Life is full of repetition. Do something enough times, and it becomes routine. It then becomes second nature and when something becomes second nature, sometimes that action or activity can be taken for granted. How many times have you zoned out on your way to work, only to wonder "how did I get here?" Or perhaps you work in sales and your pitch or spiel weasels its way into casual conversation with friends outside of the workplace.
The Mariners won their eighth game in a row tonight. It feels like it's starting to become routine and I can't help but think of one of the first comments from Matt's recap from the other night.
I realize it’s only a seven game winning streak, but watching this team, I keep getting reminders of the 2001 team. How us, the fans, and the players, expected to win each game. -- olywriter
It sure feels like the Mariners can't be defeated. I know they can be. I know they aren't the best team in baseball. I know the Angels or Athletics or Red Sox could top the Mariners in a seven game series. But it sure doesn't feel that way. My heart and my brain are conflicted. Of course they will win! No that's crazy talk odds are they will lose the next game. But Dustin Ackley and Brad Miller are so dreamy! What how can you stand that facial hair.
I want the Mariners to keep winning, don't get me wrong. I want to celebrate with fans and cheer on the team. I want to be unashamed of Seattle when people start talking about baseball at work. But it's so hard to get past the feeling that eventually, the Mariners will come back down to earth. Because of course they will.
When I'm unsure of something I turn to the data. I turn to hard evidence to prove or disprove any belief I have or any decision I have to make. So maybe I can reason to myself that the Mariners can keep winning. Maybe the kids are finally playing to their talent level, or maybe it's roster construction or maybe it's luck. But it's something I feel the need to figure out.
I want to look at some numbers. I have a feeling that we can attribute some of Seattle's success to the way the lineup has been set recently. So let's play the guessing game -- here are a pair of triple slash lines through the Mariners' seven-game winning streak, before tonight.
The first pair of stats are pretty impressive. These players are getting on base, hitting for average and one of them is hitting for a bunch of power. You want the first player in the middle of your lineup, and you can slot the second player in at the top of the order.
The second pair of triple slash lines are a bit harder to decipher. While they aren't really hitting for average, they are hitting for a decent amount of power. I'd stash these hitters in the 6- or 7-hole.
So with all this talk of lineup construction, where did these players actually fall in the batting order tonight?
The first set of numbers belong to Justin Smoak and Dustin Ackley, who were slotted at the six and nine slots, respectively. The second set belong to Brad Miller and Nick Franklin, who were slotted at the one and two slots.
But numbers in small sample sizes can be deceiving to the context in which they are analyzed. Another set of triple slash lines:
On their own, I would be okay with these batters at the top of a lineup card. But as you can probably tell by the evenness of the second slash line, there is a small sample size at play here. These are the triple slash lines of Gordon Beckham and Josh Phegley, respectively, from their last seven games played.
The Chicago White Sox aren't Marlins horrible, but they are pretty bad in a division that has played out similar to the American League West. But they are out of contention. There's no way they'll make the playoffs this year, and even with all the promises their front office made over the offseason, I find it difficult to believe that White Sox fans could even have a glimmer of hope to make it to October.
So what do these slash lines tell us? Justin Smoak's power is returning, or appearing for the first time, depending on what you think about him. Dustin Ackley is getting on base as initially advertised, albeit with less power. Miller and Franklin can sure drive the ball but they have to work at some stuff at the plate.
Four young players on the roster are helping to drive the team's success. But eight games into this winning streak and I'm still not convinced. Oh, brain, you! Why can't I convince you? Why can't I convince you to believe in the Mariners?
I intentionally juxtaposed the questions in the Game Chart with conflicting tonality. If the community could work out reasons to believe, maybe I could, too.
It's things like this that fan the flame of fandom I totally enjoy.
"Mariners make miraculous rampage on way to division title, win 60 straight."
"Team declares bankruptcy over promotion losses."
"‘It was worth it’, GM jack Z" -- Drew_D
It would be worth it, wouldn't it? Just to have one championship? Or, at least, to make it to the World Series to the first time.
So here we are faced with the context of the Seattle Mariners. For the past four years the Mariners have had a losing record. Over and over they've teased us with little winning streaks here and there. Right now, during an eight-game winning streak, I find it hard to believe that they will win a ninth.
My emotions point towards players Erasmo Ramirez. He wasn't lights out today, but he was good enough to suppress a decent Cleveland offense and to secure his first win of the season. Next start, he'll be in line to win his second. But logic says that he didn't go deep enough to be a reliant starter. Logic says his defense picked him up, and he might not be able to replicate the same results.
My emotions point towards players like Kyle Seager. Kyle Seager! Somehow Seager is quietly having an amazing season and I feel like he isn't getting enough credit. Seager is the stability Seattle has been looking for and the Mariners haven't locked him up yet? Come on! But see, logic. Logic tells his he's not arbitration eligible until 2015. Why would a ballclub throw away money when they can have him for cheap?
The Mariners won eight games in a row and I'm not sure how they got here. I can't find the logic or the reasoning or the explanation to why they are winning baseball games. When I get to work I've always had my spiel ready. Oh they'll be better next year, wait until Chris Taylor and Taijuan Walker get here, they are rebuilding and I swear they'll win eventually.
But maybe I need to trash that canned response. Maybe I need to rethink the way I approach being a fan of such a seemingly fickle team.
Maybe, just maybe, it's time to embrace the crazy talk.
The Mariners won eight games in a row and I don't care how they got here.
I only care about where they are going.