Saturday, February 23, 2008

Babies and Baseball Broadcasters

So the news this week is that my sis Lani had her baby on Friday - a little girl named Lilah...they should have pictures up on their blog soon I believe, so check them out. They are all doing well, so congrats to them on numero quatro...

The other big news this week was, again, from the baseball world - though of a much more heartening nature than the last piece baseball news I shared. Dave Niehaus, the Mariners broadcaster since their inception in 1977 (31 years now), was finally voted as the Ford C. Frick award recipient this year. For those of you who don't know, [almost everyone] this essentially the highest honor a baseball broadcaster can receive. It means he gets inducted into the Broadcasters Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY this summer - along with the likes of Mel Allen, Vin Scully, and Harry Caray. The announcement came this Tuesday, on his 73rd birthday. Way to go Dave! This is actually the most excited I have been as a Mariner fan since 2001. To put it simply, Dave Niehaus IS Mariners baseball to me. Having listened to him almost exclusively for all my baseball loving years, I associate his voice with the glory of the game more than anything else. And on a professional level, he truly is as good as they come. I have never heard an announcer who can match his ease, descriptiveness, and professionalism yet. In fact, having been spoiled by Niehaus, most play-by-play announcers make me cringe. He can hold your attention without over-talking/reacting, and can relate the ambiance and feel of the ballpark better than anybody. And although he is the M's biggest cheerleader, he never criticizes the other team (as many announcers do), but is always very complimentary of them. I could go on, but since I'm already risking being called a nerd again, I'll simply encourage you to check out some of these links...If you are a baseball fan you will appreciate them. And if you aren't yet, then perhaps, as he has done for thousands of others, Dave can help you become one.

This is a link to a USSM post regarding Niehaus. The author, Dave Cameron, eloquently states how most M's fans (myself included) feel about the honor...go ahead and read the comments too - you'll find I'm not the only nerd around here.

Here's a link to one of the many articles on the Mariners website and I highly encourage you to click the video link at the top of the article entitled "31 Years of Niehaus." (Stupid is pretty stingy with their content. I've never yet found a way to even link directly to their player, much less embed video anywhere.)

And here's an ESPN article about Dave...and found in the middle of it are several audio clips of some of Dave's classic calls. Well worth a listen.

So there you go...all in all a pretty good week.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

At Long Last...

So today was the day that you all have been waiting for - Mariners pitchers and catchers reported to Peoria for the first day of Spring Training 2008!!! Baseball is back!!! Now that I live relatively close to AZ, I'm hoping to perhaps make it over there at some point this spring to catch a game or two - money and time permitting. (Though I'm not holding my breath, as I rarely find money and time to be in very permissive moods. They remind me more of the overbearing parents of a teenager. They never let me do what I want.) I must however confess that I would be much more ecstatic about the beginning of this season had the M's GM and front office not gone and made more horrible off-season moves. Anyone who has bothered to read this post this far has probably ascertained that I'm speaking of last week's Bedard-Jones + trade. Bavasi went into the off-season letting everyone in the world know he was desperate for a "#1 type starter." (One can easily assume his job is on the line this season, and he's still trying to recover from last year's Ramirez/Weaver fiasco.) And it's true, they needed pitching. So I give them credit in pursuing Kuroda strongly...If they wanted to sign somebody, I think he was their best bet. There weren't many top-notch arms on the FA market, and (fortunately) they didn't really have enough to buy into the Santana Sweepstakes. But they lost him to the Dodgers. So then, rather than coming to the long over-due conclusion that "maybe-we- should-develop- our-own-young-pitchers- from-within-and- spend-our-money-on-improving- our- defense- and-offense-instead-of-using-it-on-over-priced- free-agents," they signed Carlos Silva for 4 years @ $44 million. Not a great move - his skills aren't a great match for Safeco at all. But hey, he's a decent pitcher, and they didn't have to give anyone up. So it could have been worse. Aaaaaaand then it did get worse. The M's have been grooming Adam Jones for years, and I've been waiting for him to have a permanent spot on their roster for a long time. And with the departure of Guillen, it seemed like this was finally his year. He's a 23 year old solid 5-tool player. Even if he never lives up to his awesome potential, at worst, he will be an above average major leaguer. And at best, he's gonna be a superstar. But no, Bavasi couldn't give up, and decided to mortgage the team's future for his "# 1 starter." He sent Jones, George Sherrill (one of the best lefty specialists in the league,) and 3 good minor league pitching prospects to Baltimore for Erik Bedard. That's 5 for 1, folks. And keep in mind that Jones would belong to the Mariners for 6 years. Bedard is up for free agency in 2. If they don't get an extension worked out soon...well, let's just say I won't be happy. Now don't get me wrong, I think Bedard is a stud. And it's going to be alot of fun to watch him and Felix go back to back. But by filling one hole, they created even more. They had options for filling their rotation, and they really needed to focus on improving their corner defense and power. They could have fielded an amazing, young, division contending team in a couple of years. But they decided to jump the gun and bet the house on Bedard. I hope it works. I'm not saying it's impossible, and I'll obviously still be rooting for them all the way. But I just don't see them beating the Angels with this offense. As a die-hard fan, it's just frustrating when your team's front office seems incapable of making smart baseball decisions. Sure, they have made some good moves over the years (Ichiro, Hernandez, Betancourt, etc.) But it seems like their specialty lies in signing over-paid under-achievers, (Weaver, Ramirez, Vidro, Cairo, etc.) singing the praises of mediocrity, talking big - and finishing in second place. But I guess I'll just look on the bright side. We have two of the best young pitchers in baseball, a young Cuban defensive whiz at short who's alot of fun to watch, the ageless, enigmatic hitting machine known as "Ichiro", and at worst, alot of genuinely nice guys filling out the roster. And hey, it's baseball....anything could happen.

(If you disagree with this assessment, or want more info, the USS Mariner is a good place to start. But be forwarned: those guys are hard-core stat geeks. They analyze this way deeper than I do...compared to them I'm almost a "casual fan"! They're also a bit more pessimistic than I like, though not entirely without reason...)