Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Holy Jolbert, Batman! 

Jolbert Cabrera played the hero today with a clutch 8th inning 2-out, 2-RBI single to give the M's a win over the A's. The loss knocks the A's out of first place which makes me one happy camper. We have made our presence known this September, and I'm proud of the way the team has played this month.

Bobby Madritsch had another spectacular outing, with a complete game 3-hitter. Unfortunately, the M's continue to put his arm at risk by putting him out to start the ninth after he had already thrown 125 pitches. In the end it was 133 pitches, all out of the stretch. I'm curious whether pitching out of the stretch makes this less dangerous than that many pitches might be primarily out of the windup. I'm guessing no one keeps stats on windup vs. stretch position, so there is no data at this time. Lets hope that Madritsch' mature arm can handle the workload, or there will be hell to pay by this time next year.

The A's can't wait to get out of Seattle, and have to be hoping they survive Ryan Franklin and the M's tomorrow. I got to watch the A's feed, and hearing the disappointment in the announcers' voices was a great pleasure. I only wish the Rangers would have stepped up against the Angels so that WE could be the ones to knock them out of the playoff picture. There will be NO celebrations in Seattle this year, dammit.

Today's picks:
That's it, I'm done. When you bet money on the Rice Owls football team, it is time to call Gamblers Anonymous. So I finish up $32 on the year.

Money to date: $32 (picking dog/favorite = +1712/-1680, 47-64 33-32).

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Great moments are born from great opportunity 

The Owls face the Longhorns on Saturday here in Austin, and enter the battle of undefeateds as a mere 31-point underdog. An excellent preview of the game (from the great Rice Football Webletter) can be found here.

The most surprising stat to me is that Rice is the #1 Rushing DEFENSE in the country, having given up a TOTAL of 15 yards to Houston and Hawaii. Now, you can write off Hawaii as being dedicated to the pass, but the Cougars managed 132 yards rushing in a 38-13 defeat to Miami last night.

Last year, when the Owls faced the Longhorns, they were coming off an 0-2 start with a gimpy quarterback and a truly green defense. This year, things could be different, even against the running of Vincent Young and Cedric Benson. So with respect to "Miracle" hockey coach Herb Brooks, here's a preview of Coach Hatfield's Saturday night locker room speech that will propel Rice to the stunning upset.

Great moments are born from great opportunity.
And that's what you have here tonight, boys.
That's what you've earned here, tonight.
One game.

If we played 'em ten times, they might win nine.
But not this game. Not tonight.
Tonight, we play with 'em.

Tonight, we stay with 'em.
And we shut them down because we can!
Tonight, we are the greatest college football team in Texas!
You were born to be football players -- every one of ya.
You were meant to be here tonight.
This is your time.
Their time -- is done. It's over.

I'm sick and tired of hearin'
about what a great football team the Longhorns have.
Screw 'em!
This is your time!

Now go out there and take it!

Today's picks:
Owls +31 over Longhorns ($200 bet)

Money to date: $-168(picking dog/favorite = +1512/-1680, 46-64 33-32). Rangers studly win in the ninth gets me $140

The Hits Just Keep on Coming 

Wow. The Mariners pounded out 24 hits last night in a 16-6 rout of the Angels, further dampening the Halos playoff chances. Okay, "pounded" may be a bit strong. "Eked" may be more like it, as 22 of the 24 hits were singles. Combine that with control problems from Bartolo Colon, and you have a fun game of "Follow The Leader" around the basepaths.

Ichiro added 4 hits and is now 10 shy of the hits record (11 to break it) with 10 games to play. Unfortunately for Ichiro, the M's do NOT get to play the Angels again this season, and instead have 6 against the Rangers and 4 against the A's.

Raul Ibanez went 6 for 6 last night, a feat that even Ichiro has never accomplished. In the process, he did something I did not even think was possible (until I really thought about it), and raised his batting average BY 10 POINTS! In September! Again... Wow.

Jeremy Reed had 3 hits and now has a nice 8-game hitting string during which he has hit .500 (13 for 26).

And Scott Spiezio seems to be back in the swing of things. After 4 RBIs two nights ago, he was again the starting first baseman for the M's, and made a beautiful diving stab in the first inning to keep the Angels off the scoreboard in addition to adding two more hits of his own.

Even the M's one stupid play may be a blessing in disguise. Ramon Santiago bunted with runners on first and second with Ichiro on deck. Naturally, the Angels walked Ichiro, robbing him of a precious at bat. As it turns out Melvin had not screwed the pooch here, but instead, Santiago screwed up the signs and misinterpreted Melvin's call for a hit and run. Maybe this will lead to us not having to worry about Santiago being in the lineup much more this season.

