An Open Vent: What’s Worse Than the Mariners’ Pursuit of a Right Fielder?

460xYou wanted Melky Cabrera. Melky Cabrera signed with the White Sox.

You would have settled for Alex Rios. Alex Rios signed with the Royals.

There are few, if any, starting right fielders left on Major League Baseball’s free agent market. But your Seattle Mariners still happen to be in search of a right fielder, market be damned. And you’re on the verge of freaking out. God forbid the team go to war with a designated hitter manning Safeco Field’s spacious nether reaches. Or worse yet, heaven help them if they bring back the likes of Ichiro.

You’re in full panic mode. But fear not, sports fan: it could be worse.

In the inaugural installment of An Open Vent, we bring you the unbridled rage surrounding three things that are unequivocally shittier than the Mariners’ seemingly futile pursuit of an outfielder. So sit back, relax, and prepare to get even more pissed off than you were before.

1. Mr. Playoffs.

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Death of a Rivalry

2019974298In fairness to the mantra uttered by members of San Francisco’s steadily eroding fan base, the 49ers did indeed achieve a Quest for Six on Sunday afternoon.

With just over thirteen minutes remaining in the first half, the frail fragments of former running back Frank Gore plunged into the end zone for a sextet of points and a whopping eighty-six-percent of San Francisco’s scoring output on the day. Seconds later, a keen ear could almost make out the resonating sound of Gore’s Life Alert Emergency Response monitor, the result of the old man unexpectedly succumbing to the effects of gravity.

The Niners’ lone touchdown was supplemented only by Phil Dawson’s extra point, tacked on immediately after Gore’s jaunt to paydirt. And just like that, it was over.

If there is such a thing as moral victories, however, the visiting squad could chalk up their second quarter red zone success as exactly that. In two of the three previous games, the Seahawks had neglected to allow their foes anything more than a field goal. That San Francisco achieved a six-point score should be applauded. Quest for Six complete.

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Strideline: Because Even If You Suck At Sports, Your Socks Don’t Have To

20141209_123651-1-1I am the worst kind of basketball player. Just good enough to be dangerous, just reckless enough to be stupid. My shot selection is best witnessed through beer goggles, and my go-to move is trash talk. No one in the world would confuse me, at the age of 30, for an athlete. Yet I still find myself playing ball a few times each week, determined to whittle the cartilage in my knees down to pure nothingness.

About the only thing going for my game is how I feel. I might not play all that well, but I feel well, at least. And isn’t feeling well what really matters?

In a kind-hearted effort to keep me feeling well while (hopefully) making me look and play a little better, the good people at Strideline sent me an array of Seattle-themed socks in time for the start of the winter season. And since I’ve been wearing their gear since they first came on the scene some five years ago, I could hardly resist their offer to take on more of their goods.

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Let’s Talk Podcasts

Podcasts are fun, right? Back in the day, we had a regular podcast at Sports Radio KJR, the inimitable Karate Emergency. Since then, our podcast sessions have been limited, but not on this particular day.

I had the pleasure of joining Casey McLain and Aaron Kirby as a guest on the Offspeed Podcast on Wednesday night. We talked Mariners (including both the Nelson Cruz and J.A. Happ acquisitions), Seahawks, Huskies, racist San Francisco 49ers fans, the evolution of 12s, semi-famous people from Montana, and Twitter behavior, among other things.

If you find yourself terribly bored with nothing better to do, feel free to listen in by clicking here.

And here’s a look at the two degenerates you’ll have the aural pleasure of hearing alongside yours truly:

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The J.A. Happening

You don’t like J.A. Happ. There are any number of reasons why you don’t like him. He’s a 32-year-old journeyman starting pitcher. His statistics are as mediocre as they come. Physically, he’s as unintimidating as a six-foot-five-inch human being can be. He only weighs 205 pounds for Christ’s sake. Eat a burger, Happ. Stop making the rest of us fat asses feel bad. And then there’s his head shot. I mean, just look at the guy:

happ

Remove the cap and that could be anybody. That could be your doctor, your accountant, your lawyer, the guy taking your order at Applebee’s, a serial bank robber, a high school math teacher, a U.S. senator, a creepy dude with seven or eight cats, your next-door neighbor, a soccer dad driving a Ford Windstar, and the list goes on.

