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! http://jeffsmariners.com

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. http://jeffsmariners.com

The Media’s role in the 2010 Mariners season disaster

     Having reached the nice round number of 100 complete games I figured it was time for me to write something about this season thus far. Initially I felt compelled to write this post today after reading several stories on various Blogs and newspapers about the season where people were still grasping at straws to be the cleverest in their analysis. I was also amazed to read more than one reference to Ken Griffey Jr. in an attempt to blame this whole mess on him still. I am not quite sure if these folks at unnamed sites are serious or not but I just wanted to remind them that Ken Griffey Jr. is gone and the Mariners have actually gotten worse since he left. So perhaps it may be time to take a look at the one last group that has not taken any responsibility or blame for this season…..

   And yes it is the press and media myself included who might have to take a look at how the power of the internet, newspapers, twitter etc. may have a negative effect on  a team specifically this year’s Mariners. I suppose that we will need some new statistical categories to attempt to quantify the abstract effect that negative press and know-it-all bloggers have on a team’s record. Let’s start with LLT for Larry Larue at the Tribune who broke the story on Ken Griffey Jr. supposedly sleeping in the dugout. I would say that the net result in games lost from LLT this year is 5.5. This 5.5 LLT takes into account the pressure on Don Wakamatsu to end up having to be the fall-guy and benching Griffey till he just quits. This has no-doubt left Wak at odds with several of the veteran players who in turn have proven to be unforgiving of the way Griffey was treated and thus have played less than stellar as they pouted. Most notably is Chone Figgins. The LLT has also apparently affected Wakamatsu and he has been gun-shy up until recently with benching players thus letting guys like Jose Lopez get away with murder on the field. Again I attribute this to LLT which was a result of not only Larry Larue and the Tribune but a host of others at various other media outlets and Blogs.

  Another category that the media/blogosphere can accept the blame for a few losses is what I will call JZW or Jack Zduriencik Worship. Last winter with rare exception every move made by Jack Z. was greeted online and in the papers with endless praise and hero-worship, allowing Jack Z. to construct this disaster of a team with little or no public scrutiny leading to such phrases as “In Jack Z. we trust”. Like most of the abstract and random way that many of the new sabermetrics figures are derived and quantified JZW is only a new science that I developed 4 minutes ago. But I will give our team a net loss of 3 games to JZW this year and blame it squarely on the media.

   Ok let’s see, to be fair goofy Rookie Bloggers like myself deserve some of the blame and thus the new category of RBBS for Rookie Bloggers Bull S…T which is now part of the blogosphere jargon and I will arbitrarily accept the blame for 1 loss on the season. I have made some silly mistakes on my blog this year in punctuation, grammar and just generally not Skookum posts.

   Ok now let’s attempt to quantify the effect listening to Dave Sims all year has had on the Won-Loss record. In all fairness though he is a bit of a pompous dork, Dave Sims has probably only been accountable for 1-2 losses this year. Using the slightly modified acronym as I applied to myself, I will go with DSBS to account for the 1-2 losses he has caused with his rhetoric which demoralizes fans who in turn are forced to turn off the TV and thus withhold support from the team as they struggle.This results in less money for the Mariners to improve the team and aides the continuing downward cycle of this franchise.

   The final category has to go to Blog readers who comment on things they know nothing about and yet still insist upon being right. Let’s call this new but soon to be important advanced analytics term BRCBS and say it accounts for 1 loss on the year. BRCBS is irritating and influences morale of the fan-base and the players who happen to read these goofy blogs as well.

   So I believe with this post we have accounted for approximately 12 of the losses on the year and I personally accept responsibility for one loss, perhaps the 8-6 loss to the Red Sox last week (my favorite loss this year). Because if there is one thing this old sailor has learned in life it is that when you point your finger at someone else there are 4 pointing back at you….http://jeffsmariners.com

“Sweet Lou” Piniella decides to sail away……

Lou Piniella at the helm of the Mariners

   Lou Piniella announced today that his voyage in the game of baseball will come to a conclusion at the end of the 2010 season. The announcement by Piniella comes on the heels of the passing of George Steinbrenner and the retirement of Ken Griffey Jr. earlier this year. “Sweet Lou” has spent 40 years in baseball including 18 years as a player and 22 as a manager. It is hard to imagine him way back in 1969 when he was named Rookie of the Year playing with the Royals. Lou was a player that played hard and hated to lose. He went on to play with the Yankees from 73-84 and got a job managing there from George Steinbrenner in 86. His stay with the Yankees was tumultuous, and Lou ended up going to the Reds in 1990 where he managed his team to a World Series championship.

   Lou is of course best remembered in the Seattle area for his years at the Conn of the Mariners from 1993 -2002. Lou came into town at the behest of GM Woody Woodward and proceeded to turn the Mariners into a force to be reckoned with in the American League West. I recall the 1994 strike shortened season quite well as Lou had his club motivated and on the move that year and was the team most feared at the time to go all the way, until the players went out on strike. In 1995 the fans around the country including here in Seattle were slow to return to fill the stadiums and were it not for the miraculous year the Mariners had under their fiery skipper in 95 we would not have baseball in Seattle today.

