Episode 22 – El Scorcho (LIVE)

THE DOME IS BACK IN TOWN

In the beginning, there was The Pod, and Fun was with The Pod, and The Pod was Fun. But then The Pod was told to log off, and it did, and so with it, The Fun left, and there was darkness, and ceaseless torment. But lo, upon the dusk of the *checks notes* 86th day, The Pod logged back on, and there was light, and dancing, and joy once again.

O Death, where is thy sting? Yes I’ll have another drink, thank you.

***

Welcome back friends, to a special, in person, live podcast of Dome and Bedlam. We are hugely apologetic for our long absence. It was summer, and we had vacations to take. It’s tough to express how much it means to hear from so many of you (often angrily, and justifiably so) that you miss the show. Dome and Bedlam was always, before anything else, just three friends who loved baseball, and each other. That our nonsense has found such a loyal and passionate audience is something we never really expected,  and we definitely don’t deserve, but we’re truly thankful for.

A HUGE thank you to Pinxto and their speakeasy Branchwater for putting up with our noise, and the world’s least inconspicuous microphone while we recorded. Please remit to them your business for delicious food and drinks. Do not tell them we sent you, we want you to have a nice time.

We always say we’ll try to do this more often, and we always mean it, and we seemingly never do. But, we’ll try to do this more often. Thanks so much for listening.

***

(Music credits: Mom Jeans, Baroness, Bayside)

 

 

 

Episode 19 – Blood for the Blood God

Pulling a hammy together, as a family

Welcome, friends, to an extremely nineteenth episode of the Dome and Bedlam podcast. We talk about it briefly during the episode but I’ll re-state it here: This is our attempt to do the show a bit more regularly than, ah, once every other month or so. We’ll be keeping episodes shorter, tighter, and a bit more focused, but hopefully still provide the feel and flow of our show we think works, and makes for a fun listening experience.

As always, we really appreciate your feedback and thoughts/comments/insults over at the ol’ tweeter. Got it? Ok, on with the show.

****

Let’s catch up on injuries! Between last week and this, the Mariners have lost 3-4 players to injury including their presumptive fourth starter, their star second baseman and designated hitter. This, this is not good!

David, Scott, and Nathan talk about that, the free agent market finally shaking out a bit, and try to figure out what’s worse: Offering Jon Jay a three-year contract, choosing a 44-year old Ichiro over Jon Jay, or having a need for Jon Jay in the first place?

Additionally, we answer your questions, including trying to get to the bottom of the TRIDENT CURSE.

(Musical credits: Howard Ashman, Teenage Wrist)

As always, rate and FIVE STAR REVIEW us on iTunes here, and check us out at SoundCloud here. No, we aren’t really on anything else. Yes, we find technology confusing and threatening. Thanks again all!

 

Shohei Ohtani signs with LAA Angels

The worst-possible outcome has happened. Let’s think about what that means.

In what is likely the worst-possible outcome for a Seattle Mariners team hoping to compete for a wildcard spot, Shohei Ohtani announced today he will sign with the LAA Angels. Following this announcement, and assuming the transaction gets the all-clear from the MLB FO, one thing is certain, the Angels are acquiring a potentially transcendent talent at the lowest possible risk.

Shohei Ohtani has yet to face an MLB hitter or an MLB arm, but if the scouting report holds true, he is a likely top-end starter with at least an average bat. If the hype is true, the Angels may have essentially just added a second Mike Trout at the cost of pre-arb Willie Bloomquist who can pitch and hit (imagine ’98 Pedro with Frank Thomas’ power). This sort of player has never really been in the conversation before, ever, in the MLB.

A million articles will be written about this move over the next few days and weeks and months, less about the impact on the Mariners, but let’s touch on this briefly. Ohtani arriving with an ALW rival is the worst-possible outcome for the Seattle Mariners in their current build. The M’s need pitching bad, needed the West to get worse, and need to spend all sorts of money in an inflated pitching market. This plays directly against their hand and in likely the largest way possible for a playoff appearance in 2018 and even worse in ’19.

The time has come to start to consider the current window shut and while Dipoto likely will not, and it is not the ONLY way out, the current MLB roster needs to be seriously evaluated for what other organizations may want in exchange for bolstering Seattle’s farm. Use the newly acquired international slot money to find the next generation of Mariners. It’s time to sell.

