Seattle Mariners


Ty Cobb didn't need too many games to rack up 4,191 hits.

Ty Cobb didn’t need too many games to rack up 4,191 hits.

I haven’t been at 100 percent for most of this week, sidelined by a strong summer cold or a really weak version of the flu that’s been accompanied by an occasional fever and lots of tea and more than a couple of boxes of tissues.

So I’ve been on the couch, or in bed, mostly watching TV. With all that, this seemed like as good a time as any to re-watch Ken Burns’ documentary, Baseball. I’ve seen it enough that I wouldn’t feel bad about lapsing in and out of consciousness while it was on, and while I was with it, hey, there’s Cy Young and the Huntington Avenue Grounds.

This morning, again, half paying attention, the 1920s were coming to a close and Ty Cobb’s career was summed up. Cobb, as the documentary is sure to note, was a miserable human being and an amazing hitter and competitor, the likes of which just didn’t exist in his time.

But when they were running through his career statistics, one jumped out at me: in 3,034 games played, he tallied 4,191 hits. (more…)

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I don’t want to talk about it.

Ichiro has been traded to the Yankees.

The most entertaining, cerebral, stunning outfielder of the past decade has been shipped from the Seattle Mariners to that soulless corporation posing as a baseball team, twisting a unique institution into just another cog in joyless pursuit of a pennant.

If you’re of the mind to believe in some sort of higher power, today should be enough to make you question, or abandon, that forever.

Excuse me, while I crawl into a hole until 2013.

Say Hey! Yuniesky is back in Kansas City... or something.

Yuniesky Betancourt is not a great player. By most accounts, he’s not even a good player, or slightly below average. He’s in competition for the coveted title of  “Worst Everyday Player in Baseball.”

His 2011 numbers with Milwaukee back that up. in 152 games, all at shortstop save for a few pinch hits, Betancourt hit .252 for a .652 OPS, which adjusts down to a 75 OPS+. He did hit 13 home runs, but walked only 16 times. He’s a slap hitter with signs of pop but no real discipline, and he’ll be 30 years old before Opening Day. If he hits a peak, he probably already has.

With that in mind, it’s not hard to understand the outrage with the Royals signing him to a contract for 2012, if there can be such a feeling regarding the signing of an infielder in Kansas City. Even when that infielder has recently been underwhelming in the same uniform. And the “underwhelming” tag comes without much in the way of initial expectations. (more…)

He'll be missed.

Sad news today, as Dick Williams, who managed the “Impossible Dream” 1967 Red Sox at the start of his career, has died. He was 82.

Williams had a decent playing career, bouncing between the outfield, third base and first base for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cleveland Indians, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City A’s and the Sox for 13 seasons.

But he made his name as a manger, and he earned the reputation of a tough-nosed dugout leader early. He whipped the Sox into shape and got them into the World Series for the first time in 21 years that first season. Later, he’d take the captaincy away from Carl Yastrzemski, and things got tense enough that he was let go with just nine games left in 1969.

But he wasn’t done. For the most part, wherever he went, he won. He won two World Series with the Oakland A’s in the 1970s, he took the Montreal Expos to their only playoff appearance in 1981, and in ’84, he helped the San Diego Padres win their first National League pennant.

He was rewarded for all this, finally, in 2008, when he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. On his plaque, he’s wearing an A’s cap.

Sizing up the pitcher, looking for gaps in the defense, tugging at his sleeve.

In my second trip to fabled Fenway Park this season, I had the supreme pleasure of standing in right field for a few innings and watching the master himself, Ichiro, judge fly balls, make a couple of sliding catches and keep himself stretched and amused in between pitches.

Craig Robinson of Flip Flop Fly Ball noted that one of life’s great joys is watching the man for an entire game. I didn’t study him for the full nine, but what I did see, I obviously enjoyed.

♦ ♦ ♦

This past Friday, I was lucky enough to have standing room tickets in the third base deck for a Red Sox-Mariners game, with Daisuke Matsuzaka facing off against Jason Vargas as the Sox continue their climb back to respectability (also known as the .500 mark). Daisuke started off slowly, thanks in no small part to a walk to third baseman Chone Figgins and a double by catcher Miguel Olivo.

But, poles, unusually tall patrons and a desire to walk around and take in more of the park took hold after about three innings, and the third-base spot was abandoned. After a beer and some french fries, I settled into a spot in the back of the grandstand, behind section 3, where I had a clear view of home plate, the pitcher and, for the purposes of our discussion, right field and Ichiro. (more…)

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