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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 26, 2008 4:16 AM

Protecting your fan-hood

Posted by Geoff Baker

Great debate yesterday on my question of what makes Seattle baseball fans tick. The point of the exercise wasn't to complain about you disputing my picks. It was to figure out exactly what was driving some of the negative reactions I was seeing; the literally vitriolic backlash to suggestions the Mariners might have a good thing going and be able to win the AL West. I was impressed by how much thought went into your answers and I am in agreement with much of what was said. Let's look at some of it:

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. -- Mike

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. -- skiba

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. -- Thomas

Agree with those statements and others like them. Not the "rosy analysis'' and "fool's gold'' parts, obviously, but the general thrust. The Mariner blogosphere might be the most intelligent in the country when it comes to understanding statistical analysis. And I believe that any team not embracing the new numbers as enthusiastically, at least in public, could take it on the chin when things go wrong. The M's certainly fall into that category, seen as more traditional in approach and having accomplished very little on the field since the true eruption of the blogosphere the past five years.

Shall we continue?

The Mariners consistently make a lot of money, and consistently have high attendance records because 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 (and) 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 bonafide superstar, only enough for a Sexson or Beltre. -- cooner

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. -- Ollie

I've heard that reason plenty of times. I understand the frustration after Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr. and Alex Rodriguez left. But Adrian Beltre was viewed as one of the bigger stars of the game when the Mariners signed him. Richie Sexson was another big name, if not a superstar. Since I arrived here, the M's took a pass on Daisuke Matsuzaka, I'll give you that one in the hold-your-wallet department. But they did make a play for Johan Santana. And they did just acquire Erik Bedard, who could turn out to be a better value than Santana if trends continue. Yes, there is an impression management doesn't do everything it takes to win. But I think that argument was stronger a few years ago. The team got Bedard, has re-upped Ichiro and did overpay big-time to get Carlos Silva and ensure one of the best free-agent pitchers on the market came here to upgrade the rotation. if anything, some fans now think the team is trying to win too quickly instead of building long-term. But yes, I buy this theory as a reason for fan behavior, if not the argument itself.

I honestly think there are people that would want (Adam Jones) to homer off (Erik Bedard) just so they could smirk with their cynical negative selves. -- jujay

Why pull any punches? I agree, this type of thinking is motivating some fans. Hey, who doesn't want to be right when they put themselves out there? I sure do. When I picked the M's to win 78-82 games last season, of course I wanted them to fit in that range. At least, a small part of me did. But do you know what? It's impossible to always be right. You have to get used to that in life. And when something surprises me, I've learned not to take it personally and just try to figure out why. In my job, it wouldn't be honest of me, or fair to readers, to keep pushing an agenda and trying to make my round pegs fit square holes. If I'm wrong, I learn to accept it, try to figure out why and move on. Even if I thought my methodology was right and that something that happened was a fluke, an odd exception, a blind squirrel finding a nut so-to-speak, I would still do some re-assessing of that methogdology and maybe not be as fervent about it the next time. By the way, if I truly thought the M's were a fluke last year, I'd say so. It would back up my initial assessment of the team from 12 months ago. But I believe this team showed an ability to win at key times last year. Maybe it's really an 85-win team, but I believe it's a legit winner, not a 79-win club like the Pythagorean record says. I also believe there are some people who would rather see the team lose to prove a point than win and be shown up. Maybe it's a minority of fans, but I believe there's a segment out there. Does it make them bad? Well, it makes them human.

Agree with the comment that we want to hear no more about Toronto, Montreal, hockey or your ex-jock days in Canada. -- Fred

Tough luck. If you don't like it, start your own blog. The hockey stuff could have been about an MLB, NFL, or Aussie Rules team. It was in there to make a point. Anything constructive to say?

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.

That's better, Fred, I think you may be on to something. So does the poster below.

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. -- Simon

All I can say is poor Miguel Cairo is about to get run out of town without even playing a game yet. LOL! But I agree with Simon and Fred's premise, at least that some fans think there is a correct way to build a ballclub and management has not done this. I actually agree. I think that if Bill Bavasi's team makes the playoffs, it will be in spite of some of poor roster construction found on this club. I'm actually amazed at what Bavasi accomplished this winter with his rotation and that he seems on the verge of climbing out of a very deep hole he dug for himself. Especially after the Horacio Ramirez debacle. I actually dubbed his plan "Fuzzy-ball'' in our season preview a year ago. No rhyme or reason to a lot of it. But it's a little less fuzzy to me now. I think parts of it may now be enough to get this team to the playoffs.

I will admit it right now: I worry if the Mariners win the division in 2008. I think that (Bill) Bavasi and (John) McLaren are at least in the bottom-three of GM/Manager combos in the game. I think they are terribly unqualified. I think the Mariners incorrectly value players, and I believe the Bavasi regime's track record bears this out. I believe the fluke that was 2007 has allowed them wrongful justification which will be detrimental to this franchise's future.

In short, I don't believe they are the right men to lead this team (saying nothing about (Howard) Lincoln and (Chuck) Armstrong) and not even a division championship in 2008 will change that...So I am stuck. I want the M's to win, but I don't want Bavasi and McLaren to win. I want Bedard here for the next six years, but not Bavasi and McLaren. I want the team to build the right way, like the smart teams (see: Boston, NY, Cleveland, Arizona, Colorado, Milwaukee, Anahiem), so that it can contend for years at a time, rather than go all-in with a Bedard trade. -- Adam

I love honesty. Let's cut through all the b.s. and get down to what's really going on here. This was a late addition by one of our more visible posters. It's very close to what we talked about before, about some fans wanting to be right above all else and willing to sacrifice a season or two to get there. Only this isn't a fan wanting either. But it's about as close as you can get to a fan being willing to write off a couple of seasons in order to force a management change. Adam isn't saying he'd do it. He says he torn up about it. That's different. And he's not alone. I have heard this opinion expressed by many fans. Media as well. They thought last season was the worst possible outcome. The team won zilch that mattered. But it won just enough to keep everyone in their jobs. It was Kafka at his finest. A surreal nightmare for many fans. And the nightmare, for them at least, continues. Must be tough.

Not as tough for the poster below, who is willing to make the supreme sacrifice.

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. -- AC

So, a fan willing to lose in order to win the way he/she thinks is best. Interesting.

