Now that we’ve arrived at the All Star Break, I took a look back at my last few ASB posts. There’s a consistent thread running through those posts: all of the teams I root for suck.
This year, not so much. The Mets are sitting on top of the NL East with a solid six game lead over Atlanta, the Giants are a mere half game out of the third NL Wild Card slot, and the Orioles have a respectable* .500 record (and are only three and a half out of the Wild Card).
* When it comes to baseball, I define “respectable” as .500 or better. So, okay, yes, the O’s are there by the thinnest of possible margins. But there they indeed are.
And then there are the Mariners. A fourteen game winning streak has brought them from irrelevant unrespectability to nine games over .500, the second Wild Card slot, and–with seven of their first ten after the break against Houston–a chance to challenge for the division.
The streak can’t last forever; it’s one short of their best-ever, and even if they surpass that mark, the all-time longest winning streak is 26. That was set in 1916, a lapse of time which should give you a very clear picture of just how hard it is to string together wins in MLB. And, let’s face it, the All Star Break has ruined more than a few winning streaks; momentum is a thing. But the beauty of baseball and the 162-game schedule is that you don’t need to win every game to succeed. Just win consistently.
But enough daydreaming.
I’m writing this post Tuesday afternoon. The actual All Star Game is tonight, which means yesterday was the Home Run Derby. The universe being the intermittently cruel place that it is, I was at work. And I especially wanted to watch this year, what with the Mariners connection: Julio Rodriguez. At the very least, he figured to erase the pitiful performance we got from the last M to play Derby (Cano, 2016: 7 home runs).
I hate watching pre-recorded sporting events. It’s too hard to avoid spoilers, and cheering your favorites doesn’t give them any help*.
* Of course cheering for your team while watching on TV helps them. Well-known scientific fact. But if cheering worked retroactively, teams with small fan bases would never win: the fans rooting for the Yankees to complete their 162-game sweep would drown them out every time.
I recorded it anyway and watched it earlier today.
Let me tell you, Rodriguez put on the most impressive rookie performance since Aaron Judge in 2017. He didn’t hit as many long bombs as Judge had, but a total across the three rounds of 81? Holy Flying Salmon! (For the record, Judge only needed 47 for his win.) He didn’t win–that was Juan Soto–but he sure turned a lot of heads.
Soto, by the way, is available for a trade, and just about every team within sniffing distance of contention would love to have him. He’ll be expensive; probably too expensive for the Mariners, still smarting from the result of that huge contract they gave the aforementioned Robinson Cano. But can you imagine how much opposing pitchers would hate to face the reigning Derby winner and runner-up hitting back to back?
I know, I know. I said “enough daydreaming”. But some dreams are irresistible.