Saturday, May 21, 2005

THE PUMP 5/21/05 

Padres at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)

Brian Lawrence (2-4, 5.24 ERA) vs Gil Meche (3-2, 5.25 ERA)

If you read Sports and Bremertonians during the offseason, chances are you came across my post on the Padres' campaign for a new theme song. I had voted for Gary Hoey's "Go Padres". It was obviously the best song of the bunch. Guess what?

I was right.

There's a reason to hate the San Diego Padres now. They have a much better theme song than your Seattle Mariners! How can you not like the rocking tune "Go Padres"? I'm not even a Padres fan. If I were a Padres fan, that song would get me fired up for a ballgame.

Here's the link to Hoey's winning song. Why can't the Mariners call on a Seattle-area guitarist such as Chris DeGarmo to create a theme song? I know why. He's not "family-friendly" enough for the Mariners!

As for happenings on-the-field, let's hope Gil Meche can avoid "The Big Inning".

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Padres 6, Mariners 1
AP photo -- Jim Bryant

In 25 words or less: Tough-luck starting pitchers don't give up five walks and pour the gasoline on the way out.

This one featured Jake Peavy and Ryan Franklin. The Padres wore their road golds (the Padres' current crop of uniforms have managed to rip off not one, but the last two generations of the Milwaukee Brewers' uniforms). Franklin chose the absolutely abhorrent black tops with the hokey font.

You know, the thought just occurred to me -- KeyArena is nicknamed the Key, Safeco Field is nicknamed the Safe, and those two nicknames can somewhat apply, since you can unlock a safe with a key. Basically, what I'm getting at is that we need the theme to keep going. Nabisco needs to buy out the naming rights to Qwest Field so we can call it the Cracker, since it would fit with the theme. Then the Seahawks would need to be introduced by Chris Rock. "Welcome to Crrrackah Field for Seahawks football!!"

Grade: A-
Franklin had a laborious first. Dave Roberts grounded out to short. Mark Sweeney had a 3-1 count before flying out to Randy Winn in leftfield. Ryan Klesko fouled off four pitches with two strikes on him and worked the count full before whiffing on the tenth pitch he saw. Franklin threw 21 pitches.

Grade: C-
Peavy established the tone for the rest of the game. Ichiro got down 0-2 and tapped back to the mound. Randy Winn got behind 0-2 as well, hacking for the third strike six pitches later. Adrian Beltre, a former NL West opponent of Peavy's, got ahead 3-0, took the next pitch for a strike, then swung and missed at the next two pitches. Two strikeouts for Peavy in the inning, and there were many more to come. Peavy threw 19 pitches.

Grade: C+
Needless to say, Franklin had to be the one giving up runs first. Brian Giles hacked at the first pitch, but Winn caught it in leftfield as the yard held it. Phil Nevin flew out to Jeremy Reed in centerfield. Ramon Hernandez, surely used to seeing Franklin back in Oakland, hit a solo shot just over the wall in rightfield.
Sean Burroughs took three strikes on three pitches, failing to get the bat off his shoulder. Franklin threw 13 pitches.

Grade: C-
Peavy was in a groove from the start of the game. Richie Sexson entered the whiff. Raul Ibañez bounced out to first. Bret Boone hit a deep fly ball to leftfield, but as usual, it wasn't deep enough. Peavy threw 10 pitches.

Grade: A
Franklin had his best inning of the night, though it did depend on facing the bottom of the Padres' lineup. Khalil Greene popped one to Miguel Olivo in foul ground on the first pitch. Geoff Blum was caught looking. Roberts flew out to Winn to end the inning. Franklin threw 11 pitches.

Grade: C-
Nine up and nine down for Peavy. Jeremy Reed bounced out to first. Miguel Olivo had a 3-1 count, but whiffed on the next two pitches. Wilson Valdez also generated wind with the stick. Peavy had threw 16 pitches in the inning and had thrown first-pitch strikes to seven of the first nine hitters he faced.

Grade: B+
Franklin stranded a runner. Sweeney got behind 0-2, eventually flying out to Reed. Klesko singled to centerfield. Giles didn't quite get all of his 3-1 swing, as the yard held it and Ichiro made the catch. Nevin hit a weak pop to Valdez at short to end the inning. Franklin threw 13 pitches.

Grade: C-
Make it twelve Mariners up and twelve down for Peavy. Ichiro swung at all five pitches he saw, fouling off the third and fourth, but missing the other three for a strikeout (fifth pitch was hard stuff outside). Winn had a 2-0 count, but eventually grounded out to third. Beltre hit the ball hard, but right to Klesko in leftfield. Peavy threw 15 pitches.

Grade: D+
Franklin buckled. The first-pitch flyout to left from Hernandez wasn't bad, but walking Burroughs on a 3-1 pitch was. Beaning Greene with the count 0-2...also bad. Giving up an RBI single to centerfield to Blum, the #9 hitter -- also bad. Greene went to third on the play.
Roberts hit what looked like a gapper to rightcenter on the first pitch, but Ichiro ran roughly a mile and caught it, a real nice catch. Of course, momentum took Ichiro in a direction other than toward the plate, and Greene tagged up and scored.
Klesko roped one into Reed's glove in centerfield to end the inning. Franklin threw 18 pitches.

Grade: C+
A blip appeared on the radar screen for the Mariner bats. Sexson singled to center to lead off. Ibañez worked a 1-2 count, but whiffed. Boone was able to leg out an infield single to make it a semi-sticky situation. Unfortunately for the Mariners, the bottom third of the lineup was due to the plate. Reed was caught looking and Olivo went away swinging. Peavy threw 21 pitches.

Grade: B+
Franklin cashed in on the "unless it doesn't" part of Levine's Law. Giles took a strike followed by three balls. Nevin grounded out to short. Hernandez foul-tipped strike three into Olivo's glove. Burroughs grounded out to short. Franklin threw 17 pitches.

Grade: C
Peavy cashed in on the same thing Franklin did in the top half of the inning. Valdez drew a leadoff walk. Ichiro flew out to centerfield. Valdez stole second on the second pitch to Winn, who took Giles deep enough to rightfield so that Valdez could tag and go to third. That's where Beltre grounded his first pitch. Peavy threw 16 pitches.

Grade: D
Then the roof fell in. Greene whiffed. Blum had a 1-2 count and took the next three pitches for balls. He's the #9 hitter, which I pointed out earlier in the post. Roberts took a strike, and then four balls.
original design by SportSpot user IcebreakerX

Matt Thornton came in and proceeded to prove the towel's merit. Miguel Ojeda came out to hit for Sweeney and Thornton immediately fell behind 2-0. Thornton dirtballed the 2-1 pitch off Olivo's chest protector and into the seats (no joke) as the runners advanced. Ojeda hit the 3-1 pitch to Sexson, who didn't corral it right away, but still threw home to try to get the out. Predictably, it wasn't in time. Sexson should have gone to first. In a related story, walking guys still sucks.
Klesko swung at all three pitches he saw, whiffing at the outside third pitch. Giles doubled down the leftfield line on a full count, plating Roberts and Ojeda.
Nevin foul-tipped strike one, looked at strike two, and whiffed at strike three. Thornton's outing was quote schizophrenic in nature.

Franklin's line: 6 1/3 innings, 5 runs, 3 hits, 5 walks, 5 strikeouts, 108 pitches (65 strikes)
Thornton's line: 2/3 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 2 strikeouts, 17 pitches (11 strikes)

Grade: C
Peavy got through his final inning with little turbulence. Sexson whiffed at a fastball down and away. Ibañez grounded a ball up the middle, but Blum was able to make the play and throw him out. Boone hit a soft poke of a single to centerfield, but the euphoria was short-lived as Reed flew out to leftfield on a 2-0 pitch.

Peavy's line: 7 innings, 0 runs, 3 hits, 1 walk, 10 strikeouts, 111 pitches (72 strikes)

Grade: A-
JJ Putz came in for Thornton. Hernandez hit a high fly to Valdez for the first out. Burroughs had a 2-0 count, but flew out to Winn two pitches later for the second out. Greene quickly got behind 0-2, but eventually swung through a low pitch to end the 1-2-3 inning.

Putz' line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 13 pitches (8 strikes)

Grade: C+
Dennys Reyes came in for Peavy. Olivo whomped the second pitch into the visitors' bullpen in leftfield. Hoorah! Shutout spoiled! It's sad that celebration has come to this.
Valdez grounded out to first. Ichiro hit a grounder toward Burroughs at third, who tried an off-balance sidearmed toss to first that wasn't in time as Ichiro got his first hit of the game. Winn hit a broken-bat soft liner to short. Beltre hit a ball to the left side, and Burroughs made a diving stop and threw him out.

Reyes' line: 1 inning, 1 run, 1 hit, 0 walks, 0 strikeout, 18 pitches (13 strikes)

Grade: B-
Jorge Campillo made his Major League debut, coming in for Putz. He was the first to get Blum (#9 hitter) out, as the latter flew out to Ichiro on an 0-2 pitch. Roberts hit a ball to Boone that went under his glove and off his left instep. It's one thing when you make an error, but it's quite another when you literally boot the ball. Robert Fick came out to hit for Ojeda. He quickly got behind 0-2 and eventually whiffed on an outside pitch. Damian Jackson, who had come out earlier as a defensive replacement for Klesko, took a 3-1 fastball inside for a free pass. Giles flew out to Valdez in shallow leftfield to end the inning.

Campillo's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 22 pitches (14 strikes)

Grade: C+
Akinori Otsuka came in for Reyes. For all of Rick Rizzs' drilling of the correct pronunciation of Wang into the heads of Mariner fans around the region, he failed to tell us that the letter "u" in Otsuka is only mildly enunciated, much in the same way as one would say "ohayo gozaimasu." Anyway, Sexson walked on four pitches to lead off. Ibañez broke his bat on a flyout to centerfield. Boone had the hitters' counts, foul-tipping the 3-1 pitch and getting a late call for strike three on a pitch somewhat low and away. Reed had a 2-0 count which went full before he popped out to Greene in shallow leftfield. Ballgame.

Otsuka's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 20 pitches (9 strikes)

Gameball: JJ Putz.
When the hitters do barely anything, I've got to reach. Putz worked a 1-2-3 eighth inning. Sure, it was garbage time, but when you've yielded grand slams in each of your last two appearances, you've got to start bouncing back somewhere.

Goat: Adrian Beltre.
Though Ryan Franklin didn't help himself by walking five guys and beaning one, I don't feel like goating him this time for some reason. I spent the 25-words line on him already and he's the first Mariner starting pitcher since Gil Meche on the 9th to record an out in the seventh inning. The game was also reasonably close through 6 1/3 innings until he walked the last two guys he faced. For Adrian, though, you could really go to a couple of other hitters for the goat, but Beltre faced Jake Peavy a ton of times over the past few years given the NL West division rivalry with the Dodgers. Given that he had a book on Jake Peavy and went 0-for-4, he gets the goat.

I'll check the Magic 8-Ball to see if this indeed was a dog of a game. Let's shake it around really good here...I'm waiting for the triangle-dice thing to come up...ah, here we go. "ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES." I tell ya, the Magic 8-Ball and Jinkies from the Sonic posts are nothing short of being invaluable resources to humanity.

