Seattle Mariners vs. Oakland A’s 4-14-12

Here is a video of the Mariners game I went to. This is airing on my sports vlog on Youtube:

If you would like to see more on my vlog, visit http://www.youtube.com/user/Sportsnut04?feature=watch

 

Pictures of the Seattle Mariners Game Against the Oakland A’s on 4-14-12

Here are pictures of mythe first Seattle Mariners game of the 2012 season:


The view from my seat

Mariners Center Fielder Chone Figgins


Mariners First Baseman Justin Smoak


Mariners Third Baseman Alex Liddi


Mariners  Catcher Jesus Montero


Mariners Left Fielder Casper Wells


Mariners Shortstop Brendan Ryan


Mariners Pitcher Hector Noesi


Mariners Second Baseman Dustin Ackley


Mariners Right Fielder Ichiro Suzuki


Mariners Designated Hitter Miguel Olivo


Mariners Pitcher Brandon League


Mariners defeat the A’s 4-0.

More Seattle Mariners Autographs

So I went to the Seattle Mariners game against the Oakland Athletics on April 14, 2012. Here are some signatures I picked up to add to my collection:


Seattle Mariners/Oakland A’s Ticket for 4-14-12

Seattle Mariners Pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen

Former Seattle Mariners Pitcher Bill Krueger

Tom Wilhelmsen and I

Seattle Mariners Arena Letter, Hiroshi Yamaguchi and Potential New Owners

Here is my latest vlog entry. I talk about the Seattle Mariners Arena Letter and request Hiroshi Yamaguchi sells the team:

If you could like to see more og my vlog, click here: http://www.youtube.com/user/Sportsnut04

Japan Series Recap

The Seattle Mariners have returned from Tokyo, Japan. The first two games of the 2012 Major League Baseball season are in the books. The M’s split the brief two-game series against the Oakland Athletics, winning the first game 3-1 in 11 innings and losing the second one 4-1. Here are some notes from the series:

First I must acknowledge the pitching performances from Oakland’s starting pitchers Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon. McCarthy matched everything from Seattle’s starting pitcher Felix Hernandez in game one. Hernandez went one more inning than McCarthy, but even so, I wasn’t expecting him to pitch that well. When Colon pitched in game two, something occurred to me: Colon is a quiet Mariner Killer. When Mariners fans think of Mariner Killers, they think of players like Pedro Martinez and Vladimir Guerrero. As the game continued, I came to the realization that you could arguably put Colon on that list as well. The guy dominated the Mariners when he was with the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Now he’s on Oakland and in his first start against the M’s, he went eight innings and allowed one run on three hits and if it hadn’t been for a home run by first baseman Justin Smoak, Colon would have shut them out.

As for the Mariners, I am not surprised at all they came through in the opening game of the season. The Mariners have historically been good on opening day. Heck, the last time they lost on opening day, you have to go back to 2006 when they lost to the Angels. So when the game went into extra innings, I wasn’t too concerned. As for the second game, again Colon was pitching to I wasn’t too surprised that we lost.

However, and I know the M’s have only played two games thus far, the bats were still terrible. Another start by Hernandez went by the waste side as the M’s could not put together a “big” inning (like scoring 5 runs in one inning or something like that.) In game one, the M’s went from the sixth inning to the eleventh without a base hit. Sure there were some bright sides in the series like Smoak and second baseman Dustin Ackley hitting home runs and the M’s did have nine hits in game one, but for the most part, the offense was no where to be seen.

Despite the poor offense, I will take the split. It’s better than getting swept so I won’t complain too much.

Up next for the M’s is another small two game series against the A’s in Oakland starting on Friday April 6th. I am hoping Hernandez will go again for the USA opener. Do I feel sorry for Oakland having to face Hernandez twice in four games if that happens? Not really.

One Side Note: I was a little surprised to see how quiet the Japanese fans were during the games. Granted they supported the M’s by wearing a ton of Seattle merchandise and Ichiro Suzuki T-Shirts. However they were really quiet compared to what I was expecting. Well despite them not being as rowdy as I thought they were going to be, they were great hostesses.

