Saturday, April 10, 2004



That's pretty much it today, as the Mariners said GET NONE OF ANYTHING!! Tim Hudson found his groove after the first, and that was it. Gil Meche pitched very well (not totally perfect) and ran into the eventual trouble in the 7th, but this one isn't his fault. Before I start here, let me commend the other David for basically calling all of this because the Mariners were in fact swinging at absolutely everything.

Here's the notes and recap, hopefully in a format like the one from two days ago...

top 1: Ichiro 1st pitch 2B; Winn bunt foul...0-2 Scutaro fister flyout; Boone 1-3 (Ichiro to 3rd); Ibanez (NOT Edgar) (Hudson getting the low pitch today) basehit CF (SEA 1-0); Edgar 1st pitch single; Olerud 0-2...should have been wrung up on 1-2 pitch...full U3

bot 1 -- Kotsay 2-0...fly Ibanez (somewhat weird path); McMillon first pitch up middle single; Chavez 3-0...full foul-tip K, McMillon out at 2nd (throw: DAVIS)

>> Even though Ibanez came through with the only RBI of the game, I still hate that situation. Would you rather have Ibanez or Edgar at the plate with Ichiro on third and two out? In addition to the Mariners' "swing recklessly" philosophy, Hudson got to 0-2 on two of the hitters in the first. Winn had the least productive at-bat of the inning. Also, I made the note early that Hudson was getting the low pitch from the umpire, which he wasn't getting in his first start against Texas. One could argue this pretty much paved the way for what he did today, of course combined with the whole Mariner impatience at the plate. Meche went to 2-0 on Kotsay and 3-0 on Chavez, but got out of the inning with a little help from Ben Davis' arm to nail Billy McMillon on the strikeout play.

top 2 -- Aurilia fly Crosby OF; Davis first-pitch hard-hit fly LF; Bloomquist 0-2...swing K slider away

bot 2 -- Dye 3-0 walk (high last 2 pitches); Hatteberg 0-2...lazy FC 3-6; Durazo 1-1 WP (Hatteberg to 2nd)...6-3; Crosby 3-1...swing K heat
Meche somewhat tightroping it with falling behind, but still getting out of it

>> Hudson mowed through the bottom third of the lineup. Davis did hit the ball hard to LF, but it's still an out. We were notified during the Bloomquist at-bat that Scott Spiezio was able to swing a bat yesterday. Then Bloomquist quickly fell behind and whiffed. Meche was having some early trouble getting the ball up, but puckily wasn't mashed at any time. Crosby barely missed the 3-1 pitch he got with Hatteberg on second, but Meche mowed him down with the heat. Meche wasn't quite as efficient as Hudson today, but he was moving along pretty well.

top 3 -- Ichiro lazy 4-3 (Scutaro not too quick with toss...patience? 1-0); Winn 1-2...hard grounder 3-1; Boone running catch Kotsay CF

bot 3 -- Melhuse 0-2...looking K; Scutaro 0-2...looking K (three K in row); Kotsay 1st pitch single CF; McMillon 1-2...4-3
Meche gets ahead of first two hitters, weathers the Kotsay hit

>> Ichiro swung at his second pitch, again showing the "patience" he was working on in spring training. Hudson mowed through the 1-2-3 hitters in the Mariner lineup. Meche had a good inning himself, the only blemish being the Kotsay single. He got ahead 0-2 on both Adam Melhuse and Marco Scutaro and caught both looking, for a string of three strikeouts in a row. Both pitchers were moving along at this point.

top 4 -- Ibanez 4-3 (Scutaro on OF grass); Edgar 5-3; Olerud 0-2...4-3

bot 4 -- Chavez 3-1 BB; Dye 0-2...U2 (Chavez to 2nd, Davis probably should have had Chavez at 2nd); Hatteberg fly Winn; Durazo 6-3

>> Dave Niehaus to start the 4th: "Clyde, did you miss the plane? You weren't here; we missed you last night!" Hudson completed the inning having set down ten in a row, nothing much more to say there (4-5-6 hitters down). Meche allowed a leadoff walk, and Jermaine Dye had the weird play where he bounced the ball off the plate and thought it was foul. Of course, Bob Melvin probably chewed out Ben Davis for not nailing Chavez at second, which in this case would be worthy. Luckily, the play wasn't magnified with respect to the rest of the game. Other than the leadoff walk, Meche did well again.

top 5 -- Aurilia off Kotsay's glove E8; Davis 6-4-3 right to Crosby positioned perfectly; Bloomquist ground 3-1

bot 5 -- Crosby E5...rebuked (was 1-for-13); Melhuse F7; Scutaro soft fly CF single; Kotsay 6-4-3 DP (WOW!! way to go Aurilia)

>> Any opportunity to take advantage of the Mark Kotsay error was nullified quickly on the Ben Davis GIDP. Hudson weathers the leadoff baserunner. You know, I don't care what the boxscore or the Oakland official scorer says...THAT WAS AN ERROR BY BLOOMQUIST. You know it, I know it, everyone in the stands knew it. As Niehaus suggested on the radio, though, the scorer probably just felt sorry for Crosby, who was 1-for-13 on the year up to that point. With two on and one out, Meche induced a double-play ball from Mark Kotsay, and more importantly, Rich Aurilia cleanly started the double play. Attaway, Richie.

top 6 -- Ichiro Crosby knocks down backhand no play; Winn 2-0...3-1 fly McMillon LF; Boone 4 (tag) -3 DP

bot 6 -- McMillon 1-2...(Meche's hat falls off during pitch)...full fly Ibanez LF; Chavez (nice curve on 0-1)...2-2...full fly Ichiro RF; Dye 0-2...base hit CF (82 pitches); Hatteberg 0-2 fly Winn

>> I referred to David Locke's bullet points in my randoms post from earlier today. Locke wondered if Ichiro was going to run at all this year. With Ichiro on first and Randy Winn up with 2-0 and 3-1 counts, Ron Fairly thought Ichiro might take off from first, and he never did. Hudson was a bit worried about him, though, as Ichiro drew a couple pickoff throws. Boone hit the ball right to Scutaro, who was really close to Ichiro after he picked it up and threw to Hatteberg to complete the double play. Meche got ahead of all the hitters he faced in the inning, even during the McMillon at-bat when his hat fell off during his delivery, though the radio-without-simultaneous TV audience would not have known that. In the pitch count race, Meche had 85 pitches through six innings, and Tim Hudson had 60.

top 7 -- Ibanez fly LF McMillon; Edgar 0-2 swing K (66 pitches); Olerud RF Dye diving catch

bot 7 -- Durazo Boone diving nice play pulls Olerud off bag (throw had him beat); Crosby 1-2...mowed down swing K; Melhuse (GUARDADO WARMING) 0-2 (0-2 pitch close)...F5; Scutaro 1-2...full base hit RF (TIE GAME); GUARDADO IN; Kotsay 1-2...single LF Scutaro scores; Byrnes PH McMillon 6-3 big arm on Aurilia under diving Bloomquist

>> Hudson sliced through the 4-5-6 hitters in the order, partly thanks to Jermaine Dye's diving catch. He had a mere 67 pitches through seven innings!! It was a nice dive play by Boone, but the throw pulling Olerud off the bag proved to be a big play. With the runner on first, two out, and a full count, Marco Scutaro landed a base hit to RF, and when I saw it I thought Ichiro might have taken a weird route to the ball -- in other words, I think Ichiro may have had a chance to catch that ball on the fly. It looked like he ran too far in one direction (I need to see the play again), probably up. Of course, with the runner going (two outs...this seems familiar), Oakland easily tied the game on the hit. Didn't Melvin say he was going to ease Guardado into these games? Damn. Eddie leaves a 1-2 pitch a little too far up and Kotsay drives in the go-ahead run for Oakland. Aurilia made a nice play to nail McMillon to stop the bleeding.

top 8 -- Aurilia 6-3; Davis 2-0...3-1 ground 4-3; Hansen PH Bloomquist 2-0...2-2 U3

bot 8 -- (MATEO WARMING) Chavez F2; Dye 2-2...full swing K; Hatteberg ground 4-3

>> After the Rich Aurilia groundout, Tim Hudson had recorded 13 groundball outs. Hudson fell behind Davis 2-0 and 3-1, and to Dave Hansen 2-0, but got through unscathed. Eddie Guardado had a very nice inning. He blew the fastball past Jermaine Dye, and looked fairly good for coming off the shelf. For the Mariners' sake, it's too bad he couldn't have gotten the last out of the 7th a little sooner, because the game might still be going...

top 9 -- Ichiro 1-1...4-3 (16 groundouts, 83 pitches); Winn first pitch U3; Boone 6-3 Crosby barehanded nice play

>> Ichiro hit a very high-bouncing chopper up the first-base line which Tim Hudson very wisely let come back down and bounce foul, which was a very good move because if he touches it, Ichiro is on first base. Ichiro then grounded out, bringing Hudson's groundout total to 16 and his pitch count to 83. Randy Winn then swung at the first pitch, and Boone then bounced out on a nice barehanded play by Bobby Crosby to end it.

What can we say? Tim Hudson is damn good. EIGHTEEN groundball outs. I thought Ichiro might have had the wrong beat on the Scutaro game-tying hit, but I can't pin this loss on him. Tim Hudson was absolutely on today. The Mariners had five baserunners the entire game -- Aurilia on the Kotsay error (doubled off on the Davis DP in the 5th), Ichiro twice (scored once, doubled off on the Boone DP in the 6th), Ibanez on the RBI single in the first (stranded by Olerud), and Edgar singling after Ibanez in the first (stranded by Olerud). Three baserunners in the first, and two for the rest of the game.

Yeah, Hudson had his game going, but was the swing-at-everything plan really the way to go, especially late in the game? It may or may not be wise, but the late innings (or maybe when I realized Hudson was on) would have probably been where I would make everyone take the first strike (late teen baseball years playing-from-behind or we-need-baserunners mobilization), so then at least Hudson has to actually throw a strike. He might throw a strike on the first pitch, but sometimes he might throw one on the third or fourth pitch. To their credit, both Ben Davis and Dave Hansen made Hudson throw the first strike on 2-0 counts in the 8th, and those two hitters being where they are in the lineup should probably be doing that anyway. The hitter before Davis, Aurilia, swung at the first pitch and bounced out to Crosby. In the 9th, only Ichiro took a strike. Winn swung at the first pitch, and Boone grounded out before taking a strike. Basically the motive to this strike-taking thing is to ratchet up the pitch count, and that was far from happening today. End result: no Mariner at-bats facing the A's bullpen patsies and no opportunity to see Arthur Rhodes on the second day of back-to-back outings, which would have been fun. We'd REALLY see what Rhodes as a closer is made of then.

So to sum up the hitting, Ichiro was 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Ibanez (RBI) and Edgar had the other two hits. Boone and Winn both went 0-for-4. The six through nine hitters (Olerud-Aurilia-Davis-Bloomquist/Hansen) went a combined 0-for-12. Yowza!!

As for the pitching, Gil Meche did great today. Not Hudson great, but great. It wasn't Meche's best outing by any means (fell behind hitters a bit too much for that), but it was still pretty good. He managed to get out of every mini-jam until his last pitch to Scutaro in the 7th. It's a shame he had to lose this game, it really is. His falling behind hitters early led me to believe he wouldn't get past about the 7th, but with the reputation Meche has had as a strikeout pitcher, I expected him to throw a decent amount of pitches.