  Outside of Don James the coach of the Huskies in their golden era, no one comes close in the minds of most Seattle sports fans as to who the all-time best coach or manager has been in our area other than Lou Piniella. Lou has a brilliant baseball mind and a personality and will to win that filled the old Kingdome and later Safeco field. Lou piloted the great 2000 and 2001 teams that he took to the ALCS show-downs only to lose to the same Yankees that his 1995. There are a lot of sports reels filled with Lou Piniella out on the field sticking-up for his team in the passionate style that is long gone from Safeco field. But Lou was more than a hot-tempered manager, he was also a fiercely loyal manager who commanded respect from his players and in return looked out for his guys.

   I recall meeting Lou in person in the late 90’s down at the old J&M café and bar in Pioneer Square. I shook his hand and was shocked at how humble and friendly he was in real life. Lou was actually a gentle loving guy who just happened to hate losing. I didn’t stick around to bug him as I respected/feared the guy too much to get on his bad side! The other time I had contact with Lou was in the 2001 season when prior to a game I was down by the dugout as he came in off the field prior to a late season game. I remember yelling “Lou we need to crank it up a notch” he looked me right in the eye and gave me a quick nod again in a respectful manner. Lou was a great judge of character and if he liked you he let you know, however if you were a guy like Jeff Cirillo and weren’t hustling he could be a players nightmare.

  There are plenty of myths and Sea-stories surrounding Lou Piniella and his final years here in Seattle. One that was floating around towards the end was that Lou had gone into see Howard Lincoln trying to get “Another Bat’’ so he could go all the way. Apparently Lincoln said no and Lou supposedly said that things were going to revert back to the old losing days of the Mariners if he left town. Well the rest is history, Lou didn’t get what he needed to win and he left town after the 2002 season and the Mariners have been in a perpetual rebuilding mode ever since.

  It was a treat to see “Sweet Lou” when he was here with his latest club the Cubs a month or so ago. I managed to make it to the last game of the series and got one final chance to see the old firebrand storm out onto the field to argue a call at third. Lou did not put on a full performance that day but it was the first time during that series that both the Cubs and Mariners fans were cheering together……

  Lou Piniella has done the right thing by announcing his retirement today effective at the end of the year. This allows the Cubs time to try to find a manager to fill Lou’s shoes….good luck on that. The Cubs are struggling and if you have seen any pictures of the skipper recently you can tell that at 67 he is just getting tired. Many people around baseball will miss Lou Piniella and hopefully he will enter the Hall of Fame someday, but for fans here in Seattle especially this year it is a particularly painful reminder of the past. Thank you for taking the helm of our ship Lou though the voyage was all to brief it was the best we ever had here….http://jeffsmariners.com

Big Papi home run derby champ

David Ortiz aka Big Papi

  David Ortiz won the home run derby down in Anaheim tonight beating out an impressive field of mashers including Hanley Ramirez also from the Dominican Republic who finished second. Ortiz otherwise known as “Big Papi” had a slow start this year and there was even talk in the media that he wouldn’t stay on the roster for the rest of the campaign. But unlike Ken Griffey Jr, Ortiz was given a chance to redeem himself which he has, and tonight he showed the whole world that he still has what it takes to carry a team on his broad shoulders. Ortiz is a gentle-giant type of guy with a warm smile and a huge heart to go along with his powerful swing. It is worth mentioning that Corey Hart from the Brewers hit 13 dingers in the first round of the competition before fading in the second round.

   It was nice to see the players with their children out on the field tonight as they put on a show of raw power, timing, and graceful swings before the AllStar game on Tuesday. The All-Star game was first played in 1933 in Chicago and the National League holds a 40-38-2 lead overall despite the fact that the American League has won 12 of the last 13 games. The All-Star game brings all the best players together for one game in a celebration of our National pastime. It is also a time to reflect on the games past great players and take a break from the grind of a long season.

  In light of the dismal season the Mariners are having in 2010 it was a bit painful to see Cliff Lee suited up along with Adrian Beltre who is having a great year for the Red Sox. Another former Mariner Arthur Rhodes now with the Reds is getting his first start in the mid-summer classic at the age of 40 which is a wonderful story. And just as I was beginning to feel sorry for myself and our languishing Mariners, Bobby Valentine mentioned Ichiro and that he should be in the home run derby! Also right after the camera panned on the great HOFer Frank Robinson, Joe Morgan mentioned the possibility of Ken Griffey Jr. showing up and how past greats were voted on to the team in their last seasons. But alas Griffey is gone but not forgotten by those that follow this game from around the country, which made watching Lee and Beltre a little more palatable.

  Ichiro will be our sole representative on the AL squad this year and will be batting in his familiar spot as lead-off hitter. Ichiro was named the MVP in a memorable All-Star game in 2007 when he hit the only inside the park home run in the history of the annual game. Ken Griffey Jr. was MVP himself way back in 1993, and Randy Johnson was the starting pitcher back in 1997 while he was in his prime pitching for the Mariners.