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. -- madrone

A whole four or five years, huh? Oh, the humanity. This is where some of you start to lose me. For the record, it's been seven years since the M's made the playoffs. Guess what? The Yankees haven't won a World Series in eight years. Want to guess which is seen as a worse failure by most baseball fans outside of Seattle? Look, I know it's been a while. But seven years is not a very long time in baseball. The Royals haven't made the playoffs in 23 years. Milwaukee hasn't made it in 26 years. Toronto in 15 years. You're getting antsy, I know. Been there, done that. My Montreal Expos, growing up, finally made the playoffs in 1981, then weren't competitive again in September until 1992. Bill Krueger was on that 1992 team. Talked to him about it last night. Believe me, by 1988 -- seven years after that one post-season -- us Expos fans were getting fed up. It seemed like forever. But it wasn't that long. That's baseball. Want instant playoff gratification, better stick to NBA, NFL or -- gasp, no!-- hockey. Maybe the CFL is for you? Only eight teams and six get in. A franchise practically has to go bankrupt (and some do) not to make the post-season in three-down, Great White North football. Not making excuses for M's ownership. It's just the way MLB is built. Only a miniscule handful of teams consistently make the playoffs. The Cleveland Indians just ended a six-year drought after a long stretch of success. The Colorado Rockies had missed for 12 years before also getting in. Detroit endured a 19-year playoff absence before making it in 2006.

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. -- peter

No, Peter, the Cubs have gone 100 years without a title. You can't possibly imagine, nor can I, what that must be like. Nothing the M's have gone through compares to that. But you do have a valid point. This is still a young baseball city. The fans here are suffering, there is no disputing that. But four playoff appearances in six years probably had a lot to do with it. Were the Seattle fans spoiled? Let's just say that was a pretty good run of success, which would make seven years of drought seem like 70 to some. Especially younger fans for whom time doesn't slip by as quickly as us older types. There seems to be a lack of perspective as far as time goes in Seattle. I'm not trying to be condescending, but I'm also not going to kiss up to readers by sugarcoating it. Seven years is not a long time

That said, the Seattle fans do have a worthy gripe when it comes to the 31 years the franchise has existed without winning a World Series. For many of you, that's your entire lifetime and three decades is no drop in the bucket. I can see where being "teased'' by all those playoff runs in a span of six years could make the lack of a title even that much more frustrating. Many of the teams I've mentioned with longer playoff droughts, like Detroit, Milwaukee, Toronto, Kansas City and Colorado, have all either won or at least been to a World Series in the last 30 years. But talk to the Cleveland Indians fans. They might have a thought or two about title droughts.

The Boston Red Sox went 86 years without winning a World Series -- which ranks amongst the worst fan torture because their followers are nuts, I'm talking crazy, about their team -- but at least they got to the finals a bunch of times.

Be careful what you wish for, though. Getting to the big dance and losing? Oh, that hurts. Not that I know. My baseball team never made it there, either. Blame Rick Monday. (Look it up).

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. -- j.

Well, I also think a certain segment of fan thinks that being constantly cynical and negative makes them objective and impartial. It doesn't. We try to drum that notion out of young journalists in their first five years or so. Doesn't always work. It's actually an immature view of the world. Not everybody is wrong all the time. Just like not everybody is right. So, believing the 88-win Mariners were legit is rose-colored? What if I told you that in the last 10 years, there were 34 winning teams -- winning teams -- that outperformed their Pythagorean record by at least five wins? That's three per season. Did you know that 17 winning teams over that span outperformed their Pythag by at least six wins? Or that 10 teams -- one per year -- outperformed it by seven wins or more? The Pythagorean expectation is reasonably accurate, but hardly as impenetrable as it's made out to be. If it was, its proponents would be billionaires betting baseball in Las Vegas. But they're not and there is a reason. Rose-colored glasses? Sounds like you're a little too sure of yourself. Last time I checked, the M's won 88. If you think they shouldn't have, why is that? The Pythagorean record? Hmm. OK, I guess. You are entitled to your opinion.

The Internet has allowed seemingly reasonable people to create anonymous personas and dominate others with their point of view. -- Beady Eye Guy

Yes, but in the old days, the schoolyard bullies could pound away on reasonably-thinking people without giving them a chance to speak. This evens things out, I guess.

You get emails like that because you are clearly a shill for management and ownership. -- Thomas

My, aren't you a Doubting Thomas? See the statement a few graphs above about cynicism, negativity, young journalists and immaturity. But if you still think I'm a shill, so be it. Getting people to always see things my way stopped being a lifetime goal years ago.

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. -- Jeff

Like what, exactly? The Horacio Ramirez deal? Ripping Chuck Armstrong in public for hinting there was a secret problem with Rafael Soriano? Stating the team needed a drop-dead date with Richie Sexson in lieu of playing him every day? Saying the 2007 team needed to trade for another starter, or a set-up reliever, or its bullpen would implode? My suggestion they re-sign Jose Guillen? Asking if Cha Seung Baek would have been a cheaper and better fifth starter option than Jeff Weaver? My unwavering support for keeping Bill Bavasi on as GM (that's sarcasm)? You confusing this for another paper?

Every single major pro team in our city has held the team hostage for big public dollars. Like infidelity in 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. -- shortbus

No argument there. That would tick me off as a fan and taxpayer.

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. -- Menelaus

We're not counting Edgar's double, right?

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. -- Menelaus

It's true. The games here were played too late when I was back East to bother caring what went on in Seattle until the team actually did something. Fact of time zone life. But I wanted Seattle to win because it was one of my favorite road cities and my paper back then actually let me cover playoff rounds. Hint, hint.

For years we've seen the local media writers sing the praises of the Mariners ballclub despite horrible personnel decisions and disastrous failures. -- Brian L.

I won't lie to you. This isn't New York or Boston when it comes to beat-writing. But Seattle isn't New York or Boston when it comes to stress and fast-paced life, either. All I can say is, with an open and honest blogosphere and fans who legitimately criticize a team, while leaving open the possibility they may not always be right, it makes it very tough for any beat writer to be a shill and get away with it. But you know what? The fans get what they ask for. Demand more, you keep the writers on their toes. We won't always agree with you. But we'll need to find better reasons for why we don't.

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

Hey, I like all of those things. Minus the winters. Remind me to show you a photo of my mother's place buried under five feet of snow.

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. -- M's Fan in CO Exile

Ah, yes. The pursuit of excellence. Can't argue with that one. We all want that perfect Pulitzer. But sometimes, when we win unexpectedly, it can be fun as well. Right? I wouldn't know. But I think it would be that way. My horses have been a bit wobbly of late.

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! -- Nick in pdx

Strawman alert! (I've wanted to use that line for the past year. Finally got the chance). This isn't about that silly "You're not a fan if you don't always support your team'' debate. I asked you all for reasons why you behave the way you do. You're giving them to me. Deal with it. No need to get defensive.

You'll have to excuse me....I've been out shooting video all day. -- j.j.

Then send some of it in, already. I've been blogging for the past 19 hours. Could have used the backup.

