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That the News Tribune is hurting shouldn't surprise anyone. Newspapers are hurting everywhere. Unfortunately, the TNT has lost another fine voice from the Sports section. The News Tribune has long been the best in the Puget Sound, and one of the best on the West Coast, with a history of great reporters like NFL Hall of Famer John Clayton, Don Borst, Mike Sando and the late Mike Kahn.

Today, Frank Hughes, currently the Seahawks beat writer and longtime NBA reporter for the Tribune announced he's accepted the buyout and left the paper. Frank was always informative, often irreverent and seemed to handle his newfound blogging responsibilities very well.

We wish him well, and hope he sticks around the area.

Okay, We're Back

Again.

Sort of.

Yeah, the Rainiers season is over, and the Mariners season might as well be. There are other kinds of sports to follow, and damned if I don't plan on doing so. We shall be resurrecting the short lived Electoral College Dropouts to cover the election, plus we have a new blog, Jack Thompson Haunts Your Dreams, this one covering the beloved Washington State Cougars and the world of college football.

Ambitious, I know.

Our boy Joe was so close. Joe Woerman pitched six strong innings, had perhaps his best start of the season, but didn't get the win over the hated Portland Beavers. Joe went six, gave up four runs but only one earned, leaving with a one-run lead. The Rainier bullpen couldn't keep the lead though, as Jon Huber blew the save and Tracy Thorpe threw some gas on the fire. Three Rainiers not known for power hitting, Tug Hulett, Reed Johnson and Prentice Redman all homered in the loss.

Same two teams tomorrow at 7:00. Weather should be perfect for baseball.

A few weeks ago we brought you the horror of Blowie. Now, thanks to Deadspin, we learn it gets much, much worse: witness "Baby Blowie".



Does this qualify as child abuse?

Rainiers 8, 51s 1

The penultimate game of a very long road trip went to the Rainiers, as they beat up on Las Vegas 8-1. Holding a 2-1 lead before exploding for four in the seventh. Starter Andrew Baldwin earned the win with six strong innings, and new Rainier Michael Saunders cracked his first Triple-A homerun.

The finale of a the road trip tomorrow at 7:05. Then Tacoma comes home.

A four game sweep of a road series is a difficult task. A four game sweep of a good team like the Sacramento River Cats even more so. The Cats scored two in the first, another two in the second and never looked back, spanking Rainiers' starter Sean White for six runs in 4 2/3 innings. Sacramento shortstop Cliff Pennington was the hitting star, racking up two triples and a double.

The Rainiers move on to Las Vegas and four against the 51's.

Tug Hulett lead off with his fourth triple of the season, and the Rainiers jumped on Sacramento starter Kirk Sarloos. Tacoma put up four in the first, three in the second and Sarloos was sent to the showers. After stretching out to a 9-1 lead, the Rainiers and starter Richard Rorhbaugh coasted home, earning the Rainiers' starter his fifth win and evening his record at 5-5. Catcher Rob Johnson was the offensive star for Tacoma, cracking his second and third homers of the season.

Same two teams tomorrow at 7:05, as the Rainiers go for the four-game sweep. After that, it is on to Las Vegas.


Photo courtesy of Kevin Freitas dot net


We here at No Rhubarb! have long wanted to make a pilgrimage to the Dockyard Derby Dames. Tough chicks with cool made-up names moving at obscenely high speeds warms even out baseball-purist heart. Saturday was the third bout of the season, with the Trampires taking on the Femme Fiannas and the Hellbound Homewreckers hosting the Toothless Annies from Lilac City Rollergirls.

We had never actually attended roller derby before, but luckily we had experienced hands KF dot net and the Missus along to explain the rules. The Dames site also includes this handy guide, but really, the only way to figure it out is to watch it.

Bees 7, Rainiers 5

The Rainiers dropped their second in a row in Salt Lake, as the Bees jumped on starter Sean White for three runs in the first. The Rainiers came back to tie the contest in the fifth, powered by Our Favorite Rainier Matt Tuiasosopo's two-run double. The Bees then pulled ahead in the bottom of the inning, scoring another three off of White. Salt Lake reliever Matt Wilhite took the win, White the loss.

Last game of the three-game tilt is on Thursday, first pitch at 6:05

The Rainiers gave up an early run to the Fresno Grizzlies, than struck for run in the first four innings. After building up a big lead, Tacoma had to hang on to a 10-7 win. Jeff Clement hit a home run and a double, Nick Blasi collected three hits and Cesar Jimenez vultured a win with 2 1/3 innings of relief. Our boy Joe Woermann got the start and probably pitched as well as he has all year, going 4 2/3 with nine hits, four walks and six strikeouts. The Rainiers take the series with their third straight win, and now head off for a 12-day road trip beginning in Salt Lake.

Yes, we fully intend to get back on the ball with game reports

The Rainiers won big in the afternoon and then won small in the evening. Tacoma whacked Fresno in the first game, scoring five runs in the first on the way to a 12-3 laugher. The first six Rainiers reached base, highlighted by Jeff Clement's three-run homer.

The Rainiers then picked up the second game in a squeaker, beating Fresno 2-1. The bullpen was the star of this game, as Jake Woods, Roy Corcoran and Jared Wells each threw a shutout inning. Woods picked up the win, Wells the save. Victor Diaz doubled home Jeff Clement in the first and drove in Tug Hulett in the fifth to account for both Rainier runs.

Final game of the series and of the homestand Sunday at 1:30.

Stockton, California is a hellhole. We know this, because when we made the drive from San Diego to Tacoma, we stayed the night in Stockton. Due to a late start from San Diego, we didn't arrive at our hotel until about three in the morning.

It was 107 degrees. At three in the morning. We shan't be returning.

We do give credit though, to the Class-A Stockton Ports, who proudly sport an old-school name in a world filled with MuckDogs and RiverCats and AquaSox. We like the name Ports, as one might expect. Strikes us as dignified and speaks to the history of the game.

We won't ever, ever go back there though. Now, we don't give Stockton credit for Splash, a fairly nondescript, jelly-bellied whatsit who does sport a nice jewfro/dreadlock combo. Splash is neither different enough to be interesting, nor crazy enough to be truly frightening. Once more, with feeling Stockton.

Jeff Clement's recent stay in the majors didn't go real well. That much is obvious. Of course, the entire Mariner team has been terrible, so it can't be his fault alone. What is also obvious is that Jeff Clement is done with the minor leagues. He came back last night, crushed a grand slam in the fourth to lead the Rainiers over Las Vegas. His Triple-A line now stands at .388/.527/.706.

You can catch Clement and the Rainiers today at 11:30 for a daytime tilt against Las Vegas. We hope the weather clears up. Chris Jakubauskas (2-0, 2.70) against Miguel Pinango (2-3, 4.73).

Rooting for Joe

We here at No Rhubarb! are always rooting for our Rainiers, that much should be obvious. We admit though, to rooting for some a little more than others. One of those is Joe Woerman. Joe - we're close enough to call him Joe - is having a simply terrible year. His last appearance lowered his ERA to 14.00. Of course, we need to count the two walks. That raises his total to 23 walks in 18 innings. Yeesh.

Roster moves ahoy! The Rainiers get an old friend back in time for tonight's game against the hated Las Vegas 51s. Jeff Clement returns from a not particularly stellar stint with the big league Mariners, after hitting .167 with 20 strikeouts. Clement did dominate at the Triple-A level, but this has to be a disappointment. Jeremy Reed is promoted to replace him.

The weather was perfect for baseball. The company (Kevin Freitas dot net, our intrepid copilot and photographer) was excellent. The seats were great. The drinks were cold and the hot dogs extra-hot.

It would have been awesome then, had the Rainiers had bothered to show up. Coming in, we were certain we were in for a good game. Tacoma ace Ryan Feierabend was on the mound, the Sidewinders are terrible. Should be easy right?

Apparently not. Still, good time had by all. Pictures from KF.net to come!

Really nice match-up tomorrow to end the four-game series. R.A. Dickey takes his knuckler to the hill against Doug Davis. Davis - usually a starter for the parent Arizona Diamondbacks - is on a injury rehab assignment for cancer.

