James Paxton threw a no-hitter, and is still nicer than you

On the Mariners newest ace pitcher

1. This is a story of tears. Not mine, certainly. I was raised with the tired and foolish notion that tears show weakness. My emotions can get plenty stirred, but years of that foolish notion have dug a pretty deep pit for me to keep them, so it takes quite a bit of turbulence to get them so agitated and bubbly that they actually come out. When James Paxton threw the sixth no-hitter in Mariners history last night, I silently put my arms over my head. My wife patted me on the shoulder, and said congratulations. Then we went back to our game.

It’s not about your tears, either, and I don’t say that as a rebuke. There are approximately fifty million things about our world today that could bring a person to tears, and almost all of them also require us to avoid that actual release of emotion. They require us to protect ourselves. Baseball’s beautiful, simple stories provide a wonderful exception to that, and if you found yourself with wetness trickling down your face while watching Paxton and his teammates jump up and down on the mound well congratulations you’ve found a way to use sports in a potentially healthy manner. I’m envious, really.

But still, the tears in focus here, the ones that purchased last night’s history, are those of a kid in his backyard in British Columbia. He’s a pudgy guy, one of those kids on the playground who becomes “it” in tag and can never catch a classmate, growing increasingly red, sweaty, and embarrassed as they remain forever just out of reach until he either quits, or the bell frees him.

He’s in the backyard, and he’s running, and he’s tired.. He wants to play sports, and he’s committed to get in better shape. His mother, watching all this play out in front of her, goes out to tell him “James, honey, you can come inside. That’s enough.” But he stays, and he runs, and he hates it, and he’s crying. When I think about that kid, and his tears, and flash back to last night, and this:

Pax No no

Well let’s say a better man would at this point add his tears to the party. I won’t, but I get mighty close.

2. I’m the jackass who, years back, in an effort to make up a nickname equal parts catchy and biting, coined the “Dadgut” term for James. Over time I’ve realized how insecure James may have been about his non-typical for an a professional athlete physique, and the very real harm in the idea of body shaming. James may never have heard that nickname, and he almost definitely won’t read this but still, James, I’m sorry for that. That was wrong of me.

3. It’s hard to define when exactly the listening/viewing experience of a no-hitter goes from the casual, background noise of another evening at home to “holy shit everyone shut up no I will not turn it down go play in your room”, but in this case it was exactly when Kyle Seager threw out Kevin Pillar.

The impressive thing isn’t the stop. It’s not that the ball was hissing and spinning and hopping like a demon on that hateful turf, actually getting past Seager before he snatched it out of nowhere like Rose’s sister the bomber pilot grabbing the detonator at the beginning of The Last Jedi. It’s not even really the throw either, which he accomplished without pausing to even look at first base, trusting that a decade of fielding hundreds of groundballs every day had built in the necessary motor memory to make actually seeing his target an unnecessary indulgence. No, for me, the most amazing thing about that play is what happens between the stop and the throw.

Do me a favor here, and go lay on your stomach, and stretch one arm above your head. Are you doing it? I don’t know how if you’re reading this still but if so thank you. Now, I want you from that position to see how long it takes you to stand up and be ready to do something else.

Did you do it? Wow you’re very compliant I’ll ask for your social security number next time. Anyway, the point here is neither Seager’s stop nor his throw matter at all if he doesn’t exert some incredible, kung-fu Matrix-level nonsense getting from one to the other in the time it takes to snap your fingers. In Seattle we’re spoiled by third base greatness but given the context game situation and speed of runner that is just about as fine a play as you’ll see a third baseman make.

Seager said afterward if the ball had gotten past him he wouldn’t have been able to sleep, because Kyle Seager’s mechanism for greatness is not a press towards success, but an eternal, endless-runner style flee from failure. We are sympatico in that way. I love Kyle Seager.

