If you haven't been paying attention, the Seattle Mariners probably appreciate that. But their losing streak is reaching such lengths that it's becoming impossible to ignore.
"When you are in a stretch like this, because you have a locker room of guys who care and there's a lot of pride, everything feels a little bit damaged right now," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said.
That damage apparently includes Wedge's facial hair, as reports circulated on Sunday morning that the M's manager shaved off his magnificent mustache. We're all losers in this situation. (Somewhere, Ron Swanson is crying. Or glaring in disapproval.)
On July 5, the Mariners were just 2 1/2 games out of first place in the AL West. With a record of 43-43, they were an improbable playoff contender, but in the race nonetheless. But any questions as to whether or not this team was "for real" have now been answered emphatically.
The thought that this may have actually been a decent team must make the losing streak especially miserable. Those 1992 Mariners were 56-77 before stringing all those losses together. And the streak occurred in September, when there wasn't that much of the season remaining.
But things got better for the Mariners after that. Bill Plummer was fired after just one season as manager, and Lou Piniella was brought in. Ken Griffey Jr.(notes), Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Randy Johnson(notes) made up a strong core of talent. Two years later, Seattle won its first-ever division title. Six years later, the M's won an American League-record 116 games.
Will the 2011 Mariners eventually experience that kind of turnaround?
Felix Hernandez(notes) and Michael Pineda(notes) provide star power on the pitching side, but will Dustin Ackley(notes) and others carry the same breakout potential that the 1992 team had in that lineup ? Between that question, the dead weight of players like Chone Figgins(notes), and the rapidly deteriorating skills of Ichiro Suzuki(notes), the prospects for such a rebound look rather grim.
UPDATE: The Tacoma News Tribune's Ryan Divish has video evidence of Wedge's clean-shaven upper lip in a pregame video interview. Wedge hoped it would lighten up the mood in the clubhouse, and it seems to have cheered him up. Divish also has a photo history of Wedge's mustache, for those still not ready to let go.