Thursday, November 15, 2012

New Name, New Mediocre Content

Please join me at Sports on a Shtick. There'll be hunting, charades, and ever so many delightful romantic misunderstandings?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mariners-Angels, 8/12/12



It was a hot Sunday afternoon at Angels Stadium but an enjoyable game for me at least. The Mariners won 4-1, Jered Weaver lost, Jesus Montero smacked a couple home runs, wow Mike Trout is fast and my ass there were 35,000 fans in attendance.

Jason Vargas kept the Angels lineup in check all day. He didn't waste any time in between 96 pitches through 8 1/3 innings and was rarely threatened. Howie Kendrick struck out to end a bases-loaded threat in the 3rd inning while Albert Pujols grounded in a Rally Monkey killing double play in the 8th. I'm glad the Mariners didn't sell low on Vargas at the trade deadline since he's a pretty decent #3 starting pitcher who throws a lot of effective innings. The long ball, which has been Vargas' weakness this year, didn't hurt him today although a couple balls did approach the warning track.

Outside of Montero the M's didn't have much luck against Jered Weaver's assortment of offspeeds and angles. To their credit the Seattle lineup was patient enough to draw four walks on the day. Angels pitching coach Mike Butcher didn't like what he saw early and was tossed in the first inning for arguing strikes and balls.

Mike Trout is electrifying. He almost bunted for a base hit in the first, was incorrectly called out on a routine grounder to third and scaled the center-field wall to nearly rob Montero of his first home run. I've never seen anyone run as fast as he does on a baseball diamond. The fact that he's chiseled makes his speed even more astounding. Just an amazing player to witness in people.

John Jaso has an OPS of nearly .900 and is without question the best all-around bat in the Mariners lineup at the moment. Hard to believe he was the third-string catcher earlier this season. Kudos to GM Jack Zduriencik for identifying Jaso to fill the void at catcher -- at least until Mike Zunino arrives.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Thanks For the Memories Ichiro

Thanks for a decade of uncanny hitting, stellar defense, a cannon for an arm and a sports quote that rivals anything uttered by the great Muhammad Ali:
"To tell the truth, I'm not excited to go to Cleveland, but we have to. If I ever saw myself saying I'm excited going to Cleveland, I'd punch myself in the face, because I'm lying."
 Best of luck in the Bronx in your quest to win a World Series. See you in the Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Financial Profitability of the Seattle Mariners and Their Competitors

This is a guest post by Vincent Ramos

There are questions that can forever nag even the most ardent fan, one who wants to be able to tie on-field success and failure to the team coffers. How do you know what a baseball team is really worth compared to its competitors? If it’s more profitable or losing money? The answer depends on how you look at the statistics.

With an estimated value of $585 million the Seattle Mariners are the 12th-most valuable team in Major League Baseball. Out of 30 franchises the M's place 14th in revenue at $210 million but a lowly 26th in operating income with a profit of just $2.2 million.

Yet with $20 million of excess working capital on the balance sheet and receivables of $21 million Seattle is one of only three clubs with a debt-to-value ratio of zero! That means its financial health looks a lot better compared to last year’s anemic .414 winning percentage, one that left the team 29 games behind the American League West-winning Texas Rangers, 22 behind the Oakland A’s and 10 behind the Angels.

So how do we balance these two sides of modern baseball; the winning off the field and the losing on it? Actually it's not as uncommon as one would think. Take for instance Texas. Or New York. Or Los Angeles. To wit:

  • The Texas Rangers declared bankruptcy because billionaire owner Tom Hicks accumulated too much debt. 
  • The New York Mets lost their Bernie Madoff-supplied bankroll when Madoff’s billion-dollar Ponzi scheme collapsed, revealing that the Mets had “feasted in debt for a decade.”
  • Los Angeles Dodgers fans are rid of debt-riddled and near-bankrupt owner Frank McCourt, he of a soap-opera style divorce between the rich and infamous. Bill Wrigley, famed (and long-gone) owner of the Chicago Cubs, once called baseball a “very peculiar business.”

True enough – and yet in Wrigley's day baseball had yet to help coin the parlance of "big-market clubs and "small-market teams."

Big-market teams support the smaller ones through revenue sharing, an arrangement that skews all the finances anyway. And let us not forget that most team owners have always demonstrated fancy ways of cooking their books

Are the Mariners profitable? Well, barely. Are they better off than a lot of other teams? You can make that case. Can it get better? Perhaps.

On one hand, the Mariners are at the beginning of a 10-year, $450 million television deal with Root Sports, which hooks them up with 8.3 million cable/satellite subscribers in 18 states. On the other, you can expect the Mariners to lose a slew of Japanese advertisers – and their yen – when 37 year-old Ichiro Suzuki finally calls it quits sometime in the next couple of years.

So again, you can look at the numbers any way you want and draw just about any conclusion you want from them. Only one thing is for certain – winning always helps.

As of today the Mariners are 7-10. For a lot of people those are the only numbers that really count.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Early Review Of The Mariners Offense

Because when you think of the best hitter on Seattle you think Brendan Ryan. Believe it or not the slap-hitting SS has been the most productive batter for the M's through April 19th according to Fangraphs. Here's what the numbers say:



* Overall the team offense ranks 4th-worst in the majors based on WAR. On the bright side the Mariners are middle of the pack in terms of scoring, having plated 52 runners in 13 games, which is twice as many as the Pirates. Wow the Pirates are bad.

* Despite what his pedestrian stats may suggest Ichiro has been tattooing the baseball. His 27.5% line drive and 5.3% strikeout rates suggest he's been zeroed in at the plate. It's difficult to tell if Suzuki has change his approach since being moved to the 3-hole but he looks markedly improved from last season.