Gameball: Gil Meche. This one's a no-brainer. 6 2/3 innings, 2 runs, 7 hits, 2 walks, and 5 strikeouts on 102 pitches. What more can you ask of Meche? For this early in the year, he did great.

Unlike some of the other games I did recaps for this season, there isn't any real one thing I can blow up at or get irate about. Any one thing would be a stretch. The closest thing would be the Boone throw pulling Olerud off the bag in the 7th. The second thing would be where I thought Ichiro took the weird route to the ball on the Scutaro double, where I thought he might have been able to pull it out of the air. Other than that, nothing. I could get worked up about the hitting, but plain and simply, the plan backfired on them if they were hoping for any more than one run. Combine that with how locked in Hudson was, and it's lights out.

Once again, I had this weird feeling in the back of my mind after the Mariners held the 1-0 lead for a few innings that they'd find a way to lose the game. Once again, like the final game of the Anaheim series, I thought this was the type of game that the Mariners had to win. Once again, they didn't.

Moyer and Mulder tomorrow afternoon. I'm going out to hit some baseballs, y'all! My 32" 27oz Louisville Slugger Omaha bat (purchased 1998) has now been illegal for four years by high school standards, but I don't care, and I'm too cheap and lazy to go out and get me a wood bat (mmm, wood bats). How many people out there have laced a good hit with a wood bat and gotten a good sweet crack from the bat? It's pure heaven, it really is.

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Tim Hudson lives on balking, according to Bob Melvin.

Anyways, Tim Hudson has started his 2004 Cy Young Tour.

Complete game, 4-hit, 86-pitch outing today in the Oakland Coliseum, defeating the Mariners 2-1. The first inning was a little shaky for Hudson, but from the second inning on, he was money. That's to be expected from a pitcher of Hudson's caliber.

Gil Meche pitched a solid game for the M's, but in the 7th inning, he just ran out of gas. It was encouraging to see Meche come out in his first outing with a solid performance, but it was for naught. It's funny to think that the only two solid performances by a Mariners starter is when Ben Davis is behind the plate. Take that, Melvin.

And with that, the usual Melvin garbage (this was BEFORE today's game, since Melvin is too scared of talking to the media...by the way, I wish I could say "scared" in a Dirty South way, it's hysterical)

"With good teams, it's that much more magnified, and we're a good team,'' second-year skipper Bob Melvin said before the game. ``You're not going to panic but we have to win some games. We don't have to be the pacehorse like we have been the last couple years but you don't want to fall too far behind.''

Hey Bob, this is not a good baseball team right now. Can things get better? Sure they can. But at the same time, I don't like the M's chances of having to play catch-up. Anaheim and Oakland are clearly the class of the American League West. Needless to say, the Mariners have to win Sunday afternoon. Jamie Moyer vs Mark Mulder, 1:05 start.

David's coming up with the game recap diary. For those wondering why I can't do them, well, it's very hard to do a recap diary when you can't see the game. I can only hear the game. But fear not, I do get to see three M's games on TV this week (TUE at ANA ESPN, FRI and SUN vs TEX on Fox Sports Southwest). It should be fun.

Well, "fun" would be seeing the M's put a W in the win column...

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Just a few things here all over the map. As you can see, no full Mariner recap out of me last night because I was searching for gratification in the Canuck game, which unfortunately didn't work out.

>> Curiously, Les Carpenter ran a Canuck column in the Times today, a column that seems a tad bit dumbed down, because after all, it is the Seattle market, and KeyArena doesn't sell out every night for the Thunderbirds (though the Silvertips have a 3-2 series lead on the Vancouver Giants) every night, and other than that, I don't really have anything on which to gauge the state of hockey in the Seattle market.

So giddy was the sellout crowd at GM Place last night that the singer brought out to sing "O Canada" stopped about halfway through, raised his microphone and let 17,000 people belt out the next several stanzas. Which would have been chilling had the Flames not been up 2-0 by "home and native land."

It was still chilling. For Game 1, the radio broadcast got back from commercial in the middle of the anthem, but I could hear the crowd singing along behind the singer, who was also singing. I didn't know Mark Donnelly spurred the crowd on after the first couple lines of the anthem. That was INCREDIBLY chilling. That's the best word I could come up with the other day, and it still is now.

>> Again, no recap from me for the Friday game, but I'll refer to David Locke's bullet points (this game under "I MISS MIKE CAMERON"). It was also the 2004 maiden voyage for Baseball's Best Postgame Show on KJR, which included a couple of numbskull callers with flawed arguments who Locke blew up on (which was hilarious) and someone who was calling out Jason Puckett for saying the ball hit to Randy Winn could have been caught by a Little Leaguer, a caller whose only comeback was "you don't know what you're talking about."

Locke's most meaningful bullet point was something he harped on a few times during the program...

Is Ichiro ever going to run again? In the 8th inning Ichiro is on first with one out in a one run game and he never runs. Winn and Boone go down so it may not have mattered, but if he doesn’t run then when is he going to go. In the 7th inning with 1 out he was at first base down 4 to 3. This team is not playing for a two run home run. 3-1 pitch to Winn and Ichiro didn’t go. Winn walks so it doesn’t matter but it is discouraging that Ichiro didn’t go.

Locke talked about Ichiro having the perpetual green light from Melvin. Ichiro isn't going. Locke suggested that if Melvin wants to show some balls, he can stand up and send Ichiro one of these days. Of course, this would probably strike up a great rapport between Melvin and Ichiro, one that would fly in the face of the overrated clubhouse chemistry. Steve marvelously published his winning-leads-to-chemistry post the other day. The Mariners can have an A in chemistry for 2004, sure. But they can also finish 75-87 with said chemistry.

>> When I saw that Mark Redman was pulled in the game last night, I was slightly disappointed. I didn't want Ricardo Rincon to come in -- I wanted Method Man. It would look great in the game logs: "Method Man relieves Redman."

>> Caller Dre on KJR's John Clayton Saturday morning show just mentioned the names of Chuck "Wagon" Armstrong and Howard "Abe" Lincoln

>> Apparently Dave Grosby of KJR said yesterday that no team that has started out 0-4 has won the World Series. There was no confirmation on whether this was mentioned during the "Is Groz Full of Crap or What?" segment.

>> They just brought up a great point. The Seahawks made the playoffs and then went out and signed Grant Wistrom and Bobby Taylor. The only criticism is that maybe they overpaid for one or both. Both players are good and make the Seahawks a lot better. The Mariners miss the playoffs and then overpay for Raul Ibanez, whose bat is marginally better than Cameron's (damn right I said it), and is basically a wash in terms of lost defense (even more so since Winn gets moved to CF). Seahawks overpay for good players, Mariners overpay for crap. Just for kicks, this is where I will place the fact that the Sonics have absolutely no plan for their future as a team.

>> As of right now, here's your American League standings...
Detroit 4-0
Anaheim, Oakland 3-1
Tampa Bay 3-2
New York 3-3
Chicago, Kansas City, Minnesota, Texas 2-2
Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland 2-3
Toronto 1-3
Seattle 0-4

I know it has to get better from here for the Mariners and it is just four games. But I have this weird lingering thought that even with all the talent on this team (most of the team, anyway), that the Mariners might have come full circle. Full circle as in 1992, when apparently someone in the organization thought making third-base coach Bill Plummer the manager was a great idea, a year after the Mariners finished over .500 for the first time.

>> Jeremy said to me last night that he thought Rafael Soriano isn't completely healthy. I don't think anyone can argue that Soriano missed out on some valuable reps in spring training, and now he has to use the regular season to get back into the groove. There may be an adjustment period for Soriano, and who knows how long it's going to last, and who knows how much of a cliffhanger it's going to be? It's bad enough to have it with Soriano, but when Eddie Guardado gets back off the shelf, he's going to have to go through an adjustment period himself because he missed time in spring training due to the knee and came out of the Litterbox came with the freak shoulder injury. I thought freak injuries were Rich Aurilia's game; he should sue Guardado for copyright or something.

>> Speaking of Rich Aurilia, I think he's the best hitter on the team right, hands down. Though he's been spotty on defense, but he's hit three doubles and has drive in 7 runs. Simple math says that 162/4 = 40.5. So, if we take these numbers and multiply them by 40.5, Rich Aurilia is on pace to hit 121.5 doubles and drive in 283.5 runs. Of course, he's also on pace to hit zero home runs.

>>The Mariners blew it in more ways than one yesterday. Yeah, Randy Winn blew the pop fly and cost them the game. But doubly bad is the fact that yesterday was the Mariners' best chance to win a game in the series. The Mariners have fit the role of Tim Hudson's bitch quite nicely in the past, and then have to face Mark Mulder on Sunday. Good luck with that, guys.

>> A high school friend of mine lives in San Diego right now and I asked him the other day if there's been any nicknames bandied about for Petco Park other than the Litterbox. He was about to reply to me, and prefaced that I wasn't going to believe how stupid the nickname was. Apparently, the local radio jocks and personalities of public prominence have taken to calling Petco Park "The Pet." HOW PATHETIC IS THAT!?!?!!!?!?!!! That's absolutely idiotic. I know The Safe is pretty simplistic, but at least you have an unbreakable/uncrackable image of a giant metal box with a handle and a big-ass combination wheel on it. A safe is sturdy and is dependable. A pet? It craps everywhere and is high-maintenance. If I had the money, I'd go to SD right now and mount my "Call it 'The Kennel,' Dammit!" campaign. Though The Kennel has been used in other places, it would fit really well in this case. A kennel would usually have some sort of animal inside, keeping it restrained. When the kennel is opened, the animal inside probably goes nuts upon exit. When Padres fans go inside The Kennel, they should be hyped up to the point where they know the team is nuts like a bunch of rabid-acting cooped-up dogs.

>> Lastly, Jeremy sent me a link that now updates the South Park anime post. The difference? Sound clip.

Mariners. A's. Three hours. If everything falls into place, I should have a recap up tonight.

[Edit ~10:23a -- Added Kennel part and fixed spelling mistakes.]

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Two weird goals in quick succession early in the first period somehow held up despite a decent number of chances for the Canucks, as the Flames take home-ice advantage with them back to Calgary on Sunday.

Calgary basically clamped down on defense, neutralizing the Sedins (and Naslund, except for the goal), and keeping a lot of the Canucks shots far from the net.

The first Calgary goal came only 3:06 into the game, on a Jarome Iginla goal. On the play, Chris Simon (I saw this on SportsCenter afterward, so I had a visual) tied up Dan Cloutier's stick and swiveled him to his glove side, leaving the net wide open. Cloutier argued fruitlessly, but it was probably offset later in the game (more on that later).

The second and final Calgary goal came only 50 seconds later. Sami Salo was in front of his own net and somehow lost the puck in his equipment. Matt Lombardi used skills akin to the game of pinball to wait for the puck to come down as Salo had no idea where it was. Puck came down, Lombardi jumped on it, and put it in.

These two goals held up.

The Canucks' only tally was on a power play (didn't say that many times during the season), when Markus Naslund shot into a yawning net. However, like I said, this probably offset the Simon/Cloutier play because Ed Jovanovski definitely ran into Miikka Kiprusoff on the play, and definitely interfered with him on the play.

Another thing about interference...the refs physically were in bad positions on multiple occasions tonight. One play involved a Vancouver defensemen trying to race a Flame down the rink to ice the puck, but one of the officials screened off the Vancouver player and the Flames got the puck in the Vancouver zone. Not good.