4. As an American in 2018 the idea of national pride is a thing I view with increased cynicism. We are a nation in many ways at war with ourselves over who are, and who we want to be. As such the concept of being the first Canadian to throw a no-hitter on Canadian soil in the major leagues is an achievement difficult for me to fully grasp. The sight postgame of Paxton looking into the crowd, pointing at his maple leaf tattoo, was something I would and do scoff at when I see Americans do similar things. Perhaps patriotism is something best experienced from the perspective of an outside observer, because this, this felt pretty damn cool to see. The crowd loved it, James loved it, I loved it.

5. As he continues to write what is increasingly becoming a story very worth telling, the tale of James Paxton is going to come back to the first half of 2016, and a start in San Diego when he got hit to hell. 3 2/3 IP, 10 H, 8 R is not the kind of line you point to and say “that’s the birth of a star,” but it was. Paxton struck out seven, and walked one. His delivery, once a confused mishmash of half ideas and awkward pauses and springs, was smooth and unencumbered. His arm slot was slightly lower. His command was improved, and oh by the way, the threw one hundred miles an hour now.

Since that time, the only thing that has stopped James Paxton from being one of the ten best starting pitchers alive has been health. He has taken everything, the bad nicknames from bad bloggers, the speculation that he profiled as a reliever, the arduous journey from the University of Kentucky to the big leagues, losing out on a rotation spot at the beginning of 2016, and he has done what aces do. He has shoved. He has shoved, and so far this year the Mariners have shoved right along with him. He stands now as one of the American League’s best pitchers, fully formed, a looming terror for any opponent every fifth day. He has thrown a no-hitter. He has bought it all with tears, seen and unseen, and no one can touch him now.

Go M’s. Go James.

 

The AL West WARs

We did a spreadsheet for you. It’s our second one today. We are tired.

With this afternoon’s good news that the Mariners are approaching something resembling full strength, it feels like an opportunity to look forward a bit. While last night’s 10-0 loss in Kansas City was a bit much, overall the Mariners have cobbled a 4-4 start through injury and snowstorm. The blistering start you always hope for hasn’t materialized, but neither has the catastrophic one you fear.

I had a bit of free time at work (do not tell work. I work very hard and make many widgets for Big Widget. Widget is all. Widget is life) so I started playing around with Excel and Fangraphs’ Depth Charts projections a bit.

My focus was on the positional side. There’s no reason re-hashing my issues with the direction the Mariners have gone with their starting pitching. Through eight games it has been disastrous. If it doesn’t get better, it won’t matter how well the position players play. I don’t think this is a controversial stance. If you do, this post and my thoughts on baseball are probably not for you, and that is ok for us both.

No, the intrigue for the Mariners in 2018 is what is possible on the positional side. I went through and compared their remaining Depth Charts projections at each position with those of the other AL West teams. What I found was, ah…..

Angels Astros Athletics Mariners Rangers Mariner Ranking
C 1.6 2.9 2.9 2.7 1.9 3rd
1B 0.4 1.5 2.3 0.2 2.2 5th
2B 2.7 4.7 1.9 3 1.6 2nd
3B 3.3 3.4 3.7 3.5 3.5 2nd
SS 3.7 6.1 2.2 1.9 2.5 5th
LF 2.5 1.3 1.4 0.4 1.6 5th
CF 7.8 3.2 1.2 2 0.9 3rd
RF 2.2 3.1 1.2 2.4 1.7 1st
DH 0.9 0.7 1.7 2.5 1.2 1st
Total 25.3 26.7 18.5 18.6 17.1 3rd

There’s actually some really cool and fun bright spots here. Mitch Haniger is, as of right now, projected to be the best right fielder in the division! An under-30, cost-controlled star in the making, just like I’ve always predicted him to be, that’s Mitch. Also Nelson Cruz is currently the best designated hitter alive. It will forever be a tragedy what happened to his home planet, but we are blessed he made it out before the cataclysm struck and that his spaceship found Earth.

