Saturday, September 18, 2004


Tonight, I was going to do a post on Arkansas State upsetting #25 Memphis.

However, Arkansas State just couldn't close the deal. Memphis State, excuse me, Memphis, came back to defeat the Indians 47-35. I listened to the entire game, because I had a feeling that ASU would give Memphis a run. They sure did. It's just too bad that they couldn't win.

But you want to know what is sad? If Arkansas State would have upset Memphis tonight, the media attention would have still gone to Arkansas, who defeated Louisiana-Monroe in Little Rock 49-20. From what I've heard from a few fans here, Little Rock is a much better atmosphere than Fayetteville for Razorbacks football. I would sure like to find that out for myself.

Anyways, there's a reason why I care about Arkansas State. I'm transferring there next fall. Believe me, I would have never thought after graduating high school that I would ever consider going to college in Arkansas. But it is what it is.

I'm just a little sad that Idaho won't be in the Sun Belt next year...

Not. The Vandals being in the Sun Belt never made sense. But then again, college football doesn't make sense period. Consider that West Virginia, who really isn't that good, could go undefeated and earn a BCS berth. Yet a team like Fresno State could very well go undefeated this season and won't even sniff the BCS. Unreal.

OK, I've rambled long enough. Oh well.

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...it just might take a couple years to turn this around, that's all.

Cha Seung Baek followed his so-so outing last time with a not-so-good outing today, failing to get out of the sixth inning. Other than Ichiro getting hit number 236 and Randy Winn hitting a two-run homer, the big story of the game was Tim Hudson's usual manhandling of the Mariners, somewhere along the lines of eight innings of three-run, eight-hit ball.

You know, with only 14 games left in the season, and no hockey for the foreseeable future, I don't know what I'm going to do with myself when the season's over. It'll probably follow a predictable path, though. Baseball playoffs and the Sonics are more than likely going to be involved, with possible daily or semi-daily stuff about the Seahawks. Or maybe I might actually have to do some digging and shed some light on some sporty stuff that usually doesn't make it to Sports and B's because I spend most of my time cranking out recaps. Who knows.

Once again, the Ichiro update.

Ichiro was 1-for-5 today, putting him at 236 hits on the season, 21 shy of George Sisler's 84-year-old record and 22 short of setting his own record.

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record before the end of the season...
>> if he averaged four at-bats per game the rest of the way (14 games remain), he would need to go 22-for-56 (.393).
>> if he averaged five at-bats per game, he would need to go 22-for-70 (.314).

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record in 154 games and avoid the asterisk (there's no way he'll do this)...
>> if he averaged four at-bats for the next 7 games, he would need to go 22-for-28 (.786).
>> if he averaged five at-bats a game, he would need to go 22-for-35 (.629).

Only 14 more spectra to go...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- 1-2-3
Bark allowed a leadoff dinker off the bat of Mark Kotsay for an ominous start. But Baek caught Eric Byrnes looking and got a double-play ball out of Eric Chavez.

BOTTOM 1ST -- ho, hum
Edgar Martinez continued the farewell tour with a two-out walk.

TOP 2ND -- decent inning
Erubiel Durazo mashed a two-out double to right, but Baek didn't have much more trouble.

BOTTOM 2ND -- ho, hum
Bret Boone, Greg Dobbs, and Miguel Olivo fall to Tim Hudson in order.

TOP 3RD -- 1-2-3
Baek has his easiest inning, getting Damian Miller, Marco Scutaro, and Kotsay out with relative ease.

BOTTOM 3RD -- ho, hum
Jeremy Reed, Jose Lopez, and Ichiro combine to do absolutely nothing against Hudson. Not that doing nothing against Hudson is new for the Mariners or anything like that.

TOP 4TH -- decent inning
Baek doesn't have much trouble again, this time allowing only a one-out walk to Chavez, who never advanced to second.

BOTTOM 4TH -- minimal damage
Consecutive two-out singles by Raul Ibanez, Boone, and Dobbs brought home the first run of the day for either team (SEA 1-0).

TOP 5TH -- some damage
Baek didn't escape the inning with the lead. He beaned Bobby Crosby with one out. He struck out Miller, but threw a wild 2-1 pitch to Scutaro to advance the runners. Five pitches later, Scutaro doubled home the ducks on the pond to give Oakland the lead (OAK 2-1). Baek did some damage control and got consecutive outs in the air from Kotsay and Byrnes to end the inning.

BOTTOM 5TH -- ho, hum
Ichiro singled (hit number 236 on the year) and Winn singled, but all with two outs. Nothing more happened.

TOP 6TH -- some damage
It didn't start well, as Chavez mashed a ball into the rightfield seats on the second pitch (OAK 3-1). Baek got a ground ball from Hatteberg, but Jermaine Dye mashed a ball into centerfield for a double, and Reed misplayed it. With Dye on third with one out, the Mariners put Durazo on base to keep the double play in order. Baek diced up the situation, going 3-0 on Crosby before walking him and getting pulled. Scott Atchison came in and walked Kotsay with the bases loaded, always a good thing (OAK 4-1). Scutaro hit a grounder to Dobbs at third, and Miller was forced out at second, but there wasn't enough time for the back end of the double play, and Durazo scored (OAK 5-1). Kotsay whiffed to end the inning.

Baek's line: 5 1/3 innings, 5 runs, 6 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 99 pitches (55 strikes). One of the walks was intentional, and Durazo later scored. All in all, Baek didn't improve on his last outing, which is mildly disappointing. I know Baek has shown promise in the minor leagues and stuff, but through a handful (or so) of starts, I really haven't been all that impressed. The best thing he's got going for him is the breaking ball, but he has a danger of the opposing team just teeing off on him (hitting the ball hard) every time he goes out there. Though I hate watching baseball on Fox, the phrase they used to describe Baek out there was "no deception." So far, it's appeared to be mostly true, because he doesn't appear to be fooling anyone out there. As of now, his ERA is 7.43. No word on whether Baek slashed the tires on Atchison's car after the game for scoring his two runners. Why do I think about these things?

BOTTOM 6TH -- ho, hum
Ibanez led off with a single to centerfield. Hudson went to a 2-0 count on Boone. On the next three pitches, Boone, Dobbs, and Olivo grounded out. Also, Ibanez was in scoring position for all of two pitches.

TOP 7TH -- 1-2-3
Atchison got a flyout from Byrnes and was pulled for Randy Williams (enjoy his short stay in Seattle, folks), who got Chavez to whiff and Hatteberg to fly out to Boone.

BOTTOM 7TH -- some damage
Reed led off with a double off the final "s" on the Starbucks sign on the wall just to the left of the rightfield foul line. Two outs later, Winn hit a bomb into the rightfield seats to give the Mariner fans a little something to cheer about (SEA 5-3).

TOP 8TH -- fighting out of jam
A big Bremertonian "welcome back" to Julio Mateo, back off the DL from elbow tenditis, pitching for the first time since July 28. Though I'm not sure there's really any point to actually bringing him back to pitch this season, it was sort of a good feeling to see a familiar face coming out of the bullpen in the later innings. He allowed back-to-back singles to Durazo and Crosby, but got Miller to fly out and got Scutaro looking to end the inning.

BOTTOM 8TH -- ho, hum
Hudson's final inning saw him get through Ibanez, Boone, and Dobbs.

TOP 9TH -- some damage
Masao Kida took the mound for the Mariners. Byrnes legged out an infield hit, and Chavez followed with a single of his own. One out later, Dye hit an RBI single (OAK 6-3), and Durazo made it a 4-for-4 day with an RBI single of his own (OAK 7-3). Kida was pulled for Aaron Taylor, who walked Crosby before getting Miller to fly out.

BOTTOM 9TH -- minimal damage
Octavio Dotel wasn't bulletproof, but he did well enough to shut the door. He walked Reed with one out and Lopez singled Reed home (OAK 7-4). Ichiro whiffed (wish I could have seen that at-bat). Winn walked, but Jolbert Cabrera pinch-hit for Edgar (not sure why this move was made) and bounced into a fielder's choice to end the game. [Edit Sun ~12:53a -- Edgar was out because of a foul off his foot in his last at-bat. I'd forgotten all about it until I saw some FSNNW highlights.]

Gameball: Randy Winn. 2-for-4 with the homer. I didn't relaize it until I looked at the boxscore, but the guy's driven in 72 runs this year. Sure, he's got Ichiro hitting in front of him, but I think 72 RBI is quite a modest number for Winn. Also getting their 72nd RBI in the game were Eric Chavez and Jermaine Dye. Still, why Winn's played centerfield this whole year is beyond me. As soon as everyone realized Spiezio sucked and Winn wasn't the answer in centerfield, Ibanez should have been moved to first immediately, and Winn back to left. Needless to say, I'd have moved Ichiro to center and rightfield would be reserved for any ol' young guy. This definitely is what should have happened post-Bucky.

Goat: Miguel Olivo. 0-for-4 with a strikeout, stranding three. It's been a while since he's had one of those games where he drives in runs with a double and a homer or something. We haven't had anything to distract us from the passed balls in a while. Interestingly enough, no passed balls by Olivo today.

Now I can't even stay on subject. That kicker for Tennessee went from feeling like total crap to jubilation in about the span of 10 minutes. If he would have missed that final field goal try, if I were him, I don't know if I could have even set foot outside my dorm the next day. Yes, it would have been a lonely day somewhere in Knoxville.

The game was on Fox today, and Dan Devone of Q13 hosted a postgame show with New York Vinnie. The two disagreed on whether Jamie Moyer should come back next year (Devone suggested "cut bait") and Vinnie went as far as to suggest that Bret Boone "slacked off" once he knew the Mariners were out of it, and that Boone is in mail-it-in mode. No matter what you think, you can't argue with the rash of errors he had in the two previous games. You know, I think Boone has the same habit that Darin Erstad used to have -- that whole every-other-year thing. Boone has had monster years in 2001 and 2003, and has had duds in 2002 and 2004. He's an odd-year guy, I guess.

Short off-subject note before giving the pitchers -- I flipped through the channels and saw the Stir show on the International Channel, a San Francisco-based program geared toward Asian Americans (of which I am one), and one of their guests was the blogger of The Angry Asian Man. The guy refused to disclose his actual name, but he reminded me a lot of Harold, who in a recent movie was paired with Kumar.

Hey, guess what? I'm actually looking forward to the game tomorrow. Why? The Seahawks are playing Tampa Bay. Aaaaaaaand, Bobby Madritsch is pitching, so it more than likely won't suck. Let's hope he goes deep into the game and Bob Melvin doesn't make his arm fall off.

Redman. Madritsch. Tomorrow.

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If you were watching the game tonight and completely lost track of it after Barry Bonds hit his 700th homer, and you flipped to ESPN to get some highlight montages and stats, and started trying to mentally comprehend what we're all watching Bonds do right now...I can't blame you, because that's exactly what I did. Then after the Bonds fest, I was distracted from the game a bit by some stuff I'll mention in the end of the post.