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. -- Tyler

Actually, Tyler, our numbers say that it changing very quickly. The voices you hear on this blog represent more and more what casual fans are saying and thinking. That's because they are posting here. Business leaders, account executives, lawyers, teachers. They're all here.

Geoff, Who asked you to figure out the fans? I thought you where supposed to help us figure out the team. -- Batter up!

-- Ain't diversity great?

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. -- Dr. Lo

So, this should be the happiest blogosphere in the world, doc. What happened?

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

Bet I can name more state capitals than you can territorial capitals. I think I know my audience. Check out the number of comments.

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. -- AntiUSSMarinerII

What, I already missed AntiUSSMariner Part I? I knew this blogging was keeping me from getting out to see enough movies. Blog posts can manipulate? Really? Well, I'm not going to blame someone for trying to persuade you about their argument. But you're free to come here if you disagree with them. Free to go there if you want a different take from my daily feed. It's called democracy. When we start marching you over to USS Mariner in straight lines, then you'll know you're in North Korea. Until then, you've got options, and believe me, it's a good thing.

OK, I think we've seen enough. Lots of thought-provoking commentary here. From hearing it all, let's conclude that Mariners fans (some, if not all) are angst-ridden from not having won a World Series in 31 years of existence and have been teased a bit by four playoff appearances in six years prior to this latest seven-year drought. We'll say that the ownership, while opening its wallet (especially lately), has usually seemed more interested in profits than winning, hasn't always made the shrewdest of purchases and did let a number of stars walk before the money from Safeco Field began rolling in. Taxpayer-subsidized Safeco Field, we should add.

After some dismal seasons and abysmal trades, many Mariners fans, already distrustful of a media they see as compliant, are reluctant to believe last season's 88 wins were anything but a fluke. And until they see some actual proof on-paper, they reserve the right to be skeptical and read any blog they darned well please. Whether it's USS Mariner, Lookout Landing, or this one. And nobody had better tell them another blog is better than their prefered reading.

Oh, and no more hockey.

Sound about right? I hope so, because I've got to get up in a few hours. This has been a fun and educational day. And it should be a fun and educational season as well. Looking forward to it.

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Posted by Z-Bo

7:47 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Best Mariners blog on the internet. Thanks for that Geoff.

I am a fan who enjoys watching the Mariners win or lose. I prefer they win, but I get plenty of enjoyment just sitting down and watching the game. Last year I loved Felix days and this year I am going to get Felix and Bedard days.

Life is good... Baseball season is here.

Posted by Adam

7:48 AM, Mar 26, 2008

My dilemma is a product of practicality - how, exactly, does the team fire Bavasi and McLaren?

I'm not naive about the hesitation an owner would have to fire his GM and manager after an 88-win season. And don't forget that the team is better (although not by as much as some believe) in 2008.

Again, this is why 2007 was such a bad result.

It's very frustrating for me to be an M's fan. I want them to win, but they are trying to go about it in a way that I believe will ultimately lead them to disaster.

And we need them to win if we want to re-sign Bedard and Beltre.

I hope some here now understand my angst...

Posted by drlo

8:02 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Wow, Geoff, that is a ton of work. Not sure it is worth it, but appreciate - seriously -- the effort and thought involved.

So, is it raining raining in Seattle?

Posted by M's Fan in CO Exile

8:11 AM, Mar 26, 2008

For the record, Geoff, I like hockey (now). It helps that the year I was married I was living here in Denver before the wedding, and the Avs won the Stanley Cup. I went to college with a lot of Canadians who would monopoplize the t.v. room with play-off hockey when most of us wanted to watch basketball. Serious fanatics! Coming from Seattle, I didn't know or care about the game. But after living in Colorado for 5+ years now, I can honestly say it's an exciting sport, and a nice fast-paced contrast to the game I truly love -baseball. It helps to have been to about as many play-off games as regular season games, and to feel (until the salary cap) that your team was a contender every year. I'm not telling fans to start to love hockey (I hate when soccer fans, for instance try to tell me soccer is a great sport when I nearly fall asleep watching these boring affairs -I must be ignorant I am told) but I don't mind the hockey references from you or Jeff at LL. Hockey is no snoozer, and sometimes there are even fights! I love that.

Posted by Man From Nantucket

8:18 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I feel the same way as Adam. I want to be able to take pride in the Mariners but it is difficult when you feel your front office is at a disadvantage when compared to other clubs because they just aren't very good at their jobs. As a Seahawk fan, I feel confident that Tim Ruskell will not get fleeced in a trade or construct the roster poorly. I have no such confidence in Bill Bavasi. It's not that I want to see him fired or the Mariners to fail, I just deeply wish he were better at his job.

Posted by bandwagonjumper

8:23 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Interesting topic. Something that I don't know if it was discussed much in the other thread is howmany professional sports teams there are, 4 currently (Sonics, Mariners, Storm, Seahawks), 5 when MLS soccer comes and a division 1 college (UW) all in Seattle and if you are on the east side of the cascades (WSU). That means the fans of the area have many teams to cheer for and when the mariners season isn't going well we just flip the dial to another one of the local teams and cheer for them. Most people I know are fans of at least 2 or more teams. As long as we have one team out of the whole mix of sports in the northwest doing well we're happy. It's not do or die if our team tanks because there are other sports to look forward to. The other thing is currently the M's are the only team that hasn't been to the big dance from the region. Until they prove that they won't fizzle out in the end it's hard to get behind them.

Posted by Chuck

9:01 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Last year I mentioned that it was the most roller coaster ride I've been on as a Mariner fan, and I've been one since 1978. During the winter we made some terrible trades/signings, and a couple good ones. We won a bunch of games in a row--then turned around and lost a bunch of games in a row. Our pen was lights out in the first half of the season and dim the second half. I blamed management on the construction of a bad team. We won 88 games because we had a manager that played the first half of the season like there was no tomorrow, burning out the team. Then we had a manager that played mostly veterans the last half of the season instead of trying to see the potential of rookies. It was a disappointed season for me because they won just enough to save Bavasi and McLarens jobs, but not enough for it to be an exciting season. Further many of us are offended by sportswriters reminding us that Seattle has a hard time signing free agents because they would have to play in Seattle. While it may be a fact--we get tired of hearing people don't want to live where we live. Heck, way back in the day when I bought general admission tickets and strolled down to a seat behind home plate by the second inning, the Ms were losing, but I enjoyed the games for a couple reasons. I had one or two favorite players, I got to see the Yankees, Oakland, etc. come to play, and I just love baseball--win or lose. I just wish the Mariner front office shared my passion.

Posted by jujay

9:13 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Reitsma was cut!

Posted by Nick in pdx

9:14 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Geoff, yesterday you wrote:

"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?"

