*Seattle – 2027*
A young Mariners fan carefully flips through a binder of his father’s old baseball cards as a thunderstorm rages outside their home in the shadows of Safeco Field. The boy smiles as he finds cards of Ken Griffey Jr. and Edgar Martinez, players his dad cheered for in the halcyon days of baseball in the city and still speaks of fondly.
Those days are just a fairy tale to the boy who has never witnessed a winning season from the M’s in his lifetime. He sighs and continues to browse the cards for a sign that things might get better — for him and his beloved team — but finds none.
He starts to put the binder back in his father’s desk when curiosity gets the best of him. In the bottom of the desk is a binder covered in strange characters that reeks of pine tar and chewing tobacco. His father made the boy promise never to open the book, but what could one little look hurt? He glances to the next room to see if his father is watching before opening the binder…
The thunder rolls ominously in the distance as he stares at the lone card in the page. A chill runs up his spine as he reads the name of the strange creature with the beady eyes on the card. C-H-O-N-E…
“Dad, what’s a Chone Figgins,” the frightened boy asks.
A flash of lightning illuminates the man’s face in the adjoining room. His jaw is clenched and his hands are balled in fists at his side. He knew the time had come, that the boy was ready to know the truth, no matter how painful it was for him to recall. He takes a long swig from the bottle of whiskey he has been nursing all day and collects his thoughts.
“A Chone Figgins is a tiny, evil little goblin that haunts cursed baseball teams like the Mariners. It constantly complains and blames other people for its failures. It sticks around for years and costs millions of dollars to get rid of. It is evil incarnate.”
The boys furrows his brow. “Why would God make something like that?”
He wished the boy’s mother, Diane, was still there to help with big questions like this. He had never been able to deal with emotional issues. Maybe that’s why she left him and married Keith. Man he hated Keith.
“I don’t know son. I wish I had a better answer for you, but I just don’t know.”
The man takes another sip of whiskey and disappears into his thoughts. Why hadn’t he just thrown that dirty old binder away?
“We don’t have to worry about the Chone Figgins anymore…do we dad?”
The son’s words unleash a flood of deeply repressed memories to the father. His mind races back to that dreadful day so many years ago. He sees himself driving the wooden stake deep into the heart of the creature and remembers the terrible noise it made as it died and crumbled to ash. The father remembered the eyes. THOSE EYES. He didn’t know if it was fear or relief he saw in the waning seconds of the creature’s life, but he knew he would never be able to forget it. He also knew that he could never be forgiven for what he had done, but his son would never have to live in fear of Chone Figgins, and neither would the rest of his tortured city.
His thoughts return to the present and he realizes that his knuckles have turned white from squeezing the empty bottle of alcohol in his hands. He throws the bottle away and grabs two cans of Pepsi out of the fridge, handing one to his son.
“No. We don’t have to worry anymore.”
The boy breathes a sigh of relief and puts the binder away. “Can we turn on the game dad? It’s the season opener.”
“Sure thing kiddo.”
The two bask in the glow of the T.V. as Seattle’s leadoff hitter, a spindly rookie making his first big league start, lines a single into left field. Rain continues to fall on their roof, but suddenly it doesn’t seem quite so dark outside.
“Maybe this will be the Mariners year, huh dad?”
“Yeah,” the father smiles, “maybe it will be.”
Dino DNA: How John Hammond’s Jurassic Dream Lives on in Major League Baseball Pitcher Craig Breslow.
Unfortunately for the members of InGen (and their shareholders), that guy who got eaten in the bathroom (ed. note: Martin Gennaro) and batters everywhere, those cautionary words of big game hunter Robert Muldoon were never heeded, and John Hammond’s dinosaurs were left free to roam on the islands of Costa Rica…and in Major League Baseball.
One of those creations who is tearing through his sport like a pack of raptors tears apart a dilophosaurus–a hybrid of man and dinosaur–is Boston Red Sox reliever Craig Breslow. At first glance everything about Breslow seems in order; he doesn’t have a tail or scales and he’s never tried to eat Sam Neill, but there is something distinctively Tyrannosaurus-esque (Tyrannosaurusian?) about him.
Take another look at the picture of Breslow and you’ll notice his arms are short…very short. A graduate of Yale who majored in molecular biophysics and biochemistry, Breslow (who is often referred to as the smartest player in baseball) realized in college that a little “dino DNA” could go a long way towards helping him achieve his dream of becoming a MLB player.
While studying his mechanics on film, Breslow realized that a shorter arm and slightly modified delivery would allow him to be equally effective against left and right-handed hitters; something that would have been impossible for him with fully “human” arms. As luck would have it, Yale was home to one of the largest collections of fossilized amber in the world–just what Breslow needed to gain a leg (err, arm) up on his competition. A little gene-splicing was small potatoes for a man of his intelligence and resources, and the results speak for themselves.
Breslow has carved out a successful eight year career in baseball as a lefty out of the bullpen, posting a 2.82 ERA over 402 innings including a 1.81 mark in 2013. Unlike many left-handed relievers who struggle against right-handed batters, Breslow’s unusual release point and genetically-modified dinosaur arm have proven potent against all big league hitters (righties own a career .222 batting average against him while lefties check in at .230). This unique ability to cut down hitters from both sides of the plate has allowed Breslow to amass nearly $7 million dollars in career earnings, something that might not have been possible without the help of a long extinct creature and a little insect trapped in sap.
