That’s what the Mariners face, beginning tonight. Just arrived here at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, having caught a morning flight from Seattle. A very early morning flight. Been catching up on some of my reading today, including the debate over the winning percentage the Mariners will need to attain from here on in to reach 90+ wins and make the playoffs. You can’t argue with Adam’s logic. The numbers are there. They don’t lie. I can tell you, the way these things are viewed by the players are in short-term increments. In other words, they’ll see it as, win five in a row and all of a sudden, the winning percentage needed the rest of the year becomes smaller. I know, I know. It’s still the same hurdle. But psychology is an important part of baseball. If we look at the standings on June 24 of last season, we find the M’s were eight games behind the first place Angels. Seattle had whittled that down to two games by July 12, then to one game by July 20.
Of course, the M’s never did catch the Angels. But they had their chances. Is it going to work that way again this year? I wouldn’t bank on it. But if you’re going to get yourself in an eight-game hole, the earlier in the season the better.
Seattle was a sub.-500 team on May 21 of last year, sitting at 19-21. But the M’s still rebounded to win 88 games and that was with a late-August collapse.
Things are possible. Teams are often capable of playing better-than-.600 ball for prolonged stretches, as the Mariners did for three months last season. The thing is, once teams reach a certain level of confidence, they can start to reel off wins without being daunted by the prospect of having to play .640 or .650, or whatever between May and late-September.
What do the M’s have to do? Right now, get back to being a .500 team. Get back to within four or five games of the division lead and worry about the math part later. I’ve seen plenty of teams up their games the final month or two and play .650 or better down the stretch. Teams in pennant races can often beat up on those playing out the string. Not all of those wins in a .650 percentage are created equal. But the M’s are a long way from worrying about that.
They’ve got three games here and three more against a struggling San Diego squad after that. If you want to make up ground, this is where you start. It won’t be easy. This team has already lost a lot of ground, perhaps too much. It’s going to be a long road home.
May 12, 2008 at 1:40 PM