Then when I point out that you're suggesting that fans who disagree with you aren't real fans, you claim I'm attacking a straw man. This is the same tactic used in political arenas when pundits ask questions like "Does Person X hate America?" Then they get to say, hey I didn't claim that person hates America, I'm just asking the question! The purpose of the question, though, is to insinuate that statement into the conversation.

You spent your entire post yesterday explaining your views on how fans should behave. That was the whole thrust of the article. Don't back off of that point to hide behind the guise of "intrepid reporter tries to unravel the customs of the natives" - stick with it, keep explaining the true nature of how fans should act to support their team. I don't buy for one second your claim that this isn't about the "real fans" debate - you purposefully started that debate.

Posted by atuckerinaz

9:15 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I have one thing to say about this season. Clearly the team has become better by adding Bedard. If you look at what Adam Jones might do this year it has to compare to the numbers that Wilkerson will put up. The decision to have Jones play over Guillen was made well before the trade for Bedard. Obviously trading Rafael Soriano for Horacio Ramirez was a horrible trade but he did have 11 wins with the Braves, hinesight is 50/50 I suppose. Thats all I have.

Posted by Mike

9:25 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Since the subject of statistics produces such difference of opinion I would be very curious to learn about Bavasi's thought on such things as defensive metrics or about examining pitching results like ground ball rate, fly ball rate, etc.

I have heard Bavasi say he wants to blend tradition and stats but i don't see so much blending. It seems the Ms are laregly traditionalists but I'd like to know more about how they think. Clearly teams like Colorado, Cleveland, Boston and Arizona have embraced the newer stats.

So Geoff, I would love for you to ask Bavasi about this stuff. You could start with his thoughts about defense and Ibanez.

Posted by johnemack

9:27 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I really can't understand the viewpoint of people who want the team to lose for multiple years because then, it will somehow justify their thinking. At this point, as a lifelong fan who has waited patiently for a World Series, I really couldn't care if Bavasi filled the team with rejects from the Shrine Circus, if they win a World Series....THANK THE LORD!!!!

Posted by -k

9:27 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Great! i go away on a business trip and Geoff starts perhaps the best debate of the Spring! My bad luck!

There are some thing that i think were perhaps missed in all of this. If you go to the games (you'd have to buy a ticket Geoff) and talk to the people you're sitting near, you get a much different prospective then what you find in the blogosphere. The internet is attracting a group of fans who are very much irrational and illogical. (This is why i have, for the most part, stopped reading the comments thread. It takes away from the experience of reading your blog, instead of adding to it.) Don't judge all of the Seattle fan base based on the 5% who participate in the blog.

That is not to say that i have rose colored glassed on either. I absolutely am disgusted that Bavasi is running this team, and many of the moves he's made. At the same time, the blogosphere makes me feel like a bavasi apologist because i refuse to believe that all bavasi moved are evil simply because he made the move. I like the bedard trade. I think jones was over-valued, so what? Although i'd love to see our DH have more power, i don't hate Vidro.

Do i think that the team has flaws? Yes! Do i think the long term health of the franchise is in doubt? Yes! Do i think that the team would be better off with just about ANYONE running the show who not named Bavasi? YES, YES, and More YES! But why am i the only one who seems to work in complete greyscale instead of just Black and White?

ok, ok.. i know i'm not REALLY the only one. But you get my point. Although i often disagree with them, i find Scapiron, oregongal and Adam to be very rational and logical, but it is a very low percent of people who are on here.

Posted by ethan

9:37 AM, Mar 26, 2008

heres an experiment. Pack Safeco Field and have Richie Sexson, Brad Wilkerson, Carlos Silva, Bill Bavasi and John McLaren walk out to the mound.

Pack Angels stadium and have Casey Kotchman, Big Daddy Vladdy, Jered Weaver, Tony Reagins and Mike Scioscia walk out to the mound.

which stadium will you hear boos? which stadium will have a Roman triumph/parade?

Posted by Donovan

9:37 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Chuck - Not dissing your big picture view here, but there is a sentiment in your post that keeps popping up on this blog that I just don't get - Why do people think Mac's job was or should have been on the line last year? He was an emergency replacement for God's sake, and he was never on the hot seat. That was the guy who suddenly quit and forced him to step in unexpectedly. How often has that happened in MLB history - a guy managing a winning team quitting mid-season?

I'm curious just what people expected Mac to do last year when he took over. The team had a winning record and was technically in contention, so it was not a situation where a new guy comes in and shakes things up, puts on rookie trials, etc. The old manager wasn't fired for bad performance. Having never managed at the ML level, Mac couldn't very well throw his weight around and just impose his personality on the team by shear force of will and weight of experience. What should he have done, exactly? Don't say bench Sexcon, because HE DID!, and then Richie started hitting better. So did Raul. Mac made some rookie manager tactical mistakes last season, and he's lousy in interviews, but I think he's being judged prematurely and unfairly if people think his emergency duty last year told them all they need to know about his ability. Give the man a chance, and don't just hate him because Bavasi hired him. If he disappoints you this season, you can slam him with a clear conscience.

Posted by Mike

9:37 AM, Mar 26, 2008


I think it's the medium. I agree with most everything you just wrote but I think it is hard to "do" nuance in this format. Mostly we write these posts quickly without a lot of editing or wordsmithing.

Actually one of the things I like about USSM is that they are pretty clear that it is okay to say that Bavasi "made a stupid move" but not okay to say "Bavasi is stupid."

Posted by Mike

9:43 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Ethan---Interesting point but I think that if the Ms had the recent success of the Angels you'd get the same reacton here...absent those stupid monkeys of course.

Posted by Get Griffey

9:44 AM, Mar 26, 2008

M's Fan in CO Exile-
I agree (not sarcasm)

P.S. I just love it when I go to a fight and a hockey game brakes out! lol

Posted by Ali

9:49 AM, Mar 26, 2008


Very good assessment based on the comments from yesterday. One thing that wasn't completely mentioned that I think is worth stating is broadening the scope from Mariner fan to Seattle sports fans. I think we are cynical because we have been teased by all our franchises and yet in my young lifetime of 23 years have never won anything - except for the Seattle Storm. We had the Seahawks in the 80s and currently who are competitive (even making the Superbowl a couple years ago) but no title, no parade, no superbowl. We had the Sonics in the 90s (I think they were the winningest team in the decade, and we had the 96 Finals) but again no title, no parade, no world champions. Then we have these M's and their run from 95-01, so many fond memories but without the title they all end with a slight bit of a bad taste...

