I'm actually kind of excited about the Mariners pitching staff. My excitement is not based on any sort of objective assessment of the players, but that's because I've gotten a sense that object analysis might leave me feeling slightly less optimistic.

Let's have a look at the highlights of the rotation.

Félix Hernández. King Felix. Three months younger than me, but somehow has managed to become the future savior of the Mariners. Kind of makes a girl feel like she should do something with her life. Anyway. He lost a little weight this off-season which I think speaks well for his work ethic. I want him to crush all the go before him. Honestly, I just want a legitimate ace in our rotation. Please hit your stride Mr. Hernández, I'd appreciate it very much.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that you heard that Jeff Weaver is a terrible pitcher. But stop. Look at him. Look at his hair. He has a mullet. Do you remember the last Mariner's pitcher to have a mullet? Think hard. You remember that tall, funny looking guy called Randy Johnson? I predict that Jeff Weaver is going to have a career year, surprising fans across the nation. As long as he doesn't get a hair cut.

I don't know yet if Miguel Batista is a good pitcher, but I do know that the dude writes mysteries and poetry in his spare time. Playing baseball and writing books--he's truly living dream. Here's hoping his pitching is good enough to help the Mariners.

In other news, the first Mariners spring training game is tomorrow. I'm so excited that I occasionally do little dances while I walk around the house. Baseball, I missed you.


the fate of women's soccer in the USA... looks good!


Women's professional soccer is coming back to the US.

Still no team in the Northwest (because we don't have a MLS team of our own) but beggars can't choose.

Women's soccer was the first sport I cared passionately about. I'm ecstatic.

why can't baseball fans just get along?

There is a war going on in baseball.

Either you are a proponent of new statistics that have been devised to help explain the game of baseball. Or else you think they're ridiculous.

Nowhere have I seen this battle more directly laid out than at this post at Fire Joe Morgan (a blog that critiques bad sports writing and loves their stats). Go read it. Marvel at the levels of anger that the two sides have for each other. If you're me, you might wonder why these people get so hot under the collar about people looking at the game differently than they do.

The issue in that particular article is stats like VORP which stands for value over replacement player. Now, I'm not sure how exactly it's calculated, but the idea is that you can use it to judge how much better a player is than the "readily available talent" meaning the cheap players you could pick up from anywhere at any time.

VORP and other stats are a part of a practice called sabermetrics, which is defined as
"the analysis of baseball through objective evidence, especially baseball statistics." I've read a lot of grumbling that Sabermetrics take the human element out of the game, that good scouts "just know" when they've found a special player. and that many of them have a certain something about them that can't be measured by numbers. Intangibles. I don't know. For me, it's hard to listen to a lot older folks grumble about newfangled technology and not think that they're just scared.

This is how I handle stats like VORP. I think that they give me new perspective on players, but since I don't have a good understanding of the equations behind the most complicated stats, they can't be the only tool I'm using. But I fail to understand why having more perspectives could be a bad thing when it comes to enjoying the game. As a new sports fan, one thing seems clear to me--the more I learn about a sport, the more I enjoy watching it.


The evidence keeps piling up that I may be more of an Oregon State fan more than a University of Oregon fan. What's going on here? According to this:

The pyramid play, used in blocking kicks, originated as a prank at an OAC football practice, according to Bill Tomsheck, a player on the 1933 football team.


The play consisted of hoisting the 6'5" center, Clyde Devine, onto the shoulders of 6'2" tackles Harry Fields and Ade Schwammel, from which point he could reach out and knock down any ball headed for the goal posts.

The first official use of the play was successfully executed against the University of Oregon


The Pyramid was banned by the NCAA rules committee within a year.

I would love to see this in games. You sacrifice your ability to guard against a fake kick, but you have a great chance at blocking the kick. Why the heck not?

let's talk about local boys

Here’s one of the big problems in sports: do you want to like your team, or do you want them to win?

Of course the answer is that you want both of those things. But sometimes it seems impossible for teams to have it all.

Take the Blazers—after the disastrous Jailblazers era, the team has taken to acquiring “character players.” Nice guys, preferably with local connections. Brandon Roy is from Washington. Ime Udoka grew up in Portland. They recently traded for Fred Jones, who went to school here in Eugene. [edit: my sources note that Dan Dickau and Martell Webster are from the northwest as well].

