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What The

The Mariners, a bad but not horrible team, have entered the dog days of August. This is a rough stretch, arguably the roughest as a fan. There are no September call-ups yet and no pennant chases to spoil quite yet either - just ballgame after ballgame to play. The games can feel awfully pointless this time of year with the playoffs rather safely ahead of the Mariners on the Pennant Chase Highway and heavy traffic between them and October that even the craziest motorcyclist couldn't zip through.

I had a couple ideas for posts to pass the time these dog days, just before teaching consumes approximately 87% more of my life* than it has the past few months. Franklin Gutierrez's rebirth is a nice story. Maybe that will still be a post. I made it to a pair of Rainiers games this week, and a few game write-ups seemed appropriate too.

*76% of stats are made up.

This morning I ventured to my parents' place for a little dog-sitting, and by dog-sitting I mean watching their faithful beagle snooze until nature calls every few hours or so. It's a painfully hard gig, especially when satellite television on an HDTV is involved on a Happy Felix Day. I settled in for some relaxing, enjoyable morning baseball.

About that.

I don't know what to do besides vomit some words on the internet about this week in Mariners baseball. Actually, when I say week, I really just mean from Wednesday to this afternoon. So, here we go: a first person account (insider perspective?) on experiencing the 2015 Mariners at such a meaningless moment in the season.

I went to the Rainiers game on Wednesday. It started at 11:35am, which was half the fun. I am a teacher on break and I try to do things that I can do just because I am a teacher. Going to a baseball game that starts in the morning midweek is the quintessential example of one of those things. I wanted to see who else attends this kind of game.

The tarp coming off at Cheney stadium around noon on Wednesday.
The answer: kids.

Lots of kids.

Lots of kids in groups.

Lots of kids in groups in neon shirts. Electric aqua as far as the eye could see. Moreover, a fluke thunderstorm erupted over Tacoma that morning before the game started, but not all that long before the game started. I parked and could sense something was off immediately. I saw lots of cars, a convoy of yellow school buses, and nobody in the stands. Where was everyone?

I entered the ballpark to a flood of youngsters sitting criss-cross-applesauce all around the main concourse. They were orderly, and I don't know what else any of them could do given how exposed the seats are to lightning. Still, it was weird, unlike anything I've ever seen at a baseball stadium. The scene eerily reminded me of when my school evacuated our building after the Nisqually earthquake hit in 2001, except with Ivar's clam chowder instead of granola bars and juice boxes. I secretly thought to myself that I suppose I had got what I went to that game for - a unique experience. Ballgames on Wednesdays at 11:35am should have something odd about them.

The Rainiers game eventually got underway and the game was largely forgettable. Jordan Pries got hit as he peppered the strike zone and the Rainiers lost. I drove home and along the way a friend texted me and alerted me to the Mariners game. They also were playing a matinee. I turned on the radio and caught the ninth inning of Hisashi Iwakuma's no-hitter.

Thursday was an off-day for the Mariners as they traveled to Boston for a weekend series with the Red Sox. Friday night found me back at Cheney Stadium with several co-workers for a fun time. Of course, as luck would have it, the skies dumped rain for the first time all summer and the game started late. The weather cleared up by first pitch, but everything remained drenched and a chilly breeze swirled the afternoon's aftermath around just enough to numb fingers and toes. In other words, it was an idyllic night for an old-fashioned, American ballgame.

The weather held, but the Rainiers did not. They got down early, rallied a few times, yet always coughed up some more runs when they threatened to make the game interesting. The game added injury to insult when centerfielder Ramon Flores crumpled lifeless on the warning track as he ran to recover a double. Jabari Blash threw the ball back in and then vigorously motioned for the training staff to hurry out. Flores got carted off and after a little while an ambulance with lights on could be seen leaving the stadium beyond the outfield walls. Reports this morning are that Flores suffered a compound ankle fracture and is done for the season. That's easy to believe after watching the injury unfold.

Then I got home and saw the Seahawks had lost with a handful of injuries, most notably Tarvaris Jackson's sprained ankle. The Mariners got humiliated in Boston 15-1 too. Happy Friday.

Fun fact: I am a card-carrying member of the cord-cutting generation. I could afford TV, but in my estimation I don't watch it enough to justify the expense. I miss live sports the most, kind of. I have ways of watching live sports. It's called having friends, family, and good sports bars. I am also a sucker for baseball on the radio. I do just fine.

Still, I was looking forward to watching the Mariners game this morning. Felix on the mound after a drubbing, and an overall bad sports Friday in general, felt like a recipe for success. I suppose most Mariner fans felt good about this game, but as a person who has seen more baseball games in person than on TV this year, I perhaps was a little more excited to see this morning's game.

Needless to say, I was crushed - maybe not crushed as hard as Felix got crushed today, but crushed. The game was so bad, but at least it was so bad it got good. When the Red Sox had built a 19-2 lead I started wondering just how historic the rout was, especially on the heels of a 15-1 drubbing. I started finding all sort of the M's worst routs in franchise history. Then Jesus Sucre warmed up and got in the ballgame!

Today wasn't just a bad game, it was historically bad, and as far as I'm concerned, history is still history. The Mariners have never given up more runs in a game than today. They have never given more runs in back-to-back games than the last few games. They have never been beat by a larger combined margin than the last two games. The fact that both of these clunkers came immediately on the heels of the fifth no-hitter in franchise history makes it seem that much more amazing. Talk about a study in contrasts.

Baseball might have one of the stronger feedback effects of any sport when it comes to watching and following a sport as a fan. If you are into baseball, the things unique to baseball make you lean even farther in; if baseball isn't your thing than those same idiosyncrasies push you farther away. I love that something special like a no-hitter is always possible, even in the middle of the day in the middle of August in a lost season. I love it when position players pitch. Baseball haters can rightfully argue that the only reason baseball has more random great moments in games simply because so many games get played, and that no other sport creates such farcical situations where players are so horribly out of position when guys pitch that don't pitch, or hit that don't hit (looking at you, National League, and for the record I hope you don't add a designated hitter ever.) These are things unique to the game, for better and for worse. They are for better in my eyes.

I am not sure there is much meaning or a deeper message to glean from this week in Mariners history, but if there is, I suppose it is that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. This is a stretch of games I will remember for a long time. I find that satisfying on some level, even if all the results are not satisfying at all. I take what I can get with the 2015 Mariners.