The Seattle Mariners lost 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday, their sixth defeat in as many games. With the loss they’re now six games under .500, and six days removed from inspiring real, actual confidence in the fanbase. But make no mistake: right now, things are as shaky as they come.
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Only two teams in the American League have worse records than the Mariners – the Boston Red Sox and Oakland Athletics. Only two teams in the American League have worse run differentials than the Mariners – Boston and the Chicago White Sox. Perhaps all this shows is that even in early June, the season is still young. Six days ago this was a .500 team on the verge of a wild card spot. Granted, all they’ve done since is lose every single day, but it goes to show how quickly things can change when the season is still barely two months old.
This goes hand in hand with a general observation about the current state of MLB – it’s a giant cluster of mediocrity. The only really “good” teams in the AL at the moment are the… Astros? Royals? Twins?! Those teams are all at least nine games over .500, but none of them seem like great bets to keep this up all year long. Then look at the bottom of the league and you see potential contenders – Boston, Seattle, Oakland. Things are no more settled now than they were in March.
Everyone’s pretty okay right now, and the only way to stand out is to streak or tank. The Mariners are tanking right now, and in doing so are taking a step away from the pack. If they turn it around great, they can be one of thirteen-ish teams scrambling for a playoff spot. If they don’t, well, not a lot of competition for a top-five draft pick at this point.
This is all so melodramatic. It feels loony, to react so strongly to anything right now given the relative parity of the league. But regardless of where they were a week ago, the fact is that today the Mariners are nine and a half games out of first place. They’re just about to the point of needing a long winning streak to get back to relevance, and knowing that said relevance would be short-lived if they can’t then start winning at a rate that they haven’t at all been able to so far.
Worse teams have overcome bleaker situations, of course. But the Mariners were only supposed to be good this year, and what’s going on now should be plenty instructive as to what kind of team this really is. The 2015 M’s are a mess of holes. Perhaps too many holes to be filled. The front office is scrambling already, trying to make good on the promise of what this team isn’t. Is Mark Trumbo the answer? Isn’t it time we stopped waiting for any one guy to be “the answer?”
The Mariners are on the brink of falling out of the race. They’re losing and losing and losing while the rest of the league hovers in mediocrity limbo, and it’s put them in a position where they probably shouldn’t expect success the rest of the way. If everyone else can do it, why not us? Maybe because the Mariners suck. Maybe they don’t! But it kinda really looks like they do.