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More lies! April 15, 2009

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Another recent Yuniesky Betancourt wikipedia update:

Yuniesky Betancourt is generally overrated on both sides of the ball. He is also fat and lazy.

Hey, anonymous vandal from Portland, first off, you’re city has nice transit, bridges and (I’m told) doughnuts.  Second, watch this.  Yuni is apparently trying to bunt.  Sure, he took a double take, needing to make sure he actually did what Wakamatsu wanted, but he got the bunt down.  On that one play, he did not have the poorest execution of all; Scot(t) Shields did. Yuni’s off to a good start–he’ll keep his spot in the lineup (last!) for a while.

To celebrate Yuni’s positive contribution, another wiki-vandal:

When he was only 7 years old he entered a pig into the Kentucky Derby and got first place.

I like the creativity–though it feels like a tired meme–but it’s entirely misplaced.  Besides the complete geographic inaccuracy (horses can’t get to islands like Cuba, Cubans can get to places like Kentucky), it just doesn’t seem like something Yuni would even like doing.


This blog’s suspended. August 26, 2008

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Due to one huge mitigating factor, I’m not going to be updating Yuniform on a regular basis.  No, it’s not the general terribility of Yuniesky Betancourt (he is getting handfuls of walks this month) or the Mariners (who are getting handfuls of wins this month).

No, I’m taking a break because I moved from Washington state to the apparently great state of Illinois.  And I’m in grad school.

If anyone would like to take up the torch of blind devotion to a below average middle infielder, drop me a line.  I’ll be happy to hand it over to you.

I’m glad we had this break July 18, 2008

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The All-Star break came at a good time for me and all 25 of the Mariners not selected for the All-Star game.  Not just because it gave me the chance to watch good baseball (caveats: Jose Lopez plays better defense than Dan Uggla and Josh Hamilton probably wouldn’t get into double digits if that home run derby was in Safeco Field).  It gave me the chance to realize that even Mariners baseball (and by association, Yuniesky Betancourt) is good.  Sure, I could harp on the team for not being as awesome as the A’s, or call on Yuni to stop swinging.  I could suggest that the M’s trade Ichiro or (god forbid) trade Yuni to the Dodgers for Andre Ethier and Chin-Lung Hu (phtew!).  Instead of wishing for excellence, I’ll accept this team and their shortstop’s mediocrity.

After all:
-Yuni had a much better second half of the season last year.
-It’s exciting to know that just about every time Yuni steps up to the plate, he’ll put the ball in play. Walks are good for baseball, but aren’t that exciting. Who knows where Yuni will hit the ball? (Well, he probably won’t hit it over the fence.)
-Yuni’s exciting on the basepaths. (Exciting does include getting doubled up on routine fly balls to right field, however.)
-Yuni’s got a bobblehead giveaway in less than a month. I still maintain that this potential draw to fans (August 8th! Get your Tickets!) will prevent Yuni from being shipped off before the July 31st trading deadline.

I’ve decided to stop being optimist and stop hoping for good things to come. I’ll just accept the Mariners for the rest of the season, and try to label as much of it as I can as good or fun.

Yuni’s pal Maykel Galindo June 30, 2008

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Yuniesky Betancourt is good friends with Cuban defector soccer player Maykel Galindo. This is a story that’s been widely reported, but I was completely unaware of until the Mariners’ website posted a story on the two reconnecting in Los Angeles. Here now, is a timeline of Yuni and Maykel:

January 28, 1981: Maykel Galindo is born , one year and three days before Yuni. Both are born and grow up in Villa Clara.

1991-1992: Yuni and Maykel allegedly first meet and become friends.

1994: Maykel leaves Villa Clara to train for soccer in Havana.

2003: Yuni defects on a speedboat (or so the story goes).

July 9, 2005: After scoring his country’s lone goal in a 3-1 CONCACAF Gold Cup loss against Costa Rica in Seattle, Galindo defects from Cuba. ESPN’s Andrew Winner tells the story best:

He found himself alone in the team hotel. The otherwise omnipresent team chaperones were nowhere in sight. Galindo looked left and right and saw space.

At that moment, Galindo made the snap decision to leave his team and try to defect.

He pressed a button for a random floor of the hotel, made his way out of the hotel through the parking garage and jumped onto a Metro bus outside the hotel.

Frantically trying to communicate in Spanish, he used the driver’s cell phone to dial the only local phone number he had — to one of the team’s Seattle-based liaisons, a high school Spanish teacher named Alex Zahajko. Zahajko picked Galindo up and, not long after, helped him contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Galindo then announced his intention to defect.

Wow. That’s probably a bit less daring than a speedboat, but relying on the kindness of a Metro bus driver AND a high school Spanish teacher takes a bit of guile and charm.  Zahajko just so happened to play in a rec soccer league with Adrian Hanauer, one of the owners of the Seattle Sounders, and helped get Galindo a tryout with the team.