Alrighty out there - who wanted us to go after Bartolo Colon?? Its okay to admit you were wrong - I've been wrong many times. At least that's one path we did not blunder down.

Speaking of wrong, someone (ahem, Trent, ahem) owes me a pro-Bavasi post over our preseason bet that Quinton McCracken would be more productive than Greg Colbrunn. Admittedly, most of that production came for Arizona, and this is not one to gloat over, but still, a bet is a bet.

How about those pesky Texas Rangers? A win tonight, and we have a heckuva finish looming with the A's 2 games ahead of the Rangers AND Angels. And with us getting to beat up on both the A's and Rangers down the stretch, maybe we can help create the first 3-way tie (correct me if I'm wrong).

Today's picks:
Devil Rays (Ritchie) +250 over Yankees(Lieber)
Rangers(Park) +140 over Athletics(Hudson)
Mets(Glavine) -110 over Expos(Kim)

Money to date: $-308 (picking dog/favorite = +1472/-1780, 45-63 32-32). My fantasy pitchers, Oswalt and Sheets let me down, but two big underdogs pay off in the Mariner and Blue Jays, so I pocket a tidy $225 on the day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Nice Win for the M's 

Great win tonight for the Mariners, keeping the Haloed ones 2 1/2 games behind the A's, who lost to the Rangers.

Jamie Moyer returned to form with a nice outing, the bullpen (Villone and Putz) were outstanding, and the M's scored 7 runs on 18 hits.

Ichiro! cruised to a 5-5 effort to reinvigorate his pursuit of George Sisler's hit record. He now stands at 243 hits and needs 15 hits in his remaining 11 games. Or, if he wants to break it in 154 games, he just needs 3 more 5-5 games. He makes it look so easy some nights...

Today's picks:
Brewers(Sheets) +110 over Cardinals(Williams)
Mariners(Meche) +220 over Angels(Colon)
Blue Jays(Lilly) +240 over Yankees(Hernandez)
Astros(Oswalt) -135 over Giants(Lowry)
Phillies(Myers) -110 over Marlins(Kensing)

Money to date: $-533 (picking dog/favorite = +1212/-1745, 43-62, 31-31). Only Moyer and the M's kept me from the dreaded oh-fer, but I still only lost $110. Still time to get back to even.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Why do we go to the moon 

Rice Owls Football has started the season 2-0 with a 41-29 win over Hawaii. Going back to last year, the Owls have now won five straight, and I'm sure they'll be getting Top 25 recognition any day now... Next Saturday (4pm PST on Fox Sports Net), Rice visits my children's hometown of Austin to face the powerful fifth-ranked Texas Longhorns. Rice has played Texas almost every year of my life, and has a single win to show for it.

This glorious win happened in 1994. Due to the baseball strike, the Rice-Texas game was moved to Sunday night so it could be shown nationally on ESPN. The game was played at Rice in front of 10,000 loyal Rice fans and 60,000 Longhorns (Rice Stadium seats 70,000 and once hosted a Super Bowl, but our school only has 3,500 students). The game was played in a constant rain

After a weekend, where I watched "Miracle", I'm feeling particularly inspired that a few words can lead to upset victories of biblical proportions. So, I intterupt this regular M's blog to remember the words of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Here is the full text of the speech, but this is what is relevant:

There is no strife, no prejudice, no national conflict in outer space as yet. Its hazards are hostile to us all. Its conquest deserves the best of all mankind, and its opportunity for peaceful cooperation many never come again. But why, some say, the moon? Why choose this as our goal? And they may well ask why climb the highest mountain? Why, 35 years ago, fly the Atlantic? Why does Rice play Texas?

We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not only because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

Go Owls! Intend to win!

Today's picks:
Pirates(Fogg) +175 over Cubs(Wood)
Astros(Hernandez) +140 over Giants(Tomko)
Mariners(Moyer) +190 over Angels (Sele)
Reds(Claussen) over Braves(Thomson)

Money to date: $-423 (picking dog/favorite = +1322/-1745, 42-59, 31-31). With $1620 at risk, betting on every game, here's how I did...
Winners: Devil Rays(+135), Royals(+200), RedSox(+130), Mariners(+170), Dodgers(+100) for a total of +735
Losers: Reds(-100), Phillies(-210), Brewers(-100),DBacks(-100), WhiteSox(-100), Twins(-145), Rangers(-100), Padres(-120) for a total of -975
Rained Out: Mets
Somehow didn't pick: Braves


The Angels took advantage of some sloppy M's defense and a well-placed bat by Darin Erstad to beat Jamie Moyer and the M's 6-1, and salvage a split with the Mariners. 5 of the Angels 6 runs came as the result of fielding mishaps involving Bret Boone.