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Runs for the Border: Nelson Cruz, Crunchwrap Supreme

nelsoncruzThere is a special place in my stomach reserved for the gut reactions to Seattle Mariners free agent signings. It sits adjacent to the space allotted for the digestion of Taco Bell, and as a result elicits similar neural transmissions within my brain.

It all begins in the wake of a brief struggle between desire and logic, once reality sets in. An action has occurred, I discover. This action cannot be undone, I realize. From here on out, only reactions may take place. Thus, the time is nigh to react.

A part of me wanted that aging power hitter, I surmise, just like a part of me wanted that Crunchwrap Supreme.

The Mariners have now landed that aging power hitter, not unlike my belly, which has just landed a half-pound of mystery meat packaged within both soft- and hard-shell tortillas.

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Sweet Potato Fridays

10366149_10103019981005758_1375243646822493341_nEvery Friday, we ate lunch together. My grandma was a fickle eater, but there were always certain things she’d pick at no matter what. Crispy breaded pieces of chicken, potstickers, milkshakes, sweet potato fries. She loved sweet potato fries more than almost everything else, a food she’d only discovered about a year ago. It was the one item she would specifically request. Everything else could come and go, but she always made time for sweet potato fries. These weren’t the healthiest foods in the world, of course, but they were necessary. At 90 years of age, my grandma needed to keep her weight up and any one of these menu selections would do the trick.

We talked about a number of things, her and I, but she liked to discuss the Seattle Mariners most of all. No one (outside of, perhaps, my other grandmother) was as loyal to the Mariners as my grandma, who watched every game on a giant flat-screen TV my parents purchased for her a few Christmases ago. Her day revolved around first pitch, while her bedtime often coincided with the game’s final out. If you asked her when the television broadcast was set to begin, she’d give you a time exactly thirty minutes before its actual commencement, a habit borne out of diligently watching the pregame show.

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History, Home Runs, and the Unexpected Arrival of Fun

628x471They were down to their last at-bats, the Mariners, and a game they desperately needed to win was quickly slipping from their grasp. Their divisional foes, the hated Texas Rangers, had built a lead in the top half of the seventh inning and managed to protect it through two frames since.

Now, the Rangers turned to their closer, a lanky right-hander by the name of Jeff Russell. The 34-year-old Russell had enjoyed his best years with Texas, even leading the American League in saves in 1989, his fifth year with the club. He had bounced around over the past three seasons, however, embarking on an odyssey that had taken him from Oakland, to Boston, to Cleveland, and finally back to Arlington. All the while he continued racking up saves, and it was this very situation, pitching in defense of a two-run Rangers lead, that Russell had grown accustomed to enjoying.

His first assignment would be to retire a pinch hitter, the speedy, switch-hitting Alex Diaz.

Diaz was in the midst of what would ultimately become his finest big league season. He would finish the year with career highs in a number of categories, including games played. And his 18 stolen bases would triple his next-best seasonal output hereafter. For now, though, Diaz was merely focused on reaching base by any means necessary.

***

The Mariners had squandered eight innings worth of opportunities, as well as a quality start by Felix Hernandez, and now scuffled into the ninth deadlocked in a 0-0 tie against the rival Los Angeles Angels.

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The Indisputable Importance of Dustin Ackley

MLB: Seattle Mariners-Photo Day

The second half of Dustin Ackley’s 2014 season has borne one of the more remarkable individual turnarounds in recent memory. Ackley, who spent the previous two-and-a-half years playing miserable baseball, emerged exactly two months ago finally looking like the No. 2 overall draft selection the Mariners made him in 2009.

In and of themselves, Ackley’s stats tell a compelling story. In the first half of 2014, the 26-year-old posted a middling .225/.282/.335/.617 slash line, with just four home runs and 29 RBI. Coming out of the All-Star Break, those numbers seemingly transformed overnight.