I was sitting there after the game deciding that sure, maybe I'd make myself sick and watch FSNNW's postgame coverage, even though Matt Morrison is -- how do I put this politely? -- no Rich Waltz, and Cameron Wong is Cameron Wong. That and I knew the first thing I'd be bombarded with was Ryan Franklin not getting run support. Sure enough, it happened. I think the postgame show went a whole few minutes without mentioning that hey, he did walk five batters and bean a guy. Doesn't make the three hits look all that great now, does it? People on Franklin's side after this one would have a more valid argument if Spiro Man didn't walk the final two batters he faced. Those two walks came around to score after he left, fittingly, as did a third walk (#7 hitter) and the beanball (#8 hitter) in the fifth. If there's one thing Franklin did right, it's that he got into the seventh with the score still 3-0. He left with runs four (the #9 hitter) and five on the bases with one out. As you might be able to surmise, three of San Diego's runs were scored by the bottom third of the lineup. An additional fourth, though by the #6 hitter, was the Ramon Hernandez solo shot.

Yup, Ryan Franklin poured out the gasoline, and Matt Thornton lit the place ablaze. It's always a team effort with these Mariners, and you've gotta love that. As for Thornton, even if you factor in the "decent" garbage-time outing in the Carl Pavano whitewash game, you still remember the game in the Bronx where he turned a three-run lead into a three-run deficit, and then you see him in this game making sure that Ryan Franklin's runners score in the 7th. There might have been a small stretch in there where I had a glimmer of hope for this guy, and all he's done since is prove to me that I'm no more higher on him than I was for Aaron Taylor, and I couldn't stand Aaron Taylor. Back to Thornton, I think Towelie has a piece of advice -- "Remember, if you're designated for assigment, always make sure to bring a towel." Seriously, at this point I wouldn't care if Thornton gets the supposed Rick Adelman/Jerome James treatment, he's just gotta go.

The hitting? Well, it was stymied effectively by Jake Peavy, who ran his streak of scoreless innings against the Mariners to a mere 21 2/3. Remember, Pedro's gone to the other league now, so the dominance has got to reappear somewhere else. While the Padres are in the NL as well, they are considered the "natural" interleague rival of the Mariners, so I think we might have something here. Peavy wiggled out of the only jam he had, and that was in the 5th when Richie Sexson and Bret Boone were aboard with one out. Too bad the lineup didn't turn over to Ichiro right after that or something.

Now comes the requisite spiel about the performance of the Mariners' starting pitchers in the month of May. Ryan Franklin's Friday performance knocked the rotation's May ERA down by 0.01, making it a grand 7.30. The average per-game line for Mariner starting pitchers this month: 5.29 innings (about 5 1/3), 4.41 runs (4.29 earned), 6.9 hits, 2.7 walks, 2.9 strikeouts, 93.5 pitches (56.4 strikes). Franklin himself now has a May ERA of 5.16, which unfortunately is the best out of the entire rotation. He's also gotten into the 5th inning in every start, and the fact that what I said is no small feat for this group is sad in itself.

Now, some completely unnecessary numbers. I've taken this Excel thing way too far, and I won't pretend to know what Matt Thornton's equivalent ERA is on day games when throwing a slider behind in the count to the #9 hitter with the wind blowing in. All I'm doing is throwing the numbers of the Mariners' starting pitchers into a table to see how bad they get before they turn it around. Twenty days into May, and it still hasn't happened. What follows this will be the bests and worsts of the Mariner staff. Franklin has four starts, Mateo has the one (I've left his name out of the following), and the four others have three. Don't get scared by the principles behind the per-inning stuff, just be scared by the numbers.

The very merry month of May
best -- Franklin 5.16; worst -- Moyer 15.30; whole rotation 7.30

innings per start
best -- Meche 6.89 (round it to 7); worst -- Moyer 3 1/3; whole rotation 5.29 (about 5 1/3)

earned runs per start
best -- Franklin 3.25; worst -- Moyer 5.67; whole rotation 4.29

hits per inning
best -- Franklin 0.79; worst -- Moyer 2.5; whole rotation 1.3

walks per inning
best -- Meche 0.24; worst -- Sele 1; whole rotation 0.5

strikeouts per inning
best -- Franklin 0.71; worst -- Piñeiro 0.43; whole rotation 0.6

pitches per inning
best -- Meche 15.3; worst -- Moyer 24.4; whole rotation 17.7

Man, what out of all of this isn't damning? The crap that the starting pitchers have put up this month is alarming in every sense of the word. It's hard to say what the worst numbers are out of that. Moyer giving up 2.5 hits per inning is pretty bad. Sele walking a batter every inning is horrible. We know the staff isn't a strikeout staff, so those numbers are no surprise. But 24.4 pitches per inning out of Moyer -- a 24-pitch inning is something we should see maybe every other outing out of Jamie Moyer, but definitely not three times or more every day he takes the mound. Just awful.

This team is 16-25. The offense has gone from abhorrent to substandard recently, but the starting pitching has gone from okay/mediocre to Hamster Huey and the Gooey Kablooie. They're a mere two games better than their mind-numbing pace of last season. While there's more room for improvement than their was last year, at least with the hitting, this pitching staff is just brutal. Just a bit of trivia for you here, but the Mariners have been at or above .500 after just 14 of the 41 games they've played so far this season, and that'll grow to at least 50 before it happens again. This team had a .500 April. No matter how bad it gets, just keep in the back of your mind that the 2004 Mariners lost all nine games of a road trip going into the All-Star break and 16 of 19 overall. The current Mariners have lost 14 of their last 18 games. Does it even feel like they won the Boston series at home?

Let's get Campy! New pitchers are fun, but they won't save you any money on car insurance. Congratulations to Jorge Campillo for finally getting to the bigs. With due time, he should replace Aaron Sele in the rotation if/when the latter gets designated for assignment.

So, two more left against the Padres, then a road swing with Baltimore (ouch) and Tampa Bay (Lou, yikes) before a couple of games with Toronto close out the month. If you win all your remaining games, it's called "running the table," but if you lose the rest of your games, can you call it "walking the table"? I know it'd sure apply to the starting rotation, but I'm not sure I'd be surprised if the Mariners lost eight of their remaining 10 games in May. I'm not trying to be negative here, this is cold, hard truth.

Lawrence. Meche. Tonight.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

THE PUMP 5/20/05 

Padres at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)

Jake Peavy (3-0, 2.57 ERA) vs Ryan Franklin (2-4, 4.20 ERA)

Now that the Sonics' season is over, it's all Mariners until late July, when Seahawks training camp opens. But as you know, it's not going to be all Mariners here.

The Mariners' "rival", the San Diego Padres, are coming to Safeco Field this weekend!

What's there to hate about San Diego?

Other than the current road uniforms the Padres are sporting, there's not a lot to hate about San Diego. The city of San Diego has great weather year-round, it's the best Super Bowl site, and it's a Navy town. I'm partial to the Navy towns, because I grew up a Navy brat.

For this weekend, the love for San Diego will be put on hold. The Padres are the Mariners' "rival"! You're supposed to hate your rivals, dammit! So, San Diego's most trusted news anchor has a few words for you, Padres fans.

"Go f**k yourself, San Diego!"

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(for links to all of the game-related posts this year, go here)

The 2004-2005 Seattle SuperSonics weren't supposed to go anywhere. The only relevant addition they'd made was trading Calvin Booth for Danny Fortson. Nick Collison would play in his first games as a SuperSonic as well, having taken the 2003-2004 season off to rehab after two shoulder surgeries.

After the 2003-2004 season, Nate McMillan decided shortly afterward that Luke Ridnour would start at point guard and Antonio Daniels would come off the bench. A question of past offseasons has been which would stay between Rashard Lewis and Vladimir Radmanovic. People thought for a long time that the team couldn't keep both. With his seven-year deal, McMillan started Lewis and had Radmanovic come off the bench. Reggie Evans would start as well, growing into a limited-minutes tenacious rebounder. Jerome James was Jerome James, until some flashes of brilliance in the second half of the season and especially the playoffs.

Add to this the wrinkle that the Sonics had nine players due to become free agents after the season ended.

Here was the Sonics' usual starting lineup...

PG -- Luke Ridnour
SG -- Ray Allen
SF -- Rashard Lewis
PF -- Reggie Evans
C -- Jerome James

The Sonics had the same starting lineup for the first 29 games of the season, a stretch in which they went 23-6, a winning percentage of .793. Reggie Evans was the first to be knocked out of the starting lineup, and it was due to a stomach ailment that kept him out three games after the HUGE win at Miami.

What I'm about to do is link some game posts from the season from games I think were key games. You can go to the archive for links to all the games as well. It's sad that I'm looking back at my game posts for the first part of the season and they're pretty sad, but hey, I'd never done many basketball game posts before.

One big thank you to the Seattle SuperSonics for performing well beyond our wildest expectations and getting me through my months-long stint of unemployment and regretful self-pity. Thanks, green and gold!

4 Nov, L 114-84 at LAC
The Sonics fail to score for the first 4:09 of the season, missing their first eight shots while the Clippers nailed 6 of 8 to start. It was going to be a looooong season.

7 Nov, W 113-94 vs. SA
The Sonics demolish the Spurs, scoring on 13 straight possessions in the fourth quarter and holding Tim Duncan to 4-for-16 shooting. Fortson gets 15 points and 10 boards. Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis combine for 51 points.

10 Nov, W 108-78 vs. SAC
The Sonics pulverize what was supposed to be a pretty good team in the Western Conference. Vladimir Radmanovic, Antonio Daniels, and Danny Fortson combine for 42 points off the bench as Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis have an off night from the field. Fortson scores 16 and grabs 13 boards.

14 Nov, W 118-113 vs. MEM
The Sonics outscore the Grizzlies 34-13 in the fourth quarter, erasing a 100-84 deficit at the end of three quarters of play.

23 Nov, W 103-92 at MIN
The Sonics hold Kevin Garnett to 5-for-16 shooting from the floor in the fifth game of what turns out to be a 5-1 road trip. Allen and Lewis combine for 51. Daniels has 12 points and 11 assists off the bench.

1 Dec, W 129-119 vs. UTA
Carlos Boozer has the game of his life and Mehmet Okur goes nuts off the bench, but the Sonics win despite having to foul in the closing minutes of regulation to force the Jazz to the line. Vladimir Radmanovic pumpfakes to draw Boozer off his feet and nails the game-tying three-pointer with 10.5 seconds left in regulation.

8-9 Dec, W 102-96 at SA, W 107-102 at DAL
The sweep of the Texas two-step converted many believers to what the Sonics were doing. Allen and Lewis combine for 45 points at San Antonio, and Fortson hits all 10 free-throw attempts; the win despite scoring seven points from the field in the third quarter. Rashard Lewis hits a key three in the waning minutes in Dallas.

14 Dec, W 108-93 vs. LAK
Rashard Lewis goes nuts, scoring 37. Jerome James scores 12 points in his best game of the year to date, surprising everybody.

17 Dec, L 112-110 vs. PHX
The Sonics go up against and hang with another team with a crazy turnaround, the Phoenix Suns. The Sonics get to the limit of team fouls with 8:28 left in the game and end up blowing a seven-point lead in the final minutes.

3 Jan (W 98-96 at MIA) and 9 Jan (W 108-98 vs. MIA)
The Sonics beat Shaq, Dwyane Wade, and the Heat. Twice. Eddie Jones bricks two of three free throws with 0.4 seconds left in Miami, where Fortson goes for 15 and 10, and Allen scores 35. In Seattle, the bench picks up for an off night from the starters. Radmanovic goes nuts and scores 27, while Fortson pulls down 10 boards with 18 points.

