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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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March 25, 2008 9:25 AM

Figuring out the fans

Posted by Geoff Baker

OK, let's throw a rock at the proverbial hornets' nest and see what happens. The Mariners, by the way, are officially tied for first-place, a half-game up on the Oakland A's, who lost 6-5 to the Boston Red Sox in Japan this morning. Or, was that tomorrow afternoon? Can't figure this international dateline thing out.

Anyhow, some of you will be pleased with that result. Others, I'm not so sure. I'm now a full 18 months into my stint in Seattle and I'm having a hard time figuring out what drives M's fans. What got me thinking about this was a question from a media colleague last week. "So, what do you think of the fans in Seattle?'' he asked me. "Do they behave like fans in other cities?''

I wanted to tell him yes, but couldn't. That day, I'd already gotten a couple of the usual emails from M's fans chiding me for picking the team to win the division. Haven't stopped hearing about that one. Thing is, I wasn't hearing about it from fans of the A's, Angels or Rangers. I was getting blasted by M's fans. And I'm sorry, that just isn't standard practice in other cities.

In other places, the fans may be skeptical. Oh, yes, they can be. Yankees fans, Red Sox fans. Got to meet a bunch of them covering the AL East for nine seasons. Not to mention seven ALCS rounds and seven World Series. Met a whole bunch of fans in other cities who picked apart every minute detail about their teams, good and bad.

I'd expect no less.

Growing up in Montreal, I was a rabid fan of the Canadiens hockey team. And let me tell you, the Seattle sports experience -- while a little intense -- does not come close to matching the cult-like following of that club. Hockey games in Montreal are life and death, religious experiences. There are decades, even centuries of French-English politics behind some of the fandom, not to mention nationalistic fervor. But it's more than that, because English-speaking Quebecois also root just as passionately for a team that's managed to somehow transcend politics in the most politically-charged environment in North America.

But we Habs (the team's nickname) fans are tough. And demanding. I remember this poor guy, Bob Berry, who was fired as the team's coach a few months after the 1982-83 season. And that was after his team went 42-24-14 and finished with the fifth best record in the entire National Hockey League. The year before that, his club went 46-17-17 (only one fewer loss than the New York Islanders, in the middle of their four-cup dynasty) and had the league's third best record. Show me an NHL club that loses only 17 games in a season any more. Look it up, doesn't happen.

And yet, Berry was fired partway through the 1983-84 season. After two seasons that today would produce regular season conference champions each time. Why was he canned? His teams didn't win the Stanley Cup. Got bounced in the first-round of the playoffs. And that just didn't happen on our fans' watch. I was at a game in 1981-82 when the 17-loss Canadiens had a 14-game home unbeaten streak snapped by the Vancouver Canucks (a decent team that made the finals that year). Midway through the second period, the fans started booing Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson. Hey, he'd coughed up the puck in a one-goal game. We booed the team off the ice when it allowed an empty net goal and took a 4-2 loss.

Yes, we are a very tough and demanding lot. When the Habs began missing the playoffs (something unheard of when I was a kid growing up, all the way through college) we fans simply stopped buying tickets. That got management hopping. You could have filled an NFL stadium every night with Canadiens fans in the 1970s and 1980s, but not in the late-1990s. No playoffs, no ticket buys. And the team had just moved into a 21,000-seat arena. There were 3,000 or 4,000 empty seats on many nights and management knew that couldn't continue.

To their credit, management got the message. Check out the parade of coaches in Montreal since Berry was fired. There have been 10, including five in the past decade alone. Before Berry, you'd have to go back to 1936 to find the beginning of the list of the 10 prior coaches to head the team. Thing is, it wasn't entirely the team's fault, given the new economics of the game and the weak Canadian dollar. There just aren't any real sports dynasties around any more. And to their credit, Habs fans, perhaps some of the most knowlegeable fans in any sport in the world (check out how quickly they'll spot a missed offside call and get on a linesman at a game, usually before the poor offical realizes his mistake), have adpated with the times. They no longer expect a Stanley Cup every year (they've won only two since the 1978-79 season) but they do expect a competitive team.

And if management doesn't give them one, they vote with their feet and with their lungs, especially on talk radio. Montreal is a four-newspaper town and the city hits full panic mode if the team loses three or four in a row (used to be two losses in a row would get them calling for a coach's head, but they've mellowed, as I said).

So, sorry. As tough as some Seattle fans can be, it's a different universe altogether.

And yet, here's the thing. I don't know any Montreal Canadiens fan who would chide a local newspaper columnist, or television personality, for picking that club to do well.

Sure, they might be skeptical. Phone conversations between myself and my buddy James back in Canada usually involve the team. He'll say something like "Wow, the Habs have a five-game win streak'' and I'll counter with "Yeah, but they won twice by shootout and can't seem to win by more than a goal at home.''

Back when Patrick Roy was enjoying a Hall of Fame career, I hated him as a fan because he'd give up goals from the blue line too often. So, we'd sit there analyzing the team's chances and I'd be listing Roy as the No. 1 impediment to a title. Thing is, I'm still convinced I was right.

But we still wanted the team to win. And if legendary hockey writer Red Fisher, still covering the team in his late 80s, picked them as division, conference or cup favorites, we might respectfully disagree, but we'd never get angry at him. Even if some no-nothing columnist from Toronto (true Montreal fans, even those now living in Toronto, hate everything about that city, its teams, restaurants, shopping carts...etc.) picked the Habs to win, we'd be fine with it. Happy to have finally converted one of them over from the dark side. Even if we didn't truly believe it.

What we wouldn't accept is some Toronto ignoramus picking our team not to win. Or, even worse, picking the god-awful Toronto Maple Leafs to finish ahead of the Habs. That's when we'd fire off our letters to the editor, emails, dispatch a few hit-men, and all that.

But not here. In Seattle, it seems, Mariners fans get angry when the local media stiff tells them their team might actually have a chance of doing well. That's a different bird. One I am quite unfamilliar with. I have no clue about its psychology.

Is it a fear of failure, perhaps?

If so, I don't understand that either. True, the M's were pretty bad from 1977 to 1994, but they have actually made the playoffs in baseball (much tougher to do than in any other sport) four times. Talk to a former Montreal Expos fan about suffering. That team made one post-season, in 1981, during their entire existence. Had its best season ever, in 1994, ripped away by the players' strike.

The M's haven't made the playoffs since 2001? Boo-hoo. Cry me a river. My Expos team hasn't made it since 1981 and never will ever again!

Cubs fans haven't had a championship in their entire lifetimes. Even the ones approaching their 100th birthday! Do you think they fire off angry letters to columnists picking them to make the playoffs?

Hey, this isn't about me not being able to handle your letters. I can handle those, handle having my picks questioned, handle being called a waterboy (good morning J.J.), or anything else you want to throw my way. I just don't understand it.

Is this about wanting to be right? Do some fans want so badly to be validated in their belief the Erik Bedard trade was wrong, that they're willing to sacrifice the next few seasons (silently rooting for the other teams) just to be proven right? Maybe that's it.

I don't know. All I know is, since I picked the M's to win the division, not one fan of another team has emailed me to question my beliefs. Only M's fans have. And not politely. They usually start with some vitriolic opening line like: "This team is a bunch of frauds and there's no way...''

Again, if you want to worry about the offense, go ahead. Hey, I'm a little worried about it myself. You want to worry about the bullpen, or John McLaren's managerial acumen, or whether Jose Lopez can hit, or Bedard can pitch, fine. That's what all sports fans do.

It's just that some of you (and please, I'm not including Adam from our comments thread in this group so don't jump all over him), seem to want your team to fail. I love dissenting opinion and a critical eye. But what I'm seeing from more and more M's fans is something entirely different.

Anyone want to take a stab at it? Anyone want to educate this naive rube? Go for it. I'm all ears.


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Posted by geezer

10:34 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Wanna know what else Mariners fans don't like? Twelve paragraphs about hockey.

Posted by Leo Gomez

10:36 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I think that it may have something to do with the underdog factor. Ms fans are so used to be secluded in the NW and subjected to the east coast bias of ESPN (or at least they like to think they are), that winning against the odds is the preferred means. Whether or not the Bedard trade in combination with the LAA's recent injuries make the Ms a favorite to win, I think fans here love to hate the fact that no one thinks we can win, even to the point where we don't even like it when a hometown columnist picks our team to be successful. Or maybe I'm wrong.

Posted by Eric

10:36 AM, Mar 25, 2008


Geoff-Seattle fans have had been trained, over many years of false hopes and failure, not to get too excited about this team. No matter how great they might look coming out of spring training, they will find a way to lose. It's a self fulfilling expectation bred into Mariner fans who have watched this team win 116 games and lose in the first round of the playoffs. If you don't allow your self to have expectations about the club, you won't be dissapointed. After 20 years of watching them snatch defeat from the jaws of victory you will understand the Mariners fan.

Posted by AKMarinersFan

10:36 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff - The problems that fans have is when writers continuously reiterate the Mariners management philosphy's. Jose's artical today on Cairo is a good example of that.

In our cities that I am familar with sports writers take a much more critcal view of the teams that they cover. Not in Seattle. It is often hard to determine the line between the Mariners PR department and the local sports writers.

Its not that the Mariners fans don't want their team to win, we just want our hopes to be based on something rational. It is obvious that you don't understand why M's fan have little faith it the teams performance if is linked to players like Sexson, Vidro, and Cairo.

If you understood the history of the Mariners better you might understand why we are cautious with our expectations of the team.

Posted by xweb

10:36 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,

Sorry to hear you're being abused for being an optimist. I agree with you that a fan may as well hope for the best, at least before the first game.

But I think a lot of fans are disillusioned with the Bavasi regime. Hence, they root against the team so that he'll be fired (finally). Things like the Silva deal, for way more money and more years than any other team would pay, indicate that team management is just not good at their job.

Granted, we may pull a playoff berth this year. But I think many fans will feel that the team accomplished that goal in spite of management rather than because of them.

It's natural, if you work for an incompetent boss, that you hope for them to be replaced, even if you have no power to do so. Mariners fans feel the same way.

Posted by scrapiron

10:37 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff - Wow. Great topic. Personally, I'm a die-hard fan, and want the Mariners to win. I too think the Mariners can win this division. Once they made the Bedard trade, I thought it was move to win this year, and that's what I was in favor of. I'm also a season ticket holder and I realize I'm in the minority here.

I also sent out a plea last season for members of the blog to go pack the stadium when things were going good, and I was met with a lot of, "can't, I'm busy", "can't afford it" types of responses. At the stadium I'm greeted with a ton of fans that are there for the food and the hydro races. Meanwhile, the opponents' fans are knowledgable and vocal.

So I think the die-hard fans take the "they're a bunch of losers anyway" logic to convince themselves it's not worth the money to go see them in person. That's my take, and I would love to have 3 million vocal, educated fans show up at Safeco this year and prove me wrong.

Heck, the opening series isn't even sold out yet to see a division favorite play, so I'm probably closer to the truth than I'd like to be. Anyone have a differing opinion? Do you have tickets to any of the Texas series opener?

Posted by MissoulaMarinerFan

10:40 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Maybe it is because people are beginning to believe more in stats and numbers rather than the team itself. For example, it appears that some are upset that the M's did better than their pythag win expectancy last season (sorry, I don't use the stats that much, so forgive me if I sound brackish when talking about it) and therefore they won't nearly perform as well this year...While I do agree that stats help us understand probability of win/loss, etc, I still have (yes even after 7 or 6? non-playoff seasons) almost a fanatic hope, belief, whatever you want to call it - in the M's that they will win the division, and will make the playoffs. The internet has vastly changed how quickly we can get info, and calculate stats and probability, so maybe some fans are now expecting what the numbers tell them rather than just riding it out, and seeing what happens in real life...
Whew! Sorry about the long-winded post, hopefully it wasn't too confusing! It is a tough question to take a stab at. Good article, Geoff!

Posted by AKMarinersFan

10:45 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Sorry for the typo's in my earlier post. My copy editor sucks.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:46 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geezer beat me to it. All it needed was some jibber-jabber about "brackets" and "final four" and I would have just given up and napped. ;) ;) ;)

And I don't think it's people wanting the *Mariners* to fail. I think it's people wanting specific people to fail. No, it's not even that; it's that they fail AND be punished for it.

There's no consistent demonstration of consequences or accountability for poor performance. Bavasi can get the same caliber of player, year-in/year-out. Sexson can bat his weight for most of a season and see less bench time than the dearly departed Adam Jones. Took the organization much longer than needed to release Julio "wifebeater" Mateo. The hot seat seemed more toasty-comfy than motivating for Lincoln and Bavasi. There's an orderly queue of people signed up or brought up to "push" Lopez. And on, and on.

So basically, anyone with potential to fail at all, anything less than an All-Star caliber performance, makes people shudder. Because they know there won't be consequences for failure.

Ms fans don't just see the glass half-empty; they likely think someone backwashed in it when they weren't looking, and will get away with it.

Posted by Snowbound

10:50 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,
I think what you are seeing is a result of the advanced metrics that have come out in baseball, and the abundance of knowledgeable blog writers that are based as fans of the Mariners specifically.
There is no denying that the Mariners have some highly intelligent fans but what its come down to in the past few years is the core belief that there is one way to do things and by not doing them the way they should be done will result in failure.

That's why you are seeing such a negative reaction to the things you write and your predictions of the M's being the front runner. They may play well, and if they do, the true fans in these guys will come out, but until then they are driven by the fact that they believe the M's as an organization are running the club the way they believe they should and until there is some sort of philosophical change (or until the season starts) the fans that don't agree with the organization won't be happy. The majority of those fans are based in the online community which is why you are getting the brunt of the abuse when you try and talk positively about the club.

That's just my opinion on things.

Posted by Johaan

10:51 AM, Mar 25, 2008

We never win anything. Simple as that. Years of conditioning.

Posted by QADavis

10:53 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff I care as much about hockey as i dotiddlewinks in Sun City. Who cares when there is M's talk to have
To go back a few days the trouble Bedard had is he fooled no one. He might as well as told the Royals what he was throwing. He had a good first strike count and good control, but it was too obvious what was next. Is there an issue with Johjima and Bedard.
I am most interested now in the 25 who make opening day your guesses are ??

Posted by Mike

10:53 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff--

Certainly part of the answer is that there are a lot of reasonably intelligent folks in Mariner Blogland who think that the Mariners management makes some pretty poor decisions. They would like the team to be well run and think it is not. They differ with your more rosy assessment of the Ms chances and are pretty sure last year's record was fool's gold. I think at some level they fear that your outlook will provide additional cover for the management team and perpetuate mediocrity or worse.

I also think they would LOVE to be wrong and win the World Series.

Posted by skiba

10:54 AM, Mar 25, 2008

As a NY based Mariners fan I'm not really tuned in to how Seattleites think. However, I really think that this is a matter of audience.

USSM and Lookout Landing are two of the best statistics based sites on the internet, they also happen to be Mariners based sites. While the writers of those sights offer intelligent well thought out discourse on the M's they do not currently have a high opinion of the make up of the team and front office. There are many loyal readers (and commenters) on this blog that no doubt are also readers of those two sites.

I do not criticize the authors of those sites for their opinions, I tend to agree with them on most of their stances in fact. But, their persuasive way of writing and presenting their opinions does not instill much confidence in the fan base that the team that we have currently constituted is that good. Dave at USSM was steadfast against the Bedard deal. Readers of that blog, myself included, were almost dissapointed when we got him. Say that again: we were dissapointed when we got Erik Bedard. Thats crazy. Yes, we gave up an immensely talented guy in Jones but c'mon we got back Erik Bedard.

I love USSM and Lookout Landing but their content may go a liitle ways to explaining the percieved skepticism of Mariners fans. I also will defend those authors one more time and say that they are the first ones to commend the players and organization when things go right (such as the Ichiro deal). Their writing is simply a commentary on the state of the Mariners and that current commentary is one of a team that sees itself as better than it really is.

Maybe, Geoff, the answer is that the group of Mariners fans who are reading your blog are simply more educated and intelligent than other fans. Canadiens fans included.

Posted by Thomas

10:57 AM, Mar 25, 2008

It's probably safe to say the M's have a higher percentage of sabermetrics fans than other teams. The fans Geoff speaks of are most likely rooting for/against the conflicting philosphies, not necessarily the team. If the M's made the playoff I think most of the skeptics would experience the same amount of joy as the traditionalists.

Posted by r0ryAK

11:00 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Eric,

For the record we didn't lost in the first round in 2001. We almost did though.

Posted by scrapiron

11:01 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I think you guys are on to something: Why didn't the acquisition of Erik Bedard translate to an increase in ticket sales?

Posted by in hiding

11:03 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I have no doubt that it's an extension of the people of Seattle itself. Pessimistic and argumentitive. Passive aggressive.

Fans in other cities are skeptical and love debate.

I've lived in enough places to know that the folks of the PNW are a different breed. Neither good or bad, just different.

