Good Times

The good times never last forever. That’s a universal law–just ask any Warriors fan. It’s true in baseball, and it’s true in technology.

Since I wrote about the winning ways of the Mariners, Orioles, and Giants, the three teams have gone a collective 3-10. It’s not hard to see why: in those thirteen games, they’ve scored 43 runs and given up 86. With run differentials like that, it’s a minor miracle they’ve won any games. (Kudos to the Orioles, who contributed two of the three victories.)

There are around fifty games left in the season. The Mariners are trying to figure out their next few seasons, the Orioles are looking for ways to earn some self-respect, and the Giants are hanging onto a small chance of making the playoffs.

Meanwhile, we’ve recently gotten a lesson in how the universal law applies in the wonderful world of technology.

Maggie’s much-beloved cell phone passed away. Maggie refuses to give up a physical keyboard, so she clung resolutely to her BlackBerry Q10.

Let it be noted that I’m not casting aspersions on her choice. I see the appeal of a physical keyboard and still fondly recall my RIM 750, from back in the days when pagers were state-of-the-art. Where we differ is that I’m not willing to put up with the compromises necessary to have that keyboard.

Those compromises are on the software side of the equation. BlackBerry is, if not the only company still making phones with keyboards, the only one with any actual US distribution. Their latest phones run almost-stock Android–although updates can be erratic–but the Q10 runs BlackBerry’s proprietary operating system.

That, naturally, makes it hard to find software to do some very basic things. Like, for example, back up your data.

There is, or was, a Dropbox client for the Q10. It was hard to install, confusing to configure, and usually refused to run automatically. These are not desirable traits in software you want to back up something as precious as years of cat photos.

Then there are all those years of collected emails, text messages, and the contacts that go with them. Turns out that even though the Q10 requires you to use a GMail account for setup, it only uses GMail for transport. Received emails and contacts live on the device. Contacts can be synced to Google, but it’s a manual process.

Want to see if anything has been backed up to your user account on the carrier’s system? Better hope you don’t have Sprint: they require a two-step authentication process that involves sending a text message to your phone. You know, the phone that doesn’t work.

The lesson here is NOT that BlackBerry sucks or that Sprint is horrible.* It’s not even that one should avoid unusual systems or devices.

* Ironically, it was exactly here that Firefox crashed, taking Windows down with it and forcing me to turn the power off without saving anything. Fortunately, I had just saved two minutes before, so I didn’t have much to recreate.

The lesson is that the good times will end. They’ll be back eventually, sure. But they’ll return much faster if you prepare for them. In baseball, build up your farm system. In computers, backup.

Backup everything. Frequently. Make it part of your daily routine. If you can’t do an automatic backup, do it manually.

Ite, missa est

Which Road?

One can win with brilliance, dogged determination, or sheer luck.

As usual, all three methods are on display in MLB these days.

Consider the bargain basement–or, considering what some of the teams’ Injured Lists look like, maybe it’s the scratch and dent sale.

At the All-Star Break, there were five teams with records under .400: Miami, Toronto, Detroit, Kansas City, and Baltimore. (Seattle scored a Dishonorable Mention at .415 and San Francisco, at .461, was looking almost respectable.)

The picture hasn’t changed much. The bottom-dwellers list is now Toronto, Miami, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Detroit. (Kudos, though to Baltimore for the biggest improvement on the list, going from .303 to .336, putting them in a position to challenge KC for the third-worst record in baseball.) Meanwhile, Seattle has moved up to a staggering .423. That’s especially impressive when you consider that they lost eight of their first ten after the break.

And then there are the Giants, who are now sporting an honestly respectable .509 record with a legitimate shot at the Wild Card.

Which brings us back to where this post started.

The Mariners’ gain is the product of a six-game winning streak against, well, Texas and Detroit. As of today, Texas is sitting precisely at .500–not exactly the mark of a powerhouse. And, indeed, Seattle has won three of the five games the two teams have played since the break. Most of their gain, in other words, has been the result of a fortunate schedule.

