the spicier the better. He fancies himself as a fashion icon and sports a large wardrobe of flashy clothes and likes jewelry to go with his flamboyant style. Gutierrez on the other hand tends to favor poetry and has a deep appreciation for family, his roots and being adored by women all over the world. King Felix is just starting to grow-up this season and is undergoing a transformation of sorts from a brash kid to a national hero at home and here in Seattle. King Felix is studying stand-up comedy in the offseason as he looks to do some television and movie work as he goes along in order to bolster the image he is creating for his adoring subjects. Felix does have a soft spot for his mother and also has a pet cat called you guessed it “ Felix the Cat”

    Chone Figgins is a mystery guy, but don’t let those brooding eyes fool you he is quite a funny guy and is a student of politics. Chone plays the saxophone and at one time considered giving up baseball to form his own band of hipster vanguard jazz players in Paris, but could not handle the idea of not playing baseball every day even in an odd town like Seattle.

   Casey Kotchman is a secret fan of the show “Deadliest Catch” as he is the strong silent type. His great-grandfather was a military hero in WWI and Casey along with Edgar Martinez votes Republican though he and his wife are friendly decent people. Casey would make a good neighbor as he is the kind of guy though not flashy, can fix anything.

   Ichiro is perhaps the most elusive and guarded of the bunch. Besides baseball Ichiro spends time cultivating a large assortment of exotic plants in greenhouses spread out all over the world. His clothing line can be seen on the backs of the numerous hip young Japanese fans that travel to Safeco each year to watch their idol. Ichiro plans on using his considerable celebrity status and wealth to put together a TV show when he retires. Ichiro plans on using his new show entitled “Ichiknows” in order to contemplate issues facing modern Japan and has been secretly discussing the details of his show with Oprah!

    So that is all I have for now, feel free to fill-in the blanks with any players I have missed or if you have managed to scrape-up any tidbits of information on this assortment of characters we have on our TV’s nightly. I am sure some of my insights may be a little off-base but as an expansion-blogger I am still working on getting my foot in the door with these guys who have maybe not endeared us this year, but have certainly left an impression on us!

Daren Brown goes from triple-A to triple-play in one day!

1936 A’s Gordon “Dusty” Rhodes photo by L.Van Oyen*

  The Seattle Mariners turned their first tripleplay since 1995 in the fourth inning of their 3-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics to welcome their new skipper Daren Brown tonight. For Daren Brown and the rest of Mariner Nation today has been another emotional rollercoaster in a season that has been anything but boring despite a horrible record. Doug Fister who has been a tough-luck pitcher tonight’s victory pitched well to earn his first win since May 11th.

  The Mariners jumped on A’s starter Vin Mazzaro early picking-up a couple runs in the first on clutch two-out RBI singles by both Lopez and Gutierrez. Mazzaro is another of the young pitchers that have carried the A’s this far despite having an offense that like the Mariners lacks power-hitters, outside of perhaps Jack Cust. Even though my Grandfather Gordon Rhodes pitched for the Philadelphia A’s in 1936 (see above attachment *) I have always enjoyed beating the A’s, and tonight was especially sweet given the upstart A’s are still technically in the race.

  Of course the big news of this game was the magical moment in the top of the 4th when none other than Jose Lopez started a third to second to first (5-4-3) triple play to end an A’s threat and give the loyal fans at the Safe something to remember. As goofy as Jose Lopez is, it was nice to see him smile in the dugout after starting this play. In fact it is nice to see anyone smiling in the dugout including the big tall Texan “Downtown Daren Brown” who has suddenly found himself in the trenches of a season that everyone would like to forget. Daren Brown looks like a guy who isn’t going to take any lip from the players, veterans or rookies and he deserves our support.

  In an odd way I have sort of already let-go of the whole Don Wakamatsu era after tonight’s game and I wish him well. It is not a good thing when as a fan you are starting to feel sorry for a manager like Wakamatsu who was obviously in over his head and had that “Deer in the Headlights” look lately. The debate around his departure has been heated online and on the air today with lots of accusations flying around. One of the most irritating is the continuous blame of all things bad this year on Ken Griffey Jr. I have come to the conclusion that there is a certain segment of the local media and blogosphere who are too young to remember the golden years for the Mariners from say 93 -02, or are transplants and thus are bitter at Griffey as a reminder that they missed the boat so to speak. It is quite irritating for me as someone who sat through the terrible 80’s before having a good stretch, and then to be stuck in this morass of endless rebuilding, to continue to listen to the bashing of the future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey.  

  I think it may be time to let go of the references to 1995, the Griffey bashing, and now the whole Wakamatsu era so that we can rally around Daren Brown and our team the rest of the way. We have been through enough as a fan base this year and somehow we need to move on. Just a note I will be talking about the Mariners on my first live podcast of the year with another member of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance at 8pm Tuesday night at: the link to the show page. Feel free to listen in if the game gets boring and call in if you like!

Don Wakamatsu fired by Seattle Mariners

Don Wakamatsu fired, nice guys finish last….

 Seattle Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik announced today that manager Don Wakamatsu along with pitching coach Rick Adair and bench coach Ty Van Burkleo have all been fired. Zduriencik said: “I have concluded that these changes needed to be made now and that they are in the best interest of the Mariners as we move forward,” general manager Jack Zduriencik said in a press release. “Don, Ty and Rick are all good baseball men and they have done their very best. But we are where we are. I no longer have confidence that Don, Ty and Rick are the right long-term fit for our organization. New leadership is needed and it is needed now.”

 Daren Brown manager with the Mariners AAA affiliate the Tacoma Rainiers will be brought-in as the interim manager, along with Carl Willis who will take over as the pitching coach for Rick Adair. Roger Hansen will be the new bench coach for the rest of the season.

  While this move does not come as a major shock for most of us fans, it is a bit disturbing in that the Seattle Mariners have gone through 16 managers since the team’s inception in 1977. Only Lou Piniella has survived for more than three seasons out of the whole bunch, and it is no coincidence that the Mariners only real winning era was under Piniella.

  It is no secret that Wakamatsu never really had control of the clubhouse especially after the whole Ken Griffey Jr. situation. Wakamatsu ended up being the fall-guy for upper-management to handle that tough scenario that appeared to be still lingering in the dugout when Chone Figgins exploded after being pulled from a game recently by Wakamatsu.

   I liked Wakamatsu as an individual, but after seeing how the veterans disrespected him this year down at Peoria for spring training this year, I knew trouble was brewing. Wakamatsu made a lot of questionable moves this year with his odd lineups, difficulty in handling the bullpen, and just being generally indecisive. Of course last year Wakamatsu could do no wrong, but some of that was luck, and some can be attributed to the veterans Griffey and Mike Sweeney helping Wakamatsu out.

 So now with roughly 2/3 of the season over we will trudge forward  to another off-season of uncertainty where we will continue the never-ending rebuilding project that started in 2003 and has no end in sight. One common denominator through all the years of failure and heartache that we fans have endured here is two names: Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln. These two guys manage to keep their jobs no matter who comes or goes. This franchise has some serious problems like lack of goals, unaccountable front office personnel, and an absentee owner. These problems will not go away no matter who is managing this team and it is time for the fans to demand some real change at the top or we will continue to go through managers, GM’s, and players like a sailor blowing his cash after a long voyage.

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