Just because these players are local doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. Udoka has been one of the more consistent players for the Blazers this season. And he can play defense! I hear Fred Jones can also play defense, and let me tell you, that’s something I’d love to see more of on this team. And Brandon Roy is a playmaker. He may be a rookie, but I think he can help lead this team.

But the question remains: could the Blazers be more effective if they weren’t so concerned about character? The Pistons, who have been extremely successful the last couple years, have been an example of a team full of jerks that does well for itself.


I feel very strongly that storylines are important to sports. And that means you need two things—you need characters and you need conflict. That’s why I can’t always take stat guys completely seriously when they breakdown and analyze the numbers. We have a completely different point of view, a completely different way of looking at the games in front of us.

However, just because you need characters doesn’t mean they need to be good. Antiheros can have great stories. But the stories I like the best are the classics: The underdog beats huge odds. The good guys win. The person no one expected to succeed becomes a hero. How else could I cheer for teams from the northwest unless I loved watching the underappreciated struggle for respect?

Getting character guys definitely helps draw my attention. And I do like watching local boys succeed. There was nothing sweeter than watching the OSU Beavers baseball team become national champions, partly because nearly all the players were Oregonians. They represented an entire state. And that makes the story better, stronger, and more satisfying.

If you ask me, the Blazers can keep adding local boys. I just hope that they can be characters in a triumphant script, rather than a bittersweet tragedy.


Ichiro fancypants

Who is Ichiro, and why do Mariners fans love him? He is the calm zen master of our outfield. He is is our most consistent hitter.

He wears fancy pants.

photo from the AP/Elaine Thompson

Current speculation is that Ichiro might leave us next year, possibly for the hated Yankees. Maybe it's time for the team to move on, and for Ichiro to join a team that might actually win something. But I hope he stays. And that he continues to talk in riddles and wear pink.

photo from the AP/Elaine Thompson



The first thing that needs to be established by a Mariner fan is how she feels about one Willie Bloomquist, affectionately known as Willie F-ing Bloomquist (WFB) by the some in the Mariner community. Some fans think he’s great, some fans hate him. What’s his deal?

WFB is a utility player. He can play most positions on the field and he has speed, which means that he’s a useful fellow to keep on the bench in case someone gets hurt or you need a pinch runner. He doesn’t hit very well, however. Seems pretty straightforward, right? Well, sort of.

The fans that love Willie love him because he’s local and scrappy. They think he’s the best utility player in baseball. Some of them want him to be a starter.

The fans that hate him think that he gets too much money and too many at bats. The U.S.S . Mariner has this to say about WFB:

The problem is that what he offers the team could easily be replaced by any number of minor league players; that he gets so much irrational love from the team, the media and fans due to his local ties; and because of the dramatic divide between the playing time his skills merit and the playing time he actually gets/people want him to get.

That seems pretty reasonable to me.

Take a look at this article in The News Tribune. Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi calls Willie “an old-fashioned red-ass” (what does that EVEN MEAN?) and the article goes on to say he has “a rage to play.”

Bloomquist himself has a lot to say:

“I hate losing. I hate failing. Beat me today, and I’ll try to find a way to beat you tomorrow. I’ve had guys come to me and say I should settle down a little more.

That’s not how I’m made.”

‘If I’m going to be a utility player, then I’m going to be the best utility player, that’s how I look at the job. Every day, I take ground balls at one position or another. During batting practice, I play the outfield.

And every day, I try to find one way to beat you.”

Is he a jerk, or just fired up about his job? I think that's merely a matter of opinion. I think it's a fine attitude for a player to have.

Here's my official position. Willie’s an interesting fellow. Sometimes seeing him at the plate fills me with dread, but I like following his story. And I love it when he does succeed at the plate, not just because it helps the team, but because I think it's funny how uncomfortable it makes the people who don't care for him at all.


What can I say? I’m a girl who loves sports, and I want to throw my hat into the ring of public opinion on such things.

Right now it’s mostly baseball here, but I reserve the right to talk about any and all sports, including basketball, football, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, and curling. Sometimes, I may talk about women who play sports. Don’t be alarmed.

I have strong Northwest and underdog biases. If a team is either from the Pacific Northwest or the middle of nowhere I’ll cheer for them on principle. Can you guess what my principle regarding east coast teams might be?

In any case, let’s get to it.