Dead on, on every bullet point!
Dr. D observes, with a wan smile, that the Think Tank had been mostly playing along with him through the last week's "pennant race." This makes him feel a bit like the Iraqi torturer who throws a bucket of cold water onto a passed-out victim to wake him up for more pain.
Is tonight's game "live," that is, "on"? No, it ain't. As Rickster said, it's a game of inches. From a pitcher's standpoint those inches are like the inches of golf, but from a hitter's standpoint those inches are like the inches of a roulette wheel. There is way too much luck in baseball to go on a 10-game winning streak, via skill. The Seahawks? They could go 13-1 from here based solely on whether they are that good. The Mariners? No baseball team in history could "force" an .800 or .900 record. It's not in the fabric of the sport.
The attempt to shake down Houston for a 3-0 graft payment, that we could watch with interest. Though it would be exactly like coming from 3-0 down in the World Series. Now, he notes cynically, you absolutely have to do it to the Angels too.
And, supposing for delusion's sake you do THAT, you wake up with a start and remember the Twinkies are +5 over .500 now too. And, IF you did all THAT ... you're still 2-3 games back (retreating back to this temporal moment in the Matrix' illusion).
Between 18 games left then, and 10 games left now, not enough happened. We've moved from "Top-50 Comeback in MLB History" to "Top-1 Comeback In Any Sport, Including Scripted Pro Wrestling." If a pro wrestler climbed out of the ringside garbage can to come back and win this match, the hoboes in the stands would storm the stage and put Vince McMahon to death.
Q. Should the M's feel like "We almost did it! Give us back some first-half RISP hitting and we're right there?"
A. They should not, no.
If they go 9-1 from here, that's 83 wins. Contention for the Wild Card begins at 87 wins. In any normal year. The Mariners only got to watch the standings in September because everybody was .500. Won't happen again.
Dr. D will glance at the scoreboard tonight. Definitely. But that's not the same thing as sitting down to a meaningful game. Like we said, homies, enjoy those last few games last week. It's now a long, cold winter.
Q. Brightest spots going into 2016? Did the M's accomplish anything during their extended Spring Training?
A. Lloyd McClendon is BFF with Miguel Cabrera, as apparently everybody is. After checking out the Altuve vid, just YouTube "Cabrera prank" for a hatful more in-game shenanigans ... which Cabrera loves to pull at critical moments of the game. LOL.
Supposing you were BFF with the Frank Robinson of our generation ... would you compare him to Nelson Cruz? If so, would you have hesitated about a $50-odd MM contract on Cruz? McClendon's points of comparison between the two, who are extreme power RH hitters:
1. Both are "smart" hitters. Example: line drives the other way against a shift.
2. Both hit "tough pitching."
3. Both of them seem to come through in the clutch. Why? They "stay within themselves." This is known as Kyle Seager's Law.
4. Both are great against curve balls. Read: can cover the strike zone front-to-back.
Most star hitters refuse to defeat the shift, out of a psychotic Donald Trump-like sense that normal rules don't apply to them. By "normal rules" we're thinking of ... the law of gravity, the laws of arithmetic (2+2=7), and "rules" that make it possible for life to exist in the universe. Even Junior and ARod would not try to defeat the shift, even as they watched Edgar rifle singles, doubles, and maximum damage to the off field.
Cabrera and Cruz are willing to "listen" to the opponent; they're the anti-Brandon League's. For this reason alone, we're happy to have Cruz in town.
From a saber paradigm, this CHOICE explains Cruz' mysterious ability to "pull the ball selectively," maximizing his batted-ball-by-category results.
FOR NEXT SEASON the sabermetric thing to do is to project Nelson Cruz to be a high-class cleanup hitter. And he's got extra margin for error; Safeco adds 10-20 points to his natural park-adjusted OPS+, whereas Arlington subtracted from it. Most sabertistas informed us, with bored looks on their faces, that Mariner Cruz' life would be nasty, brutish, and short. Turned out otherwise, I think. That would probably be a point of light for 2016.
Q. Fave things we saw or confirmed for 2016, that occurred in the last 30 days?
A. In GM Detecto's cellphone Notes app, he's got, in approximate order of importance:
- The $25M second baseman did NOT become old this year
- Boomstick (last 30 days, we got the Lloyd breakdown just in-wallowed)
- Ketel, of course (trite)
- Trumbo + Edgar = [Fill in SAT answer]
- The M's are willing to put Brad Miller in CF. He's going to look SO cool there
- Guti is emotionally exciting as a role player for next year
- Montero ain't dead yet
- Shawn O'Malley is interesting - has a chance to be a plus fringe player (contradiction in terms)
- Seth Smith for Stud Reliever looks "on"
- WBC-san is still every inch a #2 ace
- Taijuan is healthy! And walking around in the woods with a flashlight pointed at the ground, is groping but inside a 10-yard circle of his prey
- Carson Smith is indeed The New Jeff Nelson. Albeit with the need to pitch before the 9th for a year or two
- Elias is still on the same general train track to run through Scott Kazmir Station
- Our explosives left our hair singed. But we know 10,000 things that don't work in the bullpen, Mr. Edison (and we know it's a need)
- K-Pax' time off will be --- > a nice investment in his career run at 2,000 innings pitched
- The Bartender is serviceable as a backup closer (that's important)
- Tony Zych turns out to be interesting
At the Detect-O-Vision Mainframe, there is a Bill James / Dr. D mosh on politics. This one on the issue of government expenditures for the middle class, and on demagoguery. Also there's a Random Mariner 1000th Point of Light. https://drdetectovis...
The last 10 games are spring training games on steroids. We like spring training games, do we not?
Cruz photo: Keith Allison, flickr