Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher

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It’s been a roller coaster, for sure. Every day it’s a different story. Hope soars only to be shot from the sky.

COVID-19? No, I came to grips with that. What I do at work is pull my mask up over my eyes and take a snooze. As far as corporate knows, I am the super-safest guy on the payroll. I just wished I had thought of it years ago.

The real crisis is Major League Baseball. Talk about a self-destructive relationship between owner and players. It’s a bit like an owner and his or her cat, except imagine that both the owner and the cat are cats. It’s doesn’t work, which is why the “Cats” movie was such an unmitigated disaster.

It’s important to place this in proper content. We’re talking about a billion-dollar enterprise based on grown men playing a game. So, obviously dividing up the spoils is an absolute blood sport.

My Mariners are innocent bystanders in this train wreck. The Mariners have never made excessive demands on anyone. The Mariners have long been on their own quixotic quest entirely independent of the “pennant races” and “playoff pushes” that obsess other ball clubs.

But now the question is in what has been a butchered monstrosity of a process resulting in a 60-game season to be played in empty stadiums, is this the Mariners year?

It seems obvious that it is. The evidence is incontrovertible.

Exhibit A: The Mariners slogan this year is “Play ball!” That’s it. That statement is a searing indictment of the money-grabbers intent on destroying the game. To be honest, it seemed impossible that any slogan could top last year’s, “Good,” which dripped of aspirations without making any promises. But “Play Ball!” is a statement for our times.

That’s it in terms of evidence. It’s like one of those courtroom dramas where the lawyer does not call any witnesses because he’s so confident his guy is innocent or he knows the less said the better.

Excuse me while I get into the analytics of this because modern baseball is all about number interpretation. On a piece of scratch paper write down the number 60 — the number of games to be played this season. Next to that write down 13-2 because that is how the Mariners started off last season, but then cross out that number and write down 14-1.

The fact is the Mariners should have started 14-1. This story highlights the core essence of the Mariners. The team lost a game when its newly signed closer Hunter Strickland pitched even though he knew he was injured. He didn’t want to tell anyone because he’s the last of the tough guys. Instead he went out there, tossed 60 mile per hour fastballs and got crushed, costing his team a game.

The deal is Strickland was only on the team because the M’s had determined they didn’t need a closer and traded away every functional reliever on the roster. Not only did the M’s not think they’d be competitive, they didn’t even think the games would be close. But all the other MLB teams on the playground teased them for not having a closer, so they signed Strickland.

Strickland went on the injured list after that outing and as soon as he came off the injured list and proved he could walk the long distance from the bullpen to the mound, the M’s traded him. He threw a total 3.1 innings for the M’s in 2019 and probably cost them the pennant. A team at 14-1 has a “can’t lose” mentality, which conveniently eliminates the option of losing. At 13-2 you lack that same confidence.

What’s interesting for those of you looking at the Vegas odds on the M’s winning the World Series (250 to 1), even with the fast start, if last season had ended at 60 games, the M’s would not have made the playoffs. If the season had ended at 20 games, then maybe Seattle would’ve hosted a World Series parade.

The only slightly raised red flag in the way of hoisting the 2020 World Series trophy, is by many metrics the 2020 M’s were designed to be far worse than the 2019 M’s. The 2019 squad was forced to include several functional MLB players like Edwin Encarnoción, Jay Bruce, Domingo Santana and Anthony Swarzak acquired in trades where the M’s got rid of even better MLB players. The M’s wanted nothing to do with those players and got rid of them as soon possible.

On the other hand it could very well be a team built to not compete is the perfect squad for a season where no one seemed to want to compete.

It’ll probably work out. “Play Ball!”

Contact managing editor Michael Gallagher at mgallagher@kvnews.com.

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