Previewing the 2012 Seattle Mariners

Here is a video of my youtube vlog. I prevew the Seattle Mariners:

The Pug’s Thoughts in The Doghouse Vlog: Previewing the 2012 Seattle Mariners

If you would like to see more, click here: http://www.youtube.com/user/Sportsnut04?feature=mhee

 

A Few Small Notes Before The Opening Series In Japan

Now since my little rant to Hiroshi Yamaguchi is over, let’s get back to the exciting start of the baseball season. Again the Seattle Mariners will be playing in Japan and there is a ton of buzz and their opening series against the Oakland Athletics. I know the games need to be played, but here’s what I hope to see while the M’s are in Japan.

Outside of wanting the Mariners to sweep the A’s, I am really looking forward to seeing how Japanese baseball fans react at a game. I have seen glimpses of international baseball games while watching the World Baseball Classic. Some people from Asia bring drums, noise makers and sing songs throughout the game. I am wondering how much of that we will see that in Japan. American fans do that sometimes, but I’ve heard (and could be wrong about this) it is not as common over here in the States. Fans yell of course and chant their lungs out, but I only know of a few traditional chants and songs around Major League Baseball (e.i. Tomahawk Chant from the Atlanta Braves and there’s a guy in Cleveland who plays a drum when the Indians have a runner in scoring position.) It should be a festive atmosphere. I’m looking forward to comparing Japanese and American baseball fan bases after this series is over.

The other thing I would like to see, I know the chances of this happening are low, but a nice long extra inning game would be amazing. I don’t like to use this source, but according to Wikipedia, if a Japanese Baseball game is tied after nine innings, they play up to three innings of extra play. If the game is tied after 12 innings, the game ends in a tie. Wouldn’t it be awesome if one of the Mariners/A’s games went 15 or 18 innings? Both teams have a week and a half off after this series so they could go through their entire bullpen and bench if they had to. Imagine a late game winning hit in the 14th inning and how dramatic that would be for not just A’s and M’s fans, but the Japanese baseball fans in attendance? It would be a different form of baseball compared to what Japanese fans are used to seeing.

Game one will feature Seattle Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez and in game two, the M’s will send Jason Vargas to the hill. There is probably a source with this information, but at this time I don’t know who the A’s starting pitchers for the series.

Either way, I will be watching these games. I’ll have to catch the replays in the states, but I’ll manage. On that note, let’s play ball. It’s time to take down those pesky Oakland A’s.

(NOTE: I plan to preview the Mariners sometime before they play the A’s in the states. The reason why is because the M’s have a couple of more cuts to make and a few more exhibition games after this Japan trip. But don’t worry, it will come.

A Letter to Hiroshi Yamaguchi

(The following rant will be in the form of a letter to the Seattle Mariners majority owner, Hiroshi Yamaguchi.)

Dear Mr. Yamaguchi,

こんにちは。 私の名前はジェームズです。 あなたに会うとは. Hello my name is James. Nice to meet you. In case you’re wondering about me using Japanese characters, I actually took a couple of years of Japanese with I was in middle school. I hope things are going well for you.

I am writing you today in regards to your Major League Baseball Team, the Seattle Mariners. Since buying the team in 1992, you have done some great things for the organization and Seattle. Safeco Field was built in 1999. You helped keep the team here in the Pacific Northwest after the team was threatening to move to Tampa, FL. Throughout your tenure as owner, Mariners’ fans have experienced playoff seasons in 1995, 1997, 2000 and 2001. The team has also had winning seasons under you in 1993, 1996, 2002, 2003, 2007 and 2009. I appreciate all you have done for the city of Seattle and this team.

Despite the team’s success on the financial level, the Seattle Mariners have never won a World Series Championship or have even made it to that stage of the postseason. They are now one of two MLB Franchises who have never been to a World Series with the Washington Nationals being the other. In recent years, Mariners’ fans have had constant disappointment. Since 2003, the team has lost over 90 ballgames five times. In the last four years, the M’s have lost 101 games in a season twice. We have fallen from where we were back in the mid 90s and early 2000s. I could write to you about the players not performing, but I will save you the time. Long story short, we have underachieved throughout the last decade and haven’t met the expectations that come with a major sports team franchise.