There wouldn't be another brilliant outing from Gil Meche on this night. He only got through five innings, and left the game on the hook with the Mariners down two runs. Though you never like to see Meche give up eight hits (and walk three) in just five innings of work, he somehow only gave up the three runs. Usually that'd be enough to do the Mariners in this year, but this wouldn't be a usual night in that regard.

I guess the main stories of this game were Ichiro (that's a given, and there was a record tonight) and Greg Dobbs, one big reason why Willie Bloomquist should never see another start at third base for the remainder of the season (other than that whole "he's not good and he should have no future with the organization" thing). We also learn for the second time in the homestand that pinch-hitting for Willie Bloomquist is a good thing. Randy Winn parked one to centerfield in the pinch against the Angels. Tonight Dobbs pinch-hit for Bloomquist.

It occurred to me that sometimes I have the KJR postgame show playing in the background while I type these things, and I may relay a couple of stats here and there from the show. Tonight, there was no Baseball's Best Postgame Show. Instead, it was Varsity Football Live with Dick Fain, an hour of high school football craziness. Between Paul Silvi's High School Sports Blitz on KING-5 and the new Varsity Football Live on KJR, local high school football players are getting way more media attention than ever before. KJR will carry over the Friday night high school sports madness when basketball season rolls around. But enough of this aside...

Once again, the Ichiro update.

Ichiro was 2-for-4 tonight, putting him at 235 hits on the season, 22 shy of George Sisler's 84-year-old record and 23 shy of setting his own record. I know we're all more than amazed by Ichiro at this point, but I'm going to say right now that I don't think he's going to break it in 154 games or 162 games.

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record before the end of the season...
>> if he averaged four at-bats per game the rest of the way (15 games remain), he would need to go 23-for-60 (.383).
>> if he averaged five at-bats per game, he would need to go 23-for-75 (.307).

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record in 154 games and avoid the asterisk...
>> if he averaged four at-bats for the next 8 games, he would need to go 23-for-32 (.719).
>> if he averaged five at-bats a game, he would need to go 23-for-40 (.575).


Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- some damage
Only a few things were of note in Gil Meche's first inning. Mark McLemore hit a one-out homer (OAK 1-0). Meche gave up a two-out walk to Scott Hatteberg. Meche threw 17 pitches in the inning.

BOTTOM 1ST -- ho, hum
Barry Zito had his way with the top third of the Mariner lineup. Ichiro grounded out to lead off the game, and therefore didn't get a hit. Yet.

TOP 2ND -- fighting out of jam
Meche had some trouble after there were two outs. He walked Eric Byrnes. Adam Melhuse doubled to the wall in rightfield. Luckily for Meche, Mark Kotsay hit a fly ball to a very deep part of rightcenter to end the inning. Nothing like a 23-pitch inning with all five hitters watching ball one.

BOTTOM 2ND -- ho, hum
Zito got the curveball of death over, and Bret Boone witnessed it firsthand, and walked to the dugout afterward. Other than a walk by Jolbert Cabrera, the inning didn't have much else.

TOP 3RD -- fighting out of jam
The only thing keeping Meche's pitch count from being out of control for the third straight inning was that most of the Oakland hitters started swinging early in the count. McLemore doubled off Meche to lead off the inning, and he went to third on a single by Eric Chavez. Meche managed to get Hatteberg swinging and to get Erubiel Durazo to fly out. But then Meche walked Nick Swisher to load the bases. Bobby Crosby swing at the first pitch and flew out to Winn in center.

BOTTOM 3RD -- ho, hum
Jose Lopez hit the ball off the end of his bat and barely missed a homer to leftfield on a crappy swing. Other than a single by Ichiro for hit number 234, along with the obligatory instance of Willie Bloomquist being caught looking, the inning didn't have much else of worth.

TOP 4TH -- fighting out of jam
Byrnes doubled to lead off, so I'll just say it was a jam even though Byrnes didn't move from second in the inning.

BOTTOM 4TH -- minimal damage
Yes, it's time for some singles hittin'. Edgar Martinez and Boone both singled into centerfield. Raul Ibanez hit a ball that was deep enough to score Edgar and tie the score (or maybe the leftfielder had a weak arm; 1-1). Cabrera followed with a single of his own, but Miguel Olivo (fielder's choice) and Lopez (popout to second) would prove to be too futile for the Mariner rally to continue.

TOP 5TH -- some damage
Meche wouldn't get out of this inning unscathed. Chavez doubled to lead off and the downhill got progressively steeper. Durazo got aboard on an infield single and ended up on second after a throw. I'd say more about what reads like an odd play in the game log, but I didn't see the actual play. Nonetheless, two runners were in scoring position with one out. Swisher hit a fly ball to left which was deep enough to score Chavez and give the A's the lead (OAK 2-1). Two pitches later, Crosby doubled to score Durazo and extend the Oakland lead (OAK 3-1).

This would be Meche's final inning. His line: 5 innings, 3 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 4 strikeouts. He didn't really last long, he gave up a good deal of hits, and three walks in five innings is quite a few. The way he was pitching at times today, it's a miracle that none of the walks came around to score.

BOTTOM 5TH -- ho, hum
Bloomquist whiffed this time, and Ichiro grounded out on a bang-bang play at first. What I think of every time I see Melvin come out of the dugout to argue is when someone in the blogosphere (I think Jeff at L43) once said something like "Melvin might have said 'damn.' " Moving on...

By the way, I hate the current-issue jackets that the Mariners wear on the field. I think they might be standard for all teams, but the big necks with the stripes on them just don't cut it for me.

TOP 6TH -- decent inning
Enter Ron Villone. Kotsay got aboard on a dinker with one out, but was erased on a double-play ball by McLemore.

BOTTOM 6TH -- ho, hum
Zito slices through Edgar, Boone, and Ibanez in order. I'd say "relative ease," but usually I don't equate that to a 1-2-3 inning that took 19 pitches to get through. It was hard-fought, I guess.

TOP 7TH -- 1-2-3
Villone suddenly turned into a short-lived strikeout machine, getting Chavez and Hatteberg to whiff for the first two outs of the inning. Durazo then bounced out on the first pitch.

BOTTOM 7TH -- big inning
The Mariners apparently loosened up during their seventh-inning stretch, or so their performance afterward would indicate. Cabrera swung at the first pitch and hit a ball to new pitcher Chad Bradford, which he muffed. Jeremy Reed then singled. Bob Melvin tried to play small and have Lopez bunt the runners over, but luckily this was foiled when everyone ended up being safe on Lopez' bunt, and the bases were loaded with nobody out. In the no-brainer move of the night, Greg Dobbs was brought in to pinch-hit for Willie Bloomquist. Dobbs worked the count full on new pitcher Ricardo Rincon and doubled to the wall in the gap in leftcenter; the bases were cleared, and Meche was suddenly off the hook because the Mariners now had the lead (SEA 4-3). Ichiro followed up with a hard single into rightfield for hit number 235 (and the new Major League single-season record 199th single of the year), moving Dobbs to third. Winn legged out an infield single and Dobbs scored (SEA 5-3). Ichiro went to third on a bad throw by Chavez. My guess (I didn't see the play) is that Chavez didn't have a chance on Winn at first, but threw anyway, and threw badly. Justin Duchscherer came in to pitch to Edgar, who hit a fly ball deep enough to score Ichiro (not hard to do; SEA 6-3). Edgar's RBI was his 1000th as a DH, which of course is a record for all-time DHs. The first six hitters of the inning reached base. Edgar was the first that didn't. What followed was a strike-'em-out/throw-'em-out double play, with Winn getting nailed and Boone being caught looking for the second time in the game.

TOP 8TH -- decent inning
No runner reached scoring position in the inning, but an error and a 10-pitch walk for Byrnes made it a gritty "decent" inning for new pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa. Swisher reached on a bad throw by Boone, which went for the third error in two nights, and one could argue for another error the night before on the throw to second on a steal attempt that seemed to go right past him. Anyway, Hasegawa managed to get Crosby to bounce into an around-the-horn double play, which Boone did handle and not muff. Byrnes scratched the 10-pitch walk, but Melhuse flew out to end the inning.

BOTTOM 8TH -- ho, hum
Ibanez singled to lead off, and moved to second on a Cabrera groundout. Dan Wilson then drew a walk, and both runners moved up 90 feet when Lopez bounced one back to the pitcher (not quick enough to get a double play, apparently). With two in scoring position with two out, the A's apparently were awe-stricken enough by Dobbs that they brought in a new pitcher (Art Rhodes) to face him. It worked, as Dobbs whiffed, but he'd done his damage for the night, and he did it well.

TOP 9TH -- 1-2-3
JJ Putz came in and got the save, flyout (Kotsay), groundout (McLemore), and whiffer (Chavez).

With this, the Mariners are making life rough for the A's, as now the top two teams in the division are within just a game of one another. I've forgotten over the last four years what it's like to not be able to actively keep track of a team in contention. I didn't use the phrase "pennant race" there because 2001 was freakish (way early clinching) and 2002 and 2003 were more like a train wreck in slow motion (time duration: entire second half).

Now, for the complete aside. I've been listening to a musical selection that I purchased just a few hours ago. A couple weeks ago, I picked up The Tipping Point by the Roots, as well as Behind the Music by the Soundtrack of Our Lives. Today, I picked up Soundgarden Superunknown (finally) for $9.99, along with Megadeth's The System Has Failed (new, first album post-radial neuropathy for Mustaine) for the same price. On DVD, I picked up Alice In Chains Music Bank and U2 Go Home -- Live From Slane Castle, Ireland. I will only say two things about the stuff I picked up, because any more than this should probably result in me posting it on our severely underused music blog.

(1) I'm a couple listens through the Megadeth, and I'm liking it, but I can't think of many words yet to describe it. But Jason Birchmeier of Allmusic.com says it's "an excellent, damn near perfect Megadeth album" and "[r]egardless of where The System Has Failed ranks alongside Megadeth's other standout albums...it most certainly blows away practically every other aboveground metal album of 2004. No joke. This is the sort of latter-day masterpiece Metallica struggled in vain for a decade-plus to record to no avail." That's pretty lofty, but it is a pretty good album a few listens through.

(2) The U2 concert took place on September 1st of 2001 (before everything happened), so that provides quite the backdrop in itself for watching it three years later. I'm not through the show yet, but hearing "Sunday Bloody Sunday" performed in Ireland has sold the DVD for me. If I watch the rest of the DVD and the only word Bono says into the microphone for the rest of the show is "testing," then I still won't be disappointed.

As always is the case for me, that was much too long. I'll try to keep music anecdotes that are that lengthy on the music blog in the future.

Oh yeah, gameballs and goats...how quickly I forget.

Gameball: Ron Villone. You know, I have to say I don't Villone in very rare doses and only out of the bullpen. He threw the two shutout innings in the 6th and 7th and struck out three, giving up only one hit. He picked up the win tonight, but three cheers for the Mariner bullpen tonight. As a whole, they threw four scoreless innings, gave up one hit, struck out four, and walked one.

