Friday, July 20, 2007

Mariners Winning with Mediocrity

It has been a wonderful half season watching the Mariners this year. After winning 116 games in 2001, the team fell into the doldrums. Lou Piniella left, along with his demand for execution. Many of the role players that were so important to the team's success - guys like Mark Mac Elmore and Mike Cameron - left or retired. The team signed disappointing free agents like Jeff Cirillo and developed few key guys. They hired a manager in Bob Melvin, who came from a team that bought players and let them play - never the style of the Mariners or of Piniella. They didn't play, nor did he. This year, though, there is a new feeling. They have a team that is mediocre at the plate, but so balanced that the bottom third drives in nearly as many runs as the middle third of the order. They have no guy who comes through nightly, but eight or nine guys who come through pretty regularly. They have only one guy - Ichiro - hitting .300 (though Vidro is next door at .298), but they have seven hitting better than .270. The bullpen is lights out with five guys, with JJ Putz perfect at closing out wins thus far. Two-out hitting is strong, and the team moves base runners up consistently. The defense has been good, but not exceptional. All together, it adds up to a team that wins more than loses, comes back to win often, and gives fans the feeling that they are never out of the game. I wouldn't bet the farm on this team winning any particular game, but they seem to be a pretty good bet to win most any series (even if it is 3-2 or 4-3). Though there are few feeling better in sports than when your baseball team is making a run like the Mariners made in 1995 or 2001, I am more than happy to have a team like this to watch. Good, but not great. Winning through consistent team play. Never out of it. Add to this the outstanding experience that is Safeco Field in any weather, and it is a good summer for a Seattle baseball fan.

Can we Really Exit Iraq?

It seems to me that what is past is past. We did in fact invade Iraq. We stirred that pot and now there is soup. If we leave, Iran and their Syrian marionettes will commit genocide, dominate the world oil economy and use the platform to destabilize the Mid-East and 'stans further. They will plan and execute State terror in the US and Europe. These are things that have been concerns for serious people for more than 25 years. These worries are among the main geopolitical reasons that prior US governments offered limited support to Saddam. Even during the cold war prior to Reagan, intelligence and military planners and analysts were presenting a broader Iraq (a 'restored' Persian Empire) as one of the great perils that might be encountered.

There seems to be no compromise possible with Iran, while the view its leaders hold of the west is that the existence of this society itself is an evil. With nuclear capability approaching, the scenario is even more dire.

Now, don't mistake me, I am not advocating more of the same in Iraq or elsewhere. But I am worried about what will happen when we leave Iraq, and what impact a nuclear Iran, reconstituted with vast oil reserves and a thirst for 'pagan' (other sects or non-Islamic peoples) blood will have on my children. It is like I am learning that the medieval church is going to be in charge again, the Inquisitors will again be abroad in the land, lovingly torturing and killing the insufficiently conventional. I hear so much about how intolerant American society is...I wonder what we will all think ten years hence when we are well experienced at true intolerance.

I hope that a Great Person or cause rallies democratic people here and abroad to deal with the coming threat. Better yet, perhaps it will be a bag of gas, and people like me who worry over it will be shown to be neurotic fools. That would make me happy. But I imagine there are a number of families in Lockerbie and elsewhere that would like to educate me further.

Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
As always, the photos we use are either my own, or in the public domain. Please let me know if there are any errors and I'll correct them immediately.