25 Jan, W 108-93 at LAK
Vladimir Radmanovic goes out of his mind, nailing eight threes to shock the Staples Center crowd. He comes one three-ball away from Dale Ellis' franchise record.

11 Feb, W 113-105 at PHX
The Sonics win in the Valley of the Sun. Allen has a terrible night from the field, but Daniels scores 20 off the bench. Reggie Evans scores 10 and pulls down 11 boards, while Jerome James puts up 12 points and 7 boards in an offensive blip on the radar.

22 Feb, W 87-85 at HOU
The Sonics win at Houston despite the Rocket-friendly pace to the game. Allen gets shoved out of bounds on a rebound scramble and hits two free throws to win the game. The Sonics have more luck containing Tracy McGrady than Yao Ming.

4 Mar, W 95-87 vs. DET
Again, the Sonics win despite an opponent-friendly pace to the game. Jerome James surprises absolutely everybody, having the game of his life: 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocks in 25 minutes.

16 Mar, L 102-95 at DET
The Sonics lose the rematch. Reggie Evans grabs exactly one offensive rebound in 24 minutes, while the team as a whole surrenders 16 offensive boards. Jerome James oddly does well again, scoring 12 points.

24 Mar, W 96-91 at POR
Damien Wilkins has his coming-out party in the Rose City. After toiling in relative obscurity for much of the year, he steps in for a recovering Rashard Lewis and scores 21 points off the bench.

29 Mar, W 102-99 at MEM
Seattle clinches a playoff berth for the first time in three years. Damien Wilkins makes a key last-minute defensive stop on Shane Battier to win it. Wilkins also scores 13.

15 Apr, W 97-72 vs. NO
After losing six straight and needing just one win to clinch the Northwest Division title, the Sonics finally come through. Rashard Lewis comes back from injury and does terrible, but the offense regains much of its flow, though against admittedly inferior competition.

17 Apr, W 109-94 at MIN
Despite fighting for one of the final playoff spots in the West, the Timberwolves get taken to the woodshed in their own building by the Sonics. Allen goes for 34 and 10. Lewis goes for 28. Ridnour gets 10 points and 11 assists.

23 Apr, W 87-82 vs. SAC, first round Game 1
Jerome James tops the Detroit game during the season and officially has the game of his life. 17 points, 15 boards, 5 blocks. Amazing. Allen has a double-double as well with 28 and 10.

26 Apr, W 105-93 vs. SAC, first round Game 2
Jerome James remains relevant, going for 19 and 9. Nick Collison gets 8 and 8 off the bench. Allen goes for 26.

1 May, W 115-102 at SAC, first round Game 4
Allen goes off, scoring 45 to silence the crowd at Arco Arena. He outscores Mike Bibby 26-1 in the second half. James goes for 17 and 8.

3 May, W 122-118 vs. SAC, first round Game 5
Allen scores 30, but the two most important points come when he blew past Maurice Evans and the Kings for the game-sealing layup.

8 May, L 103-81 at SA, Western Conference Semifinal Game 1
Vladimir Radmanovic badly sprains an ankle in the first quarter, then Allen sprains an ankle as Radmanovic is being taken to the locker room on a wheelchair. Neither return to the game. Radmanovic doesn't return for the series. The skeleton crew of Sonics is demoralized.

12 May, W 92-91 vs. SA, Western Conference Semifinal Game 3
The Sonics crank up the physical play and grind out a badly-needed win. Allen has an off night, Manu Ginobili executes the flop to end all flops, and Tim Duncan misses a last-second hook. Lewis sprains his big toe, and ends up being sidelined for the rest of the series.

15 May, W 101-89 vs. SA, Western Conference Semifinal Game 4
Seattle puts an absolute whuppin' on the Spurs despite missing Radmanovic and Lewis. Allen drops 32, but Luke Ridnour enters the Sonic pantheon, scoring 15 of his 20 points in the third quarter.

19 May, L 98-96 vs. SA, Western Conference Semifinal Game 6
One last hurrah for a thoroughly enjoyable team. One hell of a game, and it went down to the wire.

I hope everyone out there enjoyed following this team as much as I did. A team with nine free-agents-to-be coming together with a common goal. It was truly a beautiful thing.

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Spurs 98, SuperSonics 96 (San Antonio wins best-of-seven series 4-2)
AP photo -- Ted Warren

(final part of post tacked on at noon)

...And so ends the ride. Given how they lost this game, I want so badly to be totally be mad about this loss and mad that there isn't a Game 7. This team was too special though. Considering where this team was, and considering where they were after training camp and through the first game against the Clippers, making the playoffs alone was crazy in itself. Everything else was gravy. Beating the Kings, well, that was good since the Sonics were obviously the better team.

But I remember how I felt after Game 1. Vladimir Radmanovic had the horrible ankle injury, and I pretty much thought that sealed the outcome of the series. Ray Allen's ankle was tweaked not long after that, and I'd wondered if the Sonics could win a single game in this series. Frankly, without Rashard Lewis in Game 5 and Game 6, it's amazing they didn't get the crap pounded out of them. I didn't forget how the Sonics stumbled into the playoffs and how the Nuggets almost caught up to them. That team without Vladimir Radmanovic was hobbled in itself, but without Radmanovic and Lewis, it was dead meat.

Ultimately, the absence of Vladimir Radmanovic arguably did seal the outcome of the series. Rashard Lewis being out the final two games didn't help either. When Radmanovic -- the key floor-spreader and the indicator for most of the year in terms of how well the Sonics' offense was clicking -- was out of the series, it was sad. It's a shame that the Sonics weren't able to be at full strength against the Spurs, it really is. Not just because we didn't get any more Radmanovic hair stories either. The Spurs were like a farmer that got kicked multiple times by a horse before being able to put it down.

What am I trying to say? It might be bitterness and postgame homerism, but I've all but convinced myself that the Sonics win this series if Vladimir Radmanovic and Rashard Lewis are healthy. I'm not just saying this because the Sonics twice spanked the Spurs at full strength during the regular season. Granted, Rashard would never have been 100% due to the knee tendinitis (and no bad big toe, of course), but if the tendinitis was no worse than it was for most of the season, then the Sonics win this series. The Spurs looked very beatable for each of the last two games.

Granted, a good team knows how to fight off adversity, and the Spurs did exactly that, but the Sonics did some things in this series and in particular Game 6. The way the Sonics played in Game 3, the way they made the game physical and grinded it out, was a team going back to its roots in a way, though the circumstances basically forced them into that style of play. Tony Parker basically did a disappearing act after Game 2, though Luke Ridnour apparently can't guard the chair that Jay Bilas was sitting in (yes, I know other people were on Parker too). After going nuts in Game 5, Manu Ginobili was limited to a line of 13/6/7, and also turned the ball over five times.

Really, though, Tim Duncan may never go nuts again from the free-throw line the way he did in Game 4 and Game 6. Fouling him when it looks like he might have an easy basket is a chance you still have to take, and only the planets could align to have him go nuts at the line once again, which is sad since the Sonics held him to 6-for-21 shooting while trying to stave off elimination.

Okay, I'd better get to the game action.

Manu Ginobili blew a layup off the opening tip and Antonio Daniels cashed in at the other end with the runner from the top of the key to open the scoring. The Spurs weren't sharp in the first few minutes, with Nazr Mohammed receiving a nice pass from Tim Duncan and then blowing a dunk attempt. Duncan also lost the ball to Luke Ridnour, and Daniels laid one up over Duncan on the other end. Ray Allen hit a reverse to make it a 6-0 game-opening run by the Sonics and forcing the Spurs to call timeout with 8:58 to go in the opening quarter.

The Sonics kept the Spurs a couple of possessions away for most of the rest of the first quarter. The Sonics had their largest lead of the quarter when Reggie Evans hit a couple of free throws with 6:02 to go to make it 14-6. Robert Horry provided some grizzled-veteran scoring for the Spurs, tipping in a Parker miss to answer the Evans free throws. The Sonics had the ball and Ridnour did that thing where he dribbles under the basket and comes out the other side, except he apparently stepped on the baseline. Horry hit a straightaway three on the next possession to cut the lead to 14-11 with 5:18 to go.

With 3:54 to go in the quarter, Nick Collison ran a pick-and-roll with Ray Allen and was fouled by Brent Barry, sending the Spurs over the limit (quite early to be over the limit). Almost as rare as Reggie Evans hitting a pair of free throws, Collison snugged in a pair as well, making it 18-13. Allen hit a fader from the left elbow with 2:23 to go in the quarter to take the lead out to 22-15.

Then came something that greatly hampered the Sonics. Nick Collison did his best Danny Fortson impression. He fouled Ginobili hard on a drive with 2:06 remaining. Allen missed a three and Collison was called for a foul in pursuit of the offensive board with 1:51 left. Finally, with 1:39 to go, Collison fouled Horry down low. Three fouls, 27 seconds. That'll be some foul trouble.

Danny Fortson fouled Duncan on a one-hander attempt from the baseline, and Duncan hit the free throws for his first two points of the game (yes, it's true). The Sonics finished the quarter with a flourish, with Evans finishing off a pick-and-roll with Daniels with 13.6 seconds remaining. Ginobili had the ball and drove just inside the arc, ramming into Damien Wilkins. Daniels tipped the ball away and kept the Spurs from getting off a final shot. Ginobili limped afterward, but stayed in the game and might have been faking it for all we know. The Sonics led 25-20 at the end of one quarter.

The Sonics opened the second quarter with a 6-2 mini-run. Damien Wilkins hit a driving double-pump layup to open up the quarter, and Bruce Bowen's leaning baseline jumper was sandwiched with Allen blowing past everyone for a layup. Daniels penetrated and kicked to Fortson, who finished with a layup to give the Sonics a 31-22 lead, their largest of the night with 10:19 left in the half. Wilkins hit a right-side midrange jumper with 7:01 before the half to put the Sonics up 38-31

Then the Spurs went on a 21-7 run, putting them up 52-45 with 43.2 seconds to go before the half. The Spurs took their first lead of the night when Allen missed and Jerome James was called for a loose-ball foul trying to get the rebound. This put Seattle over the limit very early, with 4:28 left before halftime. Amazingly, the Spurs only took advantage of this fact three times for the rest of the half. Yes, I did think that the Damien Wilkins offensive basket interference call was crap. Frankly, I don't care if he gets T'd up at that point as long as the basket counts. That occurred with 4:03 to go, and would have put the Sonics up 42-41. Give the Spurs a T shot on the other end, and the game is tied at 42. All I'm asking for is a single point here. That run was capped off by the ever-inexcusable Bruce Bowen corner three.

Luke Ridnour hit a runner to account for the halftime score of 52-47. Horry led the Spurs with 11 points. The ball movement stopped for the Sonics in the second quarter, and the Spurs led 13-5 at halftime in the assist department. Allen had 14, Daniels had 11, James and Evans had 5 apiece, and Wilkins had 4.

The Sonics were 0-for-2 from beyond the arc in the first half. A Reggie Evans dunk highlight was shown on FSNNW during halftime, and in the crowd there was a guy wearing a Sam Perkins shirt. I almost wept. The Sonics sure could have used someone like Big Smooth in this series.