The Canucks had their seven-game (regular season included) winning streak snapped. They had little to no scoring chances in the first half of the third period, but had a ton in the latter half of the third period, but buried none of them. Martin Rucinsky had the best chance, but shot wide of the net. The Canucks had many bounces go their way during the seven-game streak, but did not manage to get the extra bounce they needed tonight. This from a team that had an insane number of points this year when trailing after three periods.

As the buzzer sounded and I realized the Canucks probably just needed two more minutes of play to tally a goal with the pressure they were mounting, I could only react with one word...

I know Calgary is a tough team, I know this series isn't going to be a cake walk for eithe rteam (in my case, Vancouver), but really, one big long F-word is what I thought right afterward.

These NHL playoff games are just draining if you have a rooting interest. My goodness.

Here's the Dan/Tom/John notes...
Dan: that's playoff hockey
Tom: yeah it is...the games will be tight, hard-fought...I had a feeling Calgary would be tough...they got couple of early breaks...the Canucks were all over Calgary early...Calgary goes down once and gets one...Salo lost the puck in his equipment (advice: skate away from own goal or something), then Lombardi gets it...Calgary got 2-0 lead but could have been down 2-0 just as easily
Dan: there were still 57 mins left in the hockey game after the second Calgary goal
John: no one here thought Vancouver was out of it. Jovo bumps the goalie, goal scored, game is back on. Kiprusoff was good when had to be, but the Canucks didn't test him much in the first half of third period
Dan: I never thought the 2-0 goal would be the game winner
Tom: I didn't think the 2 goals would hold up either...Kiprusoff was good, but Vancouver has to have a finish...They need to bury as many chances as they can...Vancouver was short on the finish tonight...I didn't think Vancouver would sweep the series anyway...Calgary gets split, and will see starving hockey fans in Calgary
Dan: the Canucks have not scored an even-strength goal in this series..
John: that's been their bread and butter this year, now it's the opposite...the big difference was Calgary's defense that turned it around -- pucks in skates, players to outside...
Dan: a couple more minutes, and Vancouver may have tied it. Craig Conroy took every faceoff
Tom: what they did better was getting pucks and bodies to the net in the last half of the third...Vancouver was not a good team at retrieving pucks...Calgary made the right plays at the right times to get out of trouble...the Sedin line was held in check...
Dan: about the only thing Naslund did was score the goal
Tom: Calgary believes they're a better 5-on-5 team than Vancouver; they think they're harder working
Dan: the best chance was by Rucinsky
John: Rucinsky's got to start burying some of these chances; I thought he would get some confidence from the first game. If he would have scored there, that could have been it, and they could have forced OT
Dan: Kiprusoff was the 1st star...he was much better tonight (Jovanovski was 2, Iginla was 3)
Tom: Kiprusoff bounces back from poor efforts...he was bombed three times during the regular season (DET?, DAL, COL), but responded by allowing only one goal in the games following the bad games

Vancouver at Calgary on Sunday night. Amazingly, this will be televised stateside on ESPN2, as will the Tuesday game in Calgary. Of course, it would be a crime for ESPN to let the States to see the Vancouver crowd, and it'll probably be even more lame when I realize the games at Vancouver aren't being televised because ESPN2 is running spelling bees and dog shoes in the same time slots.

Series tied 1-1.

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Giants backup quarterback Jesse Palmer not a hit with GM

Jesse Palmer: The backup quarterback's starring role in ABC's "The Bachelor" is not a hit with his New York Giants general manager, Ernie Accorsi, who said Palmer ought to spend more time watching game film than choosing a possible bride from 25 bachelorettes.

"I would have been much happier if he was studying tape the last six weeks instead of getting involved with this thing," Accorsi said on Sporting News Radio.

As for reports that the Giants' front office was amused by Palmer's role, Accorsi said: "Not this part of the front office."

You may remember Jesse Palmer as the "can't-miss" quarterback from Canada who played under Steve Spurrier at Florida. Or maybe not.

Anyways, three words come to mind here...


(And "The Bachelor" is a terrible show.)

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Friday, April 09, 2004


A's 8, Mariners 6

NINE DOUBLES tonight by the Oakland Athletics. NINE!

Fill my eyes with that double vision, no disguise for that double vision
Ooh, when it gets through to me, it’s always new to me
My double vision gets the best of me

---Foreigner, "Double Vision"

Your Seattle Mariners are the only winless team left in baseball at 0-4. Tim Hudson, who has been labeled a communist by Bob McCarthy Melvin (see the Morons post), is on the hill for the A's Saturday. And Mark Mulder is scheduled to start Sunday.

Arthur Rhodes came on in the 9th to get his 3rd save as in many opportunities. Poetic justice, indeed.


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When I get less ingenious, the headlines get Spanishified.

Anyway, this is an addendum to Jeremy's post about the Padres uniforms.

When Alex Rodriguez started catching some fire as a Mariner, Almost Live! ran a sketch where the Mariner public relations people were advising female fans to refrain from referring to Alex as A-Crotch, Golden Pants (there's the segue from the Padre post), or Alex Honey Poo.

I still miss Almost Live! to this day (new episodes anyway, I know about the 1:35am late Sat night reruns), and I also miss Alex's bat in the lineup. As Archie and Edith would say, those were the days.

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I was reading a few of the blogs today and I've noticed that some people think that Freddy Garcia's name is "Freddie".


His name is FREDDY!


If you claim to be a somewhat legitimate Mariner blogger, learn to get the players' names right. It is not that hard. I know this isn't a spelling bee competition. But at the same time, there are hundreds of fans who read these blogs on a daily basis. BTW, I thank everybody who takes a few minutes of their day to read our material. It's greatly appreciated.

Anyways, I just don't want to see anybody in the Mariner Blogosphere spelling Freddy Garcia's name "Freddie" ever again. You know who you are.

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Thursday, April 08, 2004


Boy, this season is only three games old, but I'll say this, there's already some great UCR material from the Mariners.

This from Friday's P-I

Dave Myers, the man who tore Chris Snelling's ACL, has reached a new level of incompetence.

Third base coach Dave Myers is well acquainted with Guillen's arm. But given the fact that the ball was hit to the left fielder's glove side, that Guillen didn't charge the ball and that Guillen threw flat-footed, Myers thought risk was worth it.

"I know his arm, but in a scoreless game with one of hottest teams around, we've got to take a chance," Myers said. "We can't be playing station-to-station in that situation.

HEY NOW DAVE! IF YOU KNOW HIS ARM, THEN YOU WOULD NOT HAVE SENT WINN HOME! Jose Guillen only has one of the best outfield arms in baseball. And oh boy did HE GET ALL OF THAT!!!!

Speaking of risks, why couldn't this front office have taken any risks in the offseason? I don't know, say, can Dave Myers' ass after last season? But of course, the M's go ahead and relieve John Moses of his duties and hire Bob Melvin's fellow Giants hack teammate Mike Aldrete. And Myers stays with the M's. Unreal.

While chewing on his 24th A&W Root Beer Barrel this week, Bob Melvin also chimed in on the Myers debacle.

"We've got to try to score there," Mariners manager Bob Melvin said. "We need to put pressure on them. Guillen threw that ball flat-footed, and he threw a strike. You just have to tip your hat to him."

Yeah, I tip my hat to him too, Bob. I also tip my hat to Angels owner Arte Moreno.

The pathetic 9th inning, which included a balk from Shigetoshi Hasegawa...

In the middle of the fateful inning, home plate umpire Greg Gibson called Hasegawa for a balk that allowed the third run of the inning to score.

"That was not a balk," Hasegawa said. "If the umpire says it's a balk, then it's a balk. But it wasn't a balk."

Melvin argued the call but got nowhere with Gibson, who ruled that Hasegawa illegally stepped toward the plate. Video looks at the play were inconclusive.

"We've complained (about other pitchers doing it)," Melvin said. "Tim Hudson (of the A's) lives on that."

Oh my god.

Melvin isn't for real, is he?

Yeah Bob, go ahead and call out Tim Hudson, who's only one of the best pitchers in baseball. And guess what? He faces the M's on Saturday afternoon at the Coliseum. Great job, Bob. What's next? Are you going to accuse Vladimir Guerrero of steroids? How about bitching about Johnny Damon's hair being too long? For the love of god, STFU Bob!

By the way, why didn't any of the beat writers ask Melvin on why he used Mike Myers at the start of the 9th inning? I'm just curious.

And what is this???

Richie Sexson hit a walkoff 2-run home run for the D-Backs, beating the Rockies 6-5 in 11 innings.

Hey kids, that's NORTHWEST NATIVE Richie Sexson. Too bad that he's just too good for the Mariners blood.

And of course, HE GOT ALL OF THAT!!!

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Two pieces of dialogue come to mind, one that has a more apparent link to today's events, and one that doesn't.

"Live in the now, Wayne!! -- Garth Algar

The one that doesn't is another quote from the Aqua Teen Hunger Force, one of my favorite shows on television...

Frylock: "You can NOT cut someone's lawn with matches, Meatwad!!"
Meatwad: "Look, I know that. You gotta have gasoline, or else how's it gonna spread to the street??"

To me, the Meatwad train of thought there seems a little too similar to that of one William Bavasi.

On to the game. Once again, it's inning notes, then my comments and such.

top 1 -- Freddy first pitch strike to Eckstein...2-1 Aurilia backhand lineout; Erstad warning track Winn; Vlad 1-3

bot 1 -- 2-0 then full to Ichiro, great play Glaus 5-3; Winn 1-2, double down RF line, held to 2B by Vlad; Boone LF base hit, Winn nailed by J Guillen at plate (not close, blame Dave Myers)...Boone still at first afterward; Ibanez 2-0 bullet RF ground-rule 2B (no run score); Edgar 2-0...6-3 NO RUNS!! IT JUST CONTINUES, MY OH MY!!!

