Mariners 5, Rays 4
who knew there were so many left hand Zeuses on the internet


Q.  James Paxton give up 3 runs?!  How could he DO that to us?

A.  It happens.  As it turns out, his ERA is 3.02. .... do any of you guys remember the time some beat writer asked Randy Johnson what happened after he lost a 2-1 game?  That he stared the guy down about 10 seconds and asked if the guy had seen his ERA?  After an eternity:  "that's about what I give up.  About two runs."

A bit more to the point:  Tampa came in with a particular strat-er-gy ---- > start the bats on strike one, in time with 96 MPH and hope that the barrel connected with the pitch.  Stay away from 2-strike counts at any cost whatsoever, and stay away from "looking" at pitches at the same price.

As it happened, they did manage to cheat their way onto a Paxton fastball, about 4 times in fact... weirdly and unrepeatably, all of them for extra-base hits.  Three doubles and a homer.

No "solution" is needed to this "situation" but if you wanted one it would be of course to expand the zone a bit, or to throw a curve on the first pitch a bit, or preferably both a bit.  Failing that, trust to luck.  No, not even joking.  If you just trust to luck they don't usually square four balls up for extra-base hits.

So.  7 IP, 0 BB, 10 K, and a very lucky three runs.


Q.  I notice that Paxton's forearm cramped.  Destruction imminent?

A.  If you wrote Paxton off before the season started, you're in Movie 1 ;- ) and the incident fits neatly.  If you wrote off his wacky assortment of DL trips before the season, you're in Movie 2 and the incident fits neatly.  As Scott Adams has taught us, the key to making sure you are in the right theater is to ask whether we can make predictions forward -- not to ask whether we can retrofit the past, after the fact.  (Warning:  don't actually CLICK that link, unless you're into Konspiracy Korners.)

Dr. D's prediction is that James Paxton has the same chance of being injured as any other 29-year-old left hand flamethrower with 11+ K's per game, perhaps a bit less since his left arm joints are as pink as the day he was born.  But that too is subject to retrofit...

John Benson once drew up a list of safety factors for starting pitchers:

  • Should be lefty
  • Should be old
  • Should throw hard
  • Should be tall
  • Should get lots of K's
  • Should have an easy, smooth motion

And recommended that if all these safety factors were in the pitcher's favor, THEN you should assume ...... that the pitcher would be injured.  All pitchers are injury risks; it doesn't stop recruiting stampedes, now does it.


Q.  Where is Dr. D on the M's Pythagorean Theorem?  It's all anybody ever talks about, but SSI hasn't mentioned it in dayyyyyys.

A.  With a 41-24 record, the M's are on pace for 102 wins.  A glance at their roster tells you that they are obviously worse than that.

With a +20 run differential, their Pythag is on pace for 86-87 wins.  A glance at their roster tells you they are obviously better than that.

The M's actual record, and their run differential, will converge towards the middle -- in our opinion, slightly favoring the RD, so toward 93 wins or so but with several games' upside (a "true" 93-win team would now win a full 97 games, because of the wins already in the bank).  Particularly in view of their prior injuries, their current bullpen, and the luck already scooped off the sidewalk.


Q.  How come James Pazos was given a batter or two in the 8th for Alex Colome?

A.  :: shrug :: take a bit of pressure off the lad, following a coupla busted appearances, so they didn't proliferate?  The larger point is James Pazos.


Q.   Anything else worth knowing about the game?

A.   Well, we gotta play .500 to win 90.  Whichever movie you're in, I hope you're enjoying the season extremely.  And keep in mind that games 1 and 2 in Tampa weren't actually 1-run games; they were beatdowns in which the M's widdled away most of their advantages.  That wasn't a good road trip; it was a great one.  If you hadn't noticed, check your shirt.


Dr D




There are three components to team performance that favor winning more games close and late:

1) Great Relief Pitching

If you can hold a small lead reliably, any game that's close with you ahead has higher than normal win probability with the same RD

2) Great, Consistent Offense

Not all 4.8 R/G offenses are created equally. There are 2006 Tigers offenses that glutinously feast on mistakes and hit glory shots, producing a distribution of game scoring totals with a wide right tail and struggling against great pitching. And then there are offenses that have a variety of tools fit for any purpose...who can beat different types of pitchers, including good ones. The 2001 Mariners obliterated their pythag this way. These teams have fewer than normal 0s and 1s and fewer than normal 10s and 12s. And, I'd these clubs are down by a couple runs in the sixth inning, their win probability will be considerably higher than a similarly talented team with a pitching/defense model.

3) Luck

The random variation in outcomes happens to include more than normal close games with a positive outcome.

