Festina lente

On hurrying, slowly.

There’s a lot of writing about baseball that opens up the sport as an allegory or metaphor for something large, something obtuse. Baseball as love, as heartbreak, as life itself. This can be quite powerful and evocative for both reader and writer alike. I’m quite guilty of it myself. The sport lends itself to daydreaming between the pitches. Three hours is an awfully long time to be doing anything. You’re bound to muse, if you’re so inclined. Lately, though, I’ve begun to think something else. What if baseball is simply its own space to be left alone? What if something could plainly be what it is and nothing else? Isn’t that just as special, if not more so, than allegory or metaphor?

I’ve come to this sentiment as I’ve come to a similar view within my own life. That spaces don’t always have to be shared. What if I could only make a beer? Forget style, forget pleasing customers, forget costs. Forget all of that. Does the intensification of a singular act allow for a better process? And what is a better process? Optimization and singularity are often spoken of within the same breath. While I cannot claim expertise or even a remote sense of completion in this line of thinking, I can ruminate on the recent months of my life. Perhaps I have recently found joy by taking things more plainly. Perhaps, if I could do the same with Baseball, the same thing could be said. What if I could go back to simply playing catch in the backyard. To the slap of leather, the motion, and the toss. The unspoken trust of hurling a ball of leather towards a team mate, a family member, someone you love. What if I could break baseball down to this core value?

August is a time within the 162-game schedule for reflection, but only for a moment. July has passed and the heat of the day seems to magnify greatly the strengths and shortcomings of every roster. The point of the season has arrived where managers know exactly what they have in their deck of cards and all that is left to do is simply play the hand. For two months, inevitability and talent, and perhaps luck, are your guides down the river. Just don’t stop paddling. If you do, the rapids will take you; but if you paddle too hard, you won’t make it to the end due to exhaustion. Simply read the river, moment to moment. Be singular in your task. This is the sentiment for every game from here until the end of the season. Now is the time for this sort of single-mindedness within ourselves, too.

You can feel it in the morning air, can’t you? I know I find myself bracing for Fall. For the crisp mornings and the end of lazy afternoons. Often we hear of the awakening Spring brings, but there is also one in the Fall. Awakenings happen wherever change can be found. Within touching-distance of a playoff spot, perhaps it is time for the Seattle Mariners to have an awakening of their own. Maybe the simple act of a baseball game, won or lost, can transcend a million other simple acts until, finally, a city is alive with the buzz of October baseball. It takes many small events to go from scoreboard to city-wide energy, but it’s simple enough. It takes a focus. It takes structure for the sake of achievement. It is the same idea across any form of accomplishment: winning a baseball game, falling in love, or playing a game of catch.

And so that is what I am going to do. In a week I will take my first vacation in nearly two years and fly down to see someone I love in a place I once lived. It’s a simple thing, really. To make a journey to a destination worthy of the trip is an easy choice. We’ll do the things people do when they’re in love and in the same place. We’ll walk places together, talk about where we’ve been and where we’d like to go. We’ll focus on the moment. Packed in my suitcase will be my glove, as well. An old piece of leather that has seen better days and survived nearly a decade of constant use. It should be replaced, in all reality. However, the root of things shouldn’t always be discarded. Perhaps, if anything, it should be sought out again this time of year. Maybe that’s what we’ll seek together, her and I.

Maybe we’ll simply play some catch, too.

Episode 8: Outfield Rakes, & Spicy Takes

(This week’s episode brought to you by Noah Dupont and his generous donation in goods amounting to a worth of $16.50.)

Nathan gets the duct tape removed, to the detriment of the show. The guys talk about the excitement of overcoming long odds, the outfield depth, and more. Scott and David try to name Mariner pitchers.

Twitter takes are read, and mostly ignored, but appreciated. We answer a few questions, and bid you adieu.

(Music credits: Jay Z, The Oh Hellos, Further Seems Forever)

The Mariners are probably toast

Hello there, and welcome to another Dome and Bedlam post. I’ll try to make this one brief. I know you all hate this thing I do where I tweet about the Mariners having issues, making sub-optimal choices, and generally being a bit of an Eeyore, and you are well within your rights to do so. I don’t have anything resembling expertise, and it would be dishonest to pretend I do. The vast majority of whatever knowledge I have about the game comes from trying to filter three plus decades of playing and observing baseball through however many beers I’ve had on a particular night. That’s admittedly a hit or miss proposition. That said here’s what I’m thinking about tonight, and you can absolutely take it in any way you want:

Lloyd Face

As I write this the Mariners are tied 2-2 with the Angels in the 5th, with James Paxton on the hill. He’s at 92 pitches. It’s a tense, stressful, not particularly fun game, primarily because it’s hard to not feel as though the Mariners have to win this game. At 11-15, against a divisional rival, with their ace on the hill, and a rotation otherwise in shambles, the Mariners have to be all but perfect in the few games they do have a pitching advantage to have any chance of survival while Felix Hernandez and Drew Smyly are out, or the trading season begins to open up to allow for outside help to be acquired.

