There comes a point in any season like this where you just get tired, give up, and start waiting for the offseason. You lose interest in the games, and while you're willing to watch if you have nothing better to do, you don't hesitate to shut it off and go do something else should the opportunity arise.
I got there tonight.
Throughout last weekend's Oakland series, my head was telling me that the season was finished. The way the team just rolled over and played dead again and again and again before succumbing to the sweep...6.5 games in early August is an enormous hurdle, particularly when you've got three teams in front of you instead of one, so my brain checked out. My heart kept on fooling itself and refused to give up, though, so I kept watching and hoping, the Devil Rays series renewing my spirit.
Then Thursday happened. And Friday. And finally tonight. This was the first game all season that I stopped watching in the middle because I just couldn't take it anymore. Why stick around? The Mariners were down by three, the lineup looked flat, Jamie had nothing, and Adam Jones swung himself into a pair of outs with the bases loaded in the early innings. The potential upside of staying in my chair to watch the final four innings wasn't worth surrendering an hour of my Saturday, so I shut down MLB.tv, stood up, and walked away. When I came back later I saw the score and turned on the top of the ninth, but when Richie Sexson ripped a liner into right-center that Gary Matthews tracked down for the final out, I didn't care. And why should I? The wins and losses don't matter anymore. Sure, it'd be nice to go into November talking about how the team finished .500 or what have you, but I can't think about that right now. Despite the better record, this August feels like like the last one and the one before that, where the only reason to keep paying attention is to monitor the progress of a few young players who might be able to help out down the road. And I just didn't feel like doing that today.
Over these final eight weeks, there'll be a lot of exciting moments in Mariner games. Felix will dominate. Adam Jones will go on a hot streak. Jose Lopez will(?) go deep for the first time since June 2nd. Jamie Moyer will walk off the Safeco mound to a standing ovation as people begin to realize that his career may finally be over. But those moments will be remembered as just that - moments, and not important contributions to Mariner victories. Over these final eight weeks, the wins and losses will blend together, the pressure will be off, and we'll be able to sit down and enjoy a regular baseball game without having the outcome dictate how we feel for the rest of the day. In some respects, it's actually quite a pleasant alternative to the life-and-death daily trials and tribulations of Red Sox Nation. Falling out of the race takes the stress out of following the season, and while it leaves us incapable of feeling the kind of high we did in that comeback win over Arizona, it also lets us laugh at ourselves during the next A's series without getting too distraught and dejected.
I just wasn't ready for it to happen so soon.
Biggest Contribution: Willie Ballgame, +16.3%
Biggest Suckfest: Ichiro, -17.8%
Most Important At Bat: Sexson lineout, -15.0%
Most Important Pitch: Matthews homer, -7.1%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -4.4%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -46.2%
I scribbled down a few notes on things to talk about in the wrap-up, but I think I'll save them for tomorrow. In their stead, I'll ask a question - why are you, the loyal reader and hardcore Mariner fan, going to continue to follow the team for the rest of the season? Everyone has his or her own reasons, and I want to hear them.
Felix, Millwood, 5:05pm PDT. At least 20% of our rotation is still worth watching.