Monday, January 31, 2005

I'm So Confused!

Okay, so first it was "" and then merely a few months ago they decided to forego Blogger and migrate with the flocks to WordPress. We had to hiccup along with them as a new domain was born -- "". As fate would have it, the M's landed a new thirdbaseman, whose signing signaled the fate for one of my favorite M's blogs. Although I entirely expected to see a certain graphic involving a car (in response to my preference for third-sacker) to aide with the transition process, it's judiciously missing from the new site.

Looks like I'm going to have to change my tab settings in Firefox again. Thanks, Corco, for the tip!

LeoneForThird has officially become "". I may be a bit dizzy, but I'll catch on soon enough.

Best wishes on your new endeavor, folks formerly known as the "LeoneForThird Guys!" I'm sure you'll be seeing me 'round your parts...

Fortunately we don't have any links to update. I doubt there is anyone who reads The Morsels who isn't already aware of the other cool, superior blogs. I'm okay with being the blogging equivalent of leftovers. Besides, freedom of expression doesn't mean that people actually need to hear you. It's just fun to have another place to talk, without having to bother the people who own and run the site. I'm sure Munchausen is more willing to forgive me for my ramblings than other people are.

And I'm still confused as to why we might find Jeff Nelson useful. But that's another story all together...

Fan Fest 2005

So here I am about 2.5 hours before the gates even open. I suppose I could legally be classified as insane, especially since I got up 4 hours early on my normal sleep-in day. I'm dodging raindrops on the screen of my PDA phone, but no matter how deep I try to move under the scant corner of the home plate entrance overhang, the raindrops somehow seem to find my screen...

I just finished the last swig of my "warm" mocha -- the last semblance of hope for my cold, but tolerable, innards. The line is already starting to form down 1st Avenue, and it's only 7:30.

OK so I'm battling raindrops, Palm OS and Blogger. It doesn't help that I'm typing on a screen that doesn't rotate. Still, it's faster than trying to scribble in Palm Graffiti... Only one hr 45 min to go. The line is now at least to Royal Brougham, if not already down left field to the tracks (Update: 8:30 I heard that it reached the tracks -- glad I got here early!). It's good to know I'm here with several fellow Mariners freaks, if not mere autograph hounds. At least I'll have a good shot at getting Sexson's autograph, evidently the reason the line is this long this early (Boonie's signing at the same time, too, so that could explain a lot of the bulk)...

Still, the main reason I'm here is not because of Sexson. Sure, it'll be nice having an autographed ball to add to my collection. Part of me would rather nab Boone's signature, but that's going to be too difficult, as I just found out they're signing at the same time :-(

The main reason I'm here is to follow up with Howard Lincoln, after my 2004 Fan Fest experience. See, I was in line ready to step up to the microphone, and right as I was going to ask my question, the person in charge of controlling the session cut the session off. Ever since then, I've been raging mad, wanting to especially say my piece to Howard. The problem is, he did too much this off-season to make me want to thank him, instead of criticize him like I was ready to last year.

I'm battling too many raindrops, and it looks like we're starting to stand up. The squatters have packed up their folding chairs, and dodge cars like in a Frogger game to put their bulky stuff away. I'll have to continue this when I get home. Besides, I've already lost one entry (PDA fatal exception error before saving as draft). I gotta get this saved.

Enjoys the rest of Fan Fest, heads home to finish this blog entry...

So, here I am back from Fan Fest. It was a LONG day filled with the drudgery of waiting in line. Waiting in line for 3 hours to get in. Waiting in line again to get Richie Sexson's autograph. Waiting in a smaller line for food. Waiting in line to get other autographs (during the interview sessions). Waiting in line, even if I was the first in line, for Howard and Chuck to start fielding questions.

My Mia Culpa
Ah. Now, that's more like it. The epochal moment. The anthesis to last year's Fan Fest. I'm not going to get cut off this time! When Howard and Chuck start to babble about along the lines of the M's, I motion for the microphone guy that I want to ask a question. He starts to come over my direction, and then signals the other guy covering my half to start with me. I never did catch the "screener's" name (**update June 2, 2005 -- it was Gregg Greene, the M's director of promotions), but boy did he really want to know what I was going to say.

I started telling him my story of last season and how I'd come there with a mouthful of barbs to throw Howard's general direction. Now, though, I was here to tell him thank you for the off-season moves. The screener says "I'll go ahead and tell him for you" and then I try and negotiate the microphone away from him. I told him that I felt it needed to come from my mouth and from my heart, and stuff like that. Nervously, he said, "okay" but don't mention anything about what you said over Art Thiel's column (I'd given him a brief rundown of my blog article here and told him I was ready to apologize to Howard for advancing the notion that Howard's a 'money-grubbing soulless leech'). I could see why he was nervous, and told him that I was aware that Lincoln was pretty sensitive to this stuff, and I was really not going to attack him. After several more negotiations "Are you SURE you're not going to let me down!" "You're not going to pull a fast one on me are you?" Rick Rizzs asked if there were any questions for Chuck and Howard.

