Our "Prose on Pros" series continues today with a look at Mariner's backup catcher Jamie Burke. Burke (not to be confused with this Jamie Burke) played both football and baseball at Oregon State in the early '90's. At the age of 35 and after 14 years in the minors, he's finally found a home with the (last place) Mariners. We now welcome in Jeff from Lookout Landing to tell us about Jamie. And as you read this, keep in mind that Burke's salary for 2008 is $435,000.
One: Using a movie, describe your team this season. Who is Jamie Burke playing in this blockbuster?
The year is 2046. The Cascadian navy is preparing for an invasion of Vladivostok in an effort to deter the Soviets from building an atomic rocket intended to destroy the moon as a measure to stop the proliferation of Siberian werewolves. The first Cascadian battleship sets sail (they use sails in the future for some reason) from Vancouver at daybreak but is almost instantly overwhelmed by a Soviet submarine that had for weeks been lurking beneath the harbor. This sudden ambush then sets off a full-scale Soviet assault on the Cascadia coastline in response to President Ovechkin's order for an aggressive offensive against the would-be invaders. Over the following 48 hours, the coastline is bombarded by a steady hail of missiles and giant rocks, and the nearby Cascadian population is devastated. Jamie Burke plays Wounded Civilian 11.
Two: What past or current player does Jamie Burke remind you of, and why?
Tom Lampkin, because he's the last Mariner backup backstop who didn't always play like a pile of crap.
We agree, the resemblance is there.
Three: In the Mariner kitchen, what spice, condiment, or utensil is Jamie Burke and why?
Old pewter spoon in the back of the silverware cabinet that you got as a wedding gift. You can't remember the last time you took it out and put it to any use, but how you got it makes for a decent story to tell friends and family.
Four: If you were GM for a day and Jamie Burke demanded a trade, give us your most realistic, fair-value trade for this player and that would benefit your team the most.
If I were GM for a day and Jamie Burke came to my office demanding a trade, I would have an attendant clear out his locker, buy myself a package of Ho-Hos from the vending machine in the hallway, and declare it a done deal. Jamie Burke is a third-string catcher. He has no value to the Mariners, and he has no value to anyone else. [whoa! a li'l harsh.--ed.]
Five: What is the most amount of money you would pay to take batting practice, fielding practice, or play catch with Jamie?
I'd probably pay $15 to be able to play catch with Jamie Burke. $5 to play catch and $10 to try and bribe him into giving me the phone number of somebody good.
Six: What is the signature play of Jamie Burke's career with the Mariners? Describe it in as much detail as possible. Also, were you there?
For a while Burke's signature moment was laying down a suicide squeeze on a fastball at his face in 2007, but earlier this year in the 15th inning of a game against the Tigers, bad luck and bad bullpen management led to his entering a 1-1 game as a reliever. And, as a reliever, he got future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez to swing at a pitch and miss. It's one thing for Royals shortstop Tony Pena Jr. to come in throwing 90mph and miss a few bats. It's quite another for Burke to come in, look like an idiot, and still register a swinging strike against arguably the greatest catcher of his generation. The moment has been immortalized by this priceless .gif:
Watch it, then watch it again, then watch it a few more times. Watch Burke pitch like a knuckleballer. Watch him short-arm a 82mph heater that floats into the zone like a lob. And watch Rodriguez swing right through a meatball at the belt. It doesn't matter that Burke ultimately allowed a run and lost the game. He's a catcher, for chrissakes. He's a catcher that got the best catcher of the 90s to swing at a pitch and miss. This is one of those surreal, life-validating moments that, while Burke surely never saw it coming, he'll almost certainly never forget.
Seven: If Jamie missed the team bus and was standing by the side of the road on gameday, would you give him a ride?
I'd give him a ride to a bar. Or maybe a restaurant if he hasn't eaten. Because the team won't have any use for him at the field, so he might as well have a few plates and drinks in front of him as long as he's just going to be sitting down.
Seven-A: What if it was a road game-what is the farthest away road stadium that you would drive him to, personally? Please take into account the consequences for the number of days work you would probably miss.
I live in San Diego. Jamie Burke's team plays in Seattle. There pretty much isn't a single scenario imaginable in which I would drive thousands of miles north to give Jamie a ride to the grocery store, much less another distant city. He'd have to fend for himself.
Eight: Do you expect Jamie to improve, level off, or regress during the remainder of this year, and why?
Hard to answer. Burke has started exactly five games since the middle of June. You can't really improve, level off, or regress if you never get to play. With one expensive catcher and another highly-touted prospect ahead of him on the depth chart, Jamie Burke might have the easiest job in baseball.
[and good for Jamie!--ed.]
Thanks, Jeff, and we hope that Jamie can register a few more K's with the Mariners this season.