The first run came in the 4th and scored when Jose Lopez could not turn the double play on a clean play from Boonie. But the majority of the damage came in a star-crossed 8th inning that turned a 2-1 pitchers duel into a 6-1 Angels win.

With runners at 2nd & 3rd with one out, the M's had the infield in and Darin Erstad at the plate. Erstad grounds to Boone who fires home and looks to have the runner nailed, except...

(cue music...) Welcome to 2004, the year when EVERYTHING goes wrong for the Mariners...

Yup, the ball hits Darin Erstad's bat, which was dropped in fair territory, hops over Dan Wilson's head and two runs scored. I don't think I've ever seen something like that happen before.

Okay, down 4-1, we walk Vlad to setup the double play and the plan works to perfection when Garrett Anderson hits a tailor-made double play grounder to Boone. Bret, though, is apparently still shaking his head about the previous play, and does his best Bill Buckner impersonation on the ball, never even touching it as it rolls between his legs, and another run scores.

Jamie Moyer ends up giving up 4 unearned runs in the inning, and takes the loss to continue his tough year.

Finally, the boys at USS Mariner have created a nice summary of the M's 2005 outlook that is a good starting point.

Today's picks:
I told myself that one of these days, I would pick every game. Well, here goes...
  • Phillies(Milton) -210 over Expos(Armas)
  • Mets(Glavine) -120 over Pirates(VanBenschoten)
  • Reds(Hudson) +170 over Cubs(Zambrano)
  • Brewers(Sheets) +170 over Astros(Oswalt)
  • Diamondbacks(Webb) +240 over Cardinals(Williams)
  • Dodgers(Nomo) -125 over Rockies(Wright)
  • Padres(Peavy) -120 over Giants(Lowry)
  • Red Sox(Arroyo) +130 over Yankees(Hernandez)
  • Devil Rays(Waechter) +135 over Blue Jays(Towers)
  • Royals(Wood) +200 over Indians(Westbrook)
  • White Sox(Grilli) even over Tigers(Robertson)
  • Twins(Mulholland) -145 over Orioles(Ponson)
  • Mariners(Meche) +170 over Athletics(Zito)
  • Rangers(Park) +160 over Angels(Colon)
Money to date: $-183 (picking dog/favorite = +1192/-1375, 38-54, 30-28) - Yikes! From Black to Red in a hurry as I pick 4 games and get them all wrong. If I get them all wrong today, all my work to get back in black will be lost, as I'll lose $1620. But that's why its called gambling.

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    Spiro Pride 

    Yesterday, I read that Ryan Franklin's grandmother had passed away, and I thought that we might see something special from the pride of Spiro that night. And Ryan did not disappoint, pitching a beautiful complete game, 2-hit shutout in a 1-0 win over the Angels. Ryan didn't need run support today, as he retired 19 of the last 20 batters he faced (2-out walk to Vlad in the 9th). Hopefully, this is a turning point in the nightmare season that Franklin has had, and he can begin working toward a 5th starter or long relief role for the M's in 2005.

    Meanwhile, didya notice who hit another game-winning hit? Yup, its Raul Ibanez again. Ibanez has certainly been a disappointment this year, with only 15 HR and 52 RBI to go with a .280/.334/.450 line. But it seems every time the M's win, he's in the thick of things. The Game-winning RBI stat is no more, but if the stat was still kept, Raul would certainly be leading the M's. I'll try to do some research on that later today...

    The M's have now won 2 of 3 against the playoff-aspiring Angels, following up a series split with the Red Sox. Its good to see the M's are at least having an affect on the playoff race. Personally, I hope the chair-throwing Rangers manage to sneak off with the AL West crown so that I can see them face off with ARod in the playoffs.

    Wednesday, September 15, 2004

    Ichiro's Edge 

    An excellent article from the master, Bill James, visits Hardball Times to discuss Ichiro's Edge in playing in 162 games vs 154 games. The article is, as you would expect from James, an entertaining read. The conclusion is surprising.

    Essentially, James discovers through simulation that for Roger Maris, a hitter averaging 42 HRs a year, going from 154 to 162 games per year increased his chances of hitting 61 HR in a season by 177%. He sets up Ichiro as a .350 hitter who average more at bats than Maris, and runs the same simulation and finds that going to 162 games increases Ichiro's chances by a whopping 901% (once every 24 years vs. once every 237 years).

    As an aside, James' simulation also finds that Ichiro hits .400 once every 200 years, so we should have something to look forward to next year. He's due.

