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The Best of Times, but Honestly Mostly the Worst of Times

A tale of one year

There have been many themes to come from the steaming crater that future historians will refer to either as “2017” or “1 BCE, Part 2.” Lots of people being perfectly negative, lots of people espousing the fun of the team, and still more somewhere in the middle. No matter what you thought, we can probably all agree that it was a roller coaster that ended up leading to hellishness.

How high were the highs, and how low the lows? When did we experience jubilation? (note: in 2017, what passes as jubilation was referred to as “doing just okay” in 2014.) When did we encounter our darkest hour? You might have some guesses, but for more concrete answers, let us turn to something that’s always more valid than fickle emotions: numbers!

First, let’s take a look at the series this past year that helped the Mariners the most. By “helped the most,” I mean which series increased the team’s chances at the playoffs the most.

Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The Good

Number 3: Mariners @ Athletics - August 8 through August 9 - 2 wins, 0 losses, +10.3%

Yup, that sums up the season pretty well: the third best series for the Mariners was a two-game series. This was right before the team’s final collapse (don’t worry, you’ll hear about it later). The team went from 57-56 going into this series to 59-56 coming out. It was the highest above .500 they’d get for the entire season. They finished this series at a 31.0% chance to make the playoffs, and were in sole possession of the second Wild Card spot.

Looking back, this series was fucking wonderful. The first game was a 7-6 extra inning thriller capped by a Leonys Martin 10th inning dinger. The second featured six runs that scored only via Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager dingers. Terrible pitching by Ariel Miranda and Yovani Gallardo couldn’t spoil the hitting, and I’m starting to get nostalgic, so let’s keep going.

Number 2: Tigers @ Mariners - June 19 through June 22 - 4 wins, 0 losses, +10.7%

The team went into this at 34-37 and came out at 38-37, with a 20.7% chance at the postseason. This was a weird one, featuring solid pitching from Sam Gaviglio, Ariel Miranda, and Andrew Moore. The first game saw a Kyle Seager walk-off double. The third game saw Jarrod Dyson break up a Justin Verlander perfecto in the 6th inning with a bunt single (still great), and the finale saw Robinson Cano smack a grand slam.

Man. Writing about these good times is actually kind of hard on the emotions. Only one more.

Number 1: Mariners @ White Sox - July 14 through July 16 - 3 wins, 0 losses, +10.9%

We’re still in the good part of the article, and still I’m convinced already that baseball is plain cruel. This was the team’s first series out of the All Star Break. If anyone was planning on giving up on the team at 43-47, they weren’t allowed to after the Mariners brought it back to 46-47 (and 47-47 with one win after this series). Their playoff odds went up to 16.7% after this.

Game one was the story of roughly one fifth of this season’s games - a James Paxton gem backed by Robinson Cano and Jean Segura. The story of game two was a Nelson Cruz dinger backing Felix, and the third was Kyle Seager’s team to shine.

I’m looking at these three series and seeing a theme. The highest highs came when the core of the lineup was performing well, or when James Paxton was pitching, or when random fucking pitchers like Sam Gaviglio were popping off. I suppose this isn’t much of a surprise, but there you are. What defined the bad? Aside from crying ourselves to sleep on a near-nightly basis, I mean.

also a simpler time
Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Bad

Number 3: Royals @ Mariners - July 3 through July 5 - 0 wins, 3 losses, -10.2%

This was a little surprising. I must have blocked this series out of my memory. Maybe that makes sense, because I apparently went to two of these games. I treat these bad series a little like I treat my bank statements: drinking and hoping it will just go away.

It featured the Mariners not being able to back a solid Andrew Moore start, a Felix collapse, and James Pazos imploding in extra innings. I honestly don’t know how I don’t remember going to these games.

Number 2: Mariners @ Astros - April 3 through April 6 - 1 win, 3 losses, -12.0%

The first series of the year. All of us writers, and much of the fanbase, tried to preach patience. Maybe we were wrong. This series did put the team in a hole that they never really did get out of. Next year, if the team starts 0-3, fuck it, I’m officially panicking and also phoning in every article. More than this year, I mean.

The M’s were shut out by Dallas Keuchel in the opener, giving Felix no run support. Hisashi Iwakuma pitched a stellar game two, and also got no run support. James Paxton pitched a stellar game three, and also... got no run support.

Fear not, the team was able to spice it up a little. They came back and sent the game into extras. Remember what happened next? If not, it was Chase De Jong blowing it in the 13th inning. Baseball is fun and good.

Number 1: Angels @ Mariners - August 10 through August 13 - 0 wins, 4 losses, -19.1%

You knew this was coming. Fresh off that sweep of the A’s above, the Mariners went into Edgar Martinez Appreciation Weekend with heads held high and in control of a playoff spot. And then... Deadgar weekend.

It couldn’t have been much worse. The rest of the series on this list, both good and bad, clocked in around 10 to 12% of difference-making. That this one was -19.1% is nothing short of astounding. What could go wrong, did go wrong. I won’t get into the losses, because I’m pretty sad at this point in the article, but losing James Paxton for several weeks was just the icing on the shitty cake.

This season was so rough. It’s tempting to be a reactionary next year, someone who will stoke the fires instead of frantically trying to douse them with each recap of a loss. Here’s Kurt Vonnegut to play the season off.