Most the other cities you mention: Boston (they had the Celtics and even the Bruins winning a ton), Chicago (MJ and the Bulls), New York (Giants, Rangers, Yankees) - they all bring home championships. I think that can at least keep ones hopes up that this could be the year. For M's fans like you stated we just expect us to be competitive enough to fill Safeco but never really in it to win. It even makes me envious of Marlins fans who sure endure some really ugly seasons but their management has found ways to build a team to win it all (twice!). Give Seattle fans a title and I think the optimism will grow....

Posted by jujay

10:04 AM, Mar 26, 2008

interesting link if you are bored....rates the top fifty players over the next five years who are currently playing in the majors. Nobody from the Ms, but a few from the A's and Rangers, also a couple former mariners

Posted by Albertus

10:04 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Geoff, as a 3-decade Mariners fan, I think you're a stand-up guy, and I enjoy reading your blog. And I don't mind the Canada stories either -- they add a certain ethnic color. (Or should I say "colour"?)

I think a lot of our dismal mood is from year after year of hyped expectations and low results breeding cynicism. Plus, the Mariners sabermetrics blogs (whose readers doubtless overlap greatly with your blog) add a definite skepticism to the mix. I enjoy them too, but they have a very different slant, and all the numbers they use to buttress their arguments tend to make their morose projections seem more legitimate somehow.

Keep up the good work!

Posted by Ben

10:19 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I just miss Lou Pinella - in a similar way that i miss George Karl and will miss Mike Holmgren.

Posted by Big Ebu

10:24 AM, Mar 26, 2008


I didn’t have the intestinal fortitude to wade through all the 150+ comments on the “what makes fans tick” thread from yesterday so I appreciate your summary post. Very interesting reading. Thanks!

One comment on the Mariner “playoff drought”. Yes, I agree that 7 years is not that long (especially since it took almost 20 years to get our first play-off berth). But one thing that you and many others have mentioned is that the Mariners are extremely lucky to play in the AL West which is the only 4-team division in baseball and does not include the Yankees or Red Sox. We also have one team (Oakland) that has financial limitations and even with a very smart FO they have to occasionally write off entire season(s) for rebuilding because they can’t compete financially for star players. We have a second team (Texas) that seems to be even worse than the Mariners in trying to build a playoff caliber team. Now the Angels are a formidable opponent and are willing to spend $$ to compete. But if you consider them “Yankees - West” then I would argue that there is nothing to prevent the Mariners from being “Red Sox - West” since we have shown a willingness to spend $$ to compete too (whether these are wisely spent $$ is of course open to debate [wink]…). So on paper the Mariners should be competing for a playoff spot every year with the Angels. The fact that they haven’t made it since 2001 may be driving some of this angst.

Posted by Get Griffey

10:30 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I think the main thing Geoff was after her people is why on a mariners blog somebody can’t simply say "I think we are the division favorites" without getting booed off the blog?

Nobody has to agree with the statement. He was just pointing out that in most cities a fan can come on to a blog and say “we can make the playoffs this year”(in spring, the season of optimism no less) without being universally insulted and ridiculed.

The reason fan hood is being questioned is NOT because YOU don’t believe we can win, it IS because some posters here won’t let SOMEONELLS believe we can win.

You DON’T have to wear the “rose collard glasses” but you should be about to resist the urge to insult the posters you ARE wearing the “rose glasses”.

I mean as fans you people should know (intellectually at least) that some fans will be more happy, or optimistic about our team, and as fans you should not feel that odd impulse to belittle that person for getting “too” optimistic about our own team. I mean shouldn’t you be able to let them at least be happy?

Posted by Get Griffey

10:34 AM, Mar 26, 2008

I didn’t get the chance to really rant yesterday so there it is. Sorry if I was off topic from other comments on this thread.

Posted by Chris from Bothell

10:42 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Wow. That was pretty thorough. Very impressive, and much appreciated.

Now, how do we get the Ms to get the price of a game down to a reasonable level? If I take the bus, sit in the back of beyond in left field bleachers, pack food and buy nothing in terms of food, drink, objects... for me, my wife and my son it's $21. IIRC. I'm pretty certain that a beer at the ballpark now literally costs more than some bleacher seats. And that a family of 4 could spend $200 or more in parking, food and half-decent seats.

I'm no economics major, so I don't pretend to know how it might benefit the Ms to do this, but shouldn't there be SOME recognition that we're a recession, and that in order to have the stadium more than half full you gotta price it for the unwashed masses? Not just the executives, corporate suites, out-of-town vacationers, and so on (making them the "washed masses", I guess).

Posted by david h

10:43 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Wow, Geoff. I don't always agree with your analysis, but I am simply amazed how, time and again, you take hours upon hours to respond directly to your readers. Never leave Seattle!

Posted by DiehardFan

10:45 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 Mike

10:55 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Diehard---True fans want their teamst to improve. I was there too against the Angels in 95 and many many more games in the years before that.

I care passionately about the Ms and I find it more than a bit insulting that because I also think about how they could be better that you would question my fanhood.

Posted by -k

11:04 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Get Griffey- I completely agree with you! When this blog was launched i was a regular poster engaged in many debates on this site. Then the season started, and this blog was frequented by too many trolls (that's internet lingo for someone who blasts other people opinion, insults other posters, and does not offer any evidence to support their claims)

I know that myself, and a quite a few other more reasonable and logical fans stopped posting. This site was left with too many trolls not not enough common sense. i said in my earlier post that the fans at the games DO NOT share the attitude of the people who post here. I've talked with many many people at the games about this blog. A very high percentage(surprisingly high actually) told me that they read your posts geoff, but not the comments thread.

One fan response when i askeed why not was simply: "too many unintelligent, ignorant, and immature people who can't seem to understand that there are differing opinions." Another fan claimed: "A rational fan posting there is like being a black man at a KKK rally."

Harsh words, i know. There were many more that i do not remember, but those two have stayed locked in my memory.

I love baseball. I'd rather debate about baseball then just about anything. I have in the past on this site debate in favor of an opinion that i do not believe just to keep the debate going. it's fun, and i'm capable of putting together logically sound arguments for both sides of just about any issue.

I feel that i have much to offer the debate here. I am a truly trained statistician. My degrees are in Math and Physics, and I run stats on research data for a living. I can tell you that Sabermetics is a running joke in the stats community. They have some excellent ideas, but no clue that their results are essentially meaningless, because they do not use their models appropriately. For instance, run correctly the M's Pythag win total from last s 85 +/- 3.

Oh wait! I stated an opinion that disagreed with the trolls! Let the flaming begin!

Posted by david h

11:12 AM, Mar 26, 2008

Wow, DiehardFan, I would love to think your post is a joke, but I'm afraid it is very real. I did not know you needed certain credentials to be a real fan, like being one of the only 50,000 or so people in the Kingdome for that one game playoff. Congratulations on being in such an exclusive club that gives you the right to trash other fans who prefer to think about and understand baseball beyond the win/loss column.