July 28th, 2005: Yuni makes his debut with the Seattle Mariners.  Shortly thereafter, Yuni and Galindo reconnect. Here’s a quote from Yuni on that meeting:

“It was just like always, especially when you first come here, you don’t know anybody and you don’t have your family… You stick with each other, and give each other a hug, and start reminiscing about old times.”

September 9, 2005: Galindo makes his debut with the Seattle Sounders in a game against the Montreal Impact.  Two weeks later, he’d score his first goal for the Sounders, also against the Impact

October 1, 2005: In the USL Championship, Galindo scores an equalizer goal that helps send the game into penalty kicks.  The Sounders win on PKs, 4-3.  Maykel fist pounds Roger Levesque at some pointFans wave their signs.  Yuni attends the game.  Maykel says, “He attended that game, and it was very beautiful for me to have this guy [there] that I spent my childhood with.”

May 7, 2006:  The awesomely-named goalie Preston Burpo, Galindo’s once-and-future teammate, knees Galindo in the face.  Burpo get a yellow card, but Galindo gets a cheekbone fracture and can’t play again until July.

August 23, 2006: Galindo throws out the first pitch at a Mariners game.  Yuni catches it.  That had to be a nice moment.  The Mariners are then crushed by the Yankees, 9-2.  Yuni does get an RBI single, though.

September 9, 2006: Galindo finishes his injury-shortened season with 4 goals and four assists in 9 games.  That’s a lot of scoring for soccer.

February 17, 2007: Galindo moves up to Major League Soccer’s Chivas USA.  Playing in Southern California opens up new opportunities for Galindo, like living in Torrance and getting to do photo-ops with Nomar Garciaparra.

April 7, 2007: After just a few games in the MLS, The Offside declares Galindo “the fastest man in the MLS.”  I’m not sure if Yuni is the ______est anything in baseball.  Maybe the Awesomest Shortstop Nicknamed Rikimbilli.  Yuni wins that contest hands down.

July 19, 2007: Galindo’s Chivas USA gets spanked by the (lower league) Sounders 3-1 in the US Open Cup.

October 2007: Galindo leads Chivas USA with 12 goals in the regular season, and wins the team’s Golden Boot, which sounds kind of harsh, but is actually soccer-speak for MVP or best scorer.

June 11, 2008: Galindo has a second hernia surgery (his right groin’s been hurting), and is not likely to suit up again until August. (Does the MLS have disabled/inactive list?)

June 27, 2008: Galindo last logs onto his ridiculous, flash-filled MySpace page.  His current mood is “stressed.”  Hernia surgeries will do that to you.

In summation, Maykel Galindo’s been profiled on ESPN, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, and The Beautiful Game.  He’s a legit (North American) pro soccer player, and occasionally hangs out with Yuniesky Betancourt.  I wish him all the best.

The trident is good, the powder blue is evil. June 29, 2008

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On Friday, the Mariners and San Diego Padres decided to wear the ugliest jerseys in their collective histories, relying on questionable fashion choices of the late 1970s. I’m a firm advocate of the Mariners’ iconic trident cap–I frequently get compliments when I wear mine and “tridents” and “poseidon god of the sea” are two of the top 3 Google searches that lead hear. That said, the M’s powder blue jerseys lack a certain… viewability.  Here’s a gallery of Yuni’s style from Friday’s game:

The uni is different.  Is the bat the same?

Yuni examines his bat to make sure that it also isn’t a product of shoddy 1970s planning.   Yuni went 0-5 and left an untold number of runners on base.  The team stranded 18 runners.  I’d say Yuni was responsible for five fourths of them.

rocking the cap

Yuni’s mouth is agape.  That hat looks marvelous.  Also, note that in the first photo, the M’s used their standard navy blue “compass rose” batting helmets.  The Padres had special brown-and-yellow extra-ugly helmets made specially for the game (or discovered in the catacombs of Jack Murphy Stadium).  The clashing helmets had a jarring effect that reminded me that, despite high oil prices and terrible Seattle baseball, the game was not, in fact, played in the late 1970s.

Here, you can see that the stitching and letters on Yuni’s jersey were flawless, as was his balanced swing.  Yuni successfully executed his plan to hit a weak pop up in foul territory.

Flashin\' that smile.

Yuni is pleased after successfully throwing to Richie Sexson.  He does this all the time, I swear.


To celebrate the M’s 4-2 victory (in which he played an almost insignificant role) Yuni eats his blue jersey.  Electric blue is definitely the tastiest color of food not found in nature.

Yuni’s in The Onion, McLaren’s out of work June 19, 2008

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Just go read it: Cuban Refugee Yuniesky Betancourt Prefers Castro To M’s Manager John McLaren.

Anytime someone tells me it’s silly or creepy or a sign of mental illness to write a blog devoted to an average-to-below average shortstop, I’m a little bit hurt.  Mostly by the insult, but also because my assailant doesn’t quite get the innate joy of Yuniesky Betancourt.  He can change your life.  The Onion gets it.

