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74-82: Fifteen thoughts about a 3-2 Mariners playoff elimination loss

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Well what did you expect?

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

chart9.27

Yah: Mark Trumbo (.270 WPA)

Nah: Nelson Cruz (-.150 WPA)

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Imagine: the sepia-tinted slideshow from the Seattle Times, images of an only imagined tomorrow met lapping like high tide on the shores of Back Then. Glint in the manager's eyes, a tilt-shift filter refusing to acknowledge it would be easy. That awful feeling in the pit of your stomach with the Grantland article that was supposed to be joy and not terror. Imagine that all not being embarrassing to look at on September 27th and then imagine a clubhouse filled with young men and slightly older men, phoning in their two-week notice before heading on their fourteenth consecutive month-long vacation.

Imagine: A September 29th with slight attention on the football team up the street, except the attention is on the cell phone of a young girl sitting in section 212 as Nelson Cruz hits his 43rd home run to, hell, not even like win the division but just get within half a game of the last wild card spot for crying out loud.

Imagine: Hisashi Iwakuma battling through 7.1 innings of two-run ball against the Angels, striking out only Mike Trout in the sixth but giving his team plenty of opportunities to cement the lead in any of the preceding innings which came before.

Imagine: Mark Trumbo arriving in a seemingly lopsided June trade, but then immediately posting a 130 wRC+ with eleven home runs, rather than doing that all a month later. Imagine him coming to bat and hitting a game-tying pinch-hit dinger to save a weak hold on a playoff spot in a late September game, and then imagine that the catcher that he was pinch-hitting for was not basically a white flag waved in the exact lineup spot that was sacrificed to get him here like some ouroboros of shame emerging out of the primordial dust that was the thin crevice between the floor and Jack Z's office door.

Imagine: A Mariners game that you watched.

Imagine: A team with an 82-74 record, exactly the opposite of what they have now tied for the final Wild Card spot. Imagine that, and then imagine that that would have actually probably been a disappointment from those sepia-tinted photos published in the city's oldest newspaper which has seen more years without our sad baseball franchise than those with it.

Imagine: A fourth inning that saw the Mariners finally getting a hit off of Jered Weaver, who for whatever reason was freezing everyone with low-80's cheese only to be embarrassed with a roaring double off the bat of Kyle Seager, an unknown baseball player responsible for some aforementioned skirmish from days earlier, leading to the Mariners first run of the game on successive singles from Robinson Cano and Jesus Montero. Imagine then, Kuma giving up a run in the same inning thanks to a speedy Mike Trout and obnoxious eternal AL West gnat David Murphy.

Imagine: The Mariners still ran into trouble in the eighth inning in a tie game after Kuma gave up a leadoff double to Johnny Giavotella, who could have been out at second with a misguided throw by Austin Jackson. Imagine it was not Brad Miller, still learning the signs out there and misjudging the speed of the runner because why on earth would the Mariners, in contention, have a project out in centerfield?

Imagine: The Mariners still lost the game after Carson Smith gave up an oopsy-single to Kole Calhoun to put the Angels up 3-2, and imagine the meeting in the dugout as the Mariners realize they have only six days left to mount a surge to overcome the pull like gravity that wants to rip them from that unattainable Playoff Spot, which by chance, or design, seems so foreign, so alien to them.

Imagine: It's September and you were glued to the set of an exciting young Mariners team, or don't, and imagine it's November and you're reading trade news from the new GM, __________ ___________, who is looking to shore up a weak bullpen through smart, under the radar transactions, none of which include serial strangler Jonathan Papelbon but which do include, I don't know, someone who can hold it together in the eighth inning without walking the world.

Imagine: It's April 2015 and you're looking at those photos, those damned photos inducing nostalgia for a past which never existed and nostalgia for a future which never came, and then imagine that you blink your eyes and it's April 2016 and you're looking at the same damn thing.

Imagine: that the lessons of this, quite possibly the worst year in franchise history if we're talking about the disparity between expectation and execution, as an ownership group looks to finally take serious steps to bring whatever it is the Mets, the Cubs, and the Blue Jays are doing right now to the Pacific Northwest.

Imagine: it's September 27th, and the Mariners are bad.

But mostly, imagine this: it's September 28th, and then it's September 29th, and then it's December 1st, and before you know it it's April 4th, and the Mariners are in Arlington, and Felix is on the mound right in front of Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz is not wearing a fielding glove he is in fact wearing batting gloves.

Imagine that and have fun watching the rest of this football game. Tomorrow comes sooner than you'd think.