A Felix Hernandez FAQ

LET’S TALK ABOUT WHAT WAS, IS, AND SOON SHALL BE

So, like, you all have seen Felix’s numbers this year right? He’s got a 5.73 ERA, and a 5.03 FIP in over 120 IP. You all don’t like, still think he’s good. Right?

I am glad you asked. Felix Hernandez was among the very best pitchers alive from 2009-April of 2015. Unfortunately, it is now August of 2018 and, over the last three and a half seasons, the small leak in Felix’s dominance has been rapidly widened by the flood, and water is now gushing everywhere, ruining electronics and control panels, and reducing him to what he largely is today: An ok fifth starter with poor command, decent stuff, and an inconsistent outlook.

The answer to the question is no, I do not think Felix Hernandez is still good. He hasn’t even been “squint your eyes and pretend” good since a few starts in 2016. That’s a long time ago, and to deny that reality is pretty foolish and naive.

Ok, well then I’m confused. It seems like you’re always coming to Felix’s defense anytime the team talks about removing him from the rotation. Do you think he should stay in the rotation?

Well first of all, for me and my house, this is about loyalty before anything. Felix is the King. Secondly, look, I don’t know. Like I said above, Felix isn’t very good anymore. Felix was never going to be very good in 2018. Everyone knew this, including the team. That’s at least part of what has made Jerry Dipoto’s attempts to spin this season’s outcome as somehow contingent upon Felix becoming something he hasn’t been in years so infuriating.

If the team is half as smart as they very publicly try to make themselves appear, they know far more than we know. If we knew that Felix was probably going to struggle this year, it makes depending/planning on him being something other than that, with only Erasmo Ramirez and his 11.94 FIP to fall back on, seem like folly.

Well now it feels like we’re getting somewhere raw and pretty emotional. Do you think the Mariners want Felix to fail or something?

/bites inside of cheek extremely hard

Well, no. The Mariners front office wants to win baseball games. Felix Hernandez pitching like an above average starter in 2018 would have greatly helped them in that regard, particularly as they made little to no effort to build up major league depth at pitching. That’s something they could have really used, given that they’ve traded Luiz Gohara, Freddy Peralta, and Nick Niedert the past two years for Adam Lind, Nate Karns, and a leadoff hitter with a 1.6% walk rate.

The Mariners needed and wanted Felix to be good again, but the need was created through their own poor trades and inaction. Rather than look inward (or upward, to ownership’s miserly penny pinching) the team seems to have focused its frustration on Felix himself. To myself, and I believe to other like-minded fans, the pattern from the front office has been a combination of ill-founded/disingenuous expectation, coupled with a paternal, overly public shaking of the head whenever Felix has struggled. This pattern not only needlessly, publicly, agonizingly draws attention to Felix’s decline, but seeks to distract fans from the fact that this failure is at least as much one born by the team itself as the player they seem hellbent on shaming.

Well then, smart guy, what do you want them to do instead?

I want them to go back and exhaust their mental and financial resources to shore up this rotation. I want them to correctly predict, and proactively plan for, an incredible buyer’s market this past offseason. I want them to understand that this fanbase and franchise existed well before any of them got here. I want them to get that respect is earned, not given, and that slapping a “Mr. Manager” badge on your chest and walking around a dugout in uniform doesn’t earn you a damn thing with players or fans.

I want them to quit smiling and accepting all praise, and bristling and deflecting downward all blame. Given that they are more than willing to publicly consider the future of their franchise icon, I want them to do the same for their lead off man with a .303 OBP, or their starting first baseman who has been worth -0.6 fWAR.

More than anything, seeing as how this front office and management caters to public appearance and “openness” more than perhaps any other in the game, I want that same openness to indicate an understanding that the failure of the players; even proud, stubborn, declining icons, is their failure too. I want them to understand that there is a very good chance in seven or eight years, when we pack whatever Safeco Field is called at that time for Felix Hernandez’s jersey retirement and statue unveiling, that we will struggle to recall their names.

Wow, uh, that’s quite the rant. Do you have anything else you need to get off your chest?

Letting Felix burn in the Texas Hellfire  last night was unforgivable; an unnecessary and seemingly petty insult towards a longtime Mariner great. Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto are meddling with love forged over years of sacrifice and shared loyalty. They are forces they do not seem to fully understand.

Felix Hernandez forever. Long live the King.