The new era of the Seattle Mariners should begin today, and while it isn’t the one we wanted, it’s the one we have.

 

The 40 Worst Mariners, Day IV

40 for 40. Eye for an eye.

And so we arrived at the end of our little catalog of Mariner misery. This list could have been a lot, a lot, a lot longer. Some players are Richie Sexson, and missed out on this because, while they bottomed out in Seattle, they also had plenty of success here. Others are Brad Wilkerson, and were so spectacularly bad that their awfulness wasn’t allowed the necessary gestation period for the birth of permanent memory. There were a lot of these guys actually; Corey Hart, Rickie Weeks, a small village of left fielders really, Rich Aurilia, Eric Byrnes, and on and on into oblivion.

We all wish the Mariners had themselves a championship or five, and an equally bright past and future, but here we are. We all root for a team with four playoff appearances in forty seasons, and zero World Series Championships. That doesn’t mean we hate them, hell we maybe love them more for their failures at this point. The closest approximation to Mariner fandom, or true, deep, life-long fandom of any kind is that it’s like a family. We don’t really get to choose each other, we’re all just kind of here. Together. And we choose to love each other, Jose Vidros and all.

This list was made with plenty of pain to draw on, but also a lot of fondness. If you made it all the way through, thanks. If not, well, no thanks. Either way, we had a blast, and next week we’ll turn our attention away from the plague-filled corpses of Mariner past, to the treacherous road ahead. Also, team play-by-play announcer Aaron Goldsmith is coming back on the podcast. Again. Yeah, I don’t know why he keeps saying yes either, but please send us good questions for him on Twitter. Thanks, all.

(Parts I, II, & III here)

31. Henry Cotto

cotto-topps

When I was a boy, my friend Karl went to Fan Appreciation Night and, against all odds, had his seat number called on the public address system. His prize: an authentic, game-worn Henry Cotto jersey. He didn’t know what to do with it; it was too large to wear, too rare to hock. It also contained, on some trace level, a grown man’s sweat. So he hung it on the wall of his bedroom, like a black mark he couldn’t dispel, a warning against the mediocrity of adulthood that awaited us all.

Someday, after the bombs fall, and scavengers pick through the rubble of our civilization searching for copper wire, they will come across a hollowed-out building with a single intact wall. And on that wall, pure as the first day, will be a Henry Cotto jersey, flapping in the wind like a surrender. They will see it, and they will run.  (phd)

32. Ryan Franklin

For the record none of the bad things I’ll say about Ryan Franklin are my fault. It’s not my fault in his three full seasons in Seattle he gave up 95 home runs, or that his lowest FIP during that time (2003-2005) never finished lower than 5.04. It’s not my fault his stuff was so feeble he never struck out more than 13.1% of batters as a starter.

It’s not my fault Franklin went on to inexplicably be a star closer for the Cardinals while looking like an adolescent Wookie someone got drunk and shaved after he passed out. No, none of that’s my fault, it’s Ryan Franklin’s. Despite all that, he’s a multi-millionaire living like a king in rural Oklahoma. I’m just a shitty blogger. Well, maybe that’s my fault. (Nathan)

33. Carlos Triunfel

Carlos-Triunfel

Carlos Triunfel was signed by the Mariners when he was 16 years old. He was the Shortstop of the Future™ for five or six years before making his Mariners debut in 2012. In 71 plate appearances, spread across 27 forgettable games between the forgettable 2012 and 2013 seasons, he “produced” a slash line of .167/.188/.401, good for an fWAR of -0.5 and has not played in majors since 2014, when he had 16 plate appearances for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

He is 18 days older than Jean Segura. (dg)

34. Chris Taylor

Christopher Armond Taylor, a 5th-round draft pick out of the University of Virginia, was actually a literal break away from being a starting major league shortstop. In the spring of 2015, well into a Cactus League battle with Brad Miller, Taylor was struck in the wrist by a fastball. After a few days waiting for the swelling to go down it turned out that wrist was in fact broken. Taylor missed the first two months, Miller won the job, and all parties involved enjoyed a thoroughly lost season.

