As I watch the Mariners bullpen squander yet another quality start by an unexpected diamond in the rough in David Pauley by essentially being one of the most unreliable and – dare I say it – worst bullpens in all of Major League Baseball, I reflect on the day’s events and its star attraction. I’m not trying to beat a dead horse here, but I’m also not exactly taking the sudden removal of Cliff Lee from my baseball life very well, so just meet me half way here. There are two types of elite starting pitchers in the world: both get the job done every fifth day. Of course, they go about it in very different ways. You’ve got your flashier guys – people like Randy Johnson (in his prime), Pedro Martinez (in his prime), Felix Hernandez (now) – who just have nasty, electric stuff. They’ll murder you with their offspeed stuff, then they’ll chop your head off with their heat. These guys get all the glory on Sportscenter (except when they wear a Mariners uniform), these guys get all the attention come Cy Young time, and these guys are ultimately more feared because of the hype if not the stuff alone. Then, there’s everyone else who just go out and work you over. They might not have 97 mile per hour fastballs, they might not have curve balls that will buckle your knees, but they go out there with precision and accuracy and determination and bend you to their wills. I’m talking not just about Cliff Lee, but Jamie Moyer, Greg Maddux, Roy Halladay, Mark Buehrle. No one’s calling these guys electric. For the most part, their fastballs are pretty pedestrian. And their offspeed stuff – while effective – isn’t exactly setting the world on fire. Oftentimes, a team might come away from a game believing they should’ve beaten these pitchers. But, you know what? Even while you’re watching and not believing how they’re doing it, just know that these guys prove as long as you have the utmost attention to your control – in pitch location and overall emotional composure – even guys like Jason Vargas and Doug Fister can crack a rotation and stick. You don’t need to be Felix or Beckett or Santana or Strasburg. You can be someone’s idea of a 4 or 5 starter who doesn’t make many highlight reels, but does what he’s supposed to do and keeps his team in ballgames. And if you’re dedicated enough and consistent enough and focused enough, your stock will rise until one day multiple teams are clamoring for your services and throwing handfuls of players around to get you. Part of me wishes this had all happened tomorrow with the exact same results. Because it’s not often where I’m confronted with someone who I’m able and willing to appreciate as he’s doing something great. Not to just take for granted and look beyond. Not since Felix first cracked the big leagues have I made a specific player Appointment Television. I’ve gone out of my way just about every game to make sure I was glued to Cliff Lee’s starts. We’re halfway through with 2010 and the season’s been long over as far as the Mariners contending is concerned. But, not until now has my interest and passion for this season truly felt dead. I’ll still keep one eye on the team at all times the rest of the way – after all, I have a job with a computer that gets Internet – but let’s just say the last of the hot air has been released from the balloon. That is, until Michael Pineda is called up from Tacoma … that guy’s going to be a BEAST.