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Purposeless Mariners shutout by Cleveland 7-0

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The intersection of baseball and teaching teenagers

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Cleveland Indians
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Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

In my free time, and often my not-so-free time, I teach horseback riding lessons at a horse rescue barn. My focus is leading the therapeutic riding program, but I also teach a few beginner and intermediate lessons - including a group class made up of four young women, ranging in age from 11-15.

For those of you who haven’t experienced the unique privilege that is being a girl that age, it is a particularly hellish purgatory. Everyone is wrong, including yourself, and no one understands you - including yourself. Each day, each hour it can feel, you’re changing; body and mind morphing constantly as hormones bubble volatilely.

My Saturday morning quartet are remarkable human beings, but they are still pre-teen/teenage girls, and watching them each week makes my heart ache and grow in equal measure. Our lessons focus on riding, of course, but also on empowering them to grow comfortable with themselves, giving them space to figure out how they want to move throughout the world. Lately, our recurring word of the week has been Purpose.

You can’t really teach someone to operate (physically, emotionally or mentally) with purpose. It’s one of those pesky intangibles, though it’s not as innate as other attributes like grit, or fire. Purpose comes from security and privilege. From a centered sense of self and, honestly, a lot of time.

These four are at the age where they chafe at people telling them what to do, but aren’t entirely prepared to forge their own way. They struggle to trust themselves, and there’s so much second-guessing. This is, surprise surprise, not a great position to be in when working with a remarkably large and stupid animal. At least once a lesson there’s a near-collision, and last week I finally lined up 17 orange traffic cones in a desperate bid to get one of the girls to pilot her horse in a straight line.

Poorly running a major league baseball team doesn’t carry the same safety risks as poorly handling a thousand-pound animal, but it does still result in a pretty unpleasant experience. From the lineup the Mariners trotted out, to the ultimate 7-0 performance on the day, Seattle played utterly without purpose tonight.

Justin Dunn struggled through three innings, giving up nine hits and five earned runs. The newly-called-up future reliever had an 80 pitch cap on his outing and, as seems too often the case, didn’t get a few close calls to start and spiraled downward with alarming expediency.

Drew Steckenrider, Anthony Misiewicz, Will Vest and Hector Santiago trundled through to eat up some innings, and only Vest gave up any more runs (two, off of three hits in the sixth).

The offense bracketed the evening’s performance with a leadoff single from J.P. Crawford to start the game, and a one out single from Mitch Haniger in the ninth.

A lack of purpose in this singular game would be one thing, but there are continuing concerns about the organization’s broader ability to move purposefully towards what should ostensibly be the final stages of this rebuild. The intent is certainly there, but follow-through has been woefully lacking. Their borderline foolhardy belief in their own organizational depth has combined with an unwillingness to spend in a way that is utterly antithetical to long-term success. If they carry on in this way, there’s no chance for the rebuild to succeed, and I’ll be forced to write many more of these non-baseball recaps, which would be terrible for us all.