Drew Fairservice: October 2010 Archives

SadGuy.jpgOne would think that the first half-dozen or so playoff games (and the poignant love-letters that followed) would stoke interest in baseball, bringing the warm & fuzzy feelings we all harbour to the fore. Celebrate the grand old game! History! Intensity! All that good stuff.

Not emo poster boy Geoff Baker. No sir, Geoff Baker took to the electronic pages to launch an epic diatribe against the lowly Mariners and his job in general. Take it away, Sad Girl's Dad:

Trying to cover this team as if it mattered from about May 1 on was a gargantuan task this year, none like any other I've been put through in 13 seasons of writing about MLB. In all of those years combined, there were not as many off-field distractions that required me to put pen to paper.

It's been too much. It made this blog a less fun place to be for me, and for you, at times.

Nothing personal folks. It's been a tough year on everybody. The second time in three years this has happened.

Baker assails the cult of personality surrounding the Mariners front office and ownership. Like a good and righteous arbiter of fact, he couches much of this in "this fanbase deserves better" sentiment, though it comes across more as his own belief that the ownership is misguided and out of touch.

Baker's deep pools of melancholy don't stop there, oh no. His very next blog post features, in very Bakerish fashion, a photo snapped of one of his clippings, a full-page feature on Roy Halladay. Baker casts doubt that any Mariners prospects could stand up to the abuse and scrutiny hurled at Halladay by Mel Queen in 2001.

Before getting to that, Baker simultaneously links to and calls-out two separate posts he believes stole liberally from his original Halladay feature. An odd decision, though I suppose he's doing his readers a service?

All the praise and adulation heaped upon Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik sets the contrarian muscles in Geoff Baker twitching. As soon as the process and the results fail to match up, Baker proudly annoucnes his independence from the Jack Z Appreciation Society. Baker proclaims a local radio appearance as a "kool-aid free discussion."

There isn't anything wrong with healthy skepticism from the reporters charged with covering a team. As we've teased here for nearly 3 years, it is the overwhelming angst with which Geoff Baker goes about his daily business that drives us batty and makes us laugh. Get this man a tanning bed! The rainy days in Seattle not only washed away Baker's zeal for his job, apparently his sense of humor and will to live went with it too.

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Previewing the Rays shouldn't take more than 20 words, really. "They're really, really good." And...we're done. This Rays team is excellent at baseball and there isn't much you or anyone else can do about it.

If I was to pick one word to describe the Rays and their fanbase, it would be "aware." Rays fans are quite aware of how good this team is. The Rays themselves seem to appreciate that, too. Both sides seem acutely aware of how well-assembled the 2010 Mantamen of the Rayspocalypse are; a brilliant jumble of stars and complimentary pieces. By no means are any Rays fans content with simply making the playoffs, they're in it for the long haul. They've bought into the Process and damned if they won't see it through.

Playing against and/or watching the Rays can be, well, trying. I don't think the word unconventional quite does them justice. The roster is constructed in such a way as to ring every ounce of worth out of each non-Rocco drawing a paycheck. This leads to lots dudes playing second base and right field on consecutive nights. Expect lots of right fielders in general.

The Rays do things like load their lineup with right handed batters when facing a right handed pitcher because his best pitch is tougher on lefties. If you suggested such an idea to Tony LaRussa he would soil his pants and call you a heretic. They pinch hit with their backup catcher because he's a good bunter. They hit their starting catcher leadoff.

At the behest of enabling hipster Joe Madden, the Rays deploy crazed offensive schemes and overmanage their way to "undeserved" victories. More times than I care to reflect on, Overmanagin' Joe Maddon made a dizzying array of changes which somehow conspired to deliver a W; bringing his DH in defensively, placing his pitcher in the heart of his batting order and ordering a Malbec to go with his freshly caught grouper. CHRIST MAN, ARE YOU SOME KIND OF SAVAGE?

From their gimmicky outfits to their gimmicky ballpark, it would be easy to dismiss the team as a joke and wait for the inevitable Yankee parade. Despite the occasionally bizarre machinations of the Head Hipster in Chief, the Rays are an excellent team with a rock solid core. The rotation is strong, the bullpen even better. They run like crazy but they'll take a walk, too. This is a team you simply do not want to play. There's a good chance three different fanbases will learn that very same lesson over the next few weeks.