 

Felix Hernandez Lasts

I have always struggled to write about Felix. I am a mediocre writer, and a mediocre man. Often the words I am happiest with are the ones I write without thinking or feeling. But Felix and my connection to this baseball team, and in many ways this region, are tied together too deeply. It is a knot my brain cannot untangle. With Felix, the music stops. There are, to quote the King of Prussia, too many notes.

That said, here on the cusp of what may actually be his last start as a Mariner before he suffers the indignity of whatever fate time, thousands of innings, and Jerry Dipoto have in store for him, is my honest attempt to express what Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariner, means to me.

*****

To grow up is to learn disillusionment, and in that way professional sports are an excellent teacher. The various games, leagues, mythos, romance, ideologies, and on in place were invented, refined, and sold to us for one purpose, and it was to profit the men who owned them. They sell themselves expertly, particularly to the young and naive, and once we learn to love something as children, it is incredibly difficult to rationalize away from it.

There comes a point, though, when we realize the empty falseness, the Wizard of Oz-like con game that can seem to be at the heart of so much of all this stuff we spend all this time loving and caring about. It’s usually a player leaving in free agency, or traded to another team once his useful (i.e. cheap) years with the team have run out. We don’t stop loving sports, because we have always done it, and to stop feels like we would stop being ourselves, but we learn the inequity of the transaction of feeling as a sports fan. Professional sports are, and will always be, a foolish and potentially emotionally damaging thing to care about.

*****

All hail King Felix. Hernandez worked five innings last night against Spokane, allowing just one run on two hits and striking out five. He also walked four, but it’s important to remember that he’s only 17 and facing much older competition, including some college players. I’m trying not to get too excited about him, but it’s difficult not to with the way he’s pitched so far.

The summer of 2003 was marked by the beginnings of the first split between the Mariners organization, and the newly burgeoning segment of its fans on the internet. On the field the team was in its final season of glory, a 93-win powerhouse, its fourth straight 90+ win season. Off the field, Lou Piniella’s recent war with the front office was fresh, Pat Gillick’s use of the the farm as nothing more than a resource to trade from to supplement the current run had bled it dry, and, to a few fans, the happy days were numbered.

There was disagreement, and there was infighting. There was name calling, and personal attacks, and resentment. In the tiny overlap in the venn diagram between the warring parties, there was Felix. He was 17 years old, and obliterating the Northwest League. USS Mariner, the mother tree of online Mariner fandom, called him King. Two years later he would be in Seattle, throwing eight shutout innings against the Twins.

As Felix ascended the Mariners spiraled into oblivion, like an untethered astronaut. They flailed, they screamed, they tried to change. Nothing worked. There was no friction. There was nothing. Only Felix.

*****

I was twenty-one when Felix was crowned King. I am thirty-six today. In between I have gotten married, had children, gotten fat, gotten skinny, gotten fat again, bought a house, nearly died, made and lost friends, and grown gray hairs. I’ve been to the Royal Court, seen Felix throw an immaculate inning, win a Cy Young, throw a Perfect Game, re-sign with the Mariners, and re-sign with them again and cry about it. I have never seen him pitch in the playoffs, and am now pretty close to convinced I never will.

Lasts are important. They serve as touchstones that spiral us backwards through our shared experiences, remembering that the feelings in our gut weren’t plopped there, but forged and nurtured, through time and affection. Lasts call back all that has come before, and with Felix, my god so much has come before today. The last Opening Day start already happened, the last shutout and complete game probably have too.

Now, today, with the Mariners desperately clinging to their playoff hopes, and Felix’s arm simply incapable of doing what it has done here for pushing two decades, we may be at the last start. The Blue Jays are the opponent, and it feels fitting. Maybe my favorite Felix memory is against Toronto, as is the game upon which it can be argued his career began its decline. That Safeco Field will be filled with non-Mariner fans feels similarly appropriate. Felix has always seemingly delighted in ripping out the soul of a hostile crowd.

****

“King” Felix has always been such a perfect nickname. At his height Felix not only reigned over games and seasons, but the talent gap between him and the rest of his typically terrible Mariner teammates was sufficient to set him apart. Like a noble of old. he stood atop the only raised part of the field and looks down like a monarch upon his kingdom. We rose and stood when he exited the bullpen and headed towards the mound. We chanted his name. I’ve grown into an adult with him, and he with us. Here, in the very lasts of his career, we recognize and acknowledge his legacy here is not contingent upon yesterday, today, or tomorrow. It is secure. It will last. So, tonight, we stand and rise, and we say, as we always have, and always will:

Long live the King.

