Overthinking It

I love to play shortstop. It’s the key position in the infield and it usually sees a ton of action during the game. I feel like I’m a pretty decent fielder too; I’ve got decent range to my left and a good enough throwing arm to make most of the plays that come my way. Every so often, I’ll make an error; maybe the ball will catch the heel of my mitt or I’ll misjudge a hop. In the last softball game I played in, I ended up making four errors in one inning and a total of six during the course of the game. After each error, I would start thinking more and more about how to avoid making a mistake on the next play.

I was overthinking it. I was so focused on avoiding an error that I was pushing all the fundamentals I had spent years practicing right out of my mind. The mistakes snowballed as I stubbornly tried to force myself to “slow things down”—as if being more methodical could help me react to a ball speeding towards me. The fear of failure had paralyzed me.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the number 30. I turned 29 today so that special milestone is looming on the horizon. And I’ll admit, I’ve been scared to reach cross that threshold. It’s just a change in one digit, but dammit, I’ve gotten used to seeing a ‘2’ in front of my age. If I really dig deep, I’m afraid of the change that comes with aging. I’m afraid I won’t be able to play shortstop much longer.

Leading up to today, I had been working on a 30 before 30 list; 30 things I want to accomplish or experience before I turn 30. It’s a fun idea but I think this goal was born from a desire to make sure I accomplished a laundry list of things before I wasn’t able to do them at all. As I added ideas to this list, it became clear that I was letting fear control me. I was overthinking it.

The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing. It causes to you to do everything you can to maintain the status quo. Sometimes that’s okay. More often, it prevents you from moving forward, from actually growing. So when I’m looking at houses to buy or talking to Megan about starting a family, I start thinking about excuses to keep things the way they are. I like my life the way it is but that doesn’t mean it’s the best version possible, particularly when a selfish and fearful attitude ends up hurting others.

Of course things are going to change as I get older. But those changes aren’t all for the worse. Sure I might lose a step on the ball field but I’ll also get to enjoy watching my future children grow up into ballplayers themselves. I needed to put things into perspective and tell myself, “It’s going to be scary as I grow older and things change, but I’m going to push that aside and enjoy it.”

Interstellar: An Ode to Sci-Fi

I saw Interstellar a few weeks ago. I walked out of the theater stunned into silence. I said one word to my friends as we walked out to our cars. I lay awake in bed for hours. It was a visceral experience. It was the best use of the medium I’ve seen since last year’s Gravity. It certainly wasn’t the perfect movie but it did raise some interesting questions and explored some deep themes. Most of all, it was a call back to a different kind of film—an ode to science-fiction.

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Mariners Attempt to Squeeze Every Drop Out of Offense

Yesterday, the Mariners acquired Kendrys Morales from the Minnesota Twins and, in exchange, sent Stephen Pryor packing. It seemed like the writing was on the wall since this offseason, the Mariners wanted their man and they would go ten rounds to get him.

Round 1: The Mariners extend a qualifying offer to Morales during the offseason. If he agrees to the offer, he would earn $12 million on a one year contract. If he doesn’t agree to the offer and signs elsewhere, the Mariners would receive a compensatory draft pick from the signing team.

Round 2: Morales doesn’t accept the Mariner’s offer and doesn’t sign elsewhere.

Round 3: Morales spend the first three months of the season as a free agent, the compensatory draft pick looming over him like a shadow.

Round 4: After a rough April, the Mariners continue to build momentum and find themselves in the midst of a playoff race by June.

Round 5: After the draft in June, Morales is free to sign with another team without having to worry about the compensatory draft pick.

Round 6: Just two days after the draft, Morales signs a prorated $ 7 million, one year contract with the Minnesota Twins.

Round 7: Even though the Mariners are holding a playoff spot in the Wild Card race, its clear that they will need an upgrade to their offense. They’re linked to a number of different names—Marlon Byrd, Ben Zobrist, Billy Butler—but they keep their eye on the prize.

Round 8: Without a Spring Training to get himself ready for the season, Morales sputters out of the gate, hitting just .215 in June.

Round 9: After the All-Star break, the Mariners offensive woes hit an all time high, they’re hitting just .235 as a team.

Round 10: After a long dance, the Mariners finally get their man. The Twins paid him $3 million to play for them for 2 months and get a busted relief prospect in return.

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Mariners Earn Home Field Advantage in World Series

Week 16 Recap

Date Away Team Score Home Team Score Result
7/14
7/15 National League 3 American League 5 W
7/16
7/17
7/18 Mariners 2 Angels 3 L/16
7/19 Mariners 3 Angels 2 W/12
7/20 Mariners 5 Angels 6 L

A short week with the All-Star game and the surrounding break early in the week. Felix, Cano, Seager, and Rodney all helped the American League beat the National League in the Midsummer Classic and secured home field advantage for the Mariners in this year’s World Series. (If you want to take a brief look at home field advantage, check out my post on the King’s Court)

The Mariners resumed play with a three game series against the Angels. There was a ton of hype surrounding the three game series against the Athletics right before the break but this Angels series was just as important, if not even moreso. The Mariners and Angels needed ten extra innings to settle these three games and, after two walk-off wins, the Angels emerged triumphant. So this marathon of a series and the Athletics series last weekend have shown us that the Mariners can play competitively with the top two team in the division and AL. We’re not at the point where I’d be confident in a one game playoff but we’re close. The trade deadline is July 31, just a week and a half away. Let’s see if Jack Zduriencik has any more magic up his sleeve.