Goat: Willie Bloomquist. Because I can. Other than that, the 0-for-2 with two strikeouts has a lot to do with it.

It's some daygame action for Saturday, but given that I'm up this late, I hope I get up in time to catch the first pitch.

By the way, the Mariners would have to win six more games to prevent losing 100 games on the season.

Hudson. Baek. Eleven hours.

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Friday, September 17, 2004


ESPN will have another mock trial tonight. The topic? Who's more cursed, the Cubs or the Red Sox?

It's simple. They're not "cursed".

As far as the fans of Chicago and Boston go, this is all I need to bring up as to why those fans aren't as "miserable" as the national media would like to think they are.

In the past 25 years (Fall 1979-2004)

BASEBALL (Cubs and White Sox) -- No titles
FOOTBALL (Bears) -- 1985 Super Bowl Champions
BASKETBALL (Bulls) -- 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998 NBA Champions
HOCKEY (Blackhawks) -- No titles (lost to Pittsburgh in the 1992 Cup Finals)

BASEBALL (Red Sox) -- No titles (lost to the Mets in the 1986 World Series)
FOOTBALL (Patriots) -- 2001 and 2003 Super Bowl Champions
BASKETBALL (Celtics) -- 1981, 1984, 1986 NBA Champions (16 overall titles)
HOCKEY (Bruins) -- No titles (lost in the Cup Finals 1988 and 1990)

BASEBALL (Mariners) -- No titles
FOOTBALL (Seahawks) -- No titles
BASKETBALL (Supersonics) -- No titles

So there you go.

Obviously, the Mariners won't win it all this year. The Seahawks have a shot to win the Super Bowl. The Sonics, well...

I promise to shut up about this when my team wins a championship. But until then, I have to bring up these facts when I hear about Chicago and Boston being "cursed". They have it easy compared to Seattle.

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Instead of watching the Red Sox-Yankees on ESPN, I'm doing this post.

Why? Because I like to ramble. This is one of those times.

---Where else would you see such upstanding citizens wear jerseys of the following NFL players, past and present: Patrick Jeffers (Carolina), Rickey Dudley (Oakland), and O.J. McDuffie (Miami). Why in Arkansas, of course! I'm waiting for the day when somebody around here starts wearing a Dean Wells Seahawks jersey.

---Not only is Green Day is coming out with a new album Tuesday, Chevelle is as well. "This Type of Thinking Could Do Us In" is the follow-up to their breakthrough album "Wonder What's Next?". At first, I didn't really care for Chevelle. But after a few listens, I became a fan of Chevelle. Of course, it didn't hurt that "Wonder What's Next?" was only $7.99 when I got it. "Send The Pain Below" still rocks my face off.

---For those who haven't seen it yet, do yourself a favor and check out the new Sum 41 video "We're All To Blame". It's at Launch right now. Three words: Solid Gold Dancers.

---"Solid Gold" is one show that should definitely be running in reruns right now. Why this isn't the case is beyond me.


---Craig Beuno looks like Billy Beane's long-lost evil twin brother.

---Now I know how some people felt like in the early 1980s when they didn't have MTV or ESPN. Of course, I'm talking about the NFL Network. Comcast now has it. But I don't get Comcast. Not that I'm a fan of big cable companies, but they sure are better than these local independent companies that some towns are stuck with (mine).

---Did I mention how much Breaking Benjamin sucks?

---Why the title "Free Ramble" for this post instead of "Free Ballin'"? Well, this just isn't the right time for a post title of "Free Ballin'". But like the metal meltdown, it's coming. MELTDOWN! MET! AL! MELT! DOWN!

---In what should be considered a huge shocker, Black Sabbath, Van Halen, and Rush were not nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But the J. Geils Band and Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five were. Who should be in the RRHOF this year, judging by the list of nominees?

U2. That's it, that's the list.

---"Mr. 3000" is finally out in theaters today. This has "Wal-Mart $5.50 bin" written all over it.

---Besides, I'll save my movie-watching money for "Friday Night Lights", which comes out October 8. If you haven't read the book yet, then you need to.

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

Finally, crank up Loverboy's "The Kid Is Hot Tonite". Don't crank up "Working For The Weekend", because that's been overdone and overplayed. Respect the headband of one Mike Reno.

Free ramble.

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In Week 1, I was 8-7 (I didn't pick the Colts-Patriots game)

For Week 2, I know I can do better than 8 and freaking 7.

As always, use these picks at your own risk. My picks are in bold.


Houston at Detroit
CBS: Bill Macatee, Steve Beuerlein
(Joey to Roy. Get used to it.)

St. Louis at Atlanta
FOX: Ron Pitts, Tim Ryan
(The early FOX game here in Arkansas)

Chicago at Green Bay
FOX: Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa

Washington at New York Giants
FOX: Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Cris Collinsworth, Pam Oliver
(This crew isn't on Daniel Snyder's payroll. Yet.)

Denver at Jacksonville
CBS: Craig Bolerjack, Rich Baldinger
(The Jags will not allow Quentin Griffin to run like did against the Chiefs)

Indianapolis at Tennessee
CBS: Dick Enberg, Dan Dierdorf, Armen Keteyian
(The early CBS game here in Arkansas)

Pittsburgh at Baltimore
CBS: Kevin Harlan, Randy Cross
(If the Ravens go 0-2, I'll laugh my ass off. Screw the lot of them.)

Carolina at Kansas City
FOX: Sam Rosen, Bill Maas
(Panthers WR Keary Colbert will be a star in the NFL)

San Francisco at New Orleans
FOX: Kenny Albert, Brian Baldinger
(Look for the Saints to show up in this one)


Seattle at Tampa Bay
FOX: Curt Menefee, Tim Green

Cleveland at Dallas
CBS: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Lesley Visser
(The late CBS game here in Arkansas. Big shocker.)

New York Jets at San Diego
CBS: Ian Eagle, Solomon Wilcots, Scott Kaplan
(Ian Eagle makes me laugh. Why, I don't know.)

Buffalo at Oakland
CBS: Gus Johnson, Brent Jones
(Let's hope the Raiders fans are civilized. I doubt it, though.)

New England at Arizona
CBS: Don Criqui, Steve Tasker
(This game will be closer than you think)

Miami at Cincinnati
ESPN: Pat Summerall, Joe Theismann, Paul Maguire, Suzy Kolber
(If things weren't bad enough for South Florida...)

Minnesota at Philadelphia
ABC: Al Michaels, John Madden, Michele Tafoya
(38-35, Vikings. Moss > Owens)

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This week's "No Hawk Ramble" Game of the Week is Indianapolis-Tennessee.

Enjoy the games.

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Yes, the mere occurrence of contact between a baseball and a bat decided the outcome of this game, but not in the way that you might think.

After three innings tonight, I thought Jamie Moyer would make good on debunking the latter half of my prediction that both Franklin and he would not win for the rest of the season. But Moyer would have to hope that the Mariners would score enough runs for him as he tried to hold the more potent Angel offense at bay.

The stories of the night? Well, Ichiro played, and he's sort of chasing that record. The Mariners 2004 offense was in vintage form tonight. Lastly, Bret Boone had quite the night in the field. Two nights ago, I said that since Boone is sucking with the bat, "[a]t least the Mariners have that Gold Glove defense back there." Let's just say the tables turned a bit tonight.

This was brought up on the KJR postgame show, but the flop from 90 wins in one season to 100 losses the next season isn't something that happens very often and I'd mess around at Baseball Reference for a few hours and check old records to look into this more if my computer and connection weren't abominable. Yes, your Seattle Mariners are helping make history.

But before I proceed, the Ichiro update.

Ichiro was 0-for-2 tonight. He was intentionally walked twice, he drew a walk of his own, grounded out once, and reached on an error (to those who saw it, it's pretty apparent that it was an error), leaving him stuck at 233 hits on the season, 24 shy of George Sisler's 84-year-old record and 25 shy of setting his own record.

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record before the end of the season...
>> if he averaged four at-bats per game the rest of the way (16 games remain), he would need to go 25-for-64 (.391).
>> if he averaged five at-bats per game, he would need to go 25-for-80 (.313).

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record in 154 games and avoid the asterisk (since I'm doubtful about Ichiro breaking the record altogether, I know there's no way in hell he'll break this one)...
>> if he averaged four at-bats for the next 9 games, he would need to go 25-for-36 (.694).
>> if he averaged five at-bats a game, he would need to go 25-for-45 (.556).

In spectral form...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- 1-2-3
Moyer was off to a good start, getting groundouts from David Eckstein and Darin Erstad, and a first-pitch flyout by Vlad Guerrero.

BOTTOM 1ST -- come on, y'all
Ichiro fouled off three Aaron Sele pitches over the course of his at-bat, and he drew a walk. Two pitches later, Randy Winn hit a ball to Eckstein for a double play. Edgar Martinez then walked on four pitches, but Raul Ibanez flew out to Jose Guillen in leftfield.

TOP 2ND -- 1-2-3
Moyer got through the meat of the lineup this time, getting Garret Anderson to whiff, Troy Glaus to hit a deep-but-not-long-enough fly ball to left, and Guillen to ground out to Jolbert Cabrera at third.

BOTTOM 2ND -- minimal damage
Ah, yes. Nothing like an inning dominated by boring station-to-station baseball along with walks and singles. Bret Boone led off with a single and moved to second on a one-out walk by Hiram Bocachica. Dan Wilson singled into rightfield to score Boone and get the Mariners an early lead (SEA 1-0). Jose Lopez then grounded out to second to move the runners along. With two runners in scoring position and two out (and the Angels actually playing for something), it made perfect sense to intentionally walk Ichiro, Randy Winn's semi-hot bat be damned, and that's exactly what the Angels did. The move worked to perfection as Winn was caught looking to end the inning.

TOP 3RD -- 1-2-3
Moyer, now with a 1-0 lead, was perfect through three innings. Chone Figgins (groundout to Boone), Josh Paul (popout to Cabrera), and Adam Kennedy (looking) were no match for the slow stuff.

BOTTOM 3RD -- ho, hum
Ibanez doubled with one out.

TOP 4TH -- some damage
Eckstein broke up Moyer's perfect game by taking a shin-high ball and driving it up the middle for a single. Erstad followed up with a single of his own (Eckstein ended up on third). Moyer went inside on Vlad and got him to hit into another weak flyout. Garret then came up and hit what seemed destined to be a double-play ball to Boone. Boone had a flawless turn to Lopez, but Lopez didn't have two hands on the ball when catching it, therefore causing more motions needed to get the ball to first, etc. Anyway, the transfer didn't occur quickly enough and Lopez never got the ball off to first. Eckstein scored on the play to tie the score (1-1). Glaus lined out to Cabrera to end the inning.

BOTTOM 4TH -- ho, hum
With two outs, Lopez rattled a double to leftfield, and Ichiro was put on base once again. Like before, the strategy worked, as Winn grounded out to Erstad to end any threat.

