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Another day, another loss. Or, to be more specific:

  • Another o'fer for Beltre

  • Another homer-friendly Moyer road start

  • Another one-hit night for Ichiro

  • Another ominous two-hit night for Dobbs

  • Another glowing display of Matt Thornton's unlimited potential

  • Another game slow enough to drive Courtney Love to sobriety

  • Another red X on the calendar counting down the days until we can finally stop watching the Mariners for a few months
I used to be excited about this team. I could barely sleep the night before Opening Day (true story), and when Richie Sexson launched the first pitch he saw a gazillion feet into the left field bleachers, I felt a tingle of hope and promise. The team began to lose, but I was still thrilled to have baseball to watch - I'd schedule around Mariner games, catching every pitch and jotting down a page full of notes to mention in the enthusiastic recap to follow. It didn't matter if I had class the next morning; I'd stay with them as long as they were playing, even if it meant staying up until two and losing a ton of sleep.

Then the summer came, and I realized that, along with my diminished amount of free time, I also had a diminished level of interest in the Mariners. I still got excited for a game every now and then, that sweep in Anaheim sticking out in particular, but I missed them more often than I had earlier in the year. With the trade deadline approaching and a few young players to keep an eye on, there was enough there to keep me reasonably interested, but not really on a daily basis. Watching the team began to feel like a drag, more of an obligation than anything else.

That feeling didn't go away. Boredom set in, and now, just six months after I couldn't wait for the season to start, I can't wait for it to end. It's a tough thing to admit, because no matter how long you manage to hold out, totally giving up just has this fairweather air about it. I almost feel dirty. A big part of the problem is that baseball is one of those things where you don't realize how much it means to you until it's the offseason and you start impatiently counting down to the day when pitchers and catchers report to extended spring training. I know this. I know I should be watching and appreciating every inning that I can, because two weeks from now, there won't be any more Mariner baseball for six months. But as much as I keep trying...I just can't appreciate this team. They suck, they're unwatchable, and even though I know I'm going to take this back in November, I don't think I'm going to miss them one bit when they're gone.

Biggest Contribution: Greg Dobbs, +6.9%
Biggest Suckfest: Raul Ibanez, -10.5%
Most Important Hit: Dobbs single #1, +13.5%
Most Important Pitch: Monroe homer, -15.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -10.7%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -37.7%

(What is this?)

Slim leads by Detroit aren't supposed to hold up like that, not for a team who entered the day 4-19 in September, but this is Seattle, who's nothing if not a confidence booster for other organizations as they head into another winter of golf and early vacations. The Mariners lost to a pitcher who hasn't been good since ever, and even a guy as cool and collected as Jamie Moyer seems to be getting a little annoyed:

"I thought I kept us in the game," Moyer said. "Three solo homers, and it is only 3-1, so you've still got a chance. What else can you do?"

Of course, it's not like Jamie should be exonerated of blame. Although his five hits and three runs in 7.1 innings looks pretty nice, three of those hits left the park, part of a disturbing trend of ugly performances away from Safeco. The following chart shows opposing hitters' performances against Jamie this year at home and on the road, complete with error bars. Professional statisticians out there can probably refine my math, but the errors were estimated using the formula Rate/(Events)^1/2, where Rate equals either BA, OBP, or SLG, and Events equals either at bats (for BA and SLG) or batters faced (OBP).

The point? Jamie's unusually wild splits this year (3.08 ERA at home, 6.11 away) don't appear to be a simple fluke - there's a legitimate statistical difference there, and when we get something like that, we can only assume that it will continue into the future, regardless of the "why". Solution? Home starter. Jamie just doesn't look like he has the stuff or the ability to succeed on the road anymore, which makes you wonder if he's really worth bringing back in 2006. But think of him like that old car you keep in the garage - if you cut down on its usage and only drive it when you need to, it can get the job done without breaking down or causing you much trouble. Jamie may only be a good pitcher half the time you send him out there these days, but if you can limit his exposure to unfriendly circumstances, you can get the same amount of effectiveness from 50% of the use. Jamie isn't done. He's just picky.

Gil Meche and Mike Maroth in another invigorating daytime contest, 10:05am PDT.