Ridnour opened the second-half scoring with a pop from the left elbow. Ginobili was called for an offensive foul, and Daniels hit a fallaway baseline jumper to beat the shot clock and bring the Sonics within one at 52-51 (10:59). The Sonics had lapses against Nazr Mohammed again, who laid one in after getting a nice feed from Ginobili.

Then Daniels drove and missed a shot, and somehow no foul was called. Daniels doesn't just get tech'd for the hell of it, and he got the T right here with 10:02 left in the third. Reggie Evans shot a ball from the right elbow at 8:41 for some unknown reason. He missed, of course.

Tim Duncan got the rebound with 7:22 after Jerome James and Reggie Evans had about four or five chances at the basket. I have a hard time believing there was no non-ball shot-impeding contact by the Spurs in that sequence, and Nate McMillan did as well, as he also got T'd up. Moments later, Mohammed grabbed an offensive board (he had 4 at that point and had 12 and 7) and the ball found its way to Ginobili, who hit a three.

No matter how valid the fight and how crappy the calls or non-calls were, the Spurs had just rattled off a 9-2 run, giving them their largest lead of the night and making it 61-53 with 6:49 left in the third. After Collison was nailed for his fourth foul, the Sonics scored five quick points (James three-point play, Ridnour midrange) to make it 67-64 and force the Spurs to call timeout.

Right after the timeout, Mohammed operated down low with James on him and walked with the ball. Ginobili through an Horry-bound pass out of bounds for the sixth Spur turnover of the quarter. On the other end, Ray Allen appeared, tying the game with a three-pointer, making it 67-67 with 3:07 left in the quarter. Fortson put back a Ridnour miss and completed a three-point play to put the Sonics back into the lead, 70-67 with 2:01 to go.

Then came the bullcrap offensive foul call on Damien Wilkins. He was called at the 1:45 mark on a fast break when he fended off Ginobili with his left arm at the basket even though said arm did not come in contact with Ginobili. Never mind the free throws that could have made it a five-point Sonic lead at that point. Collison blew a layup after stripping the ball from Beno Udrih. Fortson was called for flagrantly fouling Duncan, though I've got no qualms about that. Though the arms did hit the head, it was close enough, and it was from behind.

Ray Allen answered a Duncan miss in the final minute with a three-ball, widening the Sonic lead to four points at 73-69 with 51.4 ticks remaining in the third.

The final crap call in the quarter came after Ginobili missed the second of a pair of free throws; Fortson grabbed the rebound and was shoved out of bounds with 6.9 seconds left. The Sonics led 73-72 after three quarters of play.

Fortson drove to the key and bowled over Fortson on the first Sonic possession of the fourth quarter, and Sonic fans know that at least one of those fouls is coming from Fortson per game, so no biggie. The first points of the quarter came when Duncan put back a Mohammed airball with 10:44 remaining, giving the Spurs a 74-73 lead. With ten minutes remaining, Wilkins drove and drew the fifth foul on Brent Barry, though Fortson made contact with Ginobili's face and threw him to the ground in backcourt and the refs didn't see it. Though I won't deny that it was a pretty violent occurrence, the devil in me was glad that Ginobili fell to the floor due to actual contact for once. And no, that non-call didn't offset the Sonics' penchant to not get calls in the third quarter.

Collison didn't finish off a pick-and-roll with Allen (8:59), and though Collison came down with the ball, he was tied up by Mohammed and lost the subsequent jump ball. Not long after, Daniels found Collison wide open under the basket for a slam, giving the Sonics a 77-76 lead with 8:23 left.

Duncan rolled to the basket with 8:08 to go and Collison was called for his fifth foul on the block. Duncan tweaked his left foot on the play and sat on the ground grabbing it afterward. Some fans cheered the injury, and though I'll grant you that such an occurrence is classless, I have the feeling some were cheering for the hard play of Collison as well and the fact that Duncan didn't hit a basket. Of course, afterward when Duncan walked to the other end of the floor -- that's delay of game. The Spurs have to at least call a 20-second timeout in that situation, I don't care if it's Tim Duncan, Ray Allen, or Robert Swift. Needless to say, Duncan kept up the free-throw anomaly game, hitting both and putting the Spurs back into the lead at 78-77.

Allen answered with a three from the left side to get the Sonics the lead once again, 80-78 with 7:56 to go. After Duncan answered with a straightaway midrange jumper, Allen hit another shot, an off-balance jumper from the top of the key to regain the lead once again, 82-80 with 6:39 to go. Brent Barry went out with a bang, hitting a three to put the Spurs back into the lead before fouling Allen off the ball with 6:03 remaining -- Barry had fouled out after 14 minutes of play.

One thing I won't make an argument for when it comes to the Sonics -- shot-clock violations. Wilkins was left on the perimeter with the ball with four ticks left on the shot clock and didn't end up hitting rim, but the ball should have been in someone else's hands to begin with (5:48). Ridnour tied the game at 84 with a fallaway jumper from the right side (5:16), but Duncan made a nice play on the other end. He worked down low and despite James reaching in, he somehow hit the shot. Though he missed the ensuing free throw (only one of the three he missed all night), the Spurs were back up 86-84 with 4:57 left.

Tony Parker made a rare appearance with a runner from the right side to put the Spurs up 88-84 (4:26). The Sonics scored the next five points. Collison slammed to finish a give-and-go with Ridnour (4:09) and then Wilkins was wide open for a three from the left corner, which he sank to put the Sonics back into the lead, 89-88 with 3:28 to go. Parker walked under the basket with 3:02 to go, but the Sonics didn't take advantage on the next possession, with Ridnour missing a three from the corner, though there was decent ball movement on the play. Parker answered by hitting a midrange jumper to put the Spurs back into the lead (90-89, 2:27).

This of course made it a good time for another shot-clock violation. Allen was out beyond the perimeter and was way short on his shot with two minutes remaining. Every possession is valuable in the playoffs, yet the Sonics had two very crippling shot-clock violations in the fourth quarter. Horry answered that with a three, and the game looked grim for the Sonics, now down 93-89 with 1:48 to go. Daniels hit a jumper from the top of the key to get the Sonics within two (93-91, 1:36).

Then Duncan traveled in the key, which of course wasn't called, hit a layup, and was fouled. Though he missed the free throw, the Spurs were up 95-91 with 1:23 to go. Daniels answered with a driving layup with 1:18 to go (95-93, 1:18). Ginobili drove and drew the 6th and final foul on Jerome James, but split the pair of free throws (96-93, 58.4 seconds left). Collison answered by tipping in a Daniels miss to bring the Sonics within one, 96-95 with 37.9 seconds left.

Duncan missed a midrange jumper, and Horry was called for a loose-ball foul for contact with Antonio Daniels. Daniels missed the first free throw as the words "OH, FOR F*&@'S SAKE!!" came out of my mouth. Daniels hit the second free throw to tie the game at 96 apiece with 14.4 seconds left. The Spurs called the requisite timeout.

For the final play, Ginobili wore down the clock beyond the perimeter. He drove, and drew Vitaly off of Duncan, who raced to the other side of the key. Ginobili hit Duncan with the perfect pass, and Duncan banked one in before Vitaly could get back and just before the help (Ridnour) could get there. All of 0.5 seconds remained on the clock for the Sonics to get off a final shot, down 98-96. Allen got the ball in the left corner and tried a turnaround three over Duncan (yikes), but it went off the front rim.

End of season.

Ray Allen 25 pts/4 reb/2 ast (11-25 FG, 3-9 3pt, 44 min), Antonio Daniels 22 pts/3 reb/5 ast (7-13 FG, 8-10 free throws, 43 min), Luke Ridnour 10 pts/4 reb/4 ast (4-10 FG, 2-2 free throws, 42 min), Reggie Evans 4 pts/9 reb (1-6 FG, 23 min)

Damien Wilkins 10 pts/4 reb (3-4 FG, 3-6 free throws, 27 min), Nick Collison 8 pts/1 reb (3-5 FG, 17 min), Danny Fortson 5 pts/4 reb (2-2 FG, 11 min), Vitaly Potapenko 2 pts/1 reb (1-1 FG, 6 min)

Jerome James Watch
10 pts/8 reb/2 stl/1 blk (4-9 FG, 2-3 free throws, 2 turnovers, fouled out, 27 min)

shot 36-for-75 (48.0%) from the field, shot 4-for-11 (36.4%) from downtown, shot 20-for-26 (76.9%) from the line, outrebounded Spurs 38-31, turned ball over 14 times (Spurs 15), won 5-4 on the break and 46-42 in the paint, bench outscored San Antonio bench 25-24 (outrebounded them 10-5)

Well, what a ride, huh? Was it a little concerting to see the Sonics lose despite holding Tim Duncan to 6-for-21 shooting? Sure it was. Did I hate the calls or non-calls that went against them in the third quarter? Sure I did. Was I ticked off after the crucial shot-clock violations in the fourth quarter? Of course. Could I believe it when Nick Collison drew the three quick fouls toward the end of the first quarter? Definitely.

But it definitely was a good game. I'm glad the Sonics went down fighting instead of putting up what we saw in either of the first two games of the series. The way that the Sonics bounced back from being down 2-0 in this series was incredible. They were written off for dead in Game 1, and it looked like it'd be a short series, but this team surprised us once again.

However, the surprises had to end somewhere, and they ended as Ray Allen's three-point attempt inside the final second clanged off the front rim. The lack of scoring depth had caught up with the Sonics. How long could we reasonably expect the Sonics to survive when Vladimir Radmanovic was out for the entire series after the first quarter of Game 1 and Rashard Lewis was out for the final two games? Those were were only the second- and third-leading scorers on the team during the season. Lewis averaged 20.5 points and Radmanovic averaged 11.8. That's 32 points missing right there. Granted, you can't just plug-and-play and add those points (some would inevitably be subtracted from the other players), but the Sonics dearly missed Lewis in the last two games, and have really missed Radmanovic for not just the series, but ever since he came down with the wrist injury, let alone the stress fracture.

Mark my word, this team of Sonics would have won 57 games (at least) if Radmanovic was healthy down the stretch. The guy meant and did so much for this team. He was the X-factor all year when he was in the game. They badly missed him. I know the Spurs were very adept at preventing three-point shooting in general, but if we would have seen Radmanovic, Lewis, and Allen all along the arc in the final two games...you would have liked your chances if you were a Sonic fan. Have those three guys on the court and any sort of inside offensive presence from Jerome James, and that mixture would be absolutely lethal.

You can't blame any one thing for a loss like this, but I've got to single out Nick Collison's foul trouble in both Game 5 and Game 6 as one of many killers for the Sonics. The team was way better with him on the floor than say, a Reggie Evans.

But rather than bitch for the rest of my life about Collison's foul trouble, shot-clock violations, bad calls in the third quarter, and the fact that Ray Allen didn't get to the free-throw line even once, I'll just remember that back in the beginning of November, anyone that said the Sonics would have taken the Spurs to six games in the second round of the playoffs would have been told they were on crack or some sort of mind-altering substance.

I hope everyone out there was able to enjoy the season and soak it up for all it was worth, because this team's going to look very very different next season.

Three cheers for the 2004-2005 Seattle SuperSonics, the first pro (male) team to greatly exceed expectations since the 1995 Seattle Mariners (or if you want to be picky, the regular season 2001 Seattle Mariners). They were also a great follow-up to the Husky basketball teams of the last two years as well. A toast to the green and gold.