In 2016, though, Taylor mashed in Triple-A Tacoma, sporting a 128 wRC+, and looked to re-establish himself within the organization, newly headed by Jerry Dipoto. After a May callup he debuted on May 25th, and it went disastrously. Although he went 1-3 Taylor struck out with the bases loaded, and worse yet committed two devastating errors in a four run Oakland 8th inning, in a 5-0 loss.

Although Taylor entered the next day’s game as an 8th inning defensive replacement, he would never again take an at-bat for the Mariners. Dipoto had seen enough. Taylor was sent back to Tacoma, and on June 19th traded to the Dodgers, never to be seen or heard from again. (Nathan)

35. Jeff Manto

Before Austin Jackson, before Kendrys Morales, there was Jeff Manto. A journeyman first baseman Manto had latched onto the mid 90’s offensive boom times, slugging nearly .500 and more than half his career home runs in the summer of 1995 for the Orioles. After a short detour through Japan, he landed back in MLB with the Red Sox in 1996, before being acquired by Woody Woodward and the Mariners in exchange for all-namer Arquimedez Pozo.

When I close my eyes now, and imagine the ’96 Mariners desperate attempt to re-create their 1995 glory, I don’t see Jeff Manto hitting .185/.302/.296. What I see is that knee brace. It looked like you took all the knee braces from an NFL offensive line, slapped one on top of the other, and then lashed it to the leg of an old, mildly out of shape baseball player. The ’96 M’s were eliminated from the playoffs on September 26th, in a 7-5 loss at Oakland. Jeff Manto didn’t play. (Nathan)

36. John Halama

There’s something admirable about someone who does a job that they don’t want to do for the sake of their family. A lot of people end up clocking in and clocking out of various retail, shipyard, or warehouse jobs with the only beacon of light to keep them going is the people that they’re going home to, the people who rely on them to bring home that hotplate. John Halama grew up in Brooklyn and was not a very big baseball fan. He was passable at pitching from time to time, but he is living proof of my personal theory that if you’re left handed, can possibly touch 85ish, and have a pulse, you could possibly pitch in major league baseball. (SG)

37. Mike Timlin

Mike-Timlin

Mike Timlin was not a bad reliever. You don’t appear in over 1,000 games, and accrue nearly 12 fWAR by being terrible. Timlin wasn’t even bad as a Mariner. Hell, in 1998 he was downright terrific.

What Mike Timlin was, was totemic to one of the most damaging periods in Mariner history. With one of the best rosters in baseball, seemingly only a leaky bullpen stood in their way. As a result Woody Woodward and co. traded, collectively, Jose Cruz Jr., Derek Lowe, and Jason Varitek for Timlin, Heathcliff Slocumb (also on this list), and Paul Spoljaric.

It’s not fair to Timlin to be on this list, but then, it’s not fair that the Red Sox got more than 20 years of Lowe and Varitek, while Cruz went to Toronto and immediately hit 14 home runs in 55 games. But this isn’t a list based on science or facts, so it’s here that Mike Timlin finds himself. (Nathan)

38. Luis Valbuena

Valbuena debuted with the Mariners in 2008 and managed to run a terribly mundane 0.0 fWAR with his time in teal. He’d then be traded for Franklin Gutierrez. After that, he’d play for the Astros and make us all want to die. And then again with the Angels. (Skiba)

39. Miguel Cairo

The sun-down’s perambulation
Miguel Cairo’s at first
Grounds for strangulation

Mojo Risin’
Was the call
Miguel Cairo’s at first
Portent of the fall

Well they have to be good one of these years
Miguel Cairo’s at first
Nothing but tears

Sometimes I think we’ve seen the worst
It’s then I remember
Miguel Cairo’s at first
Another lost September
(Nathan)

40. Willie Bloomquist

There is a ballpark named after Dr. Bill Bloomquist, DDS in Port Orchard, WA. It was built and is now maintained by the local Rotary. It’s essentially a large, flat, occasionally mowed field. It would get mowed more often, but our region’s wet climate typically renders the soil a sort of cake fondant-style “this is holding this is holding oh nope I’ve completely broken through this and am now stuck” consistency for about half the year.

