39-64, Game Thought

Or Game Thoughts? I haven't decided. We'll see.

One of the perils of watching a terrible baseball team is that your hope never really goes away. I mean, that isn't a total peril - you need some degree of hope in order to stay somewhat invested - but one of the side effects is that your standards are reduced. When you watch a good team, you complain about anyone who's average, and you make note of anyone who's great. When you watch an average team, you complain about anyone who's bad, and you make note of anyone who's good. When you watch a bad team, you complain about anyone who's terrible, and you make note of anyone who's average. And when you watch a terrible team, you complain about anyone who's literally dead, and you make note of anyone who's just halfway decent.

It happens this way because terrible teams generally don't have many good players, because if they had many good players, they wouldn't be terrible teams. So fans of terrible teams either have to give up, or they have to start finding satisfaction in lesser achievements and lesser players.

We saw this in 2004, when fans took a liking to guys like Bucky Jacobsen, Hiram Bocachica, Scott Atchison, and the super awesome Justin Leone. The Mariners were terrible, but those players were okay, so we liked them, and made more of them than we would've under better conditions.

We saw this in 2005, when fans took a liking to guys like Mike Morse, Jeremy Reed, and the pre-splitter version of JJ Putz. The Mariners were terrible, but those players were okay, so we liked them, and made more of them than we would've under better conditions.

We saw this in 2008, when fans took a liking to guys like Roy Corcoran, Cesar Jimenez, and even Tug Hulett. The Mariners were terrible, but those players were okay, so we liked them, and made more of them than we would've under better conditions.

It's not like those are the only players fans of terrible teams like. Even the worst teams in baseball will have their standouts, just as the M's have Ichiro, and Felix, and Franklin Gutierrez. But when players come up out of relative obscurity to turn in a surprisingly acceptable performance - that's when things get dangerous, because fans of terrible teams run the risk of latching on to them without recognizing that their standards have been lowered so far. It feels better in the short-term, but like eating an entire bag of Skittles when you're hungry, it's more likely to leave you upset than content later on.

It's 2010. The Mariners are terrible again. And they're terrible with guys like Brian Sweeney, David Pauley, Chris Seddon, Doug Fister, and Garrett Olson. Those guys are some of this year's candidates to end up overrated and over-discussed by fans who just want to have something interesting and hopeful to talk about.

So it sounds kind of silly given that the M's had lost their last three games to the White Sox by a combined score of 23-6, but we were kind of overdue for a game like this. A game where David Pauley - who's had some recent success - got blasted. A game where Chris Seddon - who's had some recent success - got blasted. A game where Garrett Olson - who's had some recent success - got blasted. Those three combined to throw seven innings tonight, allowing four walks, nine runs, and four dingers while generating zero strikeouts. They got slaughtered. Of the 31 balls in play they allowed, eight were line drives, and four more left the park. The ballpark had nothing to do with that collective performance.

Why were we overdue for this? Because, as neat as it's been to see Pauley shut down teams like the Red Sox and Yankees, and Seddon come out well out of the gate, and Olson pull off an effective stretch, it is important - vitally important - that we all remember that these players aren't good players. We've seen Fister and Sweeney begin to regress lately as well, and it's the same lesson there. It's fun to talk about their beating the odds, and how they and their families and their friends must be so thrilled to see them performing in the Major Leagues and earning a Major League paycheck, but these guys aren't actual assets. Well, Fister, maybe, but he's not a building block, and the others are filler. Pauley's got a track record of AAA mediocrity. Seddon's the same way. Olson's the same way. Sweeney's 36. A good team might have one of those guys in the back of the bullpen somewhere, throwing low-leverage innings. The Mariners have all of them.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't take pleasure in watching these guys succeed. I do. It's not like we have much else, and it really is heartwarming in a way to watch, say, a Brian Sweeney come back after switching continents and earn a big league manager's trust at this stage in his career. Sweeney must be ecstatic, his loved ones doubly so. It's touching. But, deep down, you have to remember who these guys are. Grow attached, but don't grow too attached, because the offseason is hardly more than two months away, and when the front office hits the reset button on this whole project of theirs, a lot of names are going to get erased. A lot of pedestrian names. And I don't want anyone to get hurt. The season's been rough enough.

  • The Mariners got out-homered in this series 11-1. The White Sox had as many home runs as the Mariners had runs. Now we're going to Target Field.

    White Sox Games At Home: 30 PA/HR
    White Sox Games On Road: 51 PA/HR

    Twins Games At Home: 59 PA/HR
    Twins Games On Road: 32 PA/HR

    The lineup's really gonna love this.
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