I've been thinking and reading a lot about the Pirates recently. Identifying with their pain has been easy. While the Mariners haven't suffered as long (12 years and going to 20 without playoffs) or as hard (4 winning seasons to 0) the Pirates at least had a long and rich history to fall back upon. The Mariners have Maury Wills managing, Lenny Randle and HEY LOOK OVER HERE IT'S 1995!!!!!
It's amazing how the shared experience of losing breeds my empathy. I would assume 90%+ of Pirates fans can be found glued to their televisions or at Heinz Field on Fall and Winter Sundays, waving terrible towels and rooting on their Steelers. Those actions make a small part of me nod my head in agreement when I read this story . But a change of season and change of sports and bam, I'm a commiserating, empathetic Pirates fan by proxy.
The Pirates aren't the first miserable franchise the Mariners' failure has made me a temporal fan of either. In 2008, largely at the behest of words written on this very site I gleefully became a backer of the Rays. Those poor bastards had all of Pittsburgh's misery and none of its history. The Mariners have made me an easy mark for down on your luck stories in baseball.
So I wonder then if when (ever) the Mariners finally succeed on some level, which teams' fans will hop aboard our metaphorical boat and ride with us on our journey? It will be fans of teams of similarly downtrodden, moribund franchises. There will be, like my love for the Pirates, an element of legitimate goodwill involved. We are all capable, if at least minutely, of some form of altruism. But largely the feeling will be one of inspiration. Once more those fans will feel like a peasant has escaped his birth and danced with lords. They will know it is possible and they will thirst anew for their own glory. Or at least it is with me and the team from Pittsburgh.
God, you guys. This team. They are so bad.
- Today was Felix Day. But then, thanks to a strained oblique, it was not Felix Day. In his stead Brandon Maurer was given a spot start. There are a lot of macro reasons revolving around player development, free agency track record and overall won-loss that lead one to the opinion that the Jack Zduriencik regime has outlived whatever usefulness it ever contained. But a sad and notable micro reason is the 2013 treatment o Brandon Maurer. Having never pitched above AA and with limited prospect pedigree Maurer was the wild card in Spring Training that was selected among his more well known pitching prospects as a rotation member breaking camp. He was then given 10 starts of mostly below average pitching to show that he was simply not ready for major league hitting. After a July recall Maurer has been given a first half 2012 Iwakuma-like role. After 1 1/2 months of spotty long relief the team decided to the best thing for a 22 year old in the middle of a tough 1st season would be a random spot start. That spot start went predictably poorly.
Brandon Maurer has quality stuff. He showed a willingness, particularly in a very effective 1st inning to lead with breaking pitches and sequence in a way that beguiles his 200 year old age. But the consistent command is non-existent. There's no reason the team should go into 2014 with any plan other than making Maurer start games in Tacoma until his performance demands promotion. It's what should have happened this year.
- Offensive update on offense: Last year's Mariners scored 3.82 run/game. This year's Mariners (with an average batter age 1.6 years higher than last years) are at 3.88 through 146 games. I cannot believe in 2013 that the Mariners still appear run by people that look at baseball teams as a jigsaw puzzle, where each player must fit into some preconceived space through an assignment of roles, than as an open and boundless canvas where talent and beauty have no limits and more of all that is good should be acquired regardless of redundancy. When the story of baseball in the 2010's is told it will look at these Mariners of the first half of the decade as one of the very last to put away the antiquated ideals of the 20th century. We are witnessing the last, dying gasps of surpassed knowledge.
- Oliver Perez - Still a Mariner.
- Tom Wilhelmsen finally had an encouraging appearance. Seeing as how his season has been so disastrous that the idea of trading him makes little sense the September performance of Wilhelmsen is a window into his future, which most likely lies with the Mariners next season in a best case scenario. While acknowledging that the Astros swing and miss more than any team in baseball Wilhelmsen struck out the side in his 1 inning of work. Enter your favorite truism about redemption and journeys starting with first steps here.