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Now, we here at No Rhubarb! are baseball fans. We love the simple beauty and joy of the game; the perfect rhythms and dynamic contrasts; rich history and oftentimes bewildering contradictions. We are now and always will be baseball fans. We understand that taking a round ball and a round bat and hitting it square might be the hardest thing to do in sports. We also fashion ourselves traditionalists: life without the DH is more fun, artificial turf comes from the devil, baseball uniforms are supposed to be white at home and gray on the road. We loathe the unceasing parade of lousy Top-40 music played at every chance in nearly every ballpark we've seen. We yearn for the return of organs at baseball parks.

Now, this may make us seem like those crusty old bastards who won't accept anything past 1929, who ramble on endlessly about the Brooklyn Dodgers and when Cincinnati had the decency to be called the Redlegs. No.

Anyway, we understand there there is larceny in baseball and there is lunacy in baseball. We understand that sometimes it isn't the action on the field that keeps 'em coming in. And we understand that this lunacy is most perfectly expressed at the minor league park. It always has been.

And this is why we need the Rainiers to get with the program. While we understand that switch in ownership groups has hampered the promotions department, but we're past that now. Need some pointers? Just watch this space. We will attempt to find the best, the goofiest thing a minor league club has going on this year.

Case in point: The West Michigan White Caps are having Star Wars night. We've mentioned the natural Star Wars and baseball connection already, but this one goes a bit farther. Clone Trooper singing the national anthem. Costumed characters throwing out the first pitch. A big screen showing The Empire Strikes Back. No, the White Caps are taking it to the next level. Witness: the Star Wars uniform:

This, THIS is what we need. Get to it folks.

Thanks to the almighty Deadspin for the tip.

The Dayton Dragons – Class A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds – have some things going for them. “Dragons” is a very cool name. We love the Dragon logo. We aren't a huge fan of the green and black color scheme, but we can tolerate the white home uniform.

So what the hell are they doing here? Look, we understand that the very nature of mascots mean that whatever cool or even slightly threatening image has to be denatured into the blandest, most “family-friendly” thing they can come up with.

Having said that, we must point out that “Heater” the boy dragon is quite simply the wimpiest-looking dragon ever. And “Gem” the girl dragon is so creepy it makes us nauseous.

Photo Courtesy of

It would be difficult to come up with a better game to start the second half with than this one. Perfect weather for baseball, a tight, taut game throughout, a brilliant inning of work by rehabbing Mariner Mark Lowe and Our Favorite Rainier hitting his 22nd homer for the win. Throw in Kam Mickolio's first Triple-A save, and you have the Rainiers' fifth win in a row.

Lots more of these fellas. That's all we need.


A loss for the PCL and a split decision for the Rainiers. Tacoma's Justin Lehr got the start for the PCL and unfortunately picked up the loss as the International League jumped on him for four runs in his only inning of work. Lehr hit a batter, and then gave up a double and consecutive homers to Toledo third baseman Mike Hessman and Pawtucket outfielder Brandon Moss. The PCL was unable to recover from the early deficit. Our Favorite Rainier acquitted himself well, scoring the PCL's first run after his double in the first.

The season starts for real again tomorrow. Grizzlies at Rainiers, 7:05,, Cheney Stadium. And apparently Adam Jones will remain a Rainier for the time being, so don't miss him.


Today we take a look at what's gone right for the Tacoma Rainiers. As you might expect, with a team 11 games under the .500 mark, there ain't much.

Player of the Half: Adam Jones There is no surprise here whatsoever. Our Favorite Rainier was the hands-down best player on this team before the season started and nothing has changed. Adam Jones has hit .309/.377/.585 for the season, with 21 homers and 72 RBI, all while playing stellar defense in both centerfield and right. The downside for Rainier fans? His time in Tacoma at this point is measured in days, not months, and if the Mariner blogosphere is to be believed, Jones might not be seen in a Rainier uniform again after the Triple-A All-Star game on Wednesday. Rainier fans should count themselves lucky he's been with the team this long; Adam Jones is ready for the show.
Also Receiving Votes: Wladimir Balentien, Justin Lehr

Pitcher of the Half: Justin Lehr Even more of a no-brainer than Jones is this 29-year old who rescued the team. Initially signed to come out of the bullpen, forced into starting when Jake Woods was called up to the big club, Lehr won his first six decisions en route to starting the Triple-A All-Star game. The Rainiers have seen 14 starters (including three rehab starts) so far this year, and none of them have come close to being as steady and productive as Justin Lehr.
Also Receiving Votes: Jorge Campillo, Julio Mateo

Most Welcome Development: Prior to this season Wlad Balentien was considered a talented but risky prospect, an all-or-nothing player prone to big power numbers (90 HR in 400 minor league games) and huge strikeout totals (140 in 2006 alone). As a Rainier though, Balentien has solidified his status as a real prospect, and forced himself into the Mariners' future plans. His numbers (.328/.397/.993) are actually slightly superior to Jones, and his flair for the game have made him a fan favorite in Tacoma. Due to the outfield logjam in Seattle, Balentien might be prime trade bait.

Most Intriguing: Not many Rainier fans heard of Kameron Mickolio before his Tacoma debut on June 13 against the Beavers. He was roughed up that day, to the tune of 1 2/3 innings and four earned runs. Since then, the 6-9, 250 pound behemoth has been dominant, giving up only two earned runs over his next five appearances, and posting an eye-popping 15 Ks in 14 innings pitched.

The Triple-A All-Star game is tomorrow night in Albuquerque, available as either streaming video or audio from Tacoma's own Justin Lehr gets the start for the PCL squad.

If this game is half as good as the major league All-Star game, we'll be quite pleased.

The hometown Rainiers have reached the All-Star break. While not the actual midpoint of the season – that was about two weeks ago – this marks a good spot to take stock of the season.

Which, handily enough, is exactly what we'll be doing this week. Today, we look at the team as a whole. The Rainiers – thanks to four straight wins over Portland – have pulled out of last place. Tacoma stands at 40-51, 10 games behind division leader Salt Lake. They haven't seen .500 since the first week of the season. Tacoma ranks 12th in ERA, fourth in walks allowed, 13th in strikeouts. The Rainiers have notched no complete games and only two shutouts.

So, pitching may be an issue.

Sadly, the Rainiers don't hit all that well, either. They rank ninth in overall OPS, 12th in On-Base. The team K's a lot (645 times, fourth in the PCL) and never takes a walk. Tacoma is a pathetic 15th in walks. A team can't survive with a three-to-one K to walk ratio. And they haven't, ranking 10th in overall runs. This team has two incandescent bright spots in the line up (Our Favorite Rainier and Wlad Balentien) and some absolute dead zones.

But we'll cover that later in the week.

Photo Courtesy of

This is Robert Stratton. He won the Triple-A Home Run Derby tonight in Albuquerque. He isn't actually in baseball this year. The former Isotope is a real estate agent now.

Yeah, things are different in the minors.

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