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And, in the span of three days, all the good vibes and all the cautious optimism have been thoroughly destroyed, replaced by the familiar feelings of apathy and guarded embarrassment. A few minutes ago someone called the house and asked, "Are you enjoying the Mariners? Did they win?" to which I responded, "no, they suck again" with a chuckle. Outside of a few days here and there in recent weeks, that's the same answer I've been giving people for two and a half years. There's something to be said for routine, and deviating from the norm is always a little uncomfortable, like having to sit somewhere else in the living room when a guest takes the seat with your butt groove. Maybe your new spot gets less glare from the TV, but there's a reason you always sat in the same place before, and not being able to sit there makes it feel like something's missing. I missed bad Mariners baseball. It's all I've known since I started blogging, and if I've gotten this far with a bad team, why would I want anything to change?

That said, here's the thing about playing in a lousy division where the team in first place has allowed more runs than it's scored - as bad as everyone feels about their team, someone's going to end up backing into a title. All four teams could play .250 baseball from this point forward and the AL West would still have to send someone to the playoffs. At this point it looks extraordinarily unlikely that anyone catches fire and runs away with the whole thing, with the fact that everyone's mediocre lessening the impact of a few bad losses. The Mariners look like hell right now, but if Oakland loses today they're still only two games back with 77 left to play. For the sake of comparison, the 54-29 White Sox are two back of Detroit, and while they've pretty much already got the Wild Card locked up, their odds of winning the Central aren't really any better than ours of taking the West.

The point is, as awful as these last three games have been, there's still a long way to go, and anything can happen when you consider that the M's really aren't markedly worse than any of their rivals. When a fan of a team that's ahead of you is writing posts like this, you have to realize that, while none of us has any confidence in our team to win the big games, nobody else does, either, and I think that helps soften the blow of the Mariners' sudden return to Earth.

Remember - it's not about who wins more, it's about who loses less.

Biggest Contribution: Raul Ibanez, +16.4%
Biggest Suckfest: Julio Mateo, -55.6%
Most Important Hit: Ibanez homer, +19.9%
Most Important Pitch: Guerrero double, -21.3%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -79.9%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +29.8%

(What is this?)

I'm going to go out and enjoy the rest of my holiday without letting the Mariners get me down. You should too.