Take a look at this Mariners club and ask yourself...

Do they have great relief pitching? (They are 3rd in the game in RP ERA with a normal strand rate)

Do they beat good pitching more than normal? (How many times have they been stymied completely this year? Hitter many great pitchers have they find a way to get 2 or 3 runs off of?)

Do their close wins feel lucky to you, our do they feel scripted?

I would suggest that this team is ideally constructed to beat their pythag by multiple games and that they've had nearly as many unlucky losses as lucky wins...but I'd be curious what you think?

Side note: they've also faced a VERY weak strength of schedule, so we should project their run differential to get worse, and likewise their W% even if they beat pythag by a wide margin.


For a team to beat Pythag I'm looking for "a team that knows how to win," as unspeakably naive as that sounds.  It starts with a bullpen, with SP's who can pitch in traffic, with Hard RBI (a clutch and non-lucky base hit against a pitchers' pitch) and with the ability to manufacture runs.  That synchs up well with your more-robust research I think.

For 40 years I've been watching teams that knew how to LOSE one-run games.  LOL.  It was the inverse of the above four things.


...were, unfortunately, mostly full of mistake hitters like Jay Buhner, Paul Sorrento, Russ Davis, David Bell, Dan Wilson, Brett Boone...

I'm sorry to say, even our beloved mid-90s sluggers were often ineffective against top pitching outside of ARid, Griffey, Edgar, Cora, Amaral, Ichiro, Olerud types. The postseason results speak for themselves, especially when that is paired with a lousy bullpen most years.


Blowers remarked on the fact that he was showing signs of pain.  Next start should tell.  Prediction here, gingerly 80-20 or 90-10 no big deal.


I respect his role as a provocatuer, and thus the freedom to choose his preferred grounds for debate.

But I'll repeat here what I often tell friends (of all politial persuasions).  Is Trump a racist?  Maybe...maybe not.  But in either case, SO WHAT?

If folks on the right imagine that racist 'dog whistles' aren't really there, fine.  But I would contend that Adams here is equally guilty of pulling out the 'racist' card as an all-encompassing Trump defense...because he knows the clear majority of progressives will take the bait.  And when they do, that blunts the opportunity to discuss the things that really do matter about Trump: his overwhelming insularity and a joy in being uninformed; his disregard for the rule of law (and how that's defined in our democracy); the insanity of 'alternative facts'; his use of the office for the personal gain of himself and his family, etc.  

To repeat, racism is the topic that deflects considering all this.  And I fully believe that Trump understands and uses this to his own benefit.  He is not stupid.

Anyway, on the specific topic of kneeling and the anthem, if you care to read my post on this, I'd be interested in your responses.


It’s a tradition, and sporting wise it has been re-enforced by the Olympics. I don’t see why It should be discarded. You stand at attention. That’s what you do.  To borrow from Casey Stengel talking to an angry Mickey Mantle whacking the water cooler, that flag ain’t killing young black men, son. No one has a problem with the flag salute. The “problem” is some folks want to use the anthem to make a statement. If the statement is that the National Anthem shouldn’t be played, I can see why we would do away with it. But the protestors aren’t against the flag, or the national Anthem, so doing away with it doesn’t solve any problem. It just destroys a tradition no one in the fight has a problem with.

Or am I missing something?


Hi Rick,

On your 'what am I missing?" question, maybe nothing.  No reason to have to agree with my position  :)

But I would make a couple of points:

--the concept of 'tradition' is a tricky thing.  At one time, the tradition was to not allow women to vote.  Or to allow smoking on airplanes.  Or to say the Pledge of Allegiance without the words, "under God".  Maybe good or bad tradtions, but they were all modified. 

--in that sense, the idea that somehow having players stand on the sidelines before an NFL game (a tradition which goes ALL the way back to 2009) doesn't seem inviolate.

--I really applaud you for drawing the distinction between players still respecting America and protesting at the same time.  So many don't see this, so kudos.

In the end, I guess my bottom line is unchanged.  The free right of the players to exercise a form of protest when it is most designed to irritate others is serving to divide owners from players, players from fans, fans from fans, and (I'm guessing) players from players.  

Maybe there's I soulution I'm not seeing, but right now this seems one more needless way to polarize Americans.



That you and I can be friends.

That you don't have to view me as 'blamed well aware' that Trump is a racist; that we have a misunderstanding.

:- )


It would certainly be a quick solution to the short-term problem.

From the point of view of "classical patriots" it would be a resounding victory for progressives?  How about we ban the flag?  That would eliminate some arguments.  How about we dissolve America?  That would eliminate 100's of arguments.

I don't mean it sarcastically.  I'm just using a reductio ad absurdum.

