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You know why I'm glad this place has a community? Because of comments like this one:

Driving home tonight, a simple thought occurred to me.

We won't make the playoffs.

And suddenly, that idea was okay to me.

It seems like such an easy concept, but think about it for a minute. Really digest what it says. The Mariners probably aren't going to make the playoffs. We can't make any guarantees, not with a series against Los Angeles coming up next week, but with a substantial gap to erase, a slumping flawed roster, and a front office that's given no indication of being capable of making this team better, the odds are stacked against us. Chances are at least three- or four-to-one that the Mariners spend October watching the playoffs on TV.

Does it suck? Yeah. Is it an unfamiliar position? Not at all. Have we dealt with worse before? You bet your ass. I'd say we've actually dealt with it pretty well, given the size and popularity of the LL community and Mariner blogosphere (which took off the winter before 2004). By and large, this is a group that knows how to handle losing.

So why should this year be any different? I'll grant you that a week ago our expectations were soaring, but we haven't actually occupied a playoff spot since April, and we've never been as good as the teams we've been chasing. One could argue that many of us just got too far ahead of ourselves. It's been great being back in a race again for the first time in forever, but you have to be careful not to let yourself go too crazy, or else you just set yourself up for the kind of disappointment we've felt over the past seven days.

It's time we accept that this team is a longshot. Once you do that and stop holding out expectations of playoff baseball, the whole thing becomes so much easier. Yes, there's beauty in triumph, but there's hilarity in ineptitude, and whichever way you go, you end up smiling. Instead of being frustrated by these guys, look for the humor. Raul Ibanez tracking fly balls? A DH who hasn't homered since May? A clear dramatic upgrade still cashing his checks in Tacoma? A bad 8th inning righty whose struggles after surgery only suggest to the coaching staff that he needs to pitch more often so he can get over his struggles after surgery? These things are funny. What good does it do to get frustrated by this team? What reason could you ever have to bring yourself to think that they'd actually do something well? Lower your expectations and you'd be surprised how much more fun you can have. Baseball is entertainment, and winning a championship isn't the only way to make it an enjoyable, rewarding experience. Dodger fans are happy about beating the Rockies tonight, but I'd wager that watching Vidro fall down and tackle first base brought me just as much joy. In that respect, the joke's on other people, because I'm able to get satisfaction out of every game, instead of just the wins.

Not ready to surrender? That's fine, neither am I. Not completely, not yet. But if and when we realize that it just isn't going to happen this year, remember this post, and in particular remember this sentence: getting angry at a baseball game is just you having the wrong response to something that was probably hilarious. Stick with that philosophy while watching this team and you'll be giggling like a little bitch in no time.  

Biggest Contribution: Adrian Beltre, +12.7%
Biggest Suckfest: Jose Vidro, -18.0%
Most Important At Bat: Beltre single, +10.9%
Most Important Pitch: Swisher homer #2, -14.8%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): -8.0%
Total Contribution by Position Players: -44.0%
Total Contribution by Opposition: +2.0%

(What is this chart?)

I'm going to take a little while to get re-accustomed to this whole situation before diving back into the blog head-first. In the meantime, Felix goes up against Dallas Braden tomorrow at 7:05pm PDT. Braden is a nobody former 24th-round draft pick who's only with the team because Oakland's rotation has been torn to shreds, but he's still light years ahead of the guy for whom we traded Rafael Soriano. See? Funny!