    Today's picks:

    • Expos (Hernandez) +170 over Marlins (Willis)
    • Rangers (Rogers) +160 over Athletics (Harden)
    • Mariners (Moyer) +170 over Angels (Sele)
    • Rockies (Francis) -145 over Diamondbacks (Randolph)

    Money to date: $262 (picking dog/favorite = +1492/-1230, 38-51, 30-27) - Indians (+100), Philles(+100), Expos(+240) all pickup wins for me and I'm BACK IN BLACK! That should be a lesson for all you baseball gamblers out there - if you are losing... walk away for awhile. And if you are betting on baseball, you have MUCH more knowledge in September than you do in April.

    Madritsch Rolling 

    Bobby Madritsch is on a roll. Fantastic start giving up just six singles and two runs in 8 1/3 innings with 7 K's and 2 walks. Looks like Gil & Bobby have cemented spots in the 2005 rotation

    Of course, Madritsch should have had an 8-inning 4-hit shutout if Melvin was willing to take care of his pitchers, and not run Bobby out there after 116 pitches.

    Bob Melvin is doing his damnedest to make my job hard, overworking his pitchers, and doing foolish things like putting Bloomquist at 1B again. Its very disheartening to see. Count me amongst the bloggers that are really looking forward to the termination of Bob Melvin.

    As a complete aside, I'm sitting here eating grapes, and it seems to make me break out in mild perspiration on my face and forehead. Any idea what is inside a grape that would cause me to sweat? Strange.

    Today's picks: I don't like the underdogs as much today (Ryan Franklin +200)
    Pirates (Perez) +155 over Cubs (Prior)
    Expos (Patterson) +240 over Marlins (Pavano)
    Indians (Elarton) -120 over Tigers (Maroth)
    Phillies (Myers) -160 over Reds (Claussen)

    Money to date: $-78 (picking dog/favorite = +1352/-1430, 37-50, 28-27) - Santana continues to be easy money, and going 2-2 picking dogs (thank you Bobby Madritsch and Scott Kazmir) earns another $295 for a nice day and I'm almost back to even. It seems betting in September is easier than betting in April.

    Monday, September 13, 2004

    Chewbacca?, M's Fall 

    Jose Lopez' solo shot is only bright spot in a 5-1 loss to the Angels. Ichiro went 0-4 with a walk and helped kill the final rally in the 9th. Cha Baek (can we just call him Chewbacca?) got beaten up early, giving up three doubles and a big 3-run HR to Garrett Anderson in the third to fall behind 4-0. I give him credit for keeping the bullpen fresh by staying out there through 7 innings and only giving up another run.

    One note of sorta-optimism: Shiggy has now had 5 outings spanning 6 2/3 innings without giving up a run. Since he will be with the team in 2005, its important for him to banish the demons of 2004 and return to the form he showed us in 2002-3. Note that Shiggy is signed for 2005 at $3.6 million, so he ain't going anywhere. And if he pitches in 58 games in 2005, he is guaranteed $2.85 million in 2006. So we know that Shiggy will be part of the M's bullpen in 2005, but will be likely be shutdown before reaching 58 games (he pitched 53 in 2002, 63 in 2003 and 63 already in 2004).

    We need to get Meche and Madritsch pitching back to back so we can enjoy a 2-game winning streak. I miss playing the Royals.

    Speaking of the Royals, they put a 17-8 whooping on the Yankees, and in the process moved within a games of the M's in what may be the Justin Upton sweepstakes. Anytime the Yankees get their butts kicked by the Royals brings a smile to my face.

    Can someone point me to a good starting point for the M's 2005 budget? I'm hopeful that the brass will take this losing thing seriously and put forth the cash to bring in 2 big bats and a top of the rotation starter this offseason. But I've been told we don't have the budget for that, and I'd like to see how our budget looks for 2005 right now, but am too swamped at work to do it myself. Thanks for any help you provide!

    Bobby Madritsch goes tonight agains the Angels, and that's reason enough for me to watch!

    Today's picks: Lets continue the theme and pick some more underdogs to see if I can get back in the black.
    Expos(Downs) +200 over Marlins(Valdez) - Always take 2-1 odds against Ismael Valdez.
    Devil Rays (Kazmir) +325 over Red Sox (Martinez) - What the hey, he's a nice looking rookie.
    Mariners (Madritsch) +170 over Angels (Washburn) - I get Madritsch AND odds? Sign me up.
    Royals (Greinke) +210 over Yankees (Mussina) - Another rookie pitcher I like.
    and, of course...
    Twins (Santana) -210 over Chisox (Garcia) - Johan Santana for MVP

    Money to date: $-473 (picking dog/favorite = +1057/-1530, 35-48, 27-27) - Joe Kennedy comes through on the road again, and Hudson and Wright lose as heavy favorites to offset losses by the M's and Pirates, and net me a nifty $305 on the day. Oops - so much for posting before the game is over. The Rangers bullpen blows the game and there goes my $305 profit. Instead of winning $205, I lose $100. I hate the Rangers. Sigh.

