ANAHEIM, Calif. – Similar to Dee Gordon saying the Mariners needed that six-game losing streak to refocus on their deficiencies, the weekly mailbag needed that two-week stretch of a loaner laptop to remember what’s important and what makes this mailbag successful – snarky or rhetorical questions that are met with answers of equal or greater snark or answers that leave you with more questions.
As always, these are real questions from the mixed bag of personalities otherwise known as my Twitter followers:
That seems to be everyone’s solution to all of the problems with umpires. I don’t think it will happen any time soon. My solution – better umpires.
I’m more in favor of training better umpires and providing a level of transparency and accountability that simply doesn’t exist because a change to robot umpires, particularly with the strikezone won’t be implemented in the next five years.
Really, it’s never existed.
Umpires have basically been untouchable in terms of responding to their mistakes and the criticism that comes with them. Following a game, if the media wants to ask the umpires a question about a ruling, a call or ejection, a pool reporter has to go down to their clubhouse and ask on behalf of everyone else – this is standard in the NFL and NBA as well.
As someone who has had that distinction, the umpires are less verbose than Erik Bedard with duct tape over his mouth. At least Bedard allowed five questions. In fact, umpires often get bitterly defensive, accusatory or simply refuse to answer. If the umpire in question isn’t the crew chief, the crew chief will often interject and offer his thoughts. There’s a pack mentality that develops. And there’s certainly the attitude of “why are you even questioning our decision?” or “I shouldn’t have to answer for my actions.”
Players have to wear it after a bad game. Managers have to eat it and talk about a bad decision. Umpires don’t have to discuss their critical calls or apparent mistakes?
For example, let’s use the recent issue between the White Sox and Royals surrounding Tim Anderson’s bat flip and subsequent beaning by pitcher Brad Keller, which led to some pushing and shoving. Crew chief Joe West eventually ejected Keller, Anderson and both managers. When a pool reporter wanted to talk to West about the decision on the ejections, particularly Anderson, West sent word through a White Sox PR official that it was “because of language” and declined to comment more.
How is that right?
Recently many umpires have developed a persecution complex believing that players and managers have been too confrontational. But in reality, the quality of umpiring has gone down so much that the confrontations should be expected. Umpires have grown just as confrontational. Umpire Ron Kulpa screaming “I can do what I want” after ejecting Astros manager A.J. Hinch is a notable recent example. Has MLB said anything about Kulpa’s behavior?
How is it that West, Angel Hernandez, C.B. Bucknor and other substandard umpires are allowed to work games with impunity and regularity? What is the grading system that says they should be allowed to continue to work at the game’s highest level?
Commissioner Rob Manfred’s obsession with speeding up the game has yet to address aspects of the quality of the game. The state of umpiring is a problem that needs to be addressed.
Will it happen?
Probably not, but, hey, that mandatory minimum of three batters per pitcher will fix everything.
Do you believe it’s not sustainable because of the pace, the Mariners’ hitters or the hitters on other teams?
Obviously, the pace isn’t sustainable. They’ve hit 53 homers in 24 games, which puts them on pace for 358 home runs in a season. The record for most homers in a season by a team was set last season by the Yankees, who bashed 267. That passed the record of 264 set by the 1997 Mariners. That group had nine players reach double digits in home runs led by Ken Griffey Jr.’s 56 homers.
A regression will come for the Mariners. The homers will slow down against good pitching.
But how much?
A few days ago, a story from The Ringer noted that in 2019 players were on pace to produce more than 6,300 homers. The record for most in a season was 2017 was 6,105. That’s a significant increase. There will be talk about the baseball being more lively, that players are more interested in an all-or-nothing approach at the plate and that focus for every hitter is dingers, dingers, dingers. There’s probably some truth in all of it.
Perhaps the only reasons why the Mariners can’t or won’t lead MLB in home runs will be that a team like the Dodgers passes them or that roster attrition or injury will significantly derail the Mariners’ homer production. If Seattle trades Jay Bruce and Edwin Encarnacion or injuries hit the lineup hard, then that production will decrease. But the team’s patient approach to get a hittable pitch and then unleash hell on it seems to be pretty consistent. And that leads to home runs.
My guess is the Mariners will finish in the top three or four in homers, but probably won’t lead baseball when the season is done.
They are on pace for 169 errors this season. A year ago, they committed 88. To be fair, the defense has been better of late. And it will continue to get better with the commitment to pregame work that the players have displayed at the urging of Dee Gordon.
