Game 140, Orioles at Mariners: Feel Like Giving In

marc w · September 5, 2018 at 5:30 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Mike Leake vs. Andrew Cashner, 7:10pm

Yesterday’s game was, in my humble opinion, the grossest of 2018. It wasn’t all that important anymore; the real work in slashing the M’s playoff odds happened in July/early August, particularly the July 30th-Aug 4th stretch. It wasn’t the most painful – that may have been the A’s walk-off against Diaz that spoiled James Paxton’s unreal game in May. Instead, this game offered us an M’s team fresh off of a clubhouse fight looking utterly lost against an Orioles team fighting to keep ahead of the 2003 Tigers. It featured an Orioles runner scoring from 2nd on a sacrifice fly. It featured the M’s two deadline relief acquisitions digging a hole, filling it with live spiders, and then jumping in. It was the kind of game that makes you forget that for all of the angst and heartbreak this swoon has caused, the team is somehow 77-62.

So much of the fun of this season was watching to see how a not-amazing-on-paper-or-true-talent team was going to overcome a deficit, like a classic old film serial. You know Captain Marvel isn’t exactly real, but the fun is suspending disbelief and watching something amazing, implausible, unbelievable unfold. The point is getting swept up, and the whole thing had a momentum of its own. The players themselves were swept up in it, and it seemed to fuel further cliffhanger escapes. It was great. But that has to keep working, or games like yesterday’s screw up that disbelief. They show the wires holding up the “flying” superhero. The boom mic keeps dropping into frame. And once that starts happening, the effect is ruined. You start judging the thing by its script, or second-guessing casting. I haven’t seen M’s fans this upset about a team’s collapse in..well, ok, it’s only been a couple of years. But the arc of this one is so painful, and so games like yesterday’s which seem to lay bare so many of their failings just seem on the nose, gratuitous.

Can the rest of baseball bail us out here? Can we take joy from the beauty of the game itself? Noooooo, we cannot. Shohei Ohtani will apparently have TJ surgery after all, and it sounds like another MRI revealed further structural damage. Was his abortive 2 1/3 IP start (one with a rapidly dropping velo) the cause? Or was it the damage that may have needed repairing months ago? Either way, we lose out on one of the great stories of the year, and one that fortune had deigned to make relatively harmless. The M’s are waaaayyy ahead of the Angels in the standings. Nothing Trout or Ohtani could’ve done would change that simple, awesome fact. This is the perfect circumstance to just *enjoy* Ohtani’s unique and wonderful talent. Sure, I wish he’d picked the M’s too, but I’d at least like to be able to watch him dice up, I don’t know, the Twins and have it do nothing at all to the M’s playoff odds. And now I don’t even get that, and won’t next year either.

The top post at Lookout Landing is about just how costly it is to attend games at Safeco, a fact that anyone who’s been to a game can understand. The growing importance of TV money was supposed to take the pressure off of gate receipts. Luxury boxes are another way to make tons more off of ticket sales that do not require gouging regular ticket buyers. I completely understand the rationale that if tickets sell at $25, then they’re not going to just sell them at $15. But as John points out, all too often, they’re *not selling*. It’s hard: they probably wouldn’t want a subscription model like they piloted in July (and which is an awesome way to make lifelong fans) in September, not if the M’s were actually in the race. You may not get many takers on such a deal in April, either. But going forward, they may need to look at alternative ways to ensure live games are feasible for families, and I keep thinking the PR value might outweigh any marginal drop in gate revenues (which are already a drop in the bucket of total team resources).

1: Haniger, CF
2: Segura, SS
3: Cano, 1B
4: Cruz, DH
5: Span, LF
6: Seager, 3B
7: Gamel, RF
8: Zunino, C
9: Gordon, 2B
SP: Leake

Ben Gamel’s added a spark since his return from an unjust demotion. He had a brilliant game defensively last night, but he’s tweaked his approach at the plate. He’s striking out more, but also walking more while hitting fewer grounders. It’s not exactly working as a way to add over-the-fence power, but it’s something to watch, I guess.


5 Responses to “Game 140, Orioles at Mariners: Feel Like Giving In”

  1. schwingy on September 5th, 2018 11:23 pm

    Great write up. Thank you for all you do. Although I don’t post much I read everyday and point a lot of people to this site.
    As sad and disappointing as this season has become, the future seems just as difficult. Seager: .216 with no signs of digging out of his swing problems, no power in the outfield outside Haniger, an entire rotation on a thread, an aged King, an ACE that hasn’t shown a complete season, continued questions at first, a huge contract and an aging Cano and DH.
    A minor league system void of top prospects or excitement.
    A culture and clubhouse now seemingly in question.
    So many questions to answer and holes to fill.
    As a multi decade season ticket holder, just trying to find a bright spot of optimism, anywhere, outside of the great year and story of Diaz.

  2. LongDistance on September 6th, 2018 3:43 am

    At this point I’d prefer paying to watch a locker room Fight Club.

  3. mksh21 on September 6th, 2018 6:22 am

    The sucky part is as far as win-losses this has been one of the best Mariner seasons of all time. The Yankees, Astros and A’s simply don’t lose unless they play each other.

    The Mariners would have been better off without the mirage big start and dealing perhaps Segura, Cruz and Gordon, (despite his not being as good as he seems, a massive asset on a 40 man September roster) and some of the pitching that seems to be over it’s head (Leblanc, Gonzales). I love Diaz but getting something for him that plays every day and is young would be amazing.

  4. jorax on September 6th, 2018 4:20 pm

    Thanks for another year of write-ups! I’m always impressed by the depth analysis (and pre-season optimism) here. I think its more painful than usual given that against the odds and run differential be damned the team felt like it had a shot at the postseason not all that long ago.

  5. schwingy on September 7th, 2018 10:27 pm

    Ugh. There’s almost dead, and dead
    Coffin and Eulogy time

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