March 16th, 2008


We Control Reality / We Control Your Chemistry Baby

Standing in Hell's Kitchen - where they hang t-shirts for sale that read "Tacoma: The Reason I Drink" - behind the little half-wall separating the bar area from the band-merch-4-sale area, I contemplated the fact that I was at least 10 years older than most of the people here for this All Ages show. That little half-wall was all I needed to see to know where I stood. I'm no longer young, I'm no longer relevant, I'm no longer immersed in the cutting-edge of music and fashion. Standing there in my leather jacket, with my balding head, my week's beard growth, with a Newcastle in hand, I became very resentful.

Where was MY Hell's Kitchen when I was in high school trying to see how long I could grow out my hair before it drove me crazy? Where was I allowed to congregate with music-loving friends that I didn't have (I had friends, but not the rabid music-loving fans like me, who'd headbang to heavy metal music until it gave them headaches)?

Part of me now thinks, why does there have to be such a thing as All Ages Shows? I know it makes the bands more money, so I guess that's okay. But, they're fucking crowding me! When I saw the Schoolyard Heroes in New York, the only people in attendance were the other bands and their girlfriends. I had room to jump around, get to the front of the stage, it was great! Here, in Hell's Kitchen, I was lucky to get to a side where my view wasn't obstructed by a giant pole in the middle of the room.

Just as I'm readying my voodoo pox on all people under 21, I notice on one of the TV screens a commercial for Warm 106.9 and like the Grinch before me, my heart grew three sizes that day. Yes, these kids need Hell's Kitchen. They need all-ages shows. They need to get out of the house, congregate amidst a gathering of other like-pierced individuals, and listen to shitty bands scream at them for hours.

That is, until the Schoolyard Heroes came on. Sure, they scream sometimes, but when it comes from Ryann's voice, it's sheer poetry. I wish she was everywhere I was, screaming at my co-workers, tucking me in at night with her eye-liner running and sweat dripping down her tattered dress.

And get this! They actually played a 2-song acoustic set! I shit you not, the two guitarists and Ryann all sat on chairs and played a couple of songs I've since forgotten the names to, but it worked surprisingly well!

Once I had six or seven beers in me (which took the duration of the three shitty bands before them), I was feeling more at ease with the All Ages around me. What once was a hinderance to my enjoyment became a reason to play protector as there were two 8 year old girls behind me - her dad having left to hit the moshing side of the crowd - and a surging crowd in front of me trying to start shit with their Circle Pits and whatnot.

These fans are hardcore though. They even have the claps memorized from the Dude, Where's My Skin song on the new album. It was awesome, if not a little creepy. Was that 9 claps or 10?

After the show, as they were herding the young-uns out - "If you're not buying shirts, it's time to go" - I waited around a bit, closed out my tab, and went over to buy a t-shirt from the band. I got this white one with what appears to be a giant, dark blood stain running down from the neck area; like somebody slit my throat from ear to ear. It's pretty sweet, it has Schoolyard Heroes spelled out in spattered blood as well. I don't know if I want to wear it or buy a mannequin with a knife sticking out of its neck.

Narrowing Down The Mariners' 25th Man

Each major league team is allowed 25 players on their roster for any given day. Nine of them comprise the starting group of batters and field players; five of them are reserved for starting pitchers; 6-7 are saved for relief pitchers, meaning the remaining 4-5 slots go to utility field players on the bench.

Outfield for 2008 looks like this:


Infield for 2008 looks like this:


Catcher for 2008:


Designated Hitter for 2008:


Your starting five, in order:

1. Bedard
2. Felix
3. Silva
4. Wash
5. Batista

Your relievers, from 9th inning, working back:

Closer: Putz
RHR: Morrow
LHR: O'Flaherty
RHR: Sean Green
LHR: Rowland-Smith
Long: Baek

Your utility players:

C: Burke
Inf/Out: Bloomquist
Inf: Cairo
Inf/Out: Morse

I've got Morse in there as your 24th man because he's tearing the fucking seams off the ball in Spring Training, plus he can play all field positions except catcher, plus he's out of options, so if we tried sending him to Tacoma, Oakland or Anaheim would surely pick him up and make us pay dearly. Miguel Cairo seems like a lock for #23 because he's a vet and probably our best defensive infielder not named Beltre or Betancourt. Bloomy is an obvious choice, he's the first pinch runner off the bench, plus he's like Morse only with more experience.

That leaves one more spot on the team. Assuming we decide to keep Baek up here and not give him another season's worth of starting in Tacoma, that means Feierabend and Jon Huber are out. I'm assuming RHR Mark Lowe - coming off a season's worth of injuries and rehab - will start out in Tacoma getting regular work in. Should Lowe stand-out like he did two years ago, I don't see any reason why he won't be back up here by the all-star break. Balentien, our other heavy-hitting young utility outfielder, looks like he'll need regular play in Tacoma as well, so I'd pencil him as OUT.

From here, the Mariners have some choices to make. Do they want another long reliever? Knuckleballer R.A. Dickey has been impressing coaches this spring. If Baek is demoted to Tacoma, look for a guy named Dickey making batters look foolish when Washburn goes 3 innings and gives up 8 runs. But, I can't see the M's keeping two long relievers with this starting staff. Cesar Jiminez is another intriguing choice, should the M's want a 3rd LHR. Personally, I'm seeing him as Tacoma's closer, but you never know. We have an aging vet outfielder named Greg Norton who's 35 and a specialist when it comes to pinch hitting. In case you don't know, pinch hitting isn't necessarily the easiest thing in the world. And look who the M's have so far. Bloomy is a runner, not a hitter. Cairo, same deal. No one's giving Jamie Burke a bat unless they want to die by my hands. That leaves Mike Morse, who I have confidence in, but does that mean he's ready to hit once every ten days? It's veterans like Greg Norton who are just happy to be there, they're the ones who get the job done when the game's tied in the 8th inning and a runner on 2nd with two outs.

My money is on the M's riding an 11-man pitching staff for as long as humanly possible until somebody on the utility side of things either gets injured or plays himself out of a spot on this team. Or, you know, if our starting pitching decides to repeat its 2007 performance, putting ungodly strain on our bullpen.

Let's hope it doesn't come to that. It's Greg Norton's ass if it does.