Author: andybu011

Married w/ 2 dogs. Love most anything regarding baseball and sports in general. Play on a slow pitch softball team to re-live my glory days. I work for the Active Network.

Mariner’s Hot Stove

Sources report Michael Pineda is being shipped off to the Yankees for Jesus Montero. Am I missing something? Couldn’t we have gotten him instead of Justin Smoak when we traded Cliff Lee?

I really hope Smoak pans out…

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Is the Palouse ready for Mike Leach?

Only a day removed from Bill Moos announcing that Paul Wulff would not be returning for a 5th season (surprise, surprise), as any Coug could hope for, Mike Leach is now officially a Coug.

Let me say that again: Mike Leach is a C-O-U-G!!!

I had mixed feelings about letting Wulff go, but ultimately he was 9-40.  That’s not even a good batting average, so they had to part ways.  I haven’t heard the contract terms, but all the hooplah is worth whatever they are paying them.  This should fill the seats.  This should please the boosters.  This is a step in the right direction.

This snippet from SI.com:

“At Texas Tech, his offense led the nation in passing six times and three times  accumulated the most total yards. In 2009, the Red Raiders were second in  passing offense and fourth in total offense, with both marks tops among BCS  conference schools.”
Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/football/ncaa/11/30/washington-state-mike-leach.ap/index.html#ixzz1fEyKoWN0

Who wouldn’t be excited about that?  An offense with one of the best receivers in the nation in Marques Wilson coming back as a Junior; Jeff Tuel hopefully healthy (and can stay off his back under Leach) for a 2012 campaign; there is much to look forward to.  There was much to look forward to with Paul Wulff coaching next year, but now I’m excited what Leach can do with that talent and hopefully bring in some other recruits that otherwise wouldn’t be coming to Pullman, and be that igniter that gets WSU Football relevant again.

WAVE THAT FLAG!!!  Mike Leach can bring College Game Day to the Palouse!

Go Cougs!

update – Contract terms are 5 years ~2 million per.  Highest paid coach in the Pac-12.  Also, Mike Leach loves pirates – for a good read, click here. As the donations roll in, a new era of football accompanies it.  No more excuses. My hopes are bowl games aplenty and a pirate-themed student section. 

Jack Wilson: Born to Lose

Dear Mr. Wilson,

Please stay away from the teams I care about.  I mean, I really only care about 2 teams, the Mariners and the Braves.  Is that so hard?  I had already suffered through almost 2 unbearable years of your (lack of) play at shortstop for the Mariners, why did you have to go and ruin the season for the Braves too?  What did I ever do to you?  If you could please go back to Pittsburgh, where they are used to not playing in a game that matters and don’t care if you make errors or put up sub-par offensive numbers, I would greatly appreciate it.  I’m sure you are a very nice person off the field, and maybe even on the field, but you have proved to be useless when on a team’s roster, so I would appreciate it if you wouldn’t bring my teams down any more.

Sincerely,
Any and all Mariners or Braves fans

Being familiar with Jack’s history, a story from Larry Stone (original story) inspired this rant.

Look at the numbers…

2001: 62-100 (with Pittsburgh)
2002: 72-89 (with Pittsburgh)
2003: 75-87 (with Pittsburgh)
2004: 72-89 (with Pittsburgh)
2005: 67-95 (with Pittsburgh)
2006: 67-95 (with Pittsburgh)
2007: 68-94 (with Pittsburgh)
2008: 67-95 (with Pittsburgh)
2009: 43-57 (with Pittsburgh), 32-29 (with Seattle)
2010: 61-101 (with Seattle)
2011: 57-77 (with Seattle), 9-18 (with Atlanta)

For the record, that’s a cumulative of 752 wins and 1026 losses (.423 winning pct)

Lowlights:

2009 with Mariners – although the Mariners finished 32-29, they did not reach the playoffs.  Did not really add anything to the team in 2009, nor did he in 2010 or 2011 prior to his trade to Atlanta.  Article from when he was traded to the Mariners back in 2009 (http://mariners.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20090729&content_id=6136372&vkey=news_sea&fext=.jsp&c_id=sea) – interesting read.