    Sunday, September 12, 2004

    Deja 2004 

    This is what I envisioned happening a heckuva lot more often this year. A fantastic pitching effort from Gil Meche, great defensive plays behind him like Boonie's snag, and a key 2-run home run from Raul Ibanez for a September 2-0 shutout with playoff implications.

    Gil Meche has turned the corner. Here are his last 8 starts
    6 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, 7/1 K/BB
    8 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 7/2 K/BB
    7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER ,3/0 K/BB
    6.2 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 4/0 K/BB
    6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4/2 K/BB
    5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1/3 K/BB
    7 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 8/0 K/BB
    9 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 4/1 K/BB

    A nice round 3.11 ERA over the last 9 starts with 38 strikeouts and 9 walks and 46 hits in 55 innings. Veerrrryy nice. This is why Gil Meche is going to be with the Mariners in 2005, and it will be the right decision.

    Now, we return to our candlelight vigil for the health of Shaun Alexander. Go Hawks!

    Today's picks:
    Forget the favorites, lets go for some underdogs.
    Mets (Seo) +200 over Braves(Wright)
    Pirates(Brooks) +240 over Cubs(Maddux)
    Mariners(Baek) +220 over Angels(Escobar)
    Rangers(Dominguez) +205 over Athletics(Hudson)
    oh yeah, and Joe Kennedy away from Coors against the anemic DBacks offense...
    Rockies(Kennedy) -155 over DBacks(Fossum)

    Money to date: $-473 (picking dog/favorite = +1157/-1630, 34-45, 26-27) - This is what I get for picking favorites. Another 2-2, and lose another $110. Back to the underdogs!

    Thursday, September 09, 2004

    U.S.Open Rockin! 

    Another sport that has caught my attention is tennis, and the U.S. Open is my favorite tournament. Two contrasting styles on TV today shows what makes tennis so interesting. In the afternoon match, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi finished up their rain-delayed match in conditions far less than ideal. Wind gusts of 30-40 MPH had these two masters of control fighting to keep the ball on the court, and having a battle with the elements as well as each other. In the end, Federer prevailed when Agassi yanked a relatively easy forehand well wide on break point.

    In the nightcap, defending champion Andy Roddick found himself down two sets to relative unknown Joachim Johansson, 22, from Sweden, who hits his forehand harder than any man I have ever seen hit a forehand before. Yeah, the 152 MPH serve that Roddick can hit is damn impressive. But when Roddick would hit a deep ball only to see it punished past him for a forehand winner from behind the baseline, it had him downright demoralized. Roddick served great, but in each of the first two sets, let up with a 40-0 lead to get broken, and Johansson would not allow Roddick to return the favor despite multiple break chances.

    Roddick recovered by attacking Johansson's backhand and relying on his big serve. At one time in the fourth set, he lost a point on his serve, ending a string of 28 consecutive points he won on serve. And Johansson began to feel the pressure, giving up a break in the third and two breaks in the fourth. But he survived break points at 0-0 and 4-4 and Roddick came out shaky at 4-5, double-faulting to go to 0-40 and at 30-40, made an unforced error to give Johansson the win and a trip to the semis, where he will face Lleyton Hewitt. What makes that semi VERY interesting (beyond the great tennis) is that Johansson's long-time girl friend is Lleyton's younger sister Jaslyn Hewitt. When asked who Jaslyn will be rooting for, Joachim answered that Lleyton can't stop being her brother, so she will be rooting for me. Great stuff. So I'll be watching the U.S. Open on Super Saturday, even though Americans may be nowhere to be seen (I have a bad feeling about the American ladies falling on Friday to the Russians).

    Meanwhile, back at the Safe, the M's have a 7-0 lead on the Bosox in the 5th. Madritsch looks great (5 IP, 5 K, 3H, 65 pitches), Ichiro is mortal (1-3), but still fast (stolen base) and the M's will be 1-0 with Jeremy Reed and Gregg Dobbs in the starting lineup. Jose Lopez eats knuckleballers for breakfast (two doubles and a 2 run blast), at least when they leave their knucklers up in the zone. I'm going to bed now, and in my world the M's extend the blowout and cruise to an 11-0 win. And in the postgame conference, they will announce that they are committed to the youth movement, and that Dobbs & Reed will be starting the rest of the year.