Posted by cooner

11:03 AM, Mar 25, 2008

scrap, indeed i do have a ticket to mondays game....

So I don't really have a well thought out response to geoff's question....However, I do think it is much of the cause of us always having a good but never great team. It is a downward spiral.

If most fans don't expect to win, or don't want us to win b/c of bavisi ( i don't totally buy that one, but heck, maybe it is true), or just don't want to be disappointed if the season doesn't go well.... whatever the reason, it is the same attitude that enables the front office to mediocrity. If we don't get really mad at a season flop and keep showing up to games, WHY WOULD THE MARINERS FRONT OFFICE DO MUCH ABOUT IT? if we keep filling the seats even if we are terrible... WHY WOULD THE OWNER BE CONCERNED.

The mariners consistantly make a lot of money, and consistantly have high attendance records b/c fans show up regardless of the product. Now, in one way that is great. I am not saying boycott for a bad season. But if you really think about it, it gives little reason for the front office to be afraid to do whatever it takes to win. The mariners have paid a lot of money out over the last 5-10 years to be sure... but never enough to get that bone a fide superstar, only enough for a sexon or beltre. Why? well it is just enough to still fill the seats. And while everyone from the owner down to the dancing groundskeeper would love to win a world series.... filling the seats every year is more important than the risk, and if it is easy enough to do that, the mariners will never go that extra step that boston and NY are willing to take.

The real b*tch of all this though is what to do about it? There is no easy answer... I like going to games. I don't want to boycott. But if every fan demanded more out of the front office and team rather than the 2% of us that read blogs like this and have actual debates about the ins and outs of the team, then it might make a difference.

I am sure i haven't made much sense throughout all this but heck it is how i feel.

Geoff, i appreciate your love for your "HABS". i wish most mariner fans felt the same way. Could it be that we are still just too young a franchise?

Posted by jujay

11:08 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff- great article... I really dont understand some of the fans on here. I don't care how bad your team is, if you are a fan you pick them to win, you have hope. I honestly think there's people that would want jones to homer off bedard just so they could smirk with their cynical negative selves. When did fans become negative and critical about everything their team did. Yeah the mariners management sucks, who cares..... i didn't want to lose when I hated one of my coaches.

Posted by Simon

11:09 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,

I think if the Mariners win the World Series this year, you would see huge celebrations from all the folks on this blog, over at USSM and LL, and in the entire city. I was living near LA during the 2001 season, and the atmosphere at Angel Stadium was amazing as a sea of Mariner blue cheared the Ms beating up on the Angels. Mariners fans of all types would love nothing more than to see this team succeed.

I think what you are seeing is the backlash from several seasons of an incompetently managed team. I think many fans are just fed up with the team giving away productive players, making poor trades, and basically, not really understanding how to evaluate players' abilities (Cairo??? HoRam???)

Now, if this offseason had been filled with smart moves - acquiring talent at a reasonable price, keeping players who are likely to contribute to the long-term success of the team, dropping ineffective players - then I think you would see a lot more optimism.

Don't get me wrong, I'll be at as many games as I can afford this year, hoping the Ms beat all expectations. But I would have a little more hope that this might happen if the FO was a little smarter in its decisions. I'm excited about Bedard, but Silva doesn't impress me and I still see some significant holes in the offense and defense. So forgive us if, in attempting to keep it real, we somteimes veer into pessimism.

Or, maybe we're just all depressed from 6 months of cool, dreary weather!?!

Posted by PayClayBennett

11:09 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Hey Geoff, when they're 30 games over .500 in September, you will hear a different tune.

Bavasi is hated and the Bedard trade split the fan base at best - the free agent signings do not spike any confidence (Washburn, Beltre, Sexson, Wilkerson, Silva, etc). The trades that make you scratch your head (Carlos Guillen for a couple of quarters and mini-keg of Heineken - Soriano for Horacio "Down-the-road-motors" Ramirez to name a couple). Years of failures and a lack of managment accountability - all of these things contribute to the optimist bashing.

You have the right attitude, but you only "wonder" about it because it's new to you. In 1995, when the M's put it together, not just Seattle, but the whole region came together and boosted that club. I went to every home game during that last homestand and the Dome was absolutely freaking nuts after every Tino Martiniez heroic, someone different - night after night. It saved the game and they got real close a couple of times. Cleveland was the beast in 1995 and NY was the sentimental favorite after 9/11 in the magic Mariner year of 2001. We know how tough it is to get to the Series and for most of us, we do not believe this group can get it done. It doesn't mean we don't want them to - we just think division title predictions, etc. are premature. Obviously some of us have more vigor than others, LOL.

We're rootin' for 'em Geoff - keep the good coverage up and who knows, maybe they bust out this year......

Posted by madrone

11:11 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Fans are skeptical because they've been hearing for the past five years how this year's team is different, not like last year, playoff-bound, etc.

You can get fans to bite on that for at least 4-5 years. Then suddenly the schtick gets old and ceases to have its desired effect.

I think most of us are in a wait and see mode this time around.

Posted by jon

11:13 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I agree with Geoff. I dont understand why people will boo our own players more than the opposition. I do feel people that are negative do feel the need to be right and a sports know it all and they all need to get over themselves and have a good time.

And for your Bedard haters...found this interesting on the baltimore blog...

As for horrendous slumps .....Adam Jones is 0-for-14 with six strikeouts....

We all have our slumps, even Adam Jones.

Jon

Posted by Al

11:15 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I'm sorry but generalizing M's fans as the only type of Seattle Fans is B.S. Geoff, cause honestly your forgetting the Seahawks fans.

I've lived in New York for a period and I can tell you this sitting in Qwest field when the Seahawks play blows any one of the dozens of Rangers and Devils games I went to, don't get me wrong I don't dislike hockey and am not saying the games weren't and experince, but I don't see how you can say Seattle fans, and not differentiate between Seattle M's fans and then try and compare a totally different sport and culture.


If your going to compare fans of M's, then compare Seattle M's fans to Expo's fans, don't compare a generalized Seattle sports fan that you ignorantly grouped together to Montreal Hockey fans, that's just being ignorant and making me lose respect for you.


It's like trying to say which fruit tastes more like a fruit, an apple or an orange.

Posted by Mike

11:17 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Jon--No one is a Bedard hater. Even those against the trade love Bedard.

Posted by AC

11:18 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Boo Mariners fans for having the most realistic expectations of any set of fans I've ever met.! The power of positive thinking has a real, quantifiable impact on the mediocre talents of the team, and you're NOT HELPING!

But more to Geoff....The most passionate fans are the most informed, and the most informed are far and away more enamored with the leadership style of the A's and Red Sox (for example). This is a technical city that's not afraid of numbers, and the numbers we're looking at say the old school types running the team are wrong.

It doesn't matter how the team does on the field, they just don't get the message that a sustainable, winning team is achievable in the short term and long term with the resources available. But bone-headed decisions keep costing this team wins, dollars, and fans.

I want the team to win, but if losing brings about some change, it will be worth it in the long run.

Posted by Fred

11:19 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Agree with the comment that we want to hear no more about Toronto, Montreal, hockey or your ex-jock days in Canada. Discussion of same uses up space better devoted to Seattle baseball and relevant comments re same.

Fans here are skeptical because of their experience with Mariners management---bad trades, player decisions and acquisitions and a general attitude that "the Safeco" experience alone is enough to justify ever rising ticket, parking and concession prices.

Bavasi this spring wasted money on Cairo, Ramirez, Norton, Rhodes when it was apparent that all four no longer can play. Ramirez is gone but what do you bet that the other three use up space better devoted to more talented, younger players until they are cut loose at mid-season for lack of performance. Cairo good with Latin teammates? C'mon. He no longer can field any infield position. Bloomquist already fills his role more skillfully.

Piniella quit because management refused to give him players he needed for post-July 31 pennant runs. Successive general managers have made hugely stupid trades and signings. Stick around, Geoff, and you will think like the rest of us. We keep waiting for signs of professionalism.

Posted by manjini

11:21 AM, Mar 25, 2008

People want to be able to take something worthwhile out of a season.

If you say the team will fail, you can say, "I told you so" and feel superior to the "Optimist" or "Front Office Apologist" crowd. You get the pay-off of feeling smarter than the "garden variety" fan. It's something to cuddle up to on cold nights after season goes down the tubes.

And if the team does well despite your beliefs, you still get the fun of the team winning and who cares whether you were right or not. You get the pay-off of victory, an even better bedfellow.

Seattle's highly intellectual fans rely chiefly on quantitative reasoning and believe that the numbers equal failure for this team. People get pissed at you (and others) because they equate Optimism with Naivete.

In the end, people want to feel like they didn't waste their time. They don't want to be seen as naive or buying some party line the Ms are selling. But where is the fun in that?

Posted by reality3

11:24 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,
Not to get off topic, but I have seen some more articles/reports as late as 1 hour ago that a J. Reed trade is very possible. Have you heard anything inside the camp about this?

Posted by Murphy

11:24 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I agree with you Geoff. I am suprised that Mariner fans have acted this way. But I am not suprised that people leaving comments have acted this way.
It's easy for people to work up their internet courage and bad mouth anything they want to. People just want to get heard. Coupled with the fact that anyone with the free time to run thousands of season simulations will plague the internet with negative results that mean absolutely nothing.
There are far more patient Mariners fanatics out there, but they don't see the wisdom in propagating negativity about their team. They leave that to the people without lives, behind the comfortable anonymity of the internet.

Posted by Jared

11:25 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Good write. I cannot stand the Yankees and the Red Sox but one thing i do like is how passionate their fans are for their sports teams. I cannot stand the pesimisstic fans in blogs, especially "USS MARINER" I love baseball and I love the Mariners and will be a fan till the day i die therefore i find no reason to be so hard on the team. I can appriciate a winning season even if we dont go to the playoffs because i love the Mariners. Can't beat summer night games. I don't mind trading prospects for all stars because its about taking risks on and off the field to see how those pieces align. Some fail and some don't. Heres to a great year of Mariner baseball... It's nice to be able to debate whether the M's are going to win the division or not.. two years ago we were way back from where we are now. Sorry for the pesimisstic fans and thank you for your optimism Geoff! This blog beats them all!

Posted by peter

11:30 AM, Mar 25, 2008

geoff-

Great post. I continue to love your style. I agree with Eric's post.
"After 20 years of watching them snatch defeat from the jaws of victory you will understand the Mariners fan."

I recognize that the cubs and others have had this same experience, but also realize that they have more of a history of baseball in their city. We don't. Maybe that's part of the problem as well.

I don't trust the ownership group's desire to win. I am appreciative of them being in Seattle. But, it seems that the owners do just enough to keep the minivans filling the ballpark. Fans in Seattle are getting smarter. I remember vividly the day that the mariners traded for Andy Benes for the 95 stretch. This was an unprecendented move for the m's. However, that move would be expected today.

So I am skeptical. I am skeptical because we had 4 HOF on the roster at one time and didn't go to the world series. I am skeptical because I was told that aurillia, spiezio, everett and others were legitimate fixes to problem roster spots. (yes, i realize that some moves have worked out, but a great team doesnt throw scabs on the field and then try to market them as legitimate signings.) I am skeptical because there have been glaring needs during past seasons and then the trading deadline comes and goes with no significant impact.

Man, Geoff, you're getting me worked up. The problem with this year's team is that it is just pretty good. I was for the bedard trade. I like the possibilities of our pitching. However, outside of pitching i'm not sure of anything. Wilkerson, heh. Our offense is pretty good. But it's a little scary. But, that's what they play the games for.

Keep it up Geoff.

Posted by musicman josh

11:33 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geezer made me LOL!

"And if legendary hockey writer Red Fisher, still covering the team in his late 80s, picked them as division, conference or cup favorites, we might respectfully disagree, but we'd never get angry at him."

Perhaps what you need to ask is of yourself... What did Red do to earn the respect of the fans, was it his knowledge of the game? Was it the fact that fans never felt like they were being lied to? Did he ask the organization the tough questions and get answers?

I'm not saying that you don't have those qualities, and I definately enjoy your style, if nothing else. But, this isn't about you picking the M's to win. This isn't about the haves and have nots of the MLB. This is about a new reporter trying to earn the loyal following of fans world wide. If you want the respect and loyalty, you've got to earn it.

We're a smart bunch the Seattle fan's, and the true baseball fans of this franchise have a certain part of their makeup that hates being PR'd. Picking the M's as the underdog with a fighting chance would have given you our respect. Displaying poor baseball knowledge, and sounding like BB is shoving singles down your pants gets us a little fired up.

Here's to the season, where I can enjoy your writing, your covering the games. And don't think we don't like YOU, Geoff the person, just live and learn, adapt to this situation, and love the M's.

Posted by Man From Nantucket

11:33 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I don't think you can generalize the mentality of the Seattle fan base. You are probably receiving feedback from a small yet vocal segment that both feels skeptical of the team's composition and comfortable enough with their thought process to challenge your conclusions. I think the majority of fans pay little attention to the off-season but love to root for the home team once the season gets going.

Posted by Fred

11:34 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, agree that you should spare us further discussion of Toronto, Montreal, hockey, or your ex-jr. college jock days in Canada. Of no interest to anyone. Spend your time discussing Mariners baseball.

Fans here are divided into those a) who know baseball, and thus have lost respect for Mariners management's decisions re trades, signings, roster cuts, salaries, etc. and b) who are satisfied with "the Safeco experience" and do not much care about winning or baseball fine points.

The former are those who are discontented. For instance, why did Bavasi waste money this spring on Ramirez, Cairo, Rhodes, Norton when more talented, less expensive and younger alternatives already were on hand? Cairo is good with Latinos? C'mon, he no longer can field adequately any infield position. Bloomquist already fills his utility role.

Ramirez is gone but what do you bet the others make the club---and then are gone by mid-season when it has become apparent they no longer can play.

Knowledgeable fans are looking for signs of savvy and baseball intelligence in Mariners management.
The coaching staff has been upgraded this year. Let us see how other matters turn out.

Posted by xweb

11:35 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff--Just for the record, hockey stories are a-ok in my book. It is your unique perspective and insight that makes this blog more than just a snippets & tidbits column.

Keep bringing the detailed analysis and speculation, don't let the nay-sayers bring you down!

Posted by Pete

11:37 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff-

Yes, interesting topic. I love the Mariners and would never root for them to lose. However, I am one of the more vocal critics of the team and its management. I think they either don't know what they are doing, or they use old or ineffective processes to assemble a team. It's continuously frustrating.

I'm not one to chide you about picking the team to finish first. I think you could be right, especially in light of the Angels' injuries. But I doubt it.

I don't think we have a great team. I think we have an ok team. I think the offense is old, and on its way down the tubes. It may be worse than any of us ever thought. Some of the players are teetering on the edge of the cliff of their careers -- and I don't think that's a recipe for success.

But that doesn't mean I won't watch every single game, and root for every single player (ill-chosen or not) like he was my best friend. And I think most of the people who chide you for your pick would do the same. We all love the team, and I highly doubt many, if any, of us root for the team to lose. ...That would be ridiculous, what would be the point?

And yes, it is nicer to be pleasantly surprised than disappointed to the point of despair after harboring unreasonable expectations.

As for why we like to so vocally disagree with you? Quite simply, I think we are tired of management and want them replaced... unfortunately, as fans, no matter how vocal we are, we really don't have much sway.

And for those of you, if you exist, that actually do root for the team to lose... what the hell, man? Take that crap elsewhere.

Posted by kevin_ess

11:38 AM, Mar 25, 2008

UGH. People complaining about the hockey reference are missing the point. Just. Stop.
There are two types of negative fans that I can see here in Seattle. Bandwagon fans, and those that have seemingly lost the ability to enjoy each game separately because of their skewed Sabr and stats-related fervor.
I'm by no means calling stats folks as a whole wrong or negative, but there are plenty of those vocally negative proponents here.
There's got to be a balance.

For me, I want my team to win and win and win. I simply will not root AGAINST a player on my team. Call me old fashioned.

Seattle is a strange place.

Posted by -j.

11:39 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Wanna know what else Mariners fans don't like? Twelve paragraphs about hockey.

Just hilarious!!! Was drinking a glass of milk at the time and almost shot some out my nose.

I agree with AKMarinersFan first post. Just seems like everyone puts on rose colored glasses when it comes to the Mariners and refuses to acknowledge huge flaws. Anyone who thinks last years 88 win season was legit needs to take of the shades. Smoke and mirrors along with a ton of luck made that happen.

When you win a scratch ticket today.. you can't expect to win again tomorrow. The Mariners seem to be banking on it. Bad strategy.

The rotation seems to be fixed. The bullpen is looking awful and the offense is looking more and more like a wreck. Sexson is bad. Beltre is ailing. Ibanez will likely be worse than 07. Vidro WILL be worse than 07. Lopez is awful. Wilkerson will hit .220 then get hurt. etc. etc.

People who call that a division winner need to pass the cool-aid.