TOP 5TH -- 1-2-3
Moyer buckled down again, getting Guillen to whiff, Figgins to bounce out to Cabrera, and Josh Paul to fly out to Bocachica.

BOTTOM 5TH -- ho, hum
Boone singled to centerfield for his second hit of the game. He'd end up with two of something else after the 8th.

TOP 6TH -- some damage
Ugh. Small ball. Kennedy doubled on the first pitch of the inning and was bunted to third by Eckstein. Erstad grounded out to second and Kennedy scored (ANA 2-1). With no one now on base for the meat of the lineup, Vlad walked and Garret bounced out to Boone.

BOTTOM 6TH -- ho, hum
Scot Shields relieved Sele, who threw 97 pitches in his five innings of work. Shields caught Bocachica looking, got Wilson to fly out to Vlad, and got Lopez to bounce out to Erstad in a 1-2-3 inning.

TOP 7TH -- 1-2-3
Moyer had a pretty good start tonight, and in this inning he got through Glaus, Guillen, and Figgins.

BOTTOM 7TH -- ho, hum
Edgar hit a two-out single to keep the farewell train rolling.

TOP 8TH -- terrible inning
It started out bad, and Murphy's Law made it worse. With one out, Kennedy coaxed a walk out of Moyer. Eckstein then doubled to leftfield to put two runners into scoring position. With the infield up, Erstad hit a grounder to Boone, who got to it cleanly. He tried to nail Kennedy coming to the plate, but the ball hit Erstad's bat, which he had tossed away in front of the plate after hitting the ball. The thrown ball hit the bat and bounced over Wilson's head, allowing Kennedy to score as well as Eckstein (ANA 4-1). With Erstad on second with one out, Vlad got into a 2-1 count and then was given the open base to keep the double play in order. It seemed the strategy would pay off as Garret swung at the first pitch and hit a ball in Boone's direction. The play was almost Bucknerian, except Boone was a little more upright in letting the ball roll through his legs. Erstad scored on the play (ANA 5-1). Dallas McPherson pinch-ran for Garret as Scott Atchison came on in relief of Moyer. Atchison promptly fell behind 3-0 on Glaus. On the 3-1 pitch, McPherson took off for second and Wilson came up throwing. I'd have to get another look at the replay to know for sure, but it looked like this ball went through Boone's legs too. All in all, Wilson's throw made its way into centerfield, scoring Vlad easily from third (ANA 6-1). Atchison got Glaus whiffing and Guillen looking to mercifully end the inning.

All four runs in the inning were unearned for Moyer. His line: 7 1/3 innings, 6 runs (2 earned), 4 hits, 3 walks, 3 strikeouts, 113 pitches. He was better tonight, no question about it. Hopefully he ends the season on an up note for himself and feels good going into next season (if/when/however long that lasts). To get into the 8th with his stuff in not-quite-top form against a potent Angel lineup is no small task.

BOTTOM 8TH -- ho, hum
Shields was dealing out of the pen. Boone and Cabrera grounded out to middle infielders, and Bocachica whiffed.

TOP 9TH -- fighting out of jam
Paul drew a walk with one out and went to third on a Kennedy double. A lineout to Boone got not only the hitter (Eckstein) out, but also Paul at third, who didn't get back in time after the catch.

BOTTOM 9TH -- ho, hum
I've gotta agree with Terry Mosher on this one. Erstad should have had the grounder that Ichiro hit to him. If Erstad gets in front of that with his body, Ichiro is meat at first. Anyway, Ichiro reaching on the error with two outs meant nothing pretty happened in terms of legitimate scoring chances.

A split with the Angels in a four-game series? I thought this was going to be a salvage-one-game series, but at least the starting pitching was good. Madritsch, Meche, Moyer, and even Baek had starts where they improved. One could argue this would be less of the case for Madritsch, who continued his doings. But Baek had a 7-inning start that didn't horribly suck (his first in the Majors that accomplished that feat), and Moyer and Meche turned in two of their best performances in a while. What a great time to face the Oakland A's, huh? Nobody agrees with me? Yeah, I was joking.

Gameball: Jamie Moyer. He didn't get the win tonight, but it wasn't because he sucked. He had a pretty solid line, and though the hits he gave up got the 8th inning going, the happenings to Boone sort of threw everything out. Anyway, it's the best outing he's had in recent memory, and I also have to go with him because no other Mariner had a multi-hit game other than Boone, and he's not getting this gameball.

Goat: Randy Winn. 0-for-5, striking out once and stranding seven. Seven runners. Wow. Of course, if Ichiro gets on base four times in a game, and you're the hitter behind him that goes 0-for-5 and strands seven runners...yep, you've got the inside track to getting tagged with the Goat.

Zito. Meche. Eighteen hours.

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Thursday, September 16, 2004


Until this Tuesday, you can listen to "American Idiot", Green Day's new album, on MTV.com, as part of "The Leak"

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since these guys hit it big. They're just a small part of what was the greatest year of music in the past two decades, 1994. So if you're still undecided on whether you should get "American Idiot" when it comes out this Tuesday, listen to the album on MTV.com and you will more than likely get this album when you have the chance.

I've been waiting almost 4 years for a new Green Day album. It's simply time for a new album from these guys.

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Just a few days departed from his grandmother's funeral in Oklahoma, Ryan Franklin had his best performance of the year in the form of a 2-hit complete-game shutout. Franklin has had a horrible year, no doubt about it. He's had a share of bad outings. He's had a share of decent outings where the offense didn't score enough runs for him. In that context, it was only fitting that he had to pitch a shutout (and nothing less, considering how his run support turned out) to end his 96-day winning drought (June 5th).

It wasn't an easy win, as most of the game centered around the pitching duel involving Franklin and John Lackey of the Angels, who struck out a career-high 10 Mariners on the night.

But before I go any longer, the Ichiro update.

Ichiro was 1-for-4 tonight, putting him at 233 hits on the season, 24 shy of George Sisler's 84-year-old record and 25 shy of setting his own record.

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record before the end of the season...
>> if he averaged four at-bats per game the rest of the way (17 games remain), he would need to go 25-for-68 (.368).
>> if he averaged five at-bats per game, he would need to go 25-for-85 (.294).

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record in 154 games and avoid the asterisk...
>> if he averaged four at-bats for the next 10 games, he would need to go 25-for-40 (.568).
>> if he averaged five at-bats a game, he would need to go 25-for-50 (.500).

I'll warn you, there wasn't much offense in the game. At all. This was largely in part to the pitchers taking the alter-egos of John Lackey circa late 2002 and Ryan Franklin circa 2003.

The spectrum...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- decent inning
Darin Erstad was the only baserunner, getting aboard with a one-out walk.

BOTTOM 1ST -- ho, hum
Randy Winn singled and stole second on the pitch that caught Edgar Martinez looking. Ichiro whiffed to lead off as Lackey got two Ks in the inning.

TOP 2ND -- decent inning
Only Adam Kennedy reached base, via a two-out single.

BOTTOM 2ND -- ho, hum
Bret Boone bounced out to Kennedy, then Jolbert (I almost typed Miguel Cabrera for a second; that's wishful thinking) Cabrera and Miguel Olivo whiffed. Two more Ks for Lackey.

TOP 3RD -- fighting out of jam
Not much of a jam, but a runner did reach third base. Darin Erstad hit a triple to centerfield with two out, but stayed there. This is one of the plays I didn't see, so I'm wondering whether Jeremy Reed had an adventure in centerfield with the ball or not.

BOTTOM 3RD -- ho, hum
Reed singled to lead off, but was erased on Ichiro's fielder's choice one out later. Randy Winn singled Ichiro over, but Edgar clocked in with a fielder's choice of his own.

TOP 4TH -- 1-2-3
Franklin was about to get into a groove. As a testament to his true flyball proclivity, Franklin got Garret Anderson, Troy Glaus, and Jose Guillen to all fly out.

BOTTOM 4TH -- ho, hum
Boone drew a one-out walk on four pitches, but Cabrera and Olivo repeated their second-inning performances by whiffing.

TOP 5TH -- 1-2-3
Franklin got Kennedy to pop out to Boone, and got Bengie Molina and Chone Figgins to whiff.

BOTTOM 5TH -- ho, hum
Lackey started trading 1-2-3 innings with Franklin, getting Reed (popout to David Eckstein at short), Lopez (popout to Figgins at third), and Ichiro (whiff) in order.

TOP 6TH -- 1-2-3
Eckstein tried to bunt his way aboard but it didn't work. Erstad whiffed. Vlad Guerrero flew out to Reed in centerfield.

BOTTOM 6TH -- ho, hum
Another 1-2-3 inning for Lackey. Winn bounced out to Lopez, Edgar flew out to Garret in centerfield, and Raul Ibanez was caught looking.

TOP 7TH -- 1-2-3
Six pitches got Franklin through this inning. Anderson flew out, then Glaus and Guillen bounced out. The same three hitters werent away 1-2-3 in the 4th.

BOTTOM 7TH -- ho, hum
Boone's leadoff walk would snap the streak of eight straight Mariners in a row retired by Lackey. The last Mariner that had reached based ironically enough was Boone himself, in the 4th, on a walk (much like this time). Cabrera and Olivo whiffed in tandem for the third time (amazing!). Reed bounced out to Kennedy to end the inning. Lackey had not allowed a hit to the last 15 Mariner hitters.

TOP 8TH -- 1-2-3
Kennedy flew out to Winn, Molina bounced out to Cabrera, and Figgins flew out to Lopez. Franklin had set down 16 straight Angel hitters.

BOTTOM 8TH -- minimal damage
With one out, Ichiro hit a ball off Lackey's leg that bounced away from him, and he couldn't come up with the ball in time to get Ichiro. That was hit number 233 on the year for Ichiro. Then it looked like the inning would go to crap like usual for the Mariners when Winn hit a ball up the middle that Kennedy dove to the backhand side for, then turned to his left to make a backhanded flip to Eckstein at second just in time to force out Ichiro on the play. Edgar singled hard on the next pitch to rightfield and Winn had a full head of steam going home, but the mere presence of Vlad's arm and the suppressing of demons by Dave Myers kept this from happening (at least right away). Francisco Rodriguez came in to face Raul Ibanez with two outs and runners on the corners. Ibanez ripped a hanging slider (Rodriguez is human!) into rightfield to drive in Winn (SEA 1-0). Boone was caught looking on an absolutely deathly slider in an at-bat in which he didn't take the bat off his shoulder.

TOP 9TH -- decent inning
Franklin was left out there to get the complete game, and luckily his pitch count wasn't absurd like those of Madritsch and Meche the last time out. He got Eckstein looking to start the inning. Erstad lined out to Winn, but then Franklin walked Vlad. Bob Melvin came out to the mound to a smattering of boos, which were then replaced by cheers as he went back to the dugout without having summoned a new pitcher. Four pitches later, Garret flew out to Cabrera in foul territory to end it.