See you next November (or later).

I asked Jinkies if he'd enjoyed this season for the Sonics even though his owner wasn't a Sonic anymore and was stuck playing in Atlanta instead. His reply: "No MEOWING way! Get out of my town." I guess that's fierce loyalty or something.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005


AP photo -- Eric Gay

San Antonio at Seattle, 7:30p, FSNNW/ESPN

Can the Sonics hold homecourt?

Will Rashard Lewis play?

Will someone else step up if he doesn't?

Will Ray Allen go nuts?

Will the Sonics contain Manu Ginobili?

Will Tony Parker continue to suck?

That, and more, tonight!!


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Well, I'll tie some loose ends that obviously won't fit in a Mariner post or Sonic post.

-- Jeremy and I had an instant message conversation exactly three months ago, February 19, on the NBA's All-Star Saturday. An excerpt...

[22:17] David: if the nba manages to f#&$ up their labor situation, i'll be absolutely crestfallen
[22:18] Jeremy: i don't see the nba f#&$ing that up........no way would david stern allow a season to be cancelled
[22:18] Jeremy: they will get a deal done. absolutely

Three months later I sit here surprised, yet completely unsurprised. The NBA this season has had their best season in almost a decade. In my opinion, they may have finally recovered from the 1998 lockout. That's what...six or seven years? The NHL never recovered from the 1994 lockout, and they've dug themselves an even deeper hole this time.

More importantly, the NHL imploded and took the year off. If the NBA can't learn from the NHL and/or their own mistakes and past labor stoppages...I don't know what to say. I'm hoping the owners and players get together and get the epiphany that baseball did in August of 2002. Baseball would have been screwed if there was a work stoppage right there.

Oddly, I think it was Frank Hughes on KJR this morning that said a lockout might actually benefit the Sonics by compressing the free-agent signing period or something like that. Of course, it could also result in losing Nate McMillan.

-- I haven't made the daily article sweeps in a month or so since doing game wraps for two teams takes a while. I think I bailed to the Mariners and Sonics totally right before the Everett Silvertips and Seattle Thunderbirds got eliminated from the WHL playoffs.

But there is one team of small importance left. They are the almost-Canucks, the Manitoba Moose. They are in the AHL's Western Conference Finals and are facing the Chicago Wolves in a seven-game series beginning tonight at 5p. You can even listen live online, and might be able to get the whole game in before the Sonics come on at 7:30. Probably the only bad thing about the Moose's run is that Alex Auld, who was great in net in the Calgary/Vancouver series (2004), has sat most of the playoffs. Veteran goalie Wade Flaherty (Jeremy remembers him as a former Shark) has been holding down the fort in net for the Moose, and has done it quite well. Hopefully Auld can eventually come back from this and reign in the Canuck net eventually, whenever the NHL starts back up.

-- Three cheers for Vonzell Solomon. Between the final three of Vonzell, Bo Bice, and Carrie Underwood, I think they were pretty much all at the same level, with maybe a slight edge to the girls. She nearly didn't make it into the final 12, but between that time and her elimination last night, she had light years of improvement and snuck up on everyone. Bo and Carrie have pretty much been favorites for most of the whole competition, but Vonzell emerged, and quite well. Most importantly, her version of "Let's Hear It For the Boy" helps erase a past memory of a horrible junior high assembly rendition of the same song by some girl in the choir class back in 8th grade.

-- How do I think American Idol should have ended up? Well, like this (actual finishes in parentheses)...

Vonzell Solomon (3rd)
Carrie Underwood (1st/2nd)
Bo Bice (1st/2nd)
Nadia Turner (8th)
Anwar Robinson (7th)
Anthony Fedorov (4th)
Jessica Sierra (10th)
Lindsey Cardinale (12th)
Nikko Smith (9th)
Constantine Maroulis (6th)
Scott Savol (5th)
Mikalah Gordon (11th)

My conclusion? I was really not high on most of the guys. Those are the voters for you. Of course, if the best performers truly made it to the next week every time, there'd be absolutely no drama in the show.

-- Shishkaberries!

-- I'm glad I wasn't driving on I-5 yesterday during the rainstorm. Forty crashes is a lot. Whoever drove that oil tanker (you'll need this) will be in deep crap, that's for sure.

Well, I'll get together the open Sonic post and then get to more pressing and more important matters. Like sleep.


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It isn't often that I delve into social or political issues here at Sports and Bremertonians.

But I figure, this is a serious social issue that I need to post here. It's an off-day, so I'll call this my "off-day post", if you will. Or you can call it something else, I don't care.

I was reading the newest edition (May 22) of TV Guide last night and read the exclusive interview with the remaining "American Idol" contestants. Love or hate "American Idol", it's a phenomenon that won't go away anytime soon.

I've watched most of the current season of "Idol", so I was interested to know what the remaining contestants were going through. It was Carrie Underwood who made the story for me though. Unfortunately, even Carrie is affected by an all-too-true attitude among young women.

"I'm doing my best not to look fat. I read it on the internet: People say I'm chubby. I'm a size 6..." and then her voice trails off.

I can't begin to tell you how much this attitude bothers me.

As a 23-year old guy, I can tell you that I've definitely been around women of Carrie's age. I've been around many girls who have this feeling of being overweight when in reality, they really aren't. Who's to blame?

The media, stupid!

Issues of Cosmopolitan and Vogue tell women to lose those 10 pounds so they can look good for the guys. How about the "look like Britney Spears!" taglines? I can go on, but I think you get the point.

Back to Underwood...

Carrie is a very beautiful woman. The people who have said on the internet that "she looks chubby" are pathetic losers, each and every one of them. I guarantee you that those people would never say that to her face. Of course, the majority of those people would never have a chance with a woman like Carrie Underwood.

This isn't just about Carrie. This is about thousands of young women. Guys, we'll never know the pressure of being a woman. Nobody ever tells us guys "hey, you need to lose 20 pounds so you don't look fat". Yes, I can stand to lose a few pounds, but nobody has ever told me that in a way that they would towards a woman. It's a horrible double standard that has been going on for way too long.

Alright, the comments box is open, but please act like adults. I know you will.

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Yankees 7, Mariners 6
AP photo -- John Froschauer

In 25 words or less: They won in semi-dramatic fashion!! The Yankees' 10-game win streak is over! Blind squirrels! Nuts! Calabro! Shishkaberries! Next on the Game 40 recap!

This one featured world-famous Mariner beater Mike Mussina against nearly-everyone-in-the-Yankee-lineup-has-a-homer-off-me Jamie Moyer.

Grade: D
It didn't start out nicely for Moyer. Derek Jeter singled to leftfield to lead off. Tony Womack followed suit with a single to rightfield. Gary Sheffield hit a shallow fly to Raul Ibañez in leftfield, who came up throwing and nearly doubled Jeter off of second base. It's too bad Jeter wasn't out, since he scored on a bloop single into rightfield by Hideki Matsui, who was jammed on the pitch.
After one pitch to Alex Rodriguez, Miguel Olivo came out to the mound and tried to hash out signs or pitches with Jamie Moyer. Rodriguez ended up getting the hitters' counts, fouling off the 2-0 pitch, but sending the 3-1 delivery on a rope to the first row of seats in rightfield. That's a biggie.
Jorge Posada got behind 0-2 before grounding out to Greg Dobbs, playing third for the resting-from-pulled-hamstring Adrian Beltre. Jason Giambi called Dobbs' number as well, hitting a grounder to him to end the inning. Moyer threw 26 pitches.

Grade: B
The Mariners cut into the lead. Ichiro flew out to centerfield to lead off. Randy Winn had a 2-0 count, smoking a single into rightfield two pitches later. Raul Ibañez, hitting third in this game, got a pitch out over the plate and bounced a double off the wall in rightcenter to score Winn.
Richie Sexson whiffed on a 2-2 breaking ball low and outside. Bret Boone's bat remained warm, as is the trend of late, and he singled back up the middle to score Ibañez.
Jeremy Reed fouled off a few pitches with two strikes on him before fishing at a low pitch and flying out to rightfield. Mussina threw 30 pitches.

Grade: A-
This was the inning with Sonic play-by-play man Kevin Calabro in the booth. Calabro told anecdotes related to his fill-in for Dave Niehaus in Oakland when the latter had some health issues. A Rich Amaral first-inning home run call caught him off guard. Dan Wilson also got ticked off at a bus driver in San Francisco that couldn't find his way to the Coliseum. To the game itself, Moyer picked up the pieces a bit after the first inning. Bernie Williams started out 2-0, but later popped a high fly to Wilson Valdez on the outfield grass. Robinson Cano laced a single to centerfield. Jeter ripped a 3-1 pitch toward third, but it was speared with a backhand by Dobbs, good for a lineout. Womack worked an 0-2 count full only to be caught looking on a breaking ball over the outside corner. Moyer threw 20 pitches.

Grade: C+
Not too much going for the Mariner bats in this frame. Greg Dobbs, playing third for the resting Beltre, got behind 0-2 and fouled off a few pitches with two strikes on him before leaving via the whiff. Miguel Olivo flew out high to Cano on the outfield grass on the right side. Wilson Valdez worked an 0-2 count full, eventually lining a double down the rightfield line and into the corner. Who knew? Then Ichiro flew out on the second pitch to end the inning. Mussina threw 21 pitches. The second inning ended around 8:01p, so I was prepared for a loooong night.

Grade: C-
It looked grim again. That's grim as in bad, not Mother Goose and Grimm. Sheffield foul-tipped his 3-1 pitch before whiffing on a changeup away. Matsui hit a fly ball to leftfield that Ibañez misplayed, most likely with a bad jump. He dove for the ball and missed, but it didn't get far enough away for Matsui to have anything more than a single. Moyer fell behind 2-0 on Rodriguez, but that was enough cause to give him the next two balls intentionally for the free pass. The runners advanced on a 1-2 dirtball to Posada that went through Olivo's legs, and which I'm hoping was ruled a passed ball by the time I'm typing this (it wasn't, wild pitch). Posada worked an 0-2 conut full before grounding out to third. Giambi hit a low liner to rightfield, and Ichiro looked like he might have it near the ground. He came up and reached down, but was only able to stop the ball with the tip of his glove. No catch, no trap. He stopped it and overran it a bit. The two runners scored easily.
Williams flew out high to leftfield to end the inning. Moyer threw 27 pitches and had 73 through three.

Grade: C-
It looked like the doldrums were about to set in for the Mariner bats. Winn whiffed on an 0-2 pitch low and away. Ibañez flew out to Rodriguez near the first row of stands in foul territory. Sexson took an 0-2 pitch over the outside corner to end the inning. Mussina threw nine pitches.

Grade: B-
Moyer got a play from the infield. Cano flew out to Dobbs along the leftfield line past the bag at third. Jeter hit the first pitch past Boone's backhand side into centerfield for a single. Jeter took second on a 2-2 dirtball low and outside. Womack walked on a full-count pitch up and in. Sheffield ended the inning's festivities with a grounder to Dobbs at third, nicely turned into a 5-4-3 double play, around the horn. Moyer threw 15 pitches and had 88 through four.

Grade: C-
I started paying progressively less attention to the game around this point. Boone couldn't check his swing on a 2-2 fastball up and in. Reed got behind 0-2, eventually chopping the 2-2 pitch in front of the plate, where Posada pounced on it and got him at first. Dobbs swung through a curve low and outside to end the inning. Mussina threw 16 pitches and had 76 through four.