It’s time now

It’s no longer about what should happen. It’s just time to yell.

1) You will recall, or you will not, that in the past we have written some overwrought, and angst-filled words in this space to the effect of what the Mariners making the playoffs would mean to us, and to our surrounds. That was for the 2017 Mariners, a team that slogged through a mediocre, depressing season while watching a division rival vault to a World Series championship, and final slaying of whatever power Sports Illustrated held on the national mystique. It was a very Mariners season.

The death of a Mariners season, however, for once, appears to have left behind something besides the nostril-stinging sweetness of death and decay. The corpse has fertilized the soil, and the 2018 Mariners, a team that by all accounts should be at or slightly above .500, is reaping a generational harvest of good luck and good timing. They are 41-24.  A quick view of the landscape of the American League, and where the Mariners sit amidst it tells a pretty clear picture, although uttering it aloud risks tapping into the vast ocean of ennui, paranoia, and superstition that is rooting for one of the most failure-ridden franchises in all of sports:

The Mariners are going to make the playoffs this year.

2) The truth is that, outside of a happy cosmic accident from 2000-2003, the Mariners have just not been very good. Clearly, there have been misfortunes, bad-timing, busted prospects, and injuries. For fans the slow, steady, geological-event style feeling of the years of same have led to a feeling of something like a curse.

There was no curse, and never has been. While Mariner fans exist in a world where mystical snares and devilish traps lay ready to trip us up the moment we let ourselves relax or expect even a single good thing to happen, those foibles never extended onto Safeco Field itself. The truth is the players were not good enough, the front office not adept enough, and ownership not committed enough to seeing it through. The fact that for thirty-seven of their forty-one and change years of existence the Mariners have not suffered under some gypsy’s vengeful hex, but rather the weight of their own shared failings may provide comfort, or push you further to despair. Which is largely up to you, but face that reality with honesty and courage, because reality it very much is.

3) We don’t really know how exactly the Mariners are 41-24, and will not pretend to have any deep insight into it here. By and large it has something to do with Edwin Diaz ensuring that in every game decided by an eyelash, which is almost all of them, the Mariners are the ones who did the best job getting those babies full and luscious. It involves a group of players that with few exceptions does not do anything spectacular on any given day, but also does not do that most Mariner of things: Horrifically fail. It is a team built upon a generally higher baseline of competence than is typical, and while we are resistant to offer too much credit towards Jerry Dipoto by habit, that is probably by his design.

We do know that this season, regardless of final outcome, represents an experience Mariner fans have not had in a very long time: A mid-season spot in a prime playoff spot, a summer of scoreboard watching, and a very real pennant chase.

There is magic in First Place, and as of the day of this writing, June 12th, the simple matter is that a quick look at the standings in the AL West, when read from top down, starts with “Seattle Mariners”. Beyond that simple, joyous, dopamine-providing exercise, the American League has shaken out to make the Mariners playing a Game 163 a (relatively) simple task. There is one team fewer than five games behind the Mariners in the Wild Card standings, and one other fewer than ten games. That second team, the Cleveland Indians, is also leading its division.

Of all the different Mariner seasons: undermanned, plucky group that stands just outside playoff contention. Spectacular, expensive, old, franchise-crippling failure. Losing season endured at the expense of Playing the Kids, and on, THIS Mariner season represents something so lost to time as to be basically new: The Blitzkrieg. The rapid, dominant, overpowering assault, followed by stockpiling provisions, shoring up supply lines, and praying that it all lasts long enough to ensure victory.

Regardless of where the Mariners are in late September, what happens between now and then is, for the people inside and outside of this organization, virgin, unspoiled territory. And that is a very exciting thought.

4) We are old. That is not a new thought, nor a new fact, but it bears repeating. It bears it because one of the byproducts of age is a narrowing of one’s emotional spectrum. Highs are lower, and lows higher. We imagine that much of the challenge of middle and old age will be trying to keep that spectrum from merging into a single line, but that is not the discussion for today.

Today is about what we want, and have always wanted: We want the next generation of baseball fans in this town to come into its own. Watching the Mariners of the mid to late 1990’s make the playoffs, and the region’s accompanying daily devotion to them, is still, decades later, the cornerstone of our entire fandom of all sports. We found heroes, we fell in love, we made relationships that survive to this day.

