Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Talkin' Baseball

About once a summer the need to talk baseball just overwhelms me and I have to throw out a few thoughts on how to fix the Seattle Mariners.




There's been a lot of scuttlebutt lately about how the M's might actually be buying in this year's trading deadline derby. If you ask me, that would be a missed opportunity of a lifetime. Yes, the M's are in the AL West race but the only way they win this race is by significant upgrades to the starting pitching and run production. The only way to do that at the trading deadline is by trading away young talent. I say, let the Mariners take advantage of another ballclub for a change.

The time is right - not to build this team to compete in the post-season in 2009 - but to compete for world championships for the next decade. It's time to SIGNIFICANTLY reload the M's farm system. Why now? You have the perfect storm right now, that's why. You have a handful of guys in their contract year; you have veterans like Sweeney and Griffey who can hold a team together and avoid a mess like the Pirates had when they traded Nate McLouth to the Braves; you have a pretty fair amount of parity in most MLB divisions right now, which means more teams may consider themselves to be buyers; and HOPEFULLY, you have a new GM willing to make a signature move with long-term goals for a franchise in desperate need of young talent.

My stance on this issue softened a bit with the news that Adrian Beltre would be missing significant time with his shoulder injury - thereby likely reducing his value to at least CLOSE to nothing. Beltre could have been one of our biggest bargaining chips this July - if he could show a little life at the plate and stay healthy. Unfortunately, he did neither and it now looks highly unlikely that the M's will be able to move him.

So with Beltre out of the picture, now what? Who goes??

Jarrod Washburn. I'm actually a fan of Washburn's. He hasn't developed a signature "out" pitch, but as he gets more years under his belt, he continues to learn new pitches and has developed more of a sense of how to use them. I won't bore you with details but this article does a great job of breaking down his early season success. At best, Washburn is a poor man's Jamie Moyer. He'll eat up innings, keep you in ballgames and be a positive clubhouse presence. I thought they should have taken whatever they could get for him LAST year. This year, he's got much more value.

Russell Branyan. Frankly, I'd love to see Russell the Muscle continue on with the M's but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that he took this year as the only opportunity of his career to be an everyday starter - and boy has he run with it. I scoffed when he was signed in the off-season - but if Jack Z. can get a couple prospects for him, it could very well go down as one of the best maneuvers ever, by a M's GM. Fingers, crossed for you, Jack.

Erik Bedard. Again, it certainly doesn't help that he's been injured but you can't deny the fact that when healthy, Bedard is about as steady as they come. His value (like that of Washburn) gets the southpaw markup, so if he comes off the DL (reported to be as early as this weekend's series) and throws well before the All-Star break, he shoots right to the top of this list.

Miguel Batista? Count me among the many M's fans that would have been tempted to push Batista in front of one of Safeco Field's famous trains if given the chance over the last few years - but now that Batista isn't being forced to carry the mail as a starter, he's actually shown to be a fairly reliable middle-innings guy. It will take a desperate team, so keep your eye on other teams' injury reports and cross your fingers.

My guess is that any deadline deal involving these free-agents-to-be will involve the M's eating a significant portion of their salaries - but hey, it's an investment in the future. If the M's are able to get some good young talent in return, it would be a huge step in the right direction.

If they want to make a bigger splash, the only player on the roster that is untradeable should be Felix.

I'd even take that one step further and say that the M's should put out some serious feelers on Brandon Morrow and Jeff Clement. The window
of opportunity to get top value for these two damaged up-and-comers may have closed - and to be fair, they could both still pan out to be superstars in Seattle - but if there's an opportunity to look around, take it! Don't let Morrow become the next Ryan Anderson!

***

If you don't follow the M's with even a little bit of interest, you may not know who Mike Morse is - and you almost certainly missed that the M's just traded him for former Alanta prospect Ryan Langerhans. Every so often in baseball, I fall in love with a prospect and just don't let go. Russel Branyan was actually one of those guys early in his career but I eventually DID give up on him. Hank Blalock is another one. I'm still convinced that if he gets a regular job and stays healthy, he'll be a .300/25/90 guy every year.