Baltimore, on the other hand, has played 18 games since the break. They’ve gone nine and nine against Tampa Bay, Washington, Boston, Arizona, Anaheim, and San Diego: six teams with a combined .517 record.

That doesn’t look like luck. Sure, the truism about any team being able to beat any other team on some random day holds. But watching several of the Orioles’ games didn’t look like luck either. It looked like a team that knew it was the underdog, but was determined to make a stand. Winning half your games is usually a Pyrrhic victory, but when you start out at .303, a victory is a victory.

While Seattle has been lucky and Baltimore has been dogged, San Francisco has been, if not brilliant, at least well-polished. Fourteen and five isn’t solely luck. Yes, they’ve played the Mets and Rockies, but they’ve also played the Brewers, Cubs, Padres, and Phillies, all teams at or above .500. There’s been some determination in there: last night’s win against Philadelphia was their first after losing seven straight in Philadelphia. Most of all, though, the Giants have been succeeding with the fundamentals: well-timed hitting, good-to-excellent pitching, and acceptable fielding.

Different routes, but when it comes to wins, it’s all about the destination, not how you get there. Just ask the fans in San Francisco, Baltimore, and Seattle.

Baseball Hiatus

By the time this post goes live, I’ll be well into my sixth consecutive day with no baseball. A little taste of winter in mid-summer.

Much as I’d like to blame it all on MLB, I have to take some of the blame myself. Sure, it’s partly because of the All-Star Break, but as I’ve noted in the past, the Home Run Derby and the All-Star Game itself are acceptable “almost baseball” events. No, it’s just been an unfortunate conglomeration of poor timing.

Friday we took in our annual minor league game. The ballgame itself was painful, at least for those of us rooting, however nominally, for San Jose. The Giants gave up four runs in the first three innings and never mounted a serious threat of their own. Nor did they keep their opponents* off the bases for the rest of the game, though they did keep them from scoring any more runs.

* The Visalia Rawhide, and isn’t that a name to conjure with?

The game ran long, pushing the fireworks–of course there were fireworks–out past ten. They were worth the wait, though. Proof that a massive aerial bombardment is not a requirement for a spectacular show.

Which reminds me: I need to take back something I said last year. I suggested that MLB should reintroduce the beer batter at the major league level to increase audience engagement. I said, “half-priced soda isn’t going to satisfy anyone when the beer batter comes up in the eighth or ninth.”

I hereby admit I was wrong about that. The San Jose Giants switch to apple juice after beer sales close, and the fans were chanting “Juice! Juice! Juice!” just as enthusiastically as they had earlier chanted “Beer! Beer! Beer!” And yes, sales of juice did jump dramatically when the beerjuice batter struck out in his final at-bat.

Whatever else you can say about the game–and there is a lot I could say, but I’ll spare you–it didn’t lack for engagement.

Anyway, there were ballgames Saturday and Sunday, but a combination of visiting with friends and family and work prevented me from watching. And more of the same prevented me from watching the Home Run Derby Monday or the All-Star Game Tuesday.

No games scheduled Wednesday, and today there’s only a single game–an inter-Texas match-up between the Rangers and Astros. The rest of the MLB teams start playing again tomorrow, but I’ve got a social engagement that will prevent me from watching more than a couple of innings of any of my teams’ games. More sociability will interfere with my viewing Saturday and Sunday. Monday, I may be able to catch part of the Giants/Rockies double-header, and Tuesday I’ll finally be able to settle in and wince at a Mariners’ game.

So, rather than face a ten-day hiatus, I’ll probably watch the game tonight, despite having no particular interest in the outcome. I’m fairly sure total mutual annihilation isn’t a possibility, after all.

Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if the game gets rained out? The forecast says there’s only a 20% change of rain, but the universe can be an evil place.

Gods Bless

Mind you, the “God Bless America” fiasco could have been avoided if MLB hadn’t made it part of the seventh inning stretch ceremonies after 9/11.

Now that it’s become an issue, though, how’s this for an idea: drop the song completely.