>> Okay, so Freddy started fairly well. Offensively (more ways than one), two goats in this inning. I'll go with the player first -- Bret Boone not moving to second on Jose Guillen's throw to the plate. That's inexcusable, especially considering if he advanced one more base, he scores on the Ibanez double. End result is Edgar coming up with runners on first and second with two out and grounding out to short. No runs scored. IT JUST CONTINUES!!! MY OH MY!!! The non-player to blame: Dave Myers. DOES THIS GUY NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT THE ANGELS' OUTFIELD ARMS?!??!!! Was he sleeping during the film session? What the hell's going on here??

top 2 -- Garret base hit LF; Glaus fair down LF line past Bloomquist 2B; Guillen 1-2...swing K, drop 3rd strike...bounces to Olerud who stops it; Salmon 2-0...fly Olerud; Kennedy 3-0 IBB; Paul 0-2 swing K

bot 2 -- Olerud 0-2...Garret fly; Aurilia fly Kennedy; Davis 3-1...full, swing K

>> Garcia puts out the fire here, though Ben Davis nearly let a couple runs score with the throw to first on the dropped third strike. The fire Garcia had to put out was sort of made worse by the fact he fell behind Salmon (luckily he got him out) 2-0 and going to 3-0 on Kennedy before the intentional walk. Oh yeah, the Mariner offense did nothing.

top 3 -- Eckstein (Freddy throwing a lot of strikes? went 2-0 and 3-0 on 2 hitters) Winn running catch; Erstad 3-0...3-1 fly Ichiro; Vlad 1-2 swing K

bot 3 -- Bloomquist 1-2...LF single; Ichiro 4-6-3; Winn 2-0...full 5-3

>> Rizzs commented when Eckstein was up that Freddy was throwing a lot of strikes, which was probably true at that point, but I was more worried about the sequence where Freddy went to 2-0 on Salmon and went to 3-0 on Kennedy, and as we know, falling behind hitters is not a good thing. However, Freddy whiffed Vlad Guerrero, and that's a hell of a way to get out of the jam. As we can see, Ichiro did a great job moving the runner, and Randy Winn took full advantage of his 2-0 count.

top 4 -- Garret 1-2...swing K (how did J-Lo's mom come up in Niehaus' dialogue?); Glaus 1-2 swing K; Guillen track Winn

bot 4 -- Boone jammed badly 6-3; Ibanez 3-1 BB; Edgar 2-0...3-1...up middle Kennedy bobbles; Olerud base hit CF (Garret knocks it down) load bases; Aurilia hard off Escobar glove, run scores 1-4-3 (5 RBI Aurilia) first lead of 2004; Davis 2-0...3-1...full swing K

>> During Garret Anderson's at-bat, Dave Niehaus referenced J-Lo's mom winning the lottery...I have no idea how this came up in the dialogue, but I think it might have had something to do with EQC Cap night (that's means Emerald Queen Casino, by the way. Is the brass trying to keep the kids from knowing about CASINOS??). Freddy did a great job in the inning, as he did many times today. With one out and the bases juiced, Rich Aurilia hit the ball hard off Kelvim Escobar's glove to drive in a run, grounding out in the process. Five RBI for Aurilia on the season, on yet another non-authoritative run-scoring play for the Mariners. Can we have a few more clean RBI singles or something, since I know homers are mostly out of the question? Who likes piddly baseball? The Mariners do!!

top 5 -- Salmon 2-0...2-2...full...BB (2 total); Kennedy (Guardado flat-ground news, bullpen tomorrow, will not be used as closer right away) line to Ichiro; Paul 1-2 fly Ibanez; Eckstein CF base hit; Erstad F5

bot 5 -- Bloomquist 2-2 swing K fork; Ichiro 1-2...swing K; Winn 2-0 Eckstein drops but still 6-3

>> During Adam Kennedy's at-bat, we were told that Ed Guardado can throw off flat ground now and will have a bullpen session tomorrow. When rehabbing in game action, he will be eased into the closer role. Freddy stranded the leadoff walk in another good inning. He was at 73 pitches through 5, which is not the April Freddy I'm used to. Other than one year (I think it was last year), I'm used to Freddy in April tossing up a line of 5 2/3 innings and 5 runs on about 114 pitches. As for the "offense," Bloomquist fished for a forkball, Ichiro had a 1-2 count, so that is probably "patient" on his part, and Winn again took full advantage of a 2-0 count.

top 6 -- (Rizzs, dammit) Vlad 0-2...swing K; Garret 2-0 4-3; Glaus 2-2 swing K

bot 6 -- Boone 0-2...base hit CF; Ibanez RCF Garret fly; Edgar 3-1 BB; Olerud 4-6-3

>> Garcia cut through the teeth of the Angel lineup. He whiffed Vlad, fell behind Garret and forced a groundout, then whiffed Glaus. Great job by Freddy. Boone had a good at-bat, getting a base hit after being down 0-2. Raul Ibanez did a great job moving the runner over, then Edgar walked. Two on, two out, so what? That's the question John Olerud answered as he bounced into the ol' 4-6-3 DP.

top 7 -- Guillen infield single off plate (Aurilia no play); (Myers, Mateo warming) Salmon near-DP, Boone throw pulls Olerud off; Kennedy fly Winn; Paul 2-0 Winn track fly

bot 7 -- Aurilia fly Garret; Davis 1-2...checkswing K; Bloomquist 3-0...full swing K!!!

>> Garcia bounced back from a couple of bad bounces in the 7th, with a single off the plate and a throw pulling Olerud off the bag at first. Garcia got the Kennedy flyout and got a Josh Paul flyout after being down in the count 2-0. The bats...Ben Davis really didn't help out his cause today. Willie Bloomquist...well, he had a 3-0 count and ended up whiffing. WOLF PRIDE!!!

top 8 -- MATEO IN; Eckstein 0-2 fly Ichiro; Erstad 2-0...fly CF Winn (nearly lost in sky); Vlad 5-3

bot 8 -- Ichiro 2-0 fly Guillen; Winn to Erstad U3; Boone 1-2...swing K in dirt

>> Dave Niehaus said about the Angel hitters due up: "top of the list for the Anaheims." Freddy had thrown 96 pitches through seven. I might have left him out there for one more hitter or two, but it's early in the year, so pulling him here (for Mateo) is defensible. What a great job by Freddy, turning in an outing that Mariner fans have grown accustomed to seeing from their starting rotation, an outing that flew in the face of the efforts of the past two nights from Jamie Moyer and Joel Pineiro. I could probably say more about it, but the game wasn't on TV, so no visual proof of anything or any pitches that were working and stuff like that. Though he sucked on more than one occasion today, Ben Davis was behind the plate. He probably wasn't calling the game, but he was back there, whatever that might be worth. Here's a generic sports thing to say: Freddy had a game plan today and he executed it well. Damn, that's generic. Mateo took care of the 1-2-3 hitters as Raf Soriano and Mike Myers warmed up. On offense, Ichiro did great with a 2-0 count, Winn bounced out, and Boone whiffed. After a Boone foul ball (Soriano warming up at this point), someone on the field tossed the foul ball toward a child, who dropped it. The ball was tossed again toward said child, but a grownup intercepted it. COME ON, FANS!! The kids are a very important part of this game. This child is probably scarred for life thanks to this numbskull greedy bastard. To other fans' credit, I did hear some boos hail down after this happened.

top 9 -- MYERS IN?!!!??!! Garret 1-2...base hit LF...NICE JOB, BOB!!!; SHIG IN; Glaus basehit LF; Guillen basehit!!; Salmon 3-1...full swing K; Kennedy BASEHIT RCF! ANGELS 2-1!!!; DaVanon BALK (ANA 3-1) 2-0...3-1 BB; Eckstein 2-2 (VILLONE WARMING)...full 6-3; Erstad 0-2...full FAIR DOWN LF LINE!!! (ANA 5-1); Vlad 1-2 fly Ichiro

bot 9 -- GREGG IN; Ibanez 4-3; Edgar 4-3 great play Kennedy; Olerud 2-0...2-2 swing K

>> Okay, here's where it hits the fan. Once the 8th was over, the only thought I had in my mind was this (and this is NOT hindsight): THERE'S NO WAY MIKE MYERS SHOULD HAVE SNIFFED THE 9TH. It's 1-0, bring out your (interim) closer, let him get the three outs, lefty-lefty matchup be damned. I had even told Jeremy that I didn't care if Myers got three outs on three pitches, I thought this move was idiotic. By the way, isn't Hasegawa supposed to be tough on lefties? What happened to that line of thinking? I don't think Mike Myers is enough for me to not think along those lines. The result was Garret Anderson getting the base hit to LF. To me, THIS REEKED OF YANKING FRANKLIN FOR RHODES TO FACE HANK BLALOCK LAST YEAR (wrong pitcher, wrong time), and we all know how that game turned out. If you forgot, Raf Palmeiro sat on dead red from Armando Benitez later in that inning. And another thing...with the bases loaded and nobody out (no runs across), I just had a problem with Melvin making the infield play back to concede the tying run. If I ever wanted to concede the tying run, it's going to be early in the game, NOT in the 9th. Shig battled back from 3-1 to strike out Tim Salmon, but from there, it was all downhill. With the bases loaded and one out (Kennedy up), either Rick or Dave was giddy about the possibility of a double play ending it. My thought at this point: will the ball find Ibanez or Aurilia? Kennedy got the base knock to give the Angels the lead. Shig balked to make it 3-1. Niehaus after the balk: "you can't argue a balk, but out comes Bob Melvin to ask why..." I wish I could have seen what was probably a halfhearted argument. DaVanon walked, Eckstein grounded to short (Villone was warming up, which just makes me even more "confident" in the Mariner pen if he's an option at this point). With Erstad up, Niehaus had convinced himself that Melvin wouldn't walk Erstad to get to Vlad, but I wouldn't put it past Melvin...and I wish Dave would quit using "Erstie" as a nickname for Erstad. Erstad was down 0-2, worked the count full, then roped one down the LF line to give the Angels their final 5-1 margin. As Vlad was up, Niehaus said the crowd was starting to head out. Vlad flew out to Ichiro to end the carnage. At this point, I thought: "Hey, Bob, do you think you got the Angels to 'think about' sending Troy Percival out for the 9th??" They probably didn't, because no-name Mariner 2003 nemesis Kevin Gregg came out once again in this series and sliced through the potent 3-4-5 hitters in the Mariner lineup in a quick, painless 1-2-3 fashion. John Olerud added a whiffing coup de grace to end it.

There was no doubt in my mind Shig should have been the first one to come out in the 9th (some KJR callers afterward wanted Soriano, who had been warming up but threw 26 or so pitches yesterday). I think the whole thing would have come out differently, and I don't care what ended up actually happening to Shig. This one's on you, Bob. As soon as I heard Myers was in, all I could think was "you know what, Bob? You deserve to lose this game." The way things were going, I didn't think it was actually going to happen, but man...I can't say I'm not satisfied with this in an evil way.

Goats of the game:
1) Bob Melvin -- You read the 9th inning paragraph, right? This is Fireworthy Offense #2, because FO#1 (Wilson sent from first) was revealed to be a missed sign by Dan Wilson.
2) Dave Myers -- Sending Randy Winn on a single to Jose Guillen (arm!) in LF. Stupid stupid stupid. I suppose I could harp on Myers for not throwing up the stop sign, but Myers probably would have thrown it up too late, and Winn would have ended up as Snelling #2.
3) Bret Boone -- Not advancing to second on the Jose Guilen throw to the plate. He would have scored on the Raul Ibanez double, changing the complexion of the game and giving Freddy a little more wiggle room.
4) Mike Myers -- his job: get one hitter (Garret Anderson) out. Result: base knock, tying run aboard immediately. Donald Trump and I agree...YOU'RE FIRED.
5) Shigetoshi Hasegawa -- He still had a job to do, too, though in an evil way I was rooting for him to make Melvin look like an idiot. He did, and then some.

Today's Gameball:
Freddy Garcia -- seven shutout innings, four hits, two walks, and seven strikeouts on 96 pitches. Freddy shows up, stands on his head, and it all goes to hell. My soon-to-come raid of the Cookies and Creme ice cream in the freezer is for you, Freddy.

Sure, it can't get much worse than this. Sure, it's only three games.

How will you feel if the Mariners are sitting there at the end of the year and finish three games short of the Angels for the division title? To hell with Rondell White in June of last year, this year we could be looking all the way back to the very first series of the year.

As the Mariners and Garcia cruised along with the 1-0 lead, I thought to myself, "it looks like this is the type of game the Mariners have to win this year." Even still, they didn't.

[Edit ~11:30p -- the Franklin-yanked-for-Rhodes game was actually September 9th of last year, as opposed to the boxscore of the 15th that I couldn't get that I thought was the game I wanted. The appropriate game is now linked.]

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Bob Melvin is dead to me as of 5:30 Central today.