After skiddishly announcing "We have a comment from Paul" while slapping my hand away from the mike (not unlike A-Rod's World Series slapisode), he finally gave me the floor. I'd left my video camera running hoping to point it at my face. Unfortunately, I got a lot of my, well, backside, and so I used my good ol' Adobe Premiere to blend the audio portion with the picture my brother-in-law took of me holding the mike.

An act of contrition:
Talking to Howard Lincoln, FanFest 2005

Click the picture for the video clip. Its a ~4.5 mb MPG file, which would take longer than it's worth over a modem. So, here's the transcription of my comments:

Yes, Howard -- I’m in the M’s blogosphere, and I’m sure you’re aware of the blogs, how you’ve had some critics out there, and I’ve been one of the loudest. I wanted to come here today to say “Thank You” from the bottom of my heart with the fans today – for rebuilding this team and bringing excitement back to Seattle baseball.
Okay, I admit, that isn't a direct transcription. The audio came back pretty mushy-jumbled, especially considering the "stadium delay" effect -- though I'm confident it wasn't as robotic to Howard and Chuck. Still, I decided to capture the essence of what I said.

He just stood there fairly stumped, and I'm pretty sure he was shocked to hear "Thank You" and "blogs" in the same context. The next question, I think, was about Bucky or something. I caught Howard looking my general direction, with a slight smile on his face:

Howard's Reaction

Okay, he may be more zoning out than reflecting with glee on my laudings. Still, I'm sure it was a different experience for him to hear a "thank you" from a blogger.

So, just to reinforce my act of contrition, I snuck across the aisle to get to the front of the line waiting to get autographs immediately after the q/a session was finished. I walked up to him, shook his hand, gave him my Sharpie and my FanFest ticket to sign, and said "Howard, I meant what I said -- Thank you again!" He politely smiled and said "You're welcome! Go M's!" then signed my ticket stub:

Howard's Reaction

Not to be underspoken, I also reached for Chuck's hand (after he signed the back of my ticket, of course) and told him: "You deserve some of the credit, too!" Of course, kissing up to the boss standing next to him, he said "It all came from the top."

Indeed. It all comes from the top -- just as I suspected, and formerly directed my ire.

Howard -- again, I formally say "Thank You!" Here's to your continued conversion into a money-spending soul-filled baseball fan. Thanks for a good, if not risky, off-season.

Sorry Mr. Thomsen -- this is about an hour late. I said I'd have my "report" in at midnight. Well, as you can imagine, after spending the day with our 3-year-old, my wife was pretty wiped out. Still, it's not quite midnight in Alaska yet, and I highly doubt you're up and waiting for this to cross your desk ;-)

Friday, January 28, 2005

A Rare Win

Inspired by Positive Paul's photo, I decided to post one of my own.

Now don't let this get out into general circulation - it's worth a LOT of money, as it is quite rare. This photo is of the stadium following a 2004 Mariners home win!

Again, this is a RARE photo, so please don't tell anyone it's here. I wouldn't want it to get stolen.

Here's another photo from that game: The celebratorius atmosphere following Ichiro's 231st base hit of the season. Eventually, he will best George Sisler's season record by four hits.

You can see that I, as a professional Graphic Designer, cropped the second photo closer than the first one, in order that you could see the detail of the "231" on several scoreboards at once. Those are the tricks of the trade, my friends.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Not quite a Mariners Morsel, but still...

Weird tidbit of the day:

Looking at the site statistics for Mariners Morsels, one person viewed this blog after doing a Google search for "Photos of Jodi Mientkiewicz." Now, I don't know what's stranger -- that The Morsels is at the top of Google's search results for this (,GGLD:2004-48,GGLD:en&start=30&sa=N), or that someone actually clicked on the link when presented that result.

I'd vote for the Google search results as the most odd thing. All the more reason why they need to hire me on as a linguistic IT consultant. I've got a ka-jillion ideas on how to improve their search engine, and an IT background to boot. But the fact that Google combined two separate, completely unrelated blog entries, physically separated by a whole heck of a lot of words (let alone two subsequent blog entries) and established this as the top search result just baffles me. Especially since the Morsels is a Blogger site, owned by Google.