Mike Morse was that guy for me on the Mariners roster. Morse absolutely tore it up in spring training last year and made the team out of camp, only to be sidelined by another injury. With the arrival of Sweeney, Griffey and Cedeno this off-season, Morse seemed to get lost in the shuffle. Now, Yuniesky Betancourt is sidelined by an injury and Morse is in Tacoma hitting .312 with 10 dingers and 52 RBI ... and he gets traded? Makes you wonder if there's some kind of personality conflict there. I'd say odds are that Morse winds up being another in the very long line of productive former Marniers that litter MLB rosters past and present.

One way or another, the M's have the ability to make July baseball in Seattle fun again. If you've given up on them, now's a good time to tune back in.

***

If you're a baseball child of the 70's and 80's like me, you may have grown up watching your favorite team compete on the road in powder blues. The Royals have been flirting with going back to the blues with their alternate powder top - but they wear them with home white pants. It looks awful.

Ever since I saw those powder tops I've been hoping some team would bring them back full time. Toronto played in full powder blue throwbacks the other night and I am now convinced that we need more! Bring back the powder blues!!


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Monday, June 29, 2009

Victory Bell Exclusive: Interview with the REAL..

The following is the official excerpt from Victory Bell’s recent interview with Michael Alvin, the “real” person behind former WSU Football Blogger, Brinkhater. The interview took place in Alvin’s favorite restaurant in Sacramento: Bandera’s Bar and Grill off Fair Oaks Boulevard and Howe Avenue.

Sacramento, CA Friday June 26, 2009 11:49pm.


VB. Michael, thanks for doing the interview.





MA. Sure.




VB. First of all, what’s up with using your middle name for the interview? Why not just use your real last name if you’re coming out of the proverbial closet?




MA. Like Bell is your real last name, "Victory."




VB. Okay, whatever. So, why don’t you tell us briefly about the evolution of BH on this blog?



MA. Basically, we started the blog five or six years ago in order to have a platform other than work e-mails to talk about Cougar Football. Sean came up with this blog thing before anyone else even knew what a blog was. So, we started it and-



VB. Excuse me, but, the question, Michael, was about BH….




MA. Right. Basically, the BH concept started during the Colorado game at Quest Field back in 2004 or something. Alex came in and I just knew what was going to happen. So, I e-mailed Jim Moore right after the game with a message entitled “Offensive Vision” in which I laid out what would happen to Cougar Football if #10 became the man-



VB. And?




MA. I was right, of course. Anyhow, Swoggs got hurt three weeks later and then Alex took over. Next thing we know, we have a quarterback controversy going into fall camp the next year. Then, the day after Alex was named the starter, I changed my blogger profile to “Brinkhater.” It made Sean so darn mad, I knew right then that I had to keep it.



VB. Okay, so what made you keep the name after the initial gimmick effect wore off?




MA. It did? It wore off? Seriously, I had been a HUGE fan of the Go 2 Guy and his sophomoric style for a while then, and I also had been watching a lot of the Colbert Report—or at least Colbert when he was doing the same stuff on the Jon Stewart Show. Plus, at that time, Sean had started his gig at AOL doing all the killer stuff that he did before and after for the WSU blog. But, at that time, he was totally AWOL from our blog for basically a whole season because of his AOL duties. So, I started the “hello Cougar Nation” and “Brinkhater Army” stuff in jest because there was NO ONE reading the thing. I mean, it was me just talking to myself—except this time the computer was involved.


VB. But they were reading it!




MA. Apparently. One day Sean e-mailed me and said that he had put a ticker on the blog and we were getting traffic. I was like, “huh?” Plus at that time, Glenn Kasses had really launched his stuff over at the Spokesman and I think that was about the same time that the public started to blog. It was all pretty weird and fast..



VB. So, again, Michael, what does this have to do with BH?




MA. Okay, so the whole thing just took off. The blog started doing better and better. Alex never took us to a bowl game--which just made the character more credible--and I was having fun seeing how far I could push the evil, twisted villain thing as far as possible without alienating our entire readership—although I think BH was pretty close a couple of times to blowing the whole thing up.


VB. You mentioned the word “character” to describe BH, what did you mean by that?