The break between innings has been made shorter this season as part of the commissioner’s pace of play fetish. Between that song, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” (which has a much longer tradition behind it), the ever-popular DanceCam/KissCam, and the various staged races (presidents, dots, sausages, etc., etc., etc.), that pause between halves of the seventh inning is getting increasingly crowded.

This is a great opportunity to drop “God Bless America” and return to the status quo ante.

Not going to happen, though. Any attempt to remove the song will be spun as an attack on Christianity, just like the non-existent, so-called “War on Christmas”. Or, for that matter, the protests against restoring the Pledge of Allegiance to its original wording by removing “under God”.

Which is, of course, the whole problem in a nutshell.

Keeping the song offends those of us who think the proper place for deities at sporting events is in the stands, like all the other spectators*. That its presence is also offensive to non-Christians is merely the raspberry buttercream on the chocolate cake.

* Let’s be blunt here: a baseball player’s five tools are hitting for average and power, fielding, throwing, and baserunning. Nothing on that list about praying or otherwise getting God to work a few miracles on behalf of his team.

Removing it offends team owners’ wallets. Or, at least that’s what they think. “A highly visible boycott? Heaven forfend!”

Did you know, by the way, that baseball attendance has not been in decline? For all the fuss the commissioner has made about needing new fans, the total annual attendance across all MLB stadiums since 2000 has consistently been right around 72.5 million. (Which does, by the way, suggest that “God Bless America” has neither helped nor hurt baseball.)

The disruption to tradition hasn’t been in support of rescuing a dying fanbase. It’s about increasing profits, now that ticket prices have reached the point where any further increase would lower demand.

Not that that should surprise anybody.

God Bless Baseball. Some god. Any volunteers? Let’s not always see the same hands…

Admirable

Strictly speaking, I should be writing something about Jackie Robinson today. It is, after all, his day in MLB. Everyone is wearing his number and his name is on everyone’s lips.

And maybe that’s part of my problem–and I emphasize “my” here. Yes, I have strong contrarian tendencies, but that’s not in play here. I wouldn’t not write about Mr. Robinson solely because everyone else is. That would be a form of disrespect for the man and his accomplishments. I try to be better than that.

In truth, the other Jackie said it best: “What Can You Say About Jackie Robinson that Hasn’t Been Said?” She found something, as she so often does. It’s good to be reminded that the Jackie Robinson story didn’t begin in Brooklyn in 1947, or Montreal in 1946, or even Kansas City in 1945. Go read her piece.

I, on the other hand, don’t have anything new to contribute. So, rather than rehash what everyone else is saying about Jackie Robinson, I’d like to say a few words about a different player. A current player.

He’s not going to be remembered as long or as fondly as #42. Or, if he is, it won’t be for the right reasons.

If you follow the sport, you’ve probably already guessed I’m talking about Chris Davis.

I have a sneaking admiration for Mr. Davis.

In 2016, he struck out 219 times. The all-time record for strikeouts in a season is 223, set by Mark Reynolds in 2009. Certainly, baseball has become more accepting of strikeouts since the turn of the century. The highest strikeout total before 2000 was 189 (Bobby Bonds in 1970–and he also had 187 in 1969. Ouch.)

Two hundred nineteen is an impressive record of futility, but it’s not what Chris Davis will be remembered for. Because Chris Davis does hold an MLB record.

Fifty-four consecutive at-bats without a hit. For what it’s worth, 54 is the number worn by Goose Gossage throughout his major league career, including the 1977 season when he struck out 151 batters. Imagine the result if Davis faced Gossage.

Both of them in their respective primes, I mean. Today, Gossage is 67 and he’s probably lost a bit of velocity since ’77 (though history suggests he could still strike Davis out.) And in ’77, Davis wouldn’t have been much of a hitting threat, seeing as how he was still a decade away from being born. Talk about your awkward silences if he’d been announced as the next hitter. And pace of game? Forget it.

But I digress.

I said I admire Davis. Not for his hitting prowess, though to be fair, when he does hit, he hits well. No, I admire his persistence and his ability to put the pressure of the slump aside.