I think one of the ways we can solve our problems is to have you go to a Seattle Mariners game. I think it would benefit the team, the organization and it could give you an idea of what is going on over here and you can see the state of this team. I understand you are busy and you are working on new Nintendo products. However, Seattle Mariners fans would greatly appreciate it if you come to a Mariners game.

That being said, it has been reported that since you bought the team in 1992, you have never been to a game. Again, I know you are busy and you are probably working on the latest Nintendo video game system which American consumers will probably fall in love with like they have with other Nintendo products. As much as I wish you would come over to Seattle to see a game, I can understand that you as the owner of Nintendo have a responsibility to satisfy your customers.

This year is different though, Mr. Yamaguchi. Instead of asking you to buy plane tickets, a hotel room, tickets to an M’s game and the other necessities for you to visit, the Mariners are going over to Japan. Your product is coming to you. The team will play not only one, but two games in the Tokyo Dome against the Oakland Athletics next week. As a Mariners fan, I would hope you would be looking forward to seeing your team for the first time in 20 years.

That being said, it has been reported in The Seattle Times and 710 AM ESPN Seattle that you still might not attend these games. I know you probably want to keep your busy schedule private. However I am asking you to please go see your team in your country this week.

As an owner of a major sports franchise, you have a responsibility to know what your product on the field is. You have a responsibility to the fans in Seattle who have been loyal to this team for 35 years. I would like to think that you would care enough to know how your team is doing on the competitive level and not just the financial level.

Therefore, if you decide to not show up to these games in Japan, I can tell you many fans in Seattle will feel let down and be really disappointed. Also if you cannot attend these games, I personally ask that you sell the team. Obviously please sell the team to someone who wants to keep the Mariners in Seattle, but none the less, please sell this baseball franchise.

You will give Seattle fans the impression that it is in fact true that you don’t care about what this team is doing. You will lack the responsibilities an owner of a professional sports team has and you will fail to meet the expectations of having a competitive team on the field. Not only that, the games are in your country. Not showing up to these games will show you are too lazy to care about what the Mariners do as a team.

Therefore I ask you to please attend these games. If you do, you will finally see what needs to be done in order to have the Seattle Mariners win a World Series Championship. You will tell Seattle fans you still care about what’s going on over seas with this organization. If you do not show up, you will let M’s fans down and at that point, I ask you put the team up for sell and sell it to an owner who actually cares and has the time and energy to put together a winning product.

Thank you for your time. I hope to see you on Root Sports on Wednesday and Thursday in the stands at the Tokyo Dome watching your Seattle Mariners play the Oakland Athletics.

 

Sincerely,

James

2012 Spring Training Surprises and Disappointments

Disclaimer: This is being written on March 23, 2012. The Mariners still have some cuts to make before their first game in the United States in April. I am going on the Mariners active roster on www.mariners.com.

The Seattle Mariners are in Japan getting ready for their Wednesday night (or for the USA early Wednesday morning) opener against the Oakland Athletics. With that, the majority of the exhibition season is over. Here are the biggest surprises and biggest disappointments coming out of spring training and some things to look at going into the beginning of the season.

Biggest Surprises:  Let’s start out with the positives. The big one is outfielder Michael Saunders. Here’s a guy who finished with a .149 batting average last season. Yes he dealt with the injury bug and a death in the family. However Saunders has yet to show he can bat well in the big leagues. His defense is good and with outfielder Franklin Gutierrez out for the first part of the season (more on that later,) Saunders may be in for some playing time as the Mariners wait for their gold glover Gutierrez to return. What will keep him in the starting lineup is his bat. If his spring training statistics show any indication that his bat can turn around, Saunders may have won himself a starting job going into the season. In 13 games, Saunders has a .324 batting average, at one point was hitting .417, with 12 hits out of 37 at bats and one home run. That’s not too shabby for a guy who’s trying to make the team. But what’s really making me wonder if Saunders can finally be the player the M’s want him to me is not his stats. It’s his approach and swing at the plate. It has been reported several times on ESPN Seattle that Saunders is not being as patient as he used to be. He’s much more relaxed at the plate and it seems that this new approach is working at least in spring training. Will this carry over into the regular season? Only time will tell. But with his numbers the way they are, it could be argued that Saunders numbers are the biggest surprise during the Mariners’ spring training at the offensive level. Heck, it can be argued that Saunders is batting better than new catcher Jesus Montero, who has a spring batting average of .306 in 12 games.

