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61-98, Game Thoughts

At first I kind of felt bad. I mean, here we were, with the Mariners kicking off the final series of the year at home, and in the opener, several thousand people had to look on as the M's flailed themselves out of chances while the A's scraped Doug Fister to death. This was an unwatchable baseball game. It was unwatchable from the start. M's pitchers didn't record their first strikeout until the eighth. M's hitters didn't score their first run until the eighth. Fister got nickel-and-dimed in the fifth, and then gave up a mammoth blast to seal it in the sixth.

It was bad, and it was sloppy, and it was everything in between. When the M's finally pushed a run across, they did so only because Mark Ellis hesitated on a potential double play, and the run was met with a rousing mock cheer. What did so many thousands of people do to deserve this kind of Thursday entertainment?

Then I was reminded of a Mitch Hedberg joke. The relevant part:

That's why they should have a glow-in-the-dark version of Easy Cheese. It's not like the product has any integrity to begin with. If you buy a room-temperature cheese that you squeeze out of a can, you probably won't get mad because it glows in the dark too.

When you think about it, it's the same kind of idea. If you willingly attend a Mariners game at this point, and it features a non-Felix pitcher and an offense that's on pace to be one of the very feeblest of all time, and the team has the second-worst record in baseball, you probably shouldn't get mad if you see them get blown out. There are no standards anymore. You shouldn't go to a non-Felix Mariners game because you think you're going to get great baseball. You go to a non-Felix Mariners game because you just really felt like going to a Mariners game, and maybe it won't be that bad if you're drunk.

At first I kind of felt bad. Then I didn't. These people knew what they were getting into. Or at least, they should've. And what of the kids who might've been seeing the first baseball game of their life, you ask? Their parents should've known better. It's hardly the Mariners' fault anymore that the product is shitty. They are what they are. The Mariners are Easy Cheese. They play bargain-barrel baseball, and you should go in expecting bargain-barrel entertainment.

  • Greg Halman has now struck out in 32% of his plate appearances, which would rank second-highest in baseball were he qualified. Some numbers take a lot of time to stabilize around where you expect them to end up. Some numbers don't.

  • Jeremy Hermida hit a sinking line drive to left field in the top of the sixth, and Halman was able to run it down to make a diving catch. While making the catch, his belt snapped, and someone from the dugout had to run out and hand him a new one. Greg Halman has now snapped more belts than Carlos Silva, Jose Vidro, Ken Griffey Jr., and Eddie Guardado combined.

  • Alternate joke: The only thing I thought Greg Halman was going to snap in the Major Leagues was the all-time strikeout record.

  • Alternate joke: They took what was left of Halman's first bet to fashion an office chair for Chone Figgins.

  • Alternate joke: The replacement belt came from Rob Johnson, who is tied up in the clubhouse and is being salvaged for parts.

  • The A's scored their first run like this. You don't really realize how complicated the standard pitching motion is until someone totally fucks it up. In fairness to Doug Fister, he's only had 26 years to learn the length of his legs.

  • At first, when I was thinking about it tonight, I was disappointed that we've gone 159 games now without seeing a single bench-clearing brawl. Bench-clearing brawls are stupid and ugly and frequently dangerous, but they're interesting, and they angry up the blood like nothing else can in a season this lame. I wish that we could've seen one just once. Then I got to thinking that maybe they're saving it all for a grand finale. Rosters are expanded now.

  • Doug Fister went to Fresno State for two years, but it is impossible for me to picture him as a college athlete. Based only on what I've seen on TV, my impression is that Doug Fister has always been quiet, shy, and 29.

  • Chris Carter didn't only get thrown out at home by Ichiro to end the top of the third inning. Chris Carter got thrown out at home by Ichiro to end the top of the third inning, and as he attempted to slide in safe, Adam Moore got him with a knee to the balls.

    Chris Carter later hit a mammoth home run to left to chase Doug Fister from the game, which going forward is going to make for some really uncomfortable superstition.

  • And because of Oakland's somewhat flukey fifth inning, Doug Fister's 2010 season comes to an end with a 4.11 ERA - the first time it's been above four since Fister's first start of the year. In the short term, that's probably going to bother him. He's going to be mad that he didn't get any breaks, and he's going to be mad that he had to end with this kind of game. He'll be disappointed, and it'll eat at him a little bit.

    In time, though, memories of this game will fade away as memories of the season in general begin to flicker through his mind. And for Doug Fister - final start aside, this year was a big success. Although he had a brief injury and saw his second half ERA shoot up, he was able to make 28 starts, throw 171 innings, and help out in the back of a big league rotation. A year ago, he was just getting his feet wet. A year ago, he was still new as a relevant organizational entity, and no one was sure where he came from or how he succeeded. Now look at him. Now it feels like he's been around forever. Yeah, he'll have his hittable days. But everybody trusts him. He just spent an entire Major League season throwing strikes and showing that he'll rarely beat himself.

    Doug Fister's not a star, and he'll never become one, but one could argue that 2010 was a make-or-break season for Fister's professional career, and he made it. If he can stay healthy, he's going to live a comfortable life.