We were not alone in that. The powerful, intoxicating effect of those teams, combined with their early 2000’s brethren provided the momentum and voices that have kept Mariners fandom a largely enjoyable experience, despite all the Mariners baseball involved. It has been a long journey, with various factions and figureheads popping up, only to pass on the burden to the next group. For a short while, we carried the banner, and then had to lay it down. It was heavy and, frankly, smelled a bit. We figure Gary left it on the floor of his apartment and let his cat piss on it. That’s a total Gary move.

But now, finally, it’s time. The Mariners are good, one way or the other. The Maple Grove and other fan groups have provided a way for new fans to connect with each other and the team. Safeco Field stands poised to be a summer home for fans, new and old, to congregate and learn to love what we very truly believe to be the best game in the world.

It’s time to imagine. Look at a calendar, and circle October 2nd. Imagine the Mariners ending the Red Sox season in Fenway Park. Imagine watching it with your friends and family. Imagine filling Safeco for a viewing party. Imagine the first pitch. Imagine the final out. Imagine everything in between. Imagine sinking a frankly inadvisable amount of discretionary income into tickets for that first playoff game at Safeco. Imagine the pregame buzz in that place. Imagine trying not to cry.

This is not for us, and never has been. This is for Seattle, and for the future, and all the people who have never done this before. It has been long enough. It’s time, now. The Seattle Mariners are going to the playoffs. Have the summer of your lives, dear friends.

Go M’s.

 

Sweet Merciful Cthulu Please Let the Mariners Sign Tim Lincecum

Don’t do it for me, do it for yourself, Mariners. And me.

It is important, when advocating these kinds of things, to be intellectually honest. Tim Lincecum did not step on a major league mound in 2017, and that was not because of injury. He has not thrown 100 big league innings since 2014, when Nelson Cruz was a Baltimore Oriole. He has not been anything approaching useful since 2013, when Jason Bay, Michael Morse, and Raul Ibanez were roaming Safeco’s green expanse.

It is not unfair to state that Tim Lincecum is probably finished as a major league baseball pitcher. If so he’ll leave the game with nearly 30 wins, half of which was accrued in 2008-2009, when he very well may have been the best pitcher alive. An excellent, Hall of Very Good kind of career.

Sadly, it’s 2018. If the Mariners, one of the 15-20 teams with scouts at Lincecum’s recent workout at Driveline (did you know that’s just down the road in Kent?) were to sign him the odds are extremely long he provides significant contribution to this year’s team. That’s how time, and baseball, work.

The Mariners have made it abundantly clear that they believe in Marco Gonzales, Erasmo Ramirez, and Andrew Moore. That is fine, they certainly know more about pitching than my keyboard-bound butt does. But the Mariners do not have a monopoly on the skill of counting, and that I can do just fine.

Starting pitcher used by the Mariners:

2017 – 17
2016 – 13
2015 – 10

In the interest of fairness and deference to the team we should probably chalk 2017’s inflated number up as a bit of an outlier. Still, if we average out that sample size and adjust for 2017’s weirdness it is fair to assume the Mariners will need between 11-13 starting pitchers this year. Here are the pitchers the Mariners currently have I figure could start a game:

James Paxton
Felix Hernandez
Mike Leake
Erasmo Ramirez
Andrew Moore
Ariel Miranda
Marco Gonzales (Go Zags)
Sam Moll
Chase De Jong
Max Povse
Rob Whalen
Hisashi Iwakuma
Christian Bergman

I got to thirteen, but the same way a cinder block gets to the seafloor. I just kept sinking. While I and others have been howling for the Mariners to add actual major league quality starting pitchers for the last two winters, it’s clear that they simply will not be doing that any time soon. A Lincecum signing does not do anything to allay the concerns over the Mariners starting pitching, but it does do three things, which I’ll outline briefly:

1. It throws cantankerous, obnoxious, overly verbose jerks like me a bone. It says “Hey, we know we could use some starting pitching too. Here, have this. Now shut up already.” I’m sure the team, and probably you as well, would like it if I did that.

2. It does actually buff out the scant starting pitching depth without even a modicum of risk. If Lincecum is bad, if his fastball velocity isn’t sufficient to allow the split change to work as an out pitch, he’s cast aside in late March with no further loss to the organization. If he recaptures even a tiny bit of value, well, Andrew Moore’s career isn’t being hurt by another 2-3 months in Tacoma to start the season.