MA. Plain and simple, BH was an act. Sometimes funny. Sometimes not funny. Sometimes offensive. Sometimes defensive. But for me, that whole persona is and was a runaway train. Too many people never caught on that it was all a joke, which on one hand I can kind of understand because beneath all the BH stuff and bravado was some pretty good and serious sports commentary. But, at the same time, I was never that comfortable ripping a college kid, especially as I went back to school with an aim toward a career in the academy. Ultimately, it just became apparent to me that being a HATER was not what I wanted to portray anymore. A change was needed and I was pretty haunted periodically about some of the comments I made in the past. So, I needed to distance myself from all of that—or at least have my jokes fall flat on a different smelling surface.


VB. So, the "hater" thing had to go again because of what, Michael?




MA. Again, being a hater is not how I would ever want to be identified. Being a hater is not who I am spiritually, and beyond that, it also runs totally counter to my sexuality.




VB. (sigh) Whatever. So, do we ever hear from BH again?




MA. Probably not. You know, I was laid off from my job of ten years this past Fall. I was the founder of a community-based project and organization that served economically poor families in Sacramento. It was my project, they let me go, and I was instantly alienated from all of the people and families that I had been working with for years. So, given the broader state of the economy and the need to change gears, I thought it would be a good way to let BH go. And, at least personally, I identified with having to say goodbye in that context.


VB. So, what is next for you and the Blog?




MA. The blog won’t change at all, at least in regard to its foundation. Sean was, is, and will be the star of the effort for as long as this thing goes, Hooty will be the true blue Cougar that he is and will forever be which is a GREAT thing for us, and Longball will come in whenever he can to give great stinking takes like he always does. And, as for me, I will be coming back with a new character to fill in, or add to, the blanks..


VB. What new character?




MA. Its not going to be a total Ying-Yang thing, but the new guy will be very different from BH in orientation, let’s put it that way. I’m also going to follow a bit of a Sasha Baron Cohen model with the Borat-Bruno thing. I mean, there’s a difference there, but when you look at Bruno closely, you see A LOT of Borat. So, I’m hoping that the new character will keep the good of BH and let the rest go. I also hope this new character can beat Ted Miller. I do think we can nip the 8th spot this year if we can find a quarterback.


VB. Anything else you want to add?





MA. Ya, are you payin’ for the drinks?

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Even More EA - WSU Uni Stuff


Just a quickie post to wind down the week. I know we might be a little "uniformed out" with all the stuff over the last month or so, but EA has released some updated screen-shots of uniforms. This time from action on the field. Kind of cool I guess. I know it's not anything earth-shattering, but, well, it's something new to check out?

Also, EA promises that like the real thing this year, you can mix-n-match uni's. Want to wear all white on the road with crimson helmets? Crimson pants with gray helmets? You can do that too. Check it out:







You can see more at EASports.com. Also, for a good laugh, check out the Oregon uni's they preview. There are so many combo's it makes your head spin. And they don't even include the new gray feathered uni's they just enveiled! Amazing.

Enjoy your weekend, and GO COUGS!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Breaking News: BH Gone from WSU Blog

Sacramento, CA:

In a stunning development, BH, formerly known as Brinkhater, announced his formal layoff from the WSU Football Blog effective at 5:38pm on Thursday evening. At the announcement, BH read the following short statement:

"For the past five years, I have had the privilege of being a co-founding Blogfather for the greatest sports blog in the entire universe. But now, it has been made clear that it is time for me to step aside. Of course, I’d like to thank all of the fans and readers out there for their support over the years—especially Michele, Ben Million, St. Louis Glenn, and Cougar Jen. But most of all, I’d like to thank Sedihawk, Rooster, Hooty, and Longball. They’ve been really, really great to me and my family.”

When cornered later at the nearby Elephant Bar on Arden Way in East Sacramento, BH provided few additional details on the decision, but did note that the future involved certain changes. He said, “As people know, my role on the blog has been to compliment Sedihawk’s knowledgeable takes with a healthy dose of idiocy. But now, as I look toward the future, I wonder whether making sophomoric fun of college athletics and, at times, athletes was what I needed to be doing with my time. So, I guess it was time for me to move on. Maybe in that way, they did me a favor.”