I'd like to thank John Lackey and Ryan Franklin for allowing me to type a quick recap with sparse scoring on a day where I worked three hours longer than expected and where going in at 8am actually bumps back the sleep cycle by a couple hours. Thanks, guys.

I said after Franklin's last start that I didn't think he'd win a game for the rest of the season. I was wrong. Therefore, look for Jamie Moyer to win one soon because I think I said the same thing about him also.

Gameball: Ryan Franklin. 9 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 2 walks, 4 strikeouts, 112 pitches (74 strikes). Needless to say, neither of the walks scored. One was in the first inning; Erstad walked with one out. The other walk was Vlad with two out in the 9th. Overall, it just finally came together (sans decent run support) for Franklin. His pitches were working, his control was working, and his defense came through behind him.

Goat: Jolbert Cabrera. 0-for-3 with a hat trick, stranding two. Only because I've given Olivo his share of goats whenever he hangs up those 0-fers. Olivo and Cabrera had the same exact boxscore line.

Sele. Moyer. Seventeen hours.

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Wednesday, September 15, 2004


Nice to see CBS Sportsline's Pete Prisco change his tune about the Seahawks.

CBS Sportsline Power Rankings
6 Seattle Seahawks (8)
After seeing them live Sunday, they are for real. The improved defense is the difference.

Man, if the 'Hawks defense can play like they did against New Orleans, then we are in for a special season.

Right now, the top 3 NFC teams are thisclose: Seattle, Minnesota, and Philadelphia. You can make a case for each of those teams being the best in the NFC. I'm not ignoring Green Bay here. I would put them just a peg below the three teams mentioned.

Needless to say, it's early. But I don't see a whole lot changing at this point. Look for the Seahawks, Eagles, and Vikings to battle it out for homefield advantage all season long. As I said in my Seahawks preview, it is imperative for this team to get homefield advantage in January. But after seeing the improved defense on Sunday, I like this team's chances on the road as well.

Seahawks football, we don't need no stinkin' slogan.

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Locked on, what's the deal?
Faded rock star, push and needle.
You don't know, well that's alright.
You do your thing, I'll live my life.

--- Jerry Cantrell, "Locked On"

This impending NHL lockout pisses me off on many levels. More so than the lockout that happened in 1994, because now I'm an even bigger fan of the game than I was back then. We are coming off one of the greatest Stanley Cup postseasons in history, and yet the NHL, owners and players, want to screw that momentum up?

Here in America, hockey earns TV ratings that are below such award-winning material such as "The World Series of Poker" and Arena Football. I blame the NHL for not marketing the game as well as they should. There's no reason why the NHL isn't bigger in America. So hockey isn't really "America's game". I'd much rather watch hockey than tennis or golf, that's for sure. But yet those two sports that I just mentioned are bigger in America than hockey. That's inexcusable.

What will happen to the NHL if there is a long lockout? Who knows. There's been talk of contraction, which is just silly to begin with. Granted, the fact that there's a hockey team in Columbus, Ohio and not Portland, Oregon is a joke. But at the same time, I bet that there are more than a few people in Buckeyeland who care about the Blue Jackets. If there is a long lockout, we may have seen the last of some great players, including Mario Lemieux and Peter Forsberg. (I may hate Forsberg, but I can't deny the fact that he's a great player)

Going back to the momentum created by the Stanley Cup postseason of this past spring, the fans of Tampa Bay now have a Stanley Cup to celebrate. But what if the Lightning don't play hockey in 2004-2005? This is one of the reasons why hockey can't afford a long lockout, because they will lose some of the fanbase in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. The same goes for Calgary, but on a lesser level, because they are in Canada. The Canadian fans will come back to the game. I'm not so sure about some of the American cities that have NHL franchises.

David hit on a very good point last night. NBC will have the broadcast rights to the NHL, beginning in 2004-2005. This is one way where the NHL could market itself better. Except for NASCAR, the Peacock network doesn't have any major sports in their pocket. Just don't use the blue puck like FOX did, that's all I ask.

What if I were in charge of the NHL? What changes would I make?

---Remove the Chicago Blackhawks from Bill Wirtz' hands and allow the public to own them, ala the Green Bay Packers. This could work. I know I'd buy a share in the Blackahawks. Not that I'm a Blackhawk fan, but I'm a hockey fan and it's just wrong that the Blackhawks are sucking wind right now.

---Keep all 30 teams in place. No contraction needed whatsoever.

---Bar Jeremy Roenick from the broadcasting booth. But he would be allowed to be a studio analyst. I'd have no problem with that.

---Eliminate trapping. F**k you, Jacques Lemaire.

---Lower ticket prices. It's a joke that the cheapest ticket in some NHL cities are 25 bucks. If the NHL wants to market the game better, lower the ticket prices, so more families can go to the games. Hell, lower the ticket prices so poor college students like myself can make a road trip or two to cities such as Dallas, St. Louis, or Nashville to go see a game.

---Force all the cable systems throughout America to carry CBC. (OK, that's a stretch)

---Have Don Cherry on the EA Sports NHL games. "Don Cherry NHL 2006", it's in the game!

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Last but not least, I found this pic at Yahoo Sports. If I could, I'd visit Laura Neumueller, who's the manager of Granville Sports Corner in Vancouver. David would as well. Hey bro, road trip?

Anyways, I've rambled enough. We need hockey. What more can I say?

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It was just another day at the office for Bobby Madritsch. Since being inserted into the starting rotation, Madritsch has been the most consistent pitcher on the starting staff, and arguably is the most consistent starting pitcher the Mariners have had all year. Tonight, Madritsch pitched into the 9th. I'm beginning to get a little edgy whenever Bob Melvin leaves him out there past about 115 pitches, but let's just hope he's got a durable arm. They might need it to eat up about 220 innings or so next year, so let's keep the arm healthy.

So what were the stories to this game? Basically, there was Ichiro, Madritsch, and a rare pinch-hit homer off the bat of a Mariner. I can't say I was expecting the latter of the three to occur.

Before I go any further, the Ichiro update.

Ichiro was 1-for-4 tonight, putting him at 232 hits on the season, 25 shy of George Sisler's 84-year-old record. I know we're all more than amazed by Ichiro at this point, but I'm going to say right now that I don't think he's going to break it in 154 games or 162 games. By the way, I've been erroneously using the word "break" when I've been posting these numbers, instead listing how he'd have to do to tie the record, while still using the word "break." Sorry to all that have been misled. The old posts will be rectified to reflect this. The record is 257, and Ichiro would need 258 hits to break the record.

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record before the end of the season...
>> if he averaged four at-bats per game the rest of the way (18 games remain), he would need to go 26-for-72 (.361).
>> if he averaged five at-bats per game, he would need to go 26-for-90 (.289).

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record in 154 games and avoid the asterisk...
>> if he averaged four at-bats for the next 11 games, he would need to go 26-for-44 (.591).
>> if he averaged five at-bats a game, he would need to go 26-for-55 (.473).

Now, the recap.

To decode the spectrum...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- 1-2-3
Hey, that's a good start! Madritsch gets David Eckstein and Darin Erstad to whiff, and gets Vlad Guerrero to fly out to Ichiro.

BOTTOM 1ST -- ho, hum
Jolbert Cabrera doubled to shallow center according to the game log I'm reading (to me, that means there was miscommunication on a 'tweener fly ball that went untouched). But the Mariners wouldn't reap the rewards of that, since Cabrera would be caught napping on the basepaths; Bengie Molina took out the trash. Edgar Martinez then lined out to Jose Guillen in left.

TOP 2ND -- decent inning
Madritsch weathers a Troy Glaus leadoff walk and gets Garret Anderson to pop out to Willie Bloomquist at first (why, God, why?), Guillen to fly out to Ichiro, and Molina to whiff.

BOTTOM 2ND -- ho, hum
Raul Ibanez legged out a one-out infield single and even Hiram Bocachica managed to get a single off Jarrod Washburn. With two on and one out, Dan Wilson hit a grounder to the shortstop.

TOP 3RD -- fighting out of jam
Not much of a jam, but still a jam. Madritsch walked Chone Figgins on four pitches to lead off the inning. Figgins was bunted over to second by Adam Kennedy. Luckily, Madritsch was able to induce groundouts from Eckstein and Erstad.

BOTTOM 3RD -- ho, hum
Bloomquist managed to single off Washburn (you know, that whole "Bloomquist owns Washburn" semi-myth) in an otherwise meaningless inning.

TOP 4TH -- decent inning
Glaus hit a one-out single and Guillen hit a two-out single, but Madritsch got Vlad to fly out to lead off the inning, and got Garret and Molina to whiff.

BOTTOM 4TH -- ho, hum
Edgar whiffs, Bret Boone grounds out to Eckstein, and Ibanez whiffs. Washburn is not chop liver, lest we forget.

TOP 5TH -- 1-2-3
Figgins grounds out to Boone, Kennedy pops out to Lopez, and Eckstein is caught looking. Madritsch might be grooving at this point.

BOTTOM 5TH -- minimal damage
This inning could have meant a lot more. Bocachica coaxed a walk, but was hung up between first and second after Dan Wilson whiffed on what apparently was a hit-and-run or at the very least a swing-to-make-contact-and-protect-the-runner kind of operation. But with two out, things started happening. Lopez and Bloomquist both walked, and Ichiro got hit number 232, a one-hopper that went over the wall in rightcenter for a double (SEA 1-0). Jolbert Cabrera bounced out to end the threat.

TOP 6TH -- 1-2-3
Erstad flew out to Winn, Vlad popped out to Bloomquist on the first pitch, and Glaus whiffed. Hooray, Bobby! (By the way, I hope Red Stripe didn't get wiped out by Hurricane Ivan, if only for those commercials)

BOTTOM 6TH -- ho, hum
Washburn countered with a 1-2-3 inning of his own. Edgar was caught looking, Boone flew out to Vlad, and Ibanez popped out to Figgins.

TOP 7TH -- decent inning
Garret singled to lead off, but was doubled off on a 4-3 double-play ball off Guillen's bat. Molina lied out to Ichiro to end the inning.

BOTTOM 7TH -- some damage
Bocachica doubled to lead off and was bunted over to third by Wilson. One out later, Washburn was pulled and Brendan Donnelly came in. In the no-brainer move of the night, Randy Winn was brought in to pinch-hit for Bloomquist. Winn mashed a 1-0 pitch into the lawn beyond the centerfield wall (SEA 3-0) and had half as many homers in one at-bat as Willie Bloomquist has in his entire career. Ichiro bounced out to the first baseman to end the inning.

TOP 8TH -- decent inning
Eckstein was the only baserunner in the inning, and he got aboard via the infield single.

BOTTOM 8TH -- ho, hum
Kevin Gregg comes in and gets Cabrera to fly out, and Edgar and Boone to whiff. Ick.

