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73-77: Seattle Mariners defeat Texas Rangers by doing the better baseball thing

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The M's leave Texas with a victory on Sunday, 9-2

Rick Yeatts/Getty Images
Well the Mariners won today. They won by scoring more runs than their opponent, the Texas Rangers, but they also won because they were, for a day, the better baseball team. That is a fun sentence to type after all of this, because when Lloyd put out his lineup card this morning he was probably thinking that Stefen Romero would be actually fine out in centerfield, or at least that it would not hurt the chances of his hodgepodge group of professional baseball players. Which, um:

stefenfall

But of course, like any other day Lloyd fields a team composed of gingerbread men and Spiderman action figures, it actually didn't matter. And that, unfortunately, will be the most obnoxious lesson to come out of this here baseball game, by both you and the people in charge with making those decisions. The Mariners won in spite of themselves, and no amount of tinkering really had anything to do with it. The Mariners also blew an entire season in spite of at least the best of them, which on paper, was about twenty-something guys who were supposed to be a lot better than this. The truth of the matter is that isolated events within a closed system often don't carry the meaning which we prescribe to them within themselves. That is to say, in laymans terms, you're making all this shit up and it doesn't matter.

You may be thinking that's a pessimistic way to approach a 9-2 victory over arguably the Mariners most hated division rival, and you would be right. But it's also, I think, a good way to approach something as volatile and rudderless as the MLB regular season. So when you want to disagree that shaking your shoulders at a lopsided victory over a good baseball team in a lost season, also know that shaking your shoulders at entropy is probably the best way to respond to something like this:
It hasn't happened yet, and it doesn't have to happen, but it probably will because Felix is getting older every day. So are you! And that's why you shouldn't get all worked up about these things because it turns out that everything in life is just a collection of random things happening. I know it doesn't feel that way with the Cardinals in the playoffs every year, but they have made a pact with Satan and that kind of changes all the rules.

So yes, Felix is probably fine, or maybe starting to hurt, I don't know. What I do know is that he was just fine today, throwing five innings and some change with five strikeouts and only two runs. He also, however, had five walks on the day. That stat is part of a weird trend that I'm not smart enough to understand fully, because what I had always been led to believe was that Felix' career trajectory was one which should arrive at a completely different result. You know, a hard-throwing kid from Venezuela who didn't give a shit about where his pitches landed so long as they weren't hit, slowly realizing that velocity doesn't stick around forever, crafting his game and then moving to the edges of the plate to sacrifice speed for versatility and, oddly enough, a little precision in the process. Here's his career BB/9 for reference:

Year BB/9
2005 2.45
2006 2.83
2007 2.51
2008 3.59
2009 2.68
2010 2.52
2011 2.58
2012 2.17
2013 2.03
2014 1.75 (holy shit what)
2015 2.42

You may be arguing that comparing BB/9 for ten years without adequate context isn't the best way to go about doing this, and to that I would say that yes, I don't know the first thing about math. Seriously, I'm so bad at math, when I took the GREs I tried to solve for X on the first problem, took ten minutes, and then just ended up guessing on every question. So I don't know the first thing about this, except it's pretty easy to see that 2.42 is a bigger number than 1.75, and also that the trend since 2011 appeared to be moving in the opposite direction. I don't have the first idea about what any of that actually means, so join with me here and shake your shoulders at entropy and reciprocate with a big ol' WHATEVER:


For crying out loud though, the Mariners won this baseball game, what is wrong with me? The big action came during the fifth inning after Derek Holland started to unravel a bit in the fourth, giving up two runs on the middle of the order walking and singling their way around the bases to some Yakety Sax. But in the fifth, Holland really got up there and started painting in big, bright primary colors. I mean that's exactly the kind of thing you'd say when you give up a leadoff double to LL punching bag Stefen Romero, a walk to Ketel Marte, a double to Ranger Killer Kyle Seager, an intentional walk to Nelson Cruz, and a three-run dinger to Robinson Cano, I mean that's some big, bright finger painting shit right there. And you have to really give it to him. This is a guy that cares deeply about aesthetics.

holland

After Holland's untimely exit, the Rangers opted for one Ross Ohlendorf, which is a name you may or may not have heard. One name you have heard however is Franklin Gutierrez, and if Ohlendorf had never heard of that name before today he will certainly remember it tomorrow.
And this, my friends, is the good side of shrugging your shoulders at entropy. After all Guti has been through, the injuries, the missed time, the evaporated potential, he returned to the stage for one brief, beautiful shining moment earlier in the year, blasting a walk-off dinger before assuming that soon-to-be-iconic arms-stretched roar that you just now visualized in your head while reading this sentence. We kind of thought that it was a fitting conclusion to the story, that it didn't even matter if he continued to have success beyond simply proving himself capable of doing a little thing, now and then. Well, Guti looked at that narrative and decided to just keep doing little things, and now he's like a super mega baseball robot machine person. Shrug, shrug, shrug away.

The Mariners got one more in the ninth and a relief crew made up of Zych, Beimel, Farquhar, and Logan Kensing had themselves a couple of great hitless innings. One Rather Touching moment came in the fifth after Felix was preemptively pulled for the aforementioned possible injury (which, again, we're being led to believe is nothing of concern), causing the bullpen door to open for lefty Joe Beimel to take the field.


Beimel mainy stared dead into the grass, not wanting to face up to, I don't know, reality or something. I mean you can't blame him after everything that's happened this year. Except what Joe Beimel did not realize is that Lloyd McClendon touched his right hand, not his left, calling for rookie Tony Zych to take the mound instead of the veteran lefty. On one hand, it may have been a simple accident, on the other, a metaphor for the failures of this entire organization to adequately communicate important concepts to one another for the past seven years.

In any case, it was something funny we could laugh at, which had absolutely no bearing on the outcome of the game whatsoever, and yet, was still A Thing that you watched and paid attention to. It doesn't mean anything, but the whole point I've been trying to make is that literally nothing means anything until we fill it with meaning ourselves, that each little event that happens on a baseball diamond, in the bigger picture, is evacuated of content from the moment it occurs to the moment we perceive it.

The Sabermetricians have been trying to tell us this for years, but where they get it wrong is when they turn it into a value judgement. And in closing, I'd like to take a needle and pop that balloon right in the dang face. That's because Joe Beimel trotting out incorrectly was the exact same thing as Robinson Cano hitting a dinger today. Felix egging on Beltre with a "returned" baseball had about the same weight in the big picture as each of those five walks he had on the day. See, the Mariners were the better team today, but they might not be on Tuesday, and then they could be again on Thursday but they certainly won't be during the first days in November.

This is the last exhausted cry of giving up on a season while simultaneously embracing it, giant prickly spikes and all. So shrug, shrug away. Keep on shrugging. Because those arms are going to need some muscle support to lift in October one of these days.