Since July 18th, Ackley’s numbers are more Stefan Urquelle than Steve Urkel. Along with an eye-opening .287/.322/.489/.811 slash line, the Mariners’ starting left fielder has cracked seven dingers and driven in 33 runs. Those statistics are worthy of individual callouts, so bear with me for a moment.

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Everything Wrong With “D3: The Mighty Ducks”

Dthree_the_mighty_ducksIn 1992, Disney released its very first hockey-themed film, The Mighty Ducks. Though they didn’t know it at the time, the studio’s $10 million project would become a hit, grossing over $50 million in box office revenue in the fall of that year. For kids of the ’90s, Mighty Ducks emerged as a seminal favorite, a timeless classic, however cheesy, that an entire generation would gravitate towards well into adulthood.

Beyond striking a chord with its target audience, the movie had a lasting impact in other ways, as well. It rejuvenated the career of its star, Emilio Estevez; made a star out of one of its young supporting actors, Joshua Jackson; and even inspired an NHL franchise of the same nickname. The success of The Mighty Ducks prompted Disney to release a pair of sequels over the course of the next four years, unveiling D2: The Mighty Ducks and D3: The Mighty Ducks (really creative names, guys) in 1994 and 1996, respectively.

While D2 capitalized on the triumph of its prequel ($45 million box office gross), D3 was not nearly as fortunate, resulting in just $23 million in box office sales for the studio that birthed Mickey Mouse. Besides overloading the market with Duck fever in such a short amount of time, Disney appeared to cobble together D3 hastily, producing a film that elicited the same clichés and predictable outcomes as its predecessors.

Along the way, D3 acknowledged that its audience, just like its young actors, was quickly growing into adolescence. This inspired (or forced) writers to present a whole new set of non-hockey issues for viewers to try and relate to. Luis looking up cheerleaders’ skirts! Charlie falling in love with someone other than his coach, his mom, or the old guys from the skate shop! A political uprising over an offensive team nickname! It all became a bit much to cram into one whimsical sports picture, and yet cram those writers did.

As a result of Disney’s efforts to squeeze every last ounce of Ducks hype out of its surprising franchise, D3 floundered as the worst installment of the entire trilogy. Some might even argue that it emerged as one of the worst sports movies ever, but the third installment of the Major League series would beg to differ.

After a recent viewing of D3, I took some time to outline everything wrong with the film from start to finish. Adult Me is not nearly as impressionable as Kid Me, you see, and in looking back at a movie I knew was trash even at age 12, I’ve only become more incensed by such a disastrous conclusion to an otherwise great sequence of motion pictures.

Beware: The following list contains numerous spoilers. If you haven’t seen D3 and feel compelled to watch it, it’s currently available for instant viewing on Netflix.

1. The most plausible story line in the entire movie involves Gordon Bombay becoming a high-ranking director of personnel for the Junior Goodwill Games.

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A Lose-Loose Situation: Profiling One Bad Sunday

ap492787066343_7Sunday was not a great day for Seattle sports fans. Both the Seahawks and Mariners fell to their respective opponents, doing so in a span of ten minutes around 4:00 p.m. Pacific Time. For those paying witness to either contest, the results were soul-crushing.

The Seahawks, of course, never lose. They hadn’t fallen short of victory since a late-season slip-up at the hands of the Arizona Cardinals some eight months and twenty-five days ago, a loss remembered as a mere speed bump along the Super Bowl autobahn. That the Hawks had neglected to triumph just three times during the 2013 campaign certainly didn’t help, either. A fan base perennially exposed to defeat for decades prior had come to anticipate winning based on the dominating successes of a few quality years. Withering under the 90-plus-degree heat of San Diego’s late-summer sun was certainly unacceptable. Until it became a reality. And then it was nothing short of mind-blowing.