We drop in on the independent leagues today. We here at No Rhubarb! will send you a bright, shiny quarter if you can tell us just where exactly the Coastal Plain League without Googling it. Give up? The CPL is a summer collegiate league stretching through Virginia and the Carolinas. The team today is the Columbus Blowfish, located in lovely Columbia, South Carolina. Now, we think ya'll can see where this is going: Blowfish?

Yep! Meet Blowie!



Please, do yourself a favor and click to check out the larger image.

Back? Good... yeah, we know. Just remember, kids love Blowie! And Blowie loves Cocky!

And Blowie can dance like there is NO TOMORROW:

This week may be the perfect time for Rainiers baseball. The Rainiers come back into town riding a four-game win streak after sweeping the hated Omaha Royals. The Rainiers will be in town starting Thursday for an eight-game homestand against the Tucson Sidewinders and Las Vegas 51s.

Oh, and did we mention it should be in the 80s all weekend? Perfect baseball weather!

Okay, so we're working on a longer version of our favorite Friday feature, our look at mascots across the spectrum of minor league baseball. We decided to take a quick break and stop by FeedTacoma and check up the Frost Park meetup today. We stumbled upon GOALTacoma's post about South Korean star Mr. Woo and OH MY GOD WHAT IS THAT?

Surf Dude. The Tacoma Tide have a mascot. Surf. Dude.


Okay, Rhubarb you are off the hook. The title of Tacoma's Creepiest Mascot may be retired for Surf Dude.

Excuse us, we have to wash our eyes out with acid now.

The hometown nine lost a bit of its luster today. Jeff Clement and Wladimir Balentien, the two best hitters Tacoma had, were both called up to the Mariners. Unlike last September's cup of coffee, this should be it for both. Wlad becomes the new starting rightfielder for the M's, and Clement will DH against lefties righties.

As one might expect, this puts a big kink in whatever hopes the Rainiers had, but such is life in the minor leagues.

Starting soon - probably this weekend - we will be contributing to Bleeding Blue and Teal, one of the better Mariner blogs out there on the interwebs and the one smart enough to invite us. They are a great spot to follow the Rainiers' parent club.

Geoff Baker in the Seattle Times Mariner blog reports that Mariner GM Bill Bavasi stated that Wlad Balentien and Jeff Clement will be in the majors "sooner rather than later." Neither player is in the Rainer line-up tonight.

Doesn't take a genius to figure this one out...

Rainers Report

With a much-needed off day on Wednesday, we here at No Rhubarb! feel it a good opportunity to check up on the hometown nine. So here we go with our first Rainier Report of the season.

Yeah, we know the name sucks. You come up with something better.

The Tacoma Rainiers currently stand at 10-8, good for second place in the Pacific North Division, but the Rainiers stand a staggering seven games behind the first-place Salt Lake Bees. The Bees are 17-1, which is just unbelievable in of itself, but the Bees are undefeated (11-0!) on the road. We knew that Salt Lake would be good - the Bees feature the Angels' best hitting prospect Brandon Wood and best pitching prospect Nick Adenhart - but this is ridiculous. The Beavers and Sky Sox are bunched up behind the Rainiers, but everybody in the division is looking up at Salt Lake.

Rockin'
Jeff Clement
- The power-hitting catcher has proved all that he can in Triple-A. Sporting a whopping .367/.500/.650 line with four homers and 15 walks, Clement could be heading to Seattle any day now.

Bryan LaHair -Tied with Clement for the team lead in homers and slugging a robust .522. Still can't hit lefties though.

Matt Tuisasosopo - When Tui was named Our Favorite Rainier, he was really scuffling along, sporting an awful .212/.297/.333 line. Well, being named Our Favorite Rainier has been quite the tonic. Currently at .262/.338/.392, Tui has been red-hot lately, hitting .368 his past 10 games.

Ryan Feierabend - It would be difficult be more important to a team than the Rainier ace. He leads the team in wins, ERA, innings pitched and strikeouts.

Not Rockin'
Yung-Chi Chen
- We are willing to cut Chen some slack after missing nearly the entire 2007 season, but .212/.255/.302 is just sad. He's particularly helpless behind in the count, where his average slips to .071. Yikes

Tug Hulett - Chen's partner at second, Hulett has hit even less, if that's possible. Tug's playing time has been limited, but .124/.263/.156 doesn't really call for more.

Rob Johnson - The defensive side of the Reff Clemtson double-headed catching monster leads the team in errors. You figure it out...

Joe Woermann - We at No Rhubarb! are somewhat inclined to like Joe, beings as he's from the Puget Sound and went to school down in San Diego, but his start has been terrifyingly bad. Pick a number, and its terrible. No wins, two losses, ERA of 18.62, 20 runs in 9 2/3 innings, 14 walks... just awful.

Yes, we know: It's still early!

Do you own a Nintendo DS? Portable game system, replacement for the GameBoy, startling addictive? Just about everyone we know does. Meaning the Official Wife of No Rhubarb! and both Freitai, No Rhubarb! having a very limited social circle. Anyway, the Seattle Mariners - major league affiliate of Your Tacoma Rainiers - are owned by Nintendo. And they want you to looooove your DS as much as they love your money. So, if you're a proud DS owner, you can head to Safeco Field and use it for all sorts of good stuff. Over the park's dedicated network, fans will be able use their DS to track stats from the Mariner website, chat with other DS-owning fans, order refreshments or souvenirs... and all from the comfort of your seat. The M's played around with this last season, charging a nominal fee for the trouble, but when it starts up again this time it will be totally free.

This is pretty damned cool,and gets the official No Rhubarb! Seal of Approval. Knowing the DS-obsessed Freitai as we do, we're expecting to be at the game testing this out before the end of next homestand.

The Rainiers are having it rough, weatherwise. Tacoma and the Colorado Sky Sox were rained out Monday night. It was actually canceled for wet grounds, but "wet grounded out" sounds a little odd. No makeup date has been announced as of yet, but look for another Sunday doubleheader the next time the Sox are in town. Daytime baseball tomorrow as the Sox and Rainiers finish their series at 11:05.

Wlad Balentien's x-ray came up negative after Tacoma's power-hitting rightfielder left the game Saturday night. Wlad tweaked his left knee sliding for a foul ball during Tacoma's 12-3 loss to Colorado Springs. To be safe, Wlad will be kept out of Tuesday's game, but he should be on the field on Thursday in Tucson.

Game Results and wrap-up today is courtesy of Erik Hanberg. Thanks Erik! And if any other Rainier fans would like to file a guest wrap-up, just drop us a line! Even if you haven't been to the game, just make something up! Our quality control is shockingly low.



In their home matchup against the Colorado Springs Sky Sox, the Rainiers went hitless until their big 4th inning. The most impressive moment of the inning was Charlton Jimerson's stunning double to center field that bounced off the big wall just a foot or two shy of sailing over it--a rare feat at Cheney Stadium. My good friend Phil, a former bat boy for the Rainiers tells me the only person he ever saw hit one over the center field wall was Jose Canseco during a Tigers/A's game way back when.

The Sky Sox were able to narrow the score to within one after a 2 run homer to right in the 8th, but were quickly shut down in the 9th to lose to the Rainiers 5-4.

It was my first baseball game this season, either at Safeco or Cheney, and it was a great one to watch. The weather was chilly but mostly sunny, the fans were excited to be there, and I got to see Rhubarb streak. Turns out he's not a better mascot when he's naked. That said, I looked for an extra antler and saw none, so I'm starting to wonder if Rhubarb's a lady mascot.

A great Sunday afternoon game for the Rainiers.

Erik Hanberg regularly blogs at www.erikemery.com


Thanks Erik! Same two teams at Cheney Stadium Monday night. Robert Roohrbaugh (2-0, 4.63) takes the hill for Tacoma, against Sky Sox hurler John Koronka (1-0, 7.30).

Alone? Bored? Nothing to do? Flip to FSN at 7:00 and watch Our Favorite Rainier candidate R.A. Dickey make his starting debut for the Mariners. Dickey and his knuckler open a huge April series against the Angels tonight.

Sometimes baseball can be a bastard. Tonight was one of those times for our hometown nine. The Rainiers went into the ninth with the lead, and Cesar Jimenez - who has been damn near unhittable this year - was on the hill. Jimenez was still unhittable at first. Unfortunately he was so wild Fresno had no need to hit. He struck out Jake Wald on a wild pitch, allowing Wald to get to first. Emmanuel Burris then came up showing bunt, but Jimenez threw wild to first, sending Wald to second. The bunt was off and Burris scalded a triple into right. Brian Horwitz doubled home Burris, and the Grizzlies get the win.