Still, these players are who they are on some levels. The extra work will make them adequate to average, but will never make them elite. To get significantly better on defense they’d need to bring in better defensive players. They are sacrificing defense for some offense right now. It reminds you of a team Jack Zduriencik wanted to build.
Fielding percentage isn’t a great measure for defense. Really there isn’t a great metric to measure defense. Defensive runs saved (DRS) or Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) are probably the two most used measures and they have their flaws and imperfections. Regardless of the metric used, the Mariners are not good defensively. And any improvement will be incremental at best.
Seager got the brace off his hand a few weeks ago and is progressing in his recovery. But he’s yet to swing a bat, which will be the key aspect in his return. As I write this, it’s April 20. The process to build him up to hitting again is going to be incremental and slow. He’ll have to build up all that time he missed. It’s not a situation where a week’s worth of rehab games with Class AAA Tacoma will be enough. He’ll eventually have to go to extended spring training and basically start his playing progression from the beginning.
I wouldn’t expect to see him before mid-June and probably closer to July 1.
Hmmm. I want to say Ryon Healy because his club control makes him more attractive to teams than the money associated with Edwin Encarnacion or Jay Bruce. But realistically, the Mariners are more likely to deal Encarnacion or Bruce if given the opportunity. That was always the plan going into the season and it really hasn’t changed.
It’s hard enough for me to stop calling it the disabled list or DL.
To answer part A, I’ve never turned down a job from MLB Network or any other national outlet. I have turned down a job from a national outlet to cover the Mariners and also a few other local jobs.
As for part B, I’m not aware of Blowers turning down national jobs. That fraternity can be difficult to get into and also something that can be quite time consuming with the travel. I rarely if ever hear the broadcasts but I’ve been told Blowers does a great job. My mom likes him so that will look good on his resume.
Well, the hashtag stands for Workout of the Day. It’s a hashtag used a little too often by crossfitters and other workout enthusiasts, who like to post the workouts they’ve completed on social media. But thanks to my good friend Christian Caple, who first dropped that hashtag on picture of a massive plate of teriyaki and rice, a group of us local media folks use #WOD for whenever we eat large, unhealthy and delicious meals.
Probably more times than all the combined words I’ve ever written in these mailbags, which is a significant number. That’s what you did in small town Montana and I’m sure in small towns all over the country. With two 15-inch MTX Blue Thunder speakers in the extra cab of my Toyota 4X4, it’s a miracle my heartbeat isn’t permanently affected or my hearing completely damaged.
There is this movement on social media to tell people what they should or shouldn’t like to consume. Post a pic of how much you love a Shake Shack burger and you have people telling that you are wrong and that Dick’s or In-N-Out or Culver’s is better. How can your personal tastes be wrong?
Some people actually like to eat salad. And while I think they are people born without taste buds, they aren’t wrong for liking salad. They are also people I’d prefer to not be around under any circumstances.
So BoeDog, if you like Pabst Blue Ribbon as your favorite beer, you do you. Your bar bill will definitely be cheaper than the people you are drinking with as they smell their double IPAs and drink the caloric equivalent of a pork chop and gravy. Don’t let beer snobbery, which is a very real thing in the Puget Sound, force you to like something you don’t.
I will raise a 16 oz. Olympia to you staying true to yourself.
The area in Anaheim by the ballpark is basically overrun with chain restaurants, which is what you’d expect for a city that has Disneyland. Tourists spending a week in the area are looking for something familiar and simple. The best place in the immediate area is called Sabroso Mexican Grill. It’s old school Mexican food and was featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. Their chile verde and pork tamales are my favorite.
Bars? What are bars? Given my Catholic school upbringing, there’s never been a foot stepped into those sorts of sinful establishments. Petco Park is in the Gaslamp district which can be a little “bro” heavy. Think of The ‘Pen on PEDs.
Asking around, I’ve been told that the Bub’s by the ballpark is a good postgame watering hole that specializes in dishes surrounding tater tots and also has a basketball hoop in it. The Tipsy Crow is cool little place with a wide beer selection. The Trailer Park after Dark goes hard for the dive bar theme, while Tivoli is actually a dive bar that feels like it was pulled right out of Havre, Montana.
Dear God, I hope not.
The Mariners were actually planning to take Wilson in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 draft back in 2013 when Texas selected him in the Class AAA portion. The Rangers later “traded” him to the Yankees in 2018.
To be honest, I hope it never happens because I don’t want to have to cover it. I did it once when he was with the Rangers and he even hit a homer in batting practice. The entire situation is a farce and is tired.
The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.