I don't mean to get fussy about Google, which still is by far my favorite search engine, but still.

And, no, I don't have any photos/pictures/video of Jodi Mientkiewicz on this web site. Nor do I plan on it. Other pictures will come at some point, but not of the type I'm sure some of you are looking for. I've got some cool pictures of Safeco and M's games there, though, and I'm willing to share them.

In case you're interested, here's a quick one:

Cotton Candy anyone?

The Ball's Back in Boston

Am I the only one who sees a slight resemblence between Jeff Nelson's trade from the 2003 M's and the recently-completed Doug Mientkiewicz trade to the Mets? Perhaps a lesson is to be learned here:

No matter what the cause is --
What you think or do or say --
Enflame the ire of your bosses
Your hearth will burn away!

As you might recall, Mr. Nelson made some harsh comments towards the M's front office right after the 2003 non-waiver trading deadline. Even though the front office vehemently denied it was even a thought in their mind when they traded him to the division-rival Yankees, I haven't heard anyone today who actually believes the front office.

Likewise, as I chronicled earlier, Mr. Mientkiewicz (D-Mint from now on) , seems to have had a problem following a request from his employer, the Boston Red Sox, on a certain, significant, World Series baseball. According to Epstein:
The ball issue was never a factor in this trade or in this negotiating process. We had a baseball decision to make.
Being a college-educated linguist (not currently using his German major, of course), I look at this sentence and see that both Theo and D-Mint had a "baseball decision" to make. I wouldn't fault a reader who construes this as possible front office blackmail, if not mere double-speak.

It appears that both Epstein and D-Mint made the right baseball decisions. Epstein jettisoned a roster-clogging redundancy (for an interesting prospect, even). D-Mint's decision is spelled out thusly:

"I want the fans to see it, and that's what both the Red Sox and I agreed on. They waited a long time to see that ball and to live it."

Mientkiewicz said he will not receive any money under the deal and probably would get the ball back after a year. He emphasized that he's "doing everything they asked me to do."

Of course, my gavel of criticism will be suspended over what happens to the ball after the Red Sox Nation gets to ogle that awesome orb for a year. Indeed, I still believe that that ball deserves its own environmentally-controlled shrine in Cooperstown right alongside Curt's spikes, the ALCS Game 7 final out ball, and the rest of the items on this list.

Update 2/4/05: Awesome AP story about the ball's final journey to Boston now available

Monday, January 24, 2005

It's about TIME, DJC!!!!

As they might say in Munich:

Herzliche Wilkommen zu M's Blogosphere!

A heart-felt welcome to the M's Blogosphere to David J Corcoran. Actually, he's been here quite awhile, just interjecting things into other people's blogs. Since I would fathom that everyone who pays attention to anything in the M's blogosphere is aware of the USS Mariner, you're definitely already very familiar with Mr. Corcoran if you read any of the comments. I would gather that a slight nudge from Dave Cameron probably did it (along with a subtle hint from Derek). Nevertheless, it's a good thing, this Freedom of Expression!

I've been wondering how long it would take him, and I almost started an office pool to predict the day he'd open up a shop of his own. I mean, you can only battle the topic mongers over at USS Mariner for so long. It's their house, and they hold down the firmest ship in the M's blogosphere (pun intended). As frustrating as it can be at times, it's also very admirable how they establish their principles and stick firmly to them. It's hard being on your best blogging behavior all the time there, and I've made my fair share of blunders over there. Thankfully the avenue for creating your own blog is quite wide open, and whether or not people actually find your blog interesting (if they find it at all) is not super important. Again, it's a good thing, this Freedom of Expression!

That said, I do find what Mr. Corcoran has to say normally quite interesting, and I'm sure you will too. I guess this means I'll have to open yet another tab in Firefox every morning! BTW -- speaking of Firefox, I'm a little naïve when it comes to using it yet, and I'm too lazy to research it, but does anyone (I mean any one of the 2-3 Morsels readers) know if you can save your tab settings, like Opera, so that when you open Firefox, it remembers all the tabs you have open? Maybe it's not possible yet, but I would hope so (or at least possible in a future implementation).

Friday, January 21, 2005

Ticket Price$

Hola, amigo(s). I know it's been a long time since I rapped at ya...
(So says Jim Anchower).

Anyway, I've been busy with work, family and now classes, and haven't had much free time to think up any good posts.

I still haven't done the latter, but here's something I came across when I was organizing my files over Christmas.

I found a printout from June, 1999, documenting the original ticket prices at Safeco Field. I decided to compare them to the prices of today.