Grade: B+
Moyer had an okay inning, and it turned out to be his final. Matsui grounded out to Boone, and Rodriguez did the same on the first pitch. Posada worked a 1-2 count for a walk. Giambi swung at the second pitch, flying out foul to Dobbs.

Moyer's line: 5 innings, 6 runs, 8 hits, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, 101 pitches (57 strikes)

Grade: B
The bats woke up a bit. After diving into a 1-2 pitch and almost getting nailed in the head, Olivo grounded out to short. On the FSNNW broadcast, they combined the X-mo and the StroMotion (yes, same screen) to show how Mariner hitters were swinging over Mussina's breaking stuff. It was waaaay too much for my brain to handle. Valdez grounded out to second. Ichiro lined his second pitch over Jeter's glove and into leftfield for a single. Winn got ahead 3-0 and slapped a full-count pitch for a single through the hole on the left side. Ichiro was able to make it to third on the play since he's fast. Ibañez, repeatedly pointed out as the only Mariner hitter with repeated career success against Mussina, doubled the 0-1 pitch over Womack and off the wall in leftcenter, scoring Ichiro and Winn.
After Yankee pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre visited Mussina on the mound, Sexson took a healthy rip at a first-pitch fastball over the outside corner. He worked a 1-2 count full before flying out to Matsui in rightcenter to end the inning.

Mussina's line: 5 innings, 4 runs, 7 hits, 0 walks, 6 strikeouts, 104 pitches (71 strikes)

Grade: B-
Shigetoshi Hasegawa came in for Moyer. Williams fouled off a 3-1 pitch before grounding out to Sexson's backhand side. Cano got ahead 3-0, eventually taking a 3-1 pitch low and outside for the walk. Jeter tapped a ball back to Hasegawa, who threw to Valdez for the out at second (sort of, it was a total phantom tag by Valdez), and Jeter beat the throw to first, making it a 1-6 fielder's choice. Womack singled through the hole on the left side, just past Valdez. Sheffield hit a grounder to the hole as well, but Valdez had it in his glove and lost it, making it an error. Jeter running toward third on the play might have messed Valdez up in his peripheral vision, who knows. Anyway, that left the bases loaded with two out. Hasegawa fell behind 3-0 to Matsui, but fought back to get him hacking at an outside pitch for strike three. That's a cliffhanger inning.

Grade: A
(Dar)Tanyon Sturtze came in for Mussina, but I was all the happier after this inning. Boone flew out to Sheffield to lead off. Reed walked on a 3-1 pitch. Dobbs flew out to Jeter on the first pitch, decidedly unclutch and not at least moving the runner over. Olivo whiffed at an 0-2 ball in the dirt, but kept running toward first. That was good, considering the ball got away from Posada, who went for the ball and barehanded it, but couldn't get his hand around it. That's an extra out for the Mariners to play with, and play with it they did. Valdez had a 3-0 count go full before lining a single to rightfield to score Reed easily. Sheffield threw to third to try to get Olivo, but the ball went past and into the third-base (Yankee) dugout, allowing Olivo to score and Valdez to get to third.
With the go-ahead run on third, Ichiro flew out to leftfield on the first pitch to end the inning. But hey, the game was tied! The Mariners were down four runs twice in this game!

Grade: A-
I made one single mention of Shishkaberries here at Sports and B's after I went to FanFest on the 30th of January, and we've gotten quite a few Google searches for the treats here. It wasn't until this game that the FSNNW cameras finally found their way to the strawberries on skewers. I had no idea that former Mariner pitcher Mike Campbell was in on the whole Shishkaberries enterprise. Anyway, Hasegawa had a decidedly easier inning. Rodriguez was caught looking on a pitch over the outside corner. Posada took the green light on 3-0 and flew out to Ichiro, though I thought he had a good pitch to hit and just got under it. Giambi grounded out to Boone to end the inning.

Hasegawa's line: 2 innings, 0 runs, 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 38 pitches (19 strikes)

Grade: C
Sturtze unfortunately fared a little better in his second inning of work. Winn worked an 0-2 count full, fouling off a couple pitches with two strikes before flying out to shallow leftcenter. Rick Rizzs and Dave Valle mentioned Star Wars after the cameras spotted some costumed kids on one of the concourses, and incredibly, the kid dressed as Darth Vader took his mask off, triggering certain enthusiasts at home to scream "BLASPHEMY!" at their televisions. Of course, such people were probably already in line waiting to see the film, but still. Ibañez worked a 1-2 count full, fouling off a few pitches along the way before looking at strike three on the 10th pitch of the at-bat. Sexson poked his second pitch for what appeared to be a single, as Matsui went to his left, but broke back to his right in time to recover and make the catch to end the inning. I had that play happen to me when I was a youngster playing in centerfield. Weird feeling, that play.

Sturtze's line: 2 innings, 2 runs (unearned), 1 hit, 1 walk, 2 strikeouts, 39 pitches (26 strikes)

Grade: B+
Jeff Nelson came in for Hasegawa, but the anarchy had already begun in the broadcast booth as Dave Valle threatened to bite Rizzs' hands off if he touched any of the Shishkaberries that had been delivered to the booth. Williams got the hitters' counts, but later took a backdoor frisbee off the plate for a walk. Cano showed a bunt on the first pitch, but never attempted another. He broke his bat on the 1-1 pitch, grounding to Boone for a huge 4-6-3 double play. Jeter got the hitters' counts as well in just about the same at-bat as Williams, except he whiffed at the frisbee off the plate. Rick Rizzs exclaimed that it was a 1-2-3 inning despite a leadoff walk, which I didn't think fit the definition of a 1-2-3 inning, but I just didn't feel like wrapping my head around the thought at the time, nor do I feel like it now.

Grade: B+
Tom Gordon, formerly known as Flash and formerly with a devastating curveball, came in for Sturtze. Boone led off the rally by tapping one back to the mound. Reed slapped the second pitch down the leftfield line. Womack went to the ball, but it got past his glove and into the corner. Reed had the double for sure and turned on the jets and went for third. The throw and Reed got to the bag at about the same time. Reed had the headfirst slide going, and had stopped his right hand before it got to the back, apparently juking Rodriguez who was trying to make the tag. Reed stopped the right hand and got the bag with the left hand and was called safe. I thought Reed's momentum carried him off the bag shortly after with Rodriguez having the tag on him, but maybe Reed's body could have still been on the bag, who knows. Anyway, it was a key play, albeit an incredibly risky one. Then Olivo sliced an outside pitch into centerfield for a single to score and put the Mariners in the lead? Perish the thought.
With Valdez at the plate, Olivo broke for second on the 2-1 pitch and was nailed by Posada.

Gordon's line: 1 inning, 1 run, 2 hits, 0 walks, 0 strikeouts, 14 pitches (10 strikes)

Grade: B-
I didn't know about Eddie Guardado's absence due to his wife giving birth, so I was pretty incensed when I saw Nelson still on the mound to start the ninth. Womack took a 1-2 pitch just off the plate, then hit a 2-2 fly ball into the corner in rightfield. Ichiro looked like he had a beat on it, but he was going near full speed and had the wall bearing down on him quickly. Luckily the ball was foul, or that would have been a leadoff double. Instead, Womack was jammed and grounded out to Boone. Then Nelson fell behind 3-0 on Sheffield before issuing the five-pitch walk on an outside frisbee.

Ron Villone came in for Nelson. Matsui fouled off two 0-2 pitches before dropping a single into centerfield. Rodriguez hit a grounder into the hole in shallow leftfield. Valdez ranged way to his right, backhanding the ball and throwing to Dobbs at the third-base bag. The throw was in time, and the 6-5 fielder's choice (a scorebook oddity) might have been the key defensive play of the game. Posada hit a 1-2 slow chopper to a charging Dobbs, who had the ball go off the heel of his glove as he had no resulting play. It wouldn't have been the easiest play, and Posada was given a single. Thus, the bases were loaded for Giambi, who got behind 0-2 and was frozen on a fastball over the outside corner. Ballgame.

Nelson's line: 1 1/3 innings, 0 runs, 0 hits, 2 walks, 1 strikeout, 28 pitches (14 strikes)
Villone's line: 2/3 innings, 0 runs, 2 hits, 0 walks, 1 strikeout, 16 pitches (14 strikes)

Gameball: Randy Winn.
I'll go with the unheralded Randy Winn for this gameball. he went 2-for-4 and scored twice, though he was DHing and not in the field in this game. If Winn starts in leftfield, that single in the 3rd by Hideki Matsui is a flyout instead, and Jamie Moyer gets to face Alex Rodriguez with nobody on and two out. Instead, two runs scored that inning. Of course, the other reason for this gameball is that everyone else I'd consider for it made some kind of error (in the books or not) on the field. Raul Ibañez had the dive and miss play I just mentioned, though he did have the best day at the plate of anybody in the lineup. Miguel Olivo ran out that strikeout and had the game-winning hit, but let a ball go through his legs behind the plate, which is a passed ball, I don't care what the official scorer says. Wilson Valdez had the two hits and the best and most timely defensive play of the game, but his error also left the bases loaded with two out in the 6th, leaving Shigetoshi Hasegawa to face Hideki Matsui. At least that turned out okay.

Goat: Jamie Moyer.
I keep waiting for this to stop. It hasn't. Jamie Moyer is still stuck on 130 wins as a Mariner with one win remaining to become the all-time winningest Mariner starting pitcher. Does anyone out there remember the last time Jamie Moyer won a ballgame? Stumped? 9-1 win over Cleveland at the Safe on the 24th of April. If you don't remember the game in particular, Miguel Olivo cleared the loaded bases with a double, and Jason Davis had scheduled a walk-a-thon. Moyer's line from that day: 8 innings, 1 run, 6 hits, 0 walks, 5 strikeouts, 95 pitches (59 strikes). Those were the days, weren't they? Also, that win made Moyer 4-0 on the season, and he was the first four-game winner in the American League in 2005.

The starting pitching deficiency is still fresh in my mind here, so I'll keep going with that. His start in this very game was the first time he'd gotten past the fourth inning since the eight-inning start against Cleveland that I referenced in the goat blurb. His starts since that have been 3 2/3 innings, 2 2/3, 2 1/3, and 5 (this game). In his three May starts, Jamie Moyer has a scant ERA of 15.30. Remember, that's four starts without a win, and he hasn't gotten past the fifth inning. I mean, I like Moyer and everything, but this is just bad. This is what I'd expect to see more often than not out of Aaron Sele. That's not good at all. I can't believe how drastic the turnaround has been between the guy that started the season 4-0 and the guy that's stunk it up since. Incredible.

Needless to say, the five-inning start by Jamie Moyer did nothing to relieve any stress in the bullpen, where Jorge Campillo had warmed up in the early innings when Moyer was having some trouble. The average per-game line for Mariner starting pitchers in May: 5.23 innings (a tad under 5 1/3), 4.38 runs (4.25 earned), 7.1 hits, 2.6 walks, 2.8 strikeouts, 92.6 pitches (55.6 strikes). The starting rotation this month has a collective ERA of 7.31, up from 7.09 before the game and 6.96 after the first game of the series. You know, a lot of the blogosphere, including me, thought that Mike Hargrove and his penchant for taking 12 pitchers on the roster was ill conceived since it obviously didn't make the bench very deep. In some hindsight, though, the bullpen right now would be even more burnt out if they didn't have 12 pitchers down there right now, so Hargrove looks like he had a stroke of dumb luck or something. Surely he wasn't planning on the starters being this horrid.

