It had been a rough few months in the Kalahari, much dryer than usual. The terrible drought was taking its toll on the local wildlife, as plants were dying without water, and smaller animals were dying without plants. The deleterious effect persisted into the upper layers of the food chain, as the reduced gazelle population prevented the regional lions and cheetahs from getting enough to eat. In short, it was a difficult time for anything to be alive.
One day, several months after the beginning of the famine, a pride of hungry lions happened upon a pasture in which there grazed a handful of healthy young wildebeests. Starved for satiation, the predators became excited, and began to prepare themselves to strike. The leader of the pride turned to one of the younger members to seal off the back exit to the meadow, thus trapping the prey and ensuring a good meal.
The young cub sneaked around back, hiding in the brush until the other lions charged from the other side of the field. The wildebeests sprang to attention and began to flee in the direction of the cub. He flinched, and the prey were able to escape, without stranding a single one.
The elder lion was disappointed, as was the rest of the pride, but they all understood that sealing off an exit requires experience that you can't expect a young cub to possess. They all shook it off and swore that they would give the little lion another try the next day.
The following afternoon, the pride stumbled upon a herd of antelope in another green not too far away. These were young antelope, and the pack was smaller than the previous day, so the elder thought it to be a good opportunity for the cub to learn the tricks of the trade in an easier situation. The cub went around back and successfully prevented the antelope from escaping the charging lions. A great feast was had, and everyone was thankful that the cub had come through.
Satisfied, yet still rather hungry the next day, the pride traveled eastward when they unexpectedly encountered a large group of healthy, thick gazelles. Knowing that this could turn out to be the greatest meal in months, the elder once again sent the experienced cub to the other side of the meadow, so that he could prevent the prey from running away. The cub hid in the bushes, and when he heard the other lions charging the pasture, he leapt out of the brush and stood in the middle of the path. The gazelles were frightened as they realized that they were trapped, but a particularly fearless member of the pack sprinted at the cub and knocked him down, allowing the rest of the gazelles to run right over him to safety. The pride of lions had expended much of the energy they gained from the feast the previous night, with not a single bite of meat to show for it.
It was then that the elder lion spoke up. "Shit, dude," he said. "That sucks." The dejected group of lions sighed and walked away.
I was out of the house and couldn't watch this game, so I don't have much to say. With that said, simply by reading through the log, box score, and game comments, I can tell that there aren't many positives to take away from tonight anyway, so maybe it's all for the best.
Obviously, the seventh inning was the critical point in the game - the Mariners entered the frame on top by one and left down three, and that was that. JJ Putz, our little lion cub, surrendered his second game-winning grand slam in three days, and instead of being 4-0 at home against the Sox and Yankees, we're 2-2. It hurts.
Not that it really had to be like that. With the bases loaded and one out, Mike Hargrove went to the bullpen and called on George Sherrill, because there's no more comfortable situation for a guy's season debut than facing the hottest hitter in baseball with a one-run lead and the bases loaded. Still, Sherrill, ever the cool competitor, got Tino Martinez to shatter his bat and ground into what should've been a double play to end the inning. Instead, Beltre threw Sheffield out at home but Sexson dropped the ball at first, allowing Martinez to reach and Williams to do what he did. It was a routine play the the Mariners screwed up, and it cost them the game.
As a reward for his efforts, Sherrill was...wait, what? Sent back to AAA? While Aaron Sele, Jeff Nelson, and Matt Thornton remain on the big league roster? My apologies to any parents whose children are reading this, but that's just absolutely fucking idiotic. George Sherrill is one of the most effective pitchers in the organization, and he gets ZERO respect from anyone with any power. He came in and gave the team a chance to escape a horrible situation without allowing a run. He couldn't possibly have done the job any better than he did. And he's going back to the minors. It boggles the mind, and it only makes tonight sting that much more.
And hey, to top it off, Jeff Nelson dicked around for another inning, allowing three hits and a run just as it looked like the Mariners might be able to recover some momentum. One of the things that makes me so angry sometimes is that it would be so incredibly easy to improve this Major League roster without going outside the organization. There are enough interesting guys in the minors who could come up, replace the various flotsam we have sitting on the 25-man, and make this a better team by a handful of wins. It may not save the season, but it would put a better product on the field, and it would be encouraging to see that the front office has at least the most basic understanding of the concept of "free talent". But hey, that's a different argument. Right now, it's better to be pissed off about an avoidable loss and leave the rest of the frustration for another day.
Was Hargrove right to summon Putz to face Williams? Even though Putz had thrown 40 pitches over the previous two days, I think it was the right move - Bernie's always hit better against lefties than righties, and with age taking its toll on his bat speed, there was a chance that Putz would be able to blow him away. He didn't, but that's not really Hargrove's fault. As enticing as it is to pin this loss on Sexson, it was still Putz who threw a straight fastball over the middle of the plate. It's going to be real interesting to see who we go with in the next high-leverage situation requiring a right-handed reliever.
This game depresses me, so I don't want to say anything else. Julio Mateo makes his first career Major League start - and first start anywhere since 2000 - at 7:05pm, facing off against Carl Pavano. Even if you aren't excited to see Mateo go up against a red-hot offense, there's a good chance that tomorrow's game will feature the debut of Jorge Campillo's slop and trickery, which should be fun to watch.