By all reports, he stayed calm as his hitless streak reached historic levels. As George Harrison said, in a slightly different context, “All Things Must Pass“. He didn’t rant and rave, he didn’t bemoan his fate to the media. Equanimity. Grace under pressure. And persistence.

On Saturday, Davis broke the streak in classic fashion, collecting three hits and four RBIs. Mind you, he went 0-4 Sunday and as I write this on Monday morning, he’s 0-1. But the gorilla is off his back. After lugging the five hundred forty pound ape around, a fifty pound chimp is no big deal.

Persistence. He’s still up there swinging. He could be dogging it, playing out his contract–$17 million a year through 2022 and about $40 million over the next fifteen years–or even retiring. But that’s not Chris Davis. And sure, $100 million pays for a lot of patience. Therapy, too, if necessary.

Heck, pay me half of what Chris Davis is making this year, and I’ll go 0-600 on the season with a smile on my face.

But I wouldn’t be getting paid to hit. Chris Davis is. He knows the Orioles’ management is considering their options for getting rid of him. But he still goes out there every day and does what he does.

And that’s why I admire Chris Davis. In his position, I’d have blown up long ago.

That Brightness Ain’t the Sunrise

Yes, I know yesterday’s post was a bit dark. For the record, no I’m not particularly depressed. No need to alert Facebook’s algorithms.

And, speaking of records, the Mariners did set that record–15 games at the beginning of the season with at least one home run–they did win yesterday in a very thrilling come-from-behind fashion, and they now return home bearing the best record in baseball and a four game division lead over the Astros. Who are, coincidentally, the team they’ll be playing for the next three days and who, historically speaking, the Mariners have always had trouble beating. As I said before, it can’t last. But it’s a great ride while it does.

Anyway, how about something cheerful as an antidote to yesterday’s doom and gloom?

12-1

Hang on, let me enhance that a little. Or at least brighten it up a bit.

12-2

Why, look! It’s Lefty, out of the room he shares with Rufus!

Yes, we’ve begun giving him opportunities to explore the upstairs hall. He’s been very cautious about it, not spending much time off his familiar turf, and certainly not letting us close (hence the low resolution of the pictures–they were cropped out of shots taken from halfway across the house).

But he’s taking steps in the right direction. Not only is he broadening his horizons, but he’s also had a couple of opportunities to exchange less-than-flattering personal observations with ‘Nuki.

Now that is a rite of passage!

Finally, lest you think I’ve merely exchanged dark words for dark pictures, here’s something bright and cheerful.

12-3

It’s not often we see these three hanging out together. Enjoy.

Disaster Looms

“It can’t last.”

Any Seattle sportsball fan will know exactly what you mean.

We don’t use the sentence lightly. No, the Mariners aren’t going to win 160 games this season. They’re not even going to win 137 games, which is what their current record projects to. Obviously; not worth mentioning.

Let’s get real. Eighteen years ago today, the best Mariners team in history–by one crude measure, the best team in MLB history–was 6-2. The unspoken assumption in Seattle was that the Ms were one series away from a .500 record. That they kept winning can’t be laid solely at the feats of Ichiro, but he sure contributed mightily. Worth remembering, in this, his final season.

Nobody expects this year’s Mariners to win 116 games.

Good things come in waves, and so do bad things. That doesn’t mean they balance out. A little bad gives the good more savor. A little good gives the bad more intensity. Some clouds have a tin foil lining. Some roses smell as sweet as what comes out of the back end of a cow.

The latest predictions give the Mariners 81 wins and a 13.7% chance of making the playoffs. Before the season, they were expected to win 75, with only a 2.3% chance of playing into October.

Seattleites don’t expect a .500 season. They say “It can’t last” and “The original prediction sounds more accurate.”

Starting the season with thirteen straight games with at least one home run? “It can’t last.”