3. It’s fun, dammit. Everyone knows the story of Lincecum; his local ties, the Mariners famously passing him over for Brandon Morrow, and Lincecum’s subsequent explosion into a force of nature in San Francisco. Baseball moves shouldn’t be made with narrative and fan service in mind, but in the least enjoyable offseason I can ever remember baseball having, this would give us something to smile about. At least for a few weeks. We need it. I need it.

The Mariners have, for whatever reason, stood to the side as pitcher after pitcher has signed to short term, team-friendly contracts. They ignored the market last offseason, and they have done so again this offseason. The market has so cratered for mid to back of the rotation starting pitching that even Dipoto’s greatest pitching acquisition, Mike Leake, has a salary that no longer looks the bargain it once was. The team is projected by PECOTA to miss the 2nd Wild Card by a single game. There are fliers everywhere, including a skinny dude from Seattle, chucking balls into a net a half hour south of Safeco.

Do it, Mariners. Sign Tim Lincecum.

Not By Faith Alone

Some politics. Some religion

1) A “Christian” education, eh? Well that’s a hell of a thing to pursue from a very young age. Let’s take a look at the first grade course load:

Math
Reading
Science
Physical Education
The Study of the omniscient, omnipresent, eternal creator of all things past and present, The Lord, and the history of his interaction with humanity, including but not limited to the life of His Son, Jesus Christ, who was God but apart from God, while also fully human, and was sent to Earth two thousand years ago to live perfectly and die blamelessly, thus atoning for the act of original sin, which was performed by Eve in the Garden of Eden at the dawn of creation, and has been attached to every single human since, dividing us from our Creator. Only through Jesus’ death and sacrifice may we be in Holy Communion with our Lord once we die, otherwise you, young child, are dammed to eternity of hell and torment by the sin you contain within your soul.

Now, please turn to Luke Chapter 4……

2) You learn in that environment. You learn fast. Multiplication tables, grammatical structure, Ezekiel and Jeremiah are MAJOR prophets, Hosea and Obadiah are MINOR prophets, i before e, except after c…. It’s all part of the daily schedule. Wake up, head downstairs to the kitchen, crack a book, sharpen a pencil, and get to work. This is the ritual of your homeschooled education.

“Public school?”, they say.  “Well maybe when we were kids, but now we can’t have that. Did you know the Clintons banned prayer from school? Public school is good enough for them, but not for us. We’ll stay here. If you need friends, well, it’s almost Spring. Little League will start in a few months.”

3) There’s a little metal cross someone gave you for your birthday once, you don’t remember who. But some of your favorite baseball players have one too, and so you let it hang out of your uniform. It looks……cool………right? You stand in centerfield for entire summers, and as your team criss-crosses the country you hold that cross for every big pitch, in every big moment. The finish wears off, and you kind of give your right hand a little mini-Stigmata holding the damn thing, but it works often enough.

Plus you look cool. And there are girls in the stands. Maybe someday you’ll get up the courage to talk to one.

4) In college it’s more of the same. You could have gone to a state school on the cheap and been out in a few years with minimal debt but, again, there’s that implication that everyone is really hoping you’d go somewhere for that “Christian” education. So Bible college it is.

You’ve got questions now, a lot of them. But the answers more often than not point you towards a knowledge gap. You’re offered a big dump truck labeled “Faith” and encouraged to fill in that gap, but no matter how many times you try that, the gap remains. Maybe it’s just too deep to fill.

In the meantime, while it gnaws at you, you vote for George W., attend prayer meetings earnestly asking God to put a Republican in the White House, and make fun of the music majors in your department who seem like they might be gay.

You’ve got questions, but you’ve also got to keep up appearances.

5) While the school won’t let you watch cable TV, or spend more than 4 hours at a time a few days a week in the girls’ dorms (doors open, lights on, feet on the ground), even they won’t cut off the internet. Baseball was always your connection to the outside world, and the Mariners, weirdly, are really good. So you use the Mariners as your launching point for accessing the internet’s vast array of content. ESPN is your startup page. Edgar Martinez has 145 RBI. Life is good.

One day you get an email from a friend back home. “Check out this site. It’s just a few guys who love the Mariners, but they’re really smart, and they’re saying stuff I’ve never heard before.” It’s a blog post by a guy named Derek Zumsteg. He’s clearly smart, at least equally arrogant, and strangely not optimistic about the team, despite the fact that they’ve won 90+ games four years in a row.

