Chone. Pronounce it just like it looks, not Shawn, Sean, or Shone. Nope, as long as Chone Figgins' batting average stays below .200, and he strikes out once every three at-bats, he is Chone, with a hard "CH" sound like in change, and "own" as the ending. You know, as in the Chone Zone.
Everyone's least-favorite Mariner got demoted Friday, losing both his starting job in the field and his leadoff spot in the lineup amidst a six game losing streak. It was a move that was overdue, even after just 30 games. Chone struck out 28 times in 95 at-bats, and was hitting just .189. He won't be sent packing entirely for at least another few months, as Jack Zduriencik will surely try to squeeze any remaining value out the $17 million the team still owes the feckless former Angel.
Although expectations were lower than low after his atrocious 2011, it felt like the Mariners faithful were still hoping Figgins would somehow find his mojo and redeem himself. But all hope has been crushed (the Mariners have a way of doing that), and now appreciating Figgins' absurd futility is the only way to stay sane.
When former Mariner Mario Mendoza's batting average dipped below .200, his teammates coined "The Mendoza Line." It caught on across baseball, and the tounge-in-cheek nickname is now the golden standard for hapless hitting. But Mendoza retired in 1982, and the expression could use an update. In other words, it's time to step into the Chone Zone.
Figgins' full name is actually Desmond DeChone Figgins, but he goes by just Chone. If radio and TV announcers are to be believed, this is pronounced like Shawn, as in Kemp. But since it seems like Chone was sent by the Mariners' division rivals for the sole purpose of sabotage, he lost the ability to force fans into phonetic disbelief. Ever since he started sucking, he has been plain ol' Chone. One hard syllable that rhymes with bone, as in "the Mariners got boned when they signed Chone."
When his average creeps up to .250, he earns enough to goodwill to be upgraded to just Figgins. If he ever improves to .300 or better, he regains the right to be Chone like Shawn again. Until then, Safeco Field is the Chone Zone. Enter at your own risk.