Posted by dmo

11:45 AM, Mar 25, 2008

The difference between Habs fans and M's fans is expectation. Habs fans EXPECT their team to win and won't accept any less. For us M's fans, sure we like to see them win, but really we'd rather have a sunny day stting at Safeco field watching any team grace our presence.

Posted by byronebyronian

11:47 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I am of the belief that not all the free agent signings are Bavasi's fault. I see Armstrong and Lincoln's hands in these things much more than Bill's sometimes.

Bavasi should be held responsible for the failures of the team but so should Chuck and Howie. Bill sure does have a knack for low risk signings and minor league deals, though (my compliment for the day).

Posted by Frankie

11:48 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Well, the season has officially started so I am back to the blog!!

Geoff, unlike everyone, I am thrilled that you picked the M's to win the division. It gives me a lot of hope and excitement for this season.

M's are currently in 1st place and lets hope that that is where they will stay!!

Stay positive everyone. It's gonna be a good year!

Frankie

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

11:51 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,

The Internet has allowed seemingly reasonable people to create anonymous personas and dominate others with their point of view. In person we'd all debate our points and have a beer. On the Internets, we beat down and flame those who disagree with our worldview. In other words, I am a dummy if I don't support every stats based viewpoint because I need to weigh the human elements as well.

Posted by hr2434

11:51 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I don't think it's you Geoff. It's fans in Seattle in general. I have lived in diffrent areas of the country over the years and I have never seen more negatism then right from the pacific northwest. It doesn't matter if your talking about the Mariners, Sonics, Hawks, or Huskies.

When the team is winning, all is well with the world around here. If the M's come out and win the division everyone will be right there saying that they believed in this team from day one.

Keep up the good work Geoff. Some of us actually appreciate a reporter actually supporting the Team they cover. From what my grandpa told me, that's how it was back in the good old days!

Posted by Thomas

11:52 AM, Mar 25, 2008

You get emails like that because you are clearly a shill for management and ownership. They were the luckiest team i have ever seen last year and quite simply they were horrific even if they some how had a winning record. This year we are projected to have barely a better offense than the giants. Our offense is the worst in the AL by a mile. Our defense is even worse. Our pitching is bad. Bedard and felix will be good, but beyond that its junk. Our bench is horrid. The M's will be lucky to finish .500. Our star and only good player is ichiro who pecota and zips predict will fall to earth. beltre is hurt. sexson is awful. silva? yuck. Fans get mad because you never say anything critical about the team, its all sunshine and optomism. It makes you appear as if you are a part of the mariners PR department, not an objective reporter.

Posted by Rod

11:53 AM, Mar 25, 2008

"Fan" = Fanatic. We don't have a lot of Mariner "Fanatics" here in the NW. What we have is a bunch of Mariner "Nerds". These are the same people, (mostly from King County), that were roused out of their Microsoft cubicles sometime around the mid-1990's when they heard this loud roar coming from the Kingdome. "What the hell is that noise?", they asked. Until then, they thought that the game of Baseball was something they were forced to do in high school during, (ugh), P.E. class. You know, ya roll this round volleyball looking thing to a plate and some guy or girl kicks it, and you can have multiple people on the same base, and no one picks them 'cause they're nerds and they suck, and so on....You get the point.

They then heard through the grapevine, that there was a different twist to this game, and that thousands of people were packing that big gray building called the "Kingdome", all to watch a bunch of, (ugh), "athletes", hit a round ball with a round bat, and run around the bases. They quickly discovered that you can buy some drink called a "King Beer", for only 7 bucks a cup! "I'm in!", they quickly proclaimed. And thus was born the "Mariner Nerd".

They then discovered that Baseball is a numbers game. OH JOY!!! Tons of statistics to keep and analyze, (right up a nerds alley), and their ability to analyze statistics and form theories and opinions based on NUMBERS gives them the confidence to proclaim their superior knowledge of the game of Baseball, and everyone else who disagrees with them are just a bunch of uneducated morons with no intellect who must of voted for Bush.

Skepticism is like a 6th sense for these people. They are programmed to analyze, ridicule, and find fault in almost every decision made by someone that they don't totally agree with. They route for failure, becaus that's how they can proclaim that their knowledge is superior to all others. They are so busy picking other people apart, that they don't have the time to become a true "fanatic". That would require showing emotion. It would require having a true undying love for your team, loving that team through the good, the bad, and the ugly. "How silly that would be", they might say. To love that team unconditionally would be illogical to them. Thus, they buy their season tickets, order their cheese and wine, occasionally a Red Hook, ("my gosh, I can't believe we actually drank King Beers!"), and look down at those "morons" in the front office that should have been fired 2 years ago. "Can't they see that if you statistically analyze RIchie Sexons swing, you'll find an abnormally unorthodox back swing, followed by a stride that is just mathmatically WAY too long, with his toe pointed a an angle that anyone could see is not right, and that his follow through shows an inferior release point from his off hand and oh my God, Bavasi is such an idiot!".

These people TRIED to become Seahawk fans at one time. But we beat 'em up because we thought they were a bunch of NERDS! ;)

Posted by Ollie

11:56 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff - Thanks for posing such an interesting question. Speaking for myself, I have my doubts as the whether or not the ultimate goal for the Mariner's organization is winning the division. I believe that the highest goal for the organization is to run a profitable business and second, to be as competitive as necessary to keep fans coming to the ballpark. I've followed the team closely for more than 10 years and I have an increasing skepticism that the owners and higher management (above Bavasi) are in it to win on the field. It's more about the money.

Posted by scrapiron

11:57 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I made a bet with my co-worker that works out of Irvine and is a big Angels fan. When the Mariners win the season series against the halos she has to stand in front of Anaheim stadium wearing a M's hat and t-shirt with a sign that reads "Angels suck".

And by the way, if you happen to see a guy toward the end of the season standing in front of Safeco wearing an Angel hat and t-shirt with a sign that says "Mariners suck" posing for a picture, be nice to him, he fought the good fight.
:-)

So yes, you can say I want the Mariners to win, and I put my money (or humility) where my mouth is.

Posted by shortbus

11:59 AM, Mar 25, 2008

I have no idea how much this affects pessimism about the M's, but you just can't expect Seattle fans to walk around with rose-colored glasses. Every single major pro team in our city has held the team hostage for big public dollars. Like infidelity in marriage...you can patch things up after something like that, but the relationship will never be the same. I think Seattle fans have become jaded about their teams because of the cynical way the teams have manipulated our emotions for big bucks.
Yes, it's all a business...but when the bottom line is all the teams seem to care about, fans can't be expected to be all dreamy-eyed over their teams' prospects for victory any more. And management better not dare do anything foolish after getting those big new shiny ballparks!

Posted by Ziasudra

11:59 AM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff - I for one agree with you that as of now, the M's should be considered favorites to win the AL West. But favorites don't always win; sabermetrics are not deterministic. (Seattle is populated with "Microsoft" types, hence the love of numbers.)
But I agree with many that our FO has made many grevious mistakes, and it produces a "with friends like that, I don't need enemies" aura. (I'm still upset about the FO fostering that Griffey love-in last year, which cost us energy and momentum in exchange for a few measly extra bucks!)
It was much better when A-Rod came back with Texas the first time, and the jeers and boos were loud and long; the way it should be.
I live in Greater Seattle - I'm a Seattle fan - whoever is playing for us I support: The M's, the Hawks, Tacoma, Everett, UW, SPU, Seattle U, - did I miss anyone? (I did skip the Sonics, on purpose.)
Can't wait for next week!

Posted by kujo

12:01 PM, Mar 25, 2008

As Al mentioned it seems to be unique to M's fans in particular, not Seattle fans in general. Thanks for bringing this up Geoff. I've lived in Seattle for nearly 25 years and I find the attitude of the on-line M's fans bizarre. Not being in a position to compare it to fans of other MLB teams, it strikes me as very strange how upset many on-line M's fans get if someone says the M's could win this thing. I emphasize "on-line" because I don't get the same kind of responses from knowledgeable fans in person.

Someone above pointed to the source of much of the negativity. USSM is considered to be the premier M's "fan" blog. Honestly, I have not found a single site or blog on the internet that is more disparaging about the M's and their chances. Kind of dysfunctional. They have an almost zombie like following. You would think there is only one way to interpret statistics - that would be their way - and anyone who disagrees is stupid. Other "M's" blogs have similar approaches. A strange culture.

Or maybe it is just the weather. :(

Posted by Menelaus

12:01 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, there are four things you need to know about Mariners fans in Seattle:

1) We are conditioned to lose close, excruciating playoff games or games of importance, or be mired in last place. Anything else is merely a placeholder until the next excruciating loss. We expected eventual failure last year, and that's what we got, making it the most successful season in a while. When you journalists try to ramp up our hopes and get us to start believing again, all you're really doing is making the end of season failure that much worse.

2) In Seattle it's better to be right than happy. There are more fans that are believers out there than you give them credit for. But the non-believers like me are a more vocal, angry bunch that will let you know every time they were right and you were wrong because this validates their pessimism.

3) Seattle-ites have a big chip on their shoulders. They think they are big time, deserving of big city treatment, but in reality they are treated like a kid brother by the national media in everything from sports to business to music to whatever else. "Oh, way out there in Seattle there's this little band/company/team that is doing really well. Let's make them the story of the month for a while and then go back to our day jobs covering real music/Wall Street/sports." This betrays itself in countless little ways every day during a long season, and Seattle-ites HATE it. But it also gives them the ugly little sister mindset, and they will do anything to be the darlings of the national media for once. They secretly hate and mistrust local media because they are the ones that are always singing Seattle's praises when no one else does. This anger finds its way into your inbox, I imagine.

4) It doesn't help that Howard Lincoln is running a PR machine to get people to come watch baseball with eighteen videos and interactive games in between innings so that... God forbid... people don't get bored of the BASEBALL GAME they came to watch. He doesn't want to win at all costs. If he did, he'd spend more time wondering why Bill Bavasi has squandered over $100M of his money for very little. Lincoln only wants to keep the buzz, keep the fans coming, and stay competitive and nothing more. I know you disagree with this, and dismiss it as a conspiracy theory or something, but the facts over the last 10 years back me up. From refusing to make moves at the deadline to help their aging roster in 2000-03, to mortgaging the entire future to save their jobs the next year in 2004-present, the organization has always been more interested in being good most of the time than being great some of the time.

So why SHOULD we get our hopes up?

Posted by sparticus112b

12:03 PM, Mar 25, 2008

USSMariner.com, I think that just about sums it up. Every time I go to that website, they always have something relatively negative to say or sarcastic to say. Except, not every M's fan visits that site.

Even my buddies tell me that they think the Mariners suck. I ask them if they have even seen the moves the team had made in the off-season and they of course had no clue. I had a girl at work tell me she thought the Mariners suck, and I asked if she watched Baseball, and she said no. I couldn't really understand how they could have an opinion.

I was always reading the Baltimore Sun's blog to check out their thoughts on the Bedard-Jones trade and some liked it, some disliked it. I even read a few that said they would never watch another Orioles game if they made the trade. So things were similar in that aspect. Except at the end of everyone's post (almost everyone's) it would say, "Go, O's" or "Go, Orioles."

I would say it is because of all the times the team has let us down but then you mentioned the Cubs and they have been let down their fans I'm sure way more than the M's have let down ours and Cubs fans seems diehard. Actually before the Red Sox won the World Series they were very diehard fans too.


Posted by Beady Eye Guy

12:03 PM, Mar 25, 2008

HR2434 - Remember how everybody thought the 2001 team was hopeless? I don't discount statistical analysis but I feel Seattle fans take it to levels of silliness sometimes.

The USSM was running around using a simulator that had the A's winning everytime. Sorry, human element and other factors have to be considered before one can make a fair analysis.

In reality, NONE of us know what can happen that is what bugs me most.

Posted by Bring back the Pilots

12:07 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,

Maybe if you had been here and a baseball fan since the Pilots....you might understand more. Ownership has been one long curse on success around here.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

12:07 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Uhhh Thomas, Beltre is not hurt. If you want to be a pessimist, fine be one, but at least get your facts straight.

Posted by MissoulaMarinerFan

12:08 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Anybody notice how we talk about the "luck" of the '07 season like it was some kind of terrible happening, yet whenever the "luck" of '95 is discussed, it is widely accepted as totally awesome? A lot of people forget that in 95 we were wandering around .500 until the last 2 and 1/2 months of the season, and that if the Angels had somehow managed to win a few games rather than choke down the stretch, we wouldn't have even made the playoffs in '95. I may be comparing apples to oranges, but in this case I find it slightly comical. :-)

Posted by SonicsFan206

12:12 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Im one of the biggest Seattle sports fan you can find. I have been to almost every playoff and big game in the last 12 years. Im only 24!!! Season ticket Seahawks holder for 8 years, Sonics 6 years and Husky football 2. I also work at Safeco. Lets be honest. There is A core of real fans and even more who just come out because their team is winning and everyone else is going to the games. I have always hated this about Seattle fans. Go to any game is there is A handful around you who dont even care whats going on. Back your team no matter what!!! SAVE OUR SONICS!!! Thanks!!!

Posted by The Masked Blogger

12:12 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Thomas- Don’t hold it all bottled-up tell us how you really feel.

By the way, Ichiro has been “predicted” to “fall to earth” every season since he came to America and hasn’t done so yet. lol

Nice post Geoff

Posted by Lance

12:12 PM, Mar 25, 2008

You got me, Geoff. Maybe three years of finishing in the cellar turned so many against Bavasi, Lincoln, et al, that they can't change regardless of how the team does.

However, I don't think your vitriolic emailers or blog commentors are an accurate representation of how the Mariners Nation looks at the team at this point of time. I think most fans hope and want the team to do well. The self-serving egoist aren't worth worrying about. I hope you don't.

I am glad to see that when my comment doesn't post someone finally created a link to go back to the blog. Having to start all over again drove me nuts.

Posted by Snowbound

12:13 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I can understand fans being upset with the lack of success the Mariners have had.. I can understand that they believe that the M's are in it to make a buck and not win it all.... what I don't understand is why there has to be so much vitriol to those that don't believe that, which is what Geoff was getting at. Much like most of the comments directed at him for his hockey comparison....

It's one thing to have different viewpoint, or not even really care for the comparison's that are made... but why do it in such a vitriolic way?

It's almost like there's a perception of the only way to get people on the same page is to beat them down into submission.

I for one like different viewpoints.. without them alot of things would be quite boring.

Posted by hcoguy

12:16 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Beady Eye Guy-

Statistical analysis is the most fair form of speculating there is. Accurate or not from time to time, the fairness is without question.

Stats help you see the forest from the trees. Humans have a tendency to remember specific events and extrapolate patterns from them. Stats count these event so they can be studied unbiased and fairly without emotion.

Posted by Tanner829

12:18 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I feel the same way most the time. I am a huge optimistic Mariner's fan but it seems like every time I try and talk about the team to another fan all I hear in return is pessimistic remarks.

The ussmariner blog is a good example. I won't even visit this site anymore as 90% of their posts are informing fans on how they dislike just about every trade, signing or move the Mariner's make. Even the Bedard deal was criticized. I think this may be because Seattle fans are use to failure and not hitting expectations except for the magical 2001 season. I guess the belief is to be pessimistic so when the Mariner's don't hit expectations, Mariner's fans can say "I told you so".

Posted by The Masked Blogger

12:19 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Rod-
That was the best post I’ve read in weeks!

"Go Hawks"

Posted by Jeff

12:21 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I think a lot of us feel like you are enabling the Luddite M's management by supporting some of the more questionable decisions they make. We can see that the team is likely -- not guaranteed, but likely -- to fail. Given the financial resources of the franchise, it should be more successful than it has been, and it is the fault of the front office that it does not get more wins per dollar. The only way to change that is to change the front office; when you support the front office's decisions, you stand in the way of improving the franchise; when you predict success in the face of likely failure, you provide cover for management. And that's why some of us don't like what you write. Which is too bad, because you're a good writer.

Posted by shortbus

12:21 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I'm a guy who supported the M's and Seahawks' stadium projects, but if one arena rebuild every thirty years isn't enough for the Sonics they can go to heck / OK City for all I care. The approach that David Stern, Howard Schultz and Clay Bennet have taken has been to guilt-trip the city into doing for the Sonics, again, what we did only fourteen years ago. Only this time they want much more money.

For once we need to tell a pro sports franchise to take a hike. In San Fransisco this worked so well the Giants built their own dang ballpark.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

12:22 PM, Mar 25, 2008

You must understand a couple of things about Seattle sports teams, Geoff, to get the M's fan. We are used to constant disappointment, and close but no cigar type runs that revert back into mediocrity. The Sonics won a championship when a lot of us were in diapers (or weren't born yet). So the only modern championship for Seattle is the Storm, and honestly, who cares.

We are ready always for the other shoe to drop. It always does. It did last year in a year of over-achievement. We are used to people trying to move our teams to other cities - I think every major team in the City had an issue like that. We are also used to being ignored by the East Coast media, and tend to get the short end of the stick scheduling/travel wise. We often feel like the rest of the country’s whipping boy.