  So this game which will decide the home-field advantage for this year World Series may not be all about our beautiful section of this country, but it will be a fun and great tribute to the game and its best players. Yes the Mariners are still in the cellar of the AL West, but for one night it is time to put all of our misery aside and enjoy this wonderful game, and try to remember it is indeed just a game. Http://jeffsmariners.com

Ruth and Griffey two of the greatest retire on June 2nd

Ken Griffey Jr. and Babe Ruth were different men from different era’s but share a few things,one of which is the date they chose to retire : June 2nd. Babe Ruth considered to be the greatest player of all-time retired on June 2,1935 and Ken Griffey Jr. The “Yankee Killer” retired on June 2nd 2010, 75 years apart. Babe Ruth is credited with saving the game of baseball after the “Black Sox scandal” and Griffey is credited with saving baseball in Seattle. Both men had a presence at the plate and in the eyes of the nation that cannot be measured in statistics alone, though with 714 and 630 home runs respectively the numbers were awesome. I never got to see Babe Ruth play but my Grandfather Gordon Dusty Rhodes played with Ruth from 1929-32 while he was with the Yankees which is how I obtained this original photo of the “Babe”

  I did however get to see Ken Griffey Jr. in action many times both at the old Kingdome and at Safeco field. Both of these players were and will always remain bigger than life and represent the timeless game of baseball in the minds and hearts of fans across the nation and world. Griffey played the outfield with a lot more ability and daring than Ruth, but Ruth also was an excellent pitcher when he started out with the Boston Red Sox.

  Both men are legends who specialized in a flair for the dramatic, First Ruth with his famous home run in the 1932 World Series against Chicago where he pointed to centerfield then hit a home run to the spot he pointed to. Griffey of course will be best known for the five home runs he hit against the same Yankees in the 1995 division play-offs, capped off by his mad dash from first to score the winning run in game five of that series.

   While Griffey off the field is respected as a family man who never got involved in the steroids scandal, Ruth on the other hand was known as a party-animal and a bit of a ruffian. However both players had huge hearts and spent time visiting sick children and other social work that often time gets over-looked in an era where people seem to enjoy dirty-laundry and gossip.

   True American heroes are rare and hard to come by these days, but Babe Ruth and Ken Griffey Jr. who as fate would have it retired on the same day are heroes in my book. We will never know if Ken Griffey Jr. would have broken the all-time home run record had he stayed healthy, or if Ruth would have been a great manager as he always dreamed of if given a chance, but we do know we will never forget them. http://jeffsmariners.com

Felix fans 9 Twins as Mariners win 4-1

The Seattle Mariners have begun the post Griffey era by taking three out of four from the Minnesota Twins, winning the final game tonight 4-1. Felix Hernandez pitched a gem, mixing a wicked curve-ball in with his 96 mph fastball to keep the AL Central leading Twins off-balance and allowing Felix to pick-up his first win since April 21st. Hernandez had his swagger back tonight and struck-out 9 Twins including a rare 4 strikeout inning in the 8th after Twins slugger Joe Mauer struck-out  but reached first on a wild pitch. Felix came right back and struck-out Justin Morneau who was on fire this series and had a RBI single in the first to drive-in the Twins lone run.

 The Mariners offense collected 9 hits and 4 runs on the night to go along with 5 stolen bases against Twins starter Carl Pavano. The red-hot Jose Lopez batting clean-up, and  had the big hit of the night connecting for a 3-run homer in the 3rd putting the resurgent Mariners up for good at 4-1. Michael Saunders got the start in Left and looks like he may be up with the big club for good with a nice night at the plate going 2-3 as well as picking up a stolen base. Ichiro has been particularly pesky for opposing pitchers lately, and when he is not slapping base hits he is fouling off 10-12 pitches and running wild on the basepaths,  picking up 3 stolen bases tonight.

  The Paper Boy Josh Wilson continues to tear the cover off the ball and raised his average to .308 tonight with 2 more hits. I am not sure when and if Jack Wilson is coming back, but Josh Wilson has earned a spot in the line-up somewhere even if it means moving him  to first for the struggling Kotchman. The catchers situation may be coming to a head soon with both Bard and Moore getting closer to being healthy.

  The Mariners brought up Chad Cordero to fill the roster spot for Griffey. This move gives us 7 guys in the bullpen and some insurance in case Aardsma doesn’t come back to his 2009 form as the closer. Other than that we will pretty much have to work with what we have and actually this series showed a club on the upswing. For what it is worth after winning this series  the Mariners picked up a game in the standings, and we are now 6 games back with the Angels coming to town for the weekend.

  I want to thank everyone who has stopped by in the past 24 hours to read my post on Ken Griffey Jr. I hope you stick around, for though this past day has been an emotional one for us here in Seattle with the Ancient Mariner sailing away, it looks  like the rest of the crew are sticking their oars in the water and giving it their best. I am hoping to put together a more in-depth article on Griffey and the team he lead in the 90’s. Love to hear any thoughts you may have on that golden era of Mariners baseball.  And as much as I love  good sea stories, lets not forget our new crew who deserve our support just like we gave the old salts. http://jeffsmariners.com

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