Overall though, as a great man once said, “YIKES!” The Mariners are projected not only to have the worst position in the entire division at first base, their left field is second. Perhaps most surprising is that, at least by this methodology, the Mariners shortstop position ranks last in the division as well.

A lot of the failures here can be attributed to a lack of depth. This system of projection is spreading the production of players like Luis Valbuena in LA, and Marwin Gonzalez in Houston, liberally over various positions, allowing for a healthy buffing over whatever, say, Zack Cozart and/or Alex Bregman may produce.

Still, the numbers aren’t great. The Mariners look like the AL West’s third place team this year. That’s not exactly a revelation. Our preseason predictions largely had them there. More interesting, and certainly much more depressing, is that, at least by this one projection system which you are free to disagree with for various reasons, the Mariners are middle class leaning far closer to poverty than they are to wealth. The gap between the Mariners and the Rangers is a win and a half. Seattle and Houston? Nearly seven.

None of this is a surprise, and if you’ve read or followed Dome and Bedlam for any length of time you know we aren’t particularly optimistic about the team this year. This is just one exercise. The truth is what it has always been. The Mariners need their positional starters to collectively hit something like their 80-90th percentile projections for health and productivity. They absolutely cannot afford to lose any starter for longer than a few weeks, and they desperately, desperately need Ben Gamel to be the 1st half of 2017 batting champion contender rather than 2nd half of 2017 present day Dustin Ackley impersonator.

I may use Depth Charts later this week to do this exercise with pitching but, really, my guess is you’d rather I not. This team is living and dying with what it does when its best players have the bat in their hands. So go forth and rake, boys. It’s the only way.

 

The Mariners are not taking advantage of BABIP splits

The Mariners have had some good luck! It, uh, hasn’t helped much

The beauty of baseball is that the season is so long it is hard to take anything seriously for the first month or two.

In football, with its limited season, you can generally start to draw some meaningful and educated conclusions by Week 3. Basketball, with its 82 game schedule, usually is ready to go after the first month. In soccer, which apparently never ends, you just constantly made judgements year round. But baseball is its own beast. We get so excited for it to start, and then we have to wait a quite a bit of time to deliver any informative takeaways.

Luckily, no one said we only have to deliver informative takeaways. The small sample size is beautiful because is it a useless and fun exercise into a vast treasure trove of data, which at the moment, ultimately means absolutely nothing.

Which is why the headline up there also means nothing. In a couple of months, maybe it will mean something, but eight games does not make a trend in baseball. In other sports, perhaps. In baseball, not even a something worth writing about.

Right now (or prior to yesterday’s game), the Mariners had a rather interesting statistical split of sorts. The Seattle Mariners are No. 1 in BABIP, at 0.333. The Mariners pitchers are holding their opponents (aka the Cleveland Indians, the San Francisco Giants, and the Minnesota Twins) to a 0.249 BABIP, the fourth-best mark in the league. That vast spread equates to phenomenally uninspiring run differential of negative one, good for No. 15 in the majors.


team runs for BABIP runs against BABIP against run differential
Braves 62 0.325 33 0.276 29
Astros 47 0.317 25 0.298 22
Pirates 58 0.314 39 0.285 19
Diamondbacks 45 0.311 27 0.259 18
Mets 39 0.321 22 0.260 17
Red Sox 41 0.285 26 0.272 15
Angels 55 0.286 41 0.236 14
Yankees 54 0.281 44 0.300 10
Cubs 35 0.283 26 0.265 9
Blue Jays 49 0.276 42 0.283 7
Twins 31 0.282 26 0.230 5
Tigers 37 0.282 32 0.276 5
Phillies 42 0.302 40 0.296 2
Cardinals 35 0.284 35 0.315 0
Mariners 32 0.333 33 0.249 -1
Dodgers 25 0.262 27 0.292 -2
Giants 24 0.289 28 0.296 -4
Indians 26 0.181 32 0.262 -6
Nationals 44 0.270 50 0.317 -6
Rockies 37 0.283 47 0.271 -10
White Sox 37 0.291 47 0.273 -10
Athletics 44 0.307 57 0.292 -13
Padres 28 0.278 42 0.284 -14
Royals 15 0.238 30 0.236 -15
Brewers 33 0.294 48 0.305 -15
Rangers 35 0.287 51 0.327 -16
Orioles 36 0.270 54 0.303 -18
Rays 27 0.267 49 0.286 -22
Reds 25 0.293 49 0.290 -24
Marlins 28 0.286 58 0.314 -30