When asked about future plans, BH noted that he’s looking forward to “spending more time with the family” and “just being a fan for a season.” When asked what he thinks about the future of WSU Athletics, BH became animated:

“I look at the Basketball program and I think that there’s a chance for them to be special in the years to come—maybe not next year, although I think that this team could be fun like last year’s team was fun down the stretch. And where Football is concerned, well, I think the path is clear: keep kids off the stretcher in the pre-season, find any good QB play, and win 4 games. Do that and the future is bright.”

Will he ever blog again? “Yep, and probably about sports, since I think about sports more than anything else.”

His favorite WSU Football Blog Moments: “All of last spring I thought was really great work across the board. Getting the first links from Ted Miller and Benedict Condotta at the same time, that was so cool. Seeing the site meter go past 100,000 was amazing. And I really liked our work on the election last fall-- Vince Grippi was so great throughout that whole thing.”

Then, following some brief muttering, BH took a deep breath, sighed, and then said, “But now is not the time and place for those reflections. This is a sad, sad day not only for me, but for the army of supporters who have occasionally followed my musings over the years. I really feel for them right now too.”

With that, BH packed up and left the bar, noting that unemployment is expected to reach as high as 18% in California over the next 10 months.

Goodbye, BH. You will be missed—at least by one.

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BH Diaries: Its a Comin'

Brinkhater Diaries Vol 2 (1)



Greetings, Cougar Nation. Hope you all are having a great week.

So, here we are, about one week away from July 1st--one of my favorite days of the year! The reason?

First, July 1st is Uncle Sedihawk's birthday, and that always means a good party is just around the corner!



The second: July 1 is usually the start of cougfan.com's coverage of WSU Football's infamous summer work outs. Want a few teasers of what's to come?

"We've never had more guys here working as hard all summer long as this year."

"In the past, we'd lift weights at 6:00am , but THIS YEAR, I mean every guy on the team is in there lifting weights at 6:00am."

"People can say what they want, but we think that a bowl game, even the Rose Bowl, is a real possibility for this team if we all stay together."

"Coug offense is really hitting stride in its daily 7 on 7 skelly drills."



How can anyone hold back on premium stuff like that? I mean, sign me up now!!...
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
So, in the last eight weeks of off-season "dead time," the Cougar football team has been able to make headlines once again for "alleged" off-field troubles. And per usual, the Wulfman has done a great job in making sure that the whole world understands just what an incredible misunderstanding all of that stuff really was. (Cough! Cough!)

Nation, Instead of getting used to seeing this visage of Coach Paul this season:



I think we should all probably get used to this one:




Nation, this is a really, really crucial year for this program. With a very, very good recruiting class coming in this fall, as well as some promising prospects in tow, Coach Paul WILL turn this program around provided that he/we can eek out 4 paltry wins this year. If we can do that, we will be positioned nicely to have another great recruiting class, compete for a bowl game next year, AND have the type of depth that will make us candidates to become Oregon State north in the years to come

But to get to that 4 wins, Coach Paul is going to have to allow a certain amount of Bandit activity in the program this year. Because, if he takes the hard-line, we're looking at 2-10 all over again--which will threaten his job security, create a ton of empty seats, and kill recruiting. So, how Coach Paul balances that fine line between discipline and a need to win more games NOW will be one of the top three plots to watch as the rest of the summer and the start of fall camp (e.g. summer grades) unfolds...
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HEEEELLLLLLLLLLLOOOOO, Mr. Theodore Miller!!!!!!



So great to see you remembering our little wager from last year--which to all who don't know ended in a "push" because we failed to finish either 7th or 10th in the wonderful Pac-10.

With that in mind, I am thinking that we do a double or nothing this year!

What that "double" is needs to be decided, by you, Mr. Miller. But on this side, I am thinking that our upside is 8th.

So, if we finish 8th, you give us a "double interview" (kind of like a double album!), and if we finish 10th, I'll fly down to Arizona, wash your car, shine your shoes, and live in your living room (e.g. we'll figure it out).