I missed that one game playoff against the Angels because my parents wouldn't let me skip school, so I suppose you'll stop reading now, but I'll continue regardless. I did go to every home playoff game against the Yankees and Indians that season, as well as most of the home games down the stretch of the regular season (as well as a huge amount of home games since my 1981 birth). I saw Griffey's home debut, though I don't remember his double but rather Dave Valle's moonshot that hit a speaker above the warning track and resulted in him being thrown out at home. I was there for Bosio's no-hitter. I was studying abroad in London in the fall of 2001, but had already purchased a plane ticket to return to Seattle in case the M's made it to the World Series (and I stayed up throughout those ALCS nights having my heart broken over the radio). I am also a Seattle expat and go to games at The Cell and Wrigley in Mariner gear - including the 1970's Mariner jacket I got from my grandfather, who helped bring baseball back to Seattle.

Now let me say something that will apparently blow your mind: I like statistical analysis, I don't think the M's were as good as their record last season indicates, I think they are horribly mismanaged, while I am excited to watch Bedard pitch in an M's uniform I was somewhat against the trade, I don't think the M's are division favorites (though the Angel's woes are giving me more hope), I think Jose Vidro should not be a regular, I can't stand watching Raul Ibanez play the outfield, I would love nothing more than for the M's to sign Barry Bonds, and Steve Phillips is a pretty big idiot when it comes to evaluating baseball talent. Also, I think comments like the one you just wrote are an insult to Mariner fans as well as to baseball fans everywhere.

After reading those two paragraphs back-to-back, I'd expect nothing less than for your brain to explode.

Posted by Mike

11:37 AM, Mar 26, 2008

"They have some excellent ideas, but no clue that their results are essentially meaningless, because they do not use their models appropriately. For instance, run correctly the M's Pythag win total from last s 85 +/- 3. "

You make some strong claims. I'd like to see some evidence. And as for statisticians thinking sabermetrics are a joke? Hmmm. More evidence please.

Posted by Nick in pdx

12:16 PM, Mar 26, 2008

"I feel that i have much to offer the debate here. I am a truly trained statistician. My degrees are in Math and Physics, and I run stats on research data for a living. I can tell you that Sabermetics is a running joke in the stats community. They have some excellent ideas, but no clue that their results are essentially meaningless, because they do not use their models appropriately. For instance, run correctly the M's Pythag win total from last s 85 +/- 3.

Oh wait! I stated an opinion that disagreed with the trolls! Let the flaming begin!"

Stating that a statistical model is flawed and its conclusions incorrect is a statement of fact, not opinion. As a trained scientist you know the difference. So state facts, and back them up, scientist.

Posted by Bob

12:20 PM, Mar 26, 2008

I grew up in the Chicago area an avid Cubs fan, as well as a Bulls, Bears and Blackhawks fan. Sixteen years old when the Cubs blew the big lead in '69. Don't remember how old when Montreal burst the Blackhawks' bubble (that was a heart-breaker). No major sports team won it all in the 20-plus years I lived there. If you want to talk about being teased by promise, find a sports fan from Chicago during that time. But it sure was fun watching Ernie hit a home run, the Golden Jet rush the ice, Sayers making people miss. And it was fun watching the Bulls get close without a big-name star.

Back in those days there was not the movement of players there is now, especially the star players. In many ways, those stars were the team identity. I couldn't imagine a Cubs team without Banks, Santo and Jenkins, or a Blackhawk team without Hull and Makita. Each time the Mariners have lost a star player, I think they have also lost some fan attachment to the team because the team identity changed dramatically. You always root for the team, but the magic moments and expectations provided by Griffey blasting another home run, or Johnson mowing 'em down are gone. Even with the amazing 116 win season, I think Griffey is still the face of the Mariners.

Ichiro is one of the best players in this or any era, but he is not as easy to latch onto as Griffey or Johnson. He does not provide the same emotional jolt - the pleasure of Ichiro is best measured over the full season. Win or lose, I think the team is still looking for an identity.

Jones with all the hype had the potential (potential) to fill that void, which I think is why his departure was so troubling to so many. Hernandez does, if he continues to develop. A Bedard of last season providing the same for all of this season would be amazing. Beltre or Sexon having a monster season could be all this teams needs - a spark.

One other thing I think happens is that statistics tend to be taken as real rather than what they are: a model of the real thing that correlates parts to try to explain the whole. But statistics are always fatally flawed just for that reason. They are certainly a useful tool to analyze aspects of the game, but they are never the game itself. The beauty of baseball is the number of factors that influence a season, which statistical analysis can never encompass. One play can catapult a team; one injury can dismantle it.

In 55 years I have never lived in a city that has won a major sports championship (I was here and elsewhere when the Bears and Bulls won). I can assess this year's Ms negatively, positively and objectively (and do). As a fan, I hope for the positive result.

Posted by Myk

12:47 PM, Mar 26, 2008

"No, Peter, the Cubs have gone 100 years without a title. You can't possibly imagine, nor can I, what that must be like. Nothing the M's have gone through compares to that. But you do have a valid point. This is still a young baseball city. The fans here are suffering, there is no disputing that. But four playoff appearances in six years probably had a lot to do with it. Were the Seattle fans spoiled? Let's just say that was a pretty good run of success, which would make seven years of drought seem like 70 to some. Especially younger fans for whom time doesn't slip by as quickly as us older types. There seems to be a lack of perspective as far as time goes in Seattle. I'm not trying to be condescending, but I'm also not going to kiss up to readers by sugarcoating it. Seven years is not a long time"

- I don't get why I can't understand the Cubs and 100 years of not winning. Im 29 and the Mariners have never won a World Series. If I were a Cubs fan I'd be in the same does the previous 71 years some how effect my view of the team?? This seems to be a poor argument.

- I think the biggest misunderstanding is that you somehow think that if the Mariners won the World Series that a majority of people would still be unhappy. The evening they won the World Series would be one of the best moments of my sporting life...I would cheer...I would drink beer...I would NOT flip a car over in celebration.

That doesn't mean as of March 26th I think it is likely. It is foolish to just randomly assume something is going to happen when the facts appear to prove otherwise. Miracles happen...the US team on paper should not have beat USSR, Boston shouldn't have come back from 0-3 against the Yankees, etc.

However, if before the game you said "ya I don't think the US team has enough to beat USSR" would that honestly make you a negative/bad/poor fan? No it would make you realistic...and this wouldn't make you enjoy the team winning any less.

What is more difficult for the negative people is that for the past few years they have been constantly proven right. So, they go into the season "wanting" the Ms to win, but knowing that it is highly unlikely.