* Justin Smoak still looks lost in the batter's box. He's constantly falling behind the count and his swing is way too long. Sad to see Michael Saunders syndrome has been passed on.

* Appears as if Kyle Seager will be the M's third baseman for now. I've been very impressed by his ability to square up the ball. Wouldn't be surprised to see a few 30 double / 15 home run seasons out of him.

* I'm surprised Jesus Montero has been flailing at bad pitches as often as he has, smacking 47% of batted balls into the ground. For a guy with supposedly elite batting skills something's not right. The same could be said for Dustin Ackley, who's not working the count and making a lot of weak contact.

All that being said it's still very early in the season. But keep an eye on Seager. He's possessed solid hitting skills since his college days at UNC and it looks like he's developing into a nifty player.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Seattle Mariners Offense Should Be Sorta Bad Instead Of Historically Bad

Two games into the season and M's fans are already writing the narrative for the remaining 160 games. Same ol' shitty offense.

Seattle scored four measly runs in twenty innings against Oakland. Now there are a lot of reasons not to panic about the offense. First of all, Brandon McCarthy and Bartolo Colon are decent pitchers. Secondly the games were played in Japan and perhaps playing in a foreign land screwed with their mojo (then again wouldn't it also mess with the Athletics as well???). And thirdly, IT'S ONLY BEEN TWO FUCKING GAMES.

The 2012 version of the Mariners possesses several upgrades from last year's anemic 556-run output, most notably the addition of DH/C Jesus Montero. Defensive questions aside there's not a baseball mind out there who doesn't believe the former Yankee won't hit for average and power. In addition to Jesus the M's should also expect improvement from Justin Smoak, who clubbed a home run in last night's/this morning's game. Smoak dealt with the loss of his father as well as a myriad of injuries last season and should rebound to become at least a league average 1B.

Throw in the potential of Michael Saunders, the development of Dustin Ackley and a bounce from Ichiro then it starts being reasonable to expect an offense capable of producing 600 runs. Doesn't sound like much but the 2010 squad scored only 513 times and was one of the worst offenses in MLB history.

Of course this year's team is already behind the 8 ball. Slow and steady goes the tortoise...

Sunday, March 25, 2012

2012 Trojan Invitational



On Saturday I descended upon Cromwell Field at Loker Stadium to watch my first collegiate track meet. The 2012 Trojan Invitational featured high schools from the LA area as well as the home team USC Trojans, BYU, Michigan, 3-time Pac-12 Champion Oregon, 3-time National Champion Texas A&M, Washington and Washington State.

What started as a cloudy morning turned into a bright and sunny afternoon. Likewise the Trojan Invitational heated up late, saving its best event for the end as USC's 4x400m quartet of Bryshon Nellum, Joey Hughes, Reggie Wyatt and Josh Mance beat defending champ Texas A&M with a blistering 3:02:24. It was the second-fastest 4x400m in school history and the fastest time of the year.

I remember watching RS senior Nellum and senior Hugues on TV during their glory days at Long Beach Poly, which makes me feel old. Bryshon was a huge track star in high school and was expected to become a huge star. An unfortunate gunshot wound to the leg and several injuries perhaps robbed him of fulfilling his potential but Nellum, having also won his 400m heat in 46.45, is off to a good start this season.

Mance and Hughes finished first and third in their 400m heat with times of 45.65 and 46.24 respectively. Meanwhile Wyatt electrified the crowd with a blistering sub-50 second effort in the 400m hurdles.

All that speed built high expectations for the final 4x400m and the Men of Troy did not disappoint. In other events:

Marquise Lee won the long jump with a 23'11.5" leap that looked silky smooth. That the football team will retain him for at least two more seasons makes me giddy.

Indoor champ Ameer Webb ran an excellent 20.46 in the men's 200m.



The In-N-Out Burger Truck showed up on campus!

Sam Barkley, brother of Trojans QB Matt, ate in on his final hurdle in the 400m hurdles. I know what an awful feeling that is, myself having tripped in high school while finishing the 330m hurdles. Trooper that he was Sam finished the race.

Taft High looks like it will field a very strong track team this season.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Welcome USC Trojans To The Dregs Of College Basketball

Technically USC has not suited up the worst team in college basketball this season. The Trojans are ranked 263rd out of 344 according to RealTimeRPI.com. In fact USC isn't even the worst team in the conference. That (dis)honor goes to the 272nd-ranked Utah Utes, which gave the Trojans their only win in Pac-12 play.

The Trojans (6-25, 1-16) have been tremendously awful this season. Preseason injuries to Jio Fontan and Dewyane Dedmon robbed USC of much of its 2012 potential. What has followed is a quick and sloppy race to the bottom. And the sad part is that team isn't half bad. Or rather USC basketball plays well during 50% of the game. Kevin O'Neill has always been known as a defensive head coach so despite a severe lack of depth his undermanned squad has stayed competitive in many games thanks to its suffocating D.

But the offense. Oh the offense. How abysmal has the lack of scoring been? Consider that the Trojans have:
* never scored more than 66 points in a game
* scored less than 50 points in 13 games
* scored less than 40 points twice

The numbers don't do justice to the ineptitude. There's no semblance of a plan or strategy. Instead the Trojans run down the shot clock before throwing up a disaster that may or not hit the rim. The end result has been awful and really, really boring basketball.

Tomorrow USC will play crosstown rival UCLA in the first round of the Pacific Life Pac-12 Tournament. Ever since the "scandalous" SI article came out the Bruins have been playing with the fervor of a dozen Reeves Nelsons. Presumably the Trojans will lose and this season can mercifully come to a conclusion.