That said, this article gets a couple things wrong:

#1: They picked the day of John McLaren’s firing to run this article.  Bad timing.

#2: Yuni never EVER says this much in post-game interviews.  I wish he would actually talk about Castro or McLaren or anything.  (I’d especially like to know what he and Adrian Beltre talk about.)

#3: Yuni doesn’t hate Miguel Cairo.  (His critique of Cairo is apt, though.)

#4: Yuni flees countries in speedboats, not makeshift rafts.

Otherwise, it’s a pretty great story.

Yuni is totally dissimilar to a murdering TV character June 18, 2008

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I haven’t really been watching this Mariners homestand very much. (How’ve they been doing?) The combination of paying work, nice weather, European soccer, and the desire for human contact have pushed the Mariners to the backburner. Actually, all those things and Dexter.

He doesn\'t usually smile

After getting partway through the first season of this Showtime, I realized two things. First, while I thought Michael C. Hall would always be best known as the socially cold and awkward funeral director on the pay TV series Six Feet Under, he’s actually much more suited to the role of socially cold and awkward forensics expert and mass murderer on this pay TV series. Second, Dexter is the anti-Yuni.

he always smiles

I’ll break it down:

Yuniesky Betancourt Dexter Morgan
awesome name rather bland name
black white
Cuban, but lives in Florida in the offseason Floridian, but works and lives among Cubans
Occasionally misses dribbling groundballs Never misses dribbling bloodstains
Voluntarily fled from his family (but was reunited with fattening results) Orphaned against his will. Maintains his figure
Hits balls for bloop singles or ground outs Hits people with hard, piercing (usually lethal) blows
Fails to lay down a bunt with two strikes Never fails his meticulously planned killings
Starred in 441 games over 4 seasons Starred in 24 episodes over 2 seasons
Will have a bobblehead giveaway in 51 days Will NOT have a bobblehead giveaway
Likes Cuban food Likes Cuban food

So, in the end (by which I mean that last, trivial category) I guess Yuniesky Betancourt isn’t that different from a serial killer killer.

Bill James does not approve June 11, 2008

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I can’t scan the whole list (I’m not an ESPN Insider), but Fire Joe Morgan says that one of Bill James 10 Commandments of Sabermetricians is:

5) Thou shalt make no idol of the light-hitting middle infielder.

Wow.  I’ve so totally sinned.  I’ll have to say ten Hail Rotisseries and pray to Voros McCracken for forgiveness.

In completely unrelated news, M’s pitcher Brandon Morrow has been told to change his sleeping position to avoid hurting his throwing shoulder.  (Hat tip: Enjoy the Enjoyment.)

Bring me the hands of Mike Napoli! June 4, 2008

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Take two aspirin, and stop taking extra bases

That crumpled corpse in white is Yuniesky Betancourt. Here’s a close-up:

ouch, again

Ouch.  I hope Yuni’s discarded batting helmet took the brunt of that blow.

I could go off on Mike Napoli like I did Brandon Inge (Napoli’s got awesome power, yet he’s not strong enough to wrest the full-time catching job away from Jeff Mathis!) but there’s no point.  Yuni shouldn’t have gone home on this play.  He took off on a pitch Ichiro singled to center, and kept running even though the ball was fielded cleanly and nowhere near the gap.  The M’s were only down by one run, and the next batter was Jose Lopez, who has torched the Angels this week.  If Miguel Cairo was hitting second, it’d make a bit more sense.  In this situation, it’s inexcusable.  I hope after John McLaren finished his press conference today (link contained bleeped f words) he chewed out third base coach Sam Perlozzo.

Obviously, Yuni’s not a golfer May 31, 2008

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Consider this video:

This is Yuniesky Betancourt at Raul Ibanez’s golf tournament benefiting helping vanquish cystic fibrosis.  I’m not at all troubled by Yuni’s putting form, which can generously be described as “putt-putt-esque.”  Baseball and golf are both deceptively easy stick and ball sports but there isn’t any intrinsic crossover in talent.  (This explains why the Dominican Republic hasn’t produced any good golfers.  This does not explain why Phil Mickelson and John Daly are successful golfers with physiques that can be described as “Kruk-esque.”)

What is troubling is Yuni’s celebration at nearly making a putt.  Dave Sims’ metaphor about ladies at Bloomingdale’s (a reference people in Seattle totally get, given that the closest Bloomingdale’s is over 800 miles away) and Yuni’s full-body fleece covering allude to the low temperature, which could explain why Yuni felt the need to jump up and down.  He’s from Cuba, where it’s never cold (but it’s frequently the Cold War).  Clanging the ball off the back of the hole isn’t making the put from the edge of the green, and jumping up and down after failing isn’t how a champion behaves.  I didn’t condemn Yuni’s recent pout after being pulled for a pinch-hitter, but this display makes me question his determination.

Still, it’s funny to watch.