TOP 9TH -- some damage
Bob Melvin left Madritsch in to try to get the complete game, this despite Madritsch having thrown 116 pitches (there's that forsaken number again) through eight innings. Two pitches later, Vlad singled into centerfield. Two pitches after that, Glaus lined out to Winn. Vlad stole second on the first pitch to Garret, and he scored on the second pitch because Garret singled (SEA 3-1). Madritsch was pulled. I'll give his line later. JJ Putz came in and made it interesting. He got Guillen to whiff, but surrendered a single to Molina and Figgins beat out a grounder in the infield (SEA 3-2). Luckily, Jeff DaVanon came through in the pinch and lined out to Ichiro to end the ballgame.

Well, the Mariners won't be getting swept in this four-game series. In the process, though, they've made things a little more dicey for the Angels in their quest to take the division title from Oakland, since there's no way they're getting the Wild Card.

Gameball: Bobby Madritsch. 8 1/3 innings, 2 runs, 6 hits, 2 walks, 7 strikeouts, 122 pitches (83 strikes). I wouldn't have run him out there for the 9th and he would have had his eight shutout innings. I probably would have pulled him even before that. I think Melvin is trying to work Madritsch and Gil Meche up to where they'll be throwing 160 pitches a game by their final starts of the season.

Goat: Bret Boone. 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. At least the Mariners have that Gold Glove defense back there. By the way, there's probably no way in hell he's winning the Gold Glove this year. If I remember right, there were actually debates in 2002 because Jeff Cirillo (though a crappy hitter) was the best defensive third baseman in the AL, but Eric Chavez won the Gold Glove that year with 17 errors (Cirillo had 9). Anyway, Boone's hitting .249 right now, the same digits you'll find at the end of the 2002 line on recent Jeff Cirillo baseball cards.

Lackey. Franklin. Twelve hours.

By the way, this post was ready before midnight last night, but you can thank the technology gods for not letting it see the light of day until now.

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Tuesday, September 14, 2004


[Edit 21 Jan 2004 -- I used to have the archive of the World Cup tournament posts below the post of the final game, but I decided I'd move the archive above the final game, since I do have the archive permanently linked to the sidebar. So, if you want the Finland/Canada final, it is now located below the archive.]

Here is the archive of the games for which I scrawled together some recaps...

>>Pool play
30 Aug
Finland 4, Czech Republic 0 from Helsinki

31 Aug
Sweden 5, Germany 2 from Stockholm
Canada 2, United States 1 from Montreal

1 Sep
Sweden 4, Czech Republic 3 from Stockholm
Canada 5, Slovakia 1 from Montreal

2 Sep
Finland 3, Germany 0 from Cologne
Russia 3, United States 1 from Saint Paul

3 Sep
Czech Republic 7, Germany 2 from Prague
United States 3, Slovakia 1 from Saint Paul

4 Sep
Finland 4, Sweden 4 (OT) from Helsinki (outside recap)
Canada 3, Russia 1 from Toronto

5 Sep
Russia 5, Slovakia 2 from Toronto

>> Quarterfinals
6 Sep
Finland 2, Germany 1 from Helsinki

7 Sep
Czech Republic 6, Sweden 1 from Stockholm (outside recap)
United States 5, Russia 3 from Saint Paul

8 Sep
Canada 5, Slovakia 0 from Toronto (my short piece) (outside recap)

>> Semifinals
10 Sep
Finland 2, United States 1 from Saint Paul

11 Sep
Canada 4, Czech Republic 3 (OT) from Toronto

>> Final
14 Sep
Canada 3, Finland 2 from Toronto (or you could just scroll downward because that recap is right after the dotted lines)

Let it be said that the best team won the World Cup of Hockey this year. Canada was absolutely stacked before they had the rash of injuries, mainly to their blueline, and they were stacked afterward. Only this team could lose people like Steve Yzerman, Chris Pronger, Rob Blake, et al., and plug in people like Shane Doan, Jay Bouwmeester, Scott Hannan, and others. Also with this Canadian team, you had some players taking roles they weren't used to, i.e., Joe Thornton on a checking line with Shane Doan and Kris Draper (DDT line). All said, Canada came away tonight with a 3-2 victory to nab the World Cup in a good game, not a game as thrilling as the Czech Republic/Canada semifinal, but a good game nonetheless.

On to what happened.

The CBC telecast's opening montage featured a highlight package set to the tune of Moby's "We Are All Made of Stars." The final tournament-spanning montage had highlights set to "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" by Tears for Fears.

The scariest, most nightmare-inducing anthem singer alive, Robert Pomakov, sang the Finnish national anthem. He's actually really good, just haunting. Canadian singer Sass Jordan sang "O Canada."

[picture of Robert Pomakov found by user Darkside, who linked this post at a Finnish message board.]

Bob Cole and (I think) Greg Millen did the game from the booth.

After sitting one game to let his left (glove) wrist heal, Martin Brodeur took the net once again for Canada. Niklas Hagman dressed for the Finns in the game, and Ville Nieminen was scratched, and quite upset about it. Coach Raimo Summanen liked Hagman's speed, but what he didn't say (but what everyone probably thought) was that he didn't want Nieminen flying everywhere with high elbows and committing dumb penalties in crucial situations.

For this final recap, the same things apply as they did with all the others. Times are approximate.

**19:08 It didn't take long, as a Finnish defenseman failed to pokecheck Mario Lemieux heading across the blue line. Lemieux passed across to Joe Sakic in the right circle, who beat Kiprusoff to get the Canadians the early lead (CAN 1-0)
18:08 I didn't get the shooters' names, but Brodeur made two great saves off a shot and rebound in quick succession
16:02 Martin St. Louis was tripped up (no call) on a scoring chance
15:02 Lemieux batted an airborne puck toward the net and Kiprusoff made a huge stop
14:02 Thornton made some fancy moves fighting around checks along the end boards and nearly poked one in on the left side
**13:26 Collisions at the blue line involving Canadians helped the Finns tie the game. Toni Lydman fired a shot from the blue line, which was tipped twice before it went through Brodeur. Aki Berg tipped it first and Riku Hahl got credit for the goal by being the final tipper (1-1)
12:37 Jarome Iginla didn't get much juice on a one-timer from Lemieux, and the shot was easily gloved

A big gap in the time span here corresponds with the Finns executing a massive forechecking operation and slowing the pace of the game way down. Trapping and clogging the neutral zone were prominently involved.

5:23 Kiprusoff smothers and Iginla shot in close; another weak shot, this time due to Olli Jokinen tying up Iginla's stick
4:16 Dany Heatley's shot from the right side was stopped by Kiprusoff's glove and the right post
2:57 On a Canada power play, Brodeur fended away a shot off the draw
0:08 Iginla was checked in front before he could get the stick down on a centering pass

Canada outshot the Finns 9-7 in the first period. Vincent Lecavalier's play drew raves from all of the crew (Ron McLean, Brian Burke, Kelly Hrudey) at the break. As mentioned, Canada had the pace of the game to their liking for much of the first half of the period, whereas the Finns used forechecking and defensive schemes to slow the game way down and try to take away any type of flow from the Canadian team.

18:28 Tuomo Ruutu missed the net in close
**16:45 Kiprusoff let in a soft goal. Scott Niedermayer shot from the left hash marks on a 4-on-2. The shot went five-hole, and it was partially stopped by Kiprusoff's pads, but it was merely slowed down as it crawled into the open net (CAN 2-1)
13:44 Simon Gagne was stopped from the left circle on a rush
11:08 Hagman was stopped by Brodeur's pads, and the Canadians got away with a trip on the play
9:56 Thornton was foiled from the left on a wraparound attempt
5:52 Once again, I didn't get the shooters' names, but the two saves that Brodeur made in a short amount of time were quite awesome
4:23 Thanks to a bad line change by the Finns, Iginla was given a good scoring chance, but was stopped close on the right side
2:37 Kiprusoff made two quick stops, the second of which was on Doan in close
1:34 Niedermayer had his shot from the left point stopped by the pads
**1:00 Tuomo Ruutu pulled off some very nifty moves in a 1-on-3 situation. The defenders all went for the puck and missed, and Tuomo beat Brodeur high to the glove side to tie the game once again (2-2)

Shots were 12 apiece in the period, with Canada ahead 21-19 through two periods in that department.

Canada was probably a bit tense thanks to the late goal by the Finns. Early and late goals in periods never go over too well with the teams not getting them, as I've found out. The talk during the intermission was mostly about the points of a basic collective bargaining agreement that analyst (and former Canuck GM) Brian Burke drew up. There may or may not be slight leanings, considering Burke was working in the league offices in 1994 when the last stoppage happened, but the ideas of a payroll threshold (which might sound a lot like "salary cap") combined with a minimum payroll seemed like something I hadn't heard of yet. If there's one thing I didn't mind out of what Burke laid out, it's probably the capping of rookie signing bonuses at $250k. Burke also would like to see a drop-dead date for player signings, a la the NFL. Anyway, instead of repeating the whole thing here, click on the link if you want to read more.

**19:26 The early goal strikes again. Only 36 seconds after the puck dropped, Thornton made a nice pass behind the boards to a wide-open Doan, who was behind the defenders in front of the net, and easily beat Kiprusoff to the glove side (CAN 3-2)
16:37 Kiprusoff put the blocker on a shot from the left side. The commentators were starting to think he looked a bit shaky in net
16:11 Sakic's backhander from the left side was stopped
12:04 Jere Lehtinen had the Finns' best chance at a tying goal, but Brodeur put the pads on the shot from the left side
11:01 Kiprusoff put the pads on Iginla from the left
10:51 Jokinen was victim to a pad save
6:55 Doan smeared Mikko Eloranta into the end boards
6:26 Kiprusoff gloved a point shot from the right side
4:02 Kimmo Timonen ripped a point shot off the faceoff but Brodeur flashed the leather
3:04 Kiprusoff came up with two quick saves, trying to keep his team within reach
2:50 Kiprusoff made a save with his leg on Brad Richards

What followed was Kiprusoff being pulled for an extra skater, and the Finns just plum running out of time. They had the puck in the Canadian one for about the final 30 seconds or so with the extra skater, and if they had maybe another minute, they might have been able to tie it. But it was not to be.

Joe Sakic and Joe Thornton each had six points apiece in the tournament. Vincent Lecavalier was named the World Cup MVP. He finished one point behind Fredrik Modin (who had 8 points in two less games) of the Swedish team (and the Tampa Bay Lightning) for the scoring lead in the tournament. Martin Brodeur, whose name came out of my mouth immediately after the Toronto PA announcer said "...the World Cup MVP," had 27 saves on the night and was 5-0 in the tournament. For the record, Adam Foote was a plus-7 in the tournament. Martin Havlat (Czech), Bill Guerin (USA), and Eric Brewer (Foote's Canadian teammate) all tied with a plus-6 in tournament play.

