In a way, you can't blame the. It's immature, sure, but everybody loved them after they knocked off the . And while it's fun to get that much attention, the Mariners knew it wasn't all genuine. They knew it wasn't all coming from a deep, sincere place. They knew that people fall in love with anyone who knocks down a giant, so they devised a scheme to find out who really cares, and who just wanted to hang with the cool kids.
Hence yesterday's loss to the, and hence today's loss to the Nationals, too. The Mariners have sacrificed themselves, made themselves look worse on purpose, all in an effort to find out who's really committed. It's a very tenth grade maneuver, but sometimes you just have to know, and now the Mariners know. Or, at least, they have a better idea.
I think how you respond to these two losses says a lot about who you are as a baseball fan. Not whether you're a good or bad baseball fan - the older I get, the less sure I am that there's any such thing as a bad baseball fan. But it says something about your attitude. There are plenty of reasons to sense imminent doom. Plenty of reasons to think the hat's out of rabbits. And there are plenty of reasons to think this is just a bump in the road to an as yet undetermined destination. After all, just a few days ago the Mariners beat the Phillies, and they've bounced back from some real bad losses earlier in the year. I understand both sides, even if one's a little more rational than the other.
So maybe instead of using this time to dwell on another frustrating loss, you can use it instead to reflect on your attitude. What is your current attitude? How did it develop? Why did it develop? Do you wish you could change it? I'm sure there are bad times to get caught up in introspection, but the time after watching the Mariners get six hits and lose to the Nationals isn't one of them. We're not going to learn anything new about Chone Figgins tonight, so we might as well learn something about ourselves.
A limited selection of bullet holes for a game I'd like to forget:
- The story's going to be that the Mariners wasted an awesome outing by Erik Bedard, and that's because the Mariners wasted an awesome outing by Erik Bedard. Not only did Bedard spin six earned run-less innings, with ten strikeouts - he did that on an incredibly efficient 87 pitches. He only came out because the M's needed a pinch-hitter in the seventh, which was the right move to make.
I think Matthew's going to have a post sometime soon about Bedard's continued progress, but as a sneak peek, over his last eight starts now he's thrown 50.1 innings, with 12 walks, two home runs, and 57 strikeouts. He's been performing at a comparable level to what he did with the in 2007, when he was among baseball's best starters. I don't know how long this is going to last, but it seems like every time Bedard takes the hill these days I come away with more confidence.
Tonight, he just didn't give the Nationals much of anything. As with Fister on Tuesday, Bedard didn't allow a recorded line drive. 69% of his pitches were strikes, and 12 of Washington's 41 swings missed completely. His fastball velocity was good, and he used the pitch to blow away the likes of Ryan Zimmerman and Michael Morse. Literally my only complaint about Bedard tonight was his pace, but given the weather, and given his results, that's a lamer complaint than saying that E.L. Fudge cookies taste too buttery. Butter is delicious!
- Before the game, when I realized that Dustin Ackley wasn't in the Mariners' starting lineup, I felt a noticeable reduction in interest. Then I remembered that Dustin Ackley wasn't even on the Mariners' roster as recently as a week ago. I thought I was really interested in the Mariners a week ago. Turns out I just didn't realize how much more interested I could be. Rooting for the Mariners has been like hiking up a mountain, and then another hiker comes by and says "oh by the way this is an active volcano."
- A lot of stadiums will play recorded sound clips when the home team pitcher has two strikes on a batter in an effort to get the crowd involved. In the top of the sixth, when John Lannan got to two strikes against Brendan Ryan, the stadium PA started playing a clip, then lowered the volume and allowed it to trail off as the fans sat quiet and still. I thought that moment really captured what a Mariners/Nationals series is all about.
- As a pinch-hitter in the top of the seventh, Jack Cust faced a lefty, swung at the first pitch, and ran out an infield single, which is like a fish walking on land, identifying a deli, and verbally ordering a sandwich.
- The home plate umpire was somebody named John Tumpane. I don't pay a lot of attention to umpires anymore because I've come to realize that getting upset with them never gets anyone anywhere, but I still like to think that I'm familiar with most of their names. So rarely do I encounter an umpire I've never heard of before. I've never heard of John Tumpane before. "Tumpane" doesn't even sound like a real name. Tumpane sounds like a name an alien in a human disguise would come up with when it needs to identify itself after sneaking into someone's house and hastily reads syllables off containers on the counter.
- Fresh off the bench as a pinch-hitter in the seventh, Ackley took consecutive triple-digit fastballs that narrowly missed to get ahead 2-0, then shot a 99mph fastball right back up the middle for a base hit. Ackley batted once and still extended his hitting streak to five games. With most young players, we celebrate signs of progress. Ackley isn't really making progress, because he's practically already there.
- Chone Figgins committed an error on a grounder in the first that indirectly led to a run, made a questionable decision on a grounder in the fourth that indirectly led to a run, and went 0-for-4 at the plate with a pair of strikeouts, including a three-pitch strikeout to end the game in which he didn't lift the bat off his shoulders. I do think that a lot of people are being unreasonable with their current hatred of Figgins, but Figgins is not doing himself any favors. You wonder at what point dropping him outright becomes a justifiable decision. I don't know that the M's are there yet, but I know that point exists, and is drawing closer by the day.