There are more important things to talk about, certainly. The emerging threat of a North Korean nuclear attack, the potential destruction of national monuments, the big judicial win for sanctuary cities, the presence of untrained and unaccountable cops in our schools. These are all important. Baseball, on the other hand, is unimportant. Yet, for a dwindling number of us, it is essential, a distraction and balm against those other very important things. That doesn’t mean it’s all peanuts and cracker jack. Games can hurt. Mariners fans know that better than anyone.
And yet, we weren’t prepared for last night’s 19-9 drubbing at the hands of the Detroit Tigers, which brought Seattle’s record to a wretched 8-13, keeping us in the basement of the American League West. It was, in a word, cataclysmic. In addition to the embarrassing run total, Mitch Haniger, currently our best hitter, left the game with an oblique strain (which could have him out for up to 8 weeks) and King Felix left the game after just two innings with what was later being called a “dead arm.” They sunk our battleship and, while it’s somehow still only April, it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that this team could end the franchise’s 16-year playoff drought.
But was it the worst game ever? In recent memory, there was the April 21, 2012, game at Safeco Field, where Philip Humber of the White Sox pitched a perfect game (remarkable and humiliating, considering he retired in 2016 with a career record of 16-23). A different kind of pain was felt by fans following the Game 5 loss to the Yankees in the 2001 American League Championship Series. The Mariners won more games than any team in major league history that year (116), and had come just a few outs away from tying up the series in Game 4, but by the sixth inning of Game 5 they were down by 9 and three innings from the beginning of what is now the longest current play-off drought in Major League Baseball.
Then there was The Wall Banger. While playing the Baltimore Orioles at the Kingdome in late May of 1995, Ken Griffey Jr. made a spectacular catch while at the same time shattering his wrist. While the Mariners won the game, bringing their record to 15-12, the team lost its superstar for three months. It was a huge blow to a franchise hoping to end a playoff drought that stretched back to its 1977 inception. Yet, the rest of the team managed to hold steady and when Griffey returned in mid-August, the pennant was still within reach. We all know what happened, then. They stitched together a few winning streaks, tied for first in the AL West, won a tie-breaking game to get into the playoffs, and then, a few games later, Edgar hit that double.
And, dammit, there’s that hope again.
UPDATE: Our Bar Code columnist weighs in:
— Zach Geballe (@zgeballe) April 26, 2017
Thanks to Seth Kolloen for research help.