My reasons for this early optimism are simple:

(1) The season hasn't started.
(2) Washington is going to finish 10th again. They still can't play any D, and unlike us, they have no running game. So, after Locker gets knocked out again by week 6 or 7, they'll be cemented in the cellar once again. So, it really is going to be between us and UCLA for that 9th spot. And, with the Bruins and Sun Devils at home, I think I may like our chances for 2-3 conference wins and that coveted 8th spot in the Pac-10!

So, you name the Double, Mr. Miller, and I'll bring the trouble.

And to everyone else: Have a great week!


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Rambling Through a Thursday


"You got what you want CoHagen. Give those people air!"

--Yes, I'm stealing from Ted Miller and his penchant for opening some of his posts with movie lines. But you'll see why in a moment.

Some odds-n-ends to tie up on a Thursday.

First off, ESPN's own Bruce Feldman stopped by a pretty cool site called inthebleachers.net for some podcast-action analysis of the SEC and PAC-10. Yes, he talks Cougs, and yes, he thinks the they will absolutely stink. What, did you expect he LOVES US in '09?? I'm not even sure we love "us" in '09....

Anyway, the WSU stuff is towards the end of the interview. Still worth a listen (and thanks to Adam Nettina, a former colleague at AOL Fanhouse, for the tip).

A big-time camp is underway at WSU. Cougfan's report claims over 500 high schoolers are in Pullman for a four-day, full-contact football camp. Per the report, some pretty good names have come out of this thing:

Last year, Justin Clayton, Chris Mastin and Aaron Dunn earned scholarship offers after impressive sessions in Pullman and/or verbally committed to the Cougs.

Mastin and Clayton are part of WSU's incoming class of freshman and Dunn, a senior-to-be at Spokane's Mead High, will be in the 2010 class.

Other notables over the years who attended the WSU camp and then went on to suit up for the Cougs include Marcus Trufant, Erik Coleman, Brandon Gibson, Mkristo Bruce, Rien Long and Will Derting.

Certainly bears watching to see what, if any, recruiting news comes out on the other side of this thing?

I know this broke a few days ago, but Ferris High QB Connor Halliday gave his pledge to Paul Wulff Friday last week. Halliday is regarded by some as a bit of a late bloomer, but has some decent tools to work with. Already 6-foot-5 and full of muscle (wasn't "6-foot-4 and full of muscle" a lyric from Men at Work?? Anyone? Reep, you out there?). Well, OK, not exactly full of muscle. More like skin and bones. He's listed at 180 lbs, so he's got room to add the right kind of weight.


While Cougfan and Scout.com like him a bit, giving him the three-star treatment, ESPN.com? Not so much. They do break down with some good scouting details, including their analysis of his three-quarters delivery that could cause him some issues down the line. But to summarize:

Overall, Halliday is an adequate prospect with redeeming qualities and may be a better fit for the lower level non-BCS conferences.

Ouch. Or, maybe he's really good, but it's all part of an elaborate anti-redhead campaign?

Nah, probably not. We've already got a redheaded QB in place in Lobbestael, and that's working out just fine. Oh, and there's video from the ESPN.com story, although it's shot from about 10,000 feet away from the action. Anyway, he is still several years from seeing the field at the next level, so anything can happen. Maybe he hits the weights, adds a few inches and suddenly he's 6-7, 240 and throwing 95 MPH fastballs down the middle of the field?

Speaking of which, aren't we all just a little guilty of declaring verbal commits this early as either hits or misses? All these verbals that are coming in, I mean these guys haven't even played their senior year in high school yet.

I know, I know, it's a new age, and the early commit is THE thing to do. But man, it seems like getting the commits this early might actually work against some schools? Is it enough time to really analyze a kid? I know some are slam dunk, can't-miss types, but it seems like the early commit can lead to more misses that hits. But God knows we missed on kids we got late as well, so it can go either way. But hmm, maybe Doba was right after all with his disdain towards the early commits?

Finally, one last thing to lighten up your day...wait for it....



Maybe you've seen this already, but, how about the top 100 movie lines in 200 seconds!?



So many ways to go. Some great choices, some, not-so-much. Just one line from Caddyshack? No "how about a Fresca?" They couldn't include "it looks good on you though"? And nothing from Fletch!??!? Unreal. Still, a little something for everyone.

ENJOY your Thursday, and as always, GO COUGS!
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