(Section: price in 1999 - 2005)
Center field bleachers: $5 - $7 (not too bad)
Left field bleachers: $7 - $13
View Reserved: $13 - $17
Lower Outfield Reserved: $16 - $24
View Box: $16 - $24
Terrace Club: $33 - $43 (outfield) (Also there's now a Terrace Club Infield for $55)
Field: $25 - $35
Lower box: $28 - $55!

This isn't intended to prove anything, just thought it might be interesting. (But what's the deal with the $55 box seats?)
More substantive posts to follow, I hope.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Beltre for Third, Continued

To continue my earlier thoughts along the Beltre lines, here's another link that has a good discussion of whether or not the Beltre signing is a good one:

Okay, so I'm a bit behind the times and missed out on that discussion. Still, it's a good discussion about Beltre, and I give the debate victory over to David Cameron. After all, he's much more versed in the minors than a lot of folks, and has a lot clearer reasons why it's a good signing.

My vote is that it's a good one. No, he may not hit .334/48/121 again, but then again, maybe he will. He's no Jeff Cirillo, folks!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Are you KIDDING me?

A small story in today's AP wire really ticked me off. I feel obligated to comment.

You might recall a certain October night (10/27/2004 to be exact) -- the moon turned red and disappeared in a rare lunar eclipse. Edgar Renteria grounds out, pitcher Keith Foulke to first baseman Doug Mientkiewicz. Red Sox Win, Red Sox WIN!!! For the first time in 86 years the Boston Red Sox are the champions of Major League baseball.

Today's AP news details the saga of the ball which Doug Mientkiewicz (D-Mint, from now on) received from Keith Foulke to seal the Red Sox date with destiny. I believe Joe Castiglione spoke something like this:

"The 1-0 pitch. Here it is... Swing, and a ground ball stabbed by Foulke. He has it! He underhands to first. And the Boston Red Sox are the World Champions!!! Can you believe it!!! Blah blah. 1918 put to rest. Blah blah. Hugging. Blah blah. 1918. '78 and 86. This one's even sweeter!" (hear the actual clip here)

Unfortunately, Joe forgot to turn off his microphone when he went into the locker room after the game to join in the celebration. Not wanting to break from character, he continues to provide his commentary:

"D-Mint hides the ball from Pedro, who tries desperately to trade him a grilled cheese sandwich emblazened with the image of the Blessed Virgin. He stashes his treasure in his sock and slams the door to his locker. A slightly-hidden side door to the locker room bursts open. A stampede of players' friends and families pours in. Jodi-Mint gives her hubby a BIG hug, and he leans over and whispers in her ear. What's this? J-Mint opens D-Mint's locker and puts a less-than white sock, with an odd-sized lump in the end of it, in her purse. Johnny Damon's fiance approaches J-Mint and asks her what that smell is emitting from her pocketbook. 'Are you sure it's mine?' The soon-to-be Mrs. Damon replies: 'O, yeah, I saved a special something from my sweet Johnny...'"

The next day, J-Mint and D-Mint walk arm and arm over to a special booth set up for special authentication of players' 2004 World Series artifacts. Today it's manned by Bud Selig. They hand him the Misses' slightly-opened, yet racously odiferous purse. Bud calls over one of his fello MLB chums, saying, "Uh, Jim, this is your job." Jim then reaches into the purse, pulls out the sock, and reaches down in to its depths, unable to maneuver away from the sticky sweat that still lingers within. His fingers feel a slightly-damp, leathery orb. He pulls and tugs, finally revealing a specially-marked baseball bearing a "2004 World Series" logo. It's slightly dinged -- the battle scars, though shallow, tell of near-pulverization off the bat of the fierce warrior shortstop known in these parts as "Edgar Renteria". Jim pulls out one of those dime-store holograms, affixes it to the baseball and prints off a certificate reading "Baseball used to record the last out in the 2004 World Series."

J-Mint initially wants to run home and pull up her eBay account. D-Mint, the wise sage that he is, instead pulls out the keys to his safety deposit box housed in the neighborhood Bank of America. They hop in the car, drive over to the BoA, enter the vault, find their box, put the key in the lock, turn, and -- voila -- the door opens. They slightly curl the certificate and place the ball underneath. The smallish door now feels more like the gates in front of Fort Knox as they close it, turning the key to the right and pulling it out. A slight "Ka-Chunk" sound echoes within the stone-cold vault. You can almost see the audio waves from the resounding "Ka-CHING" as J-Mint and D-Mint gaze into each others eyes, turn, and walk out of the bank.