    Flipping between the U.S. Open, the Pats-Colts game (why the heck is Dominic Rhodes taking touchdowns away from my man Edgerrin James?) and the Red Sox-M's tilt has left my hand a bit blistered. I've been told that urinating on my hands my help, but as a father of three, I figure I should be getting enough urine on my hands already, just from changing diapers and dealing with accidents. Apparently not.

    Today's picks:
    Another fine day, with easy money to be had taking odds to bet against the likes of Ismael Valdez and Jose Lima. Today, I don't feel so good about the huge underdogs - Expos vs. Braves (Thompson), Marlins vs Cubs(Wood), Mariners vs Sox(Schilling), so instead I'll pick and choose a few favorites.

    Padres(Lawrence) -135 over Rockies(Estes)
    Astros(Munro) -180 over Pirates(VanBenschoten)
    Cardinals(Marquis) -130 over Dodgers(Ishii)
    Twins(Silva) -115 over Tigers(Maroth)

    Money to date: $-363 (picking dog/favorite = +1157/-1520, 34-45, 24-25) - +380 with Blue Jays, Mets and Brewers winning upsets, and only the DBacks falling 5-4 to the Lima-led Dodgers. I should stick to picking underdogs, but, what the hey...

    Willie B Gone 

    I missed 2 of these 3 at bats because Bloomquist = Bathroom Break for me, but here is the ESPN play by play for Willie:

    2nd inning - two outs, runner on first - W Bloomquist struck out swinging
    4th inning - one out, runner on second - W Bloomquist struck out swinging
    7th inning - leadoff hitter - W Bloomquist struck out swinging
    9th inning - J Reed hit for W Bloomquist; J Reed grounded out to shortstop on first pitch

    Now, I'm as willing as anyone to give a player the benefit of the doubt. But do we really need Willie to get more at bats to evaluate his talent while Greg Dobbs and Jeremy Reed are sitting on the bench? Willie playing first base? Puh-leeze. Lets figure out if Ibanez can play the position while we try Jeremy Reed out in left. Please put Willie B in the same pasture that Scott Spiezio will be in for the rest of the season.

    Or better yet, call up A.J. Zapp and see what he can do against major league pitching. He might be just as much fun as Bucky.

    Here is the regular lineup I'd love to see to finish the season

    CF Ichiro
    RF Reed
    DH Edgar
    1B Zapp
    RF Winn/Ibanez
    2B Boone
    C Olivo
    3B Dobbs
    SS Lopez

    But, for some reason, they don't ask me.

    138 down... 24 to go 

    Mariners score five runs on four homers, but the Indians scored six runs with two outs and beat us 9-5. Edgar has TWO nice home runs while Greg Dobbs threw his name into the 2005 third base race with a pinch blast in the ninth. Ichiro only manages a 1 for 5 meaning putting .400 in extreme jeopardy.

    Jeremy Reed also makes his debut in a pinch-hit role, but unlike Dobbs, fails to make an impression. Why these guys are pinch hitting, while Willie Bloomquist, Hiram Bocachica, and Jolbert Cabrera are starting is beyond me. Let the rookies play and lets have some fun!

    Speaking of fun rookies, the bad news is that Bucky Jacobsen is being shut down for the year with surgery scheduled for next week. Tough break for Bucky, and yet another blow for the M's fans. Look for Seahawk interest to be at a record high this year, with little competition available from your Mariners. I know that I am anxiously awaiting Sunday's game against the Saints.

    As for the game, Baek had a nice start going with a 3-1 lead after three innings and having retired 7 in a row at that point. But things fell apart in the fourth as Bret Boone horribly misplayed the first play of the inning, in what should have been scored two errors, as the runner not only was safe at first, but to second because Bret was busy berating himself rather than chasing the ball that had bounced out of his glove into the outfield. That runner scored, but Baek couldn't contain the damage as with two outs and two on, he gave up a three run blast to Ron Belliard, and the M's would never lead again. The Indians later scored three more two-out runs in the seventh to put the game out of reach.

    Today's picks:
    After yesterday's easy pickings, lets go for some more overpriced underdogs. It seems the oddsmakers think that teams not in the playoff hunt have no chance of winning for some reason...
    Mets (Benson) +190 over Marlins (Valdez) - 2-1 odds to bet against Ismael? Okay!
    DBacks (Gonzalez) +280 over Dodgers (Lima) - 3-1 odds to bet against Lima? Okay!
    Blue Jays (Lilly) +180 over Angels (Washburn)
    Brewers (Davis) +110 over Reds (Claussen)

    Money to date: $-743 (picking dog/favorite = +777/-1520, 31-44, 24-25) - A VERY nice day, with the Expos and Blue Jays giving me 2 of 4 underdogs connecting and of course, 2004 AL Cy Young winner Johan Santana won for a tidy $460 profit as I move back toward even.

