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Designated rivals upon the inception of interleague play, the bitter hatred between the Padres and Mariners has a long and storied history. They ruined the debut of Safeco Field. We've taken nine of twelve at Petco Park. They killed us with Rondell White. We killed them with Richie Sexson. They gave us Al Martin. We gave them Jeff Cirillo. They gave us Ben Davis. We gave them Brett Tomko. They gave us Dave Hansen. We gave them Dave Hansen. Their front office made us look bad. We slept with their mother. And so on and so forth. These two teams haven't been on good terms in more than a decade, and the degree of mutual animosity only increases in magnitude by the week.

But where the rivalry was already marked by a fervent intensity before, now conditions are beginning to approach an unmistakable flash point. For, with the Mariners tanking in an effort to secure next year's #1 pick, the Padres have taken it upon themselves to beat us at our own game.

I had my own doubts at first - as recently as six weeks ago, the Padres stood five games in front of us in the standings, even going so far as to win five games in a row in some desperate push for the playoffs. Had you asked me at that point to compare the two teams, I'd have told you that their seasons were headed in opposite directions. But since then, having acknowledged that they don't have a chance for October, the Padres have shifted gears and made up ground in a God damn hurry. Since the morning of June 9th, we've sputtered along to a 16-22 record, but the Padres have upped the ante by going an unfathomable 10-27. Over a full season, that's a 44-win pace. This team means business, and where ordinarily it'd be easy to write it off as a statistical fluke, they lost all elements of subtlety and nuance when they let us sweep them at home and then proceeded to give Randy Wolf away for free. That's not even trying to keep it a secret. That's coming right out with zubaz and a megaphone and declaring that not only do you intend to lose, but you intend to lose better, and you intend to lose ugly. The Padres are trying to win like DMX tries to whisper.

These are the times that try men's souls. The Padres aren't dicking around. That team wants it, and if the Mariners have any desire to see their tanking effort pan out, they have to want it more. Trade Raul Ibanez. Keep Erik Bedard on the sidelines. Let Miguel Batista try to work things out. Tell us that Jose Vidro and Miguel Cairo are the kinds of players that need "consistent at bats" to make things happen. Give Bryan LaHair several cups of coffee. Make Jeff Clement earn his starts. These are the sorts of things that could help this team accomplish its goal. I'm sure you can think of a few others.

The Mariners already half-assed their attempt to build a contender. Now that those dreams have been brutally annihilated, all we can hope is that they learned a lesson from this, and that they go on to fully commit themselves to Plan B. After all, the season's only lost if you view the standings in descending order. There's still plenty of time for the other race to be decided, so if the Mariners intend to keep pace, now's the time to prove it. Let's see it, Lee. Let's see it, Jose. Let's see it, Miguels. For once in my life, I believe in you. Don't let me down.

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Biggest Contribution: Jose Vidro, +32.1%
Biggest Suckfest: Kenji Johjima, -45.7%
Most Important AB: Johjima DP, -32.5%
Most Important Pitch: Lowell single, -23.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +28.5%
Total Contribution by Lineup: -78.5%
Total Contribution by Opposition: 0.0%
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