(for a better view and sorting click here for the Google doc)

Now what can we draw from this? Literally nothing! It has been only seven games!

But, if we were to be bored in the beginning of the season and to slightly extrapolate on this, it is a bit odd that the Mariners have the luckiest bats, some of the luckiest pitchers, and haven’t been able to translate this to much of anything.

Other teams with such wildly positive differences between BABIPs, have run differentials exactly how you would expect. Just take a quick look at the table above, paying close attention Mets, Diamondbacks, Braves, and Pirates. Those teams, like the Mariners, have pretty severe differences between BABIPs, yet their run differentials are much higher, in the case of the Braves, 30 runs higher than Seattle.

In the grand scheme of things that seem very “Mariners” to do. Being lucky at hitting, lucky at hitting, and doing very little about it seems right in line with the local legend of this team’s constant futility. If anything, if you want to take away one iota of meaningless information from this dumb exercise, the one thing the Mariners appear to be doing right: the negative one run differential currently equates to a roughly .500 record. That appears to be right in line with how baseball should operate.

Episode 20 – Ohtani Bombs

The season is over let’s POWER RANK french fries

Wow after running an exhaustive guest appearance circut the boys, finally, are back in town. Nathan, David, and Scott break down the Mariners first week. We are here to praise Mitch Haniger and Robinson Cano, but also yowza Ichiro is the DH.

MORE IMPORTANTLY we welcome a prestigious guest. The Czar of Badness, Baron Von S-Curve, DJ Twerk Life Balance himself, the Social God Scott George.

Please enjoy this high brow discussion of baseball, self-checkouts, and Daniel Vogelbach Sandwiches.

(Music Credits: Three 6 Mafia, The Lollipop Guild, Turnover)

As always you can subscribe and rate us on iTunes here. Additionally, thanks to the very hard work AKA basic understanding of technology of blog grease monkey Dan Gomez, we are now available on Google Play.

Thanks, as always, for listening. I’m sorry we didn’t break down the Mariners 10-0 loss to the Royals last night. You probably wouldn’t have cared for it, anyway.

Dome and Bedlam’s 2018 Mariner Predictions

Reasonably predictable predictions are found herein

The first year was 2007. Felix Hernandez, a week from being able to legally consume alcohol in this country, faced an Oakland lineup featuring, among others, Shannon Stewart, Mike Piazza, Jason Kendall, and Bobby Crosby.

Felix went eight innings, struck out twelve, and allowed no runs. The Mariners won 4-0.

The baseball season is a set of traditions and rhythms, and starting the year with Felix Hernandez stomping out to the mound as Seattle’s personal kaiju to lay waste to some other city’s helpless collection of humans has become something to check off the calendar every April. In 2009 it was Felix throwing eight and allowing only a run against the Twins. 2011 was a complete game, 108-pitch master class in efficiency against Oakland. 2012, eight more innings of one-run ball. 2014 was eleven strikeouts in only 6.2 innings against the Angels.

Year after year, seemingly with no end, an always preposterously ever-young Felix would welcome opposing teams to start their season as he turned Safeco into his own personal Area X. Teams would walk in wide-eyed, gaze in awe, and know that nature can create in ways more great and terrible than we can conceive. Then, whomp, the trap would spring, and out of the shadows would jump Felix’s horrors. ANNIHILATION.