Ugh... This can be such rough game. The finale of this four-game series on Friday. Rainier ace Ryan Feierabend (2-1, 1.59) takes the hill for Tacoma against Nick Periera (1-1, 5.00) for Fresno.

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Justin Thomas was called up from Double-A West Tenn and made his Triple-A debut for the Rainiers on Wednesday.

Maybe he can call for a mulligan. Thomas was rocked by the Fresno Grizzlies, going five innings, giving up six run on only five hits. Four walks didn't help matters either. The Rainiers didn't give Thomas the help he needed, collecting only one run on five hits.

Game three is Thursday. Sean Green (0-0, 5.40) expected to start for Tacoma against Victor Santos (1-0, 3.60) for Fresno.

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We here at No Rhubarb! are not sure the actual statistics, but we are willing to bed that when one team scores nine runs in a single inning, they usually win. That's how it went down tonight in Fresno, as the Rainiers broke open a scoreless tie in the fourth with nine runs. Tacoma never looked back and romped to an easy win. Bryan LaHair, Wlad Balentien and Jeff Clement all homered in the win. Robert Rorhbaugh pitched 5 2/3 innings to pick up the win, and ex-Ranier and ex-Mariner Julio Mateo took the loss.

Game two tomorrow at 7:05. Lefty Justin Thomas is scheduled to make his Triple-A debut for the Rainiers. He'll face Patrick Misch (1-0, 3.86) for the Grizzlies.

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As if to celebrate his being named Our Favorite Rainier on Monday, Matt Tuiasosopo had his best day as a Rainier, going 2-4 with four runs batted in and a triple. Plus, R.A. Dickey found himself promoted to the major leagues.

To top it all off, today Adam Jones - wearing the number 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson - hit his first home run as an Oriole.

After a week of voting, we have Our Favorite Rainier for 2008. Meet Matt Tuiasosopo, starting thirdbaseman for Tacoma, and youngest player on the team. Signed out of Woodinville High School in 2004, Matt turned down the chance to follow his brother Marques as quarterback for the University of Washington.

As we mentioned when we introduced him, Matt does have an issue with slow starts. Currently hitting at .212/.297/.333, Tui is having to adjust to playing at the Triple-A level at a very young age. But don't worry, Rainier fans, we have every faith in Matt Tuiasosopo, Our Favorite Rainier.

A hopefully on-going history of Tacoma, the Rainiers and the PCL in general. Mostly cribbed from Wikipedia, Baseball Reference, and various official sites. Check out the entire series here.

With the demise of the Western International League in 1951, Tacoma was without professional baseball again. The WIL had transformed itself into the Pacific Northwest League, which is still a low Class-A league with teams from Vancouver BC to Boise. Tacoma though, was not invited. It would be until 1960, when the Pacific Coast League - Triple-A, the highest level of minor league ball - would bring baseball back to Tacoma. The South Sound's return to baseball would be fall out from the biggest change to hit the major leagues since Jackie Robinson: California baseball.

In 1957, Walter O'Malley, owner of the beloved Brooklyn Dodgers, convinced that the city of New York would not build him the replacement for Ebbets Field he believed he needed, moved his team to Los Angeles. He convinced Horace Stoneham, owner of the rival New York Giants, to join him on the west coast. The Giants and Dodgers, National League rivals since 1883, had taken National League baseball from New York, and stifled any dream the Pacific Coast League had of major league status.

And the PCL certainly did dream big. By the late 1920's, with teams in cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Seattle, the PCL was large and wealthy enough to offer baseball just shy of major league status. Stars like Joe DiMaggio (San Francisco Seals), Ted Williams (San Diego Padres) and Tony Lazzeri (Salt Lake City Bees) got their start in the Coast League. Thanks to mild west coast weather, the PCL season was longer, allowing players and owners alike to earn more money. There was a gap in the quality of baseball between the majors and the PCL, but it was not very big.

In 1952, the league was granted Open status. Meaning it was not the major leagues, but no longer was it minor league either. Open status severely limited the ability of the majors to poach players from the PCL, and it was widely viewed as the first step toward major league status. It certainly made sense, especially for the league's glamor teams, the San Francisco Seals, the Hollywood Stars, and the Los Angeles Angels. The Stars, which in actually was the old Tacoma Tiger franchise from the 1904 and 1905 seasons, was certainly major league caliber. The team advertised itself as "Hollywood Stars owned by Hollywood's stars", and with an ownership group that included Gene Autry and William Frawley, the Stars were certainly that. They were also smart enough to begin televising games as early as 1940 and name Jayne Mansfield "Miss Hollywood Star".

But with the Dodgers and Giants arrival, the PCL was forced to move the Seals, Angels and Stars. In 1957, the Angels moved to Spokane to become the Indians. The Stars headed to Salt Lake City and became the reborn Bees. The Seals would end up in the desert, and life as the Phoenix Giants. Without the Los Angeles and San Francisco markets, the PCL dream of the major leagues was shattered. Attendance fell of precipitously, due both to now-unfair comparisons to the majors, and the expansion of television. The Seals, after two seasons in Phoenix, were looking to move. Enter Ben Cheney and the City of Destiny

The Rainiers could have used another weather delay. After Friday's game with Colorado Springs was postponed due to cold, the Sky Sox home opener was pushed back to Saturday, and the Sox delivered. After masterful back-to-back starts by Rainier pitching, Sean White was unable to keep the streak going in the thin Colorado air. White went five innings and gave up five runs. He did leave with the lead, but Andrew Baldwin had another rough outing, giving up five more in just 2/3 of an inning. Phillip Barzilla and Eric Cyr slammed the door on the Sox, but the Rainiers bats couldn't make up the difference.

Scoring seven runs wins in most ballparks, but not in Security Service Field. The Rainiers did feast on the high altitude and Sox pitching. Both Jeff Clement and Wlad Balentien hit both a double and a homer, and Matt Tuiasosopo hit his first Triple-A extra base hit, a double in the first of off Sox starter Josh Towers.

Another doubleheader on Sunday. Joe Woerman (0-1, 19.64) takes the hill for Tacoma in the first game. Ace Ryan Feirebend (2-0, 0.00) in the second. For the Sky Sox, Greg Reynolds (0-0, 9.00) and Jose Capellan (0-0, 5.40) are scheduled to start.

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The Friday night Sky Sox-Rainiers game that was supposed to serve as Colorado Springs Home Opener was canceled due to extremely cold temperatures.

Sounds like fun. Weather permitting, the Sky Sox and Rainiers will play one Saturday and a doubleheader Sunday.

The Charlotte Knights, Triple-A farmclub of the Chicago White Sox have a lot of things going for them: a burgeoning market that many think is ready for a major league club, a distinctive name and striking logo, a nice stadium and plans for a new downtown stadium that will be state of the art for a minor league team. Not everything is perfect; the color scheme isn't perfect and the uniforms are seriously overdone, but nevermind that. The Charlotte Knights are one of the very best franchises in minor league baseball. Well.... we do have an issue. This is the Knights mascot:

Homer is a dragon, which isn't necessarily easy to ascertain. At first I thought he might be some sort of green horse creature, but no, there are flaring nostrils and spikes down his back. And there is my problem: What is the relationship between Knights and Dragons? Why they kill each other of course. Hasn't anybody ever heard of St. George? We need a more realistic look to this. The next time Homer starts prancing on the field, one of the Knights should chase after him with his bat. Add a damsel-in-distress and we're golden.

Last night on the radio broadcast, Mike Curto said, "If the Rainiers get pitching like this, they will win a lot of games." Yes, Mike, yes they will. After R.A. Dickey's masterful job on Wednesday, the Rainiers Robert Rohrbaugh (say THAT 10 times fast)pitched a gem in his first start of the year. Rohrbaugh scattered three hits over six scoreless innings, matching Dickey from the day before. Cesar Jimenez continued his hot pitching start, striking out five of his six batters faced. Wlad Balentien continued to heat up, driving in the only RBI of the game with a sixth-inning double. Wlad went 2-for-4, the only Rainier with multiple hits.