    Wednesday, September 08, 2004

    Ichiro for MVP? No. 

    The Mariners must win 12 of their remaining 25 games to avoid a 100-loss season. That's about as ugly as it gets.

    Ichiro is at .379 and needs to go 54 for 103 (.524) to reach .400. He is having a truly amazing season and is an excellent reason to show up to cheer on the M's in September. Apparently, his second half is stellar enough that it is prompting some to think - hey, his stats are better than 2001 when he won the AL MVP, so shouldn't Ichiro be MVP in 2004? I see that Rob Neyer chimes in (paysite) about Ichiro as an MVP candidate.

    I haven't read the article, but it seems ludicrous to me to have your league MVP come from a team that may lose 100 games. To me, the MVP discussion, while it is based in statistics, should be centered around the question, "where would the team be if that player was not there (replaced by a league-average player)?"

    And you know where the M's would be without Ichiro? Heading for 100 losses. Even if they were worse off, no one would notice. Of course, attendance would be down another 20%, but the turnstile-turning award has already been given to Ichiro in the form of a long-term contract.

    ARod has been a great player, but while with the Rangers, he should not have won the MVP, because his presence did not elevate the Rangers to, at the least, a competitive level. Actually, ARod is kind of a bizarre anti-MVP in that his departure seems to elevate teams.

    The MVP doesn't need to go to the playoffs or win the World Series. But I think asking that more than half of his games be meaningful, is not asking too much. So, if you are one of those people who thinks Ichiro should be the 2004 MVP, stop. Its embarrassing.

    Today's picks:
    Some amazingly big odds today, so we'll go for them and root for the underdogs...
    Mets (Seo) +245 over Marlins (Beckett)
    Expos (Downs) +280 over Cubs (Maddux)
    DBacks (Fossum) +300 over Dodgers (Perez)
    Devil Rays (Bell) + 220 over Yankees (Halsey)
    Blue Jays (Miller) +280 over Angels (Escobar)
    oh... and one favorite
    Twins (Santana) -200 over Orioles (Bedard)

    Money to date: $-1203 (picking dog/favorite = +417/-1620, 29-42, 23-25) - Not bad - 3 of 4 with only my liking of the Padres costing me $100 while the heavy favorites I picked each won, and the Rockies and Joe Kennedy won be $220 by beating Jason Schmidt for a nice $320 day.

    Thursday, September 02, 2004

    Chasing .400 

    Ichiro! appears unstoppable. Another 3-5 tonight leaves him at 219 hits and counting, in 583 at bats for sa .376 batting average. It is his fifth straight multi-hit game.

    There are 29 games remaining. Over his last 29 games, Ichiro got 124 ABs. If he gets 117 at bats to finish at a nice round 700, then he will need 280 hits to finish at .400. That is 61 hits in 117 at bats, a .521 clip and an average of a little over 2 hits a game.

    Against some of the top teams in the American League in Oakland, Boston, Anaheim, Texas, Cleveland and Chicago, this is HIGHLY unlikely.

    Isn't it?

    So much for that winning streak 

    Poof....it's gone. Hope you enjoyed it while it lasted. At least the M's finally won five in a row, and allowed me to be true to my word (I am nothing if not an honorable optimist). Gil Meche worked out of jams for five innings, before handing over a 2-1 lead to Ron Villone in the sixth. Predictably, Villone turned that lead into a 4-2 M's loss with a very poor inning

    And its now official. The loss to the Blue Jays officially eliminated the Mariners from playoff contention. At least they won't tease us with a too little too late September run like we've seen the last two years, huh? And I guess there won't be any playoffs distracting us from the Seahawks run to the Super Bowl. There's always a bright side.

    Instead of fighting for the playoffs, the M's will continue to try out their new players (we get our first start from Cha Seung Baek tonight) and to try to spoil the playoff aspirations of Boston, Anaheim, Oakland, and Texas, against whom we play 24 of our remaining 30 games. I sure don't want to see ANY of these teams celebrating a playoff clinch on my field.

    And we get to see if Ichiro! can continue his run at George Sisler's major league record of 257 hits. He's currently on pace for 263 and got two more last night.

    I've got a lot too catch up on, but unfortunately, I do not have the time this week. I am playing in a tennis tournament over Labor Day Weekend, sandwiched around two fantasy football drafts on Saturday and Tuesday. Wish me luck in both.

    In the meantime, how does this lineup look for 2005.

