Mariners fan: Hey look what I found in a box on the sidewalk!
Roommate: It's an old monkey's paw.
Mariners fan: I'm going to use it for wishes!
Roommate: Uh huh
Mariners fan: Monkey's paw, do you grant wishes?
Monkey's paw: /nods
Mariners fan: I wish for the Mariners to matter all season long!
Monkey's paw: /finger curls
Mariners fan: Stupid defective monkey's paw.
Mariners fan: All right monkey's paw!
Mariners fan: Still hanging in there! It's working!
Mariners fan: God damn tricky monkey's paw.
Monkey's paw: /cackles?
Mariners fan: Why have I only used this for one wish
Mariners fan: Why did I wish about the Mariners
Roommate: Hey, you coming out for drinks later?
Mariners fan: I wish I could, but I have to visit my mom, it's her birthday.
Monkey's paw: /finger curls
Mariners fan: Hmm
Several weeks ago, I thought about and scrapped a post I was going to write about Chone Figgins. I didn't scrap it because I didn't like it; I scrapped it because something else came up and I simply shifted my attention. The thesis was going to be that Chone Figgins is actually good for us as Mariners fans. Not great for us, obviously - Evan Longoria would be great for us - but good for us, in that Chone Figgins gave us steady material to talk about and joke about. Chone Figgins was something for us to feel emotional about, and Chone Figgins was something for us to discuss. Ultimately, sports are an entertaining distraction, right? Figgins was and is a distraction. A frustrating one, sure, but always a ready topic of baseball conversation. Chone Figgins has been a disaster, but Chone Figgins has been interesting.
The same argument could be advanced with regard to the Mariners' current fifteen-game losing streak. We would all obviously prefer that they string together 15 consecutive wins instead of 15 consecutive losses, but think about how much attention you've been paying to the Mariners of late. Compare that to how much attention you would've paid them had they gone, I dunno, 4-11 or 3-12. In all cases the M's would be sunk, but because they've gone 0-15, they've remained interesting. Mariners fans who never tune out have been ultra-focused, and Mariners fans who might've tuned out have stuck around, if only for the horror of it all. You can't look away from a team riding this kind of losing streak. You can't stop thinking about a team riding this kind of losing streak.
It's been joked about before that, if a team can't be good, it should be exceptionally bad, and while that doesn't always apply or even often apply, it does apply to the current situation, because the Mariners are still on the forefront of our minds. That's all we can really ask of a sports team, so kudos to the Mariners for delivering into at least the end of July. Attention will wane once the losing streak is over and the team achieves a more normal brand of lousy baseball, but then, who knows when the losing streak's going to end, with the Yankees and Rays coming up? I know I'll be watching closely, and I know you will, too.
Just a few bullet holes before we can all get on with our Sundays:
- The immediate question is "what's wrong with Michael Pineda?" and the immediate response is "I'm not sure yet." Pineda's now allowed 19 runs in his last three starts, after allowing 34 in his first 17. His first inning today was a complete nightmare as the Red Sox ripped the ball all over the place, laying off his slider and killing his heat. Pineda rebounded, for the most part, but the damage had been done.
There are any number of possibilities. Maybe Pineda's fastball command has been worse. Maybe his slider command has been worse. Maybe the league is catching up to him. Maybe he's wearing down. Maybe his pitch patterns have been predictable. Or maybe nothing is wrong at all. This last one is a distinct possibility. There were lots of these same questions after fellow fastball/slider rookie Alexi Ogando tossed three consecutive weak starts, and since then he's allowed five runs in 21.2 innings. Pineda may be just fine.
But he may not be, and the team will do some research and probably tweak some things, and we'll see when his next turn comes around. Erik Bedard looks ready to rejoin the rotation. Blake Beavan has been real solid to date. Maybe this is the Mariners' opportunity to send Pineda down to Tacoma, allowing him to straighten some things out while gaining that extra year of control. I don't think they'll do it, mind you, but they could, like the Orioles did with Zach Britton. It is on the table.
Michael Pineda is a 22-year-old rookie. Even during this rough stretch, he's racked up 17 strikeouts and five walks against three strong offenses on the road. He is incredibly good. He's just not perfect, and a stretch like this was going to happen at some point. I trust that he'll get through it.
- For the fifth time in their last six losses, the Mariners had a lead. The offense has been there, about as much as we could hope for the offense to be there. It's the pitching that's been the real letdown, and if you ask me, it's about time. The pitchers deserved to get knocked down a peg after 100-odd games of acting all smug and superior. Haha, everybody's in this together.
Tim Wakefield departed to a rousing standing ovation after allowing seven runs and 12 baserunners in 6.1 innings. I get that he'd recorded his 2,000th strikeout as a member of the Red Sox earlier in the game, but Wakefield was not good, and the ovation only speaks to how confident the Sox fans all were despite their starter allowing the Mariners' biggest offensive outburst in more than a month.
- One of the reasons Eric Wedge gave for shaving off his mustache is that he wanted to lighten the mood, with so many players visibly pressing. I don't think there's any denying that several Mariners are pressing, since it's only natural to press when you're this desperate for a win, but what's interesting is how different players respond in different ways. Brendan Ryan, for example, might be taking this losing streak harder than any other player on the team, but Ryan has also batted .317 during the skid with an OPS well over .800. Just today he doubled, he hit a grand slam, and he turned in a handful of spectacular plays in the field. Pressing might be making some players worse, but if anything, it's making Brendan Ryan better.
- Eric Wedge's late mustache didn't leave a tan line.
Now the Yankees. I don't think the M's will get swept, just because I never like predicting a sweep in any matchup between any two teams, but I can't decide if busting the streak would increase or decrease the Safeco attendance come Friday.