A season of following a baseball team imparts the illusion of connection with the players on the roster. We hollow out the men in uniforms on our television and fill them with the personalities, charms and failings we desire them to have. My guess is if we followed the baseball players around after a typical game, even one of significance in a pennant chase, most fans would be appalled by how quickly players leave the game behind after it ends. The fan's experience runs first and foremost on emotion. So if the players don't care then the farcical emotional cost we let the game exact from us is laid bare.
We know that this is all silly nonsense, but games like tonight's make it extra clear. The majority of fans of the team are lost in fantasy football drafts, the start of the EPL, enjoying the last glories of Summer, etc. The veterans on the Mariners have most likely largely shifted into self-preservation mode. Players like Michael Morse, Joe Saunders and others in the last year of their contract have little to nothing to gain by risking injury through unnecessary attempts at game winning heroics. That's not calling into question any player's level of effort. But there has undoubtedly been a subtle shift in tenor around the team. Whatever sense of unity or "team" this collection of highly paid professionals has felt, everyone gets that it's all ending September 30th against the A's, as it is written that the Mariners must begin and end every season against the A's.
Last night's game was boring, poorly played and lacked the kind of drama or signature event that makes for interesting writing subjects. The Mariners played tonight like they felt exactly how I did watching them. It's time to start remembering that Winter is indeed coming and that it lasts forever. Baseball is great and I love it. That is my affirmation. I'll repeat as necessary I suppose. But geez guys, next time at least hit a dinger or something.
- Erasmo Ramirez started tonight and looks as though he's beginning to finally get settled into the rotation. He gave up 3 runs in 6 2/3 innings. The first 2 came when he threw a bad change up to the best player in baseball and the 3rd came when Endy Chavez got some of Michael Morse's residual stink on him and dropped a flyball. Ramirez's stuff is good enough that when he locates he can dominate most offenses in the game, which makes the times he doesn't locate extra frustrating. But his K/BB numbers are looking very similar to his effective 2012 season and even if he never approaches the ceiling allowed by his skill set there's every reason to think that, if healthy, he holds down a rotation spot in 2014.
Brandon Maurer threw 2 innings of relief. I have no clue how the team views him going into next season but I would imagine and hope that the primary goal is to polish a 3rd pitch that can be used to quell left handers. A glance at Maurer's pitch usage chart shows that he appears to have largely abandoned his change up in favor of a curve:
All the usual caveats about sample size are applicable as Maurer has only thrown 60+ innings this year. But despite breaking camp in the rotation I don't think any of us expected a 22 year old pitcher to arrive fully developed his first year in the majors. Whether he eventually becomes and effective big league starter, ghoulishly haunts bullpens for a decade or flames out of baseball in the next two years the adjustments that Brandon Maurer is trying to make right now are what's going to determine that outcome. That's at least a reason to watch. Tonight he struck out 3 in 2 innings. One was Mark Trumbo, which is easy to do. But another was Mike Trout, who swings four 50 ounce bats simultaneously with his 19 arms of pure adamantium, so that's an achievement.
- It is unbecoming, childish and in the long run hurtful to the self to divine sustenance from the misery of others. That said, HAHAHAHAHAHA.
- Dustin Ackley hit a ground rule double and another fly ball deep into the left center portion of Safeco's outfield today. Even during his atrocious 2012 Ackley managed 12 home runs. The first one went a long ways. Dustin Ackley has 1 home run in 310 PA this year. Where is that swing Dustin? You know which one I'm talking about. Find it. Look in Raul's locker. Old dudes can get a bit klepto with the advancing years.