Posted by: bkivey | 30 May 2010

Take Him Out of the Ballgame

I am not one of those sports fans that let the outcome of a game determine my mood; there are far more important issues to spend my mental energy on, but I think we can all agree that when someone is paid to do a job, that they demonstrate some competence in the job. For the last several games and during much of the season the Seattle Mariner’s bullpen has been Exhibit A for less than competent performance.

Of late Mariner bats have started to come alive with lead-off man Ichiro getting on base regularly and Chone Figgins has been seeing the ball well, putting good speed on the base paths and allowing other hitters to drive in runs. This is what this team was built to do and we’re finally getting to see it. Mariner runners crossed the plate seven times Sunday in a game against the Angels, which should be enough to win a ballgame: unless you have to go to the Mariner bullpen.

Manager Don Wakamatsu pulled starting pitcher Ian Snell in the fifth inning after Snell allowed three runs on four hits and issued four walks. At this point the Mariners were up 7 – 3. When it was announced that Jesus Colome was entering the game my first thought was that even with a four run lead we were in trouble. The fact is Colome couldn’t find the strike zone if he had a guide dog and two Boy Scouts to help him. Colome inherited two runners put there on Snell walks and then proceeded to hand out two more walks, allowing a run to score.  Colome’s partner in crime Kanekoa Texiera came out in the sixth inning and promptly issued four walks, bringing in another run. My goodness, the Angels have one of the best base running teams in the majors, why on Earth would you give them bases?

And so it went. By the time closer David Aardsma entered the game to close out the ninth the score was 7 – 6. Aardsma, who was lights-out last year, has been the very model of inconsistency this year. You never know which D.A. is going to show up. Today we got Bad Aardsma. After allowing two men on, Aardsma dealt a pitch to Howard Kendrick that promptly went yard. This was the second time in two days the Mariners have lost on walk-offs and the 12th time this year.

I can’t figure this team out. When the bats were silent the starting pitching kept the Mariners in games and the bullpen usually didn’t exacerbate the situation. Now that we’re seeing some hitting the pitching has gone away. It’s almost enough to make one look forward to the World Cup.

Did Not Do the Research

Saturday night the Portland Timbers, our local Division 2 team, played a friendly against Argentinian team Boca Juniors. I had considered going to this game but tickets started at $19, which to me is a bit pricey for a minor league team, and I thought that with a name like Boca Juniors, the visitors were a development squad for a first-division Argentine club.

How wrong I was.

See, Boca Juniors is a first-division club, and one that is consistently ranked in the top 25 in the world, although they are currently ranked 55th. Their list of achievements is impressive, none of which I knew about until after the game, after the Timbers had won on a goal scored barely into stoppage time, and after I watched 14,000 people go nuts on TV.

Because I didn’t bother to check up on the facts, I missed a great experience, one that would have been well worth scraping up $19. Next time the Timbers play a friendly against international competition, I’ll do the research.

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