Time and progress though, know no gods but themselves. Years, innings, injuries, and the Mariners themselves have worn Felix down. He has been supplanted by James Paxton, both in ability and in the hearts of Mariner fans. It is only by the very slimmest of margins, and by cashing in the very last credits of deference and respect that the current front office feels towards him, that he has earned one final Opening Day start. We as fans and the Mariners themselves stand upon a bridge between eras, with Felix on the shoreline, growing ever distant.

Below you will see the predictions of myself and the rest of Dome and Bedlam. The win totals and general outlook will be much bleaker than other Mariner fansites. It is, generally, more in tune with what you’ll see from projection systems, and the opinions of national writers/analysts with less of a personal stake in the team’s fortunes. It reads like we want failure, or that we don’t care. I get that, I really do. You’re a fan, and you want hope, excitement, a reason to feel like this season will be different.

I can’t give that to you. We will not give that to you. Dome and Bedlam is not a hype site, and for many of us saying something will happen that we don’t truly believe will happen is anathema to what we hold dear. The truth is as we see it the Mariners will probably need a large amount of good fortune to make the playoffs, and once-in-a-lifetime amount of luck to challenge for anything beyond the participation trophy that is the Wild Card playoff game.

What I can also tell you, what we can offer, is that, for at least one more year, Felix is toeing the rubber in the top of the first of Game 1 at Safeco Field. For that, in honor of that yearly tradition, of the familiar rhythm it sets in motion for our spring and summer, for Felix’s decision to stick with this team, city, and fanbase through it all we are here, ride or die, win or lose, to be a part of whatever happens to the 2018 Seattle Mariners with you.

Long live the King.

*****

Season Prediction in a Sentence

Andrew: Although the Mariners largely avoid the injury bug (somehow), the bullpen disappoints and the ravages of time continue to slowly errode the Seager+Cano+Cruz triumvirate.

Dan: Veterans with too much dropoff to offset the gains of the young players

Matt: They raised the beer prices at Hit It Here Again?!?

Nathan: The scene in Last Jedi where Rey is down in the Dark Side hole and there are thousands of reflections of her doing the same exact thing echoing through the eternity of time and space

SG:
Golden Knights

Weebs: Wait, what inning is it?

Skiba: The scene in Last Jedi where Yoda burns the tree and can’t stop laughing.

Woodsy: Is it college basketball season yet?

D&BPredicts

 

Mariners re-sign Ichiro, insist they can juggle both work and family

“We can have it all”, swears team spokesperson

The Mariners, it would seem, are back. Not the Mariners organization, which has been stubbornly playing baseball games annually for over forty years now. Rather, what fans of a certain experience level and age think of as the capitalized, formal, “The Mariners”.

During the entire Jerry Dipoto Regime, we have been sold on a Grand Plan working towards some grand vision; a sort of seventy-five dimensional chess leading towards checkmating all the Friedmans, Lunhows & Epsteins that only the True Galaxy Brains could see. We’ve heard it over, and over, and over, how this team has rubric’d, and positive energy’d, and essential oiled its way from one of the worst farm systems into, erm, one of the worst farm systems and a major league roster with oodles of club control READY TO DISRUPT A $9 BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY.

I won’t go as far to say that after today that’s all over now. Jerry Dipoto is still the Mariners General Manager, and Andy McKay and Lorena Martin have barely had time to implement any of their ideas and philosophies. It’s foolish to try to guess the future, and far more so to try and predict it. But, faced with an offseason as pivotal as any in recent memory the Mariners have sat on their hands, and have only acquiesced to bolstering their depth after the fourth member of the hypothetical 25-man Opening Day Roster was lost to injury. To break their streak of near winter-long inactivity to acquire a 44-year old outfielder coming off a a 75 wRC+ and -0.2 fWAR is a comical, and definitive point: The 2018 Mariners are not serious about contending for a playoff spot. I have no insider information but I would frankly be shocked if this was a decision sprung from anyone in the Dipoto front office. This is a move catering to sepia-toned slideshows, begging for a voice over from James Earl Jones and directed by Ken Burns. It’s blatant, obvious, fan service.