That's one element. The other is that a lot of fans are much better-educated with the new media influences (probably a lot of the same fans who took on your assessment of the west). We don't rely on the hallowed sports columnist alone for our opinions. We read everything. We especially feel that talent evaluation in baseball has taken a quantum leap and that some teams are light years ahead of others. Yes, I know you'll say that your die-hard hockey mates knew every stat there was, but baseball has undergone an analytical revolution and the fact that many front offices use the very metrics – to great success – that we rely on to evaluate the quality of our team lets us know that we aren't wrong to scoff at the use of ERA or W/L to justify a pitcher’s talent. We don't permit empty .300 BA's to tell us the story of a hitters skill anymore. We have seen that a veteran without talent is a low-value commodity when a younger player can produce. In all of this, we are objectively evaluating our team and the decision-makers using tools that have proven themselves better than the old ones (and sometimes we use more experimental measures just for fun). This front office gets poor grades from most of us, and the results speak for themselves.

But make no mistake. We all want the M's to win the whole thing every year. We just think there is a way to build a contender that is in the hunt every year, and the M's aren't doing that. They are hoping for so much to go right that it borders on ridiculous. They value lesser intangible qualities above ones that help win games, and stick with old track records when they can look at present performance and key indicators of decline. But if they overachieve and win the whole thing, I'd be very happy. That said, I'd go right back that offseason and hope the team scrapped the Vidros, Reitsmas, and Ibanez (in LF) -types though. Just because a cake that is haphazardly constructed turns out ok by accident, the smart way to make it will still be following a good recipe. We think the M’s recipe sucks, and results in them spending a lot of money for ice-cream cakes from DQ when a predictable result happens. There are high and lower payroll teams doing a better job of talent evaluation and roster construction, and in hoping our team is great, we can’t pretend all approaches are equal, or that the Mariners’ approach is just fine.

Don’t you think it’s a problem when key injuries to the Angels is the reason some feel the team has a shot this year? We don’t want to be right that Ramirez sucks, or Ibanez’s defense is bad, or that Reitsma is not a major league pitcher, or that Vidro is a poor DH. But, it’s sort of like hoping tax season won’t come. Reality has to hit sometime. Anyway, I am not sure a fan has to lie to himself about the team’s chances to hope they win it all (assuming they disagree with your take about the M’s winning the division). I think a fan who takes an objective look at the team’s weaknesses and then acknowledges the many thousands of variables at play is better than those who blindly think the team is always great because they don’t take the time to understand all the issues(for some reason such a fan usually thinks Willie Bloomquist should be a starter too!).

That said, Go M’s!

Posted by Donovan

12:25 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Wow, open the flood gates will you Geoff? Trying to up that blog hit rate, eh?

On the question of "What is different about Seattle fans?", I see a few astute thoughts posted here, especially the team's unmatched history of futility. I'm pretty sure that the M's lost more games in their first 20 years of existence than any American pro sports franchise in history. I also agree that we have a higher than average geek fan quotient than your typical baseball team, as some have noted. Every baseball fan thinks he could manage better than the pros, but highly educated techies (who are over represented on blogs anyway) think they can do anything better than the pros, especially an ex-jock. I even agree that the Winter darkness here contributes to the general angst level fans are feeling mid-Winter.

Here's a stronger observation for you though: Seattle is not a baseball town. It really wants to be, but it just isn't. There is very little collective baseball awareness here, and no positive collective identity. The relatively young franchise and aforementioned miserable history are part of this, but another part is that very few Mariner fans have followed the team very long, because so few of us are from the NW. I moved here from Baltimore in 1995. I actually did not climb on the M's bandwagon that year, mostly because I hated the stadium experience so much. It took me a couple of years to get excited about the team, but what made me a fan was Safeco Field. Indoor baseball is an abomination. Anyway, in Baltimore, it was common for kids to grow up steeped in Oriole folklore from multiple previous generations, and there was a very strong community sense of the O's belonging to the fans and representing them in an almost spiritual sense. This was especially true after Irsay took the Colts to Indiana in the mid 80s. Seattle just doesn't have the kind of fan continuity for the team to have established an ingrained bond with the community. I know there are people who post here that talk about the early days and who were there, but I think they are the extreme minority. Until the Nintendo gang stepped in, there was no real reason to go see the perennial joke that was the Mariners.

Psychologically, it takes far more commitment to support a baseball team than any other pro sport. The season is 6 months long, and so few teams make the playoffs any given year. The potential for disappointment is high. You only make that commitment if you truly believe in the team or if supporting the team is part of your basic makeup - almost a tribal ritual. I don't think many M's fans have reached that stage, so we require rational convincing. It far harder to drum up support for any endeavor based on pure, cold logic than it is based on belief. This town is not big on belief to begin with, and there are no glory days and few glorious memories on which to base a belief system about the Mariners.

Posted by scottM

12:26 PM, Mar 25, 2008

First, GEOFF, access to you as a reporter via this Blog and having your e-mail posted with the Times makes it easier than ever for those who feel strongly to contact you personally. It gives you a skewed perspective toward the negative knee jerk responses.

I know a RedSox fan who lives in Seattle that thinks Mariner fans are mostly ignorant. I do think that everywhere in sports, the fair weather fans dominate. A team wins, the fans show up. To that extent, the BoSox fan is right. However, when I lived in NY, I started following the Mets in '84. There were only 7 to 12 thousand fans coming out to each game. Then, by '86––the WS year––you couldn't get tickets. The support was only rabid, then.

As for the Seattle Sports fan, you need to take the long look. With only two exceptions (three if you count ex-Brooklyn wimp, Howard Schultz) the Seattle pro sports teams have been owned by interests who have lived outside of our state. The Sonics being poached by Clay Bennett is just the latest in a series of injustices. The Mariners and the Seahawks have both been a whisker away from being poached, too. Consequently, there is very little trust in this town that our sports ownership acts in the best interest of us as the fans.

I've been a Sonics fan since the beginning in 1966. When the Seahawks and Mariners were just beginning in the late '70s, the Sonics captivated this city. The support was rabid. The support after the 1979 championship was so high that LA owner Sam Schulman moved them from the Coliseum to the Kingdome, a wretched venue for the basketball. 35,000+ fans got to watch little ants playing below them. In other words, even when we won we were hosed by the owners. The refereeing in the 2005 Superbowl against the Steelers stole what should have been Seattle sports crowning moment. It was interesting how "invisible" the refereeing has been in the last two Superbowls. The teams actually decided the games. Imagine how NYC fans would have reacted to what happened to the Seahawks, if an invisible offensive holding call had been made on Eli's winning drive.

Hey, because of our history, we're jaded up here in the NW frontier of the professional sports world. Except for having a "third-world" chip on our shoulders, Seattle fans are not appreciably different from other City's fans. Don't take it personally, GEOFF, that, historically, we have gotten treated far worse by our owners than most other fans anywhere.

When Bedard and Felix play like Curt Schilling and Randy Johnson, when Sexson and Vidro are replaced by Texierra and Griffey, when in 2009 we're in the World Series, the Seattle fans will then believe that this group of M's out-of-town owners and brass have learned how to really play hard ball for us, the fans.

For what it's worth, I am optimistic that the 2008 M's can win the AL West. I'm more optimistic of this team going all the way in 2009 with Griffey and Texierra (sp) on the squad.

As for the relevance of the Hockey, what's Erikkkk Bedard's favorite team? If it's Montreal, then you might have an "in" for your interview.

This subject, looking at the responses, would also make a great feature for the Times: "What Makes Seattle Fans Different than Elsewhere?"

Posted by Scottie

12:36 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,

I, for one, thought your post was 100% on the money.

Unfortunately, in the last ten years a large subset of Mariners fans have sprang up that believe they are the smartest baseball minds in the last 100 years. As a result, anyone that disagress with them (especially if you think the team has any chance of success when they do not) are pointed out for public scorn and ridicule.

It's one thing to believe that the team won't be successful. It's quite another to make it your life's mission to a) prove everybody wrong, and b) ridicule anyone who disagress with you. Sadly, a significant portion of Mariners fans now fall into this category simply becuase they know how to use Microsoft Excel.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

12:40 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Donovan - I'd take that one step further and say that it's hard to build up that kind of history when so many people aren't from here. And more specifically, so many baseball fans aren't from here.

I'll never forget being so absolutely dumbfounded a few years ago when I went to an interleague game and saw a ridiculous number of Atlanta Braves fans, in full player jerseys / t-shirts. Where the hell did all those people crop up from? :)

Similar sensation whenever the Red Sox or Yankees come to town. I distinctly remember a couple games just last year where the Red Sox fans were louder and slightly more numerous than the Ms fans. It's bizarre.

Comes from being the only outpost of baseball for several hundred miles and at least 2 states in each direction. If this is the only place to see pro baseball in the whole northwest, you get the diehard transplanted fans. Which skews the home crowd a bit. Add in the scenesters, or people who are just there for the food, or who spend 2/3rds of the game watching it on the little TV in the kids' play area while their toddlers toddle... I think you end up whittling it down to maybe 2 sections' worth of Ms fans / season ticket holders, tops, even at the biggest games.

Posted by mickey

12:40 PM, Mar 25, 2008

There is a large vocal group of baseball geeks that think they are the true fans that can only second guess management on every single decision and issue using misguided models and statistics. These so called experts really want the Mariners management to be proven wrong and for the Mariners to lose-in some twisted I told you so mentality. You can tell who these so called fans are by reading a couple of Mariners blogs, and the same folks keep spitting their crap out every single day over and over again including the blog moderators. These are not Mariner fans and you only have to go to Mariners games to see the true Seattle Mainers fans.

Posted by Everett fan

12:44 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Just a comment on the FO - I believe they have made some poor decisions, and I could hope for better ones. But, the real problem is, if we get rid of Bavasi, maybe we'll get a Woody Woodward back.
BTW, I think even HoRam wasn't as bad as Heathkit Slouchum.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

12:47 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Mickey,

First you assume the people who support statistical approaches to talent evaluation don't go to Mariners games. You are wrong. But, more importantly, I never hear these people say the insulting thing you say - namely that THEY are the only true fans of the team. At most, they will say that the old ways of looking at the team are outdated, but they've NEVER, NEVER said that they are the only fans. Seems like you are the elitist one around here. You might benefit from some face time with your mirror before you throw the blog community under the bus for what you seem to be suffering from in spades.

Posted by JeremyD

12:47 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, I really enjoy reading this one, esp as a Canucks fan.

Speaking for myself, I used to pick M's to win regardless how aweful they were. In the last few years, I began to have this resentment toward the management and thus have conflicting feelings. I consider Bavasi one of the most incompetent GM in the league and that makes it particularly hard to believe.
I even envy my wife who is from Kansas City and a devoted Royals fan. She believes in their new GM Dayton Moore as almost all the KC fans I have come across. I was forced to go to their fan fest with her and the atomosphere was unbelievable for a last place team. The unquestionable belief that their GM would make the best decision for them is something I never slightly feel toward Bill Bavasi. Until that day we have someone in place that we truly believe, I think M's fans would always have a lot of doubts even we stick around and love our team.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

12:56 PM, Mar 25, 2008

HCOguy -

You misunderstand my point. Stats ARE a good way to gauge performance but without the human elements of luck, chance, injuries, etc. they are meaningless, just a bunch of numbers.

I believe, as an analyst myself, in looking at every angle. Predictive statistics are good but how many years now has Ichiro outperformed Pecota? Look at Ibanez as his bat continues to outperform projections. One must be able to look at more than a spreadsheet to gauge EVERY angle to come up with a logical analysis.

Too many fans rely on predictive stats and not much else. If I don't agree with some predictive analysis, I am labelled an idiot or worse.

See, THAT is the problem. Stats are fun and informative BUT there is more to gauging a performance or future performance than some computer program, Bill James will back that up 100%.

Again, I like stats. I LOVE analysis as long as it's free of human bias. Problem is, bias always seems to find it's way into the analysis models I see on various blogs.

My all time fave is Chris Snelling. I LOVE Chris Snelling attitude, but it didn't take much to see the HUMAN ELEMENT played more of a role in his projections than some stats. Sure, he could most likely hit in the majors if healthy no question about it. Problem is, the numbers geeks would say that I am an idiot or rooting against him if I felt he wasn't gonna contribute due to his health history. See, stats are great but you HAVE TO be able to take those stats and hope there is NO human bias involved.

You see, I don't allow for bias in my analysis PERIOD.

Posted by Donovan

12:56 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Chris - I agree completely about the stadium experience, though I doubt many of those temporary transplants post here a lot.

As I said, I love Safeco, in some ways more than Camden Yards (it isn't a bandbox for starters), but I'm less than impressed with the comportment of Seattle fans. Yeah, ok, politeness is fine (in moderation), but the percentage of "fans" just making the scene rather than coming to get serious about baseball is higher than any other city in which I've watched MLB (about 12). Things should get better over time, and actually winning something will speed that up.

In my fantasy world, where I am MLB commissioner, the wave is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by fine, and cell phones can only be used on the concourse. I honestly have more respect for the guy who gets drunk and rowdy at the game than the guy who sits there the whole time chatting about his stock portfolio.

Posted by Ken

1:05 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, you are exactly right! Seattle fans are nuts! I'm a life-long M's and Haws fan (stopped rooting for Sonics when the cut Karl even though it was the GM's fault). I remember sitting in the kingdome being outnumbered by fans from the opposing team...it used to really irritate me. However, ever since '95 when the place was packed for "Refuse to Lose," I'm not sure what we have today is any better. If you had predicted the Angels to win it, I would have been ticked and blasted you for giving up on the hometown team. I don't understand fans who don't want it out there because they are fearful we won't back it up. Instead of cheering Sexson and the rest of the crew in order to BOOST them into a playing revival, we refuse to cheer anything UNTIL it's out front. It really pisses me off!

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

1:10 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Beady Eye Guy,

I don't remember reading anything in the major blogs that discounted Snelling's injury history. The point, most of the time, is that people trolled the threads saying he's going to get hurt and was worthless when he wasn't, and when he still presented a better option offensively than what the M's were running out there. It's foolish to argue that the M's shouldn't have played Snelling when he was an upgrade over the other options and was not, at the time, hurt.

That, and folks like Derek on USSM admitted to an irrational man-crush, and said that even beyond the statistical evidence, he'd advocate for Snelling in a sort of excessive way (I am paraphrasing). But he was honest abuot that. I don't see that your example proves your point at all.

Posted by Ben

1:13 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Although offering many insightful topics.....the blogosphere may be partly to blame. I think it all goes back to that comment Howard Lincoln made many moons ago that went something like 'our goal is to be competitive every year'. There were a lot that didn't take that the right way (myself included)...and thought it $$ was the team's main focus. A lot of these blog sites jumped on that and haven't gotten off since then.

Me, I've gotten past that......I went back and realized this is the same ownership that saved this team from leaving in 1992. It's also the same ownership that gave us 1995 and 2001. So, I think when they screw up a little, they deserve a little bit of a break. It'd be a lot different if our ownership was, say, the same type as the Pittsburgh Pirates. These popular blog sites, don't cut them a single break. (they say they do, but they really don't....even their 'positive' posts are sarcastic).

Don't get me wrong....I visit these sites everyday to read....but I get irritated when the conversations go beyond simple disagreement to.....'these guys running the team are morons' or 'we won't have a competitive team until the front office is axed' or 'Player X is available....but it makes too much sense, so our inept front office will probably pass' type comments. I just think those type of mud slinging comments are unnecessary.

I understand these authors can post anything they want because they have ownership of it.....but for whatever reason, a lot of people around here have really invested themselves in their way of thinking. Maybe it's because their writing is so inspiring??.....or maybe it's because many are too lazy to form their own opinion 'gasp!'

These sites often offer compelling insight of our favorite teams, but also contribute to the attitude of hate when their team does the opposite of what they believe to be the right move.

Heck, I disagree with team moves all the time...and wouldn't mind seeing some jobs change hands.....but that (and the general tone of most M's blog out there) will not detract me from wanting my team to win the division, the pennant, or the world series.

Also on a side note.....there are a lot of people that hate being proven wrong and admitting it (esp. in Seattle)

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

1:16 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Ken,

You can't make a bad or declining player better by cheering louder or privately believing the team is great when it is not. That's kind of silly. I've been a die-hard fan since I was a little kid, and continue to be. I cheer on good play and good performances. I don't cheer (nor do I boo) bad performances. They don't help the team win. You should want the team to win, and want the front office to care about putting a team on the field that has the best shot possible.

Just because a person is critical of the team does not mean they don't want the team to defy the odds. If you'll notice, the blog suggestions are all designed to help the team WIN, whether or not you agree with them. They go to great lengths even to suggest how the current roster might be utilized in a better way. We all wan the same thing here, and it's stupid to pretend that you bleed Mariner blue any more than the rest of us who lived through the very lean years.

