This is my new working theory. The Mariners have introduced a lot of young position players to this year's ballclub. Dustin Ackley, Carlos Peguero, Greg Halman and Kyle Seager are now seeing pretty regular playing time. The Mariners are also a sports team, and sports teams love to haze rookies. In the past, we've seen a lot of teams make their rookies dress up like women, or at least dress in ridiculous costumes. I think this year's more experienced Mariners hitters are hazing the less experienced Mariners hitters by making them do everything. They're just peacing out and having the kids do all the work. They'll chip in with a hit or two every so often by mistake, but outside of that, nothing. It's all up to the kids, and the kids can't do enough by themselves. It might sound far-fetched, given that it appears the hazing began when the M's were still in the thick of the race, but consider the alternative. You think a group of hitters could actually be this bad if most of them weren't up to something? Which idea of the two is really the more absurd?
I wasn't able to watch most of this game, which is another way of saying I wasn't able to watch tonight's version of the game I've seen more often than my own hands. I did catch an inning and a half on radio and another two innings on TV, and it sounded like the crowd was decently enthusiastic for a time, which is nice since I was afraid the King's Court might fade with the team out of contention. But of the three and a half innings I caught, there was nothing. The Mariners faced a deficit, and they couldn't score, and the deficit got worse, and they couldn't score. It was hard to watch Felix battle in the top of the eighth as the game got out of reach, but you could argue the game was already out of reach at 2-1, and that all subsequent runs the Rangers scored were a violation of baseball's unwritten rules.
I don't know what there is to do about this. Obviously it won't continue, in that the team will win again at some point. Maybe it'll win tomorrow. But one win doesn't mean the end of a slump, and what do you do to shake things up? Underachieving veterans have sat. Kids have played. Lineups have been jumbled. I suspect we're not far from a team meeting or a fired hitting coach, but so what? When have those ever mattered? I suppose ultimately it isn't a shake-up that's needed, because the problem is with the players, and not the way that the players are arranged or instructed.
With the position players looking so visibly bad for such a stretch, I wonder if the front office might not be considering a trade deadline addition. Not anything short-term, but a bat that would be around for a handful of years. I don't know who that bat might be, and it would presumably be expensive, but there's no denying the need, and Jack Zduriencik seems to enjoy catching people by surprise. That's somewhere in between "something to watch for" and "something to hope for."
The one positive to take out of the game tonight is that at least the 2011 Mariners made their mark. They broke the franchise record for consecutive scoreless innings by running a streak to 30. I always say you should go big or go home, and the Mariners went big before Ichiro ruined everything. The previous record was 29 consecutive scoreless innings, set in 2004. That team scored 178 more runs than this team is on pace to score.
So at least the M's made history by being bad, which is the only interesting way to be bad. But I don't know what's next. Maybe they'll start a new streak. They've got an active streak of four. They might stand a chance if they can convince Dustin Ackley to stop showing off.
But I'm just typing now and I don't know where this is going. It's midnight on a Saturday. I, and you, have better things to do with the time.