The Mariners are about to play the Chicago Cubs this weekend, and that series coincides with Jim Caple's Misery Index column over at ESPN. This year it's especially topical, because the Mariners are #2 and the Cubs are #1.
Here's Caple's reasoning for sticking Seattle at #2:
Let me repeat: Seattle is the only city that has never hosted a World Series. Sure, the Mariners have only been around since 1977, but Seattle has finished in last place nearly as many times (13) as the Cubs (14) in 100 fewer seasons! And while Houston and San Diego had some bad unis, don't forget the Mariners had the upside-down trident. The Mariners haven't been to the playoffs in 12 years. I mean, we're talking about a team whose fans are forced to celebrate winning a division series 18 years ago as the greatest moment in club history.
First off, the trident was amazing and the team should bring it back as an alternate with the current color scheme. That should give the M's points, not take them away.
It's more of the same after that. The Mariners were a bad expansion team that took a long time to get good, and then they faded back away to another miserable decade. They exploit 1995 tirelessly. Bobbleheads. Bringing back Griffey. These things are supposed to support an argument that the Mariners are one of the miserable franchises in baseball, and not just by Caple. These are things some fans would point to themselves as reasons why the current state of Mariners affairs are depressing. Despite all of that, I'm not miserable, even if I'm supposed to be.
The Pittsburgh Pirates have gone two decades without a winning season. That's misery. People point to titles, but what does that mean for somebody in their 20s? Their dad can tell them about Wilie Stargell, a player they never knew? To watch grainy video of fans going nuts who are now in their 60s and 70s? There are Pirates fans experiencing true joy for the first time right now, and that's awesome. The Pirates are tied for the best record in baseball, and they're well on their way to their first winning season since 1992. For all of the misery they've endured, where will this season rank on sheer jubilation?
Mariners fans have emotions that are untapped. We have never experienced a pennant, let alone a World Series. It's been 36 years, but many of us have been alive for less than that. That hunger for success is what drives us back to watching the same sub-par product year after year, tearing through the minor leagues, obsessing over every prospect, every trade. It's not misery. It's hunger. It's hope. We are fortunate to be able to feel anything at all. The hovering notion of a better future keeps a fire alive in my heart. Why else would we care?
It's hard to quantify your emotions, or even explain them. They're personal, and they don't always make a whole lot of sense. There isn't a numbers based argument that explains why I'm not miserable, even if somebody says I should be. I enjoy caring about this team, I even enjoy being angry and disappointed. I enjoy it because it's all for the goal of an emotion I have never been fortunate enough to feel. This year, if the Pirates manage to win the World Series, there will be a release of emotion from that city that a generation of fans from New York could never dream of. When that moment of triumphant jubilation comes for the Mariners, it's going to be fucking incredible. It will come for you, for me, for this entire city. When it does, all of these years of tireless devotion will be worth it.
There's another game tomorrow. Danny Hultzen returns to Tacoma tonight. The trade deadline is in five weeks. I can't wait.