This is why the Mariners will not contend for ANYTHING

The last three years, none of us have expected anything from this team. They stunk, and we all knew it. And I think we all thought they would stink again this year, too -- only, they happen to play in the worst division in baseball and have improved their talent level just enough to tantalize us.

Thursday's 13-12 loss to the Devil Rays is the perfect example of why this should be mantra for the next four-plus months, Mariners fans:

Enjoy baseball. Watch the Mariners.

Just be smart and don't get sucked in.

The reality is that teams that expect to contend don't do what the Mariners did yesterday in Tampa Bay. Everything was laid out for them to complete a sweep and make a move. The Rays are terrible and they were sending a terrible pitcher to the mound. The Angels were on the way to losing two of three to the Tigers, giving the Mariners a golden opportunity to make up two games in two days.

And they crapped all over themselves. In spectacular fashion.

It's not so much that they lost; it's the way they lost. Contending teams don't go out with a chance to sweep the worst team in the American League and allow 10 runs in the first three innings -- injury to starting pitcher (who allowed three runs in the first inning, incidentally) or not. Contending teams do not get guys thrown out at the plate twice in the same game -- once with no outs and down by six runs. Contending teams do not watch their No. 3 hitter go 4-for-5 one night then 0-for-6 with 6 LOB the next.

Contending teams rip the hearts out of weaker opponents. Yes, the Mariners battled yesterday, but contending teams never get in that kind of a hole in the first place. They take a sweep when golden opportunities to do so are presented to them.

They do not miss out on golden opportunities to make up ground on the team they're trying to catch.

This is not to say that the season is completely lost. Ostensibly, the M's are going to be a very entertaining team to watch this summer as some of the hitters who normally heat up with the weather start to get hot. With Felix, Washburn and Baek pitching the next three games, they might even roll into Kansas City and sweep the Royals to make this a 5-1 trip heading into Los Angeles on Monday.

But 4-2 is a lot more likely, and they'll be needing a sweep of the Angels to make up any kind of serious ground on the Angels, who, by the way, they've lost 5 of 6 to. Series wins feel good, but going 2-1 series after series only works if you mix in some sweeps along the way as the 2001 M's did on their way to 116. The 2007 Mariners don't have one yet. (At least, not the three-or-more-game variety.)

No, to make some real noise, teams have to rip off five- or six-game winning streaks. And not just one. The reality is that this team doesn't have that in them, not with the way the pitching staff is composed. Horacio Ramirez and Jeff Weaver have been well-documented disasters, it's unreasonable to expect Baek to do much more than he's already done, and there's not a lot of help down on the farm. The M's also have practically no commodities to try and pick up some major-league ready pitching help in a trade.

My advice? Just relax and enjoy each game for what it's worth and don't allow yourself to get wrapped up in talk of the playoffs.

Because it's crazy talk.

Oh, and one more thing.


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