To the game itself, though, this was a great win. The Mariners were down by four runs twice in the game, and it was great to see that they could pull this one out of the hat. I was completely disinterested for a portion of the middle of the game, but the Mariners made it progressively interesting. Luckily I was rewarded in the end for my fandom. They got the win, and I hope it's something they can build on. I guess my feelings of in-game boredom and disinterest where sparked by the fact that the Mariners coming into this game had a record of 0-23 when trailing after seven innings. That's a doozy.

In an interesting note, Yankee starting pitchers (Chien-Ming Wang, Carl Pavano, Mike Mussina) threw a combined 20-13 innings and combined for zero walks. To restate the obvious, no Mariner hitter walked off a starting pitcher in this series against the Yankees. After Mussina didn't allow any walks, I knew Pavano hadn't allowed any the night before, so I looked up Wang's line from Monday. Sure enough, no walks. Conversely, Mariner starting pitchers (Aaron Sele, Julio Mateo, Jamie Moyer) combined for 16 innings and 10 walks, nine of those issued by people not named Julio.

There were positive things about the bats though. I'd mentioned Winn's day at the plate, but there were good games around the lineup. Raul Ibañez batted third, making me quite uncomfortable before the game, but came out with a 2-for-4 day, driving in three runs with his two doubles. Jeremy Reed went 1-for-3 and Miguel Olivo went 1-for-4, but they arguably had the two biggest hits of the game. Wilson Valdez had two hits, hitting a two-out double in the second inning and being stranded, and being stranded in the sixth as well, but that was after that single to rightfield and the Sheffield error play that tied the score at 6-6. That was good times. Though different in personnel than on usual nights, the top third of the Mariner lineup went 5-for-12, scoring four runs, and driving in three (Ibañez). Miguel Olivo and Wilson Valdez brought up the 8th and 9th slots in the lineup and combined for a 3-for-7 night, driving in two runs. Richie Sexson (hitting 4th) and Greg Dobbs (7th) brought up the zeroes in the lineup, combining to go 0-for-8 with four strikeouts.

By the way, big bonus points for rushing up Mike Mussina's pitch count, though it's weird considering they did it with no walks. The seven hits helped, needless to say. People also sometimes forget that a strikeout (Mussina had six) takes at least three pitches, and usually more. Basically, I'm seeing that the Mariners got into a lot of deep counts (but definitely not in the third inning), though they were never able to come out with a walk. Still, Mussina was out after five innings, and considering he was 17-5 lifetime against the Mariners coming into this one, it was good to get him out of the game as early as possible.

The Mariners are going to need a ton of hope after this win, and they have to build off of it. The problem is that the next two series are against the white-hot San Diego Padres and the solid Baltimore Orioles. The Baltimore series is on the road as well, so I'm prepared for the inevitable 8-RBI game for Miguel Tejada. I have a feeling there might be a 15-13 game in there somewhere as well.

Peavy. Franklin. Tomorrow.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005


AP Photo/John Froschauer

Not only is the Jeremy who writes for this site good, the Jeremy that plays for your Seattle Mariners is also good as well. Well, Jeremy Reed may be better than I am. He's in the big leagues while I just write about items such as the Madden Curse. I digress.

The 8th inning was for White Sox general manager Kenny Williams.

Jeremy Reed: Foul, Reed doubled to left, Reed to third on left fielder Womack's fielding error.
Greg Dobbs: Foul, Ball, Foul, Dobbs popped out to third.
Miguel Olivo: Strike swinging, Olivo singled to center, Reed scored.

Yes, I'd deal Freddy Garcia for Jeremy Reed every day of the week. I liked Freddy, but Reed was a player that this ballclub needed. He's one of the few reasons why this team is more fun to watch than last year's squad. Yes, I know it's ridiculous to talk about this current team being more "fun", since they haven't had a good May at all. I hope that Miguel Olivo can live up to expectations soon, considering that he was a big piece of the deal along with Reed.

The Mariners were down 4-0 before they could step up to the plate. I didn't have a good feeling about their chances because they were going up against Mike Mussina, a pitcher who has owned the M's in his career. But that's why they play the games, dammit. Sure, Mussina got a no-decision, but it's encouraging to see an offense that was missing Adrian Beltre get 4 runs off of him.

Thank goodness Ron Villone was useful tonight or else I don't know what I would've done with myself. The ups and downs of baseball (sports, for that matter). Wow.

Off-day tomorrow. We'll be here tomorrow, of course. What else would we rather do?

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THE PUMP 5/18/05 

Yankees at Mariners, 7:05 Pacific (FSN Northwest, MLB.TV)

Mike Mussina (4-2, 3.46 ERA) vs Jamie Moyer (4-1, 5.53 ERA)

Mussina is 17-5 in his career against the Mariners.

The broom and towel are in my closet and I'll probably have to use them tonight.

Don't worry, we're still alive here at Sports and B's. Ron Villone hasn't used his New Jersey connections to kill us off yet. Yes, I'm losing it.

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Yankees 6, Mariners 0
AP photo -- John Froschauer

In 25 words or less: You know, 1995 was great. Can we just agree that the Mariners have been the Yankees' bitch ever since?

This one featured Carl Pavano and Julio Mateo, the latter making his first Major League start. I won't lie to you, this one's totally BS'd from the game log, as you'll surely be able to tell when you see the less-detailed stuff I'm about to spew out. I can only watch one game when two games are going simultaneously, and quite simply, the Sonics are in the playoffs right now.

Grade: A
Mateo started out okay. Derek Jeter bunted back to the mound. Tony Womack flew out to Randy Winn in left. Gary Sheffield flew out to Ichiro. Mateo threw eight pitches.

Grade: C-
There was an ongoing theme to this game, and it was one of no offense. Ichiro flew out to Womack on the first pitch. Randy Winn bounced an 0-2 pitch to first. Adrian Beltre whiffed. Pavano threw nine pitches.

Grade: C
It didn't take long for the Yankees to figure out the newbie starter. Hideki Matsui singled to rightfield on the first pitch. Alex Rodriguez singled into leftcenter. Tino Martinez flew out to center on an 0-2 pitch. Jorge Posada singled to score Matsui.
Jason Giambi popped a fly ball to centerfield, but Jeremy Reed got a bad jump on it, and it dropped in front of him. Rodriguez scored, and Posada was on third.
Robinson Cano popped the first pitch to Valdez. Jeter got behind 0-2 and eventually whiffed to end the inning. Mateo threw 20 pitches.

Grade: C-
Again, same story. Richie Sexson whiffed. Raul Ibañez bounced out to first. Bret Boone bailed out of his 0-2 count by getting beaned in the right forearm. Jeremy Reed flew out to centerfield to end the inning. Pavano threw 19 pitches.

Grade: A
Mateo rebounded. Womack popped out to Miguel Olivo behind the plate. Sheffield flew out to Ichiro, and so did Matsui. Mateo threw nine pitches.

Grade: C
More of the same. Miguel Olivo bounced out to Rodriguez. Wilson Valdez got down 0-2, eventually grounding out to short. Ichiro coaxed a nine-pitch at-bat, fouling off four pitches with two strikes before lining out to Jeter. Pavano threw 15 pitches.

Grade: C
A flurry of activity, but nobody scored. Rodriguez worked an 0-2 count full before popping to Sexson in front of the dugout. Martinez got a free pass. Posada flew out to Reed. Martinez scooted to second on an Olivo passed ball on Giambi's first pitch. Giambi singled to rightfield, and Martinez easily came around to score when Ichiro overran the ball.
Cano singled to centerfield as well before Jeter grounded out to Valdez to end the inning. Mateo threw 21 pitches.

Grade: C
Something other than a 1-2-3 inning, yes, but no runs coming across. Winn got ahead 2-0, later bouncing out to short. Beltre grounded out to short, apparently aggravating a bit of a hamstring pull he'd suffered the night before (he came out of the game in the 5th). Sexson singled into leftfield and went to second on the next pitch when Ibañez singled to rightfield. Then Boone whiffed to end the inning. Pavano threw 13 pitches.

Grade: C
Mateo would get touched up one final time. Womack lined out to Ichiro on an 0-2 pitch. Sheffield legged out an infield single. Matsui flew out to Reed. Then Rodriguez tagged one into the Mariner bullpen.
Martinez grounded out to Boone to end the inning.

Mateo's line: 5 innings, 5 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 72 pitches (54 strikes)

Grade: C-
Blah. Reed got behind 0-2 and bounced out to second, Olivo whiffed, and Valdez grounded out to Jeter. Pavano threw 13 pitches.

Grade: B-
Matt Thornton came in for Mateo.
original design by SportSpot poster IcebreakerX
Posada whiffed. Giambi parked one about 12 rows back into the rightfield seats.
Cano got behind 0-2 and whiffed. Jeter got ahead 3-0 but eventually grounded out to Valdez on 3-1.

Grade: C-
More of the same old crap. Ichiro grounded out to third, Winn to second. Dave Hansen came in for Beltre (hamstring) and lined out to leftfield. Pavano threw 12 pitches. This inning also included an exchange between Mike Hargrove and an umpire, arguing over the fact that Ichiro had asked for time and didn't get it.

Grade: B+
Thornton evaded too much trouble. Womack flew out to Hansen in foul ground. Sheffield walked on four pitches, so that wasn't good. Coming back and getting Matsui to whiff was good though. Rodriguez had a 3-0 count go full before flying out to Reed.

Grade: C
Zzzzzzzz. Sexson grounded out to third, Ibañez whiffed, Boone singled to leftfield, and Reed grounded out to second on the first pitch.

Grade: B
Thornton continued with garbage time. Martinez whiffed. Posada singled to rightfield. Giambi flew out to Hansen in foul ground, and Cano whiffed to end the inning.

Thornton's line: 3 innings, 1 run, 2 hits, 1 walk, 5 strikeouts, 52 pitches (31 strikes)

Grade: C-
Are you used to it yet? Olivo grounded out to third. Valdez grounded out to short. Ichiro decided to whiff instead of ground out. Pavano threw eight pitches.

Grade: B
Ron Villone came in for Thornton. Jeter flew out to Reed. Womack whiffed. Sheffield had the hitters' counts and walked. Matsui popped to Boone to end the inning.

Villone's line: 1 inning, 0 runs, 0 hits, 1 walk, 1 strikeout, 13 pitches (8 strikes)

Grade: C+
The night came to a close. Winn bounced to Jeter on the first pitch. Dave Hansen came on to pinch hit. He worked an 0-2 count full and managed a single to centerfield. Sexson singled to leftfield. Ibañez had a 2-0 count and fouled off three pitches with two strikes before whiffing on a dirtball. Boone had a 2-0 count and later flew out to rightfield to mercifully end the game.

Pavano's line: 9 innings, 0 runs, 5 hits, 0 walks, 7 strikeouts, 133 pitches (90 strikes)

Gameball: Richie Sexson.
There's not too many places to go after a game like this one. If you're Bill Krueger, you make a case for Matt Thornton. If you're me, Richie Sexson had the only multi-hit game, and they both were surprisingly singles. He was 2-for-4 with a strikeout. Hey, it raises the batting average.

