Sorta feels like the season is slipping away, doesn’t it?
I usually hate the end of the month of May when it comes to baseball because it’s around this time where I have my ultimate freakout. Invariably, that’s because the season truly IS slipping away, because usually the Mariners are terrible. All the “Everything Must Go Exactly Right” scenarios we dreamed up before the season started have been debunked and what we’re left with is the hard, cold reality of what has come to pass.
This year was supposed to be different. This year, we had to dream up scenarios where things might go wrong, because in our heart of hearts we all KNEW this team was different. This team was going to buck the trend! This team would FUCKING FINALLY put us back into the playoffs for the first time in a God Damn eternity.
And yet, here we are, headed into Memorial Day weekend, 4 games under .500. Had you told me before the season started that the Mariners would be in this position and I would’ve told you, “That’s what happens when injuries decimate your roster.” But, what injuries? A short stint on the DL for Wilhelmsen, a longer stint for Austin Jackson, and a longer-still stint for Iwakuma (which in and of itself doesn’t feel like much of a bad thing, given how shitty he’s been dating back to the end of last year). You can’t blame injuries for this! Wilhelmsen’s back! A-Jax is nearly back, and besides that the season was never going to hinge on his level of production anyway.
The point of that last paragraph is: help is NOT on the way. Chris Taylor has been called up and he’s done squat. Roenis Elias has been called up and has done the lord’s work (making every single one of us second-guess the Mariners choosing Taijuan Walker over him out of Spring Training). We traded a struggling reliever for a backup catcher, but come on, he’s a backup catcher! Once again, the number of black holes on this team is crippling us (and it doesn’t help that Cano and Seager have started off beyond sluggish), so even if we WANTED to mortgage every last ounce of future prospects we have in our farm system – to trade for help from outside the organization – it still likely wouldn’t be enough to help turn things around.
For all that’s gone wrong, I would argue just as much has gone right. No regression for Felix so far is a miracle in and of itself. J.A. Happ has easily been the second-best starter in the rotation, and has already surpassed all my expectations. Nelson Cruz has been the motherfucking best hitter in baseball for shit’s sake! Who expected THAT?
So, at what point do we admit that the sun is setting on this season? We’re 8 games behind Houston, who looks like the best team in the American League. We’re two months into the season and closer to fourth place than we are to second place in the West. We’ve shown an incredible ability to lose games in every way imaginable – our record truly being a team effort – so when do we throw our hands up and cry “Uncle!”?
I’ve grown very detached from this season. As a fan, as much as it’s pained me, it’s been all too easy to adjust my expectations for this team. At this point, I’m no longer expecting us to make the playoffs. I’m not even expecting us to win over 87 games (which I’ve got $100 riding on at the moment, from a sportsbook in Tahoe). Hell, I thought that was the easiest money of any sports bet I made earlier this year, and now I’m not even sure the Mariners will be a team that wins more games than it loses!
At this point, just give me a little drunken excitement when I watch the games with family or friends on the weekends. That’s really all I ask. Yeah, sure, hover around .500. Go ahead and continue to drive everyone batshit crazy, Mariners, it’s what you do best. But, give me something to cheer about on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays and I’ll be fine. Placing high expectations on the Mariners isn’t really fair; they’re always going to find a way to screw it all up (through no fault of their own, of course).
It’s almost the end of May, time to put this season to bed. As the Mariners go through the motions, hovering somewhere around .500, but never really getting back into a position to win the division, you’ll have a much more peaceful go of it if you’re like me and you shift your expectations drastically.