Posted by BrianL

1:18 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, you have to understand that Mariners fans have been historically cursed with lousy beat-writers (Hickey over at the official Mariners site being the chief culprit). For years we've seen the local media writers sing the praises of the Mariners ballclub despite horrible personnel decisions and disastrous failures. You really are the first local writer who has dared to challenge the personnel decisions and management strategy of the Mariners, which is why Jeff at LL as well as Derek and Dave at the USSM consider you to be the best beat-writer Mariner fans have ever had.

Unfortunately 30 years of inept local coverage of the ballclub has left a real sour taste in some fans' mouthes. Realize, though, that this isn't your fault. You've stepped into a no-win situation, but I applaud you for doing your best despite it.

For years, it seemed as if local coverage and local beat-writers were just an extension of the Lincoln PR machine. No matter how bad the club was, how moronic a trade was, or how inept management was, the local writers would do everything in their power to put a positive spin on it rather than challenge the FO's decision making. You're really the first writer not to play into that game, but unfortunately, a lot of fans don't realize that you're the -exception- to the rule. The fans who are sending you those vitriolic e-mails are unable to distinguish you from the others.

I don't agree with your assessment stating that the Mariners are division favorites, but I sure as heck give you props for backing your words up. I respect the fact that you made your own rational arguments rather than spewing out some PR from Lincoln and company.

And for those of you spewing hate at the USSM and Lookout Landing...

I'm an active member of both communities, and I will say with certainty that they are two of the best sports related blogs out there. Heck, Groz (a noted baseball traditionalist) on KJR-AM calls the USSM the "best baseball blog out there." If you want a taste of what the USSM and LL has to offer, head over to KJRAM.com and listen to the segments Groz does with Dave Cameron of USSM.

There are more to these sites than pessimism, and contrary to the seemingly popular belief, they aren't rooting for the Mariners to fail. Both communities didn't endorse the Bedard deal, but both communities recognize that Bedard is one of the premier pitchers in baseball. Both blogs feel that the Mariners have a chance at making the playoffs, but they don't believe it is a lock.

Rather than bashing on these two fine blogs, why don't some of you register and post some respectful questions concerning their work? Go ahead and ask for a primer on sabermetrics and then (politely) ask them why they feel statistics based talent evaluation is better than traditional methods.

I think you'll be surprised to find that the guys running the blogs and their readers are a lot friendlier than you've been lead to believe.

Posted by James from Walla Walla

1:20 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,

Yah I hear where you are coming from! I personally do NOT criticize you for making those
positive comments. I am with you on the whole
issue. In spite of all the data to the contrary put forth by Adam and others. I felt the Mariners were
the favorite for the Wild Card. Now, with the LA
Angels having injury problems. Why not think
they have a great shot of winning the West?

Here is where I think they are coming from. We
Mariner fans have seen many a free agent be
signed to help us to the next level. Most have fallen flat. There are a few exceptions Olorud and Boone to name a few. I won't bother to go down the list of failures. We are real disheartened by alot of managements moves over the years.
For some reason we have better luck with our
home grown players. It is exciting watching some
of these players mature into stars. It is like watching one of your kids grow up.

So, Geoff you are hearing alot of frustration from us. It just seems to me that teams like the Angels and the A's make a lot smarter moves than we do on a consist bases. We over spend for duds alot!! Will these new trades and FA's work out??

The proof is in the pudding!!

Posted by Get Griffey

1:23 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Donovan
“In my fantasy world, where I am MLB commissioner, the wave is a criminal misdemeanor punishable by fine,"

Lol and ditto

The wave has no place in baseball, (only football)
And should be sent back to the ocean of Husky Stadium from whence it came.lol
GO Huskys
Go Hawks
&
GO MARINERS

Posted by KennewickMan

1:33 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I understand the hockey reference and I remember trying to figure out how they get Habs out of Canadiens...

I don't think M's fans have ever had a 'rivalry' except for the 'hated' Yankees in playoffs past... Maybe the passion isn't there for baseball since it's not a contact sport.

I really enjoy the breaking news aspect of this blog and the links, usually provided by the posters.

Try watching the M's with my Mom & then you'll really understand pessimism! And it's usually sunny here!!

Geoff, hope you are enjoying Carey Price!

WHL hockey is excellent!

Posted by well_armed

1:46 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Remember the fans getting kicked out of the stadium for wearing "Yankees Suck" t-shirts? Think that would happen at Yankees stadium? pffff

I in particular, am sick and tired of being washed out by the visiting teams' fans. It is pathetic to see and hear another fan base overpower our own, in our house, by some poser teenage fan, with his off-color, New-Era hip hop inspired Yankees hat, who doesnt even know how to bend the front bill right.

Ever since Buhner left, all our fans are a bunch of mary's, sitting on their hands too afraid to tell the punk Yankees fan to shutup and watch the game.

Posted by tyler

2:01 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I'm a transplant and I follow the Mariners as a local team. However whenever I bring up the Mariners to any locals, almost always they say, "The Mariners suck." Not because they know anything, but because it's like that's the automatic thing to say.

I think its because sports in a liberal town are kind of put down. Also Seattle has this undercurrent of inferiority due to feeling like a backwater town in South Alaska. Instead of becoming tough, we just wine and moan. Don't know why one over the other...

Posted by vaughn

2:04 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I've been kicked out for yelling too loudly and I wasnt swearing. This family environment thing has gone too far. No place for us rangey bachelors, I boo the home team! And the music they play sucks too!

Posted by Cranky J

2:05 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Interesting topic. I must say I often find myself wondering the same thing, regardless of sport, and it seems that the issue goes beyond the general notion of fandom and speaks to a larger Seattle-centric mindset that is instinctively cynical and critical. It seems that Seattle is the Capitol of Cynicism and a vast majority of its inhabitants – not only sports fans – are the kings/queens of cognitive dissonance or the princes/princesses of passive aggressive pessimism.

I also find myself agreeing w/ “in hiding” and “manjini” w/ regard to the notion that it is inherently easier to be a pessimist and proved wrong than vice versa. If one begins the season believing the team will do poorly and then the team performs to those expectations then the season is dismissed w/ a simple “I told ya so” mindset. However, if one has the courage to actually hope and dream and maybe even show the slightest glint of optimism he/she is denounced as a naďve heretic doomed to perpetual failure. But if you stop to think about it, aren’t all teams – and subsequently their fans, save one – doomed each year? If only one team can win the championship in any given year then that means every other team and their corresponding fanbases are left wanting; forced to shelve their optimism and aspirations for another year. If anything being a perpetual pessimist is the “safer” bet.

Yes, the front office has made some “questionable” decisions over the years, but name me one team that hasn’t? Those moves were made in the hopes of improving the team, not impairing it, and were based at least in part on the decisions made by their predecessors (anyone remember Heathcliff Slocumb or Al Martin or Kevin Mitchell or Matt Young?), so if we’re going to lambaste Bavasi for every move he makes we should also be willing to call out the shortcomings of Pat “Cut-&-Run” Gillick’s tenure as GM, and those prior to him, as well. I am not a front office apologist, quite the opposite actually, I am simply calling it how I see it.

I also realize the SABR stats say the M’s got “lucky” last year and didn’t “deserve” 88 wins. They also say this year’s team is “just good, not great”, but really how “lucky” were they when they lost 13 of 14? Didn’t they “deserve” to win more than one game in that span? Statistical analyses and projections can only do so much; eventually you have to go out and let the games be played by living, breathing people who are just as capable (or fallible) as anyone else, which is why I will always take whatever the Bill James of the world have to say w/ a BIG grain of salt.

Lastly, were the D’backs (2001), Angels (2002), Marlins (2003), BoSox (2004) ChiSox (2005), or Cardinals (2006) considered to be “great” teams at the start of the season? Absolutely not, but that didn’t prevent any of them from overcoming the odds, getting a little “lucky” and winning the whole damn thing.

Posted by Matt

2:07 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, to generalize, Seattle baseball fans are just fair weather and basically stupid. They don't know jack squat about the game, but rather are too busy buying their coffee and leaving in the 7th inning because it's past little Johnny's bed time. When the team is winning, they're all over the tickets; when not, it's just something to do. Because of the price of going to a game now, most people can't afford to go very often anyway. Fortunately, we true fans have Dave Niehaus and Rick Rizzs -- the optimist of all optimists -- to listen to on the radio and television. I, like many who actually DO know jack squat about the game, use colorful metaphors when we lose, and HATE the A's, Angels, and Rangers, follow the Mariners from afar (across the mountains) through the miracle of radio and cable television. I watch every game when I'm at home, and go to a few to root hard. I'd love a shirt that said, "Yankees Suck -- and so do the Red Sox!" I hate it when fans come down from Vancouver and root for the Blue Jays -- talk about losers! When I lived in Seattle, I went to games a lot. In 1982, I went to 40 games for less money than going to my usual 5 or 6 costs me now. I'd sit in the outfield and heckle the other team's left fielder. I still do that now, but from where I can afford to sit, it's doubtful they can hear me. In 1995, played "We Are the Champions" loud enough for the neighbors to hear when we beat the Angels in the one-game playoff, and I was at the Game 5 against the Yankees; I knew that Junior would score the second the ball went to the corner. That was the happiest I've ever been at a Mariners game. OK, to get to the point... I believe that the Mariners WILL win the division this year, and you never know beyond that. The A's suck, so do the Rangers, and the Angels have too many injuries. If Lowe and Morrow come through, and if Lopez and Betancourt have decent years while Sexson returns at least somewhat, we are good to win. So there -- call me an optimist and I'm proud of it!

Posted by Chip1010

2:09 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Beady Eye Guy said: "Uhhh Thomas, Beltre is not hurt. If you want to be a pessimist, fine be one, but at least get your facts straight."

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Beltre is indeed hurt. He needs surgery. He probably won't have it this year, but he has a torn ligament in his wrist and is playing with a lot of pain.

Posted by MarkD

2:14 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I think you nailed it Geoff. Seattle has always had a huge inferiority complex. (i.e.-"there's an east coast bias"; everyone just thinks we're just a bunch of lumberjacks up here") There is a real fear of failure in this town, There are a segment of Mariner fans who will always consider the historic '95 and '01 seasons as failures because, as exciting as those seasons were and for as much fun as some of us had, they ultimately ended without a World Series appearance.
This is a city of spoiled, overly indulged yuppies that reveres the 70s eras Sonic teams that won one world championship but were generally unsuccessful after that and disparages the George Karl Sonics which produced an era of consistent success but never grabbed the golden ring,

These are the people who will complain that even if the Mariners win the division, it doesn't matter because they'll never go anywhere in the playoffs. These people need to learn to lighten up and enjoy the ride.

Posted by tallahassee-mariner's fan

2:14 PM, Mar 25, 2008

The pessimism on the blog is a reflection of the way 21st century Americans think—critical, skeptical, and tough-minded. There may have been a time when people were more naďve, wanting to believe that “this was the year” their team made it, and just happy to be a fan. This is no longer. The modern mindset, especially in a hyper-intellectual city like Seattle, is one of great cynicism. While this attitude is probably great for investment purposes—picking stocks and bonds-- it can really suck the fun out of Sports one would think. After all, only a quarter of teams make it to the playoffs each year, so if this thinking continues where does that leave the rest of the teams’ fans? And didn’t we all fall in love with baseball in order to escape the everyday and enjoy ourselves?

Posted by MtGrizzly

2:17 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Long, dark winters, dark moodiness, dark coffee, dark beer, dark music. Hmmm...I wonder if any of these things are related?

Posted by Joe Shabotnik

2:18 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Great comment by geezer, I only replied because it made me laugh for about 15 minutes.

Mariners fans are a funny lot. They are very impatient, and once somebody has a bad year, it's time to get rid of them. Jim Lefebrve was a good guy but we tired of him, despite his success here. Bob Melvin would have done well in time, but we weren't willing to wait for that. I much preferred him to Grouver, and I'm glad he's doing so well in Arizona. Now we don't like Richie and Willie, but they are both Washington grown and have a strong desire to be here. I wish we could be more loyal to them but this is a business.

Personally, we are a negative group. I'm still upset we got rid of Omar Vizqual to make room for that piece of manure Alex What's-his-name. As for you, I appreciate your column and find the time to read it daily.

Take care;
Joe Shabotnik of the Green Grass League
Charlie Brown's favorite baseball player
I too would have been booed out of Seattle

Posted by Mike

2:27 PM, Mar 25, 2008

For one, I get a little tired of the SABR hate coming from some commenters on this blog. Most of the arguments against statistical based analysis here fall into one of two categories, straw-man or name calling.

Addressing some of the straw-men. SABR folks believe we SHOULD play the games. They DON'T think that players are autmotons. They think scouting is a GOOD thing and that human factors DO come into play. They DON'T think PECOTA will determine the World Series champions but they DO think it might make sense to critically and realistically assess a team in order to address weaknesses.

As for the name calling I'm pretty sure most people who love baseball so much that they'll dig in statistically, love baseball, attend games and have played baseball. They do not live in their parents' basement and many have actually kissed girls.

Posted by Seattle Sports Blog

2:31 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I think the verdict is still out on Bavasi and his moves. Beltre finally had a good year last year, but Sexson, Cirrilo, Olivio, Washburn, Aurilla all did not work out. I also think he over paid for Silva and the Bedard trade remains to be seen if it's a bust or not. I mean, Bedard has 1 good year last year and Bavasi trades the whole kitchen sink for this guy. The other pains from Bavasi? Seeing Carlos Guillen doing so well, Freddy Garcia pitching a one hitter in the world series, Randy Winn hitting over .300 in SF, and Soriano and Sherrill being named closers. Seattle should seriously consider moving the fences in as they did in Detroit or NO power hitter is going to want to play here, bottom line. Oh yeah, get RID of those grey uniforms....Seattle is already a grey enough place, stick with solid white or dark blue like Griff and the gang used to wear.

I highly, highly doubt this team will ever get to the WS behind the lame ducks Chuckie Armstrong and Howard Lincoln....Nintendo, the Wii's selling like hot cakes....get rid of these bozo's and hire some top talent in the front office!!!

Posted by Eric

2:38 PM, Mar 25, 2008

rOryAK-I stand corrected, not the first time. I've watched this team since 1980 when I first moved to Seattle. Through thick and thin, mostly thin, I watched and rooted for them and loved them more than my childhood love for the Dodgers. The M's became my team. I've followed them since. Over the years I began to believe the organization lacked something to win it all. Courage. They have never had it at the top. They have good businessmen, and have made many millions in profits. But they lack the courage to win it all. It's spring and hope is springing so I hope I'm wrong. Somehow I doubt it.

Posted by derubino

2:43 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,
I think you might also be used to dealing with a small, specific sample size here: the online blogging community Seattle Mariners fans. Negative? Perhaps. Analytical? Certainly. They nitpick poor decisions, and there are lots of them. But every team has poor decisions, so that's where I dissent from this attitude that signing Vidro and Cairo will somehow lead to demise, or that our Pythagorean record last year somehow means we shouldn't try to get better and should assume we're not that good. However, in defense of the blogging community, which I am probably a part of, we also love our team, love baseball enough to argue about this stuff, and are just generally trying to be realistic. Sometimes, however, I just wanna dream big and love the team like it's 1995 and I'm ten again, so learning apparently made some sort of inept decision again when I don't see eye to eye probably brings me down in the same way you're describing.

However, the "Mariners fan", in general does not mirror the blogger. Mariners fans have historically cheered effort, never boo (Cirillo always the exception), and have sufferred from unending niceness. We also latch on to personalities for no particular reasons and love them for it: Henry Cotto, Greg Briley, Joey Cora, Willie Bloomquist, etc. We love loyalty, such as Edgar and Jay and despise people who seem to shun our "family" (A-Rod, Junior then not Junior). The eternal hate of Bill Spiers for his spiking of Dave Valle is one of the more legendary Mariners fan schtiks.

I love the Mariners, and so does everyone in both the regular AND the blogging community. It's just a different kind of love. Think of it as a child's dream of winning vs. an analytical, statistical hope that executives will see the light. So how do you describe a "fan" with both of these groups out there? I'd go with what you see at the game; those are the real fans. I'd describe them as loyal and calm. I'd use the Seattle stereotype and tell people they sip their lattes and cheer "good try!". But we're also used to losing and we've never been to a World Series, so sometimes it just hurts less to think they'll probably miss out.

All that said, go Mariners and here's hoping every day brings the Angels another injury and a better chance at the AL West title in 2008! I think you do great work, Geoff, and I'm glad your here. Don't let some fans bring you down or let the 2% of fans who seem to want them to lose give you the wrong impression about the other 98%.

Posted by O

2:47 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Those aren't fans. Fans believe in their team no matter what. Go M's!

Posted by BigPoppa

2:49 PM, Mar 25, 2008

How can you spot the Seattle sports reporter from out of town? He uses hockey analogies in his writing. By the way, what's hockey?

Posted by AKMarinersFan

2:50 PM, Mar 25, 2008

yeah thats why tickets sales are down 10%, 20.....

Posted by Scout

2:53 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I think you made a good call. The M's are looking good, and I like their attitudes. There's just too many whiners in this town. Always has been.