2011 with Braves – Part of the history as one of the worst collaspses in September.  Luckily the Red Sox did the same thing this year, only worse.  The Braves were 80-55 prior to the trade, almost a lock for the playoffs.  However, after the trade they finished out September 9-18, losing their final game of the season.  This loss could have been prevented, but Jack Wilson booted what should have been an inning-ending double play that let in a run.  There was definitely a good reason for the Mariner’s to basically give away Wilson for nothing.

Retweeted by a Seattle Icon

Yes I, little ‘ol me living up in Bothell, WA was retweeted by THE Dave Simms.  Maybe not a Seattle icon, but it all went down like this:

I was tuning in to enjoy my new look Mariners on FSN when they showed Dave Simms and Mike Blowers in the booth.  Not to my surprise, Dave Simms was wearing yet another ridiculous looking hat…I know at least some of my colleagues agree that Dave Simms can be hard to listen to and completely over the top, so I know I’m not completely off my rocker here…So I was prompted to tweet the following:

how many hats does Dave Sims own? #DaveSimsMustBeStopped

Little did I know that THE Dave Simms would RT with:

I’ve lost count! It’s not a problem!!! RT @abuchanan30: how many hats does Dave Sims own? #DaveSimsMustBeStopped

Really?  That’s your response.  I’m not sure if he knew I was taking a jab at him or not.  I have to assume he did, so I do have to give him credit for taking it in stride and not taking it personally.  I gained respect for him as a professional, I just can’t stand him broadcasting for my baseball team.  Not only that, but other people defended Simms as well with their tweets:

@TheDaveSimsShow @abuchanan30 That is one sweet lid. #DaveSimsSweetLidClub.

Actually, it’s not a sweet lid.  Another gem from the peanut gallery commenting on the ridiculous white hat Simms changed his profile pic to after he retweeted me:

@TheDaveSimsShow @abuchanan30 a man can never have too many hats, and that white one is terrific!

Actually, even if he only had that one hat, it would be one too many.  And here’s the last one…not really worth mentioning since it’s bland, but here it is anyways:

@TheDaveSimsShow @abuchanan30 Nice Hat Dave!!

So what does this all mean?  Nothing really, other than I’ve proven that Dave Simms doesn’t really care what I think, and I’ll probably have to suffer through many more years of him on television broadcasts if I want to watch my Mariners.  Here’s to hoping that the Mariners can be competitive so that it’s worth the suffering.  I guess it could be worse.  At least we don’t have to deal with Bob Costas or Dan Fouts.  Have you ever grated your ears with a cheese grater?  That would be about the equivalent to either of those two, but that’s another topic for another time.

What TV announcer can you not stand?  TV personality?  Sound off if you have an opinion.  I’m probably not worth following, but you can find me on twitter @abuchanan30 if you haven’t figured that out already.

Excited for the Mariners future!

I know football season starts this Thursday, but before baseball becomes utterly irrelevant in Seattle, I just wanted to take a few minutes to give you all some things to be excited about for next year and beyond.

First of all, management finally signed Jack Zduriencik to an extension.  It took far too long to get this settled, but at least it got done.   Unfortunately not everything Jack has touched has turned to gold (Chone Figgins, I’m talking mainly about you), but overall he has done an outstanding job of building up our farm system by acquiring talent in the draft and through trades.

Because of Jacky Z, we finally have some young, athletic talent!  No more Jose Lopez, or a revolving door in left field, but a myriad of intriguing options.  Dustin Ackley draws comparisons to Chase Utley which has me drooling to see how this kid will grow.  Mike Carp has done the call up thing a few times and might have finally figured it out.  Justin Smoak has shown flashes of what he’s capable of doing (as I’m writing this he ropes a single to right), and am hopeful that he can reach that potential.  Add in Felix and Pineda at the top of the rotation – enough said.  If Ichiro can muster up one final swan song to send him off into Cooperstown in style, this team could make enormous strides next year.