Seeing a team win a World Cup in international play was a bit different than seeing a team win the Stanley Cup. For one thing, the World Cup trophy itself looks like some brainchild of Dale Chihuly. Secondly, players tonight weren't taking laps around the ice with quite the euphoria that they would with the Stanley Cup. Needless to say, there were no moments tonight coming anywhere close to Ray Bourque or Dave Andreychuk hoisting the Stanley Cup for the first time. That doesn't mean this wasn't important. Canada will be partying a bit tonight. Much of the nation of Finland watched the game start at 1am local time, and many won't be showing up to work the next day. The Finns' victory over Team USA was hailed as the greatest moment in Finnish hockey history, if that gives any hint as to how much Finland loves hockey.

And with the end of this highly entertaining tournament, we are left with the uncertain future of NHL play. A lockout seems imminent, with both sides saying they're not entrenched, when in fact they both really are. Players don't want a salary cap. Owners say they don't want a salary cap, they just want cost certainty. Players say that's a lot like a salary cap. Rinse and repeat.

What else is there left to say? I hope this crap gets straightened out, and sooner rather than later. I've suggested this before, but if NBC is smart (whenever hockey comes back), they could have a gold mine if they find a way to make hockey appealing to the American public. It's a big challenge, sure. I just think they should be hungry to do something. They lost the NFL when CBS got it back. They were lucky enough to get half of the NASCAR season, but they don't have any other major sport (no, I'm not counting Arena Football). They just have some tennis matches, a couple golf tournaments, some Notre Dame football...it's weak. I'm just saying that if they manage to find the same recipe that worked for the NBA on NBC for quite a few years, they could go a long way toward making hockey watchable and respectable stateside.

Oh man, was that a rant? I guess I just don't want the pucks to stop dropping.

That said, to all those that get the CBC, the Making the Cut show will air next Tuesday at 8pm. It's a big, Canada-wide tryout, and six winners get an invite to an NHL training camp for a Canadian team (of which there are six). Scotty Bowman and Mike Keenan are involved. The promos look good, but sadly, I might not even be in town to see the first two episodes.

"Only one team can wear the crown, but the game...she rules." -- Don Cherry

Into the great unknown...

[Edit Wed ~7:46a -- Seeing all the hits from Finland in the referrer log made me think, "do they just want information, or are they complaining in the message board about something?" I convinced myself it was both. I totally forgot to congratulate the Finnish team in any way. They had a great team all tournament long, reminiscent to some of the Calgary Flames in that they were a team that bought into one system and played as a team. Miikka Kiprusoff had a good tournament, even with the soft goal in the final game. Saku Koivu rules. His brother Miko Koivu also looks like an up-and-comer. I thought Toni Lydman had a good tournament as well. Teemu Selanne wasn't in Winnipeg Jet form or anything, but I think he was a little better in the tournament than what we've seen in his NHL play the last couple years. Of course, I'm a bit partial to the Canucks on the team, Sami Salo and Jarkko Ruutu. Of course, the Canucks don't have the more skilled of the Ruutus, and that is Tuomo Ruutu of the Chicago Blackhawks, who had a great tournament. Olli Jokinen of the Florida Panthers also had a great tournament, getting his nose into a lot of plays. The Finns just need a little more depth on the last couple lines and they'll be a juggernaut in international play in the coming years.]

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The World Cup of Hockey has concluded tonight, with the Canadians defeating Finland 3-2. David should have a recap of the game later.

There was something new at the Air Canada Centre tonight.

What was it, you're asking yourself?

It was the red carpet that is used for the postgame celebration.

Anyways, it was a great tournament. There's not a whole lot to be said here, other than the fact that we need hockey to be played this upcoming season. The collective bargaining agreement expires in just a few hours. Please get something done, owners and players.

Hockey, proving to be once again the coolest game on earth.

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I watched this unfortunate incident on Fox Sports Southwest. While the fans who started this in Oakland are at fault, the Texas Rangers aren't immune to blame either. Rangers pitcher Frank Francisco was way out of line. He threw a chair into the stands, hitting a defenseless woman. It was one of the ugliest things, if not the ugliest, I've ever seen at a ballgame, in person or on television.

I know a thing or two about the Oakland fans, considering that I have attended a few games in the Coliseum in my day. While small in numbers, the A's fans that do show up are passionate. However, there are nights like last night that puts a black eye on the fans in the Black Hole. I will refrain from using any tasteless jokes about the Raider fans, because they're simply not needed here. The situation last night was tasteless enough.

Say what you will about Safeco Field and its atmosphere, but you have to admit, the gameday staff is pretty solid. No way in hell would this type of stuff happen at Safeco Field. I'm biased here, because I was a member of the gameday staff for two seasons (sold merchandise at the Safe). But I just can't believe that the A's and the Coliseum didn't have more ushers and/or security down by the Rangers' bullpen. Needless to say, if the A's ever get around to building a new ballpark, the bullpens will be behind the outfield fences, especially after last night's ugly incident.

The fallout from this incident has begun. Francisco was arrested today in Oakland for a charge of aggravated battery. He was released on $15,000 bail. There's no question that Francisco will be suspended for his actions.

In the least important news of Monday night in Oakland, the A's won 7-6 in 10 innings. The A's are 2 games ahead of Anaheim in the A.L. West and 6 up on Texas going into tonight's action.

Let's hope that nothing like this ever happens again. There's no room in sports for this type of stuff. Play ball and behave like adults.

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Monday, September 13, 2004


The Mariners made their bread and butter the last three years by doing well or holding their own against the teams in their own division since the advent of the unbalanced schedule. But with this 2004 edition of the Seattle Mariners, having to end the season with 20 games against the Angels, A's, and Rangers just doesn't have the same ring to it that it once did.

In the first game of the final stretch of divisional games, the Mariners succumbed to the magic of one Kelvim Escobar tonight, losing to the Angels by a score of 5-1. Cha Seung Baek started for the Mariners tonight and was much better than in his other starts, but it still wasn't spectacular by any means and it wasn't good enough for a win.

Feast on this stat relayed by Tony Garassi (sp?) of KJR: the Mariners are 0 for their last 22 with runners in scoring position, and 4 for their last 60 with RISP.

I'd be remiss if I didn't do the Ichiro update.

Ichiro hung up an 0-for-4 today with a walk. He remains at 231 hits, still needing 26 to break the record, and I'm having doubts that he'll break the record, period.

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record before the end of the season...
>> if he averaged four at-bats per game the rest of the way (19 games remain), he would need to go 26-for-76 (.342).
>> if he averaged five at-bats per game, he would need to go 26-for-95 (.274).

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record in 154 games and avoid the asterisk...
>> if he averaged four at-bats for the next 12 games, he would need to go 26-for-48 (.542).
>> if he averaged five at-bats a game, he would need to go 26-for-60 (.433).

Finally, the recap.

In spectral form...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- decent inning
Baek gives up only a two-out double ripped down the line by Vladimir Guerrero, and gets Garret Anderson looking to end the inning.

BOTTOM 1ST -- ho, hum
Escobar started Ichiro off with four pitches that are nowhere close. He ended up on second after a passed ball by Bengie Molina, but Edgar Martinez lined out and Raul Ibanez whiffed.

TOP 2ND -- some damage
Baek started off Troy Glaus 3-0 and walked him, but Miguel Olivo bailed him out thanks to a backdoor pickoff play at first. Baek didn't feel right without a baserunner out there though, so he had Jose Guillen double into the gap. Guillen ended up on third after a Casey Kotchman grounder to Scott Spiezio at first, but then Molina doubled into the gap (ANA 1-0). Baek caught Adam Kennedy looking to end the inning.

BOTTOM 2ND -- ho, hum
Bret Boone led off with a single. Two whiffs (Spiezio and Olivo) and a flyout (Greg Dobbs) followed.

TOP 3RD -- some damage
Baek fell behind on David Eckstein, who walked to lead off. One out later, Vlad blasted one up the middle and got aboard. Then Garret got a pitch that was a bit high, but he pummeled it, or shall I say, GOT ALL OF IT (ANA 4-0). The ball went just inside the foul pole and looked like it might have reached the back few rows of the seats in front of the concourse. With the bases clear, Baek had a little less to think about, getting Glaus to ground out to Dobbs at third, and getting Guillen to whiff.

BOTTOM 3RD -- ho, hum
Randy Winn hit a two-out single and stole second. Nothing else happened, since there were two out and these are the 2004 Seattle Mariners we're talking about here.

TOP 4TH -- fighting out of jam
Baek gave up back-to-back singles to Kotchman and Molina. Kennedy grounded out to Boone to move the two runners over. Eckstein hit a fly ball to left and Kotchman tried to tag up and score. Ibanez threw home to Olivo, who took the throw in front of the plate and went back to the plate in time to tag Kotchman.

BOTTOM 4TH -- ho, hum
Ibanez singled to lead off. He took second on a wild pitch by Escobar and went to third on Spiezio's groundout, but that's as far as he got.

TOP 5TH -- decent inning
Other than a two-out walk for Garret, there wasn't much else.

BOTTOM 5TH -- ho, hum
Dobbs (popout), Jose Lopez (popout), and Ichiro (groundout) were the guilty parties in a 1-2-3 inning.

TOP 6TH -- 1-2-3
Baek has his easiest inning. Guillen grounded out on the first pitch. Baek went to 3-0 on Kotchman, who popped out to Spiezio. Molina saw a 2-0 count, but grounded out to Boone.

BOTTOM 6TH -- ho, hum
Edgar and Ibanez had back-to-back one-out singles. Edgar reached third on a Boone fielder's choice, but Spiezio whiffed to end the inning.

TOP 7TH -- some damage
Baek surrendered his third leadoff walk of the game, this one to Kennedy. He would reach third on an Eckstein single. One out later, he scored on Vlad's bounceout to Boone (ANA 5-0). Garret flew out to end the inning.

This was Baek's last inning of the game. His line: 7 innings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 4 walks, 5 strikeouts, 120 pitches (72 strikes). Not too bad, but not too good either. Four walks is never a good number to have, and two of the walks scored.

BOTTOM 7TH -- minimal damage
Lopez has a very wide stance, and sometimes I think it might facilitate too much of an uppercut swing. But it worked this time, as he put a ball into the bullpen to spoil the shutout (ANA 5-1).

TOP 8TH -- 1-2-3
Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in and got Glaus (whiff), Guillen (ground to Lopez), and Kotchman (whiff).

BOTTOM 8TH -- come on, y'all
Winn walked and stood on second after an Edgar groundout. He stood on third after an Ibanez groundout. Boone walked, Scot Shields was yanked for Francisco Rodriguez, and the game was officially over. Jolbert Cabrera pinch-hit for Spiezio (a good thing), and fouled out to Chone Figgins leaning into the third-base dugout.

TOP 9TH -- 1-2-3
Matt Thornton didn't walk anybody? Holy crap! Molina flew out, Kennedy whiffed, and Eckstein grounded out to Boone.

BOTTOM 9TH -- ho, hum
Just some false hope against Francisco Rodriguez and the breaking ball of doom. Dobbs scratched out a single, went to second on a dirtball, and then Lopez drew a four-pitch walk. Ichiro grounded out on a bang-bang play in which Kotchman nearly went for the out at second, but got the throw to Rodriguez just in time. It was the ultimate PFP, except in a small amount of time. The runners moved to second and third, but Winn bounced out to end the game.

