Friday, August 18, 2006

Thanks For Playing


NOTE: I wrote this article last Friday for an eSports article, but it looks like they're down for the time being.

It pains me to write this, but the M's are done.

Last night's loss to the Texas Rangers was indicative of everything that's wrong with the team: poor hitting, mediocre starting pitching and illogical managerial moves. Reading the comments about the game is like experiencing a nice, quiet dinner that slowly but surely transforms into an all-out family feud.

Seattle is only six games behind division-leader Oakland with 48 games to go. Plenty of time for the M's to catch up, right? Not when its next twenty games are against the Rangers, Athletics, Angels, Yankees and Red Soxs. By the time September rolls around, the M's will very likely be trailing the AL West by double-digits.

But wait, didn't Seattle make a heroic push for the playoffs in 1995, coming back from a 13-game deficit to eventually win the division title? Why yes they did. Well, why then can't this group duplicate what happened a decade ago?

For starters, the modern-day Mariners don't have hitters like Jay Buhner, Edgar and Tino Martinez. Richie Sexson, Seattle's current big bopper, is batting .224. Willie Bloomquist, a quasi-regular in the lineup (Lord knows why) has four extra-base hits in over 150 at-bats. In fact, out of the 14 teams in the American League, the 2006 Mariners are 11th in runs scored, 12th in batting average and slugging, and 13th in on-base percentage.

Today's Mariners also don't have the arm (and back) of an elite starter like Randy Johnson to carry them every four days. Randy pitched on short rest all through Septemeber, messing up his back so badly in the process that he was sidelined for most of the '96 season. The Big Unit had an awesome 18-2 record and 2.48 ERA in '95, basically willing Seattle to a playoff berth. The lowest ERA on the M's current staff is 4.28, and that guy has lost 11 games already.

The '95 Mariners were managed by Lou Pinella, a World Series winner. This year the M's are run by the Grover, whose boneheaded judgements are well-undocumented and almost a daily occurence.

Before the season started, I made this prediction:
The Mariners, meanwhile, should make great strides this season. A .500 record, which would be a twelve-game improvement over 2005, remains a distinct possibility. If Texas stumbles Seattle may challenge for a third-place finish, but even that may be wishful thinking.
Looks like I was right. Except for the "make great strides" part.

NOTE: Since I wrote the article Seattle has lost seven straight games and has doubled its deficit to 12 games. Go M's.

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