Posted by Chuck

12:49 PM, Mar 26, 2008

I think you missed my point concerning Mclaren AND Bavasi. McLaren did have only a short period to prove he could manage a major league ball club. During that short period he made far too many tactical errors--and he should have benched Richie much sooner. In my opinion he and hargrove used Lopez as a whipping boy, even though he was an all-star second baseman. Yes he was auditioning for a job and he failed. I blame Bavasi for going with him when there were more "veteran" managers out there.

Posted by -k

12:59 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Mike - To get into all of this would take longer then i have time for, and i doubt most people who want to read it. Let me some up a bit:

Most true statisticians like myself, or at least the one i work and know around the country(those that work in research fields, not baseball sabermetrics people) also watch baseball. it's !) always on TV, 2)slow pased and can watched at work, and 3)has stats in it (lets face it we chose this career path) When we get together outside work, baseball is always something we have in common and talk about at great length.

The truth is that when people bring up items like the pythag record we all just laugh. In spite of apparent "accuracy," it's predictions are not statistically significant the correlational coefficient is too low (around .67) and it 's variance too high. When i say that SABR is a joke, its because it is. Using numbers to prove a point only works if either 1) the numbers are used in a valid manner, or 20 the person you're talking to doesn't know enough stats to recognize the flaws in your argument. For most baseball related stats, #2 is the case.

Back to the Pythag, since that is used most around here is my biggest annoyance. The problem though is not the model, but the data being used. Blowout losses can count as 2-3 losses, and blowout wins can count as 2-3 wins. it's silly, to be honest.

There have been 3 proposed ways to fix this:
1) discount blowouts of more then 2 standard deviations away from the average margin of victory. It is common practice to throw out outliers, and using this method removes 5% of the games. this has the M's winning 91 games last year.
2) Renorm those blowout to count as a win or loss equal to 2 standard deviations away from the mean. This is similar to the way golf handicaps are adjusted. it takes into account all games, but not all the run scored/allowed This give the M's 87 wins last year.
3) Do not factor in the blowout games like in #1, but then only run the model for the games being considered. then use the actual win-loss record for the blowout games. This is the one i favor. it accounts best for the actual people who create the imbalance (weaver and horam on the bad side of things, and JJ on the good side of things) it makes sure that Weaver and Horam's games don't count as 2-3 losses, but doesn't completely rule out their horrendous pitching. This model gives the M's 85 wins.

A friend of mine who work Los Alamos national lab, ran these stats one afternoon, along with other teams from the past few year. Using my model (#3, it's not actually my model, just the one o prefer)the correlation coefficient is very good (around .83) and it 's variance reasonable.

Get all that? like i said: zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz... it'll put you to sleep, fast! and is just a vastly oversimplified explanation. for the love of everyone's sanity, lets not get into this in any more detail.

Posted by Fin

12:59 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Geoff - I actually didn't mind the hockey comparison because I grew up watching hockey, despite living in South Florida. That said, I don't think I would have anything else to say that hasn't already been mentioned.

I would have to say I am kind of in between too. I read USSMariner quite often, and they use raw data to back up their arguments so its hard to debate against them. Now, I would have to disagree with the current roster set up and I see too many pieces missing from the team being able to make it with the playoffs. The outfield defense minus Ichiro will be shoddy, we have the Sexson issue, and the list goes on and on. Now, as much as I know for a fact that this team isn't perfect, I still hold that hope that the Mariners do win. They are the home town team. I don't think they are definite bets to win, but I don't see it outside the realm of possibility. Its not being a pessimist looking forward to being pleasantly delighted when the team does perform well, its more being the optimist and hoping the team could out-perform their projected performance. Probably one of the best Mariners' memory I have was being at the game when the Mariners swept the red sox at home and being able to tell off all the fairweather Boston fans.

This may be a little bit off topic, but from one hockey fan to another, how come there isn't an NHL team here in Seattle. It seems people love the Thunderbirds, and they are only like the hockey equivalent to single-A, or double-A in the hockey minor leagues? There are alot of NHL teams down south, which makes the question even more mind boggling. I had read somewhere about the NHL commissioner not too happy with Seattle years ago. Any chance you could answer that? I would doubt having a team in Seattle would hurt Vancouver too much.

Posted by -k

1:08 PM, Mar 26, 2008

nick - the opinions were above, about the nature or Seattle bloggers. The part about sabr was justification of my point.

Thank you proving my point.

Posted by Mike

1:28 PM, Mar 26, 2008

k- Did he run it for all teams or selected teams?

I guess I'm wondering if that correaltional coefficient holds across the board or just for certain instances.

Posted by Ollie

1:31 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Geoff, a perception of whether or not the team is focused on winning is not only formed by how much money is spent. It's also whether or not individuals are held accountable for their performance. Talent evaluation, especially in athletics, is not an exact science. But when mistakes are made, they should be acknowledged. There's no joy in watching an overpaid athlete struggle day after day.

For a thought experiment, did you ever wonder whether or not George Steinbrenner was focused primarily on winning baseball games?

Posted by Get Griffey

1:36 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Good God!! If you think that the M’s winning the West this season even comes close to that the US team did to the USSR then you indeed have a bleak view of the season (and probably should look in a sport history book, maybe learn a little about hockey too) because there is no possible way anyone can compare what we did that day to any success the M’s have this year.

Even if the M's win it all we would not match the miracle that was that game.

I am saying this because you are comparing the people saying WE won’t win this year to the people who said the US team would not win, like the two achievements would be equally unlikely to happen, which is the worst comparison I have ever heard.

I mean Good God Man you would have to compare people predicting the Tacoma Rainers (if they were hypothetically eligible) will not win the WS to make a valid comparison!!

Posted by anti-ussmariner

1:36 PM, Mar 26, 2008

-k: Great post. The flamers on this site and others don't like to hear anything that tarnishes the reputation of strict statistical analysis. The irony is that this argument has evolved in the last two days into what type of fan you are based on your outlook on the season. Better question is why can't it be a little of both-- stats and optimism?
I like seeing the M's play "small ball." I loved hearing Ron Fairly get excited when the M's could pull off a sac bunt, double steal, or hit and run. Say that on certain sites and you get labeled an ignorant casual fan.
I also enjoy a numbers look at performance. But at best a statistical analysis for a future season, based on either past performances or community projections, is highly speculative.
I'll be there on Monday, excitedly looking forward to a potentially memorable season. And on Tuesday, looking at the numbers that the players put up on Monday won't tell me how they played the day before. You have to watch it to appreciate the whole picture. The little character things that will NEVER show up in a stat line. "That's why they play the games." Of course, say that on certain sites and you get flamed, too.

