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As soon as Adrian Beltre grounded out to end the game this afternoon, I was all set to just tear the team a new one. Who loses 1-0 to the Devil Rays? On a balk? How does a 25-man roster of professional baseball players and an experienced coaching staff allow something like that to happen? I was steamed. How do you justify that kind of performance?

About an hour ago, though, I got my heart ripped out by a hockey game, and I had an epiphany. Perhaps it's better to follow a bad team. After all, in the end, only one group of fans are left feeling happy, while fans of the teams who fell just short are overcome with unparalleled anguish. What kind of thing is that to look forward to? At least with a bad team, you don't have to worry about getting your hopes dashed. On a grander scale, I mean. Bad teams still lose tough ballgames - like today's, for example - but they're easier to brush off, because while the disappointment is there, you don't have to wonder if that was the game that cost you a shot at a title.

Following a bad team also allows you to be a lot more casual when it comes to demonstrating your loyalty. When your guys are streaking to the playoffs or competing for a championship, you can't help but schedule your weeks around their gametimes, and you feel obligated to thoroughly explain the history of your fanhood to anyone who might consider you a possible bandwagoner. That can get to be both inconvenient and exhausting. But with bad teams, there's no such requirement to watch every second of every game, and people will still admire your allegiance far more often than they question it, and that's just easier to handle. I don't think sports were meant to become an all-consuming obsession for anyone but the athletes anyway, so it's not like you're breaking any rules by ducking a few games here and there. You're still a fan, you're still a good fan, and you don't have to prove anything to anyone. I think there's a certain degree of comfort and satisfaction in that.

But then, who knows? Although I've never had a team win a title, maybe that experience makes everything else totally worth the trouble. Come to think of it, it almost certainly does. Me, though, now that I've considered the bigger picture, I'm perfectly content watching the Mariners play for nothing every day, enjoying the little highs like Matt Thornton sucking for someone else while being thankful that I'm unlikely to develop stress-induced myocardial ischemia from watching this team play any time soon. I already have enough sources of anxiety and dejection in my life as it is, and I'd prefer not having to add sports to the list. In that respect, it's nicer not having to constantly worry about the potential for crushing defeats. So thanks for looking out for me, Mariners. I don't think I could handle another winning season.

Biggest Contribution: Jamie Moyer, +27.7%
Biggest Suckfest: Richie Sexson, -27.1%
Most Important Hit: Ibanez double, +24.5%
Most Important "Pitch": Moyer balk, -12.2%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +31.4%
Total Contribution by Hitters: -89.9%

(What is this?)

The Mariners lost 1-0 to the Devil Rays on a balk. The 4-5-6 hitters went down with nary a whimper against Tyler friggin' Walker after Raul Ibanez led off the bottom of the ninth with a double. And I'm over it.

Off day tomorrow. They'll pick it up again in Anaheim on Friday night, with Joel Pineiro and his newfound hardware going up against a guy who looks like Freddy Garcia's suburban pusher.