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The King’s Court and Home Field Advantage

“K! K! K!”

The chant rises out of the din of the stadium. A sea of yellow cards start bobbing up and down. Men in chain mail, Elvis and Michael Jackson impersonators, and those with thick, fake mutton chops join in.

“K! K! K!”

The King looks in towards home plate, gets his sign, winds, and throws. Those clad in yellow wait with bated breath as the ball speeds towards the catchers mitt.

“Steeeerike Three!”

Pandemonium. The cheering only gets louder.

The King’s Court is unlike anything else in baseball. When you’re sitting with hundreds of your courtesans, chanting for a strikeout every time there are two strikes on an opposing batter, it’s hard not to believe there is some tangible effect you’re having on the outcome of the game. Baseball is a tough game for the crowd to affect. Each play occurs separately and the crowd is often reacting to the play that has just finished on the field. It’s not like Soccer or Basketball where the momentum of the game can swing from side to side and the crowd plays a large part in that swing. The common belief regarding home field advantage in any sport is that it does not provide a positive effect on the play of the game but, instead, favorable treatment by the officials calling the game.

Many have looked into the effect of home field advantage in baseball. The baseball blog Beyond the Box Score looked into home field advantage, specifically with the strike zone in mind, and found that there is little evidence to suggest any influence on the game. FanGraphs ran a similar post where Dave Cameron advocated for home field advantage have a more significant effect. After the Pirates won the Wild Card playoff game last year with a loud and rowdy crowd at home, Jeff Sullivan wondered if that type of crowd, so unfamiliar to a baseball stadium, could have had a larger effect than normal.

Along the same lines as Jeff Sullivan, I wonder if the Kings Court could have a larger effect on the outcome of the game than a normal crowd at a baseball game.

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Mariners Mid-Season Report Card

Week 15 Recap

Date Away Team Score Home Team Score Result
7/7 Twins 0 Mariners 2 W
7/8 Twins 2 Mariners 0 L
7/9 Twins 8 Mariners 1 L
7/10 Twins 4 Mariners 2 L
7/11 Athletics 2 Mariners 3 W
7/12 Athletics 2 Mariners 6 W
7/13 Athletics 4 Mariners 1 L

The Mariners head into the All-Star break after taking two of three from the division leading Athletics. This week seemed like a good way to gain some momentum for the second half but a stinker of a series against the Twins put a damper on any hope of a hot streak. In the two series against the White Sox and Twins, the Mariners scored a grand total of 9 runs in 7 games. We owe our two wins to excellent pitching performances by Felix, Iwakuma, and the bullpen. The two wins over the Athletics were pretty decisive. It definitely felt good to get two strong wins against the best team in baseball right before the break..

For this week’s recap, I’m going to go through each position group and give a mid-season report. The stats included will be to-date season performances instead of the normal two-week period.

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Mariners Sweep Spacemen, Get Hosed by Sox

Week 14 Recap

Date Away Team Score Home Team Score Result
6/30 Mariners 10 Astros 4 W
7/1 Mariners 13 Astros 2 W
7/2 Mariners 5 Astros 2 W
7/3
7/4 Mariners 1 White Sox 7 L
7/5 Mariners 3 White Sox 2 W/14
7/6 Mariners 0 White Sox 1 L

That road trip felt worse than it actually was. Its probably recency bias because of the terrible time the Mariners had in Chicago.

  • Did you know that the Mariners are just 5-23 when playing the White Sox in Chicago since 2008. Woof.
  • All four runs scored by the Mariners in the series were scored in the ninth inning or later. Yikes.
  • The Mariners were shutout by Hector Noesi. Yes, the same Hector Noesi who ran a 6.13 ERA as a Seattle Mariner. Ugh.

But, hey, at least the Mariners outscored the Astros by twenty runs!

You’ve probably heard about the massive trade between the Cubs and the Athletics. The A’s gained two premier pitchers to bolster their run for the World Series. Of course this is bad news for the Mariners because the A’s are a division rival and we had been in the market for starting pitching depth. But its not as bad as it seems. The Mariners just got Taijuan Walker back from injury and he’s a certain upgrade over Erasmo Ramirez. James Paxton is about a month away from rejoining the team too and that’s another upgrade. Plus the teams who were really looking for starting pitching help are all in the AL East and if the Mariners are going to make it to the playoffs this year, we’re going to have to go through the Wild Card against those teams from the AL East.

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