Blogless in Seattle

  Well I took the day off from sports today and tended to other parts of my life for a change. I was pleasantly surprised to hear that the Mariners had won 2-1 over the Rangers and thus win their first series in a month. Ryan Langerhans apparently played a big role in today’s win, both at the plate and in the field. This is major news by itself as Ryan Langerhans has not been a particularly big part of any games this year one way or the other. On any other team a guy with a .188 average would probably be considered a weak-link, but on the 2010 Mariners he is just one of the crew. Hard to say what will become of Langerhans next year but he seems like a nice enough chap.

  Another one of our rather bland personalities this year Doug Fister, managed to get his sixth win of the year only giving-up the one run on a solo bomb to Nelson Cruz. Not much to say about Doug Fister as he always seems to have the same facial expression on his face no matter whether he is winning or losing. Come to think of it the only Mariner who seems to show any emotion at all is Felix Hernandez, hmm maybe it part of the new conditioning program the Mariners are using this year……

  As you may have noticed many of my posts as of late seem to be sort of rambling and off topic. I suppose that is not fair for those of you who eagerly await the moment when you read my posts hoping to catch a glimpse of my astute analysis of the previous game. And if indeed there are any of you left who are really following the Mariners this year, rest assured I intend to finish out my Rookie year as a Baseball– Blogger right up to the bitter end.

  However I have to confess that though this season has been a bust as far as the Mariners go, I have begun to break through years of writers block with these goofy posts. For that I am grateful and owe it all to the Mariners offseason hype that had me believing that this was the year, and that I better make my move in order to be part of history. Well as we all know now the only history I am chronicling (not sure if this is really a word) is perhaps the worst offensive output in modern baseball history.

   So now where do I go from here? I am used to writing every day now, which is a good thing. The Mariners do not look like they will be contenders next year barring a huge infusion of cash and passion from the aging absentee-owner Hiroshi Yamauchi, and yet I have managed to begin to break out of my writers-block through it all.

   So I am going to continue writing. Maybe not about the Seattle Mariners( can you believe that!) but perhaps about life, love, politics, travel, adventure etc. over the winter. Yes I may check in now and then to talk about  postseason play, or in the event that there is some big Mariners news, but this old sailor has other stories to tell and time is ticking away.

   Anyway I just though I would clear the air on this matter so that it does not come as a total surprise when you look up at the New York Times bestseller list someday and see my name there! Smooth sailing, Jeff Engels at http://jeffsmariners.com

West Coast Mariners ashore on the Eastern Seaboard

  As I write this our Seattle Mariners, fresh off another series win are ashore in New York City preparing to do battle with the Yankees before sailing up the coast to the Port of Boston. I imagine for some of the guys including the new Skipper this must be an exhilarating experience as they wander around Manhattan enjoying the sights. The NY media will not consider our crew too much of a threat, and thus this series will only be seen in the light of the current tight pennant race the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox are in. Of course a few fans and players in New York probably remember the last game that Felix Hernandez pitched against them where he dominated the Bronx Bombers, and will want to avenge that loss on their home turf.

  The last time our gang was in New York earlier in the season way back in the Cliff Lee era, we managed to win the three game series and many in NY were a bit upset and amazed that the lowly Mariners could pull-off such a feat. But guys like Jeter, Rodriguez, Posada and Mariano Rivera are true professionals with only one thing on their mind…..winning. So in the calm before the storm I hope our team is enjoying itself. It is hard to say if young Adam Moore or the newly resurgent Matt Tuiasosopo will be intimidated by the big stage, or rise to the occasion against a superior foe and shine under the bright lights, we shall see tomorrow.

   I imagine Ichiro with his celebrity status has some interesting friends in New York; perhaps he is even dining with Yoko Ono in some eclectic underground spot tonight. I can’t quite imagine what a guy like Michael Saunders is doing in his day off in the Big Apple……maybe a museum or just staying close to the hotel. Hopefully Russell Branyan will be safe in his hotel room and manages to avoid any injuries at the hands of any devious furniture lurking in his room. Mostly I am happy that our crew is heading into the lion’s den with a little momentum under their belts and with any luck we may be able to win another series against either the Yankees or Red Sox.