The second surprise of the spring for me is without a doubt outfielder Carlos Peguero. Peguero in general scares me. Why? It’s because I don’t like guys who strike out a ton and Peguero did have his far share of strikeouts last year. Then again, that’s what you get when you have a free swinger in your lineup like Peguero. That being said, I was half expecting either one of the new prospects or players like second baseman Dustin Ackley or first baseman Justin Smoak to lead the team in home runs during the spring. Instead it’s Carlos Peguero. The guy has four. He also is tied on the team for second in Runs Batted In with 10 and is tied for fourth in hits with eleven. His batting average is a little low at .256 and he leads the team in strikeouts with 14. However, if he continues to show this kind of power, there is a good chance he will stay on this team and be on the active roster when the team comes back from Japan. The strikeouts still scare me. But if Peguero still hits home runs and hits them in the clutch, I’m sure the M’s will take it considering they need all the offensive help they can get considering they’ve had batting problems for the last two seasons. My message for Peguero is this: “hit all the home runs you can. But please try to avoid the strikeouts.” If Peguero stays on this team after the Japan trip, his impatience at the plate and strikeout total could be the reason why he gets sent down to Triple-A Tacoma again. But at least he’s had a nice spring.

This next surprise is actually because of the way the Mariners marketed this player in the offseason. I’m surprised outfielder Trayvon Robinson was sent down to the minors. This has nothing to do with his home run to strikeout ratio. It has nothing to do with his spring batting average of .529. I’m surprised because in the offseason, the Mariners put him out there. He did a couple of autograph signings at selected Mariners Team Stores and made an appearance at Seattle Mariners’ Fan Fest. He also was featured many times on ESPN Seattle and I wouldn’t doubt (though I don’t have a source) he was on 950 AM KJR. With Robinson, it’s obvious the M’s want him down in the minors so he can work on some things. I just think it’s a little bizarre the M’s put him out there so much in the offseason and now he’s being sent down. I thought he was going to be a fourth or maybe fifth outfielder. Guess I was wrong.

Biggest Disappointments: Franklin Gutierrez, you lead this parade. Oh my goodness. You came into this year’s spring training in the best shape of your life. You were ready to play center field, a position that is rightfully yours. You were ready to have a bounce back year and hopefully produce better statistics at the plate. And low and behold, you are back on the sideline with an injury. Just before spring training games, Gutierrez suffered a partial tear of his right pectoral muscle. He has missed all exhibition games and is not with the M’s in Japan. I feel badly for Gutierrez. He will likely have to play another stint in Triple-A Tacoma again. That might be good for Rainiers’ fans, but for Gutierrez, it’s a familiar situation. This will be the second year in a row he will have to have his spring training in April and in Tacoma. Hopefully he won’t have to spend too many games down their. It’s really unfortunate.

Behind Gutierrez, there is pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma was once known as one of the best pitchers in Japan. He helped Team Japan win a World Baseball Classic. The Mariners are not paying him a lot of money. That’s the bright side. The down side is he has been really shaky in spring training. In four games, opponents are hitting .358 off him. He has an earned run average of 3.75. In 12 innings pitched, he has given up 19 hits. Iwakuma has not made the starting rotation and he will be in the bullpen to start the year. The last time a Seattle Mariners pitcher got hit this hard in spring training it was in 2010. Ryan Rolland-Smith made the team despite one poor outing after another and the M’s saw him falter as the season progressed. Iwakuma will be in the bullpen so at least he won’t be out on the mound every fifth day, but his stats and him being hit hard leads to the concern of is this a preview of what is to come?

Things to look at going into the beginning of the season: How will the Mariners starting rotation do? The rotation is as follows:

1. Felix Hernandez
2. Jason Vargas
3. Hector Noesi
4. Blake Beavan
5. Kevin Millwood

I think it is obvious what fans can expect from Hernandez particularly since Fox Sports writer Ken Rosenthal predicts Hernandez will win this years American League Cy Young award. Vargas can be streaking, but again, fans have an idea of what to expect from him after watching him pitch throughout the last few years. Everyone else has questions. Will Hector Noesi replace Michael Pineda and become the next young hurler that Pineda was? Will Beavan make improvements from last season? Does the old veteran Millwood have anything left in his arm after a long career? Starting pitching has been the Mariners strong point the last few years. This is now questionable with all the new faces.