Tonight the Rainiers head on the road for four in Colorado Springs and four in Fresno. The game tonight is starts at 5:05. Jose Capellan (0-0, 5.40) for the Sky Sox. Still no announcement for the Rainiers. This is assuming that the game gets off at all. The current forecast for Colorado Springs calls for highs in the thirties and light snow. Good luck fellas.

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Another rain soaked early-season game in Tacoma, as the Rainiers beat the Grizzlies for the second straight day. Two Our Favorite Rainier candidates lead the way, as R.A. Dickey threw a no-hitter for 6 2/3 and Wladimir Balentien jacked his first homer, a grand slam in the fifth. That was all that Dickey needed, as he picked up his first win as a Rainier. Dickey, after losing the no-hitter on a soft Scott McClain single in the seventh. Dickey recovered and finished with eight strong innings and his first win of the year.

The last game of the four-game series and the homestand Thursday night at 7:00. This is the first Dollar Days promotion, so come out for some good baseball and cheap eats. Sean White (0-0, 0.00) for the Rainiers, and former Rainier and Mariner Julio Mateo (0-1, 9.00) gets the start for the Grizzlies.

Matt Tuiasosopo is in the lead, despite being off to a bit of a slow start. His .063/.063/.167 line is pretty unimpressive, but it's still very early. As to be expected, the more-major league ready Rainiers are off to better starts. Jeff Clement is tearing the cover off the ball at a .400/.467/.526. Considering how much Jose Vidro and Kenji Johjima are struggling for the Mariners, Clement might well be ready for the show.

In a completely unrelated note, we are currently listening to the Rainiers broadcast so ably manned by Mike Curto and we do wish KHHO wasn't so quick to switch to the FOX Sports Radio feed during rain delays. This is for two reasons: 1-FSR really sucks and 2-It's fun to listen to Mike Curto talk baseball. Hey, need a co-pilot Mike? Bloggers are the next media stars you know.

The Rainiers shook off the beating Fresno gave them on Monday, jumping out to a five-run lead after three innings. Tacoma then rode six strong innings by Ryan Feierabend to pick up their third win of the year. The Rainiers struck quickly, scoring three runs in the first, triggered by back-to-back doubles by Greg Norton and Bryan LaHair. Tacoma never looked back, as Feierabend picked up his second win of the young season, and extended his scoreless streak to twelve innings to start the year.

Fresno and Tacoma again tomorrow - the still-shaky weather notwithstanding - at 7:00. Our Favorite Rainier candidate R.A. Dickey (0-1, 3.86) against Matt Palmer (0-1, 4.50) of the Grizzlies.

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Our Feed Tacoma bracket challenge has come to a close and big congratulations go to our champion: bracket buster. Taking charge over the weekend, bracket buster withstood a furious rally from Izenmania, who was the only Feed Tacoman to choose the Kansas Jayhawks as the NCAA Champion.

Congratulations to our winner, who now gets the privilege of hanging out with No Rhubarb! and his or her choice of coffee and a scone at Satellite, cupcakes at Hello, Cupcake or a dog and a beer at the Red Hot. Anyone else who entered the contest is welcome to come along. We'll have to do this again next year.

We here at No Rhubarb! usually spend our Monday nights at the Red Hot with various other bloggers and friends. Tonight we watched the final of the NCAA tournament, then followed that up with the most demented TV show ever. On the way home we flipped to KHHO to check up on the beloved Rainiers and hear the dulcet tones of Mike Curto. At that point Mike let us know that the Grizzlies four and five spot hitters (Scott McClain and Brett Harper) had accounted for nine RBIs.

As you might imagine, this is not a good sign. Tacoma could have used some of Sunday's rain as they were blasted, pummeled, obliterated... take your pick. The Grizzlies picked up a run in the second, two in the third and six in the fourth, racing to a 15-2 win at Cheney Stadium. Rainier starter Joe Woerman picked up the loss, giving up eight runs in 3 and 2/3 innings. Andrew Baldwin took over and didn't do much better, giving up seven runs in two innings. The only real bright spot for Tacoma was Jeff Clement's two-run double in the fourth.

The same two teams tomorrow. Hopefully it will go just a touch better for the hometown nine.

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The time has come to choose Our Favorite Rainier 2008. Who will it be? Matt Tuiasosopo, the young third basemen from a legendary athletic family? The knuckleballing PCL Pitcher of the year, veteran R.A. Dickey? Perhaps Jeff Clement, the powerful catcher and top Mariner prospect? The flashy outfielder Wladimir Balentien? Or maybe Rhubarb, the beloved - if slightly crazy - mascot? Who will you choose? The polls opened at midnight Monday morning and will remain up for one week. Next Monday, April 14, we will name Our Favorite Rainier!

Due to some nasty on-again, off-again rain and a soaked playing field Tacoma and Sacramento were only able to complete one game of the Sunday doubleheader. Veteran Mike Kinkade punched a two-run homer in the fourth, and Phillip Barzilla vultured a win after replacing starter Sean White in the fourth. Cesar Jimenez pitched a perfect ninth to record his second save. The second game was eventually called off, likely to be made up later in the season.

The Fresno Grizzlies come to town, starting a four-game series on Monday. Each of the four games starts at 7:00 PM.

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PCL Baseball on TV

The Hated Portland Beavers have a TV deal with Fox Sports Northwest, and unlike last season, they are broadcast up here in Tacoma. The Lucky Beavers and Fresno Grizzlies are on FSN at 2PM. This is a very nice chance to see both a fellow PCL team and Portland's PGE Park, which Jamie used as a photoshop to show what a Foss Waterway park might look like.


Update: Seems that nobody told the fine people of Portland that the Beavs would be playing today. There are maybe 250 brave souls in PGE.

Update Again: And now we get a rain delay!

During the inaugural season of No Rhubarb! we faithfully followed the exploits of Our Favorite Rainier, outfielder Adam Jones. Jones is in Baltimore now, on his way to what we firmly believe will be a long and excellent career. The title of Our Favorite Rainier cannot stay vacant though, and we will take the next few days to find our new favorite. This year we will let you, the reader chime in on the subject. No Rhubarb! will present the case of several players and then let you vote who you think is Our Favorite Rainier. After which we will almost certainly ignore the results and just name whomever we want anyway.

Next Up: Rhubarb!

Rhubarb is the mascot of your Tacoma Rainiers, a reindeer born in the Mt. Rainier National Park. According to the bio posted on TacomaRainiers.com, he was born of parents Rhubob and Rhubarbara, then moved to Cheney Stadium in 1995. He entertains children and fans at Rainiers games and makes public appearances all year long.
Three Reasons Why Rhubarb is Our Favorite Rainier
1.Beloved by (most) children.
2.Always fun and cheerful.
3.The Face of the Tacoma Rainiers.
Three Reasons Why Rhubarb is NOT Our Favorite Rainier
1.Technically NOT a ballplayer.
2.Possibly devours children.
3.Crossdressing Reindeer probably not what the New York Knickerbockers had in mind when they came up with the rules of the game.
Photos courtesy of TacomaRainiers.com and KevinFreitas.net

Let's Play Two! So says Ernie Banks and the Rainiers will listen. Thanks to the rather nasty rain on Saturday night, Tacoma and Sacramento will resurrect one of the great traditions in baseball: the Sunday doubleheader. The River Cats and Rainiers go for two seven-inning games starting at 1:00 PM.

During the inaugural season of No Rhubarb! we faithfully followed the exploits of Our Favorite Rainier, outfielder Adam Jones. Jones is in Baltimore now, on his way to what we firmly believe will be a long and excellent career. The title of Our Favorite Rainier cannot stay vacant though, and we will take the next few days to find our new favorite. This year we will let you, the reader chime in on the subject. No Rhubarb! will present the case of several players and then let you vote who you think is Our Favorite Rainier. After which we will almost certainly ignore the results and just name whomever we want anyway.