It gets used for the ever dwindling ranks of pee wee baseball, and the occasional church softball game, but as the rudimentary basepaths and mound get slowly swallowed by time and neglect, it primarily serves as nothing more than a shortcut for kids to walk across on their way home from school. Their footpaths criss cross the field, some off on their own, a few common tracks worn deep into the muddy grass, as the field returns, invariably, back to nature.

Willie Bloomquist lives in Scottsdale, AZ with his wife and four daughters. He doesn’t come back to Port Orchard very often. (Nathan)

The Case for Giancarlo

On July 28th, 2033 Giancarlo Stanton was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. As his time came to speak the hulking man – the rare physical specimen for whom time seems only to adorn regality, and take nothing at all – sat quietly, a look of mild distance in his eyes.

There were ten, maybe fifteen minutes to encapsulate a seventeen year career of hitting baseballs like no one ever had before him. A few moments to speak of his time playing baseball on opposite corners of the nation; seven in Miami, ten in Seattle.

He had always been more than just another power hitter. The rules of baseball indicate any ball clearing the fence on the fly in fair territory is a home run. Plenty of players did that, and so did Giancarlo. But he used his home runs as an instrument of psychological terror.

His home runs were more than runs, they were oppression, torment; annihilation. Giancarlo Stanton home runs were Marshawn Lynch up the middle, or Shawn Kemp on the break. Oh we tallied them of course, this is baseball. “That’s home run 500!”, “Wow exit velocity of 120.3 MPH”, and so on, but these were the desperate attempts of we baseball disciples to capture gospel on the page. We wrote them in red, so people would notice, but no ink or page was sufficient, nor could it ever be.

He strode to the microphone to speak, and paused. Among the masses gathered to see him was twenty-seven year old Julie Graham, a rising star in the White Sox analytics department. Despite the ongoing season, and her employer currently leading the AL Central, Julie had been planning this trip since last summer. She was smart and ambitious, with an eye for a general manager position someday, but this was bigger even than her career.

This was about the summer of 2018, spent in a small, WWII trackhouse on Trenton St, on the east side of Bremerton, WA.

*****

Julie’s parents had split up when she was six. She lived mostly with her mom, in and around the Orwellian-sounding City of Industry in California. Her father had a tough time keeping a job, and as such his life was in the state of perpetual instability that made primary custody an easy decision for the court. But by 2016 her dad had settled in Kitsap County, and found steady employment at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. It was good, union pay, and by the summer of 2018 he was able to pay off enough debt to afford renting that small rambler on Trenton St., and convince the court and Julie’s mom to let her come stay with him for the summer.

She hated it, of course. She was twelve, the dawning of the age when hate is the default setting for most things in life. She hated the small house, the small town, the way the rain stuck around into July. She hated her dad, and his friends, and the few kids she saw around the neighborhood. One Saturday a guy at the yard had a few baseball tickets he couldn’t use, and when Julie’s dad drug her to Safeco Field she was fully prepared and capable of hating that too.

They trudged to their seat, about halfway up the left field bleachers, and sat down. Julie was annoyed; the sun made it impossible to see her phone screen. Without speaking a word to her dad she got up and walked all the way to the top of the bleachers, where some shade would allow her to see, and thus escape.

THWACK

Julie’s head jerked up, something had smashed into the bleacher behind her, about twenty feet from her head.

CRASH

Once she had visited an aunt in Texas, and through a torrential Texan storm learned about baseball-sized hail. But this, this was a storm raining actual baseball-sized baseballs.

Where could it be coming from? Julie looked around her, then down to her dad, who pointed towards the other side of the stadium. She squinted down. All she could see was a tiny collection of blue and white spots. One of the spots, admittedly the least tiny of them, was standing close to home plate. Vaguely she saw a flash of something and this time, paying attention, she heard it; a menacing hiss and the accompanying whoops of the people around her as it go closer. The ball smashed about two rows in front of her, and a group of four or so immediately fell upon it.

Julie put down her phone.

*****

Giancarlo stood at the podium. The trade to bring him to Seattle was foolish, reckless, irresponsible even. All the home runs – 400, 500, 600, and on – had not turned around the franchise. They had finally broken that awful playoff-less streak by squeaking into the Wild Card in 2023. They even won the Wild Card game, but were swept out of the divisional series by the Rangers, and quickly returned to mediocrity afterwards.

