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The Mariners lost: A historical retrospective

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Time ain't no sphere.

On September 4th, 1979 the Mariners lost 5-2 to the Texas Rangers. Steve Comer threw a complete game for the Rangers, the Mariners went 1-9 with RISP, and the whole, bleak affair took place in front of 5,759 spectators. Baseball Reference lists the game time weather as "in dome", which is a term as depressing as it is spartanly accurate.

A mid-20’s couple, tired of the cost and pace of urban living, buys a home a ferry ride away from downtown. The town is small, and simple. There are no traffic lights. Its proximity to the city, and the Puget Sound makes it an excellent candidate for growth. The home’s foundation is a large tree stump, an old Douglas Fir. The tree was many hundreds of years old, and it endured floods, fires, and droughts. It did not endure man. The home costs $12,000.

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On September 4th, 1983 the Mariners lost 4-3 to the New York Yankees. After a 1982 season that served as the organization's first tangible step forward, with a record of 76-86, 1983 was poised to be the season the still young franchise broke through. In the offseason the team managed to acquire Ken Phelps. Danny Tartabull was sent over as free agent compensation from the Cincinnati Reds.

The loss to New York dropped the Mariners' record to 51-85, seventh place, and twenty-six games out of first place. The only real highlight of the game was a home run by Steve Henderson, whose Wikipedia entry has a section for every team he played for in his career, except the Mariners.

The 1983 team cost Rene Lachemann his job months earlier, in late June. The Mariners went on to lose 102 games. In thirty-three seasons of almost ceaseless failure since, no Mariner team has lost as many.

I am one. There exists to this day, somewhere in the drawers of furniture mass-produced during the sixties and handed down to my parents when they were newlyweds, photographs of me sitting in the backyard. I have a glove, and a Mariner trident on my hat. I am one, and already madly in love with the simply concept of catching and hitting a ball.

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On September 4th, 1992 the Seattle Mariners lost to the Cleveland Indians, 7-0. The Indians starting pitcher is a twenty-six year old journeyman, acquired midseason from the Orioles. The shutout is the second, and last of a career that will span nineteen seasons in the major leagues. The pitcher is Jose Mesa.

In 1992 we bought some land with an old farmhouse on it. The land is nice, but the home is a wreck. Still, whatever romantic inclination that lies within my parents convinces them that they can remodel it, start a small farm, and live the simple, country life they've pined for for so long.

Through numerous inspections and repair bids we discovered the home was far, far too much work, both in time and cost. My parents decided to build a new home on the land, on a small ridge. While we waited for it to be built they found a small, 45'x15' single wide mobile home, and moved it onto the land during construction. The structure was supported by columns of cinder blocks, arranged hastily and very haphazardly, because this was all done last minute and on the cheap.

During the winter an uncommonly vicious storm dumped over a foot of snow and knocked out power, right before an even more uncommon, protracted stretch of sub-freezing temperature. Due to the remote location of our land, and the very questionable nature of our living accommodations, we were without power for about three weeks. There was a wood stove in the mobile home, and because of that we did not die.

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On September 4th, 2005 the Seattle Mariners lost to the who-the-fuck-knows-what-they-called-themselves-back-then-Angels, 5-3. Vladimir Guerrero had three hits, Casey Kotchman hit a home run. It's a small consolation, perhaps, that leadoff hitter Chone Figgins had only one hit.

The Mariner's starter was Jeff Harris, a person I am positive I watched pitch for my team, but nonetheless someone for whom my brain has no recall. He was chased after three innings. Adrian Beltre, towards the end of a disappointing first year as a Mariner, was a bright spot with three hits.

Jeremy Reed tripled.

My wife and I married very young, much younger than both our parents. In 2005, after a year of marriage in Los Angeles, we left the city for my hometown, the same one with the house with the Douglas Fir foundation. The town now has traffic lights, and has for some time. It is still close to the city, and still very close to the beautiful Puget Sound. It's still underutilized, and big growth feels inevitable.

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On September 4th, 2010 the Seattle Mariners lost to the Cleveland Indians, 4-2. David Pauley threw six gutty innings, and Russell Branyan, the first in Jack Zduriencik's series of "well this worked last year so let's do it again" midseason acquisitions, hit a home a home run. Chone Figgins batted second, and went 1-5 to bring his OPS to .618. Jose Lopez batted cleanup.

Michael Saunders doubled.

It was my first, and one of my only years of largesse. After years of struggling financially my self-employment had finally paid off in late 2008-2009, with a string of successes beyond anything I'd ever really thought possible. Our son was two, we managed to by our home, and life was as good as it had ever been. For Christmas of 2009 my wife gave me a twenty-game package to the Mariners; wonderful seats about fifteen rows up, just past the visitor's dugout. I took the "Season Ticket Holder" card they gave me, and put it in the visible window of my wallet where your driver's license, insurance card, or some other meaningful and important information should go.

The first game of the package was a scheduled Cliff Lee start. I showed up fresh off giving Jack Zduriencik, Tony Blengino, and other soon-to-be-scapegoated front office members a standing ovation at a USS Mariner event during the offseason.

Cliff Lee did not pitch that day. He was hurt. Rather, Ian Snell took the mound in a 9-2 loss to the Rangers. The Mariners went on to lose 101 games, the first team to lose as many with a $100 million payroll.

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Today, September 4th, 2016, the Mariners lost to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, 4-2. Included, but not limited to, the reasons for this happening were:

  • Hisashi Iwakuma allowed back to back first inning home runs to Albert Pujols and C.J. Cron. It was the sixth and seventh first inning home runs allowed by Mariner pitching in the series. This is to the Angels, one of the very worst teams in baseball.
  • Adam Lind not only still plays for the Seattle Mariners, but was given a start. Adam Lind has a .267 on base percentage. For his career, in 975 PA, Adam Lind has a 54 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers. Twice today, in a game his team was trailing, with runners on base, Adam Lind was allowed to bat against left-handed pitchers.
  • Yesterday, in a game the Mariners were trailing by eight runs, Steve Cishek was brought in. Steve Cishek is the 2016 Seattle Mariners second-best reliever. As such Dan Altavilla got the call today.
  • Cliff Pennington hit a groundball where no one was, and Ketel Marte and Ben Gamel hit line drives where people were. Baseball's randomness is perhaps its only true constant, unavoidable truth.
  • A man almost died. Kyle Seager hit a 3-2, 94 MPH fastball 105 MPH directly at the face of Matt Shoemaker.

    Once, back in the old Kingdome, I was at a game where Bill Swift took a ball off the head. Since no one ever went to games in those days, and the Kingdome echoed everything (have you heard we could make it loud in there?) the sound of the ball hitting his head was a low, thrumming, echoing, thud. The ball soared through the air, bounced once, and landed in the stands. 

    Bill Swift did not get up. I was eight. I thought he was dead. That is the last time I've watched a baseball game where a player got hit by a ball so directly in the head. Matt Shoemaker has a "minor skull fracture" which sounds like "small apocalypse". He is being kept overnight for observation. I am so glad he's not dead.
  • Guillermo Heredia doubled.
My children are starting third grade, and kindergarten, respectively. We're still here, in this small town. There are a few more stop lights, and a hell of a lot more traffic. I'd like to think and hope that our home has appreciated a little bit in the seven years we've owned it. Work has never quite matched that one, brief halycon era toward the end of the last decade. We talk, we love, we dream, and we live. We hope for better.

"This is still a beautiful area", we say. It still feels like it has a lot of room for growth. Someday, maybe.