Next Up: Wladimir Balentien

The Pacific Coast League Rookie of the Year for 2007, Balentien sports both a cool name and big bat. Busting out in 2004 with a Rookie league record 16 home runs, Wlad has done nothing but hit since. In 2006 he was named the MVP of Double-A San Antonio. He made his Tacoma debut last year, winning the PCL Rookie of the Year after sporting a .291/.362/.509 line with 24 homers and 24 doubles. He made his Mariner debut late last year, jacking his first major league home run off of Cleveland's Fausto Carmona.
Three Reasons Why Wladimir Balentien is Our Favorite Rainier
1.Wladimir Balentien doesn't hit home runs, he launches moon shots.
2.Balentien always plays with flair. Some might say too much..
3.Wladimir is actually pronounced "Vladimir", which is pretty cool.
Three Reasons Why Wladimir Balentien is NOT Our Favorite Rainier
1.He strikes out. Not like just any other player. Like, a lot. Like Reggie Jackson and Rob Deer had a baby lots.
2.Remember the flair we mentioned? See here for details.
3.Like our other candidates, he might not be a Rainier for long. Corner outfielder isn't the Mariners' strong suit, and Balentien could be in Seattle for good soon.
Bonus: I don't know what is more fun: Wlad's massive walk-off home run, or this guy's reaction to it.

Pardon Our Dust

Yes, your favorite - and so far only - Tacoma Rainiers blog is undergoing some housecleaning. We aren't entirely sold on the new look, so please let us know what you think.

The dream of an undefeated season is over. The best the Rainiers can finish is a pedestrian 143-1. Our Favorite Rainier Candidate R.A. Dickey took the hill, giving up five runs - all earned - over seven innings. In the season opener the Rainiers were only able to put two runners in scoring position, but both scored. Not so good on Friday, as the Rainiers' only run was scored on a Bryan LaHair's second inning dinger. That was the only run Tacoma was able to put up, as Kirk Sarloos picked up the win for the Cats, going five innings. The Rainiers were able put up 11 hits against Sacramento pitching, with both LaHair and leftfielder Greg Norton going 3-for-4, and Jeremy Reed and Jeff Clement collected two hits apiece.

Third game of the opening series tomorrow at 7:00. Sean White takes the hill for the Rainiers against Gio Gonzalez. Gonzalez, part of the River Cats' parent organization Oakland Athletics blockbuster trade of Nick Swisher, is a diminutive lefty with a power repertoire.

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A new season, new mascots to make us all tremble with fear. This week, we visit Allentown, Pennsylvania, home of the absurdly named Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Formerly the Ottawa Lynxx, the IronPigs are the Triple-A affiliate of the nearby Philadelphia Phillies. It doesn't take a genius what the IronPigs mascot ended up. Meet Ferrous:

Now compare that with the logo the IronPigs sport on their caps:
The look the team is going is obvious: a pig made of iron. Notice that the logo on the cap even sports rivets. Now look again at Ferrous again. No rivets, just dark gray fur. In fact, we'll go so far as to claim Ferrous doesn't even look very pig-like. If anything, Ferrous looks like a giant bat that let himself go.
To make this mascot even weirder, "Ferrous" wasn't the name originally chosen for this furry nightmare. Originally the team selected the name "PorkChop" which seems to both make more sense and certainly rolls of the tongue easier than "Ferrous" does. That name was dropped after complaints from the Valley's Puerto Rican population. Now, it turns out that the complaints were from only one guy, but the damage was done, and this chunky ManBearPig-looking thing gets a lousy name.

The Dream of the Perfect Season lives.

Ryan Feierabend pitched six scoreless innings and outdueled River Cats starter Greg Smith to pick up the win in the Rainiers' season opener. Smith nearly matched the Rainiers' ace, giving up only two runs on six Tacoma hits. The Rainiers managed to move only two runners into scoring position, but a sac fly by Wlad Balentien in the fourth and a Yung-Chi Chen's run-scoring single in the fifth accounted for all the runs Tacoma would need. The night though, belonged to Feierabend, who struck out seven and gave up only four hits to earn the win. Cesar Jimenez pitched a dominating ninth to earn the save, and Tacoma starts the year off right.

RiveCats and Rainiers again tomorrow night at 7. R.A. Dickey and his knuckleball take on veteran Kirk Sarloos.

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Inspired by Jamie - and now David Boe - we've started a FeedTacoma discussion group about how and where we can build a new Rainier ballpark. Join us, won't you?

Tacoma's new - hopefully waterfront - ballpark. How do we get it built?

ThriceAllAmerican posted some gorgeous photoshop work that places Portland's PGE Park on the Supervalu warehouse. Erik Hanberg mentioned the former Asarco Site. No Rhubarb! has always been privy to placing a park on the Hilltop, close to where baseball began in Tacoma. Still others want to tear down the Dome and rebuild there. We've had small discussions on each of those sites and in person. Here I would like to start an all-inclusive discussion, where we can lock down the best possible place, and maybe even figure out how we can afford it.

Cheney Stadium is old and - let's face it - not all that pretty. It's also a city property so Tacoma has a stake in its replacement. A waterfront park would feature views as good as any in sports, minor or major. A new ballpark would become one of the faces of the city, comparable to Union Station or the Museum of Glass. A new ballpark can and will make this city a more beautiful and livable place. So let's get it done.

The Opening Day Roster for Your Tacoma Rainiers:

PITCHERS B-THtWtBornBirthplace

Baldwin, AndyR-R6-520810-20-82Duluth, Minn.

Barzilla, PhilipL-L6-01801-25-79Houston

Cyr, EricR-L6-42102-11-79Montreal

Dickey, R.A.R-R6-322010-29-74Nashville, Tenn.

Feierabend, RyanL-L6-32288-22-85Cleveland

Huber, JonR-R6-21957-7-81Sacramento

Jimenez, CesarL-L5-1121511-12-84Cuman, Venezuela

White, SeanR-R6-42104-25-81Pullman

Woerman, JoeR-R6-322512-12-82Edmonds

Woods, JakeL-L6-12009-13-81Fresno

No Rhubarb! Says: Fairly veteran group. Dickey is the defending PCL Pitcher of the Year, Cyr is a former top prospect for the Padres. Woods, Huber and White all spent time with the Mariners in 2007. Feireabend and Dickey could turn out to be a very nice 1-2 punch at the top of the rotation.

CATCHERSB-THtWtBornBirthplace

Clement, Jeff L-R6-12158-21-83Marshaltown, Iowa

Johnson, Rob R-R6-12087-22-83Houston

No Rhubarb! Says: The more things change... The Rainiers odd time-split will continue. Clement is the stick and Johnson is the glove. Unfortunately, thanks to Alexander Joy Cartwright or Abner Doubleday or whomever designed baseball, you can't platoon that way.

INFIELDERSB-THtWtBornBirthplace

Chen, Yung ChiR-R5-111707-13-83Taitung Co., Taiwan

Hulett, TugL-R5-101802-28-83Springfield, Ill.

LaHair, BryanL-R6-522011-5-82Worchester, Mass.

Navarro, OswaldoR-R6-015510-2-84Vlla De Cura, Ven.

Norton, GregB-R6-12057-6-72San Leandro Calif.

Tuiasosopo, MattR-R6-22235-10-86Bellevue

No Rhubarb! Says: Potentially a very strong mix of prospects like Tui and LaHair, and the veteran Norton, who should DH when Clement is behind the plate. Chen is a wild card. He missed most of 2007 with a shoulder injury, but posted a .339/.444/.424 line in the Arizona Fall League.

OUTFIELDERSB-THtWtBornBirthplace

Balentien, WladimirR-R6-22157-2-84Wllemstad, Curacao

Johnson, BrentR-R6-21955-21-82Las Vegas

Reed, JeremyL-L6-02006-15-81San Dimas, Calif.

Sardinha, BronsonL-R6-12004-6-83Honolulu

No Rhubarb! Says: Balentien will be in right, at least until he joins the Mariners. Reed is almost certainly on the trading block, but until that happens, he and Sardinha - a former Yankees prospect - should share left and center.

During the inaugural season of No Rhubarb! we faithfully followed the exploits of Our Favorite Rainier, outfielder Adam Jones. Jones is in Baltimore now, on his way to what we firmly believe will be a long and excellent career. The title of Our Favorite Rainier cannot stay vacant though, and we will take the next few days to find our new favorite. This year we will let you, the reader chime in on the subject. No Rhubarb! will present the case of several players and then let you vote who you think is Our Favorite Rainier. After which we will almost certainly ignore the results and just name whomever we want anyway.