    Back here in the remote outpost of Seattle it seems as if the average sports fan has begun to shift their attention to the upcoming football season and trying to cram in a little more of the great outdoors before fall sets in. Speaking of which your truly is heading out on a weeklong vacation starting tomorrow. I will be heading down to Brush Prairie; Washington to play in what could be my last softball tournament of my long career. I know it is not Yankee Stadium but it should be fun and I hope to get some closure around this whole Baseball bug that I have had for over 40 years so I can focus on my budding career as a sports journalist! I have decided to bring my laptop and will be making posts where possible on my journey which will end up at some small Port on the Coast of the great state of Oregon. Go Mariners!…..http://jeffsmariners.com

Mariners win fourth series in a row, edging Orioles 6-5

Matt Tuiasosopo living up to expectations

   The Seattle Mariners beat the Orioles 6-5 tonight giving them their fourth consecutive series win in a row. Matt Tuiasosopo once again produced at the plate with another 3-run homer in the second, and made a great diving catch in the eighth to stop the Orioles from scoring and perhaps saved the game. Tuiasosopo has been the hero two nights in a row for the Mariners and I am actually able to spell his name from memory now after typing in it so much in the past two nights!

  David Pauley pitched a nice game tonight, moving the ball around and picked-up his second win in front of 11,213 Orioles fans that seemed quite feisty despite their small numbers. Perhaps for teams like the Orioles and the Mariners when you get to this part of a losing season only the real die-hards still bother to come out to the ballpark and root for your home team. But tonight’s crowd was so small that once again you could begin to identify certain voices in the crowd including one woman who kept imploring our boys on with a loud clear “Seattle” in the background almost every inning. And she was rewarded with a nice finish to a three-game series that our boys will get to savor as they head to the not so friendly confines of Yankee Stadium to deal with a more aggressive team and group of fans.

   David Pauley handed the ball over to a bullpen who implemented the “Bend but don’t break” theory tonight. Jamie Wright came in to the game in the 7th after Pauley surrendered a two-run homer to Matt Weiters and managed to shut down the Orioles, though it was interesting.  The Mariners added a run in the top of the 8th when Ryan Langerhans running for Branyan took second on a deep fly to right barely beating the throw on a heads-up play. The Mariners were rewarded for their hustle when Casey Kotchman hit a ground-rule double to score Langerhans from second in what proved to be the winning run. In the bottom half of the 8th Wright let a run come across the plate on a balk and then a wild-pitch that allowed Luke Scott to score before Daren Brown yanked him for Sean White.Fortunately White did manage to preserve the slim one-run lead by getting the final 2 outs the last one on the great diving catch by Tuiasosopo.

  David Aardsma picked-up his 24th save on the year coming into the game in the 9th with a slim one-run lead that he managed to protect literally with his body on the final out stopping a line drive with his body with a runner in scoring position then having the composure to make the toss to first and end this game.

   After all that we have been through this year these past four series wins under new manager Daren Brown have softened the blow a bit. Yes we are 20 games back and with only 41 games to play it is highly doubtful we will be able to make it back to .500 but at least we are winning games and some of the young guys like Tuiasosopo and Pauley are getting a chance to prove they may indeed be part of our future.

