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Friday Fishwrap: The M's And The HBPs

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A couple thoughts to chew on as you navigate this penultimate August Friday…

❖ I have to say that one of my biggest miscalculations for 2007 will be the success of the Seattle Mariners. What is ironic is that I quite like the M’s and quite dislike the Halos, so any bias would be towards Seattle. Yet until now, I held on to the opinion that the Mariners, while better than anticipated, were not true contenders for the division—and were more likely to sink to .500 than they were to win the Wild Card.

But you know what? When you’re 1 game out with 5 weeks to go you’re contenders, plain and simple. I don’t know if they’ll win the West, but they could. Did I think a rotation that depended on Jarrod Washburn, Miguel Batista, Jeff Weaver, and Horacio Ramirez could compete with the Angels? No. Yet Washburn has held up over time, Batista has a Blanton-like ability to turn mediocre numbers into a lot of wins, Weaver has turned his season around from Gawdawful to Better-than-Jered, and Ramirez…Well, he only pitches once a week so whatever. The offense, especially with Ibañez having a Cust-like month, is outstanding, the bullpen is dominant and deep, and somehow the Mariners are about 20 games better than I would have predicted.

Go figure, and go M’s!

❖ MLB really needs to change its rules—which are more the “unwritten ones” than the actual written ones—around beanballs and ejections. The written rule actually allows umpires to eject any pitcher any time if a HBP is deemed intention. In practice, umpires react the way school teachers act: they catch and punish the second kid. You hit me, and everyone’s warned so when I hit you I’m sent to the Principal’s office. It’s not right.

How should it work? Should a “tit for tat” (<snerk, I said “tit”>) be allowed as long as the tat is no worse than the <snerk> tit was? Should umpires go ahead and eject the first pitcher if indeed the umpire believes it was intentional? Or should ejections just be replaced by having the pitcher and hitter wrestle in jello?

See you at 4:05pm as Lenny DiNardo tries to hurl the A’s to a 6-game winning streak…or is that Scutaro hurling?…