Posted by Peter Borgstrom

3:03 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I think there are a ton of M's fans who would argue ad nauseam of the team's certain demise. I believe this stems from a lack of pride. A lot of M's fans have a really hard time being proud of this team; they need championships to justify any sort of long-standing pride they may have in this franchise.

Posted by Brock

3:13 PM, Mar 25, 2008

That's funny, because I totally skipped over the hockey stuff. Yeah, don't care.

However, I think there are too many whiny, half-glass-empty Mariners fans out there reading too much into the numbers.

How about being optimistic and hoping for the best. That's what I do, and I'm more excited for this season than I've been in awhile.

Posted by couger

3:14 PM, Mar 25, 2008

bedard didnt even have 1 good season. he was injured half way through. and we traded everything for him. beltre still sux for what he is paid. Sexson worst mlb active player. washburn? awful. silva? worse? batista? roflcopter

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:16 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Couger,

How's that? Beltre was among the top 5 3B in all of baseball last year with the glove AND bat.

If you want to be negative, fine but don't take an opinion and represent it as fact.

Posted by InSp0

3:17 PM, Mar 25, 2008

It is one thing to be a fan and cheer for your team and hope they do well, and another to throw out a completely ridiculous statement. I’d love them to win the AL west, but our teams offense stinks. We really only have two starting pitchers, and our bull pen is not nearly as good as it was last year. And we have horrible defense.

I’ll be excited if they pull it off, but the M’s wont. It is called being realistic.

Posted by Myk

3:18 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Wow...I don't normally post on this blog...but this article was so odd that I felt the need to be heard.


Seattle fans aren't calling you out because they are mad that you think they contend. They are calling you out because you are most lilkely wrong and they are smart enough to know this is the case. Do these fans WANT the Ms to win the title?? Of course. However, that doesn't mean that they have to agree with someone when the numbers don't prove out.


Essentially, Mariner fans are smart enough to not just blindly support that their team is going to be a contender. To somehow call this a defficiency amongst the fan base is the weirdest thing I've ever heard.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:19 PM, Mar 25, 2008

"Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but Beltre is indeed hurt. He needs surgery. He probably won't have it this year, but he has a torn ligament in his wrist and is playing with a lot of pain."

I stand corrected, Chip. This is the first I've heard of this. THIS is not good and maybe now we can keep Morse as insurance. While Morse isn't going to hit .500+, his Minor league and brief MLB career says he'll hit.

Argh...now I am going to dwell on this new dilemma.

Posted by Myk

3:21 PM, Mar 25, 2008

This argument reminds me of someone who says that it isn't OK to question the President's decisions. We should just blindly support the President and agree with what they have done because...well...they are the President.

Obviously, I want my President to make all the right decisions and I go into each day/week/month/year hoping that he will do so. However, that doesn't mean that if I think he is making incorrect decisions I should just continue to blindly support him because he is my President.

Sub President for Mariners and you see it is the same stupid argument.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:24 PM, Mar 25, 2008

M's Fan,

Sorry but I disagree. My point was made as THAT is why the M's couldn't rely on Snelling as a player. I said he was a good hitter, I agree. I agree that he'd be a good option but I wish you wouldn't dismiss other's viewpoints like that.

My point was made, sorry you disagree. I am not trying to start any wars with you. Funny, I always like your posts but if you are going to dismiss my point, you PROVE my point.

I still respect you though...funny thing, I knew somebody would make a point of my criticism of how human bias can seep into analysis. You admitting what all of us know, that Derek let his man-crush overwhelm his objectivity on the Snelling issue proves what I've been trying to say here.

Again, sorry if you don't see my point but I feel I was quite clear in my point.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:27 PM, Mar 25, 2008

BTW M's Fan in CO...

Why did you decide to bring USSM into your response to me? Lookout Landing and other bloggers were big Doyle fans as well.

Here's the problem...if I (or others) make a point and a legit observation based in provable facts or evidence, somebody always comes along and tries to make me (and others) into a cheerleader of the team or you try to discredit my point of view.

See THAT is wrong. I can disagree with you but you don't need to try and discredit me for having a legit observation.

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

3:30 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I'll add one last thought and resist the urge to respond to the specific nonsense about those who take a critical look at the team and don't blindly say, "whatever move you make is OK by us!! woo-hoo!"

The one thing I think it is safe to say about the statistical-leaning fan: he/she is in love with the game of baseball (I make no assumptions about how other fans feel). It includes the good feelings from childhood and the days at the park with dad, but it goes deeper. They want to understand how the game works, and they get excited about more than the popular player. They believe the team has an element of science mixed with the art, and both are to be appreciated. They aren't satisfied with empty rhetoric about giving it your all. That's crap for the new age schools who don't give out traditional grades because it makes the other kids feel bad. Effort isn't everything. Talent counts, and production matters. Many of these things are measurable and admit of fairly reasonable prediction. We love the personalities, but take greater delight in the performance. You can still be one of the greatest players in the world and be a complete idiot or jerk. This fact does not change the performance.

The question you've presented is really: "Is it reasonable for a segment of fandom to be both a die-hard fan and a student of the more nuanced and precise elements of the game? Is it a dichotomy, leaving you with the options of: 1. always cheerleading the team's moves however foolish or 2. living merely in reality and leaving behind the childhood hopes of seeing your team win it all?

I'd argue the dichotomy is false. The stat-head, for the most part, lives in reality, and his love of the rich aspects of the game cause him to dig deeper and seek better analysis, BUT, he's always hoping for the team's moves - however much he disagrees - to work out in whatever way will get the win and lead to a championship. And we do cheer moves we feel are good. Optimism is not viewing a move that is bad one that is good. That’s falsehood. Is it optimistic or somewhat foolish to hope a horse with 3 legs will win the Kentucky Derby? Well, if that horse is mine (as I feel the M's are in some way) yes, I'll hope against odds that he wins, but next year I'll hope for a horse with all its limbs.

Those who think a true fan never questions what its team does probably lives an unexamined life in a whole host of ways. Well, you don’t dig into the game so deeply as the statistics-inclined fan without loving it – and some particular team – a whole lot. I think it is insulting for people to claim they love the Mariners more than those who spend countless hours running blogs that dedicate most of their material to how that team can succeed.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:31 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Last point folks...I will say this about M's fandom, when the day comes we finally win something big, we will all have one big group hug.

In the end I firmly believe that pessimists, optimists and folks like me who are in the middle of my opinions all will be celebrating the day the M's win the big one. I can't fault somebody for being negative or a rose-colored optimist. In the end, we are all still fans.

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

3:34 PM, Mar 25, 2008

"Those who think a true fan never questions what its team does probably lives an unexamined life in a whole host of ways. Well, you don’t dig into the game so deeply as the statistics-inclined fan without loving it – and some particular team – a whole lot. I think it is insulting for people to claim they love the Mariners more than those who spend countless hours running blogs that dedicate most of their material to how that team can succeed."

I do NOT disagree with this. It's just that when somebody disagrees with a segment of the fandom, they get flamed sometimes. THAT is not right.

We can disagree and still talk about the game or whatever. In the end, you're a fan as am I and others. I for one would never say the bloggers are less fanatic than me. I CAN disagree with the hope I can still be respected as a fan with similar hopes and goals that you guys have.

Posted by MissoulaMarinerFan

3:40 PM, Mar 25, 2008

M's Fan in CO Exile: Nice post at: 3:30 PM, Mar 25, 2008; I've never really thought of it that way before...Thanks for the new knowledge! -- I am not being facetious, truly, thank you, your post put things in a completely different perspective for me.

Posted by Mike

3:46 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Maybe it is because I find myself more often agreeing with the stats-inclined folks, but for the most part I don't see them (obviously there are exeptions) engaging in the flaming you describe Beady Eye Guy.

What I see is that they will argue a point passionately and expect that if you disagree to back up your point of view with something more substantive than an old baseball axiom.

Most of the flaming seems to me to go the other way.

Posted by Nick in pdx

3:46 PM, Mar 25, 2008

If you think America made a mistake invading Iraq, you must hate America and secretly want The Terrorists to win!

If you disagree with Geoff that the M's are division favorites, then you must hate the M's and secretly be rooting for their opponents!

Get serious, Geoff. Being a fan does not mean I have to blow smoke up the ass of my favorite team. I am just as much of an M's fan as you are, even though I totally disagree with your rosy views on their 2008 prospects. This whole column is totally f@#*ing insulting.

Posted by JJ

3:50 PM, Mar 25, 2008

You'll have to excuse me....I've been out shooting video all day. Myk...you couldn't have said it any better. People in the Northwest aren't as stupid as Geoff believes them to be. How long is it going to take you people to realize Geoff is just part of the raging Mariner propaganda machine?? --that's what he gets PAID to do. ( I wouldn't be surprised if he's also getting money under the table from Bavasi to promote this disfunctional franchise) Just non stop promoting of a team that has yet to prove anything on the field. We're not dumb Geoff.....we here in the Northwest just like to see a few results before we start heaping on the praise. If that makes us 'bad fans' ....like you said...boo hoo. With not even a single WS appearance in 30 years, people in this region are simply sick and tired of talk....and are just waiting to see some actual productive results....what's wrong with that? Isn't that our right as fans? What makes a good fan Geoff?? Please write a post defining what a "good fan" is, so we can all strive to be that OK?? Talk is cheap....and that's all there is in this town

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

3:51 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Beady Eye Guy,

I wasn’t starting a war. I was honestly saying that I don’t think the Snelling example was a good one for the “human element” point you were making. I am not dismissing it, I was disagreeing with it and engaging you on it.

I took your point that I addressed to be that, “ Sure, he could most likely hit in the majors if healthy no question about it. Problem is, the numbers geeks would say that I am an idiot or rooting against him if I felt he wasn't gonna contribute due to his health history. See, stats are great but you HAVE TO be able to take those stats and hope there is NO human bias involved.”
Now, I can’t obviously speak to which “stat-geeks” you are talking about, and every site has rude commenters who aren’t associated with the blog authors, but my point was that the “official” stat geeks (and I used USSM because of Derek’s man-crush) never called anybody an idiot for the position you outline above. What they did say was that, while Snelling was healthy he’s the best option they had, and to use him is to maximize your chances of winning. I am sure they took issue with a person saying not to use him because he MIGHT get hurt. Why not get the most production you can while he’s healthy and your other options stink? That’s not bias, in my view, while your DH options were sucking it up at the time. We couldn’t rely on the players out there at the time, and Snelling was simply a better option.
Also, I didn’t bring up Derek’s admitted feelings about Snelling to say that USSM’s objective analysis was wrong (i.e., that Snelling should be used in place of the underperforming players). The bias came more around the trade time, and in the “cult of Doyle” type posts. I still think the site was fairly straightforward in their objective analysis of his skills and injury risks (Doyle actually became a nickname due to the injury risk). But he was getting paid less than $400k. If he’s the best offensive upgrade you have and he costs you nothing more, you ride that horse as long as you can.
I simply don’t see where I tried to discredit or dismiss you. These blogs are forums of sort, and we can disagree civilly. Notice I didn’t take issue with your examples of Ichiro or Ibanez’s bat outperforming projections (though his defense is a different story). USSM has been on-record that Ichiro doesn’t fit the projections, and LL has recanted from several proclamations of Ibanez’s offensive death. I simply thought the Snelling example didn’t fit with the other two toward proving your point. I hope that clarifies my thoughts.

Posted by markus

3:52 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Wanna know why fans are feisty this year? Because of headlines like "M's counting on Cairo to teach younger players." Teach them what? To be below average major leaguers? The management is alienating the fans with moves like this and an attitude like this. Fans aren't dumb enough to blindly follow management when they try to force dumb moves down our throats. They've lost credibility with the fans, and we are seeing signs of a major meltdown.

CUT CAIRO!! Stop the Madness!! PLEASE!!!

Posted by kujo

3:53 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Anyone else notice how often the word "smart" is used to describe anyone who thinks the M's cannot win, implying that anyone who thinks otherwise is not "smart". Sounds like a "complex" situation - and I don't mean numbers. :-)

Posted by Nat

3:54 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, engaging topic- I believe what you are responding to is a fan base that is largely, not all, but increasingly well read. Which is to say, that if many of us who read 5-25 different baseball-related articles/blogs/analysis a day from other sites then you're going to get a reaction when you finger the mariners for first in the division! We only wish it were so!

To those who say M's fans are negative, it's not so. It's that we're able to synthesize information and stats and have no other way to view the season except through realiistic lenses. We still buy tickets and/or watch every game and root for our team and all its players. There is a lot of passion for this team - it's just not rah-rah-rah for every dumb move that the GM or manager makes! We expect better decisions from them in player evaluation, making up the roster, and game strategy and management.

The article by your colleague about Cairo today explains why he was picked up b/c for the life of me I could not understand his signing. The article doesn't justify the signing but it explains it. Unfortunately there have been way too many of those kind of half-witted moves over the last few years in which a mediocre player is signed - lateral moves as opposed to bringing in someone who will actually improve the team. Sigh...

The scarcity of outfield defense as well as the spotty offense is what I am personally a little worried about this season, but I am not going negative...yet. I agree with others that the human element can produce unexpected results so I am optimistically hoping that the team gets on a roll b/c of the improved RO and plays beyond expectations!

BTW, I enjoyed the article about the ESL instructor and the class for spanish-speaking students from yesterday's paper. As a former ESL teacher I appreciated you giving her the kudos she deserves and the response of the players-students to her.

I have to say though you provide a very engaging, often humorous, challengimg forum for all of us as fans.

HI Frankie, good to see you back! Love the passion you bring but try to pace yourself a little this year :)

Posted by Mike

4:00 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Kujo---Examples?

Posted by Walrus

4:01 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff,
I would love if you would do a follow up to this post, with your reactions and analysis to the responses.
After taking the last hour or so reading the responses, I am amazed at how many - atleast 80% of the responses have negativity in them...either towards you or towards the Mariners / FO or towards those being negative.
Maybe we Seattlites are just haters...and why we have always had such a high suicide rate.

Posted by Myk

4:05 PM, Mar 25, 2008

"Geoff,
I would love if you would do a follow up to this post, with your reactions and analysis to the responses.
After taking the last hour or so reading the responses, I am amazed at how many - atleast 80% of the responses have negativity in them...either towards you or towards the Mariners / FO or towards those being negative.
Maybe we Seattlites are just haters...and why we have always had such a high suicide rate."

Or perhaps it is just amusing that somehow Seattle fans are being called out for having the nerve to disagree with his belief that the Mariners will be good???

Let me go on record that I don't believe that Geoff is doing this because the organization tells him too. He believes what he writes, and that is commendable. It just doesn't make it right...or at the very least something that other people have to agree with.

Posted by Tyler

4:06 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, I read this blog pretty much every day. you have to remember that the people who post comments on blogs, a very small percentage of all readers, are not going to represent the overall sentiment of a fan base. Usually, it seems most people on internet message boards are complete idiots. I think it's pretty lame of you to say what you have about Mariners fans in general, maybe you should go back to the AL East. I think you really just need to stop hanging on each crazy comment you read on this site. You've done a good job so far but I'm tired of reading about your reactions to what these idiots say. Please stick to writing about the Mariners.

Posted by Mike

4:10 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Walrus---I actually think this is a pretty remarkable conversation. I'm sure if you went back in time 55 years and told some Brooklyn Dodgers fans about this they'd look at you like you were a martian.

But certainly when you consider we are talking about a team with one of the highest payrolls in baseball that hasn't sniffed the playoffs in years, I think some criticism (which is negative) is in order

Posted by Beady Eye Guy

4:17 PM, Mar 25, 2008

M's Fan In CO:

We're cool man. I appreciate the follow up post and the clarification. Like anybody this point gets heated because I can see where Geoff is coming from sometimes.

I am all for legitimate criticisms. When somebody says something like "Beltre isn't worth the money we pay him" it makes me mad because Sabrmetrics as well as the human eye (his glove is truly a wonderful thing to behold) proves that argument wrong. Then you have the guy who says the USSM sucks for this or that reason when that is not true either. The USSM may get snarky from time to time and the writers even sometimes let their emotions get the best of them (I know they didn't like the trade but the A's winning their simulations annoyed me and seemed they were trying to justify why the trade had no redeeming value). In the end, we are all fans and nobody has the right to say that because this person disagrees with me, they must not be a fan of the M's!

As for Snelling, I know, I know. I was a fan of his too and sometimes let my man-crush take hold, LOL. I like that we can agree on something. I am sure there are many things we don't agree on but again, you are a class act for discussing this with me.

Thanks!

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

4:24 PM, Mar 25, 2008

The feelings mutual Beady Eye Guy. Cheers.

Posted by Rodeochihuahua

4:29 PM, Mar 25, 2008

People like to complain.. simple as that. The internet is causing more and more people to act like jerks.

I also think sites like USSM constantly preach negativity and there seems to be a bunch of people eating it up.. the same ones that write you.