Next Up: Jeff Clement



Jeff Clement was the Mariners' first pick in the suddenly-fabled 2005 draft. Up until the draft Seattle was widely expected to choose shortstop Troy Tulowitzki, but instead opted for Clement, a lefty-hitting catcher from USC. A fabled collegian, Clement trails only Mark McGwire on the Trojans' all-time home run list. Jeff spent most of 2007 as a Rainier, splitting time at catcher with the more-defensively gifted Reed Johnson, also spending time at DH. Clement hit well last year, posting a .275/.370/.497 line with 20 homers. He made his major-league debut in September last year, clubbing two homers in only 16 at-bats. With his path to the majors jammed by Kenji Johjima, Richie Sexson and Jose Vidro, Clement returns to Tacoma. He is rated the Mariners best overall prospect by Baseball America.

Three Reasons Why Jeff Clement is Our Favorite Rainier
1.Power (20 HR) and Patience (61 BB)
2.Catchers who can hit well are rare. Like really rare. Like think of the rarest thing you can think of and go past that.
3.Adam Jones was Seattle's #1 prospect for BA last year. Karma?
Three Reasons Why Jeff Clement is NOT Our Favorite Rainier
1.Not long for Tacoma. With some better roster planning by the big club, Clement would be DHing for Seattle right now.
2.Might not be long for catcher either. Scouts worry about his slow release and actions behind the plate. A move to first base might be in the offing.
3.Power and patience is incredibly important for a hitter. Watching a batter talk pitches for extended periods is not the most exciting thing in baseball, however.

Photos courtesy of MLB.com and TacomaRainiers.com

Media Day!

And we weren't invited! Lucky for all of us, we have a friend who was, and was nice enough to share some snaps he took.

Darren Brown just looks like a baseball man, doesn't he?


Bonus Note: Darren Brown hails from Holdenville, Oklahoma.
Extra Bonus Note: Brown is sporting the batting practice cap, and the Rainiers are one of the very few teams in baseball with a good-looking BP cap. We may have to purchase one the next time we visit.

R.A. Dickey, almost certainly answering another question about not making the Mariners.
M


This is what is is like to be Rainier rightfielder Wlad Balentien. The view anyway.


More photos available at the Official No Rhubarb! Flickr Pool

With only the Final Four to go, Automagic has solidified his lead. Currently sitting at 104 points, he has all four teams still alive and a commanding six point lead over PSP and Cole's Lousy Picks. We here at No Rhubarb! suffered a catastrophic weekend and slipped back to the pack. Good luck ya'll.

Well, we guess that the powers that be at the Rainiers finally put No Rhubarb! on the press release list, but this is unexpected to say the least. Full text to follow:

*****FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*****


Schlegel Sports Group and Starfire Sports Announce Partnership

Schlegel Sports Group of Dallas, Texas and Starfire Sports of Tukwila, Washington have agreed to the framework of a deal that will move the Tacoma Rainiers, Pacific Coast League affiliate of the Seattle Mariners, to Starfire Stadium effective Opening Day 2009. In addition, the team will be known as the Tukwila Rockets effective immediately. "We feel that Tukwila, with it's location central to both Seattle and the south King County suburbs, gives us the best possible future for Triple-A Baseball in the Pacific Northwest" stated Rockets General Manager Aaron Artman.

The Rockets will play out the 2008 season in Tacoma's Cheney Stadium as scheduled while Starfire Stadium is reconfigured for baseball. Starfire Stadium, currently the home of the Seattle Sounders Women's Club, will seat approximately 9,000 for baseball, The stadium redesign, to be unveiled later in the summer, will feature a dozen luxury suites and a walkaround outfield concourse according to Starfire CEO Chris Slatt. "We fully expect the redesigned Starfire Stadium to be the preeminent minor league baseball stadium in America." stated Slatt. The stadium, which banks the Green River, will feature a centerfield plaza leading to a boat dock and feature "more amenities than you can believe" according to Artman. The suites and premium seats will feature all-you-can eat food and concierge service.

Artman did state that the move has been planned since Schlegel Sports Group's 2007 purchase of the team. Schlegel Sports bought a team in a dilapidated stadium in Tacoma" proclaimed Artman, "and neither of those is the optimum situation. We began searching for a site in King County soon upon the sale being completed, and we found that Tukwila is our personal Elysian Fields." When asked if the parent club Seattle Mariners objected to the move at all, Artman stated that the opposite was true. "The Mariners, while prizing the close location of their top farm club, were often terrified that the random street violence that plagues Tacoma would put Mariner prospects in danger. This solves that problem neatly."

According to Artman, the recently announced "alternate logo" is in truth the new Rocket logo. "We decided to leave the name and logo in Tacoma, for use in a possible Single-A or semi-pro team in the future" conceded Artman. When asked about the Rockets former home, Artman asked, "Isn't 40-some odd years in Tacoma long enough?"

Wow... Somewhere Rhubarb is weeping.

We are switching sports just briefly today, checking up on the rather horrifying world of Hockey mascots. The difference between hockey mascots and baseball ones? Hockey mascots are expected to skate. Take a moment - if you would - to imagine Rhubarb on ice skates.

Not pretty, huh?



This is Thunderbug, mascot of the NHL Tampa Bay Lightning and the Arena Football Tampa Bay Storm. Why two teams named after weather patterns would require a bug - what kind of bug we aren't certain - to serve as mascot but they do. We dunno, he's an ant perhaps? Anyway, Thunderbug does your traditional mascot things and probably does them quite well. Why then, would we switch sports and highlight him?

Because of this:

Now you will notice that this Thunderbug is a Zooperstars-style inflated plastic suit. This makes us wonder about the validity of this, but we don't care. This is awesome, and we FULLY support Rhubarb terrorizing small children.

Hat Tip to Puck That Hit, via With Leather

During the inaugural season of No Rhubarb! we faithfully followed the exploits of Our Favorite Rainier, outfielder Adam Jones. Jones is in Baltimore now, on his way to what we firmly believe will be a long and excellent career. The title of Our Favorite Rainier cannot stay vacant though, and we will take the next few days to find our new favorite. This year we will let you, the reader chime in on the subject. No Rhubarb! will present the case of several players and then let you vote who you think is Our Favorite Rainier. After which we will almost certainly ignore the results and just name whomever we want anyway.

Next Up: R.A. Dickey


Robert Alan Dickey is 33, a former first round pick of the Texas Rangers. Dickey was a sterling 38-10 in three seasons with the University of Tennessee. He made his major league debut in 2001, and spent time with the big club in parts of the 2003 - 2006 seasons. Dickey is the defending PCL Pitcher of the Year, going 13-6 with the Nashville Sounds, Triple-A club of the Milwaukee Brewers. Signed as a minor league free agent by the Minnesota Twins, he was then selected by the Mariners in the Rule 5 Draft. After not making the big league club out of spring training, Dickey was then offered back to the Twins. Minnesota then accepted the rights to minor league catcher Jair Fernandez instead.

Okay, that was more complicated than we first expected. What you kneed to know - other than he's pretty good - about R.A. Dickey: He throws the knuckleball. For those who might not know, the knuckleball is thrown with minimal spin which allows the air to push against the seams of the baseball. This will cause the ball to dip, rise, corkscrew and basically do whatever it damn well pleases. A well-thrown knuckler is difficult to hit, even more difficult to catch and damn near impossible to control. In other words, it is one of the more fun things in baseball.

Three Reasons Why R.A. Dickey is Our Favorite Rainier
1-Could be a bona fide Number One starter for the Rainiers
2-Initials are cool
3-KNUCKLEBALL! All you need to know about the knuckler comes from this quote by Hall-of-Famer Willie Stargell: "Throwing a knuckleball for a strike is like throwing a butterfly with hiccups across the street into your neighbor's mailbox." We don't understand it either, but who can argue with Pops?
Three Reasons Why R.A. Dickey is NOT Our Favorite Rainier
1-Might not be long for Tacoma. Dickey pitched well this spring, and should be the first guy called up to Seattle. Had Cha Seung Baek not been out of options, Dickey would be a Mariner already.
2-Not particularly thrilled with being a Rainier. No one wants to be sent to the minors, but Dickey makes a pretty good case.
3.KNUCKLEBALL! Yeah, the knuckler isn't always pretty. Jeff Clement - an other OFR candidate - could well kill himself trying to catch it.

