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Are any of us really surprised?


Photo by Lindsey Wasson/Getty Images

The thing is, we all saw it coming.

Maybe that makes it better. Maybe that makes it worse. I tend to think that it makes it worse. It’s what I imagine being tied to some train tracks would be like. You see the train coming. “Well. I’m gonna die.” There’s quiet acceptance. But since you saw the train coming from so far away, you have a lot of time to think about it. “Maybe I can get these ropes loose. Maybe the conductor will see me. Maybe someone will come.” But then, of course, none of those things happen and you die.

We’ve all been so conditioned to expect failure that this homestand wasn’t that surprising. Going in, there were two general schools of thought. The positive:

And then what everyone was actually thinking:

John posted a wonderful article right before that series against the Angels in which he made the claim that the Mariners’ rotation would be the worst in history to be dragged to the playoffs. At the time that article was posted, James Paxton was worth 4.2 fWAR on the season. The Mariners’ rotation as a whole? 3.6 fWAR.

So what more poetic way for the Mariners to get totally fucking screwed than for James Paxton to get injured? If there was literally one player that this team could not afford to lose, it was James Paxton. If there were someone writing a book about this shit team’s season (WHY would they want to?), and they wrote the part about Paxton getting hurt, whoever was reading would put down the book. What an abysmally cliched injury to have happen. And yet, it happened.

The Mariners. So unlucky that it genuinely feels unrealistic.

And that was just the first game of the series. Not even. That was just the first seven innings of the first game. That game was topped off by Edwin Diaz walking three dudes and then Mike Trout crushing a double to knock them all in. Just in case you’d forgotten.

The next two games succeeded in crushing the other narrative keeping the team’s season afloat. What was one of the main factors that was tanking their early season? The bullpen. What was one of the main factors that was catalyzing them to victory over the last two months? The bullpen. What completely blew both the second and third games of the homestand?

I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.

Alright, so what parts of the Mariners have been good this season? Hmmmmm. James Paxton, he’s gone. The bullpen, suddenly it’s a mess. There was one more... that’s right! The offense! At least they won’t completely shit the bed and forget to score runs.

Spoiler: they completely shit the bed and forgot to score runs.

And so the Mariners, who eight days ago were three (!) games above .500, suddenly found themselves two games below. Below the Angels. Below the Royals. Below the Twins, for fuck’s sake.

Some of us were naive enough to have a little bit of hope. Some of us were cynical enough to keep our distance going into this series. But even that cynicism couldn’t have prepared us for this. It’s like the Mariners had every little piece of what made them the Mariners, every discrete part of their identities, called into question. Not called into question, completely obliterated.

Then, when they finally won the final two games of the series, all of the joy was just a little bit tempered. There was still no Paxton. Even the intense 7-6 win from Wednesday came complete with another Edwin Diaz meltdown. A week ago, these two wins would have enthralled. Now, even those wins hurt just a little bit. At least they did for me.

I don’t know. Maybe that’s what being a Mariners fan is all about. Having to learn the same lesson over and over again, and then still never actually learning it, and yet being so conditioned that even the most absurd ways to lose are unsurprising. It feels like it should be a paradox, and yet it’s all we’ve ever known.

Fuck this team.

But also, because I can’t help myself, Go Mariners.