[Ed. note: the following piece is another installment in our Hate Week series. Isabelle kicked us off, and then yesterday Mandy found some surprising sympathy for Bobby Ayala. This piece was originally slated to run yesterday, but felt like an unnecessary buzz-harsher after a thrilling late-innings victory. Luckily, the Astros—with an assist from HP umpire Dan Bellino—went right back to their dream-crushing selves yesterday. This is still pretty mad though, so proceed with caution. Baseball! It’s what’s for dinner.]
It’s likely that in your experience, you’ve heard of something called negativity bias. If you haven’t, or if you don’t want to take the time to read the Wikipedia article, the gist of it is that humans are generally more likely to remember bad things than good things. The negative aspects of something will stand out to us more than the positive.
This theory is especially supported by our experience of the Mariners. There’s the classic (and tiresome) meme, “they always get better when they leave.” Which, turns out, isn’t true. It’s easy to point out when Edwin Diaz’s strike zone is getting squeezed, but a whole lot harder when Guillermo Heredia really should have struck out just one inning before.
But guess what, this is Hate Week. Fuck it. You know what? With this steaming dumpster fire of a franchise, it feels valid. Fuck the fact that in 2014, this team would have made the playoffs if they hadn’t underperformed their Pythagorean record by 4 wins. Fuck the fact that Texas outperformed their Pythagorean record by 13 wins last year and 5 the year before, and made the playoffs both years. Just 4 years after making the World Series twice in a row! Something that the Mariners have never done!
Fuck the Houston Astros. The joke when they first came to the AL West was “hyuck, there’s finally a team worse than the Mariners.” Well, guess who’s been in the top 5 of the ESPN MLB power rankings every single week this season? Yup, those same Astros.
Yup, that cover went unpunished! Guess what cover did not go unpunished!
When you’re a little kid, it’s all sunshine and roses. It’s like going into a casino. Your first memories are juuuust good enough to keep you coming back forever, even when everything is really just an unstoppable freight train hurtling toward a flaming pile of manure. Baseball seems like so much fun. Dingers are fun! Strikeouts are fun! I would secretly listen to games on my clock radio when I was supposed to be asleep, then blow up the whole facade by jumping on my bed when Kazuhiro Sasaki ended the game! I mean fuck, I even loved the shit out of those stupid Lewis and Clark Horizon Airlines radio commercials. Baseball brought me joy. What a novel concept.
Yeah, the team was good, but my memories were still good even during the 1999 season. Even the 2004 season didn’t feel nearly as bad as it was, and good lord, it was bad. You know what memories baseball has brought me lately?
Oh gee, I don’t know. Maybe going to the Mariners-Blue Jays series last year that was effectively the nail in the coffin of a season that was really just an exercise in denial anyway. Being outnumbered by especially obnoxious fans of a different team. Feeling such a feeling of injustice, of being wronged, of just crushing disappointment, that I literally started to cry. And then getting drunk and falling down half the stairs in the 300-level before feeling vaguely grateful not to have suffered a serious spinal injury. Thanks to fellow writer John Trupin for accompanying me to that disaster of a game, by the way.
In all of Major League Baseball, not a single team has a longer playoff drought than the Seattle Mariners. Do you want to know the only current city with an MLB team that has never even been to the World Series? You guessed it! So what’s the point of this article? Fuck this. A lot of people have said, “if baseball affects you this much emotionally, you’re doing sports wrong.” Well sure, but nobody seems to bat an eye when people extol the joys of winning a championship. Only good emotion is acceptable!
As I’ve written this, I now realize that even though the team was just as unsuccessful, my memories of those shitty seasons 10-plus years ago are a lot better than the memories of the past few seasons. Maybe it’s not baseball that sucks so much as being an adult. Maybe as we grow older, we ask baseball to do more for us. More than it can reasonably be expected to do. Maybe the Mariners are helping us to become adept at resolving negativity in our actual lives.
Or, maybe, we’ve just gotten ridiculously unlucky and always will. We’ll keep dumping time and money into this team and never get a payoff. Maybe Felix will never make the playoffs with this team. Maybe we’ll never win anything. Maybe the universe is chaotic and unsmiling by nature, and any meaning we attempt to assign to this endless march toward maximum entropy is artificial.
Sometimes, fuck baseball.