6) The baseball world you loved is unraveling before your eyes. It’s all numbers, data, empirical evidence, and metrics now. RBI are……….meaningless? Bunts are not noble sacrifices of the individual for the greater good, but instead simply sub-optimal strategy? Pitcher wins are comically overrated?

As child, as a teen, hell as a Sophomore in the dorms you would have just pushed this all away. But now? Well you’re engaged now. You’re getting married in a few months. Adulthood is around the corner, and you’ve got a few hundred bucks in your bank account. It’s time not to just start asking questions, but to find some answers.

So you rabbithole sabermetrics; Moneyball, Bill James, the whole Smart Baseball Fan Gospel. You’ve got it, you’ve learned, you’re in the know. You come up for air, to look at your politics, your social beliefs, your religion. You thought you knew baseball before, and look at you now. You wonder what will happen if you take these newfound, shiny principles of empirical thought and data-supported beliefs to the other parts of your life. You’ve still got those gaps, but maybe now you’ve got tools a little more refined than an empty dump truck you have to wish full. You get to work.

7) You still have faith, of course. It’s not particularly revelatory to observe that life demands constant small acts of faith. Faith a chair won’t break, the car will start, you’ll make rent.

You have faith that the nurse setting your wife’s IV drip won’t accidentally mix up the levels, overdose her on Pitocin during labor and cause her uterus to contract and refuse to stop contracting. Faith, as you watch your child’s heart rate plummet and doctors spring out of nowhere to rush them both into surgery, that there’s only been one mistake, and that there won’t be another. Faith they can Fix This. Faith that the child’s scream you just heard is normal, and that your wife will survive too.

Sometimes faith is rewarded, and other times it’s not. We keep faith because we have to. We keep it because without it, we’re paralyzed.

8) The Mariners, a baseball team of little consequence who nonetheless was the mechanism through which you learned to think, to rationalize, to escape a life of narrowness, smallness, bigotry, and malice towards anyone who thinks, feels, or believes differently than you, are no longer good, and haven’t been since shortly after you got that first USS Mariner email. Somewhat poetically they are the ones asking for faith now; in them, in the future. Their general manager is a bright, earnest, handsome, well-spoken man. It’s easy to sit back, close your eyes, and let everything he says make you feel great about where the team is headed. It all just makes so much sense. It’s just sports, right? What’s the harm in it?

Faith is a personal choice, and one of the deepest, most vulnerable ones we can make. Your choice isn’t for all, and you’d never expect it to be. Others have more faith, newer faith, different faith. Your faith is, simply, yours. Your journey taught you a long time ago that many will ask for faith, and many don’t deserve it.

So, you wait. You question, wonder, agitate, annoy, and speculate. When the handsome man speaks, you don’t close your eyes and believe. You push back. You probably always will, now. You lived on faith for a long time, but no longer. Not by faith alone.

 

D&B Podcast Episode 15 – Nohtani

Grab a drink and let’s go exploring

Fresh off HELL WEEK for the Mariners, and all Seattle sports, Nathan, David, and Scott take a dive into the mire and try to scrounge something worth salvaging out of the Mariners’ offseason.

0:00-40:21 – DID YOU KNOW, that Shohei Ohtani signed with the Angels? He did, he signed with the Angels, and it was very bad. This leads to a discussion on the wisdom of building a plan designed around acquiring a specific talent through free agency, Jerry Dipoto’s future in Seattle, and the man behind the man behind the man behind the throne.

41:00-1:00:05 Let’s chat about where we go from, but also get sidetracked because man, this still really sucks. We talk about the Mariners best offseason being one that will feel……..like……a total failure to the average fan. That’s right you guys, the only thing that may save the Mariners is them failing to execute their plan. So, no worries then right? RIGHT?!

(Music credits: Iron Chic, Sufjan Stevens, The Weeknd

***

If you’re so inclined you can rate us 5-STARS on iTunes right here. The SoundCloud feed is here. We are ever so grateful for you listening to our little podcast all year, and if we don’t record before the holidays hope you have a Merry Christmas with all those whom make your life its best.

The Worst Mariners, Part III

The PENULTIMATE portion of this list, coming to you hot off the press.

Let it be known that collating the previous two parts of this ILLUSTRIOUS series has deprived Nathan of his health, leaving him weak and weary and ill. (He really is sick right now – feel free to send him well wishes on TWITTER.) It turns out that being a Mariners fan has a multitude of hazards. Fortunately, I’m here to make sure that all seven of our devoted readers will still able to access the #content they crave. The show must go on, after all.

