The Mariners are nine games under .500 at 43-52 going into the All-Star break. They are 13 games behind division-leading Oakland.
By all means, this is the point in the season where most fans usually stop watching, stop caring and stop investing any more precious minutes of their lives supporting a team that only lets them down.
But we’re still watching, I’m still watching, my friends are still watching. Why is that?
The Mariners might not be winning, but they’re definitely entertaining. That sentence probably makes me sound like a crazy person, but hang with me.
The Mariners go into the break tied for second in MLB with 115 home runs. They finished 2012 in 20th place with 149 HR. In 2011, they were 25th with 109 and in 2010, they were dead last with 101 HR.
This iteration of the Mariners is on pace for 230 home runs, fueled mostly by the absolutely insane 24-homer season from 41-year-old Raúl Ibañez.
Ibañez’s performance is sure to drop off eventually, but I can all but guarantee you the team will surpass last year’s 149 HR mark.
Too many of these home runs are solo shots, but that’s a whole different conversation. Every fan loves to see moon shots, and this year we’re getting them. To this point, it’s been enough to keep us watching.
We tune in every day to see if Raúl can keep defying everything we know about player and skill degradation.
I mean, how amazing would it be to see one of our own break the single-season home run record for a player that is 41-plus years old? What if he manages to hit 35 out, setting a new season high for his career?
That’s near must-watch TV, at least while he’s still hot.
This is not to say the season has come without frustration because, of course, it’s agonizing watching a team that for years had pitching and zero offense finally find the ability to score runs, but lose the ability to prevent them.
We want them to win, and sometimes they do. But at least when they don’t, they’re competing. That’s something we haven’t seen in years. A five-run deficit no longer feels insurmountable, and that’s pretty amazing. Hope makes sports fun and, for the first time in a long time, Mariners fans have hope.
Dingers have brought us through most of the tough summer days; the days we usually give up, get lost and turn the TV off until spring training.
I’m not sure how much longer the Mariners will continue to hold our attention. We’re not even sure if they’re going to be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline, although sellers seems to be the most likely option.
Until that day possibly comes when Kendrys Morales, Ibañez and Michael Morse are in different cities, enjoy watching the Mariners.
You never know how many more decades we’ll have to wait until they’re entertaining again.