Months later, it appears that D-Mint feels that he's entitled to share the same spotlight as Steve Bartman, Patrick Hayashi/Alex Popov, Phillip Ozersky, and Richard Arndt. A few of those guys (Hayashi/Popov, Ozersky) had a few more Ben Franklins padding their bank accounts, and others (Bartman, Arndt) gained noteriety. I'm hoping, though, that D-Mint's fate is sealed more along the lines of Richard Arndt.

See, Richard Arndt was the Bob Christofferson of the 1976 Milwaukee Brewers. He's the guy that snatched up Hank Aaron's 755th HR ball. Being employees of a teamhaving a slight historical interest in each of their respective baseballs, Arndt and D-Mint were asked to give their balls up "for the good of the team." Of course, with Smeagol hanging over their shoulder whispering "My Prrrrrecioussss!" both guys chose to focus on the flashing dollar signs that blink blindingly before their eyes.

Nevermind that the type of employees they are slightly differ, there's that light-year sized gap between their salaries. If I were a defense attorney and given a choice on who I'd defend, I'd give a large edge to Mr. Arndt. See, back in the 70's, I'd bet he didn't make more than $3,000 a year. Maybe slightly more, but still not a whole ton. However, in 2004 alone, D-Mint made $2.8 million, plus at least a few more thousands in October. He's under contract for a slight raise to $3.75 million in 2005.

In today's AP article, D-Mint tries to defend himself:
"I know this ball has a lot of sentimental value," Mientkiewicz said. "I hope I don't have to use it for the money. It would be cool if we have kids someday to have it stay in our family for a long time. But I can be bought. I'm thinking, there's four years at Florida State for one of my kids. At least."
Well, D-Mint, it's not like you're a 26-year-old research scientist making $30,000 or even a groundskeeper from the 70's making $3 grand. If you have a problem coming up with the cash to put any future kids you may be blessed with through four years of HARVARD, then you've obviously taken lessons from Mike Tyson, M.C. Hammer, and others who've failed to see the need for budgeting big bucks.

Oh, and what happened to Mr. Arndt?
Arndt was fired from his job with the Brewers in 1976 after keeping the ball. The Brewers, according to Arndt, even docked his final paycheck $5 for the cost of the ball.
Well, it'd hurt D-Mint at least a little less, but I'd dock him the $15 cost of the ball from his World Series share at the very least. That seems like a little harsh of a sentence for Mr. Arndt, but such punishment wouldn't be sufficient for D-Mint. If I were Theo, I'd DFA him right away. Looks like he might be on the trading block. However, considering the shadiness of the not a few characters on the Red Sox, D-Mint actually would fit in.

Uh, Doug, that ball should be added to this list. Next to Curt Schilling's blood-stained stirrup and sock (though Schilling did donate his spikes), I'd venture a guess that it would be the crown jewel.

Pull yer head out, dude!

Thursday, January 06, 2005

New Adventures From an Infant Sabermetrician

I'm starting to really dig discussing things with sabermetricians. I mean, there's certain value to trying to find some way to objectively, concretely discuss the value of players, especially when it helps me to explain my "gut feeling" why I think a particular player is good (and, conversely, why a player is bad). I mean, it's not the be-all end-all for determining everything about a baseball player (or team), but since baseball is uniquely a statistics-based sport which derives a huge portion of its entertainment value on statistics, sabermetrics is a logical sub-culture of baseball fandom.

I have my beefs with some hard-core sabermetricians, and the emphasis they place on statistics for determining quality (especially people who never actually watch games either in person or on TV). Ultimately, the game is more than statistics and there are things that statistics cannot capture (even if a particular result of these things may be concretely measured). The game of MLB baseball is played MUCH differently than fantasy baseball, too. Heck, if baseball were truly to rely on statistics to declare a winner, then we'd have something like the BCS that would dictate who makes it to the World Series. Yikes.

Kudos to the free info on Baseball Prospectus, and the opening of comments on the USS Mariner. Both of these places have really helped shape the knowledge I have and my shifting appreciation of baseball in general. I'm taking the plunge to look at baseball through more sabermetric-colored glasses.

That said, I'd like to generate a little discussion as to what I should do. I have limited funds to fuel my baseball habit, and I want to use them wisely. My question for discussion is this -- I can buy a copy of both Baseball Prospectus 2005 and Bill James' handbook at Amazon for about 30 bucks. Should I do this, or add 10 more bucks to the pot and upgrade my basic subscribtion to the Baseball Prosepectus (or another online sabermetric subscription service) web site? Hopefully the few of you that may lurk our site here will interject your comments. I'd really like some good advice from those deeper in their sabermetric training than I am.

And, Munchausen, don't try to talk me out of my new-found direction. I suspect you're probably relatively in the same boat as I am, so I encourage you to dig a little deeper in the sabermetric world, too.