And we finally have some pop!  I know it’s not proven, but we have some legitimate guys who can hit 20+ homers (and hit for average too).  The Mariners have finally found some good left-hand hitters that can hit it out of Safeco.  Mike Carp has had some majestic shots, and Ackley has shown that he can knock one out as well.  It might take Ackley a few years to hit 20+, but it’s not unreasonable to think he could make that jump next year.  Casper Wells never gets cheated, Trayvon Robinson is a wild card as he’s shown nice pop in the minors, and Kyle Seager has shown he can hit doubles which after some experience can translate into home runs as well.

You can have addition by subtraction.  Cutting out Milton Bradley was essential.  Figgins may get it back, but it’s not looking good.  I really just hope he can get good enough to have some trade value next year.  I was sad to see Fister go, especially after his 13K gem last night against the Indians (but good for him to finally get some run support!), but again building up our depth and talent where desperately needed.  2012 projects pretty well if the current roster players build on this recent success they have had individually and have a couple new comers step up.

Current 2012 Lineup Projection:

1. RF Ichiro
2. CF Gutierrez
3. 2B Ackley
4. DH Carp
5. 1B Smoak
6. 3B Seager
7.   C  Olivo
8. SS Ryan
9. LF Robinson

All that with Wells, Peguero, and the other exciting young players who could be there in case someone falters. And that doesn’t even mention the possibility of bringing Prince Fielder in.  I’m not a huge fan of his lack of speed, but a proven lefty cleanup stick that can hit it out of any ballpark and won’t cripple you at first if Smoak doesn’t pan out is fine by me.  Add in Fielder and I like it even more…

1. RF Ichiro
2. CF Gutierrez
3. 2B Ackley
4. DH Fielder
5. LF Carp
6. 1B Smoak
7. 3B Seager
8.   C  Olivo
9. SS Ryan

Now that gives me goosebumps.

NCAA Football 12 Review

Another summer means another edition of EA Sports Football games.  Like many others, I picked up this game on its release  date.  I finally gave in and got NCAA 11 in January and joined an Online Dynasty and was hooked.  I wasn’t going to miss the chance to start that up again and get a full year in.  Needless to say I was anticipating this game quite a bit.  I do have to give EA some credit for this. One thing they are top notch as it advertising.  From live press conferences over the web to showcase new features and gameplay, to a highly followed Facebook / Twitter accounts to keep everyone panting until the release date.  I will attempt to break down the game and give my amateur opinion of the game.

First, let’s take a look at the new features.  Honestly, these games that are released every year don’t always warrant buying a new game, so I believe this is the most important thing to look at when reviewing:

Road To Glory Mode – For those who are not familiar to the game, this mode entails playing as a single player, starting out in your high school year, going through the playoffs and hopefully winning your state championship.  During which time you are getting recruited based on how well you do, select your college, and then play your 4 year college career and try to get the best stats possible.

Key updates were:

  • Addition of “Iron Man” style player in high school.  This allows you to pick one of the offense and defense positions while getting recruited separately based on your ability at each position.  (If you like being frustrated, try being a cornerback. The extremely awkard camera angle that constantly rotates is frustrating.)
  • Store style upgrades where you spend experience points gained in practice / games.  I personally have not gotten that far in RTG, so I may update this later, but for those into this mode, I see this as a huge upgrade from ’11.
  • Updated player battles.  Again an area I haven’t gotten to, but making it so that you have to earn your spot in the lineup.  There was a form of this in ’11, but practice was frustratingly slow to load and you would be better off to just sim through. Should be interesting and frustrating because you have to earn your way on, but frustrating if you are stuck down on the depth chart and just sim the games.

GRADE – 7.0 /10. Cool updates, but for me personally I’m not into this mode.  It takes way too long to progress and I’m too impatient.  I may update this later, but I’m not all that intrigued and rather spend the time I get focused on Dynasty Mode

Dynasty  – Be the coach of a team and build up the program. Bring in recruits, play the games, and take your program to the promise land.  Online Dynasties are amazing.  It’s like playing Fantasy Football, but better because when you win a user matchup, you are the one actually playing.

