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.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Rooting For Robert Griffin III

RGIII ran a blistering (unofficial) 4.38 in the 40-yard dash this afternoon at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. It's the fastest time for a QB in at least 12 years and just another notch in his remarkable season: from the massive opening game against TCU to a 87-yard deflected TD pass to the winning touchdown pass against Oklahoma to winning the Heisman Trophy and finally culminating with the ridiculous 67-56 Alamo Bowl victory. It's been a whirlwind campaign that has catapulted Robert to perhaps the No. 1 pick in April's NFL Draft.

Born in Japan to a pair of Sergeants in the US Army RGIII is remarkably articulate, disciplined, charismatic and well spoken -- when his college coach Art Briles actually lets him talk. He's also one of the most polished and talented dual-threat QBs ever. Put it all together and it's difficult not to root for such a special person.

UPDATE 2/27/12: Griffin is officially the cover athlete of NCAA Football 13. Is there a jinx with that game like there is for Madden? If so we must now root AND pray for Robert.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Chink In The Armor Is Just The Latest Unfortunate Headline From ESPN

Recently the improbable rise of New York Knicks' PG Jeremy Lin was dealt two major blows. First Lin struggled mightily in a 89-85 loss to the lowly New Orleans Hornets, snapping NYC's 7-game winning streak and dropping the team back below .500.

Secondly, ESPN.com described the loss as "Chink In The Armor" (H/T The Big Lead):



Sadly this isn't the first time ESPN.com has run an unfortunate NBA headline:





Monday, February 06, 2012

Random Thoughts

* Went to my first Clippers game of the season last week when LA hosted Memphis. The Grizzlies were rocking old school yellow & green ABA uniforms that were almost as hideous as some of the jump shots...

* I've been going to Clippers games for a few years now and the crowd has never been more into the game on a minute-by-minute basis. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and his Lob City cohorts have certainly infused life to the Staples Center. Tickets are getting harder to come by as well...

* Looks like the Mariners will sign Hong-Chih Kuo to solidify the bullpen. Seattle's offseason has been a series of small moves and one massive blockbuster. I need more time to think about the Jesus Montero-Michael Pineda swap but I'm coming around to it. Soon I'll throw up my annual offseason grades for the M's with more details.

* What an amazing Super Bowl XLVI. Congrats to the Giants. That pass from Eli Manning. The catch by Mario Manningham! Probably better than David Tyree's helmet grab. Really feel for Tom Brady and Robert Kraft. I don't like the Patriots but they're classy guys. Can you believe the NFL almost locked out this season?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Raiders Head Into Uncharted Territory With GM Reggie McKenzie

It's been widely reported that the Oakland Raiders are prepared to make Green Bay Packers Director of Football Operations Reggie McKenzie their first GM. The Raiders have refused to comment even though McKenzie personally texted ESPN to confirm the news.

The fact the Raiders still persist in trying to put up a shroud of secrecy is exactly the reason why the organization needs a massive shakeup. Of course Al Davis was always the de facto GM for Raider Nation when he was alive -- for better or worse. His hands-on meddling on and off the field contributed to the recent precipitous fall from face for the Silver and Black. After all it's been almost a decade since the Raiders have reached to the playoffs and the nine years since have been littered with embarrassments, busts and, most importantly, plenty of losses.

Shortly after Oakland fell yet again short of the playoffs Al's son and current Raiders owner Marc Davis brought in a group of former Raider greats including Ron Wolf and John Madden to assist in the GM search. In the end that group endorsed Reggie McKenzie.

Reggie McKenzie represents hope. He's been with the Packers front office since 1994. During that time Green Bay has been one of the most successful teams in the NFL, punctuated by Super Bowl victories in 1997 and last year. He was considered one of the rising GM candidates in the league. He's also a former Raider having began his football career as an Oakland linebacker in 1985.

The first order of business for Reggie will be to determine whether to fire the current head coach. Hue Jackson left a bad taste after torching the team after it laid an egg against the Chargers in the season finale. Also many football pundits believe he grossly overpaid for Carson Palmer and generally wants too much influence within the organization.

Whatever happens with the Raiders going forward this offseason... In Reggie We Trust.