Why do we race? We race because a race is a competition. Why do we compete? We compete because we want to win. Why do we want to win? Because winning makes us feel good.
That says what needs to be said, I think. We race, we compete because we want to feel good. The Mariners wanted to feel good, so a few months ago, they entered the race. And for a while, they were having fun, and they were doing well. Through a cool, wet spring and the first breaking of the clouds, they were more or less keeping pace with the leaders. But then the sun shined through. The beginning of summer brought familiar summer heat, and the scorching sun beat down on the competitors without cease. All of a sudden, the Mariners had a choice to make: continue, and continue in probable misery, or stop, in more comfortable defeat?
So they stopped. They elected to drop out of the race. They didn't slow, or walk, or give themselves an opportunity to reconsider. They stopped and sat down while the leaders ran ahead. They decided they preferred certain comfort now over blinding agony and a shot at triumphant happiness later on. And viewed in that way, it's hard to blame them. Who cares about the race? The race is pointless, and it's really hot out. It's going to be hot the rest of the summer. Forget the race, it's better to read in the shade and sit by the pool.
Earlier in the year, I remember having faith. I remember believing in the hitters. I believed in the good hitters, like Ichiro and Justin Smoak. I believed in the worse hitters, like Miguel Olivo and Chone Figgins. I believed in the bad but visually acceptable hitters like Brendan Ryan and Jack Wilson. When the Mariners happened upon a run-scoring situation, I remember having some degree of confidence that the next batter would drive someone home. I'm not sure why this was, but it was true, and I think it was kind of part of the whole battlin' Mariners theme we had going on in April. I was feeling positive in a new season, and the bats looked okay, and I believed in them.
I don't know when that faith crossed the x axis. I know that it did. It must have, at some point. Because now I'm all the way down here, on the opposite side. I don't have any faith in anybody. Well that's not quite true - I do have faith in Dustin Ackley. Of course I have faith in Dustin Ackley. But I don't believe in anyone else. I don't believe in Ichiro or Justin Smoak. I don't believe in Miguel Olivo or Chone Figgins. I don't believe in Brendan Ryan or Jack Wilson (ed note: I also literally don't believe in Jack Wilson, in that I don't think he exists anymore). I know that the hitters on this team will get hits, and I know that the hitters on this team will produce runs, but I never expect them to. I never expect them to do anything anymore.
Against Derek Holland last night, a big part of me was certain the M's would get no-hit. Against Colby Lewis today, the no-hitter was broken up early, but I was pretty certain the M's wouldn't score. How would they score? A home run? A sequence of hits in a row? Say those things out loud. Can you hear yourself? They're absurd! The only way the Mariners would be able to score is if their hits counted as runs, and even if their hits did count as runs, the last two games still would've been tied, and I would've bet on the Rangers in extras.
My feelings aren't unique or unusual. I imagine all of us who're still paying attention feel about the same way these days. We've all grown accustomed to the worst offense we've seen since last year's offense, to which we also grew accustomed. And I think it's amazing that we can grow accustomed to this. The human brain has a remarkable ability to adapt to even the most extreme of circumstances. Which is good for us, because otherwise we'd wake up screaming every day. The hitters! They are so bad!
The consolation, I suppose, is that it no longer matters. It no longer matters precisely because the offense was terrible when it did matter, but now that's not an issue anymore. Now the offense is just a reason why the baseball games we watch take less time than the baseball games other people watch.
But, there'll be life at some point, right? Some glimmer? Maybe some fruits from all the trial-by-fire development time this team is giving young players? Because even if it doesn't matter anymore, a few more months of this is going to make me crazy and irrational, and if I get crazy and irrational, I'm going to start saying things I haven't thought through, like "the Mariners should give Prince Fielder eight years!" I can't have those things linked with my name. A reputation on the internet is an impossible thing to change.
69 more games. Please, Mariners, don't make me dread them.