Personally I like hearing positives about the M's. I am worried about their offense and pen right now.. but they still could be pretty solid.

Posted by snakeriver

4:30 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I really think there is quite a silent majority among mariner fans. We in the Northwest pride ourselves on being genteel. We don't all like to engage in verbal fisticuffs. I just got back from seeing some Mariners spring training games, and from the conversations I overheard many were cheering for Richie, feeling bad for his struggles, but cheering because he is one of ours. Likewise, many positive comments about your prediction.

Posted by Nick in pdx

4:34 PM, Mar 25, 2008

The moral of this story seems to be that Seattle fans will call you an idiot if you say what they perceive as idiotic things, even if what you're saying is positive regarding the M's. Geoff expects that a real fan, confronted with someone espousing a more optimistic outlook than they themselves hold, should cast aside their own expectations and latch on to the rosier view.

This, needless to say, is a stupid expectation to have of a sports fan.

The whole gist of Geoff's post is that he can't understand how anybody can be a true M's fan while still ripping into someone for having what they see as an overly optimistic outlook for the team. Put another way, Geoff can't fathom a fan who doesn't always agree that This Is The Year for Their Team; a fan who believes with good reason that their team is going to suck. What Geoff is describing is Cub Fan Syndrome: This Is Our Year, every year. Cub fans can keep that in Chicago as far as I'm concerned.

Posted by BrianL

4:49 PM, Mar 25, 2008

M's Fan in CO Exile -

I applaud you for your post at 3:30! You managed to express what I've been trying to do for ages, and in a much more eloquent fashion than I could ever hope to.

If you don't mind, I'm going to make a copy of that post to share with some friends who don't quite understand why I love stats-based analysis.

Posted by Gerald

5:00 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Simple: Loser's Fatigue

This town has gone so long devoid of any championships that most people are apathetic zombies who believe whatever the organizations -- and by extension, the media -- are shoveling. The Mariners organization keeps rearranging those deck chairs and people will believe the boat will run faster so long as there are people in the media to parrot Lincoln's philosophies. They expect nothing more than to be competitive (to borrow Lincoln's favorite term). The people who see through the garbage get increasingly frustrated with this and lash out from time to time. We are dealing with the same scenario in Montlake with the Seattle media singing countless praises of the loser Willingham.

I think we all can appreciate Mariners ownership, especially after dealing with the scumbag Bennett, but there will be strong opposition as long as Yamauchi employs Linocln.

Why?

Running Johnson out of town
Lowballing A-Rod (debatable because no one would expect the M's to offer $252 million)
Giving away their first round draft picks because they didn't want to pay the bonuses
Failing to sign one of the few first round picks they did have
Being too cheap to go after Juan Gonzalez in 2000 when the team needed a RBI guy
Being too cheap to make deadline moves in other years, most especially after it was common knowledge that they faded every year
Banning Yankees Suck shirts
Overall authoritarian environment at Safeco so as to preserve the oh so profitable family friendly experience
"You gotta love these guys" is more important than "you gotta love how insanely talented these guys are" (Willie Bloomquist: Posterboy)
Pissing off Piniella
Interviewing only "yes men" managerial candidates after Piniella left
Running Jeff Nelson out of town after he questioned the organization's motives the same way we do
Spending big money on below average talent so that they won't appear cheap (this didn't start happening until after the 2004 season when they were facing a serious hemorrhaging of season ticket holders)
The constant espousal of the idea that veteran-ness is more important than talent (goes hand in hand with "you gotta love these guys" grievance)


A reasonable person might say, "but these aren't all directly attributable to Lincoln." True, but all GM and field manager philosophies are directly tied to the philosophies of the CEO.

Posted by BrianL

5:05 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I defended the USSM and LL in one of my earlier posts, but after reading through the comments again I need to defend someone else.

Like I said before, Geoff Baker is the best beat-writer Mariner fans have ever had. He is not some cog in the "raging Mariners propaganda machine" He's done a bang-up job reporting on the club without resorting to homer-esque commentary like so many of the other local writers do.

Long story short: People, get a hold of yourselves. Geoff Baker, The USSM, and Lookout Landing are all fantastic baseball resources. We're lucky that we have such a diverse range of opinions and analysis.

Posted by Rod

5:12 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Hey Nick,

Got news for ya bud. You're not a fan. You're an "observer". You can't even write 2 paragraphs without "idiot", and "stupid" popping up in your post. A true fan doesn't rip and bad mouth their team over each loss or decision by the manager. That' doesn't mean he or she can't disagree, it just means that they realize that it's easy for anyone to armchair quarterback. Guys like you are the first to rip a manager if they try to steal a base and get thrown out. If the same guy succeeds in stealing the base, you're the first to say what a great call it was. Guys like you just ride the fence, always trying to look like the expert. If the team wins, it's the greatest thing since the invention of the wheel. If the team loses, they suck, they're stupid, they're morons, they're idiots, and they should all be fired. Why don't you find another team like the Jail Blazers to rip on?

Posted by Batter Up!!!

5:15 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, Who asked you to figure out the fans? I thought you where supposed to help us figure out the team. I have enjoyed your blog and use of the technology and am disappointed that you seem to have been overcome by some negativity and disagreement of your AL West Champs call. Especially so soon after your energized return from vacation in the Islands and tough duty in the AZ desert this winter. For you to question the Seattle Fans based on a few bloggers and emails, 18 moths into your stint, frankly pisses me off! We have great fans in Seattle, but we are not sheep! Between this blog entry (Hockey! What the hell does hockey have to do with baseball? Your going to equate hockey fans to baseball fans?) and Romero's BS article on Cario today ("Mariners count on Miguel Cairo to guide young players" The guy is 33 and has played for 7 teams in 10 years. This is our new leader & teacher in the clubhouse??? What a joke!) I can't imagine why FANS would be upset and question the credibility of what's going on here. Oh yea, and all you folks who don't like Seattle, it's Fans or the Miracle we call the NW, Go Home! I doubt there is an anchor on your ass! It is definately time to Play Ball! Go M's!!!

Posted by anti-ussmariner

5:18 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff-- Too many posts to wade through, so I apologize if this has already been stated. Not everyone in this town who watches baseball is a member of USSM or subscribes to their legalistic and pessimistic viewpoints. Stat geeks are killing sports (baseball in particular), but there are still fans out there who appreciate the finer sides of the game. And I am not talking about the "average fan" that gets berated so much on USSM, but rather people who invest significant time (and money) getting to know their home team and believing that a good season can come from a group of statistically inferior players.
Kudos to USSM for fixing Felix's first inning woes last season, but it was no surprise to me to see the team outperform all of USSM's projections, and don't be surprised if they turn around and do it again this year. Or, the team could far underperform, Bavasi will be fired, and the USSM contributors can bask in their vindicated glory. Either scenario is as likely to happen, and neither one will be shown with any accuracy by running simulations based on past performance. This fan, for one, will be trying to enjoy the season, and hoping for some entertaining games deep into the fall.
Keep it coming, Geoff. Someone needs to write with a little perspective, and their are plenty of us who appreciate it!

Posted by BrianL

5:22 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Anti-ussmariner -

I encourage you to read CO in Exile's post at 3:30 before bashing "stat geeks" again.

Posted by Buschleaguer

5:26 PM, Mar 25, 2008

First off.....WOW! This post has generated just a few comments ;)

Geoff,
Your work here since arriving has been phenomenal. I don't think most here know how lucky they are to have such a good beat writer.

As to the reason for the fan dilemma, I truly believe that with the advent of the internet and statistical analysis that a lot of the fun of baseball is being sucked out of the game. Stats are a great thing and sabr-type analysis can provide some exceptional insights into the game itself. The problem is that the new "movement" has created a monster. A large portion of the statheads believe that any other type of baseball analysis and old-school ways of evaluating talent are outdated and should be abandoned. Many believe that their's is the only way and, "by God, if my analysis says it is so then it is so." Take the Pythag argument for last year's win loss record. To say that the M's weren't really an 88-win team because of Pythag is kinda silly. The M's won 88 games last year......period. Their "runs against" were artificially inflated due to inept pitchers getting too many starts and giving up an exorbitant amount of runs in their losses. Its this blind faith in statistical analysis that can become tiresome. But that's not the really bad part. That would be the belittling of anyone who doesn't agree 100% as an "ignorant homer" that really is the cause of a lot of the bad blood on this, and other sites.

I, for one, agree that we are indeed the division favorites, especially with the Halo's injury problems. Don't think you were really going out on a limb there and for the life of me can't figure out how others can completely discount our chances this year. We have the best rotation in the West (on paper), maybe in the AL, and while the offense is a little suspect, we did post an OPS+ of 104 as a team (take that statheads) last year and don't see a reason it will be much worse. An average offense combined with our rotation is bound to be in the hunt.

A lot of the negative posters on here are so invested in their pessimism that they would rather the M's lose and they be proven right than for the opposite to happen.

Sad really...............

Posted by DrLo

5:31 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Too much commentary to read it all, but a great topic. Must admit, though, that I too am puzzled by the virulence with which some folks want to castigate anyone for simply saying that external factors have conspired to make the Mariners the favourite on paper coming out of the blocks...or for that matter, for expressing any reasonably held view.

Anyway, I recall a psychological study from the 1970s that determined that folks in Seattle are happiest on rainy days and most depressed on sunny days. The idea was that Seattle people, uniquely, at least then, were during the rain looking ahead and envisioning the rain stopping, while during the good weather they were anticipating the coming of rain.

No idea if that study held up to critical scrutiny, but it might help explain a people collectively dissatisfied with the present.

Posted by BrianL

5:33 PM, Mar 25, 2008

"A lot of the negative posters on here are so invested in their pessimism that they would rather the M's lose and they be proven right than for the opposite to happen."

This is an argument that needs to die a quick death.

I'm one of these so called "negative" posters (Apparently acknowledging the benefits of sabermetrics means you hate the Mariners, America, and apple pie), but I have never ONCE said that I hope the Mariners loose this year. Jeff Sullivan hasn't, Derek Zumsteg hasn't, and Dave Cameron hasn't.

Every last one of us wants to see the Mariners succeed on a regular basis, what we're worried about is the way the front office has gone about evaluating talent. We believe their methods does not lend to long term (and to a certain extent short term) success.

Please, for the love of God, I encourage you to sign up for an account at Lookout Landing and make a polite post asking why we like statistics based analysis. This vitriolic hate on both sides is pointless.

Posted by flounder

5:34 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Eric -
The M's didn't lose in the first round in '01. They beat the Tribe in the ALDS then lost to the evil empire in the ALCS

Posted by AntiTroll

5:34 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Some of you guys have a really skewered definition of 'criticism.'

It's one thing to not be happy with the moves of the organization, it's quite another to come on this blog and act like a bunch of know-it-all baseball experts.

You THINK the team doesn't have a chance. That doesn't make it a fact in the real world, just in your self-inflated heads.

Posted by JI

5:41 PM, Mar 25, 2008

"It is often hard to determine the line between the Mariners PR department and the local sports writers."

Sums it up.

Posted by The Fremont Troll

6:03 PM, Mar 25, 2008

My two cents? The consistent (and constant) negativity portrayed by many Seattle fans can be attributed to the very same cause underlying the "grunge" music movement (see below for the cause, as I see it). According to Wikipedia:

"Grunge (sometimes referred to as the Seattle Sound) is a subgenre of alternative rock that emerged during the mid-1980s in the American state of Washington, particularly in the Seattle area. Inspired by hardcore punk, heavy metal and indie rock, grunge is generally characterized by heavily distorted electric guitars, contrasting song dynamics, and apathetic or angst-filled lyrics... ....Although most grunge bands had disbanded or faded from view by the late 1990s, their influence continues to impact modern rock music."

I think the influence of grunge...those apathetic and angst-filled lyrics echo in the hearts and minds of many Mariners fans. Why grunge? Why "glass-is-half-empty" fans? It's the rain. It's gotta be the rain.

Just remember....when the sun shines in Seattle, I think you'd be hard-pressed to name a more beautiful setting. I like the M's to win the division this year. But, I'm not a native Seattlelite. I guess the rain hasn't soaked me through to the bone enough to make me an apathetic and angst-filled M's fan. Hopefully, I can hold on to my optimism despite the pessism that seems to run rampant through much of the fan base.

-TFT-

Posted by Two Balls and a Bat

6:21 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I guess my question would be, if the SabrPythagStatHeads already have their own blogs, why they insist on coming over here and souring the vibe for everyone else?

Me, I'll be happy in the stands win or lose -- I just love baseball.

Go M's!!!!!!!

Posted by Batter Up!!!

6:24 PM, Mar 25, 2008

DrLo,

"Too much commentary to read it all"

But you have no problem offering a diagnosis.

Bill it Dano !!!

Posted by BrianL

6:30 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Two Balls and a Bat -

A lot of the USSM and LL spillover here are a result of Derek, Jeff, Dave, and Geoff having a good working relationship.

Derek, Jeff, and Dave encourage their readers to see what Baker has to say, and likewise, Baker has often encouraged his readers to see what the USSM and LL has to say.

If those guys can get along, there's no reason we shouldn't be able to.

Posted by Two Balls and a Bat

6:35 PM, Mar 25, 2008

BrianL -

It was a rhetorical question.

2B&B

Posted by crypticsailor

6:46 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Wow, where to start. I am an avid reader of this blog and have often wondered some of the very same thoughts as many have expressed here and which Geoff has so elegantly written sans the hockey references. I spent 20 years in the US Navy and am a rarity, a born and bred Washington native who loves baseball at all levels. When I can’t get to see the M’s live or on TV I can be found with them on my radio.

I enjoy the banter and passion expressed by both sides on the stats no stats discussions. I know just enough statistics to know that you can make cases for almost anything but when push comes to shove, it’s what happens on the field that matters and creates all of those wonderful statistics.

For years while travelling around and being stationed around the world, I would try some very creative ways to keep up with the Mariners. My Navy buds chided me for following the best damn AA or at times AAA team in the Major Leagues. I once went to a Mariners v Baltimore game in Seattle while home on leave and then the very next week went to old Memorial Stadium in Baltimore to see the very same pitching match-ups. Dennis Martinez was pitching for Baltimore both times and I have no idea who the Mariners starting pitcher was because in both cases if I remember right he was not around for the decision but then neither was Martinez who was shelled early and often. I got to utter at the top of my lungs from just behind the Mariners dugout, “Martinez, you were a bum last week when I saw you in Seattle, and you are still a bum.” Now this seemed to have touched nerve cause I was riding him from the first base line in Seattle and I thin that he knew my voice cause he looked right at me and never was such a sour face made. But then it probably didn’t help that part of the Mariner line-up looked over the dugout roof either. I don’t remember much more of that night, the Orioles fans bought me a round or two.

CS

Posted by Menelaus

6:48 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Geoff, I speak for a vast majority of fans when I say we appreciate your work. You're a great journalist who reports facts objectively and doesn't get caught up in this nonsense. That said, the debate over how facts are determined and portrayed is a debate that will continue after you leave.

I also think the vast majority of fans would agree with what Gerald posted about the Lincoln ownership's courtship of its fan base. They have actively sought the "bandwagon" type fans and tacitly allowed stupid things like banning "Yankees Suck" t-shirts to go on at the expense of their die-hard fans. This may seem trivial, but little things over the course of many years add up. Lincoln and co. have consistently defended and pursued their business model of good guys and family fun to appeal to the widest number of people possible.

That may earn them lots of money and goodwill, but it creates mistrust in the hardcore supporters -- kind of like if the Habs had outlawed "Maple Leafs Suck" t-shirts in the 1970s because some fans at the rink for the first time found it to be offensive.

You can visit the memorabilia shop in right field at Safeco Field and find three hats: Seattle, Boston, and New York. Imagine going to Fenway and seeing a stand that had Yankee hats available, but not the Dodgers or something. This says two things: 1) the fans in Seattle are casual enough fans that they will buy the hats of Mariner rivals; and 2) the club is so willing to make money off of these purchases that they don't pull the merchandise.

Both reasons are why I mistrust our management's professed desire to win a World Series. The whole point isn't a debate over whether or not Jose Vidro is a good DH or not. The point is that they're willing to pay $10M more for him to squeeze out an extra five points of batting average that would have cost them 1/5 of that.

Whether it's lackluster talent evaluation or just appeasing the fans by acquiring someone most of them have actually heard of, either way it's not the best way to win but the best way to make money. And that's what they're in business to do, not to win the AL West. So, despite the fact that our chances to win the AL West this season are way better than last year, I will believe it when I see it.

Because in July, when it's obvious the team needs a bat or a RH setup man, they will have to sell the farm to do it and bench one of their high-priced starters to make room. And that might work. Or they might lose 15 in a row and finish in 2nd.

Posted by Nat

6:59 PM, Mar 25, 2008

To the Fremont troll and others who espouse apathy as the culprit: there are no apatheitic M's fans - that's an oxymorin. Mariner fans want to win so badly they will go to any length to find a way to make that happen. We do research, we study and analyze stats, we go to games and cheer (and yes, occasionally boo when the frustration with Richie's strike outs gets to be too much). We spend time on blogs arguing and ranting because we are passionate. Last year with the winning it got so intense we followed the team right to the edge of the cliff, and then came the collapse. It's hard to follow a team or shall I say a FO that teases its fan base so.