Key updates:

  • Coaching Carousel.  Really intriguing for single player dynasties or specialized dynasties, but the real appeal to dynasty is picking teams within a conference or make a conference with those teams, and play everyone in the league, create rivalries, competition for recruits, etc.  The coaching carousel is where you sign a contract with a school and can get fired / re-signed based on performance against goals.  Also, you can choose to be just the offensive coordinator or defensive coordinator, so you only control the team on your side of the ball, and the other side of the ball is simmed and controlled by the computer.  This has been really cool in my offline dynasty as I try to go from an offensive coordinator at WSU, fail to win 6 games because they are terrible, get fired, and work my way back and take them to a rose bowl win (still working on becoming the head coach, but I’ll get there – I will get them to the National Championship some day).
  • Fully Custom Conferences.  ’11 had a pretty bad interface for updating conferences and was pretty limited. This year you can make conferences from 4 to 16 teams, make independent, change division names within a conference, and even change automatic bowl bids if you want Conference USA to get an automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl.  You can even control the protected rival matchups so that when the computer automatically creates the schedule, it will lock in those protected rivalries once they’ve been changed.  You can also change conferences every off-season, whereas in last years game you could only set it up at the beginning and then you were stuck.  So if a couple computer teams start lacking, you can swap in some other schools to keep your level of competion in conference up and keep the prestige up.
  • Auto Advance and Sim Games over the web. Auto advance is pretty cool because in ’11 the commisioner had to be at their xbox to advance, but now if everyone is ready to advance, the commish can now advance from anywhere they have access to the web.

GRADE: 9.5/10.  Was great in ’11, even better with the customizability.

Authentic Gameday Traditions – Really?  In a video game.  This is the dumbest thing I’ve heard of.  Well that’s a reach, but seriously. How many times would you actually watch those pre-games?  Honestly I can’t press the “A” button fast enough to get to the coin toss and get the game going.  This is a waste of time and resources that could go towards things that actually affect game play.

GRADE: 0/10 – Waste of money paying developers to build this into a game.  I really don’t want a sad looking bull on the field for pregame when I’m playing against Texas in their house.

Enhanced Tackling Engine – This is actually a great addition to the game.  Too many times in ’11 a guy would just tackle the ball carrier who was actually being blocked or something stupid like that.  This allows for momentum to better control tackle success.  In addition there are cleaner tackles when more than 1 tackler is involved.

GRADE: 9/10 – Still not perfect. 100% better than last year, but still needs some work to produce a smooth experience.

Things I would put into the game

  • Athletic Director.  Currently you can’t really control where money goes.  It would be cool to be able to spend money on new uniforms, stadium additions, gym upgrades, etc.  This would help build up your grade at certain aspects when recruiting.
  • Ability to specify “Aggressive”, “Balanced”, and “Conservative” setting for Game Tempo.  This setting automatically runs the play clock down to a set time when you break the huddle and address the line.  Aggressive gets you to the ball ASAP, usually with 30+ seconds on the play clock if you pick your play quickly enough, with balanced leaving 26 seconds, and conservative leaving 11 or 12 seconds. The conservative setting forces you to basically run to the line of scrimmage and leaves pretty much no time audible, and Balanced makes you sit in formation for too long.  Just seems like an easy thing to get into the game, so I don’t see why it’s not in there already.

Things I would take out of the game

  • In-game replays.  Or at least the ability to never show replays.  Replays just get in the way of the game, they slow down game play and are unnecessary.  As a player, you don’t watch highlights DURING the game.  You may watch them afterwards, but not during.  Stop interferring with my gameplay and let me choose the next play.  At least this year they fixed it so the game clock wouldn’t run some times when running replays, but still, I DON’T CARE.  If I want to watch a replay, I will take the time to pause the game, and play the replay myself.
  • Washington Huskies (GO COUGS!)

OVERALL GRADE: 9.5 – NCAA ’11 was amazing, and this years version is even better.  It is frustrating because I’m not the best and get frustrated when I lose, but that’s a good thing.  At least the online dynasty shows how many times you restart to keep players honesty.  My offline dynast doesn’t have such protections in place.  If you like football at all, this is a must buy.