As Dr. Ian Black reiterated to anyone and everyone throughout his visit to Isla Nubar: “life finds a way”.
Now life just needs to find a way to work itself out of a bases loaded jam…
H to the Izzo…V to the izz-A, Robinson Canoizzo is Coming to the Emerald City: Mariners Land Star 2B In Stunning Coup
“If you’re having run scoring problems I feel bad for you son, I got 99 problems but a power hitting second baseman ain’t one.” –
Jay Z Jack Z
Seattle’s embattled general manager will have to drop more than just one fat beat to save his job and bring the Mariners back from the brink of irrelevance, but if Robinson Cano’s 10 year/$240 million dollar contract is any indication, Jack Z is just beginning to dust off the rhymes.
Let’s be clear about one thing — the contract is too much money for too long, but what choice did the Mariners have? Free agents aren’t going to come to Seattle for a chance to win a championship (not yet at least) or to improve their offensive numbers. Until the Mariners reverse 12 years of mediocrity, they’ll only come for the money.
This contract will probably look terrible in 5-6 years (although inflation will help offset this to a small degree) but signing Cano was about making the Mariners relevant NOW without worrying about what it would do to the franchise in the coming years. The only way Seattle made headlines the past few seasons was for utter chaos in its front office, and of course, that huge ass TV in centerfield. The time was right (as was the payroll) to make a splash, and in a limited free agent market, Cano was in a class by himself.
Power hitting second baseman who hold their own defensively don’t grow on trees (at least not in the northern hemisphere) and though he’s on the wrong side of 30, Cano is fresh off a 7.6 WAR season that included a triple slash of .314/.383/.516 (he would have led the 2013 Mariners in nearly every offensive category – shocking I know). In the last five seasons he’s never posted an OPS below .871, never failed to crack the 20 HR mark, and never played in less than 159 games — that’s consistency Seattle has been looking for since
Russ Davis Edgar Martinez left town.
Robinson Cano is a superstar, and the Mariners didn’t have to give away any prospects to acquire him (although the superfluous Dustin Ackley or Nick Franklin may be on their way out). It’s obviously risky putting so many eggs ($$$) in one basket, but it’s better than piddling away your payroll on a bunch of Michael Morses and Jason Bays. There’s still plenty of work to be done with the roster if Seattle hopes to make a serious run at the postseason, but they have more cash to spend and three studs (Cano, Felix Hernandez and Kyle Seager) along with a bevy of potential stars (Mike Zunino, Taijuan Walker, James Paxton, D.J. Peterson, etc.) to build around.
There’s something in the air in Seattle and it’s not rain…it’s excitement about the Mariners.
Better grab an umbrella…ella…ella…eh…eh.
“The Beard” is headed south while “The Beast” returns to his roots in the Pacific Northwest.
In a three-way deal with Oakland and Washington, the Mariners sent catcher John Jaso to the Athletics in exchange for OF/1B Mike Morse, who spent the last four seasons with the Nationals after starting his career in Seattle from 2005-08.
The move is certainly a head scratcher given the glut of 1B/DH/OF’s currently on the Mariners roster, but maybe positional redundancy is the new market inefficiency and Seattle is just outfoxing the rest of the league. Oh what’s the New York, you need an aging slugger who should never, ever play in the field? Too bad! We’ve got them all!
Losing Jaso hurts not just because he was the Mariners best hitter last year (.276/.395/.850) but also because he provided a number of highlights in an otherwise bleak 2012 season. Jaso was an easy guy to like; he had a great beard, he provided clutch hits, and he made us forget all about that Josh Lueke fiasco.
He wasn’t exactly the second coming of Johnny Bench defensively, but Seattle has been content to roll out catchers like Miguel Olivo, Rob Johnson, and Adam Moore over the past few seasons, so why the Mariners decided defense behind the plate was important all of a sudden is anyone’s guess. Jaso was under team control for the next three seasons, and despite his superb offensive performance in 2012, Seattle decided that his inability to hit lefties (in a very small sample) and the impending arrival of Mike Zunino was enough of an excuse to jettison a fan favorite.
In Morse, the Mariners get a player they once traded for Ryan Langerhans (LOL!) that developed into a productive slugger for Washington (64 HR from 2010-2012). Morse doesn’t draw many walks, strikes out a lot, and is a liability on the basepaths and in the outfield. As a designated hitter Morse would be a valuable asset for Seattle, but with that position likely filled by Kendrys Morales, he appears to be penciled in as the starting left fielder, which negates the majority of his value.
To his credit, Morse has said all the right things about his return to Seattle and seems genuinely excited for a second chance with the Mariners. His power is good enough to play in any park and Safeco Field’s new dimensions might allow Morse to crack 25-30 longballs. Is one year of those home runs worth three years of Jaso’s advanced plate approach and high OBP?
And what happens to Raul Ibanez, who was brought in to spend time at 1B/DH/OF? Does he take time away from Michael Saunders in right and Justin Smoak at first or is he simply a waste of money and a roster spot?
No, this isn’t the worst move in franchise history. Neither was the signing of Ibanez, Jason Bay or Jeremy Bonderman, but taken together, they paint the picture of a front office that has lost its way.
You can’t keep treading water when Oakland, Texas, and Los Angeles are committed to contending for the playoffs every season. Seattle is going to start sinking…