Additional Bonus Reason: The knuckleball's origin are fairly murky, but some credit the creation of the pitch to 200-game winner Eddie Cicotte, best known for his involvement in throwing the 1919 World Series. Whether this is bad juju or special extra-good reverse juju, we leave entirely up to the reader.

Photos courtesy of TacomaRainiers.com and SeattleMariners.com

Okay, one of the first things we did upon setting this-here blog up was to include a Google Newsreel. Set to find snippets concerning the PCL or your Tacoma Rainiers, it has helped us on occasion find stuff. Today though, the first thing showing up on the newsreel is... the Tacoma Daily Index concerning this very blog. We have - of course - clicked through to said story.

We read a story about ourselves, linked from ourselves. Yeah....

So, in closing, if the universe collapses in on itself today, it was our bad.

Seattle's MLS franchise, slated to take the field in 2009, has opened up voting on the franchise name. The choices are Seattle FC, Seattle Alliance and Seattle Republic. This has sparked quite a bit of outrage amongst longtime supporters who apparently assumed that the team would retain the Sounders moniker. There is a write-in option, and quite the call to use that to vote for the Sounders. A personal note - one that we also left on GOALTacoma's blog - We hate the name Sounders. It's a throwback to the old NASL team, and it's always struck us odd that every soccer team since has adopted it. The official choices are Seattle FC, Seattle Alliance and Seattle Republic. If the Seattle-types would have the brains to ask us here at No Rhubarb! we would suggest a combination. Call it "Seattle Alliance FC" and we'll be happy.

Now the taking notice moment. According to MLSRumors, Thierry Henry is supposedly in negotiations to join the Seattle team when they open play. We have mentioned M. Henry before on this blog, but a small refresher course may be required:


Henry in MLS automatically becomes the best player and most dangerous striker in the league. While David Beckham is more of a celebrity, on the pitch he's more of a supporting player. Henry scores goals. Lots and lots and lots of goals. He's the French National Team's all-time leading goal scorer. He ranks third on the list of the Premier League. He's Arsenal's all-time leading scorer. Put him in a Seattle uniform and I'll go out and buy a Henry shirt.

Even if it does say "Sounders" across the front.

WARNING: If you have any particular allergy to pretentious middle-aged white guys, you may want to skip this. The introduction to Ken Burns' Baseball.

People Will Come

James Earl Jones. Field Of Dreams. Need I say anything more?

During the inaugural season of No Rhubarb! we faithfully followed the exploits of Our Favorite Rainier, outfielder Adam Jones. Jones is in Baltimore now, on his way to what we firmly believe will be a long and excellent career. The title of Our Favorite Rainier cannot stay vacant though, and we will take the next few days to find our new favorite. This year we will let you, the reader chime in on the subject. No Rhubarb! will present the case of several players and then let you vote who you think is Our Favorite Rainier. After which we will almost certainly ignore the results and just name whomever we want anyway.

First up: Matt Tuiasosopo!


The Mariners first draft pick (3rd Round) in the 2004 First-Year Player Draft, Tuiasosopo hails from an almost ridiculously athletic family. Father Manu was a first round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks. Sister Leslie played volleyball with the UW Huskies and trained with the US National Team. Brothers Marques - merely the best quarterback in UW history - and Zach both played in the NFL last season. Matt was a high-school star in both baseball and football, and turned down the chance to follow in Marques' footsteps to sign with the Mariners. Originally signed as a shortstop, but moved to third soon after, Tui 2 has been aggressively pushed through the system and should land in Tacoma at 21. Tuiasosopo is widely considered one of the ten best prospects in the Mariner system. Baseball America, Armchair GM and SportsCity all list Tui in the Mariners top ten, and Minor League News called him the 36th best prospect in baseball.

Three Reasons Matt Tuiasosopo is Our Favorite Rainier
1-High-ceiling power-hitting thirdbasemen are cool
2- Mike Curto likes him
3-Fun to say "Tuiasosopo".
Three Reasons Matt Tuiasosopo is NOT Our Favorite Rainier
1-Not yet technically a Rainier. No reason to name "Our Favorite Diamond Jack"
2-Prone to slow starts. Upon first making the Double-A San Antonio in 2006, Tui hit an anemic .185/.259/.218.
3-Very difficult to spell "Tuiasosopo"
Photos Courtesy of the Seattle Mariners and Whiteyball

The Sweet Sixteen starts on Thursday afternoon, and what better time to check out the standings of the First Annual Feed Tacoma Bracket Challenge. Automagic has hit on 36 of 48 and has a slim two point lead over No Rhubarb!, PSP, and Cole's Lousy Picks. Can Automagic stay ahead? We'll check up again after the Final Four is finalized on Sunday.

It is officially spring. It is time to get ready for baseball. First in a series of videos to get you in the mood is Conan O'Brien trying out old-time baseball.

Competition?

Mike Curto has been sent to blog his trip to spring training. While on one hand this is indescribably cool - Curto is simply the best announcer working in the minor leagues and a first rate baseball mind - we are slightly nervous that the team might be moving in on our turf. If Curto starts making lousy jokes and comparing mascots to demons, then we might get nervous.

Until then we will certainly enjoy Curto's writing.

Just no mascot jokes, okay?

And Rainiers? The next time you want to spend someone to blog spring training, maybe you wanna drop me a line?

After the first round, it is pretty clear that we here at Feed Tacoma are not sports geniuses. No big dead for most, except those who happen to be running a sports blog.

Ahem.

At the close of the first round, we have six entries tied for first. PSP, Cole's Lousy Picks, No Rhubarb!, Automagic, Bracket Buster and Frinklin all come in with 24 points. At the other end of the spectrum we find Shot in the Dark, the entry from Feed Tacoma Overlord Kevin Freitas. Cheer up Kev, you're only eight points behind your better half.

Update: There are many fine places on the net covering the NCAA tournament, but we are really rather fond of Hemingway's take.

The Rainiers recently debuted a new alternate logo. We had seen only the logo itself, no physical thing sporting said new logo. Stuff with the new logo is available at the Cheney Stadium gift shop.

Clearly a field trip was needed.

We were lucky enough to get a few moments with Kacy Roe, Merchandising Manager of the club and designer of the new uniform. According to Kacy, this new uniform will be less "alternate" than originally thought. Tacoma's hometown nine will sport these every home game Thursdays through Sunday. Reaction to the new look has been almost uniformly (ha-ha) positive, though some people do note the missing local touches. We think the new jersey will help alleviate that.



We approve. The red hearkens back to the old Seattle Rainiers, and the front script is both slightly more substantial and straighter across the chest than the standard home uniform. We're less sold on the sleeves, which - it's difficult to see in this photo - feature the red split by a continuation of the blue. A little overdone, but that is a minor quibble. We love the front number, plus the player names will be across the back, a rarity among minor league teams. Other then the intrusive but unfortunately standard manufacturer logo, the new jersey is free and clean of obtrusive patches and logo. If you want one of your own, it will be the same as a game jersey: no replicas here.

As one might expect the new logo is available on a variety of caps.
All three game caps, in a variety of sizes.


The ingenious flexi-fit cap, available in both blue and red.

These white caps were our faves, but only available in adjustable. We ended up going with the blue flexi-fit.

No,this is not Rhubarb's head mounted on the wall. This is a hat. Apparently people are willing to pay for such things.

On that note... More pictures available at our rather unimpressive Flickr page. The Cheney Stadium gift shop is still under the off-season schedule, so it's only open from 10-2 on Thursdays. Maybe this needs to be our next Feed Tacoma outing.

Last Call!

More than a dozen hardy souls have signed up for the Feed Tacoma Bracket Challenge. The brackets lock at 9AM tomorrow morning, so if you haven't signed up, ya'll better hurry.

Thanks to an idea kicked around at this morning's Feed Tacoma Feed at PSP, the Feed Tacoma Bracket Challenge is ON! We are hosted at Yahoo! Sports (ESPN is easier, but so overloaded the Fantasy system has crashed). It's easy to join, just:

1-Head over to Yahoo! Sports Tourney Pick 'em 08.
2-Log in with your Yahoo log-in (We figure everybody in Tacoma is on Flickr and they use the same thing)
3-Select "Join A Group"
4-The Group Number is 161419, Password is "rhubarb"
5-Fill out your brackets
6-Laugh and/or cry at your results

Hurry, the brackets lock at tip-off Thursday morning.