Mike Myers pitching
Garret Anderson: Ball, Strike looking, Strike looking, Foul, Anderson singled to left center.
Shigetoshi Hasegawa relieved Mike Myers.
Troy Glaus: Glaus singled to center, Anderson to second.
Jose Guillen: Ball, Guillen singled hard to right, Anderson to third, Glaus to second.
Tim Salmon: Foul, Ball, Ball, Ball, Strike looking, Salmon struck out swinging.
Adam Kennedy: Foul, Ball, Kennedy singled hard to center, Anderson and Glaus scored, Guillen to third
Jeff DaVanon hit for Josh Paul.
Jeff DaVanon: Ball, Guillen scored, Kennedy to second on balk, Ball, Strike looking, Ball, DaVanon walked.
David Eckstein: Ball, Strike swinging, Ball, Foul, Ball, Eckstein grounded out to shortstop, Kennedy to third, DaVanon to second.
Darin Erstad: Strike looking, Foul, Foul, Ball, Ball, Ball, Erstad doubled hard to left, Kennedy and DaVanon scored.
Vladimir Guerrero: Ball, Strike looking, Foul, Guerrero flied out to deep right.
End of Inning (5 Runs, 5 Hits, 0 Errors)



---Deftones "Elite"

Thanks to Bob Melvin, Freddy Garcia's 7 scoreless innings of 4-hit baseball were for naught. I don't blame Freddy tonight if he just says the hell with it and drinks his ass off. He should be pissed off right now.

As for Melvin, this is his biggest fireable offense yet. It's days like these that will seal his fate as Mariners manager.

The M's are 0-3 and headed to the Black Hole to face the A's. Ryan Franklin vs Mark Redman Friday night.


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If you know what that reference is about, you'll know what I'll be posting about in an hour or two.

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I noticed that the only NHL playoff game on TV tonight is the St. Louis-San Jose Game 1 at the Shark Tank, scheduled for 9 p.m. Central on ESPN.

Of course, there's also the first game of the Ottawa-Toronto series tonight, which is at 6 p.m. Central. Is that game on ESPN or ESPN2?


Because ESPN is going to air "Break Up The Bombers: The Yankees on Trial" at 6 p.m. Central.

That's right, a MOCK TRIAL on the Yankees over a NHL PLAYOFF GAME.

The last time ESPN did a mock trial, it was on Pete Rose. And it was boring as hell. I didn't watch it all, because if I would have, I would have died that night. It was that bad.

Obviously most of America doesn't give a crap about hockey. But David and I do. We matter, dammit. So does Jeff at Fire Bavasi, who's a huge Senators fan.

Put this mock trial bullcrap on Court TV. I want my ESPN back.

Of course, that would involve bringing back Tom Mees from the dead. RIP Tom.

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Either the Padres wear ALL GOLD or don't wear it at all.

Blue tops with gold pants DO NOT WORK.

Bitch and moan all you want about the Mariners, but at least they have great uniforms.

Oh, and Freddy Garcia just got out of a jam there. Runners on 2nd and 3rd with 0 outs, and he gets out of it with no runs. Great job, Freddy. Keep it up.

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I muted the pathetic Mariner game and cranked up the radio feed of the Canuck game. THE ENTIRE CROWD at the Garage was singing along with GM Place anthem singer Mark Donnelly in the rendition of "O Canada." The excitement in the air was palpable.

Unfortunately, it became pretty apparent right off the bat that the officials were going to call anything and everything close in this game, Trevor Linden's 100th playoff game as a Canuck. There wasn't a lot of 5-on-5 play tonight, as Vancouver was whistled for 10 penalties and Calgary was nailed for 6.

The first whistle was on Ville Nieminen for hooking only 2:06 into the game. Wouldn't you know it, 26 seconds later, Martin Rucinsky redirected an Ed Jovanovski shot past Miikka Kiprusoff and screened by Brendan Morrison for a power play goal (9th of his career) seconds after Rucinsky broke in on a rush and shot wide of the net. Could the Vancouver power play that has sucked all year (and 9-for-104 since the All-Star break) possibly come out to play tonight? Only 28 seconds after leaving the penalty box, Nieminen was again tagged, this time for high-sticking Matt Cooke. Fifty seconds later, Sami Salo slapped in a one-timer (2nd career playoff goal) and it looked like the Canucks were in the driver's seat as they had a 2-0 lead with only 5:24 gone in the game.

There's a reason this is the playoffs, though. This isn't a cake walk, it's the NHL playoffs. And the Calgary Flames are no slouches. They were incredibly pesky. They came out strong for the second period, waited for the Canucks to get whistled for a couple of penalties, and struck. Sami Salo was in the box for interference at 3:10 in, but then the Canucks got nailed on a questionable too-many-men call, putting the Flames on a two-man advantage. His Ojibwaness Chris Simon put the puck past Dan Cloutier on a play which Cloutier never actually found the puck to put up a sufficient fight. The puck took a weird bounce off the glass behind the net and Cloutier looked to the side that didn't have Simon and the puck. Only 28 seconds later, Oleg Saprykin slapped one past Cloutier to TIE THE GAME. At 11:02 into the period, Martin Gelinas was nailed for hooking. With 15 seconds left in the power play, Henrik Sedin put one past Kiprusoff. With 2:09 left in the period, Mattias Ohlund scored with the extra attacker on a play where Calgary was going to be tagged for blowing over Dan Cloutier to make it 4-2.

Luckily only four penalties would be called in the third period. Too bad three of those were Vancouver penalties. Nieminen was whistled for a THIRD time, this time for roughing. It took only nice seconds for the Canucks to rush down the ice. Brendan Morrison grabbed the puck, deked Kiprusoff out of his shorts, then tucked it into the net as he fell to the ground. Flames' penalty minute hog Kryzstzof Oliwa made the score 5-3 only 50 seconds later. Marek Malik was called for hooking at 12:53. Only 53 seconds later, Mattias Ohlund was sent to the box for a high stick. This meant the Flames had a two-man advantage, and by golly, they played it quite slopplity. Missed passes, intercepted passes, and Canuck clears down the ice were big toward killing off the two-man advantage. The fact that the Canucks killed off this penalty, to me, eased basically any doubt a Canuck fan may have had that Dan Cloutier would let in two quick goals toward the end of the game.

Tonight, somehow, someway, the Canucks went a crazy 4-for-6 on the power play. Ohlund, Jovanovski, Naslund (3 assists), and Morrison (1 goal, 2 assists) were all great. In the realm of shots, the Canucks were outshot 13-6 in the third period, and 29-22 for the game.

What put this game on ice, though, was the penalty kill on the two-man advantage. The Flames could have easily made it a tense game if they would have converted the two-man advantage.

And now, the thoughts of Dan Russell, Tom Larscheid, and John Shorthouse
Dan: There were so many penalties. Did you like the officials? The refs were trying to one-up each other. Weakness in the power play was a question mark, but not anymore it looked like. The 5th goal might as well have been a power play. They were up 2-0 five minutes into game. It was an added bonus to get these goals against Kiprusoff. Simon had a goal then Saprykin had one between Cloutier's legs. Henrik Sedin's goal went off Justin Leopold's skate. Ohlund scored on the delayed penalty. Morrison on the power play deked Kiprusoff, who looked silly on the play. Calgary had a poorly executed 2-man advantage in the 3rd. The Canucks penalty kill has been great, but the Calgary 2-man advantage was brutal. The refs called 16 penalties, and one not in the books. Ohlund was great...
Dan: Morrison 1 star, but sheesh...Ohlund though
Tom: Ohlund's such a warrior. He was against Iginla on 6 of 9 shifts early. He's a key guy, gets goals, played 25:14, 37 shifts, and gets stronger as the game goes on. If things go right for Vancouver, it could be a coming-out party for Ohlund around the league
Dan: how many times did Ohlund break up rushes? He did that and more
John: He played physically, broke up rushes, involved offensively (1g 1a) jumping up in the rush. He started to get attention from Chris Simon in the 3rd period (for Iginla). Ohlund got the better of the battle tonight
Dan: we talked during the season about how the power play is a funny animal in hockey -- it can come and go, and it can come out of nowhere. Who saw 4 power play goals coming?
Tom: absolutely...did you notice the adjustment with Jovanovski going to the front of the net? It seemed to catch Calgary off guard, especially on the 2nd power play goal (Salo booming shot). There was a couple new wrinkles. Marty Rucinsky on the deflection (Naslund low, back to Jovo, nice deflection) after Rucinsky deked Saprykin and shot wide. This was a good team win. Ohlund, Morrison, Naslund,and Jovo were very prominent tonight. Your best players have to show up in big games, they did tonight
Dan: Does anyone know how the teams looked 5-on-5?
John: this is exactly how the STL series started last year. Apparently the officials have a directive to call it close, I don't know why...the STL series, the first game was like this. In 7 games last year, the VAN/STL games had 48-47 penalties, near 7 a night. I hope this doesn't continue Fully electronic love to see more 5-on-5
Dan: Last year's 1st game in STL was STL 6-0; STL was 4-for-8 on power play, VAN went 0-for-7
Dan: Stars were Morrison, Ohlund, Saprykin. It was a special teams game tonight. You have to take what you're given and just roll with the punches.
John: It would have been nice to know that it was going to be called close beforehand. You just have to roll with it, and make the best of it. Calgary was 10-6 in power plays (Vancouver took 10 penalties). Vancouver settled, that's the difference
Dan: They've got 7 straight wins and 4 straight playoff wins against CGY going back to 94...
Tom: It's a new season, but it's always nice to get the first one. We know the Canucks can play better. Sutter knows his team can be better too. This is what playoff hockey is. There's major swings, but you can't get excited just playing one game, like last year when STL came to Vancouver and embarrassed them...
John: They shouldn't be counting chickens before they hatch. In the last 3 Vancouver playoff series before this one, the team winning Game 1 lost series...
Dan: They have to hold serve, and try to do it on Friday. To get 5 goals on Kiprusoff on only 22 shots...
Tom: We talked about how his psyche might be. I think I read somewhere that Kiprusoff never gave up >3 goals at any time during the season with the Flames. If that's the case, he's gotta be shaking his head a little tonight

Game 2 Friday in Vancouver. The Canucks lead the series 1-0.

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Wednesday, April 07, 2004


"Well I'm lost and I'm found and I can't touch the ground, I'm plowed into the sound!!!"

Nothing like cranking up Sponge's "Plowed" after a 10-7 loss.

Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson got all of that and more tonight. Sadly, Rich Aurilia didn't.

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Big bats are overrated.

It's 5-0 Angels going into the bottom of the 2nd. Joel Pineiro is already at 46 pitches.

The Angels just said "TWO OUTS, SO THE F#&% WHAT!!!" (thanks David for that line, great hustle)

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The Detroit Tigers just completed a three game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays in the Skydome.

The Tigers are now 3-0. Last season, they won 3 games in the month of April.

Now, I don't like to give myself too much credit, but I have predicted April 30 as the day that Carlos Tosca is fired as the Blue Jays manager.

Well, he's just lucky that I'm not his boss. You simply cannot get swept by the DETROIT TIGERS during the first week of the season. It's not acceptable.

Then again, I really don't think the fans in Toronto give a crap right now. They're worried about the Maple Leafs-Senators bloodbath that's about to take place. Man I wish I could go to any of these playoff series.

And for those of you who hate hockey, well, too bad, so sad.