Posted by -k

1:39 PM, Mar 26, 2008

mike - to my knowledge he ran it for all the teams. He never actually said he did, but this was part of a long email conversation and it is assumed to be the case. It would seems fairly dishonest if he didn't and just let as assume he did, and since he's a friend, i don't doubt him

Plus, i know he wrote small program to run the stats. since it would be the same for him to run all teams as it would have been to run just a few, i can't see why he wouldn't have.

now that you mention it though, i'll be sure to give him a hard time about it :)

Posted by Mike

1:50 PM, Mar 26, 2008

"But at best a statistical analysis for a future season, based on either past performances or community projections, is highly speculative. "

This might come as a surprise to you but I don't think anyone disagrees with this. There is certainly predictive value in these things but really they are doing no more than you would do when you look at your team's players and their histories to determine what kind of team they will field. After all, if we threw out 9 Willie Bloomquists both the fans and simulations would squawk. So all these folks are doing is looking deeper into what MIGHT most likely happen and hoping their team will use it as ONE tool in their toolbox.

I really don't get your USSM hate. They have tweaked the sims to be optimistic. They marvel at how the sims are always wrong on Ichiro. They cheer decisions they regard as good and boo decisions they think of as bad. They are loyal to the Mariners but not blindly loyal.

Posted by Mike

1:55 PM, Mar 26, 2008

k- I ask because I haven't done much reading on improving Pythag. I'm sure smarter people than me have done studies but I haven't seen them or sought them out.

Posted by steve

2:03 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Bavasi is inept at worst, simply unable to look beyond tomorrow. He spends too much today for stuff that won't be around tomorrow. This organization is a mess. It traces to Bavasi: he makes the team, our managers play it. My vote? GM by committee!!

Posted by -k

2:05 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Mike - the USSM hate is bit wierd. They are loyal Ms fans, and most teams would be glad to have such a fan site. I understand part of it though. they are very forceful with their opinions and seem to have difficulty keeping an open mind to other people's opinions, and they seems to discount the human aspect of baseball, but overall they're not bad.

i wish they'd be more fundamentally sounds on some of their stats. Admittedly, thats for those that i understand. I've learned a lot about defensive defensive SABR stats from them. I'm more of a zone ratings guy for defense, but i know that doesn't tell the entire picture. I'm sure i'll find flaws in those new models a couple years from now, just to frustrate them some more :)

I feel that USSM has a lot to offer.

Posted by Mike

2:20 PM, Mar 26, 2008

k-Since my natural inclination is to think that team chemistry and such is overrated and usually applied in hindsight (I'm sure there are plenty of bad teams that have also gotten along) the USSM take on it doesn't bother me much but (and this is a whole other discussion) if you think that is important I could see how they would seem pretty curt.

Posted by anti-ussmariner

2:34 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Mike-- That does surprise me, because in fact I don't think that most of the USSM readers feel that way. The contributors might, but those three or four people are not the ones who are injecting their one-sided viewpoint into other sites like this one.
My problem with USSM is two-fold. One, they use statistical analysis to back up preconceived notions-- that the Seattle FO is inept and McLaren is a lousy manager. The approach to the team is one of divisive nay-saying and skepticism, backed up by numbers eschewed to validate their points. I'm not saying that they aren't M's fans or good people, but that they have an agenda, and largely that is to be right (more accurately, to be more right than the current FO). Would they be happy if the M's smash the sims and win it all? Of course! But then in a year you'll see the same posts that we have today about maybe wishing the team had underperformed so that management would be overhauled.
Two, the site uses absurdly strict controls of an Orwellian nature to quash any opposing viewpoint. Sure, they'll entertain questions about tweaking simulations or explaining processes, etc., but if your comment disagrees with the party line then it is either redacted or flamed. If you need evidence, refer to the Bonds post and thread from two weeks ago. When a site uses such strict controls by moderators, they become responsible for all of the content posted as well. Blame goes to the boss.
Obviously, I have the option of just not visiting their site, but I also have the right to disagree with it here and to hope for some intelligent analysis from an expertly educated sports writer like Geoff.

Posted by -k

2:34 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Mike - I wasn't meaning to be really negative about USSM. All i meant was to say they're not perfect. Neither am i, nor do i claim to be. it's all good...

Posted by steve

3:20 PM, Mar 26, 2008

USSM, this blog... any site devoted to the M's is great. McClaren's fine, too. Hargrove gave great pre-game and post game interviews. The issue is Bavasi and the way he runs this organization. The guy spends tons of money and makes poor decisions. Those simulations are often wrong. However, stats and simulations are often 'right'. I don't think winning games is about throwing pasta at a wall nor does it require magic potions, spells. To think winning is simply a matter of 'guts', 'intangibles', 'make-ups' and high-price tags is a mistake. Giving weight to statistics doesn't mean your team will be full of actuaries that operate, rather than play with heart. Bavasi is an old-school guy that overpays for yesterday's talent to save his job today. Fans of the mariners have seen what happens when we rely on 'savior' players. It appears to take a bit more than that. Our 2007 payroll was in the top 10 in baseball (#7)... Bavasi runs this team poorly. His labor budget hasn't equaled wins. I am frustrated by his penchant for paying $8 million to, say Jeff Weaver. Other GM's no that he's a desperate over-payer.

Posted by Leo Gomez

3:29 PM, Mar 26, 2008

I don't know about anyone else, but I enjoyed the hockey parallels (or lack of parallels) in that piece.

Posted by Mike

3:36 PM, Mar 26, 2008

k-I didn't perceive you as being negative at all.

anti--I think you are wrong about the commenters too. No one thinks the season will go exactly as the sims say. I think they have valid worries about the Ms defense in key positions and counting on offensive rebounds from aging hitters and are extremely frustrated that the Ms ignore these issues.

As for their "Orwellian" quashing of dissent, they do a heck of a lot of research and site sources and expect that if you disagree that you will bring something more than opinion to the table. For a stats based site, I don't think that's asking too much.

But we can agree to disagree on this.

Posted by Mike

3:37 PM, Mar 26, 2008


Posted by anti-ussmariner

4:04 PM, Mar 26, 2008

Fair enough. I totally agree that if one is going to rebut a stat with a stat, they better be able to explain how they arrive at the number. No one could deny the effort that goes into the posts.
The problem is if you disagree with the POWER that is granted to these analyses, then what is the cite that can be provided but historical looks at how stats don't accurately describe team performance and recognition that they are not predictors of the upcoming season. That's where your comment gets obliterated... or if it is misspelled, bad grammar, or generally annoying to the moderator.

Posted by JI

8:47 PM, Mar 26, 2008

USSM is like a college classroom, agree or disagree, they want your opinions to rational, coherent and well thought out. Theirs are, is it so much that the commenter's are too?

They have a low tolerance for stupid time wasting BS. Why is that so bad?

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