Seattle lost a major league, former champion hockey team and a major league, former champion basketball team. Lost an epically bad major league baseball team after one season. After going 116-46, the record-setting Mariners lost the ALCS to the Yankees; the next year they finished 93-69 and missed the playoffs by 6 games.

Failure isn’t a way of life. It’s the way of life.

I’m writing this post Wednesday, shortly before the Mariners take the field against the Kansas City Royals. They’re looking to win the series, go 12-2, and tie the record for games with a home run to start the season*.

* Yes, including those games in Japan. Just because they don’t feel real doesn’t mean MLB won’t count them.

I expect them to lose. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see them get shut out and start a ten game losing streak.

Because it can’t last.

But it’s sure fun while it does. See you at the ballpark.

(Post-Game Update: The Mariners won the game and hit a home run. No doubt the expected shutout and losing streak will start tomorrow. Won’t stop me from watching.)

2019 Prognostication

Once again, it’s time for me to peer into the future, using Science! and Mathematics! to predict the results of the MLB pennant chases and playoffs. As I did last year, I’m combining the two predictions into a single post, because it just works out better that way.

To refresh your memories, the playoff teams are those with the largest margin of victory in their first games, and the playoff predictions are based on the teams’ run differential over the first week of the season.

Unlike last year, when two games were rescheduled, all of the Opening Day games were played. Hooray for a cooperative Mother Nature! The gotcha–there’s always some complication–is that darn overseas “Opening Series” between the Mariners and Athletics. As I said a couple of weeks ago, I find it difficult to accept those games as part of the regular season. The conditions are just too different from the other 160 those teams will play. And, let’s be honest here, I don’t want to have to account for the fact that the Ms and the As didn’t play each other on the real Opening Day. I can’t figure out a way to handle that without doing at least one of the four teams involved a serious misjustice. So as far as my predictions go, March 20 and 21 Didn’t Happen.

Once again, the American League team won the World Series; consequently, they’ll be leading off.

  • East – Regrettably, there’s no competition here. By virtue of their status as the only team to win their first game, the Yankees will be the AL East champions.
  • Central – What a mess. Three of the five teams won their games by a two run margin. Even worse, two of those three games finished 2-0. My devout thanks to the Royals for scoring five runs and breaking the tie. They’ll be this year’s AL Central winners.
  • West – Would you believe it’s the Mariners? The team widely predicted to finish dead last in the division? Can’t argue with their 12-4 pounding of the World Champs, though. The numbers say this is the year the Mariners break their playoff drought.
  • Wild Cards – We’ve got another tie here. The Astros and As both racked up victories by four runs, they’ll be our AL Wild Card teams. Houston wins the tie-breaker, five runs to Oakland’s four, so they’ll get the home field advantage in the Wild Card Game.

Turning our attention to the National League, matters are much less complicated.

  • East – The Phillies 10-4 victory is the weakest of any of the NL division winners, but any Philadelphia fan will cheerfully assure you that the important thing is to make the playoffs.
  • Central – Cubs fans, on the other hand, will point to their +8 run differential and loudly proclaim themselves to be the class of the league.
  • West – And the Dodgers’ fans will tie their brains in knots trying to figure out a way to justify claiming a +7 result is better than a +8. Good luck with that.
  • Wild Cards – The Rockies fans will breathe a sigh of relief at learning their three run victory on Opening Day earns them the first NL Wild Card slot. The Mets, Reds, and Padres provide the NL’s only real playoff drama, all claiming two run victories. As in the AL Central, two of the games finished 2-0, allowing the Reds to grab the second Wild Card by virtue of a 5-3 Opening Day victory.

There you have it. Get your bets down now, seeing as how sports betting is no longer a federal crime.

Parenthetically, our long-suffering (last year must have felt like at least three seasons) friends in Baltimore may get some relief this year. While the Orioles lost their first game, and their run differential is currently negative one, they’ve still managed to put together a 4-2 record. Keep that up all season, and they’ll finish with 108 wins. Not good enough for the playoffs, unfortunately, but still a nice turnaround from last year’s dismal 47-115 record.

Oh, you want to get a World Series bet down as well? No problem.

