Psychology Test

Jeff Sullivan · September 9, 2014 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

You probably knew this, but the Mariners sucked for a while. It didn’t cause us to stop being fans, but it did cause us to become different fans, fans who adapted to the miserable circumstances. When a team loses over and over, it’s only natural for one to develop a defense system, and I think a lot of us survived with humor, much but not all of it dark. We also would’ve distanced ourselves, because, who can really be the textbook example of a die-hard when the team you’d die for reliably blows? The Mariners forced us to change our fan behavior, and along the way they conditioned us, they altered our psychology. Every fan group has different psychologies. We identified with our own.

And now there are the 2014 Mariners. I still don’t really know what to do with them, because this whole course is unfamiliar. It’s like we’ve been hiking uphill in the cold and the clouds and the rain, only now it looks like the clouds might break, like we might be able to achieve a clear and warm summit. This team feels like a gift, but it’s also challenging the identities we developed over the course of the previous decade. This is a good baseball team, unlike even the 2007 mirage. We’ve been trained to laugh at the bad. We’ve been trained to expect even worse. But we can’t laugh at what bad that there is, because it’s September and we still freakin care, and you can’t laugh at the bad during good. And as much as we know what we’ve expected in the past, this year feels different, as any winning year does.* If the Mariners are better, are…we…better? Just a few months ago, the Seattle Seahawks won the Super Bowl. They actually won so convincingly I think they won a few of them. What has that done to the city’s psychology? What’s going on with the city’s psychology?

So I want to see how people feel, today. I want to monitor the mental state of things, because I’m legitimately curious where people are finding themselves after so many years of getting let down. Is your brain allowing you to really buy in, or are you still too damaged? Does it take more than a single pennant race to heal? I want you to answer this honestly, and I’m not asking for what you want to happen.

It feels like this year’s Mariners are writing a completely different story. The story is also far from finished.

* I’m told


23 Responses to “Psychology Test”

  1. bigred on September 9th, 2014 5:33 pm

    I’m still holding out hope that we’ll win the division.

  2. californiamariner on September 9th, 2014 5:37 pm

    I think that the first couple paragraphs summed a majority of us up pretty well as far as not really knowing what to do with this team. Personally, I still keep expecting them to lose the wild card, but I gain more confidence with each win!

  3. MrZDevotee on September 9th, 2014 5:37 pm

    I didn’t appreciate the hiking up the mountain/clear summit analogy… How many times do they start for the summit when it’s clear, and then the storm comes in out of nowhere, and everyone dies, and it turns into a tragic “Movie of the Week” that haunts the survivors for years to come?

    Better not happen, Jeff… Or you’re in serious trouble… Especially since I voted “win the wild-card playoff”…

  4. Alec on September 9th, 2014 5:41 pm

    The biggest signal about what this decade has done to us is that you didn’t even include “win the division” despite the A’s free falling from best team in baseball to potentially traveling to face Felix over the last month.

    Fuck the last decade. 2014 is the year of Seattle.

  5. Westside guy on September 9th, 2014 5:44 pm

    I guess I still think they’re playing over their heads. I don’t expect their collapse, but I won’t be surprised if there’s a significant correction between now and the end of the season. However there are only a few games left so who knows? Mike Carp managed to run a 140 wRC+ for an entire season, once.

  6. PackBob on September 9th, 2014 5:56 pm

    It’s Baseball! Anything can happen!

    I don’t really expect anything but hope the Mariners play well the rest of the way. Some timely hitting would be great, some hot hitters even better. Lloyd seems to have the players in a good frame of mind to compete, even without a Raul motivational speech.

    I’m really interested to see how King Felix reacts to the unknown pressure of a playoff chase, as well as the rest of them. It was a really good sign when Condor contributed immediately.

    The Mariners are well-positioned to make a run. It’s all up to them.

  7. Sportszilla on September 9th, 2014 6:02 pm

    Rooting for a sports team is already an inherently foolish act. Matthew and Jeff have talked about this on the podcast a few times, but letting the results of a game dictate your emotional state is silly, unless you have a direct effect on the outcome. Yet we’re all here because we choose to indulge in an irrational pastime. Since we’ve already embraced that much irrationality, might as well go a bit further: “win the wild card game!”

  8. thesinator on September 9th, 2014 6:49 pm

    It would be fascinating to know how much the Seahawks have affected fan identity.

    I used to just expect losing.

  9. thesinator on September 9th, 2014 6:49 pm

    It would be fascinating to know how much the Seahawks have affected fan identity.

    I used to just expect losing.

  10. Section329 on September 9th, 2014 7:06 pm

    I think they may miss the playoffs narrowly. However i am not without hope, as I am about to spend a lot for playoff tickets. It’s been more fun watching them this year.

  11. Longgeorge1 on September 9th, 2014 7:10 pm

    I voted win play-off game with my brain but my heart is prepared for looking at the play-offs without a dog in the fight

  12. Slippery Elmer on September 9th, 2014 9:14 pm

    I’m a Coug, so that plus the last decade’s morass have me conditioned to expect a collapse at the last moment that pushes them out of playoff contention.

    But I’ve been a Mariner fan longer than I’ve been a college graduate, so I still think they will overtake Oakland, beat Detroit at Safeco, then use their mound horses to charge to their first World Series appearance.

    (Although being a Coug, I voted for “barely miss playoffs.”)

  13. leftarrow2 on September 9th, 2014 9:46 pm

    The losses feel right but the wins feel good.

