I have seen this team lose on a balk.
I have seen this team lose on a walk.
I have seen this team lose on a home run.
I have seen this team lose on a home run that was taken away.
I have seen this team lose on a caught steal.
I have seen this team lose on an outfield assist.
I have seen this team lose to Pedro Martinez.
I have seen this team lose to Doug Waechter.
I have seen this team lose in almost every way imaginable, and I have seen this team lose in ways I couldn't ever dream up.
I had never seen this team lose on a misplay by Ichiro.
Don't get me wrong, that was far from an easy play to make. Inglett hit the ball hard, and there are few plays more difficult than a line drive headed right in your direction. But Ichiro missed. He judged, he tracked, he leaped, and he missed. He flat-out missed. Although perhaps "missed" conveys the wrong impression. Better to say he fumbled. Ichiro had the ball in his sights, jumped to make a catch we've seen him make a hundred times, and fumbled. And the Blue Jays won.
After this long of a season (only 60 left to go), one can't help but become accustomed to the familiar letdowns. As the losses pile up their impact is diminished, to the point at which they feel like more of a confirmation than a bother. As far as I'm concerned, the Mariners stopped losing a few weeks ago. The Mariners stopped losing and started finishing, and it no longer mattered what took place as long as the game came to an end and gave us something to talk about. Instead of wins and losses, games became data points, and stripped of our emotional investment, we were all rendered rather indifferent little analysts, a group of people who speak earnestly of Felix but discuss outcomes with a vacant, empty expression. This is us. This is what the Mariners have caused us to become.
But tonight felt different. Not because of the loss, but because of how the loss came to happen. For all of this team's failings, Ichiro was supposed to be immune. He was supposed to be the cool, calm bastion of consistency, the reliable superstar who through only the good of his heart allows himself to go slumming every day with our assortment of losers. From Day 1 he's always been held to a higher standard, and he's justified his pedestal by always coming to play and seldom making mistakes. For as long as he's been in the big leagues, it's never been a matter of Ichiro not doing enough for his team; it's been a matter of his team not doing enough for Ichiro.
But tonight felt different. Because tonight, for the first time in as long as I can remember, one of my central tenets of fandom was violated; the tenet that Ichiro is something greater than human. That he's some kind of anthropomorphic bilingual robot sent from the heavens to amuse and entertain. For Ichiro to err is to shake the very foundation upon which our allegiance has been built, and let me tell you - when you're used to brushing these things off like they're no big deal, it's an unpleasant experience. As that line drive bounced off of Ichiro's glove and fell to the ground, I felt a knot in my stomach, the likes of which I hadn't felt in a couple months. The knot of hopeless despair. Pervasive, hopeless despair, despair that manifests itself through every available medium, be it human or anthropomorphic bilingual Godbot.
I hate that knot. Just when you think the team has finally pushed you over the edge into a permanent state of stolid disinterest, it finds a new way to get you, a new way to gnaw away at your insides and remind you that there's always a new way to demonstrate the absence of a floor. There is no floor. There is no floor. Things can always get worse, and if there's anything we can take away from the game tonight, it's that nothing and nobody is safe from the ongoing proof of the most dreary of universal truths.
Biggest Contribution: Jeremy Reed, +33.8%
Biggest Suckfest: Ichiro, -114.3%
Most Important AB: Reed single, +33.8%
Most Important Pitch: Inglett "hit" (Ichiro misplay), -71.0%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +57.1%
Total Contribution by Lineup: -107.1%
Total Contribution by Opposition: 0.0%
(What is this chart?)