Here’s the information for our ten playoff teams after a week of play. Again, the Mariners’ two games in Japan are not included.

Won/Loss

Run Differential

Yankees

2-4

20-20 (0)
Royals

2-3

26-27 (-1)
Mariners

5-1

42-28 (+14)
Astros

2-5

15-22 (-7)
Athletics

5-3

31-23 (+8)

Won/Loss

Run Differential

Phillies

4-1

39-22 (+17)
Cubs

1-4

32-37 (-5)
Dodgers

5-2

55-34 (+21)
Rockies

3-4

17-25 (-8)
Padres

4-3

23-24 (-1)

Clearly, the Mariners will have no problem making it to their first ever World Series. The As will beat the Astros, then be eliminated by the Mariners. The Yankees’ offensive/defensive equivalence will get them past the Royals, but be no match for the Mariners.

Meanwhile, the Dodgers will stroll past the Wild Card winning Padres. The Phillies won’t even break a sweat when they face the Cubs, but will go down to a hard fought defeat against LA.

So both World Series teams will be from the West Coast. Nevertheless, their fans will miss the beginnings of every game of the series, as MLB will insist on 5pm starts, ensuring empty seats and unwatched televisions until everyone gets through the rush hour traffic, along about the third inning.

That said, the imbalance in the teams’ run differentials suggests we won’t be getting a full suite of seven games. The Dodgers should win three of the first five, and wrap up the title in Game Six.

Disappointing for the Mariners, certainly, but greed is bad. Breaking the longest current playoff drought, making the World Series for the first time, and winning the Series in the same year? Definitely a bit too grabby.

There you go. Good luck in Vegas.

Right on the Edge

There is one small fringe benefit to the Mariners having gone to Japan for that pseudo-Opening Day.

In a normal preseason, Seattle plays San Diego about five hundred times. Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration. While it feels like five hundred, the actual number is closer to four hundred.

Anyway, the over-Padreization is due to a combination of factors. Most importantly, the Mariners and Padres share a training facility, so it’s convenient for them to play each other. And then there’s MLB’s late, unlamented effort to force every team into a “natural*” rivalry with a team in the other league.

* The problem, of course, is that not everyone has a natural rival. Prior to Houston switching from the NL to the AL, they were an obvious rival for the Rangers. Similarly, Angels versus Dodgers and Giants versus Athletics made perfect sense. Seattle got stuck with San Diego because they were the Wests’ leftovers. After Houston moved, it got even worse. Houston got saddled with the Arizona Diamondbacks, and the Seattle and Texas shared the Padres and the Colorado Rockies. Thankfully, MLB has mostly abandoned the whole concept.

But I digress.

Thanks to the Japanese excursion, the Padres and Mariners only play three preseason games this year–more like two and three-quarters, actually, since the March 5 game was a split-squad matchup* for San Diego.

* A split-squad game is where half the team plays in one game and half in another. This is often done in the early stages of Spring Training when a large chunk of the minor league players are still in camp. The idea is to give them a chance to show what they can do in something that resembles a real game without shorting the playing time of the guys who are either already slotted for the big league club or in competition for a spot.

The Mariners tied the split-squad game, lost resoundingly last night, and will play again this afternoon with a chance to finish the preseason 1-1-1 against their unnatural rivals. Tomorrow will be an day off for everyone, and then the season starts for real on Thursday.

Nobody puts in much effort in the last preseason game. The roster is largely set and getting hurt right before the season starts would be awful, personally and professionally. So everyone gets a little in-game action, goes at about three-quarters of their ability, and calls it a day. It’s generally a relaxed affair, and–benefits to the players aside–a good way for the fans to wrap up their own Spring Training.

None of which is to say that the last few games are devoid of excitement, good and bad. Boston pitcher Rick Porcello took a line drive off the side of his head yesterday. Fortunately, he wasn’t seriously injured–I presume he’s been getting follow-up medical exams since he came out of the game, though the news media aren’t saying anything about it–but it’s not the way anybody wants to wrap up their preparations for the season.

