THE PROBABILITY OF CHANCE: MY NUMBERLESS THOUGHTS ON OPENING DAY AND THE 2018 MARINERS SEASON

We probably won’t, but then again we might. Borrowing from the famous Irish playwright, Samuel Beckett, “You must go on. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.”

Joe Baseball

“Baseball, it is said, is only a game. True. And the Grand Canyon is only a hole in Arizona. Not all holes, or games, are created equal.”   -George Will

Speaking of holes, the projections don’t favor the Mariners winning a spot in the postseason. Hell, half the fans don’t either. It’s been a long time since we’ve played in October, but I’m not going to get into that. Like the legendary pitcher, Bob Feller said, that every day is a new day, and the same goes for baseball, every year is a new year. As that’s the case, I’m going to focus instead on what’s ahead and ignore the numbers against the Mariners’ chances or scour my murky historical memory for the time when we were better. I believe in chance.

The key to this season is quite simple: all of our players have to play well and stay healthy…

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THE BILDUNGSROMAN OF MIKE ZUNINO

“Fan martyrdom is a feckless and meaningless sacrifice when judged outside of the eye of the beholder, but a necessary part of the emotional content of the game. I’ve always judged Zunino in emotional terms because his progression has been defined by a myriad of struggles which, in my opinion, mirror the disarray and hardships of daily life.”

Joe Baseball

June 19th 2017 was the day I started believing that Mike Zunino’s improvement was irrevocable. Granted, he had been on a streak, but I’d seen plenty of those before. Zunino was hot, there was no doubt, but he’d been struggling for so long I wanted to do him a favor and not believe in him or at least ignore his improvement because I wanted him to succeed. I know that sounds contradictory, or even oxymoronic, but it’s a baseball thing to say, at least for a fan. When guys who’ve struggled at the plate heat up it’s best to not jinx the whole thing by making a big deal about it; it’s best to not change anything and let the good times ride out, even if it’s without you.

Fan martyrdom is a feckless and meaningless sacrifice when judged outside of the eye of the beholder, but a necessary…

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PACK ALONG YOUR FRIENDS, DANIEL

I wrote about the Chris Farley of the Seattle Mariners.

Joe Baseball

It’s hard to not be a fan of Daniel Vogelbach right now. As I’m writing this, the first baseman leads the Cactus League in Slugging, OPS (On-base percentage + Slugging), and is one point off the lead in On-base percentage. In 56 plate appearances, the twenty-five-year-old slugger has walked 10 times, struck out only 9, and has collected 18 hits, 5 of them home runs, 3 since last Friday. He currently sits in 3rd place in batting average.

This is a far different Vogelbach than the player who showed up to Spring Training last year, where he hit .228 (13-for-57), with a .313 on-base percentage, .333 slugging percentage, and only 1 home run. Vogelbach has significantly increased his offensive production and walk rate while decreasing his strikeouts by more than half—he’s walked more than he’s struck out this Spring Training.

It was 362 days ago, March 23rd, that the…

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THE RETURN OF THE TRIDENT: THE TRUE LEGEND OF A MADE-UP CURSE

“In the hazy obscurity of doobies, Quaaludes and Disco that was the late ‘70s, there rested (no doubt on a hideously upholstered couch) the upside-down trident biding its time to be released.”

Joe Baseball

The Seattle Mariners’ 2017 necromancy of the inverted trident logo has opened a Pandora’s Box of pain and terror.

The bad omen was redesigned but not all-together scrapped like it should have been by former owner, George Argyros when he took over ownership of the ball club in 1981. Argyros was aware, due to his well-known participation in the occult and public history of conjuring demonic incantations to close business deals, that the down-turned scepter of Poseidon was a bad luck charm and would someday have to be cast to the flames.

Upon acquiring the team, Argyros’ statement, “Patience is for losers,” was famously misattributed by sports journalists and fans as a promise to shape up the misfit team into a World Series contender; when in fact it was simply an early declaration to rid the team of the trident as quickly as possible. However, in secret, this was no…

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SORRY, NO SHORTCUTS: EVALUATING SPRING TRAINING PITCHING BY EYE AND EAR

Getting academically unacademic about statistical nightmares, and fearing the prospect of using your eyes and ears again to know stuff.

Joe Baseball

Every Spring Training I’m reminded that pre-season statistics don’t correlate with regular season performance. Spring Training is a time for the young to fight for a place and the starters to shake off the rust and gradually work their way up into top form. This is especially true for pitchers.

Spring Training pitching often tests the fan’s resolve to ignore statistics. If a pitcher is showing well in ST it’s easy to spit out some stats to highlight how well they’re doing. For example, Mariners up-and-comer, Marco Gonzales has been showing well, posting only 5 hits with 0 home runs in 9 innings pitched. I love telling people that because I believe that this is Marco’s breakout year and I want to use data to strengthen my case that he’s going to be great in the regular season. By and large, this is a mistake. Well, partially.

marco-gonzales-mariners-620-620x370 Marco Gonzales is…

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THERE’S NO NOSTALGIA LIKE MARINERS NOSTALGIA: WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE ICHIRO SIGNING

“The barrage of media curated to trigger nostalgia in order to enliven the fan base works, but at a price; and the addition of Ichiro—no matter how sound the management’s reasons are—signals the wanging of blind support for a team more interested in contending with the facts of the past, than its divisional rivals in the present.”

Joe Baseball

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Although the Mariners brass swears up and down that the procurement of Ichiro Suzuki was solely a pragmatic decision, the move reeks of nostalgia and has left many Mariners fans in a crisis of future success versus memory. The best case scenario is he’s meant to be a short-term solution for an outfield in need of a reliable player to sew up the holes until it regains its health. The worst is that this is the first sign the franchise is already throwing in the towel this season and focusing on nostalgia to hoodwink the fans, instead of signing a quality starting pitcher to please them. The third option is that there’s no plan, no cover-up, and no sinister movements taking place amongst the shadows. But, that’s a boring option, so we’ll suspend that most probable scenario for the sake of entertainment.

The use of nostalgia as a means to…

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MARINERS GET A DAY OFF SO LET’S PLAY CATCH UP

My stupid BB blog. Sorry, Ben Gamel’s injured so The Mariners decided to bring Ichiro back. I think I’m happy? It’s all a bit too Twilight Zone for me. Why are the Mariners so susceptible to injury? This post is about none of these things, but about future things—not 44-year-old things.

Joe Baseball

10 days ago, I ran my mouth off and said that Marco Gonzales, Andrew Moore, and Guillermo Heredia are the three up-and-comers in the Mariners organization to keep an eye on during Spring Training. Being that today is an off-day, I figure it’s as good a time as any to check in and investigate how they’re progressing so far.

However, before we check-in with them, there are some other young stand-outs worth the mention. For starters, Dan Vogelbach. He’s been electric at the plate, most notably on Friday when he went 2-3 with a three-run go-ahead bomb over the right-field wall. Danny’s Spring Training slash line of .417/.558/.750 is great to see from the young first baseman, as is the 4 walks and single strikeout he’s amassed in his first 16 plate appearances.

DV

Braden Bishop has been another story, both on and off the field. Even more admirable than his…

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