There are supposed to be five stages of grief – Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance – but lately, for me, with regards to the Seattle Mariners, there have only been two. I keep going back and forth between Anger and Acceptance.
Hope breeds anger. At the beginning of any (and yes, every) season, there’s always hope. Get off to a decently good start, win some games you probably shouldn’t, eke out a couple extra-innings barn-burners, finish the month of April with a positive win/loss record, and who KNOWS what the season will bring? Sure, it’ll probably bring heartache and disappointment, but let Future Mariners Fans worry about that. Because Present Mariners Fans just want to have a good time, ya dig?
Hope is always there, but it erodes over time. For fans of quality franchises, hope might not erode until the playoffs. For fans of the Mariners, hope erodes much, much sooner. It’s in those first stages of erosion where the anger sets in. You’re working furiously to maintain that hope, but all the while the team keeps letting you down and letting you down. So, you lash out. But, that doesn’t do anyone any good, and it doesn’t matter anyway because they keep on losing. They keep on losing until you give up. Acceptance.
The Mariners were 8-15 after a loss on April 24th. They were already 7 games behind first place, in a statistical tie for last place with the 7-14 Astros (who most believed were the worst team in all of baseball, and one of the worst teams of all time). Those Mariners had just lost their second series against those very same Astros; against a team we were supposed to clean up on, we were a paltry 2-4. If you can’t be angry about that, then congratulations! You officially have a life and the Seattle Mariners aren’t a part of that life.
Since that darkest hour (until the NEXT darkest hour), the Mariners have gone a respectable 7-3 to raise their overall record to 15-18. At 15-18, the Mariners are only 5.5 games back of first and in a statistical third place, ahead of both Anaheim and Houston (who has gone on to go 1-10 in the subsequent 11 games since embarrassing the Mariners). If you’ll recall, after that game on the 24th, Eric Wedge held a closed-door meeting where he berated the team for sucking dick. A 7-3 record has been his reward, but will the good times roll?
At this point, I’m still in Acceptance mode. I accept that this team is what it is. It’s May 7th and this team is three games under .500 with a 2-game series in Pittsburgh waiting for us. The Pirates are currently better than us, but we also have Felix going tomorrow and he’s always our equalizer. Then, we continue the road trip with three games in Seattle against the A’s (also better than us, but we should get Iwakuma and Safeco Joe Saunders to help things a little) before heading back out to New York to face the Yankees (better than us), then to Cleveland to face the Indians (better than us), and finally to Anaheim to face the Angels (should be better than us, but for some reason aren’t).
These Mariners are a team that will likely hover right around .500 all year. And for the life of me, I don’t care. It’s May 7th and already I don’t care anymore. That’s probably not a record – after all, there have been some terrible Mariners teams of late – but it says a lot about where this franchise stands. It’s not shocking to give up all hope before the calendar officially flips to the summer months. It would BE shocking if there WAS hope! But, even then, you’d have to qualify that hope by asking when the other shoe was going to drop.
So, the question now is: how do we get that hope back? Even if the Mariners sweep this 2-game series in Pittsburgh, then win 2 of 3 from Oakland, that only puts us at 19-19. With a 9-game road trip against teams that legitimately ARE or SHOULD BE better than us. You can’t get your hopes up in that situation, because the hammer is right there, ready to drop.
No, I’ll tell you how to get the hope back in this city. Sweep the Pirates. Win 2 of 3 against the A’s. Then, win another 6 of 9 on the road. Beat the Yankees, tie the Indians, and beat the Angels. In that order. Do THAT, come back home with a 25-22 record, with a mostly-favorable June awaiting, and I promise the hope will return.
Hell, I promise I’ll even get mad again when the Mariners inevitably go on a huge losing streak in mid-August.