With the recently-installed firewalls at work, I have no idea how this is going to go, but let’s give it a shot anyway, shall we? I can’t access my email from work (super helpful, guys), so I am having to use sites that I can get to, and the Mariners official website is one of those. Here is an article written there about the horror of last night, if you didn’t, couldn’t, or can’t stand to watch anymore. It reads like praise of the Rangers, and should probably be on the Rangers actual site, but I can hardly say I blame Greg Johns and TR Sullivan; the Mariners have got to be difficult to write about these days, even if you’re getting paid for it.
The Mariners put up Taijuan Walker against the Rangers newly-acquired Cole Hamels (which hurts that part of me that is a Phillies fan, even though I know Hamels had his grievances with the team and vice versa), and while the Ms performance prior to the 9th inning could have been better, it also wasn’t the slaughter that occurred over the weekend in Boston. I was convinced that the game would go into extras again, until Tom Wilhelmsen was switched out after the 8th in favor of Fernando Rodney. While Rodney did an excellent job of getting Prince Fielder to strike out swinging, the damage had already been done at that point, because the bases were loaded and Adrian Beltre was at the plate. Rodney handed him a walk, and that was all she wrote; the most Mariner way to lose a game I have maybe ever seen. Even more than blowing it in extras with a catcher on the hill (Jamie Burke, I remember you!)
I haven’t been able to keep up on blog reading lately, and what little news I get comes via Twitter links or discussions with other fans, but man has our bullpen just come down to earth. On fire. With everyone screaming out the windows. Over a cliff, into a ravine. Like a really deep ravine. It used to be that my confidence in the bullpen to get things done if a starter bit the dust was really high; we had nothing to fear, because the pen would take care of the game for the starter. But we can’t say that anymore. This isn’t me being late on the uptake, I’ve known for a while now; but I have never said it out loud in print in any sort of depth. And I’m not even sure this counts as depth, because there are only so many ways to say you’re disappointed in something.
In a lot of ways, this year has been more disappointing than 2008 and 2010 combined. Whereas those teams had maybe one to three players in the entire lineup that seemed to be expected to hold the team up and win somehow, this year we have multiple players who could have made a difference and just haven’t. And a season like this overshadows the truly awesome things that happen during it, like Hisashi Iwakuma’s no-hitter last week that I was supposed to be at (but wasn’t because I misread the schedule and couldn’t get out of work on time), or some of the dramatic extra inning wins that have occurred during the year so far.
We all make jokes that the easiest way to not be disappointed in the Mariners is to simply not expect anything from them; and I don’t think I did. I never think about playoffs at the beginning of the year, because the very concept seems so unreal (not just for the Mariners), and 162 games is an awful lot of baseball. I ignore the predictions of the national media, because most of the time they have very little idea of whence they speak anyway, and their job is to give a bunch of lip service to whatever team they’re told to give it to; plus, national sports reporters are not on the front lines. They don’t see what we see every day during the summer. And they didn’t see it last year, either. But with the lineups shaping up through spring training, guys breaking out and warming up, I would have been cool with a big season for everyone and hoped for – at the least – a division victory. Not too much hope, but hope nonetheless. I’m not angry at the team – that would be silly – but I’m bummed out about it because I really like these guys. Even Fernando Rodney; it killed me last night to see the disappointment on his face after that walk, and I have to think it makes for really uncomfortable post-game goings-on. The game was on the line, extras could have been forced, and he blew it hard.
Granted, it’s not completely Fernando’s fault; Lloyd McClendon is still running him out there in these tied end-of-game situations. Sometimes it works, but more often than not it feels like it doesn’t. Maybe we didn’t have a better right hander that was ready (I’ll be honest, I was exhausted and ready to sleep due to having to be up the night before to get Tom from the airport). All I know is that it kills me to see a guy beat the franchise saves record held by Kazuhiro Sasaki last year, and go to an absolute puddle of nothing this season; 16 saves over 50 innings pitched and 43 save opportunities. So sad.
I don’t know what else to say, really. I have heard of changes coming, with rumors floating around that this may be Jack Zduriencik’s last year with the club due to the team’s performance. You can’t kill the team, so someone’s head has to roll. All I know is that I hate seeing 25 guys that I like get the short end of the stick, and it is saddening that I don’t really enjoy watching the game on TV lately. I still love the park – and I am sure that is what the organization banks on (literally) – but watching the games on TV has gotten very depressing. I hate having the “there’s always next year” thoughts in June. Then again, there’s always next year.