(Also, just in case you missed ’em, here’s Part I and Part II.)

21. Dustin Ackley 

I, like many of you, remember exactly where I was the moment Dustin Ackley made his major league debut. I was so excited I went and bought his shirsey the moment it was available in the team store. I’ve never been more confident that a player was going to turn into someone special. Six years later, I only wear his shirsey when I’m confident my infant son is going to spit up on me. (dg)

ackley4.0.png

22. Kevin Mitchell

Look, he was actually better than I thought. A 117 wRC+ in 400 PA ain’t bad. But the slugging was almost a hundred points lower than the year before he was a Mariner, and almost two hundred points lower than the year after. Remembering that his solitary season in Seattle was not the end of his career, but rather a brief nadir before a resurgence in Cincinnati only stirs up my blood afresh. (Nathan)

23. Rob Johnson

There are a lot of takeaways and things to remember from the 2010 season. That weird popcorn magazine cover, the foul bunt heard around the world, napgate, and of course Jack Z bringing back Russell Branyan for some reason. But the one thing that I will always remember is Opening Day of 2010. The Mariners would win their first of 61 games that year. Someone has to hit the first home run of a season and for some reason Rob Johnson had the honors in ’10. In hindsight, this should have been not just a bad omen, but THE bad omen for what I, at the risk of sounding hyperbolic, would call the worst year in Seattle Mariners history. (SG)

24. Brandon League

Brandon is the only player I have actively booed while in attendance at Safeco Field, and not in jest. Yes, I was at the game and yes you’d have booed as well. I feel no regrets. (Skiba)

brandonleague2

25. Dave Hengel

It’s strange to think that there are hundreds of thousands of photographs of Dave Hengel in existence: his three baseball cards arrived at the height of the junk wax era. Boxed away in attics by hopeful failed capitalists rests his memorial. All that remains: a mullet uninterested in gravity, two halves of a mustache separated by a pregnant pause, an ironic smile tied to that oversized, forgettable gold-S logo. Hengel was a small fish in a small pond, once the king of Calgary, a powerful demi-DH; in the majors, his career numbers were on pace for a -7 win full season. But it doesn’t matter. He made it. He got a baseball card. He became a Seattle Mariner, in every sense of that concept. And in every baseball card, he’s smiling. (phd)

26. Al Martin

In 2001, while every other Mariner was enjoying a career year, Al Martin was OPSing 10 points below his career average. He also claimed after running into Carlos Guillen that it reminded him of when, as a strong safety for USC, he ran into Leroy Hoard. Problem being, USC has no record of Martin ever having attended the school, let alone putting on pads. On the bright side, Martin had one triple in four playoff plate appearances that year. $5 million well spent. (dg)

27. Russ Davis

From 1995-2001 the Mariners were generally good, and yet, like a lot of legitimately good teams, they still had bad players on the roster. Russ Davis fits that bill perfectly. In 1997 Russ was okay. He notched a 105 wRC+ and was worth a shade over 1.5 wins. That half of the equation ignores the fact that he played the hot corner about as well as six-year-old Russ Davis could’ve. In 1998, he finished with 32 errors, nearly one quarter of the team’s total on the year, and reverted back to his old offensive ways (namely: being bad). Russ Davis was a not good baseball player on a good team. (Peter)

28. Marc Rzepczynski

You’ll note a glut of relievers on this list, and that’s no mistake. Relievers are, in their traditional role, probably the worst baseball players alive; failed, flawed starters who hang on by learning some speciality, like a sidearm, or giving up two-thirds of a three run lead and walking the bases loaded before “getting the save.” (Nathan)

29. Pete O’Brien

Pete is remembered fondly by some, probably because of his association with the inaugural years of Griffey, Buhner, Edgar, and Randy. Instead, O’Brien cobbled together a -0.3 WAR over his four-year M’s career while playing the game’s most premium offensive position. His one plus? Rocking half-tint aviators. Devil may care. (Scott)

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30. Jose Mesa

Mesa more or less single-handedly lost the very first game played in Safeco Field, according to my memory of the game. I refuse to go back and check because placing the blame in one, specific place to explain why the franchise is so derpy feels a lot better than running any numbers on it. Thanks a lot, bro. (Skiba)

(We’ll wrap up with Part IV tomorrow.)