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Another Great Move

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Above: Mariners President Chuck Armstrong and GM Bill Bavasi

I see that Jeff Weaver will be resting his 14.32 ERA on the D.L. with Lit up like Jaime Navarro in Coors Field against the 1939 Yankees Syndrome “shoulder tendinitis.” Who could have seen this meltdown coming from a pitcher as consistent and coming off as great a season as Weaver?

The most amazing thing about the Mariners is that they have a payroll of $106 million. Where the hell did it go? The only interesting starting pitcher is young, cheap and hurt; behind him there’s a decent innings munchers and a parade of lemons. The offense is unspeakably dreary, an old team without much power or speed or any on-base skills. And what’s even more irritating is that when they had an old but championship quality team at the turn of the decade, Armstrong threw around quarters like thousand-pound anvils, preventing the team from acquiring the extra premium player(s) that might have put them over the top. The end of the Mariners as a good team, I’ve thought for a while, was during the collapse in 2002 when Pinella ordered a ridiculous 3-2 suicide squeeze from Jose Offerman, resulting in a double play that sent the Mariners irrevocably on the road to oblivion. I was furious at Pinella, but someone at the time interpreted the act as Pinella telling Armstrong and Gillick “Fuck you–you can’t find me a better player for the stretch run than Jose Offerman?” And, frankly, that now makes a lot of sense to me.

Meanwhile, yesterday was my belated first trip to Shea this year. The Brewers are very impressive, reminding me of my favorite team ever (the early-Alou Expos.) They’ve got an impressive core–I had no idea Hardy was that kind of hitter–on offense, they play very good defense, they have good arms, they seem smart and well-managed. (Taking advantage of Showalter demoting Cordero after a bad month was a great move.) They will cool off, and you have to worry about Sheets’ health, but you have to like them to win the division. I mean, you have to like a team that can provide two proofs that fat players can have good genes…meanwhile, while I’m not worried about the Mets they played yesterday like they were hungover; offensively and defensively all their reactions seemed a bit off. Even the stadium personnel seemed in a fog; the apple didn’t come out of the hat after the Mets homered, the hot dogs were inexplicably allowed to become fully cooked against clear stadium policy, and they didn’t have “Sunglasses at Night” or “Never Surrender” cued up when pinch-hitter Corey Hart was the boy in the batter’s box. Unlike the Mariners, though, at least when they’re asleep you know they might wake up the next day…

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