Backing up from there, we can see that the fight to NOT dissolve America is one worth waging; ergo, the one to play the anthem is a mini-battle worth waging.  Just my reaction.


But an extremely well-reasoned article, if you're looking for logic to back that approach.  Thanks Diderot.  +1 brother

tjm's picture

I love this country beyond measure but I have never understood why we play the national anthem - an absolutely crappy song to begin with - at sporting events. It seems somehow inauthentic. Then to make matters worse, Steinbrenner decides we need a second dose of faux patriotism with America the Beautiful.. Surely one song is enough. Why don't we move America the Beautiful to the front of the game and get rid of the anthem altogether. 

As to the kneeling: I think it's a perfectly appropriate form of protest. The players aren't protesting the idea of America but one significant way in which we fall short in our execution of that idea.


I think it was a part of civic education, reinforcement of gratitude for the country at public events.  Somebody (?) decided that a periodic reinforcement of patriotism would occur at times A, B, and C.

So the National Anthem before sporting events is probably a tip of the cap towards the sacrifices of WWII and so on.  Whether Americans would want this awareness to fade is another issue.

A WWIII, heaven forbid, would probably alter a lot of attitudes about such matters.  Even 9/11 had a visceral effect towards public displays of patriotism.

tjm's picture

The anthem came into regular use during World War I and, yes, it was intended as a show of support for the boys overseas. I think that has pretty much ceased to be the reason it continues, however.

Are you familiar with James Fallows idea of chickenhawk nation? He posits that the people most boisterous about their patriotism, especially among elites, seldom have anyone in their families who serve. Trump is a normal example (as was Steinbrenner) of this phenomenon. Actually, most families are unaffected by our current wars. Back in the day every family had somebody in Vietnam, often more than one somebody. We've beenin Afghanistan for 17 years and most Americans don't know a single person who fought there.

I find it difficult to accept Trump's criticisms of anyone else's patriotism when he did everything he could to avoid service. He seems to me to be all parade and no pony. And I think his seizing on the anthem protest is purely political. He's a showman and he cares about things only in so far as they help make the show better.


As a retired Navy Officer and proud member of a military family whose roots are similar to those cited by James Webb in "Born Fighting" (Scots-Irish (Ulster)), I believe I'm entitled to an opinion on this. My family  has fought in every American war since those against the French and Indians. Outward show of patriotism as support for the government and the military is fine, but it is just as patriotic to point out the places the country needs to improve on, or where we fail to live up to our ideals as a nation.

I grew up and came to manhood in the Civil Rights era and the Viet Nam era. The trials of those years made America a better, richer nation, with more opportunity for everyone. Now, we no longer want to share that? Is that why my family has fought in America's wars - so we can keep all the blessings for ourselves?

Somehow, patriotism has beome associated with the nostalgia for a "simpler, better" time, (or even an earlier time with a white-dominated power structure). I grew up with Japanese-ancestry American kids whose parents had been "resettled" and Jewish-ancestry American kids who lost family members in the Holocaust. Was that a "better" time because my family was doing well?

The War fought by the "Greatest Generation" was fought by a segregated military. FDR knew of at least some of the Holocaust, but felt politically unable to do anything but win the European War as quickly as possible. Many feel the time of the 50s when America bestrode the world was the best of times. I think the best of times were expressed by MLK as "I Have a Dream".

To me, then and now, questioning whether we're on the right track, and trying to persuade the greater public to support change and to be tolerant of others we share this nation with are the essence of what it means to be an American citizen. Along with that willingness to change is a willingness to share the blessings we enjoy, both with our fellow citizens and with the greater world. And the greatest of these blessings are those freedoms guaranteed by our Constitution, which the miltary vows to support and defend  (N.B. - not to support and defend some potentate). Extending those freedoms and some of our prosperity to all we could has been what really made the "Greatest Generation" great.

My "name-line" family arrived in North America in the late 1630s (elected County Clerk in 1638 in Binghampton, NY). The other lines of my family, Portuguese Morisco seamen and Scots-Irish lumbermen, were here by 1715. So, other than Native Americans, I think we're as "old-line" White, Celtic/Lusitanic, Protestant/Mormon, as it gets. But that  pre-revolutionary population did not make America great. All they could do is set the standard of being the "City on the Hill" that the Puritans spoke of, and that President Reagan re-invoked as the American destiny.

I think I understand how this country became great - immigration, trade, entrepreneurship, developing our resources - especially our human ones, and adapting politically as necessary, under a Constitution which was and is a human marvel. To resist change is human; to vilify those who feel change is necessary is, possibly traditionally American, but still not helpful. Even the Constitution has mechanisms for change; the Founding Fathers were incredibly wise. Would that we inherited some of that wisdom.