Oh, if you win? No Rhubarb! will treat you to one of the following: Hot Dog and a beverage at The Red Hot, coffee and scone at Satellite, or cupcakes at Hello, Cupcake.

Good Luck!*

*Luck not applicable to anyone who isn't me.

We were expecting the new logo to be splashed all over the official team site today, but well... no such luck. The team added the alt logo, but only as a small button leading to the ticket page. Nothing yet available from the online store, but we may have to make a trip to Cheney on Thursday to check stuff out. To tide you over, the new logo is here, and the Biz Buzz posted a shot of Aaron Artman sporting the alt-cap nearly two weeks ago. Perhaps we should pay more attention.

And hey, if you're here from Uniwatch, welcome! We are damn near obsessive about logos and uniforms ourselves.



On first glance, we're not sure. The logo itself is striking, but nothing about the look says anything "Tacoma". Red, white and blue with a star motif doesn't seem particularly Northwest, either.

We don't doubt this new look will fly off the shelves though. And despite our initial lukewarmness, we'll almost certainly sport a cap or something soon enough. We here at NR are total whores for such things.

Update: We're told that the star is meant to mimic the Mariners' compass-rose look. Not quite sold on that either. Due to the color scheme, we keep seeing the Texas Rangers. In fact, if you squint, you can sure see how the new Rainier logo would be an outcropping of this old Rangers logo.

We're not entirely sure if this entry qualifies for this "honor" quite yet. The Williamsport Crosscutters, Single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, have a brand-spanking new mascot. The old mascot, a fairly dull, oddly bear-ish lumberjack named Rusty Roughcut, left the team to join the professional lumberjack circuit.

Of course he did.

Anyway, the Cutters have a new mascot, an odd blue and green creation that is currently nameless. Well, originally he was given the oh-so-original moniker of "Bozo", but that is copyright protected. So, the franchise is running your standard Name the Mascot contest. All you have to do is top "Bozo", which can't be terribly difficult. What would you name this thing?

I would go for Leaf-Covered Nightmare, but that wouldn't fit on the back of his jersey.



We will totally post this sucker once again after his debut. And yes, the Crosscutters have taken the early lead for "Most Atrociously Bad Team Website" of 2008.

H/T to Ben.

The Real Big Dance

Darren Rovell's Sports Biz Blog is holding a March Madness-style, 64-team tournament to decide the best logo in Minor League Baseball. And no, the Rainiers did not make the cut. A mistake I think, one that disregards Tacoma's classic, understated look. Well, classic and understated is certainly nowhere to be seen in this list. The top 4 seeds are: Montgomery Biscuits, Joliet Jackhammers, Connecticut Defenders, and the Modesto Nuts. Personally, I think that Joliet and Modesto are very weak number ones, but I love the Connecticut logo. Three of Tacoma's fellow Mariner affiliates made the cut, the West Tennessee Diamond Jaxx (#2 Seed), the Everett AquaSox (#10 Seed), and the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers (#13 Seed)

No Rhubarb's favorite to win? The #3 seed Aiken Foxhounds. And the Timber Rattlers are a nice darkhorse pick. Voting started Monday and continues throughout the month.

Imagine you are Roger Clemens. A few months away from your 46 birthday, your long and storied career in baseball seems to be over. Despite a fine year with the New York Yankees, you've become persona non grata within the major leagues. So what do you do? Money isn't an object, you've made tens of millions, perhaps hundreds. You really don't have the personality to work on television, but you're desperate to stay within the game.

Well, do the Huntsville Stars have an offer for you. The Stars, named after the nearby Marshall Space Flight Center, recently reworked their logo and uniforms to incorporate a rocket theme. They've offered Clemens a job.

As the mascot.

According to Ben Hill's Biz Blog, the Stars want Roger Clemens – the best pitcher of his generation – to be a the secondary mascot. They already have Homer the Polecat as their primary mascot. But when Homer is indisposed, “Clemens, as 'Rocket', will dress as an astronaut and simply interact with fans and assist with on-field promotions”.

Okay, I'll fly my ass down to Alabama if it means seeing Roger Clemens – the famously intemperate Clemens – dressed up as an astronaut. Can Tacoma match this? Maybe once Randy Johnson retires we can dress him up as a mountain?

The good news? Jerry Crasnick of ESPN takes a look at prospects playing in the Cactus League and mentions Tacoma Rainier (and possible Favorite Rainier) Wlad Balentien, saying that he might have a "higher upside" than the departed Adam Jones.
The Bad news? The column also includes this gem:

"He's got ability,'' the scout said. "But with some of his actions, it's like he's playing at the game -- he's not playing in the game. It's a 'look at me' kind of thing.''

Suffice to say, this is not something that should warm the heart of a Mariner or Rainier fan. We here at No Rhubarb! believe that the emotional side of sports (he's a gamer or a leader or whatever the hell else you can come with) is almost always overrated, but there sure seems some truth in this. Watch Wlad and it's pretty obvious he likes to show off. He preens a bit, especially after he hits a dinger.

Of course, the more homers he hits, the less it matters.

15,000 Words

Last week, as part of his semi-regular Mailbag feature, Bill Simmons, the ESPN Sports Guy invited SuperSonics fans to write in, to vent, to scream, and to generally raise hell about the NBA's seemingly inevitable move away from the Emerald City. The result was the longest piece to ever run under Simmons' byline. The final product was 15,000 words, 15,000 words of heartache and rage, opened by Roger Angell's classic summing up of what it means to be a fan:

It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitive as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look -- I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring -- caring deeply and passionately, really caring -- which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete -- the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball -- seems a small price to pay for such a gift.

Simmmon's piece is a worthwhile read. Angry, aching, often ridiculous and always heartfelt.

Dave Niehaus today celebrated his 73rd birthday today by winning the 2008 Ford C. Frick Award, and with it enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Niehaus has been the the Mariners' primary broadcaster for the entire lifetime of the franchise. He is the voice of the Mariners, and the first thing that many M fans think of when asked about the team.

Like many of us from the Pacific Northwest, I grew up with Dave Niehaus. He taught me to be a baseball fan. I spent many a day and night with my dog, my walkman and some very, very bad baseball. Neihaus is a storyteller of the first degree, and it is his voice I hear in my head whenever I watch a baseball game.

And if you don't catch the reference in the title to this post, you're not a fan.

What the hell?

Being a fan of a minor league franchise is never easy. The teams exist only to feed the major league club's need for players, be they up and coming stars or replaceable spare parts. While we minor league fans love our boys, we also know they can be gone tomorrow. It's just a bit easier for fans of the Rainiers, since Tacoma's best should graduate to the Mariners, just a slow and traffic-filled drive up the highway to Seattle. Alex Rodriguez went from Tacoma to Seattle, so did Felix Hernandez. Adam Jones should have been the same.

But he isn't. Adam Jones, Our Favorite Rainier, will suit up for the Baltimore Orioles next season. He was the prime prospect sent to Baltimore for starting pitcher Erik Bedard. The Mariners sent Jones, reliever George Sherril, and three prospects (Kameron Mickolio – another NR favorite - ,Chris Tillman and Tony Butler) to the Orioles for Bedard. And that just sucks

Don't get us wrong, Erik Bedard is a very fine pitcher. He led the AL in strikeouts with 221 and won 13 games for a terrible Baltimore team. He'll pair with King Felix to form a dynamite one-two punch at the top of the rotation. But Jones ain't so slouch either. The best position player prospect the Mariners have developed since Alex Rodriguez (Ichiro don't count), Jones is a power/speed combination at a prime defensive position. Jones was expected to upgrade an outfield that is looking disturbingly old (Raul Ibanez), property of the Royals (Jose Guillen) and injury-prone Brad Wikerson. Plus, while Bedard is a free agent after the 2009 season, Jones will belong to the Orioles for the next six years.

The biggest drawback of this trade is that it misjudges how close the Mariners are to contending. Yes, the Mariners won 88 games last season, but they did that despite being outscored and featuring near dead zones at first, second and DH. This is not a team one pitcher away from the playoffs. This is a team that should be concentrating on young, cheap talent. You know, like Adam Jones.

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