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In any sport, I judge the games I watch by what it takes to distract me. For example, it's easy to see that Game 7 of the '03/'04 Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Ottawa Senators and Toronto Maple Leafs was a big one because I wouldn't let myself leave to go to the bathroom until the period breaks. By contrast, the USC/Hawaii football game on ESPN yesterday was relatively unimportant, because I wound up talking on the phone midway through the second quarter. When you put all of these things together, you wind up with an accurate scale of which games you've watched were actually worth the time.

With that in mind, what follows is an incomplete list of things that distracted me from today's tilt in Anaheim:

  • Call from a telemarketer

  • A streetlamp outside my window

  • MadTV

  • Wondering if that sound is a cicada or a cricket

  • The Shawshank Redemption

  • Looking at my tile floor and thinking that, from one vantage point, the stripes look vertical, but from another, they're horizontal

  • The Royals
Now, that may not be entirely fair - I'd interrupt my own wedding if I knew that Shawshank was about to start - but the fact that I willingly turned my full attention to even five minutes of MadTV is a striking assessment of my desperation. The Mariners just weren't doing it for me today. Devin mentioned to me in the seventh inning that "the M's are down two, and I know they're going to lose" - I think that tells the story rather succinctly. Unless Felix is pitching, the cost of having to watch this team play baseball more than outweighs that potential benefits. It sucks, because you never want to be in a position where you start wishing for the season to end. Each of us spends all winter looking forward to the summer months (else you wouldn't be reading this), so when September comes and you find that you couldn't care less about your favorite team... well, it's hard to deal with. Nobody wants to feel like a bad fan. Trust me, you're not the only one.

Biggest Contribution: Julio Mateo, +5.4%
Biggest Suckfest: Jeff Harris, -25.4%
Most Important Hit: Torrealba out, -7.9%
Most Important Pitch: Kotchman homer, -19.4%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -20.1%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -39.5%

(What is this?)

Indications that this was a bad game:

  • The starter was gone after three innings

  • Greg Dobbs had the best day of any Mariner hitter

  • Nobody put up a rating at or above +10%

  • The Mariners began the game needing a sum rating of -48.4% to ensure a loss. They ended up with a sum rating of -59.6%, meaning that they essentially sucked more than they had to.

  • Dave Hansen made an appearance
Seriously, Dave Hansen is like our own little angel of death. He's played in 48 games so far this season, and in those games, the Mariners have a record of 15-33. In their other 88 games, they're 43-45. Put another way, this team is the Royals when Hansen plays and the Rangers when he doesn't. I wonder if that'll come up this winter, when the team wonders if he's worth bringing back.

Team Winning Percentage When The Following Players Appear In A Game:

Hansen: .313
Thornton: .229
Dobbs: .289
Sherrill: .353
Hasegawa: .214
Mateo: .250

Correction! Shigetoshi Hasegawa is actually the angel of death, as the team wins (roughly) just one of every five games in which he pitches. So the next time you get home and turn on the M's game, just as you'd feel good if you saw Eddie Guardado on the hill (83% wins), if you see Hasegawa, you should automatically assume that things have gone poorly.

Matt Thornton's also had some pretty bad luck, which makes you wonder: does Thornton pitch in games the Mariners won't win, or will the Mariners not win those games because Thornton pitched? In the words of Grandpa Simpson, "A little from Column A, and a little from Column B."

As indicated by the graphic embedded in the win expectancy chart, Jeff Harris had a spectacular return to Earth today, allowing five runs on six hits (two homers) in just three innings of work. Let's play a little game of Guess The Pitcher!

Pitcher A:

K%: 10.1%
BB%: 7.8%
HR%: 3.4%
GB/FB: 1.02

Pitcher B:

K%: 10.9%
BB%: 9.3%
HR%: 4.7%
GB/FB: 0.76

Pitcher C:

K%: 11.1%
BB%: 7.9%
HR%: 3.0%
GB/FB: 0.98

If you guessed Aaron Sele, Jeff Harris, and Ryan Franklin, give yourself a prize. You really know your terror. Of the three, Harris has the worst peripherals - defense is the only reason his ERA isn't hovering in the mid-5's. To make things worse, early indications are that I was totally off-base when I said that he could have a future as a righty-killer out of the bullpen:

vs. RHB: .295/.358/.557 (61 AB)
vs. LHB: .148/.258/.222 (54 AB)

As it turns out, his borderline sidearm motion doesn't so much confuse right-handed batters as it does endow them with the powers of Zeus, while non-Kotchman lefties have inexplicably struggled to pick up the ball out of his hand. Which makes you think, "Well, maybe he could be a lefty-killer instead," until you realize that there isn't a manager in the world who'd feel comfortable bringing in a right-handed near-sidearmer to retire a big lefty bat in a critical situation. The difference between these splits is going to shrink over the rest of the season, as it's unlikely that Harris is one of the few pitchers in baseball with reverse platoon tendencies, but for Harris to get himself on the team's long-term radar, he either needs to impress out of the rotation or impress against right-handed batters, and so far he's done neither. I'm forever thankful that he's gotten the opportunity to pitch in the Majors (and I'm sure he is, too), but he's not really helping himself.

Yuniesky Betancourt's line against right-handers (caution: sample size) : .202/.235/.255

Somebody please explain to me why Mike Hargrove continues to pinch-hit for Yorvit Torrealba, rather than Betancourt, in the late innings of close games. The guy's defense is phenomenal, but he can't make a diving stop when he's up to bat. I still think he'll turn out to be better than replacement level at the plate, but it's becoming increasingly clear that that won't happen this year, so if Hargrove wants to win these baseball games (which we can only assume he does), he needs to realize that letting Betancourt soak up a bunch of plate appearances isn't helping anyone. Given that Grover batted Betancourt behind Torrealba in the lineup today, the pinch-hitting decision in the ninth is all the more strange.

There was some confusion in the top of the sixth, when Bartolo Colon was suddenly removed from the game for no apparent reason, but sources have told me that the family of illegal immigrants Colon was smuggling in his belly started getting claustrophobic.

Afternoon game tomorrow, as Felix himself takes on Joe Blanton at 1:05pm your time.