At this point in the season, it can be difficult to care. The team isn't going anywhere and we aren't going to see much of any hot new prospects, so why bother watching? Why even bother paying attention? For those of you asking yourselves those questions, I present the following game-by-game guide to why you should stick this thing out:
9/2, Angels: Felix!, chance to help Rangers, oh god Beltre's leaving
9/3, A's: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/4, A's: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/5, A's: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/6, A's: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/8, Angels: Felix!, chance to help Rangers, oh god Beltre's leaving
9/9, Angels: chance to help Rangers, oh god Beltre's leaving
9/10, Angels: chance to help Rangers, oh god Beltre's leaving
9/11, Rangers: chance to help Rangers, oh god Beltre's leaving
9/12, Rangers: chance to help Rangers, oh god Beltre's leaving
9/13, Rangers: Felix!, chance to help Rangers, oh god Beltre's leaving
9/15, White Sox: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/16, White Sox: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/17, White Sox: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/18, Yankees: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/19, Yankees: Felix!, oh god Beltre's leaving
9/20, Yankees: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/22, Rays: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/23, Rays: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/24, Blue Jays: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/25, Blue Jays: Felix!, oh god Beltre's leaving
9/26, Blue Jays: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/27, Blue Jays: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/29, A's: oh god Beltre's leaving
9/30, A's: oh god Beltre's leaving
10/1, A's: Felix!, oh god Beltre's leaving
10/2, Rangers: chance to help Rangers*, oh god Beltre's leaving
10/3, Rangers: chance to help Rangers*, oh god Beltre's leaving
10/4, Rangers: chance to help Rangers*, oh god Beltre's leaving, see ya Junior
* should this condition no longer apply, I recommend that you continue to pay attention on account of oh god Beltre's leaving
I hope this helps. Though the Mariners won't be sprinting towards the playoffs or debuting any potential superstars, there are always reasons to watch. You just have to look for them.
- You could make the argument that this was the worst start of Doug Fister's young Major League career. And in arguably the worst start of Doug Fister's young Major League career, he allowed one run and seven baserunners over 7.1 innings against one of the best lineups in baseball. People love him - you could tell from the standing ovation he received on his way out that he's appreciated - and people love him because, in the early going, he's been a breath of fresh air. I mean, yeah, his name obviously gave him the benefit of some extra attention, but he's certainly seized the opportunity he's been given, and that ovation was legit. They didn't stand and applaud because his name is a sexual maneuver. They stood and applauded because he's come out of nowhere to deliver five consecutive pretty good starts.
Today was more about throwing strikes and avoiding solid contact than missing bats, as Fister worked the zone for much of the game and got a lot of feeble swings at his changeup. There was a period there later on where it seemed like he briefly lost sight of Johjima's glove, but he was able to recover, and only a highly dubious leadoff walk to Chone FIggins kept him from his fourth straight start with zero or one walks. As it turns out, this game is pretty simple when you throw a lot of strikes, and that's Fister in a nutshell. Success through simplicity.
Is Fister as good as his 2.94 ERA? No. Of course not. He's not even close. But by avoiding the free pass and striking a couple guys out, he's entered himself into the discussions about the future, offering the sort of back-of-the-rotation skillset that'll never make a manager angry. I still can't believe we are where we are, but we are. This is going to be a nightmare for the people who police the names fans put on their jerseys.
- It's tempting to look at Fister's five swinging strikes on 107 pitches today and conclude that, okay, the magic's run out. But that's not how it's done. That's going into the data with a confirmation bias, and though it's definitely possible that tonight signals the end of Fister's wonderfully bizarre run of missed bats, what matters more than his 4.7% rate on 107 pitches is his 8.4% rate on 474 pitches. Data like this is to be interpreted as a pool, rather than as a sequence of individual points. If he's done missing bats, we'll find out soon enough, but it's going to take more than one game against a really good lineup.
- If he had enough pitches to qualify, Fister's 23.2% called strike rate would be far and away the highest in baseball. It seems that, for whatever reason, hitters seem a good deal less inclined to swing against him than the league average. It's worth noting that, upon his promotion, he had the highest called strike rate in the PCL, too.
- Still sticking with Fister, I noticed that Mike Blowers was heaping praise on him for being so cool, calm, and collected, the implication being that you don't see a lot of rookies with his kind of poise. Which leads me to wonder why we never hear about the rookies who are jittery, flustered, and nervous.
- The only thing that disappointed me about Adrian Beltre walking out to the Nutcracker Suite in his first at bat is that Griffey had to go and ruin the surprise in that interview. To this day I still remember watching Sportscenter as a kid and seeing one of the Mariners walk out to the theme from Bonanza at Jay Buhner's behest. I don't remember who it was or why it happened, but there were hats. Cowboy hats.
- Something I think a lot of scouting reports are missing on Mike Carp is that he's really ugly.
- I wonder if there's going to be any criticism of Ichiro for kind of taking it easy tonight. He didn't bust it down the line in any of his four at bats, including once on a hit that's usually a double, and he wasn't moving around at his normal pace in the outfield. Who am I kidding? Of course there's going to be criticism. Probably from the same people who think he should dive more. You'd think a guy who's been so good and so healthy for so long might know a thing or two about self-preservation and the necessity of maximum effort, but hey, he who yells loudest, and all that.
I can't begin to express how much of a difference it makes to have Ichiro back at the top of the lineup. I don't know how we're eventually going to prepare ourselves for life without him around, but I know it's going to suck.
- Based on the amount of torque he puts on his spine when he takes a swing, I think the reason Vladimir Guerrero runs so funny is that he can't feel his legs.