Goat: Ichiro.
I wasn't expecting too much out of Julio Mateo anyway, since it was his first start, the Yankees are hot, the Mariners are the Yankees' bitch, and his pitch count wasn't going to be too high anyway. So, I'm sticking Ichiro with the goat. If he's the spark plug to this Mariner offense, it definitely didn't happen in this one. He was 0-for-4 with a strikeout. This had a domino effect to Randy Winn as well, who matched Ichiro's 0-for-4, though with one less strikeout.

Let's look at the hitting here...the Mariners' top and bottom thirds of the order (starters) were a combined 0-for-19 with three strikeouts. Needless to say, that won't get it done. I couldn't believe this was the same team that had tattooed Carl Pavano in the Bronx last Wednesday. I still think Pavano will be a one-year wonder, and I'll always maintain that I'm glad the Mariners didn't get him. As for nights like this one, well, they'll happen. This one was probably decided before it even started.

Like I said, there wasn't much we could expect out of Julio Mateo for this one. It was his first start, and the Yankees were out of their minds. Combine that with Pavano's mastery of the Mariners, and it was doomed. The best the Mariners could have gotten out of him was probably shutout innings into the 6th, but not much past that. If you put Matt Thornton into a close game at that point, he probably explodes anyway, so that's bad news.

Thus, with Mateo not getting far into the game and giving up five runs in his outing, it doesn't do good for the Excel table I've been keeping and hope to not keep as soon as the starting rotation gets back on track. Mateo's start bumped the starters' collective May ERA from 6.96 to 7.09. The average per-start line for Mariner starting pitchers is 5.24 innings, 4.27 runs (4.13 earned), 7.1 hits, 2.5 walks, 2.9 strikeouts, 92.1 pitches (55.8 strikes).

You know, it's me blabbing at this point because I saw very little of the game, but sheesh, what a dog of a game. I kept more busy seeing the Sonics lose, and at least that was a playoff game. For this Mariner game, I bet that was a silent Safe for the over 35000 people in attendance. Well, the ones that weren't Yankee fans, at least.

But hey, the best way to snap your losing streak against the Yankees is to face Mike Mussina, since he of course has no history against the Mariners.

Mussina. Moyer. Tonight.

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Spurs 103, SuperSonics 90 (San Antonio leads best-of-seven series 3-2)
AP photo -- Eric Gay

Well, it's pretty easy to sum up this game. In Game 1 and Game 2, the Sonics doomed themselves with bad starts. In this Game 5, the Sonics doomed themselves with bad starts in the 1st and 3rd quarters, a real shame considering they'd had a great second quarter and tied the game going into halftime.

In short, Tony Parker still managed to suck (six of his 11 points were in meaningless minutes toward the end of the game), Manu Ginobili went nuts, Nazr Mohammed got way too many points, Jerome James/Reggie Evans were not showing up on defense, and Ray Allen was silenced in odd-numbered quarters.

The Sonics won the opening tip, but that was the only good thing that happened for much of the start of the game, since they didn't score until Antonio Daniels hit a runner with 7:50 to go, making it a 7-2 lead for the Spurs. Seattle opened up 0-for-7 from the floor to start the game. From there, the rest of the quarter was filled with the Sonics never getting closer than two possessions. The closest the Sonics got was when Danny Fortson hit a double-pump layup down low to make it 20-16 just inside the final minute of the quarter. Not long after, Nick Collison had his pocked picked in backcourt by Beno Udrih, went got an easy layup, and that made the end of the first quarter crumble a bit.

The Spurs led 25-18 after one quarter of play. They led 14-7 on the boards and 6-1 on the offensive glass. To put it bluntly, they had one less offensive foul than the Sonics had boards altogether. Jerome James got called for two quick fouls, and Ray Allen was called for two fouls as well. More importantly for Allen, he was held scoreless in the first quarter of play. Here's a David Locke stat -- the Sonics scored only once on their first nine trips down the floor. Not good.

Seattle started to get the offensive machine rolling a bit, but had trouble getting regular defensive stops for much of the quarter. With 8:50 to go, the Sonics had scored on 12 of their last 18 trips down the floor. At that point, the Sonics were down 31-25, but they had been down only 20-16 toward the end of the first quarter, so the offensive proficiency was offset. After Nick Collison put back a Ray Allen miss with 10:11 to play, the Sonics didn't score again until Allen hit a jumper from just below the free-throw line with 7:42 to go, cutting the deficit to 31-27. That was answered by a Tim Duncan hook. Damien Wilkins drove and threw down a two-handed slam not long after, and that was eventually answered by a Ginobili three.

The Sonics cut a seven-point lead to three when Allen ran the pick-and-roll with James, who finished with a slam, and when Allen hit a leaner from the free-throw line. This made it 36-33 with 5:57 left in the half. Things looked rosy for the Sonics. So rosy, in fact, that they immediately surrendered an 8-2 run, finished by the cardinal sin when it comes to defending the Spurs, the inexcusable Bruce Bowen three-ball from the corner with 4:57 to go in the half.

Seattle stuck with it though, finishing the half on a 9-1 run, with Allen scoring seven of those points to tie the score at 50, directly correlating with their ability to finally get a consistent stretch of defensive stops on the Spurs (obviously, that's what a run is). Before saying anything else, I must bring up the fact that Craig Ehlo made a Ted DiBiase reference (the Million-Dollar Man) inside the final minute of the half. Ginobili had 19 first-half points. Seattle had turned over the ball five times, which was reasonably good. Their bench was outscoring their Spur counterparts 12-4. However, the Sonics were getting beat 21-17 on the boards (not quite as badly as after the first quarter), 11-4 on second chances (brutal), and they had only dished out five assists as the ball movement had stagnated once again.

Hmm...tied at 50 coming out for the third quarter. Wanna know how to lose a game? Leave Nazr Mohammed wide open under the basket. With the requisite Ginobili going nuts, the Ginobili/Mohammed combo scored the Spurs' first 24 points of the third quarter. Of course, you know that's bad right away because you wonder how many other points the other Spurs scored. But yeah, Mohammed was left wide open for a ton of easy dunks and baskets, which I guess is turnabout for Jerome James going 7-for-7 with the five pick-and-roll dunks in Game 3.

To the game action specifically, the Spurs jumped out to a crippling 17-3 run over the first 4:49 of the second half, more than enough in their home building to take the win. It got to the point where if the Sonics made a 9-0 run to get to within seven (74-67, 3:01), it was a big deal. The Sonics were down 78-68 after three quarters. Danny Fortson provided the only consistent play from any Seattle big man all night, grabbing seven rebounds in the quarter.

Nick Collison drew his fifth foul on a questionable call with 11:25 to go in the final quarter when Tim Duncan turned right into him with the ball and he went after it. Not long after, the Sonics went on what turned out to be a last-gasp 7-0 run, with four of the points from James. That made it 80-75 with 9:57 to go, but Seattle would get no closer as the Spurs reeled off a 7-0 run of their own to put the outcome out of doubt. If anyone didn't think it was all over by that point, they had to wait until after the Sonics got within eight after a teardrop runner and three-point play by Luke Ridnour that made it 89-81. It was definitely over after the ensuing 8-0 run by the Spurs. As the Spurs stood with a 97-81 lead with 3:48 to go, it became apparent that the Sonic win would only be achievable via an act of God. It didn't happen.

Ray Allen 19 pts/4 reb/6 ast (8-19 FG, 2-8 3pt, 1-4 free throws, 43 min), Antonio Daniels 17 pts/3 reb (4-9 FG, 0-1 3pt, 9-10 free throws, 41 min), Luke Ridnour 12 pts/6 reb/2 ast (4-11 FG, 0-2 3pt, 4-5 free throws, 43 min), Reggie Evans 4 pts/6 reb (2-3 FG, 12 min)

Nick Collison 14 pts/2 reb (6-8 FG, 2-2 free throws, 20 min), Damien Wilkins 9 pts/6 reb/2 stl (4-10 FG, 1-2 3pt, 0-2 free throws, 32 min), Danny Fortson 5 pts/9 reb (2-3 FG, 1-1 free throw, 18 min), Ron Murray 0 pts/2 ast (0-1 FG, 13 min), Vitaly Potapenko 0 pts/0 reb (0-0 FG, 1 min)

Jerome James Watch
10 pts/2 reb (4-10 FG, 2-2 free throws, 2 fouls, 17 min)

shot 34-for-74 (45.9%) from the field, shot 3-for-13 (23.1%) from downtown, shot 19-for-26 (73.1%) from the line; were outrebounded 42-39, outscored 17-11 on second chances, 52-50 in the paint, and 6-0 on the break; won 28-6 in bench scoring (and 18-10 on boards)

Unsurprisingly, you've got to play 48 minutes of good basketball to beat the San Antonio Spurs, and the Sonics pretty much lapsed to start the game and to start the second half. That did them in. Specifically, though, Ray Allen was held scoreless in the first quarter, and had one point in the third quarter. That's part Ray not hitting shots (he was 1-for-8 in the second half), and partly the fact that the Spurs were defending him pretty well.

But good gracious, Nazr Mohammed open under the basket was like the horrible backlash to the Jerome James pick-and-roll dunkfest of Game 3. Now I know how the San Antonio fans felt. The Mohammed explosion was again partly attributed to the Sonics' big guys leaving them open, and I'm remembering Jerome James on one occasion, and I'm guessing Reggie Evans. I can't remember if I put it earlier in the post (yes, I'm typing this out incrementally), but at one point the Sonics were being outscored 23-5 when both Jerome James and Reggie Evans were on the floor together. That's poor. Couple that with Nick Collison getting into foul trouble, and that's not a good brew at all.

This game wasn't a stinker like Game 1, but was more like Game 2. The Sonics had a couple bad starts, but in this game they were never truly out of it until the fourth quarter wore on. Part of that is the tenacity and resilience of the Sonics, but the other part is that the Spurs have a huge crazy record in their building, and there's a reason for it. I believe in Game 2 the Spurs got an early lead and just treaded water the rest of the way and held it. I wouldn't say the Spurs necessarily just treaded water in this game (they did have the explosive run to open the second half), but the Sonics never led.

Despite his foul trouble, Nick Collison poured in 14 points without me even realizing it. For the other standout statistic, Good Danny Fortson showed up, grabbing seven of his nine boards in the third quarter of play. Well, I guess the other standout statistic is that Ray Allen led the team with 19, and that absolutely has to be higher for this team to win, especially in the playoffs.

A healthy Rashard Lewis would be nice for Game 6 (and would have been nice for Game 5). He's got to play Game 6, though. Though I've heard he's on track to play, he's got to play. The Sonics can't hold back when they're trying to stave off elimination.

Two more things: Tony Parker hasn't shown up for three straight games, and Manu Ginobili takes flopping to a whole new level. Flopping is one thing, but I'm having adverse reactions to the violent head jerks.

Oh yeah, though the game was out of reach, the flagrant foul on Damien Wilkins (on a Ginobili drive) was bullcrap since he didn't go for or make contact with the head. Total crap. So was Wilkins grabbing a rebound under the basket and having Ginobili ram his face into Wilkins' elbow. That even had Ehlo saying "oh noooo!" in disgust.

Anyway, Game 6 is upon us.

I asked Jinkies if he knows The Closer. His reply: "Do you kiss your mother and father with that filth-covered mouth?"

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