There was a game in August, have forgotten the exact game, which epitomized fan frustration when Mac brought Rick White in to relieve which was the apex of frustration for many b/c all of us as fans knew instinctively what a dumb move it was. It can be very frustrating to watch this team for the lack of in-game strategy (among other things) but we still care. Angst-filled perhaps but never apathetic!

IMO, the rain has nothing to do with anything.

Posted by Oh Boy

7:19 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Great...a beat writer who doesn't understand his audience...maybe you should go back to Yellowknife

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

7:19 PM, Mar 25, 2008

MissoulaMariner and BrianL thanks for the kind words for my poor attempt to articulate my thoughts. I am not sure my comment is worthy of much more than lining a birdcage, but thanks.

I agree with BrianL's comments about Geoff too. He is a genuinely nice guy, who is very smart and tries to see where all the different approaches are coming from. Most beat writers would not invite the back and forth, and we should take a page from the community blog authors around here, who often disagree but always give praise where it is due, and genuinely get along with one another.

Posted by Anti-Ussmariner II

7:29 PM, Mar 25, 2008

There's been a trend of negativity amongst Mariner fans since the rise of the stat geeks blindly following everything they are told by their arrogant puppet masters at USSM. I am not entirely anti-statistics and actually enjoy Sullivan's work at Lookout Landing. What I am against, is using statistics to constantly reinforce a negative viewpoint. I'm against running projections that show the torn down A's as the favorites in the division to "prove" that the Mariners have no chance in the division.

The "stats geeks" can't stand the human side of baseball. They can't figure out that there are people who work better under pressure (the god-forbidden clutch hitter). They claim a manager has little real effect, yet they constantly question and attack every decision he makes.

I have problems with the way this team has been built and run for years. Yet, I'd rather spend my time enjoying what's been done right and realize that in spite of all that could possibly go wrong there is so much more that can go right. We have an actual contender this year and I'd rather enjoy it and hope for October than wish for Adam "Mike Cameron" Jones to turn into a superstar to prove that Bavasi's an idiot. That's what a real fan does.

Posted by JI

7:39 PM, Mar 25, 2008

"What I am against, is using statistics to constantly reinforce a negative viewpoint."

Yeah, I'm all for thought control too. Those who are critical are not entitled to an opinion.

"I'm against running projections that show the torn down A's as the favorites in the division to "prove" that the Mariners have no chance in the division"

Not true. Never happened.

*(Also, the A's could be a decent team).

"The "stats geeks" can't stand the human side of baseball"

False.

"That's what a real fan does."

I'm glad someone appointed you to determine the rules and standards of who and who is not a Mariner fanatic.

Posted by PRchef

7:41 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Great job Geoff

How the hell am I supposed to get anything done when I have to read all these posts?

If anything, it proves that when NW fans feel passionate about a subject, they don't have a problem voicing their thoughts.

I for one think the Ms will be much better this year than the last. And I hope I get to enjoy a kick ass season weather it is through the radio, in front of the television, or at the park. I can't think of anything more exciting than the Mariners having an awesome year.

I could not get tickets for opening day, but have some for the two games after that...

GO MARINERS

Posted by Anti-Ussmariner II

8:26 PM, Mar 25, 2008

("I'm against running projections that show the torn down A's as the favorites in the division to "prove" that the Mariners have no chance in the division"

Not true. Never happened. )

Actually, it did happen on USSM:
http://ussmariner.com/2008/02/09/running-the-2008-season-a-hundred-times/#comments

People are entitled to have negative opinions. I have a negative opinion about people having negative opinions (Try to figure that one out!).

My problem is that the authors of USSM use statistics in amazing ways to show incredibly negative viewpoints. Then people who have a lesser understanding of statistics see those numbers and blindly treat them as fact. This turns a whole group of the fanbase into these people who are yelling at Geoff for doing the unthinkable of actually picking our team to win the West.

Posted by Nick in pdx

8:35 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Rod, the difference between you and I is that one of us thinks they can define how a "true fan" should behave.

Almost everybody except for M's fan in CO seems to be missing out on how ridiculous, arrogant, and condescending is Geoff's entire premise.

Posted by oregongal

8:47 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Anti-USSM II - you've cherry-picked one piece of data and what you said is very misleading.

In the first place, you don't run simulations to prove something, you run them to see what they say. One of simulations showed the A's winning the division, which most people, including the USSM folks, think is ridiculous.

So they reran the sims after changing things, notably the A's rotation and the results were different, with the A's chances of winning the division plummeting.

http://ussmariner.com/2008/02/15/re-running-the-seasons-with-oakland-hobbled/

In any case, the whole exercise was simply one way of acquiring data to use to make a projection for the season. The USSM authors took computer simulations, scouting reports, and their own knowledge into account when making projections.

I don't care if anyone agrees with them or think they're tools of the devil. I just want accuracy from all sides of the debate.

Posted by Gerald

8:52 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I think the USSM guys would the the first ones to tell you that projections don't prove anything.

There's no amazing way they manipulate the statistics to make the Mariners look bad. In that very entry DMZ expressed how he was surprised that the projections were so pessimistic and went out of his way to paint a rosier picture. The only purpose of that article was to indicate that one of the most reliable projection methods does not have a favorable view of the M's and we fans might want to brace ourselves.

These guys aren't slaves to statistical projections. If they were, they wouldn't be such huge fans of Ichiro since the almighty PECOTA hates him.

Posted by Anti-Ussmariner II

9:00 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I know that the second version had the A's winning the division plummet, but it still had the A's winning considerably more times than the M's.

I agree that from a literal sense you don't use projections to prove something. However, you can use projections to reinforce a point of view, which is what happened in that case.

This projection occurred shortly after the Bedard trade and was used to reinforce their viewpoint that the trade would not likely be enough for the team to win the division and was, therefore, a bad trade.

In my opinion, the projection shouldn't have even been posted because something was very wrong with the numbers they were using if it was the A's winning the division the majority of the time. Yet, it was posted and unsurprisingly the results favored the opinions of the authors.

Posted by oregongal

9:11 PM, Mar 25, 2008

We have a deep philosophic disagreement about what should be posted. The whole basis of science is to put out the results, good or bad, and let the world improve on them.

As to their projections, I haven't seen any computer simulation come up with the M's even at .500, and yet Dave at USSM went through his own system, showing us his assumptions, and came up with something like 82-83 wins for the M's. I don't know if he did it for anyone else, but the posts are all about the Mariners and Angels kicking it out this season, so I'm assuming he didn't buy into the 83 wins for the A's.

My impression after reading their blog for the last year is that there won't be any more excited people on the planet than the USSM and LL authors when the M's finally get back to the playoffs. If what they said was, "the Mariners suck," I would understand the hostility toward them. But they are constantly making positive, affirmative suggestions about what the team could do to be better. Let's face it, the M's management hasn't exactly shown they can make the right decisions all the time.

Posted by JI

9:43 PM, Mar 25, 2008

"This turns a whole group of the fanbase into these people who are yelling at Geoff for doing the unthinkable of actually picking our team to win the West."

What do you base this on? See, I have this dumb-ass thing I do, it's called "thinking for myself", I know it goes against ever grain of our society, but give it a chance, it may prove valuable.

Posted by anti-ussmariner

10:23 PM, Mar 25, 2008

JI and oregongal-- You're completely missing the point. No one said that USSM and its legion of mindless believers were NOT fans of the M's. Clearly, to waste as much time as they do on running simulations and creating new statistics to prove their points requires a huge investment in one team. What we are saying is that the mantra from USSM is that the M's front office and management are inept, they (DMZ, Derek, etc) could clearly run the team better, and anyone who disagrees is a blind fan who doesn't know anything about baseball. This definitely alienates a large portion of the fanbase that want to follow the team but don't have the time to create their own statistical models to rebut what they read on USSM. The trickledown effect is that they come away either believing everything that is posted or they try to turn somewhere else to find some accurate, realistic reporting. And that's why Geoff's blog has been so successful, and that's why I love that he picked the M's to take the division despite all of the simulations and projections. Furthermore, statistics is not science, and any mathematician will tell you that. It is an art at best, and a historical tool more than a predictive one. Claiming that a compilation of community projections are any harbinger of a future season's performance is ludicrous. What do you think the community prediction on Shaun Alexander's performance would have been for the 2006 season? 2007? But I guess if there was a USS Seahawk site we all would have seen his broken bones coming in the offseason.

Posted by BrianL

10:47 PM, Mar 25, 2008

anti-USSMariner

Have you ever tried posting at either LL or USSM? Not just to troll either, but to ask honest questions about the work they do and why they feel it is of merit?

Derek, Dave, and Jeff are class-act guys who do some fantastic work. Furthermore, if you disagree with them, they're not going to label you a "blind fan." Take a look at their relationship with Geoff Baker if you don't believe me. Now, if you show up to troll their boards by lambasting statistical analysis and the painstaking work they've done without bothering to do any sort of critical thinking, they're going to be upset with you. As they should be.

Why don't you stop complaining about everything they do and actually visit their sites for a change? Register and post a message asking (in a non trolling fashion) why they feel their analysis is important. Until you do that, you're just as close-minded as you accuse them of being.

Lastly, statistical analysis is, in fact, a science. Per Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Statistics

Also, there is a USS Seahawk site. It's called Field Gulls. They predicted Alexander would bust shortly after his jackpot signing. What does John Morgan (head honcho of Field Gulls) use to evaluate talent?

Statistics. Specifically DPAR

I don't agree with a lot of what Geoff says, but you don't see me here bashing him like you're currently doing to the USSM and LL. Frankly, your vitriolic hate of anything sabermetrics is somewhat sad. If you bothered to look at the material Jeff, Dave, and Derek offered in an objective fashion, you might find that they are pretty knowledgeable when it comes to baseball and in the end, they just want the team to succeed.

Just like every other fan.

Posted by oregongal

11:08 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Anti-USSM II - I think you missed my point, which was I don't care what you think of USSM, etc. I just want accurate information posted and I thought what you posted was inaccurate.

Personally, I have not had the same reaction to the site and I still retain the ability to think for myself. I simply find they have some useful, entertaining, or just plain funny information and people over there. But if other people don't have the same experience, I don't know why they would continue to go there. If you want to say something about my statements, beliefs, projections, feel free. Believe me, anyone who knows me would think it was hysterically funny to hear that I'm being mind-controlled by someone else. I'm the one who always tells the boss what everybody else is afraid to say.

Posted by Swung On And Belted

11:13 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Had a very long day, came home and saw this. WOW! Spent the last hour reading it all, and thinking about my response. I have so many feelings on this issue, I could write a book. But I have neither the time or the energy. There are some common themes here and I agree with most of them. Hardly any of us want the M's to lose. The local media has never criticized the team the way other towns do, and that has really pissed us all off. EVERYTHING that Gerald lists in his 5:00 p.m. post is legit.
If I could add anything quickly it would be that although Red Sox fans and Cubs fans have had it rough, they also had the Celtics and Patriots and Bears and Bulls winning championships for them. We had the Sonics when I was too young to remember and that's it.
To truly understand Seattle fans, you would have had to live as one for about 30 years!

Posted by Anti-Ussmariner II

11:23 PM, Mar 25, 2008

I actually am very impressed by the work and devotion of the authors at USSM and especially LL. Believe it or not I read both sites daily and do understand sabermetrics.

My problem with USSM is that it's created an army of malcontents who want to critique every minute detail and ignore the human side of baseball. Last season, I grew very tired of seeing the M's win great games in the middle of the season and reading the next day about how terrible they are.

Most players on a team will tell you that having a person who's a clubhouse cancer can have a detrimental effect on the team. If people are unhappy in their jobs that eventually affects their performance. Yet, USSM ignores this completely because clubhouse chemistry is supposedly irrelevant and they advocate that we sign Barry Bonds.

Just because an argument is not backed by statistics does not make it any less valid of an argument. Baseball is still a very mental game and cannot be quantified in every aspect.

Finally, Jl, when you said that you think for yourself, I don't doubt it. The problem is that even the most thoughtful person can be persuaded.

Posted by BrianL

11:26 PM, Mar 25, 2008

Anti-USSM

So, because I frequent the USSM and LL, and because I am downplaying the chances the Mariners make the playoffs this year, I'm part of the "army of malcontent?"

You, my friend, are painting with a brush a mile wide.

Posted by Anti-Ussmariner II

11:39 PM, Mar 25, 2008

OregonGal,
Brainwashed isn't exactly the right term. I've read your comments on the blog often and Iwould never suggest you've been brainwashed.

At the same time, USSM has created somewhat of a movement and generally any debate about the Mariners today involves arguments, statistics, and facts given by USSM.

The problem is that all of us are persuaded by what we read in some way and often will take on the views and attitudes of what we read. It's not brain-washing but it can manipulate.

The problem is that you can really find statistics to support most arguments and USSM seems to focus on finding statistics to support their view that Mariner management are idiots. I disagree with a lot of what the Mariners have done over the years but I feel that USSM takes it to the extreme.

Posted by anti-ussmariner

12:01 AM, Mar 26, 2008

No, BrianL, I have never posted to USSM, real or trolling. I haven't had to in order to find out why the contributors do what they do and what they believe in. I never suggested that they are not class-acts, but rather that their site is completely one-sided and not accurately predictive. They may have a great relationship with Geoff-- that's great. Clearly they are all intelligent baseball people. But that doesn't change the fact that they recruit fans to doubt every move the front office makes, every decision the manager makes, and any positive influence from "useless" players.
Further, the problem is with the "army of malcontent" (not my phrase, but thanks, I'll use it) that post on their boards. They do put down any opposite viewpoint, and any relevance given to intangibles is chalked up to ignorant casual fans. The strict controls they use over posts are a clear indication that whatever message comes through from readers is approved and sanctioned by the moderators. So whatever I read there, I attribute to the guys who run the site. The backlash to Geoff's prediction was typical USSM discussion-- ponies, kittens, and bees. I guess that's good analysis.
Thanks for citing Wikipedia, the bastion of credibility. You'll note that in that entry, they discuss potential misuse of statistics, and state that manipulations of data occur both through process and bias.
Lastly, I never said that going to USSM makes you one of the mindless followers. Anti-USSMariner II and I share more than clever monikers-- I visit the site almost daily, because some of the stuff they post is brilliant. It''s the other 80% that gives Mariner fans a bad name to an out-of-towner trying to cover our team.

Posted by DiehardFan

2:40 AM, Mar 26, 2008

First off I want to say Geoff thanks for the this article because this is something that has been bothering me for a long time! I've been a Mariners fan for 18 years. I am adicted to baseball I always have been. I went to the first playoff game the Mariners were ever envolved in. 1995 ANGELS MARINERS ONE GAME PLAYOFF DO OR DIE I WAS THERE FRONT ROW FIRST BASE SIDE WHERE WERE YOU SO-CALLED M'S FANS???. I even ran on the field like every other die hard fan who was there as Randy Johnson threw the final pitch to win the game. I was also there when both Ken Griffey Jr and his Dad played side by side in the outfield at the Kingdome! Amazing! Anyways I'm a die hard fan and I'm sick and tired of hearing SO-CALLED MARINERS FAN @#$#@ and complain about the team!! I now live back the Bay Area. Do you know what its like to go to a A's game sporting my Mariners gear in Oakland? Let's just say A's fans mean business. Sometimes it feels like I'm the only M's fan at the stadium but you what I'm still cheering every time we get a base hit or when Felix throws the heat and gets the K.

How can you so-called M's fans even call yourselves fans. Let's see what Websters dictionary definiation of a fan is - an enthusiastic devotee (as of a sport or a performing art) usually as a spectator. Baseball isn't just about the stats and trying to predict who's going to win the World Series its about the love of the game and more importantly the love of YOUR TEAM THE MARINERS!! The team you fell in love with in 1995 when they wern't even supposed to go .500 and somehow by some miracle of the baseball gods won 19 of their last 21 games and went on to beat the Evil Yankees!! FAITH IS THE BEST WAY I CAN DESCRIBE WHAT ITS LIKE TO BE A TRUE FAN!! Try living in the Bay Area and being the only M's fan among all your friends and having to always defend them even when they really suck!!! Just try to imagine!!! And then I come to this web site to see my M's family talk so much @#$# about my team when all I do is defend them all the time!!! Your not true fans and thats the hard truth!!!! Being a true fan means sticking by your team through the good times and the bad. Being a fan means having some @#$#@$# pride for god sake even when the future looks bleak!!! By the way Steve Phillips of Espn is picking the M's to win the division but whatever what dose a baseball expert know anyways??? You so-called M's fans must know more than him I mean you go to the game's right?!!!

Posted by kevin_ess

2:47 PM, Mar 27, 2008

I want some of whatever DieHardFan is on, please.

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