Losing two starting pitchers in April is near worst case scenario for this team, which is still suffering from the varying levels of incompetence and neglect that a decade of Bavasi and Zduriencik left behind. (Regardless of what you think of Jerry Dipoto’s acumen, this was an incredibly difficult situation he took over in 2015. Remember that Theo Epstein, in the discussion for greatest executive in the history of the game, averaged 95 losses his first three years in Chicago. Some of the Mariners’ issues today are Dipoto-inflicted, yes, but the man inherited a win now roster with a barren farm system, and the win now roster wasn’t built to win more than 84 games or so.)

So, the Mariners are 11-15. Their BPro and Fangraphs playoff odds are 28.7% and 18.6%, respectively. Through most if not all of May the team will be without Felix Hernandez, Drew Smyly, and Mitch Haniger, with little way to acquire anything resembling an upgrade over in-house depth. The simple fact of the matter is loosely 60-70% of games in May the Mariners look to have the disadvantage in starting pitching. Depending on how you feel about Yovani Gallardo’s ability to sustain his FIP even that may be generous.

The Rainiers are a fun group almost utterly devoid of anything able to provide help in 2017, if ever. This team will sink or swim in May largely on what it already has, and that is Hisashi Iwakuma, Yovani Gallardo, Ariel Miranda, and some combination of Chase De Jong, Dillon Overton, and Chris Heston. None of those latter three are major league starters, let alone for a team with playoff aspirations.

Consider the following: Let us be friendly to the poor Mariners, and say that they finish May at .500, despite their 1998 throwback pitching staff. At 14-14 in May the Mariners finish the first two months with a 25-29 record. At that point, there’s a good chance the Astros have run completely away with the division, and put it to sleep. If we factor the 2nd Wild Card to be ~85 wins the Mariners would have to play June-September at 60-48 to push for the playoffs. This, of course assumes that Felix returns to health and can be an above average starter, that Drew Smyly recovers, that no other starting pitcher gets hurt ALL YEAR, and/or that Dipoto is able to conjure a MLB pitcher out of the trade market.

At this point, hopefully, I’ve done a decent job laying out my concerns. I haven’t even touched on the bullpen, which is replete with names you either never knew or know for all the wrong reasons. The 2017 Mariners are probably, on May 3rd, a lost cause. The words “pessimism” or “hater” tends to get thrown around when statements like that get made, and I want to quickly address them, before freeing you to do something undoubtedly more worthy of your time.

Olivo Face Plant

I typed 696 words before this paragraph, and not one of them does anything to my hope that the Mariners will buck what are, objectively, very long odds to make the playoffs. I hope they are good. I want them to be a miracle team. I’m rooting for their success. The team certainly doesn’t think they’re out of it. They cannot and should not. After all, they’re the ones who have to play games, manage rosters, and show up every day to make it happen.

Hoping, wanting, rooting, these are different things than being. Saying this team is almost certain to miss the playoffs is not the same as wishing it. There was a time where I took the stance that Mariner fans collectively allowed for too much pessimism, drug too much past baggage into the present day. At present we seem in danger of arriving at a new state of being, one where we respond to difficult math and projections with eyes shut, fingers in our ears, and prayers sent to the fates. My belief is there is nothing to fear from acknowledging the reality of a situation, particularly in something as trivial as sports. To root for a team to overcome long odds can be one of the most rewarding experiences we as fans can ever have. We know this, we’ve seen it before.

To beating miserable odds, perhaps the finest toast I can give from one Mariners fan to another. Cheers.

(UPDATE: The Mariners lost 6-4. They are 11-16. The odds are longer. /clink)

 

 

Episode 3: Twitter Q&A with Aaron Goldsmith

(Episode 3 is brought to you by our generous sponsor James from Fresno)

In a desperate attempt to hold off attributing anything resembling meaning to Spring Training baseball Scott, David, and Nathan do nothing but answer your non-baseball questions.

SOMEHOW, the Mariners’ play by play announcer Aaron Goldsmith graciously joins us, to discuss pizza, LaCroix, and so much more*. We are so very grateful to Aaron for his time, and even more so, his patience.

(Music Credits: Kanye West, Josh Ritter)

Episode 2:PECOTA, brakes are out, and Hatin’ on Haniger

0:00-10:00 Episode 2 begins with a thrilling conversation regarding the merits of gin, and David telling us why he’s too cool for non-draft beer. (SPOILER: It’s because he’s a brewer)

10:00-48:00 Mariners PECOTA projections, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Dinger.

48:00-1:30:00 Twitter Q&A. We answered a lot of Mariner questions. That was a mistake, and we apologize. It will never happen again.

Music credits: (Barns Courtney, Perfume Genius, Hit the Lights)

(If you like the show, rate us and subscribe on iTunes. If you don’t like it, why are you here?)

Dome and Bedlam Episode 1: Back at it Again

Welcome! Dome and Bedlam 2.0 is a collection of three friends, and former Lookout Landing editors. Scott, Nathan, and David kick off the new era with beer, fWAR over/unders, Twitter Q&A, and David being wrong. We’ll get more adventerous next episode.

Music credits: Rage Against the Machine, Joyce Manor, We Were Promised Jetpacks

(If you like us for some reason, please consider rating and subscribing to the show on iTunes)