  We still have a lot of unanswered questions in this great Port of Seattle as far as the overall direction of this franchise is concerned. We the fans have an obligation to ask hard questions and have our voices heard. There is an old saying in the Labor Movement that I am fond of which says: “Don’t Mourn, Organize!” I am pleased to report there is a grassroots outfit called “firenintendo” that you can follow on twitter, who’s aim is to unite the fans who care about our team so that we can get some changes at the top of the food-chain. I urge you to look them up and I will be trying to relay any information on upcoming events such as rallies, petitions etc. to you right here at Jeff’s Mariners Fan Blog where the Fans not only call the plays, but may be called on to save the franchise from further decay. I know I can count on you…..http://jeffsmariners.com

Indians beat drum and Mariners 9-1

Indians Fan John Adams beating drum as Indians rally

  The Cleveland Indians avenged Saturday’s 9-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners with a 9-1 trouncing of the visiting lads from the Puget Sound today. Felix Hernandez pitched great through 6 innings and had two down in the 7th before a costly error by Chone Figgins opened the flood gates for the tribe. The Indians rally features a grand-slam by Travis Hafner and allowed the Indians rally drummer John Adams (pictured above) who has been beating the distinctive loud drum at Indians games for 37 years,  a chance to pound away as the Cleveland fans finally got to something to get excited about in this series. Felix Hernandez definitely has fallen into the category of what they used to call a toughluck pitcher back in the day. As a matter of fact I was interviewed yesterday by the author of Baseball Past and Present for an article on Dusty Rhodes and we found an old-clipping describing my Grandfather in 1934 as the league’s tough-luck pitcher. Well Felix Hernandez is definitely the AL’s version of this year’s tough-luck pitcher considering the meager run-support he has received from his offense on the campaign thus far in 2010.

   But believe it or not the Mariners won their third series in a row this weekend and now move on to another hot and humid series in Baltimore. I expect to see a little media attention for this series as both teams are playing decent ball under their new respective skippers. Daren Brown vs. Buck Showalter the rookie against the wily veteran trying to make one last run at glory. Many of you may remember Buck Showalter as the manager of the 1995 Yankees who got fired after losing the infamous series to the fabled 95 Mariners before going on to Texas and then of course TV. I like our chances in this upcoming series, and would like to see our wayward sailors pick-up another series victory before heading on to play the Yankees and Red Sox before sailing home to Safeco field.

  I received a message on Twitter that I am being followed by “Fire Nintendo” which is apparently a grassroots effort to build a campaign to oust Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln using social media. I support this endeavor and urge my readers to get involved as well. It has been refreshing to see the mainstream media get onboard with this issue as of late in the Seattle Times as well as other publications. However at the end of the day it is going to be up to us the Fans to mobilize and organize around the Top Management problem with this team, if indeed we ever hope to move out of the lower tier in Major League baseball that we now occupy with teams like the Indians and the Orioles. Look for more information on this campaign as I receive it here. I hope everyone is enjoying the weather and getting outdoors to enjoy that time of year we relish here in Seattle, too bad we don’t have a heated pennant race to complete the summer….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

Twins take first game of series 5-3

  The Minnesota Twins won the opening game of the series tonight 5-3 thus continuing the woes of the visiting Seattle Mariners. The Mariners made their first visit to beautiful Target Field filled with 40,596 loyal and enthusiastic Twins fans. Doug Fister picked-up the loss tonight thanks in part to some shoddy play by the defense behind him. Fister now goes to 3-7 on the year and appears to be getting a bit sharper but still nowhere near the guy we saw in the early going. The Twins starter Scott Baker went to 9-9 with his performance though he started out looking shaky in the first few frames. In fact the Mariners had a golden opportunity in the second inning after working the bases full with only one down before both Wilson infielders choked and the M’s came-away with 0.

  The Mariners were facing a pennant contending club that plays great defense and holds a .298 average with RISP, compare that to the Mariners who have a .236 average with RISP giving you a picture of the stark contrast in these two clubs. The Mariners did rally for three runs in the 6th inning thanks to a clutch double by Josh Wilson that drove in Saunders and Gutierrez. Branyan had one of his two doubles in the same inning and had come in earlier on a single by Gutierrez. Outside of that it was all Twins thanks to homers by Thome and Casilla.