Finally, will the offense improve? I would discuss this in more detail, but if you want analysis on how bad the Mariners offense has been, I’m sure you can Google it. I might blog about it in a later post, but I’ll say this now: I’m still waiting for a player who can hit 30 home runs and a couple of others who can bat over .300. Yes, that includes Ichiro Suzuki.

This is It Chone Figgins

I seem to be bringing up Seattle Mariners’ Third Baseman Chone Figgins a lot in my blog. I brought him up when I talked about what I will be looking for this spring training. I mentioned him briefly at the end of my last blog entry when I wrote about him being the new leadoff hitter since Ichiro Suzuki is being moved to the 3rd spot in the lineup. Since he keeps being brought up, here’s where I stand with him.

There is still a part of me praying that Figgins can do something positive for this team. When I heard he was going to be a free agent in the 2009 offseason, I screamed out “GET HIM!” When the Mariners signed him, I was jumping for joy. I thought he would be an outstanding signing because he gave teams headaches with his knack of getting on base and putting pressure on opposing defenses with his speed and with him stealing bases. And with him batting behind Ichiro, it would lead to more scoring opportunities.

I started saving money for a Figgins’ jersey. While I was saving, the exact opposite happened that I thought. Figgins went from a potential All-Star to an absolute disaster. His stats have gone down, his defense has been subpar and some could argue he is a cancer and was one of the players who divided the clubhouse after Ken Griffey Jr. retired in the middle of 2010, which led to the firing of manager Don Wakamatsu. Figgins is a .280 career hitter. The closest Figgins has been to that with the M’s is .259 in 2010. He has fallen from the second spot in the lineup to a bench player. He’s the reason why Adam Kennedy saw more playing time before he got hurt last season. Due to his injury, Figgins only played in 81 games last season. That hasn’t happened since 2003 during Figgins second year with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim when he played in 71 games. All of this led to me not buying the Figgins’ jersey.

Now Figgins will be entering his third year of a four year contract with the Mariners. He’s coming off a season where he only batted .188. Yet he’s the Mariners leadoff hitter going into spring training games. He is no longer a fan favorite. Mariner fans boo Figgins every time he comes to the plate. Some want the M’s to trade him now even though the M’s would have to cover the majority of his contract if he were to play for another team. Despite the plethora of negative things, I am still hopeful the Mariners can get something out of him even though he is on my list, along with other fans, of players I want off this team.

Figgins is not going away anytime soon. The Mariners have two more years of dealing with this controversial player. But this year is different. This year is the last chance Figgins has to show he can play and be the player he was with the Angels because after this year, there are no more excuses.

Figgins had been spent the majority of his career at third base and in the leadoff spot of a lineup. When he came to the Mariners, Figgins was moved from third base to second so former Mariner Jose Lopez could play third. His numbers began to drop and his defense began to slip. Figgins committed 19 of his 29 career errors at second base in 2010. The M’s then put him back to third in 2011. His defense was still poor as he committed 11 errors in his 81 games. That averages out to about 1 error every ten games. Again, his batting average dropped to .188.

Now Figgins is back to what he’s used to: third base and in the leadoff spot. Some could blame Safeco Field and other reasons for why Figgins is playing at such a terrible level. However going into this year, there are no more excuses. The guy is going to be in his comfortable and experienced role. I recently heard Figgins on 710 ESPN Seattle about he’s looking forward to batting like a leadoff hitter again. This is going to be the make or break year. If Figgins does well, it’s obvious his stats will go back to normal and he will help the Mariners dismal offense. If he doesn’t, it will put the Mariners in a sticky situation: trade him with one more year to go on his contract or keep him and watch him to continue to rot on the team.

This is it. If Figgins does not perform this season, I will no longer be hopeful and he will join the list that includes Richie Sexson and Scott Spiezio: the list of free agents who did not pan out. And before the season begins, everyone should be praying that doesn’t happen. Figgins will be under the microscope this year.