Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A pink backpack?

Make the rookie wear it. The punishment should fit the crime; in this case, the crime is being a gigantic gaywad. Moreover, a gigantic rookie gaywad. From the final row of the final tier of Safeco Field, the player's identity cannot immediately be discerned, but he is among a row of six men clad in forest green warmups. Each of them possesses the self-assured demeanor befitting a union man: slight swagger, hitch in the posture, and an air of low--if existant--expectations.

It is the bullpen of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, popularly and colloquially referred to as the "Rayz"--in dropping "Devil" to appease the Pat Robertson Bund, one can only presume the organization is also hoping to target a younger, "Kidz Bop" demographic.

After all, their relievers are wearing pink backpacks.

Whichever clubhouse jokester (Could it be the incorrigible Dan Miceli? The irascible Brian Meadows? The incontrovertible Casey Fossum?) facilitated the hazing, the effect is profound. There in the stadium are the 30,000, standing attentively as the guest delivers the National Anthem in a brilliant tenor. And there is the rookie, amid the verdant green, the bright pink backpack hanging from his shoulders, circle of carnation pink at the center undoubtedly the moonface of Hello, Kitty.

Should the victim survive the Tampa Bay 'pen, bastion of the nondescript, and arrive at his zenith--that of The Journeyman--which path will he choose? Will it be the safe path, the unimaginative, the parade of shaving-cream pies and peppered jocks?

Or will he choose the bold, the innovative, the inspired? Will it be chartreuse leggings in the on-deck circle? Stilletos at batting practice? Trapdoor stirrup pants during a bullpen session?

A Grover by any other name is a muppet
And sometimes it feels as though the M's are being managed by one. When not being interviewed on the set of "A River Runs Through It," Mike Hargrove manages the Seattle Mariners. Unfortunately, this means that the Mariners could quite possibly be more effectively managed by Dennis Erickson, the Lake Washington Parent Teacher Student Association, or a house plant.

Or, you know, by Bob Melvin.

Against Tampa Bay on Monday, Grover was in classic form. Top of the first inning, Carl Crawford standing on third following a one-out triple, there was the Mariners' defense, creeping up on the infield grass to hold the runner. No. 3 hitter Jorge Cantu promptly poked a groundball through the hole at second--an easy groundball out if Hargrove had chosen to concede the run. Instead, Travis Lee the Bemulleted drew a walk, and starter Jamie Moyer labored through what approached a 30-pitch before escaping with just the single run allowed.

In the second, he sent deceptively slow shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt on a 1-2 count with two outs and No. 9 hitter Willie Bloomquist at the plate. Bloomquist looked at a ball, and Betancourt was caught stealing. Maybe we're better off taking our chances with Willie and letting Ichiro either lead off the third or hit with two men on and two outs in the second?

But his shining moment came in the bottom of the eighth, when Hargrove dropped trough and crapped all over the dugout steps. With Seattle clinging to a 5-4 lead, a runner on first and one out, Richie ".222/.292/.444" Sexson inexplicably managed to become the beneficiary of a 3-0 count. Hargrove greenlighted him, and Richie--who had impossibly drawn a bases-loaded walk in the third--promptly grounded into an inning-ending double play. Closer J.J. Putz endured a 29-pitch night to notch an ugly save.

This is a man who is presumably being paid a substantial sum of money to manage a baseball team. "Terminate with extreme prejudice" might be a tad harsh, but could we get a price check on Grover, Mr. Nintendo?


Blogger Craig said...

What's up with guys getting greenlighted on 3-0? I see this happening all the time nowadays. It's like the first rule you learn in little league, and quite frankly you're proud to stand there and take that 3-0, it's a badge of honor and a real major league play. But...not anymore I guess.

Wed Aug 09, 01:57:00 AM EDT  
Blogger Whisk E. Bear said...

Of all my memories from little league, the one that looms most painfully--aside from the time that an older player kicked me in the chest during a scrap in the dugout--was the one time that I swung at a 3-0 pitch. The ball trickled meekly back to the pitcher, who threw to first for out number three. Coach glowered.

Wed Aug 09, 02:08:00 AM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is Benne. Good stuff on the Mariners, and all the blogs in general.

Wed Aug 09, 08:02:00 PM EDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Grover slept through the summer of 2002 and all of 2003. It was hot down in that dugout!

But Mazzilli quickly had us wishing for that cute dumb muppet once again.


Wed Aug 09, 10:59:00 PM EDT  

Post a Comment

<< Home