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Tonight's Mariners lineup, the 4/7/04 version

I. Suzuki rf
R. Winn cf
B. Boone 2b
E. Martinez dh
R. Ibanez lf
R. Aurilia ss
J. Olerud 1b
D. Wilson c
W. Bloomquist 3b

But will you look at this! Edgar is batting cleanup, where he belongs.

Jarrod Washburn vs Joel Pineiro, 7:05 start at the Safe.

I just hope Jose Molina doesn't get all of it tonight.

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Guess what local newspaper subscribers in Bremerton had to wake up to this morning?

You guessed it, the obligatory Willie Bloomquist article. Unfortunately for us here at Sports and B's, he didn't do too bad. The article is written by one of my former assistant coaches, Chuck Stark. I'm not going to really blast the hell out of this one like I do with some other articles (if you read the article, you can pretty much guess how I'd react to certain things), but here's some tidbits...

On a day when the M's mostly stunk it up in a 10-5 loss against Anaheim, Bloomquist drove in Seattle's first run of the season with a double on the first pitch he saw from fireballing Bartolo Colon. He later provided the defensive gem of the game -- barehanding a chopper off the bat of Jose Guillen and gunning him out at first base on a move ala Brooks Robinson.

The Mariners definitely did stink it up. In all likelhood, Garret Anderson should have caught that double. To Bloom's credit, he did get onto the Baseball Tonight Web Gems with the play that was described.

Two years ago, during a September call-up, he hit .455 in 12 games.

Emphasis added by me. The words "small sample size" come to mind. If you multiply 12 by 4 (number of at-bats per game, though he probably had less), this .455 average would be over 48 at-bats. Bloomquist hasn't proved since college that he could hit consistently over the span of an entire season. Raise your hand if you think Bloomquist could hit .270 over a span of 300 at-bats...put your hand down, Mister Rizzs...

A lot of September call-ups will get a start here and there, but Bloomquist was so hot that then-manager Lou Piniella couldn't afford to not play him. The more he played, the better he played, erasing the doubts of a management that had started to wonder if the former Pac-10 Player of the Year could hit it at baseball's highest level.

I already commented about the "hitting consistently" thing and the "small sample size" thing which has netted the Mariners such luminaries as Quinton McCracken (one year not like the others), Raul Ibanez (won't be facing Mariner pitching this year), Scott Spiezio (an at-bat in the World Series), and Rich Aurilia (anyone hitting in front of Barry Bonds should have more than one good year). And the reason why Piniella couldn't afford not to play Bloomquist? Well, at that point, any warm body with a glove was better than putting in Jeff Cirillo and having an eight-man lineup.

Bloomquist earned a spot on the 2003 roster as a utility player. ... He hit .341 while at third base and .250 overall in 196 at-bats.

Once again, that thing about hitting consistently, or in this case, consistently WELL. One out of four...yayyyy!!! Give me a break. Moving on...

In his second at-bat in the fourth, Bloomquist took some good hacks at Colon pitches that were clocked at 97 and 98 miles per hour by the radar gun at the stadium.

As we know, the gun at the stadium that shows on the scoreboard tends to inflate the MPH by about three or four MPH, something Ron Fairly has harped on countless times in the past. As an aside, where the hell was the gun on the FSNNW telecast? They didn't have it the whole night. Is the Mariner brass trying to withhold Bartolo Colon's velocity from me? I wouldn't put it past them. All I said in my recap about this at-bat was that Bloom should have been wrung up on his 0-2 pitch and then I laid into Melvin for sending Dan Wilson.

Bloomquist's fifth-inning at-bat was short -- he struck out on three pitches.

Damn right. Blew two straight fastballs right by a waving bat.

That's all I'm going to post about that article. Except that Bloomquist still has a long way to go to achieve Steve Scheffler status.

And now, another article in the Bremerton Sun (they hate it when you call it Bremerton instead of "West Sound," easily the stupidest geographic name ever hallucinated) is here. I'll just take one craptastic quote out of this...

That forced the Angels to bring in right-handed setup man Francisco Rodriguez. He got Wilson on a grounder to end the eighth and struck out two in the ninth, including Bret Boone to end the game.

"At least we made them think a little bit," Melvin said. "Even when they seemingly have it in hand late in the game, you still want to take somebody down with you if you're going to go down."

I think we've crossed the line where "[making] them think a little bit" is acceptable for this "competitive" team. Can you believe with the two playoff appearances this team had and all the ups (and excruciating downs) we witnessed, that three years later we're supposed to take solace in the fact that the other team was "thinking" a little bit? So you won 393 games the past four years, great. You won 186 games the past two years, didn't make the playoffs, and want sympathy? Tough sh!+. Oakland and Anaheim are in your division, you know that, that's not going to change for a while, you know what those teams have (hell, you face them so many damn times), and that's the way it is. Live with it and prepare accordingly.

In a note similar to Melvin's, I had to think long and hard to find out what GOOD things happened in the game, which I sort of chronicled in the recap post.

Mariners will be playing at seven, but don't expect a long recap again from me because Flames/Canucks Game 1 of the playoffs will be played around the same time.

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10. He's not local

9. He's not local

8. He's not local

7. He's not local

6. He's not local

5. He's not local

4. He's not local

3. He's not local

2. He's not local

And the number one reason why Seattle fans booed Rich Aurilia yesterday..................

1. Because booing Willie Bloomquist would have been a violation of the Safeco Field Code of Conduct.

Thank you, I'll be back later. I have this little thing called school.

Word to the casual fans at Safeco Field: Rich Aurilia is not a terrible ballplayer. If he keeps this up, then it's OK to boo the guy. Until then, just keep eating your $5 two-scoop Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream and your Garlic Fries.

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Tuesday, April 06, 2004


I miss walking down Occidental Avenue.

The Moose Man, a great Mariner fan.

First pitch of the 2004 season.

I'm hoping I can make it back up to the Northwest to visit next summer. And you know damn well I'll visit Safeco...

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It's my last post of the night, but I have got to get this off my chest.

One quick question: did Sega Sports' World Series Baseball turn into ESPN MLB 2K4 like all the other Sega Sports games did? If so, it's a travesty because World Series Baseball was probably the best baseball video game out there. Yet it didn't get enough respect for ESPN to hold the name over, if indeed what I think is true.

But as the headline and my first line suggest, there's three syllables repeated three times that have me racing for the mute button on my remote every single time...


Tracy Morgan, if you're not doing an SNL rerun and aren't playing either Brian Fellow, Star Jones, Dominican Lou, or the "get me a soda, bitch!" guy, then GET THE HELL OFF MY TV SCREEN!!!!

Thank you. Good night. I hope you all had a good Opening Day, because the Stanley Cup Playoffs start tomorrow. Yeeeeee haw!!!

[Edit ~9:40p -- Turns out Sega Sports' logo IS in the lower right corner of the screen on the ad. Most of the time I'm not facing the TV when the commercial is on. This makes it doubly annoying.]

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You know, as soon as this game ended, the only thought in my mind was this --

Which Mariners' weaknesses WEREN'T exposed today? I'll put down a cleaned-up version of my notes (cleaner than the notes I posted last season, which I'm sure were cumbersome to read), and then think about the weaknesses afterward or as I go along...

Top 1: Rich Aurilia looked quite crossed up on what should have been a double play ball. What a toss he made too, man...there was some lack of motor skills on that play. Someone I knew back in junior high told me how he would put one of his cats in a pillow case, swing said pillow case repeatedly, then let the cat walk out disoriented. That's what Aurilia looked like on this play.

Bot 1: Raul Ibanez looked horrible on the 2-0 pitch, then got a piddly double. Edgar was caught looking with two runners in scoring position.

Top 2: Jamie Moyer got too much of the plate and Jose Molina parked it for his third Major League homer. Adam Kennedy went to take the extra base and Ichiro hung him out to dry. Rich Aurilia muffed it. That's one that you can't blame on not being accustomed with the middle infielder next to you. Catch ball, tag runner. Nothing unusual. Mike Scioscia sent Adam Kennedy for third on the 2-1 pitch with two out; not the only time Kennedy would be sent for third in the game.

Bot 2: I'm no fan of Willie Bloomquist, which regular readers here at Sports and B's know, but I think back and a hit was probably the correct call on his bloop double because Garret Anderson did have a ways to go to get that ball. He still should have had it though. With that, I withdraw my Terry Mosher Assist allegation. An accurate throw from Vlad would have made it a close play on Olerud because after all, it's Olerud. Ichiro watched a close 2-2 pitch go by, then grounded out to Erstad. Winn hit a couple balls hard foul, then whiffed to leave two runners on base.

Top 3 -- Vlad Guerrero took a hack on 3-0, and why the hell not? He's Vlad. He was fooled by Moyer a couple pitches later and flew out. Garret Anderson waved at a pitch on 0-1 and battled with Jamie before grounding out to him. It was a relatively painless inning for Jamie.

Bot 3 -- Dave Niehaus says the lights are on at the Safe. I later learn this is to "minimize shadows." I say it's wasting electricity. Jeremy said "for a team that claims to be fiscally responsible, they sure do a lot of stupid things." I point to when we went to a game in 2001 during the California power crisis. The Mariners were no longer opening the CF gate three hours before game time, because they were supposedly saving energy. We waited an extra hour for the gate to open, got in, and the first thing we see is that every monitor in the place has an endless loop graphic saying "WELCOME TO MARINERS BASEBALL." No kidding? I thought I was there for Ski Bonkers or something, but baseball? Damn. I had this ticket on it that said "Mariners vs. Angels" on it and took it through the gate, but I really thought I was going to Ski Bonkers, but thanks to that perpetual graphic loop on the monitor, I'm glad I was able to tell myself that yes indeed, I was at a Mariner game. Bret Boone nearly waved at a fastball that was way inside before hitting weak fly ball number two to Adam Kennedy. Ibanez hit a ball right to Garret and Edgar lined one to Kennedy.

Top 4 -- Troy Glaus absolutely yoked that 3-0 Moyer pitch. That was just a majestic shot. Bloomquist barehanded a Guillen grounder then threw him out, probably resulting in his unfortunate cementing as Speizio's backup 3B for the time being. On the next play, he threw low and Olerud dug it out. Jose Molina then took Randy Winn to the warning track.

Bot 4 -- Dave Niehaus goes nuts over the return of Clyde the Aflac duck: HEEEEEEY CLYYYYYYDE!!!! Olerud grounded out to the pitcher, which is always great fun. Dan Wilson got an anomalous base hit. Bloomquist should have been wrung up on his 0-2 pitch. There were two outs, so a textbook hit-and-run probably wasn't on, because Bloomquist didn't swing at his 1-2 pitch, so it probably wasn't his fault. That said, WHO THE HELL SENT DAN WILSON FROM FIRST WITH TWO OUT??!! If it's Wilson sending himself, he's nuts. If it's Bob Melvin sending him, it doesn't surprise me. Upon hearing of this, Jeremy notified me that it was Bob Melvin's first fireworthy offense of the year.

Top 5 -- This was a really easy inning for Moyer. He got two strikes on Kennedy before a groundout to Boone. He got Eckstein to fly out to Ichiro. He sat Erstad down with a corner pitch.

Bot 5 -- I turned down the TV and turned up the radio so I could keep hearing Niehaus and not hear Rizzs. Colon got a strike on Bloomquist, then blew two straight fastballs by him. Colon threw a nice first-pitch change over for a strike, then got him to ground to third. Winn had the count 2-0 before flying out to center.