  14. LongDistance on September 9th, 2014 11:02 pm

    How about just they manage to play .500 ball from here on out? That’s been basically my mental set from May on, and everything else is cake. Actually, given a decade driven pessimism, .500 often enough seemed like cake — for this year. I actually, truly, believe they deserve as a team to get into the Wild Card Playoff. Beyond that, though, it’s Baseball Gods.


  15. Eastside Crank on September 10th, 2014 11:06 am

    Judging by the crowds at this week’s games, the city has flipped to football. As far as the Mariners go, they have the best manager in the AL West and two stud position players. It will not be enough to do any damage should they make the playoffs but actually gives some hope for next year. That is a huge improvement from last season.

  16. eponymous coward on September 10th, 2014 12:32 pm

    I guess I still think they’re playing over their heads. I don’t expect their collapse, but I won’t be surprised if there’s a significant correction between now and the end of the season.

    So who’s playing over their heads?

    Cano? Not really.
    Felix? Nope.
    Seager? Nah.

    I guess you could say Young and the bullpen kinda sorta, but even Elias isn’t a total shock, a lefty that throws 90+ with some decent if not world-beating stuff doing ~league average as a pitcher shouldn’t be a total shock. The back end of the M’s rotation was a big part of why they were weak going in, that’s fixed now (though I think you don’t bring Young back unless you get him pretty cheap, the rotation is likely to be filled up quickly).

    The OF/1B/DH morass is still pretty “meh”, but the difference between the M’s of Bavasi’s era and now is that when Jose Lopez cratered there wasn’t an alternative other than to keep playing him, now when Brad Miller gets under the Mendoza line, there’s Chris Taylor. There is progress here, even if there are some things that make you shake your head (like thinking Smoak had a future here coming into 2014).

    A rotation of Felix, Kuma, Paxton, Elias in the playoffs with Walker lurking looks pretty damned good to me. The team has issues, but the Oakland North strategy of pitching + defense + just enough offense worked for Oakland and SF… don’t see why it can’t for us.

  17. drw on September 10th, 2014 4:15 pm

    The sucking hurt. But this team is a shock to me, and is one that I still don’t quite understand. Young and Elias have come out of nowhere and don’t seem quite real. I still don’t trust Rodney. And the offense seems too shallow. Yet they continue to win games.

    Nonetheless, I bought the playoff tickets and I’m hopeful for a one game playoff — if Felix starts, we are in it.

    The crowds the last few days? No one is the least bit interested in Houston; we have played them too many times and they are faceless scrubs. It’s the first full week of school, people are adjusting to new schedules. And football is no doubt sucking some of the interest away.

    This weekend is something different. For the first time in years I am actually considering buying tickets to a game that I don’t already have tickets to (as a season ticket holder).

  18. Mid80sRighty on September 10th, 2014 4:26 pm

    You probably could make an argument that they’re playing over their heads if your using the preseason projections of 82-83 wins. Hell, they have a pretty good shot at breaking the 90 win mark! But, I’d argue that they’re not necessarily playing over their heads as much as they’re just not playing so far below expectations, as they have the past couple of years. The last two years have seen a lot of the team having career worst years plus quite a few injuries. This year’s team hasn’t seen the same amount of injuries nor the nosedives we’ve seen in the past (plus they have more options if something does happen). For a projected .500 team, getting what you expect out of the guys and fewer injuries (plus a few positive breaks) is all it really takes to be in the playoff hunt.

  19. SunDevil1 on September 10th, 2014 4:35 pm

    When I think about this honestly, the answer is I don’t know what to expect and am afraid to have hopes and expectations. I have a persistent sense of impending doom, but the Mariners remain in the thick of things. What I EXPECT, is that when they actually qualify for the wild card, then I’ll throw caution to the wind and go all-in. This snxiety is killing me.

  20. Westside guy on September 10th, 2014 6:26 pm

    I don’t see how anyone can look at the pitching and especially the bullpen and see it as anything OTHER then playing over their heads. Do you really think this team has somehow put together one of the greatest pitching staffs of all time? Has Jack Z just suddenly built a pitching dynasty?

    What are the odds of almost every single pitcher having a career year all at the same time?

  21. Mid80sRighty on September 11th, 2014 6:48 am

    One of the greatest pitching staffs of all time? Hm, that seems a little exaggerated.

    Felix and Iwakuma have been what we’ve come to expect them to be. Elias, 3.93 xFIP, but hard to say he’s playing over his head since he doesn’t really have a baseline. Young, 5.25 xFIP, not out of line with what he’s done throughout his career. Paxton, 3.35 xFIP, is probably doing what we hoped he would, and like Elias, doesn’t really have a baseline. And Ramirez was a disaster.

    As for the bullpen, there’s Rodney who’s putting together a real nice season, and a bunch of other guys sitting at a WAR or less.

    It doesn’t seem they’re playing over their heads as much as just catching some breaks that they haven’t caught in the past. Their BABIP against kind of show that.

  22. Mid80sRighty on September 11th, 2014 6:53 am

    On a side note, Fernando Rodney’s line is kind of funny/interesting. 3.17 xFIP, 2.54 ERA, .327 BABIP. To me that shows the drama that he’s pitched himself into and subsequently out of. Seems like a line where you’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop…hopefully, that doesn’t happen this year.

  23. Dennisss on September 11th, 2014 7:44 am

    Is it too late to change my vote in the poll?

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