And you know what? On a very real level I think it’s fantastic. Ichiro Suzuki is one of this organization’s five or six greatest players ever, and is probably only exceeded as an icon here by Ken Griffey Jr. That’s to say nothing of his status globally, where he is almost certainly the biggest star this franchise has ever had. The Mariners, that’s “The Mariners” again, have finally stepped out behind the mountainous pile of dung they’ve been flinging at fans for six months and gone for a straight, naked, common fan good will grab right through those fans’ hearts to their wallets. We’ve been crying for the Mariners just to do something fun, and this is indeed fun.

From a on-the-field perspective, well, there’s a few things to consider. The first is that Ben Gamel, whose injury likely was impetus for Ichiro’s return. like Ryon Healy before him, is probably not all that good even if healthy. If the oblique injury sidelines Gamel for longer than the 4-6 weeks currently projected, well, here is a thing for you to consider.

Last 215 major league plate appearances:

Ichiro Suzuku – 75 wRC+
Ben Gamel – 52 wRC+

Incredibly, despite the DECADES that separate their age, saying that Ichiro and Gamel are comparable defenders and baserunners may actually be too generous to GAMEL. Considering Guillermo Heredia’s rapid recovery from offseason shoulder surgery, Mitch Haniger having gone a full week without hurting himself, and Dee Gordon taking to centerfield in a promising manner, this will likely have a negligible impact on the won-loss record of the 2018 Mariners.

But the real takeaway is The Mariners are back, baby! In twenty-four days Ichiro, number 51 emblazoned in navy on the back of his pristine white home jersey, will step out onto the red walkway, and casually run out to an uproarious standing ovation from a gleeful sellout crowd. Hell, I just spent 500 words mostly making fun of this team and I may just change my plans to make sure I’m there among them.

Nothing about this news changes what we expect out the performance of the Mariners this year. But The Mariners have never been about capturing fans with success. We’ve all fallen in love with this stupid team for various different reasons, and we’re fortunate that baseball is a game that still allows enough space for those various reasons to co-exist.

We’d all love the Mariners to be poised to have breakout success in 2018, and it’s frankly fairly silly and, depending on your perspective, infuriating that instead they are dipping back into the safe, money-filled sea of nostalgia. But I’m choosing to be happy about it, and I can’t wait to see it. At a certain point, you realize most things in life have a healthy portion of love and hate mixed together. I’ve been hating on the Mariners all offseason. It’s time to find some of the love.

EE

CHEE

ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

 

Episode 17: Matt Ellis and The Bad Place

Chair swivels, revealing ROBERT ANDINO petting an exotic lizard. ANDINO smiles menacingly…

Through the combined miracles of technology, camaraderie, and good old fashioned All-American gumption the Dome and Bedlam Podcast has bridged both time and space, as Nathan, David, and Scott are joined by Matt Ellis FROM THE FUTURE. Matt talks labor, love, labor, and why the heck no one will sign Lance Lynn. Additionally we take your twitter questions, a fight breaks out over the right time of year to eat a hot dog, and we get lost in Dan Altavilla’s Baby Blues. As a wise man once said, “beep bop boop good to be back.”

*****

0:00-40:00 Let’s talk labor! Well, let’s let Matt talk about labor. A discussion on collusion, the market, and why blaming the players for the current situation is misguided. This is about as high brow as the show gets, which is why Nathan, David, and Scott do very little of the talking. It’s for the best.

40:00-75:00 TWITTER Q&A – A discussion on Ian Miller name searching himself, a plot for ANDINO’S REVENGE goes horribly awry, and we identify the proper time of year for eating hot gods (SPOILER – it’s year around).

*****

As always, you can rate and subscribe to us on iTunes, or on Soundcloud here. We are very grateful for your support and listenership.