Top 6 -- Vlad walked on a 3-1 pitch, then Garret got a base knock to left field. Enter Troy Glaus on an 0-1 pitch. It looked like it landed 10 to 15 feet to the right of the first homer. Jose Molina hit one to the track in right, and it went off Ichiro's glove for a double. Adam Kennedy hit the ball off Moyer's leg and into right field, scoring Molina. Moyer was pulled before throwing another pitch. The whole inning up to this point was a horrible turn of events for any Mariner fan, and I'm sure it more was disheartening for the fans that don't expect things to go wrong. Julio Mateo was brought in and was quite worried about Kennedy at first. Kennedy took off toward second, and Wilson's throw didn't have him beat. Aurilia muffed it anyway. Kennedy was again sent from second, this time on a full count with two out. Eckstein would foul out.

Bot 6 -- Bartolo Colon was dealing at this point. He had Boone 3-1 and forced a groundout to short. He caught Ibanez looking on an ABSOLUTE MEATBALL. He got Edgar the same way he did in the first; he painted the corner.

Top 7 -- Erstad had a 1-2 count when I learned that Kevin Jarvis was warming up. I figured "it's 6-1, the game is lost anyway, what's the point? Give Jarvis some garbage time because when the hell else is he going to throw?" Erstad whiffed. Vlad grounded out to Aurilia. Garret had a full count when he hit a fly ball to left field that got past Ibanez and THERE'S NO DOUBT IN MY MIND RANDY WINN (as a leftfielder) WOULD HAVE HAD THAT BALL. Glaus hit a mammoth shot foul before sending Ichiro to the warning track.

Bot 7 -- Scot Shields relived Colon and took care of business in the 7th. Olerud bounced out to first, Aurilia hit a hard groundout to second, and Wilson flew out to Vlad.

Top 8 -- Kevin Jarvis came in for garbage time and boy, was it ever garbage. He struck out Jose Guillen on what was ruled a wild pitch. No word on what Ben Davis thought about it. Salmon flew out to Ibanez. Molina nearly hit into a double play. He later swiped second before Kennedy walked. Eckstein singled to left and IBANEZ OVERRAN THE BALL (get used to this type of stuff, folks!), and Molina scored. I'm pretty sure it was shallow enough that a cleanly played ball would have left the bases loaded with no runners scoring. THE ROUT WAS OFFICIALLY ON (7-1 at this point). Jarvis was pulled for Ron Villone. Jarvis couldn't even get out of the inning. Villone made damn sure to score all the runners he inherited. He had Erstad 0-2 before Erstad tagged a double to right to score Kennedy. Villone had the brilliant idea to go sidearmed with on a pretty low 1-0 pitch which Vlad TATTOOED off the top of the wall in centerfield. The bases cleared, then Villone got Garret Anderson to bounce to Olerud on a 2-0 pitch.

Bot 8 -- Dave Hansen pinch-hit for Bloomquist and singled on the first pitch. The front two rows of the Diamond Club were empty at this point, making it look great on TV...hope the Mariner brass liked that. THANK YOU, FANS!! Ichiro walked, Winn flew out to Chone Figgins. Boone was caught looking on a breaking ball. Ibanez walked (a camera pan showed a 60% full Diamond Club, which again looks great on television). Edgar had a 2-0 count before coaxing a walk to force in Hansen. Kevin Gregg came on to pitch, and you may remember him from this game last year. He was one of the many no-name pitchers the Mariners faced on last year's stretch run. He struck out Olerud, but Ichiro scored on the wild pitch. Here's what gets me: Rich Aurilia, the 7 hitter, is about to come up and Ron Fairly says "the big boys" are coming up; "guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark." WHAAAAAATTT???!!! You're crazy, Ron, even if Aurilia hit the best Mariner hit of the game to the RCF gap not long after. That was all the Mariners would get. Francisco Rodriguez came on to face Dan Wilson. In a 10-5 game with two runners in scoring position, Wilson grounded out. Steve likes a pinch-hitter in this situation, and quite frankly, don't we all? Just one of those runs would have been nice in that September game from last year. One more win and the first game of that final A's series at the Safe last year means something.

Top 9 -- Glaus flew out to Aurilia. While Glaus was up, Mike Myers was warming up in the pen. Also in the pen: Shigetoshi Hasegawa. WHY THE HELL IS HASEGAWA (interim closer) WARMING UP IN A 10-5 GAME??!!?!! If this is Melvin's call, consider it Fireworthy Offense #2. Guillen grounded to second on his first pitch. Niehaus said there was "20 thousand, maybe 30" left in the stands. Yes, twenty, maybe thirty thousand of "the greatest fans in baseball" left on Opening Day, when surely they don't have to go back to work, and it's not going to be late when they get home. You gotta love these fans!!! Salmon worked a full count and grounded out.

Bot 9 -- Hansen walked. Percival warmed up. Ichiro whiffed on two balls in the dirt and struck out on the second one. Winn lined out to Guillen. Boone put a horrid swing on a 1-1 slider low and away. He liked it so much he did it twice. End game.

So after 23 outs, this "improved" offense of the Mariners mustered up one measly run. They had five hits going into the 8th. Woooooowwww. Looking at the boxscore, a grand total of ZERO Mariners had a multi-hit game, the Mariners starting lineup went an amazing 6-for-34 (.176). Colon set them down in order in the 5th, 6th, and 7th. The Mariners 2-5 hitters were 1-for-16. I know they put up four runs in the 8th, but consider this: the runs scored on three plays and only one of them involved hitting (Aurilia). The other was a walk (Edgar), and the other was a strikeout (Olerud) who could have been gunned down at first. They don't plan to score a lot of runs on dropped third strikes, do they?

As for the pitching, Moyer got too much of the plate on the Molina homer, and I'd have to see the Glaus homers again before I said anything about the location. If Moyer was trying to pitch Glaus to the deepest part of the park, it worked. Unfortunately, he was trying to keep Glaus IN the park too. Jarvis sucked ass like we all knew he would. Villone wasted no time letting all of Jarvis' runners score and his ERA explode. Vlad was absolutely not fooled on that sidearm pitch. Julio Mateo held down his end in the bullpen, giving up one hit in 1 1/3 innings.

The defense...I didn't think that the fears we had about the defense going in would rear their ugly heads quite that quickly. Ibanez had some definite issues out there in left, and Aurilia had some issues at short. Everyone else was fairly solid.

Should I give out a game ball? Hmm. No hitters had multi-hit games. I could pick Aurilia because of the big double, but he was a zoo at short. I hate Bloomquist and Garret should have caught that ball, so he's not getting it.

Gameball: Julio Mateo. 1 1/3 innings, 1 hit, 1 K, 24 pitches.

Okay, that was way too long. I hope you cherished this, because if it's not a weekend, I probably won't be posting something this long ever again.

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Over/under when the Mariners will blame the center field backdrop for their offensive woes?

I'll say May 9. That is the third and final day of the three-game series at the Safe with the Yankees.

Predictions in the comments box. This should be fun.

And remember to GET ALL OF IT!

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For the third straight season, your Seattle Mariners have lost on Opening Day.

The Mariners are not going to go 0-162, so just stop thinking about that right now. But today's game is the reason why most of the Mariners blogosphere were questioning the M's this offseason. Raul Ibanez? He was 1-for-3, but looked pretty mediocre out in left field. Rich Aurilia? He was 1-for-4, but committed an error in the 1st inning. Opening Day jitters, perhaps? Maybe.

But there's a reason why most of us were in a bashful mood this offseason.

The Mariners did not improve. While the Angels and A's got better (Mark Kotsay >>> Terrance Long), the M's just decided to go the "get a bunch of gritty guys" route. Speaking of gritty guys, Scott Spiezio is out for a few weeks, not months, because of his back. I won't bash Spiezio too much, because quite frankly, I'd much rather see him at third base than Willie Bloomquist.

Speaking of Bloomquist, he scored the M's 1st run, albeit in lucky fashion. But of course, Terry Mosher gave the local boy a double. Figures. I'm sure there's people on the ferry ride back to Bremerton just happy as hell about Bloomquist's first RBI this season. Yay.

But what really pissed me off today while listening to the game was the fact that Kevin Jarvis made an appearance. M's brass, just eat the goddamn money, OK? Kevin Jarvis is a joke. He has no business being on a major league roster at this time. Especially on a "contending" team's roster.

The 2004 Mariner marketing slogan is just going to be a hit this year, I can feel it. Already today, I've used it about 8 times.

Jose Molina really got all of it today. So did Troy Glaus. Twice.

But hey now, it's only one game, right? Just as long as the M's are able to sell just enough blankets and yellow hats, everything will be fine, right?

Well, not when there will be less than 30,000 at the Safe Wednesday night.

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Pictures tell the story, kids.

But it's such a lovely day in Seattle, so I'm told. It's lovely here in the Natural State as well. No humidity.

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OH BOY... 

A ball goes off Moyer and into rightfield...he comes out of the game without throwing another pitch here in the top of the 6th. Julio Mateo and the bullpen will be getting some work in the next week. Moyer didn't get that deep. Pineiro may get deep. Who knows about Garcia. I see Franklin going five. This means we'll probably see Ron Villone in the next four days as well as Kevin Jarvis. Ugh.

Does anyone have the injury tally going?

Aurilia once he gets a weird freak injury?

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Two bombs? It MUST be Troy Glaus' walk year on his contract. Good God, those two homers were big blasts.

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Between the moment last year when Dave Niehaus referred to Rey Sanchez as "Rey Quinones" and the way Dave Niehaus reacted on television at the first sight of Clyde the AFLAC duck, I'm really going to enjoy it if Niehaus ever goes senile.

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He's not Frank Thomas, but he wears number 35 for your Mariners. Many have noted in the blogosphere that he's had the one good year, and that was hitting in front of Barry Bonds.

I know it probably takes a while to develop a defensive rapport as a middle infielder with your compadre out there, but the muffed double play ball in the first wasn't that enjoyable. That and Ichiro totally had Adam Kennedy.

Richie's up right now...took a first pitch strike. Took another one right through the middle of the plate at the knees for strike 2. Colon goes up and in, and Aurilia chases, pops up weakly to Colon.

Not a nice start defensively for Aurilia, but for now, I give him the benefit of the doubt. I just hope that pop-up to Colon didn't cause his tear ducts to shut down or his right calf to do something weird.

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I think Jose Molina GOT ALL OF THAT.

Angels 1-0, 2nd inning.

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Today's Mariner lineup

I. Suzuki rf
R. Winn cf
B. Boone 2b
R. Ibanez lf
E. Martinez dh
J. Olerud 1b
R. Aurilia ss
D. Wilson c
W. Bloomquist 3b

Wilson and Bloomquist, arguably the worst 8-9 hitters in baseball.

Ibanez in the cleanup slot. This will change soon.

Internet baseball news...
If you have AOL Broadband, you can get the MLB Gameday Audio for FREE. That's right.


Now, I may get the MSN Premium deal later on in the season, but keep in mind that I'm a poor college student. I love the word FREE. And if I can have the opportunity to listen to Dave Niehaus on the internet for FREE, well, count me in on that.