The Defense Department officials trying to cultivate support for the military - both recruitment and the military budget - are doing their best to encourage patriotic sentiment. But I heartily agree with Fallows; many times it's less than sincere among the political elite. Sometimes I think it also goes a bit too far. But this hoorah about the anthem is as "poseur" as it gets.  


that was simply magnificent.  Well done!

Doc--maybe this deserves a front page?

(FWIW Bat, we apparently are about the same age.  One of my two best friends in high school went to Vietnam and stepped on a land mine.  I am happy to say that the shrapnel not only did not kill him--a couple inches over, and it would have been a different story--but that he and his wife will be visiting us next month.  He was a sniper...moving on to intelligence...and came home hating the hippies.  Now he is as anti-Trump as they come.  People can change.)


Thank you, Diderot, for the compliment. I graduated in 1967 in a class of 104, and 5 guys I went to school with came back in bags from VN or being shot down in spy planes over Korea and near Hainan, One, our HS baseball SS, graduated in June and died during Tet 8 months later. As with many small towns, the price was paid by those who believed in the goodness of this country

But those who opposed the war also had a love for country (at least many to most). I never have agreed with the way it was fought, and with the decision to overrule the Marine Corps, which wanted to repeat what the Britiish did in Malaya, in favor of the Army's wish to engage in constant attrition combat. In this, I agree with H.R. McMaster that the miltary leadership failed the troops.

One of my cousins was a highly-decorated helicopter pilot for the 1st Cavalry and was one of the heroic pilots under Bruce Crandall (MoH) who flew unarmed medevac missions during the Battle of Ia Drang ("We Were Soldiers"). He served multiple tours and spent the rest of his life with nightmares. His father, a USMC officer, had been Shoup's fire support co-ordinator at Tarawa and later again decorated as a pilot in Korea. Father and Son, both with Silver Stars and DFCs, amongst other decorations. Was destroying his mental peace worth it? He thought so, because he believed in this country, and the freedoms it allowed him to enjoy..

It's hard for me to take a man, let alone a President, seriously who talks of "My Generals" and thinks John McCain wasn't a hero because he was shot down and captured.. But that's me


who claims that everyone is racist in one way or another.  In the sense that on at least a subconscious level, we all react with a set of actions/words/beliefs on first meeting people based on the color of their skin...or knowledge of their religion (or lack thereof)...or their nation of birth. I know I do.  I don't think adults can prevent themselves from doing this (although kindergartners seem equipped to do this immediately and without exception.)

So I guess my point here is that we'd all like to be entirely color blind, but we're not, so let's move on to more important matters--as long as those elements of our characters don't allow us to deprive others of the rights granted to them under our laws.  


When I grew up "racist" meant that you considered your race superior to another race.  Now it seems to mean that you fail to use the latest approved diction :- ) or fail to agree with the most progressive agendas, or simply that you fail to be a female black person raised in the 'hood.  ;- )  Check Evergreen College.

My question would be, how do we define "racist."  BJOL recently tried to do so, and used a 10-tier system to slot "prejudice" that exists among all people.  I don't consider you "racist" if you are sincerely making the attempt to consider race, class, and gender to be "irrelevant" attributes a la hair color or eye color.  Gal. 3:27-28.  *Prejudice* may be unavoidable in its most innocuous forms.

There are people in America who would LIKE for racism to exist, in the most detrimental forms possible, so as to fight against it.  This I oppose strenuously.

We all tend to gather around people like ourselves; we're doing it on this blog.  Good point Diderot.


I should say that police discrimination against black Americans is no laughing matter.  It's a shame that this message has been lost in the failed NFL protest.


Does it seem counter-intuitive to you?

BJOL maintained this POV from the start, w/r/t Ortiz, that it hurt the D as often as it helped.  Hope that's true with Seager....

tjm's picture

It's almost certainly more complicated that it seems. Take Haniger as an example. He's figured out a way to beat the shift by hitting ground bals through the right side. So they don't get him out in that AB. But what effect does that have on his power production? Does it cost him homers? Probably. So in that sense the defense wins even though he's gotten a hit. I'm not a statistician so I have no idea how you would tease those effects out of the data. Matt might know how.

Might be hitter specific. Seager didn't seem to have much natural power when he came up. He had to learn to hit home runs. Now he might be unable to unlearn it.


If you've got Haniger leaning over and banging grounders to the right side, you've got the age-old Teddy Ballgame win for the D.  My question would be:  supposing the pitcher made a bad mistake?  In that AB would Haniger still punish it?

Add comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd><p><br>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.


  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.