Seventeen years, an MVP, Silver Sluggers, All-Star games, one of the most transcendent talents in the history of the game. But only four playoff games, no World Series, and no titles. His accomplishments lay as communal testament to his enduring greatness, but seemingly little beyond just that.

Julie Graham stood in the sun, and sweat. She drug her dad to Safeco that whole summer, all those years ago. When the next summer came she did it again, and the one after. Her newfound love of baseball made her want to know more about it, and that led to the discovery of a love of and gift for mathematics and statistics. The full ride to Stanford, the internship with the Padres, the steady progress of her career was traced back to a summer in Seattle, where a Child of Zeus himself reshaped the confines and boundaries of reality with his swings.

Giancarlo began speaking, and Julie looked around. She was far from alone.

The Mariners are Not Toast

On May 3rd, forty-seven games ago, I wrote that the Mariners were probably toast. They were 11-16, missing Felix Hernandez and Mitch Haniger, Edwin Diaz was a mess while still being their best bullpen arm, and the team did not (and still does not) have the talent resources on the farm to acquire help via trade.

Those things were true then, and I do not regret writing them. What is also true is that, despite losing Jean Segura (twice), Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager, Hisashi Iwakuma, James Paxton, and doubtless a few others I’ve forgotten to injury the Mariners have managed to go 26-21 since, and after tonight’s 7-5 win over Justin Verlander and the Tigers, sit at 37-37.

Additionally, and crucial to the headline of this post, is that the American League has refused to run away from the Mariners while they spun their wheels and filled up punch cards at the local Group Health. While the Yankees and Red Sox are trading division leader/WC1, only the Twins and Rays sit a few games above .500 and the Mariners, and I am here to tell you despite their many flaws the Mariners major league roster is every bit as talented as those two teams.

It’s important to note that the Mariners are not by any stretch a lock or even a front runner for a playoff position at this point. Their Baseball Prospectus Playoff Odds coming into today were 25.1%, somehow down from the 28.7% they were at when I condemned them to heck last month. They are still massively flawed, with little depth beyond the outfield, a bottom third (at best) major league rotation, and a bullpen that, while improved since April, is far from the league’s best.

This team, even if everyone stays healthy and Drew Smyly comes back and contributes at the levels expected in March, is not a team I would feel comfortable shooting for a playoff spot in most years. Only the AL’s parity and the benevolent gift of WC2 from His Holiness Allen Huber “Bud” Selig have given this team life. This is a confluence of good fortune, and one that does not come around often. With the 2nd Wild Card typically falling between 88-90 wins, likely a total well beyond this team’s capability, the possibility of only needing to win 85 games or so is as responsible as anything for the stay of their execution.

Still, the team deserves credit. They have not thrived, but they have survived. They have overcome their weaknesses, both built in and unexpectedly arisen. They have managed to build a roster and culture that has allowed Ben Gamel, Guillermo Heredia, and Mitch Haniger to flourish, bringing the possibility of the most complete Mariner outfield in franchise history very much into focus. They have assembled, when healthy and when Mike Zunino has not been fed after midnight, as fearsome a 1-9 offense as there is in the American League.

Tomorrow, Andrew Moore makes his debut, and while I don’t believe he’s a budding star, I have little doubt he is better than many pitchers who have started games for the team this year. Friday, Felix Hernandez returns. A Paxton/Felix/Miranda/Moore/Gaviglio rotation is nowhere approximate to “good”, but if you’re optimistic and have had as much booze as I’ve had tonight you can squint and make it passable, particularly if your offense can casually score 6-7 runs any given night.

They are many things. They are unfinished, flawed, broken, old, exciting, tough, frustrating, confusing, persistent, and infuriating. But they are not, as I said most recently, toast.

On May 3rd I wrote this:

“To root for a team to overcome long odds is one of the most rewarding experiences we as fans can have.”

They have proved me wrong, by proving that correct.

To beating long odds, and the roar of the faithful when Nelson Cruz’s double found grass tonight.

GOMS

GOBIZ

 

 

 

 

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)