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Since I don't have nearly the time as David does, here are my Stanley Cup Playoff picks, a shorter version:

First Round
1 Tampa Bay d. 8 New York Islanders in 4 (snooooooze)
2 Boston d. 7 Montreal in 5 (I like the Original Six series)
6 New Jersey d. 3 Philadelphia in 7 (Say goodnight, Bobby Clarke)
5 Ottawa d. 4 Toronto in 7 (best first round series, if not the best series in the entire postseason)

Second Round
Tampa Bay d. New Jersey in 6 (We don't need another NJ Cup title...Thunderdome!)
Ottawa d. Boston in 5 (Nice story up there in Boston, but the Senators are juiced)

Conference Finals
Ottawa d. Tampa Bay in 6 (The two 1992-1993 expansion cousins meet)

First Round
8 Nashville d. 1 Detroit in 7 (which will lead to the immediate firing of Dave Lewis)
2 San Jose d. 7 St. Louis in 5 (The Sharks, undisputedly the best comeback story of 2003-2004)
3 Vancouver d. 6 Calgary in 7 (Western Canada is going to go crazy)
5 Dallas d. 4 Colorado in 7 (The Avs are too inconsistent. Tony Granato will be fired after this series)

Second Round
San Jose d. Nashville in 5 (Nashville should be happy with upsetting the Wings)
Vancouver d. Dallas in 7 (Cloutier will step up)

Conference Finals
San Jose d. Vancouver in 7 (The Sharks are the most underrated 2 seed in the history of hockey. NOBODY is talking about them)

San Jose Sharks d. Ottawa Senators in 6 games
The Sharks fans can finally rejoice. This is a great reward for Sharks fans who've had to put up with the likes of Rob Gaudreau and Dale Craigwell. The Sharks have quietly put together a solid season and it will be worth it when the Stanley Cup is raised at center ice in the Shark Tank.

Conn Smythe MVP: Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose

Once the playoffs are over and done with, there will be a labor deal. I'm optimistic on that. The NHL knows damn well that they can't afford to miss any time next season. A deal will get done.

If there is no deal, I blame Gary Bettman. Why?

Because I can.

And I will.


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Sandfrog's back (P-I)

Willie Bloomquist, starting third baseman for your Seattle Mariners.

I can't believe I just typed that. "Willie Bloomquist, starting third baseman for your Seattle Mariners."

I'm excited for Opening Day, but Willie fricking Bloomquist will be the starting third baseman for awhile. That does not give me a lot of hope. If this were any other team, Bloomquist would be playing in Triple-A right now.


He's a local boy. Surely the M's have to get that Port Orchard dollar.

Wolf Pride my ass. Kitsap County pride my ass. Willie Bloomquist is a terrible ballplayer and the fact that he's starting at 3B doesn't make me feel good about this team at all.

Oh well, Opening Day is here. Jamie Moyer is on the mound. Baseball is back. Now I can't complain about that, nor should you.

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Here's my 2004 Stanley Cup playoff predictions. I can't really say I'm following any real rules, other than I'm slightly partial to the Canucks. That and the basic rule of "when in doubt, look at the goaltenders."

1 Tampa Bay v 8 NY Islanders -- the Isles have a nice blue line (Aucoin), young goaltending (DiPietro), along with Yashin and Peca, whenever they decide to show up. The Lightning have the electric Martin St. Louis along with veterans Dave Andreychuk and Darryl Sydor. And Nik Khabibulin in net => TB in 5

2 Boston v 7 Montreal -- an Original Six matchup here. The Habs have Richard Zednik, Mike Ribeiro, and Michael Ryder. They have Jose Theodore in net. They definitely have the upper hand in net (Raycroft is formidable, but young), but Montreal could be much better with a healthy Sheldon Souray, who was on fire before he got injured. Boston has a good deal more offensive firepower with Joe Thornton and Sergei Samsonov, and the deadline acquisitions of Michael Nylander and Sergei Gonchar don't hurt either => BOS in 5

3 Philadelphia v 6 New Jersey => nice rivalry here. It should be excruciatingly physical. There's really only one way to think about this matchup: it should take a hell of a lot to pick against Martin Brodeur. The Flyers have Jeremy Roenick, Mark Recchi, and they have Eric Desjardins back. The Devils have Patrik Elias, Scott Gomez, Jamie Langenbrunner, Brian Rafalski, and the great John Madden. And Martin Brodeur. I just can't pick against Brodeur, sixth seed and not showing up in the big game on the last day of the season be damned => NJ in 7

4 Toronto v 5 Ottawa -- The Sens probably have the upper hand on offense with Marian Hossa, Dan Alfredsson, Martin Havlat, and Peter Bondra if he warms up. Yes, the upper hand even over Mats Sundin, Alex Mogilny, and friends. Brian Leetch is good. Zdeno Chara is gargantuan. Do the Sens have an answer to the bruising play of punks like Ken Klee, Bryan Marchment, and Tie Domi? Do they have an answer to Ed Belfour? I don't know for sure, but I wish I knew they did. Sorry, Jeff => TOR in 7

WEST (I know more about the West, so this should get better)
1 Detroit v 8 Nashville -- The acquisition of Steve Sullivan at the deadline was incredibly key for the scrappy Preds. Tomas Vokoun has been Vezina good in net for the Preds, making Preds fans forget Mike Dunham. Kimmo Timonen is great on the blue line for the Preds. The Preds may hold the upper hand on Detroit in goaltending, presuming Manny Legace starts for the Red Wings, though not by much. I don't know how I can say that after Legace skunked the Avalanche twice in the last few weeks, but I did. Add to this the fact that Detroit is great on the power play and absolutely sick on the penalty kill, and I get => DET in 5

2 San Jose v 7 Saint Louis -- It might be safe to say one team out of Saint Louis and Nashville can thank the LA Kings for finally having their oodles of injuries catch up like they did. Barry Melrose panned the Kings months ago, even saying they were "doing it with smoke and mirrors," though they hung in for quite a while. Hey, didn't Saint Louis just fire Joel Quenneville this year? Obviously, a coaching change usually means that there was some sort of up-and-down in the STL this year. With Doug Weight, Keith Tkachuk, Al MacInnis, Chris Pronger, and the Stanley Cup experience of Chris Osgood, they'd be hard to pick against. Except the Sharks are quite the team this year. Evgeni Nabokov and Vesa Toskala have been great in net, and the team has found itself following the Owen Nolan deadline trade of last year. Former Seattle Thunderbird Pat Marleau stepped up this year, along with Jonathan Cheechoo. Throw in the veteran leadership of Vincent Damphousse and the out-of-nowhere offensive power of Nils Ekman and you get quite a team => SJ in 5

3 Vancouver v 6 Calgary -- Jarome Iginla had one hell of a year, and so did the Flames, carried on the backs of Iginla, as well as Shean Donovan, Robyn Regehr, and Craig Conroy. But really, the guy shouldering the biggest load was Miikka Kiprusoff, who may have been the steal of the year, trade-wise. Amazingly, the Sharks didn't lose a step in net, but I digress. The Flames have had a great year. The Canucks had a great start, treaded water for a while, got terrible, got passed by Colorado, had the Bertuzzi incident and hit rock bottom, made deadline moves, then regrouped and reeled off a six-game winning streak to end the season. They just got Ed Jovanovski back, which helps immensely on the blue line, filled with the likes of Mattias Ohlund and big plus-minus man Marek Malik. Geoff Sanderson's lightning-fast speed will be on display if any open ice is available. Markus Naslund is Markus Naslund. Brendan Morrison ended the year on a tear. I know I said that thing about the goaltenders at the beginning of this, and even though Dan Cloutier was in net through all of that six-game win streak, there's a caveat that goes with playoff hockey. But Jovo, Ohlund, and the blue line can be great, and dang it, the Canucks' penalty kill is nuts. Not Red Wing nuts, but nuts. Call me partial here, but...=> VAN in 6

4 Colorado v 5 Dallas -- this one's a barnburner. Just a few years ago, the goalie matchup would have been Belfour against Roy. Last year it would have been Turco against Roy. This year, Aebischer (or Salo if something goes wrong) against Turco. Frankly, Turco is better than both Aebischer and Salo (maybe not Salo of three years ago though). The Avalanche had the complete opposite finish as the Canucks, and they're coming in wondering what the hell is going on with their scoring. When Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne came in, many people thought this Avalanche team was going to be unstoppable. Throw in some injuries, and ineffectiveness by Kariya and Selanne (and quite a few others), and you get a team scuffling. Dallas has Bill Guerin, a return of Sergei Zubov, and a Mike Modano who could warm up at any time. If that happens, lights out. Dallas already has the better goalie, Colorado's awesome top line and blue line be damned => DAL in 6

So it looks like my second round is...
1 Tampa Bay v 6 New Jersey -- again, can I pick against Brodeur...against Tampa? My conscience won't let me do it. Experience is heavily in favor of the Devils => NJ in 5

2 Boston v 4 Toronto -- Toronto will probably pound the B's. Belfour's got way more experience than Andy Raycroft. If the Bruins can manage to warm up their scorers, they could give it a run. I doubt they stop the Eagle though. All bets are off if Belfour suddenly runs out on the team like he did in Dallas => TOR in 6

1 Detroit v 5 Dallas -- boy, COL/DAL and DET/DAL, matchups involving three teams I hate. With no rooting interest, naturally I just hope both teams beat the crap out of each other. Manny Legace and Marty Turco have both been backup goalies behind Osgood/Hasek/Joseph and Belfour, and are probably evenly matched here. Detroit has weathered injuries all year and still came out with the President's Trophy. Dallas is just overmatched here, but should put up a fight. Did I mention the Wings have Robert Lang? => DET in 6

2 San Jose v 3 Vancouver -- the last game the Canucks played in San Jose probably wasn't against the best San Jose team, but I still think the Canucks can take these guys, based mostly on experience, toughness, and the penalty kill. The teams have played fairly evenly matched games this year. I think the Canucks pull this one out though => VAN in 6

4 Toronto v 6 New Jersey -- Right here, I just think the Leafs overall are more healthy than the Devils and have their game in a more-together fashion. Yeah, I just realized I picked against Marty Brodeur. He's gotta lose sometime, right? I also think the Leafs will avenge that one Game 7 against the Devils where they got off something like a measly six shots => TOR in 7

1 Detroit v 3 Vancouver -- This hurts. The Wings are stacked. The Canucks have been hot and everything, but man...even with all their skaters at the top of their game, they probably match even-keel with the Wings. This would mean it would come down to the goalies. Legace and Cloutier. This one hurts. Advantage: Legace => DET in 6

Detroit v Toronto -- one could say I picked the two most stacked teams. Yeah, this one's an Original Six matchup. I can say that Toronto has the more seasoned goaltender. I can say Detroit is pretty much amazing all the way around. The only place that'd be a question mark would be the goalie, and that's Legace, and if the defense is at the top of their game, Legace might not have to face many shots to begin with. I hate both of these teams to an extent. As a rooting interest, I'd pick the Canadian team because dammit, the Cup needs to go back there one of these days. That and Detroit has had it way too many damn times and they were yanked from the playoffs by ANAHEIM last year, for God's sake. But I can't pick against them, they're just too damn good. And they aren't stumbling coming into the playoffs like last year. Another boring winner, but at least a Canadian team is involved in my Final => DET in 6

Needless to say, I want Vancouver to win it all. I just sort of went with what I think is likely here, that's all. I was objective against the Canucks and dammit, IT HURT!! It hurt a ton more than saying the Mariners will finish third and miss the playoffs.

Prepare for the NHL labor stoppage, but for now...GAME ON!!

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