While the Mariners and Padres are facing off for the third time, the Red Sox and Cubs will be playing for the second time this year. Wednesday’s off day will be a travel day for both: the Cubs will start the season in Texas and the Red Sox–with Rick Porcello–are heading cross-country to Seattle.

Regrettably, I won’t be able to watch the real Opening Day festivities this year. I’ll be at work when the Mariners and Red Sox take the field. Oddly, my request to take the day off as a religious holiday was denied*. But I can listen to the middle innings on my way home and watch the end of the game. Hopefully the Ms can stretch their lead over the rest of the AL West.

* No, not really. But I did consider asking.

(Guess what: it’s still early enough for everyone to be optimistic. Yes, even fans of the basement-dwelling Oakland As.)

See y’all at the park.

Too Soon?

The season has started. At least, that’s what MLB is saying. I’m having trouble believing them.

Not in a “The Mariners have the best record in baseball‽” way. (The complementary observation that “The As have the worst record in baseball!” has to be pleasant for fans of the Orioles and Royals: they now know it’ll be at least another week before their teams fall into the AL basement.*) Nor does it have anything to do with the games having been played in Japan in a stadium few of the players know. It doesn’t even have anything to do with my inability to watch those two games** because they’re played in the middle of the night***.

* Actually, since the MLB scoreboard sorts teams with the same record alphabetically by location, Baltimore is currently on top in the AL East. Not bad for a team that finished last year with a historically bad record. May this be a sign of things to come.)

** To be strictly accurate, I did manage to catch the radio broadcast of the last inning of the second game. Twelve innings stretched the game just long enough for me to hear the Ms break the tie.

*** Yeah, there’s a bit of East Coast envy happening. A 5:30 AM game would be a little easier to deal with than 2:30 AM.

I don’t get to watch the first few Mariners games in most seasons. For reasons known only to MLB’s schedulers, the As and Mariners often open the season against each other. Since I’m in the As’ broadcast territory, the games are blacked out on MLB.TV. Sure, I could watch the local broadcast on real TV, but how awkward and uncomfortable would that be, especially if the Mariners lost? So I content myself with radio–which isn’t blacked out–and wait for the second series of the year.

But I digress.

The truth is, an overseas Opening Series is just Too Damn Early.

There’s a rhythm to the seasons, whether you’re talking Earth-around-the-Sun or baseball. Shifting a few days, as has been done recently to keep the playoffs from running into November, is a little uncomfortable, but no worse than switching from Daylight Savings Time to Standard Time. You feel disoriented for a few hours–a day at most–but then your brain and body catch up.

But this year, MLB is trying to convince us that two games played a week and a half early are real. That’s more like a serious case of jet lag. The kind you get flying from, say, Arizona to Japan. It takes several days to get yourself back in sync with the rest of the world.

It’s nice that MLB wants to give us an opportunity to see what things are like from the players’ perspective. I suppose handing out VR headsets with a batter’s-perspective video of an Aroldis Chapman sinker* with every MLB.TV subscription would be prohibitively expensive.

* Or, to be fair, a pitcher’s perspective video of a Giancarlo Stanton comeback line drive.

It’s a well-known fact that some players need a longer spring training than others. Position players are generally ready before pitchers, even though the latter report to camp first.

But it’s also true that fans need a certain amount of time to be season-ready. We need to fine-tune our attention. Toughen up our throats and palms for maximum volume cheers and boos. And yes, even get a sufficient look at the minor league players who won’t be making the majors this year, but might feature prominently in our “Wait’ll next year!” fantasies.

So we’re a bit off center. Maybe next year MLB will give us that week and hold off the games that count until the last week of March or the first week of April.

As for this year, it’s okay to acknowledge that you’re not quite ready. Remember, there are millions of us in the same position.

Close your eyes, picture an outfield filled with summer sunlight. Think late September, a one game division lead, and the shade of Ernie Banks saying “It’s a beautiful day for a ballgame…Let’s play two!”

That’s the goal. We’ll get there.