Before the shock of a Seahawks loss could truly set in, let alone wear off, the Mariners went down swinging, literally, as Michael Saunders struck out in the ninth inning, capping off a 4-0 undressing by the visiting Oakland A’s. The outcome marked consecutive defeats for the M’s, sending true-to-the-blue fanatics into full-blown panic mode. In the throes of the franchise’s first legitimate playoff run in more than a decade, one loss was heartbreaking, but two in a row? And just minutes after the football team lost, too? Sharp objects required hiding.

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Why Your Snarky Opinion of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Does Not Matter

53658874For the past couple weeks, the Ice Bucket Challenge has emerged as a positive, impactful way to raise both awareness and money for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (or ALS), the neurodegenerative condition often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.”

As the Challenge has progressed, everyone from ex-presidents, to star athletes, to D-list celebs, to normies like you and I have engaged in pouring buckets of ice cold water on ourselves while a video camera records the absurdity. With each splash, more cash has been raised for the ALS Association than seemingly ever before, with millions more dollars raised for ALS research throughout the duration of the Ice Bucket Challenge than at comparable intervals in the past.

But as the videos have become more and more prevalent, a teeming mass of self-righteous serial loathers has begun to bubble its way to the forefront of the movement. For every handful of clips promoting awareness of a deadly, debilitating disease, there may be one or two carefully worded articles condemning the foolishness of pouring buckets of chilled liquid on one’s head. The critics have their reasons for feeling the way they do, citing self-promotion, the squandering of perfectly good water, and the belief that performing such an embarrassing feat on camera does not directly equate to cash for a cause that desperately deserves your money. The critics, however, are assholes.

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The Complete Destruction of Tony Randazzo’s Wikipedia Page

BvQ-vcqCIAAe_HoPoor Tony Randazzo. All he wanted to do was show up to Detroit’s Comerica Park, umpire a few baseball games, and go back to his sexless marriage. Instead, Lloyd Motherf’in McClendon got in the way. Damn you, Lloyd.

The weekend was not kind to the 15-year veteran of Major League Baseball’s officiating crew, who was tested not once but twice by the Mariners skipper.

First, McClendon had the gall to defend his ace pitcher, Felix Hernandez, on Saturday night, inquiring about Randazzo’s peculiar strike zone, which closely resembled the size and shape of Kim Kardashian’s posterior.

Then — and this is where it gets really egregious — McClendon brazenly waved his hand from the confines of the team’s first base dugout after Randazzo botched a call on a check swing by a Tigers batter during Sunday’s contest. For both his offenses, Seattle’s manager was booted from consecutive games.

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A Refuse to Lose Resurgence: Believe in the Mariners Once Again

BuuvwVDCIAAPJKPThe last time I produced a hand-made sign for a Mariners game was October 8th, 1995, Game 5 of the American League Divisional Series, versus the New York Yankees. I was 10 years old, going on 11, and the intensity of the moment upon us all but demanded block lettering delivered by the likes of Mr. Sketch and Crayola.

Scribed in multicolored print upon yellow poster paper, my entire family worked to craft a giant banner reading “M’S REFUSE TO LOSE.” Unfurled, the message spread a few feet in length and was visible across the vast, grey expanse of the otherwise beautiful Kingdome.

We hung the banner from the facade of the Dome’s third tier, along the first base side of the 300 level. My family sat many rows behind the banner itself, but as the game transpired I shifted my eyes from AstroTurf to DiamondVision, constantly checking the stadium’s big screen for a glimpse of our artistic achievement.

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Local Media Meltdowns: 1090-Percent of Your Ass Will Be Blocked

PrintOh god, Jason Churchill. What have you done?

What follows is a Twitter exchange between one Jason Churchill, radio sidekick on 1090 The Fan’s Steve Sandmeyer Show, and some poor guy named Troy Grant, who dares to ask Churchill a question. The conversation quickly devolves from a very peaceful Q-and-A to something resembling a scene out of The Breakfast Club. Before you can say “Dick Vernon,” Churchill goes rage monster on his haplessly unprepared victim. (Though it should be noted that Grant handles all of this like a seasoned pro.)

Before you read ahead, take two things to heart while perusing the dialogue.

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