Yes, we're 19 games away from the merciful end to this train wreck of a season. I guess if there's one thing I can take away from this year, it's that I can better appreciate a good performance by the opposing team. Of course, I'd rather the opposing team get clobbered by mine, but when I see Garret Anderson just mash one out, I can't bring myself to get ticked off this late in the season with nothing on the line. All I could say was, "damn, what a shot!" Then I marveled at how effortless his swing looks. Since I somehow convinced myself Jose Lopez has a wide stance that might encourage an uppercut swing, I thought of the bitchingest uppercut swing out there right now, that of Jim Edmonds. I have no idea how he can bash the ball with that swing, but it's amazing.

Gameball: Jose Lopez. 1-for-3, scoring and driving in the only run, and not making any errors.

Goat: Scott Spiezio. 0-for-3 with an error, striking out twice and stranding four.

As total asides, Mike Cameron hit his 29th homer of the year tonight, and my goodness...Frank Francisco, a chair, and a female fan behind the bullpen. Yikes.

Washburn. Madritsch. Tomorrow.

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If these were the "same old Seahawks", Shaun Alexander would be out for the season.

Thank God that isn't the case.

Alexander is day-to-day with a bone bruise. Mike Holmgren said that he could miss up to 2 games, but could play this weekend. If he can't play against the Bucs on Sunday, Maurice Morris will start. Clare Farnsworth has more on the situation at the P-I.

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Injuries, injuries, and more injuries. Yes, football has officially started.

---The Eagles have lost RG Shawn Andrews for the rest of the season with a broken right leg. A rookie out of Arkansas, Andrews was the 16th pick overall in the 2004 NFL Draft. He has battled weight problems and sinus problems during his career. This could be a big blow to the Eagles, even worse than losing Correll Buckhalter and N.D. Kalu.

---Lions WR Charles Rogers is out for the season, breaking his collarbone in Detroit's 20-16 win over Chicago. Yesterday's injury was near the same location where he had broken his collarbone last season during a bye week practice. Head coach Steve Mariucci will now have to rely on rookie Roy Williams as the #1 receiver, with the loss of Rogers.

---Titans LG Zach Piller ruptured his left biceps Saturday at Miami and will miss the rest of the 2004 season. This certainly hurts QB Steve McNair, as one of his main guys up front won't be available.

---A.J. Feeley will start at quarterback Sunday night in Cincinnati for the Dolphins. Feeley nor Fiedler are the answer in Miami. This team needs to draft a franchise-type quarterback. Can you say "with the 3rd pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins select QB Kyle Orton, Purdue University"?

(Whenever Feeley is mentioned here, I have to mention Heather Mitts as well. It's a new law that was just passed or something...)

--- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---

Mike Holmgren will have his Monday news conference at 2:15 Pacific. Here's the link to the press conference, as we should know much more about the official status of Shaun Alexander by that time.

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KIRO 710 AM is reporting that Seahawks running back Shaun Alexander could miss up to 2 games because of his sprained right knee.

I heard this on ESPN News, but the source was from KIRO. Alexander will undergo an MRI later today to determine how serious his knee really is.

If it is indeed 2 games, then that's a huge sigh of relief for all 'Hawks fans. These next two games in Tampa Bay and at home against San Francisco are winnable games. Keep in mind that Week 4, October 3, is a bye week. So Alexander could have 3 weeks off before getting back into game action, if he does miss these next two games.

We'll keep you posted...

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Sunday, September 12, 2004


I can't say I thought the final game of the Boston/Seattle series would end up like this, but at least it was a good day for the Mariners, and given what happened, it'll keep the recap quite short.

Gil Meche had his best start of the year, going all the way in a complete-game five-hit shutout of the Boston Red Sox, knocking them back one game in the AL East race and relegating them to a split of a four-game series with the Mariners.

The Mariners' two runs came on one hit -- Raul Ibanez' two-run homer in the 6th into the now soulless not-so-temporary seating area (he played first base for much of the game also). It was all the offense that Meche needed, as he would throw eight shutout innings, and then Bob Melvin ran him out there for the 9th, pitch count be damned. But Meche's arm held up, albeit thanks to duct tape, pipe cleaners, dried-up maple syrup, and, well, mesh.

Before I continue, it's time for the Ichiro update.

Ichiro went 2-for-4 today, upping his hit total to 231 on the year. He now needs 26 hits to break George Sisler's record.

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record before the end of the season...
>> if he averaged four at-bats per game the rest of the way (20 games remain), he would need to go 26-for-80 (.325).
>> if he averaged five at-bats per game, he would need to go 26-for-100 (.260).

For Ichiro to break Sisler's record in 154 games and avoid the asterisk...
>> if he averaged four at-bats for the next 13 games, he would need to go 26-for-52 (.500).
>> if he averaged five at-bats a game, he would need to go 26-for-65 (.400).

The spectrum once again...

Mariners on defense/pitching (bad to good)
massacre < terrible inning < some damage < fighting out of jam < decent inning < 1-2-3

Mariners on offense
I hate this team < come on, y'all < ho, hum < minimal damage < some damage < big inning

TOP 1ST -- fighting out of jam
Johnny Damon ran out an infield single to start off the game. Meche fell behind 3-0 on Orlando Cabrera bought got the count full before getting him to fly out to Ichiro. In an at-bat that lasted for seemingly an eternity, Manny Ramirez fell behind 0-2, took two balls, and fouled off five pitches before doubling into the corner in rightfield. In a very weird play, Jason Varitek flew out to Ichiro, and it appeared Damon was coming home to give the Red Sox an early lead. However, Ramirez apparently missed second base or didn't tag up before going to third. Second base was tagged, and it went for a double play, with no run scoring.

BOTTOM 1ST -- ho, hum
Ichiro got hit number 230 with a dinker to the left side off Derek Lowe. Three groundouts followed, with Randy Winn's being the only one of worth, as he moved Ichiro to second.

TOP 2ND -- 1-2-3
Kevin Millar (flyout to Ibanez), Trot Nixon (flyout to Jose Lopez), and Bill Mueller (whiff) were part of Meche's 13-pitch inning.

BOTTOM 2ND -- ho, hum
Bret Boone flew out, Greg Dobbs flew out to left on 3-1, and Miguel Olivo blew some wind chimes via the whiff.

TOP 3RD -- decent inning
Pokey Reese was the only runner to reach base and he did so on a good ol' fielding miscue by Jose Lopez at short. The futile batters of the inning were David McCarty, Damon, and Cabrera.

BOTTOM 3RD -- ho, hum
Lopez makes it an infield flyout sandwich (to the pitcher), with groundouts by Jeremy Reed and Ichiro as the bread.

TOP 4TH -- 1-2-3
Meche got Manny to hit one back to him, got a deep ball scare to leftfield from Varitek on an 0-2 pitch (it was caught), and got a lineout to Winn off Millar's bat.

BOTTOM 4TH -- ho, hum
Winn hit a leadoff single. Instead of the infield flyout sandwich of the inning before, the Mariners followed this time with an Ibanez whiff sandwich, with groundout-to-Mueller-at-third bread (Edgar Martinez and Boone).

TOP 5TH -- fighting out of jam
Trot Nixon led off with a double, and called for a ghost runner as Mueller bounced out to Lopez, McCarty flew out to Ibanez at first, and Reese flew out to Ichiro.

BOTTOM 5TH -- ho, hum
Reed hit a two-out single and stole second in an otherwise nondescript Mariner 5th.

TOP 6TH -- fighting out of jam
Damon led off with a walk and went to second on a dinker into centerfield by Cabrera. Yes, there were runners on first and second with nobody out. Meche didn't break, though, as he set down Manny (lineout to Boone), Varitek (whiff), and Millar (foulout to Olivo) in order to end the inning.

BOTTOM 6TH -- some damage
Edgar singled with two out, and Ibanez mashed one over the wall in centerfield to get the Mariners on the board (SEA 2-0).

TOP 7TH -- decent inning
Nixon led off with a single, but he stayed there as Meche got Mueller (flyout to Ichiro), McCarty (looking), and David Ortiz (lineout to Dobbs) to end the inning.

BOTTOM 7TH -- ho, hum
Olivo drew a one-out walk and was doubled up on a grounder to short from Reed.

TOP 8TH -- 1-2-3
Damon (pop to Lopez), Cabrera (liner to Lopez), and Manny (whiff) are no match for Meche, who had thrown 100 pitches coming into the inning, and had thrown 117 pitches coming out. The most I would have done with Meche is let him get the first one or two guys out and definitely pull him when Manny came up. He'd have come out to a standing ovation, and the pitch count wouldn't have gotten insane. It would get more insane.

BOTTOM 8TH -- ho, hum
Nothing much here except for Ichiro singling into center for his 231st hit of the year.

TOP 9TH -- 1-2-3
Varitek (Boone groundout), Millar (Dobbs groundout), and Dave Roberts (fly to Lopez) were the final outs of the game.

Meche's line: 9 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 1 walk, four strikeouts, 129 pitches (86 strikes). Meche didn't get a lot of strikeouts, and walked only one, so other than the error by Lopez, Meche relied on the defense and it came through, five hits notwithstanding. As for the pitch count, Bob Melvin is certifiably insane. He threw Meche for all those innings last year, and quite frankly, I wonder how long this guy is going to hold up. I don't think I'd ever throw him past about 115 pitches. He's not a Randy Johnson or a Curt Schilling, he's fragile. But it's all most likely a part of Melvin's plan to wreck the arms of Meche and Bobby Madritsch so that his replacement won't have those assets to work with.

I wish I could interpret actions such as the pitch counts today, the dumb lineups we see every day, the bullpen where nobody knows their role (it was worse when they had stable personnel in the first half), and the latest trend of pulling pitchers with one out to get in meaningless games as Bob Melvin reaching out as a cry for help, asking for his own ouster as a kind of sweet release.

Gameball: Gil Meche. I'd probably have him here even if I were the manager and he would have been pulled after about 7 1/3 shutout innings.

Goat: Jose Lopez. 0-for-3 with an error, stranding one.

In come the divisional foes, with the remaining series being 4 with Anaheim, 3 with Oakland, 3 at Anaheim, 3 at Texas, 4 at Oakland, and three with Texas to close out. I bet at this point that if the Mariners somehow avoided the 100-loss season, there would be a champagne celebration in the locker room. The sad thing is, the Mariners have a champagne celebration in their history (1991) that occurred after they were guaranteed a winning season. Okay, maybe a 99-loss, 99-bottles-of-beer celebration won't take place in the bowels of the Safe. Rather, 99 bottles of beer will more likely be the state of Bob Melvin after the game on October 3rd, Kids Appreciation Day, two days after the players will be running out with ridiculous signs such as this...

Escobar. Baek. Tomorrow.

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