  This year’s Twins are once again in the thick of things in the AL Central as they try to make it into the World Series after being knocked-out last year by the Yankees. The Twins are marking their 50th year as a franchise with a new stadium and a well-rounded team that gives the folks in the Twin-Cities something to be proud of. Their big slugger Justin Mourneau was sidelined today with an injury but may be back soon as they battle away in a tight AL Central race.

  As most of you know by now pitcher Roy Oswalt has been traded by the Astros to the Phillies and veteran Lance Berkman is leaving those same Astros for the bright lights of New York to wear a Yankees uniform. Apparently the White Sox are close to adding to their already powerful lineup with the acquisition of slugger Adam Dunn from the lowly Nationals. As all this is going on our Mariners appear to have a bunch of players that no one is too interested in at this point. However in August a few of our guys like Lopez and maybe Casey Kotchman could be put out on waivers allowing other clubs to finish the process of picking the last bit of meat off the carcass of our beached whale. We could have been the center of all potential trade attention still if Jack Zduriencik had not chosen to grab Justin Smoak for Cliff Lee. Smoak who is now batting .198 was not in the lineup tonight as either we were trying to showcase Casey Kotchman who went 0-5, or Smoak has another one of those mystery Mariners injuries.

  Still thinking of heading down to watch the Tacoma Rainiers tomorrow as I’d like to watch my old friend Mike Sweeney and catch a glimpse of Dustin Ackley. Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful weather even as we watch the Mariners continue their voyage to the bottom of the Sea….http://jeffsmariners.com

White Sox beat Mariners again 6-5

Ozzie Guillen happy with his 1st place White Sox

The Chicago White Sox managed to come back from a 5-1 deficit to defeat the Seattle Mariners 6-5, and win the third game of the series between the two clubs. For a Mariner fan this game rates as disappointing rather than painful or just plain dumb like last night’s wipeout. Disappointing in the sense that for once the Mariners scored early jumping out to a 5-1 lead in the second inning after Chone Figgins hit his first homer of the year. Usually that would be enough for Jason Vargas to cruise to a victory, but tonight Vargas did not have his good stuff and he gave-up three homers to the first-place White Sox.

  Mark Buehrle got the start tonight for the White Sox and he too was not on his A-game though his defense did allow a couple runs to score in the first that should not have been allowed. The difference in this game was the bullpen’s of the two clubs. In the case of the Mariners Jamie Wright was brought in to relieve Vargas in the bottom half of the fifth after homers by Alexi Ramirez and Paul Konerko. Jamie Wright pitched fine until he walked the lead-off batter Juan Pierre in the 7th, the speedy then stole second and moved over to third on a sacrifice bunt by Alexi Ramirez who looks like a “Praying Mantis”. Don Wakamatsu then went to his bullpen to get Brandon League who promptly gave-up a single to Rios putting the Chisox up 6-5. In my opinion Wakamatsu left Wright in too long and should have used someone else to pitch the 7th.

   However after mulling it over I can hardly blame Wak for trying to push the envelope and allow Wright to stay in the game. For as you know the pitchers in the Mariners bullpen have been juggled around so much this year that unlike the White Sox our relievers have no clear roles. For Ozzie Guillen things are different, as he knows he can count on guys like Santos, Thornton, Putz and then Jenks in that order night after night to finish out games if his starter can get through 5 or 6 innings. This is not the case for Wakamatsu who seems to have to awkwardly configure a sequence of relievers every night. This is not likely to change soon as now Luke French has been thrown into the mix coming back up to replace Ryan Rowland-Smith who has been placed on another one of our “Mystery DL” assignments.

  At any rate the White Sox have a one game lead over the Twins who we face next and certainly have a great club worth keeping an eye on as we head into the stretch. Another team that I’m watching with amazement is the Oakland Athletics who beat the Rangers tonight. The A’s team make-up is similar to the Mariners in that it is built on pitching, defense, speed and timely hitting. Of course the big difference is that the A’s unlike our club are making it work. So we will get away from Chicago tomorrow and head on to face the Twins next as the Mariners continue to disappoint us in this long voyage…..http://jeffsmariners.com

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