    1. Ichiro RF
    2. Beltran CF
    3. Boone 2B
    4. Beltre 3B
    5. Jacobsen/Ibanez DH/1B
    6. Ibanez/Jacobsen 1B/DH
    7. Reed/Winn LF
    8. Olivo C
    9. Lopez SS

    Bench - Winn/Reed, Spiezio, Leone, Cabrera, Wilson

    Rotation - I have to admit I'm not fully versed on the duration of each injury, so let me know if anything I write is impossible.
    1. Joel Pineiro
    2. Odalis Perez
    3. Jamie Moyer?
    4. Bobby Madritsch
    5. Gil Meche

    Bullpen - Putz, Sherrill, Guardado, ???

    Today's picks:
    How about a few favorites...
    Los Angeles (Perez) -250 over Arizona (Fossum). Odalis should be near top of M's FA wishlist.
    Milwaukee (Sheets) -180 over Pittsburgh (Williams). Sheets turns things around here.And a few dogs...
    San Diego (Peavy) +135 over St. Louis (Suppan). Peavy has a chance at the NL ERA title.
    Colorado (Kennedy) +220 over San Francisco (Schmidt). I love Schmidt, but these odds, and Kennedy away from Coors are too good to pass up.

    Money to date: $-1523 (picking dog/favorite = +297/-1820, 28-41, 21-25) - Some things never change - bet on the M's, I lose. Bet against the Yankees, I lose. Sigh. At least the Rockies did their job to keep me from planting an 0'fer.

    Wednesday, September 01, 2004

    The Return of the Optimist 

    Well... that didn't take too long, did it? I think I started this post on May 27th after a 3 game winning streak had me thinking the M's would get their act together this season. Alas, it was not meant to be for the Mariners in 2004.

    Thank you for everyone who emailed me, commented on the blog, or wished me well in their blogs in my absence. A special shout out to those bloggers who have found their inner optimist, at least once or twice, during this painful season. Thanks for picking up the slack.

    I debated whether or not I should post immediately, because I'm afraid that by acknowledging the streak, I will immediately jinx it. As the immortal Crash Davis once said, "never mess with a winning streak" (at least "mess" is the word he uses on the edited version I last saw on TBS).

    After reading a tide of comments and email, I've decided that it is time to post, jinx be damned. Heck, I think the only reason this winning streak began is that I started to go to the dark side and thought that maybe the M's would lose to the Royals and guarantee that they land the prospect of the day in B.J. Upton's little brother. And it was during this streak that I remembered why I love baseball - in every 162 game season there is one and only one champion, but every night there is a story and a chance for victory, and each victory is there to be enjoyed, if you want it.

    So, tonight, WHEN the M's win again, I'll enjoy the win without the superstitious baggage. And if we lose, there's always the fun of watching Roddick and Sharapova at the U.S. Open (I'm a big tennis fan!)

    All in all, I'd have to declare my strike a bust for the Mariners, but it was good for me personally. Though it does not appear that my strike inspired the Mariners to quickly win 5, it at least got Bavasi to make one excellent trade of Freddy Garcia (which brought out the optimist in EVERY blogger). As for me, I buried my negative thoughts over the course of a month in San Diego visiting family (and being chided as the only family member who remained a loyal Mariner fan long after I left Redmond at the age of 11). And as the Mariners accepted the need to rebuild over the course of the summer, so did I.

    I'm looking forward to re-introducing myself to y'all over the upcoming weeks. Reliving the pain of 2004 a little bit, and trying to figure out what we learned, emphasizing, of course, what went right. Looking forward to the M's certainly bright future. Marvelling at the hitting machine that is Ichiro!. Jerking tears at the final month of Edgar. And just plain enjoying the likes of Bucky Richardson and Bobby Madritsch playing their hearts out to show they belong in the bigs and in a Mariners uniform in 2005.

    Today's picks:
    Okay, the real reason I came back is that I can't just sit here and see myself more than a thousand dollars in the hole. Its time to start earning my money back. The betting theme over the next few weeks will be that the Padres are going to win the World Series and the Yankees are gonna fall. And I'm putting my money where my mouth is.

    Padres (Eaton) +160 over Cardinals (Carpenter) - Padres World Series run starts here.
    Mariners (Meche) +123 over Blue Jays (Bush) - Easy money
    Indians (Sabathia) +170 over Yankees (Hernandez) - Character test for the Yankees. F.
    Rockies (Wright) +170 over Giants (Rueter) - Wright stuff away from Coors

    Money to date: $-1393 (picking dog/favorite = +427/-1820, 27-38, 21-25) - My picks to date have been much like the M's season. Cursed. My final 1-4 cost me $330 more dollars and reminds me why I continue to put my real money into the stock market rather than my bookie's hands.

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?