They’d Hit Out If They Only Knew Who To Hit

So Felix Hernandez shuts down the White Sox? Fine, whatever, that’s kind of what everyone expected anyway.

But to watch the Seattle Mariners, of all people, make a spectacle of ace-in-waiting John Danks, it’s at least a little disheartening. . . yet strangely encouraging at the same time. In 2008, you could almost set your watch to Danks’ pattern: gem, gem, shelling, gem, gem, shelling, ad nauseum. But this year? This year we’re talking Gong Show time every fourth time out. Thirty-three percent improvement! A 2.19 ERA! A 16-5 record!

Ridiculous mathematics aside, the awful, boring pattern seems to be asserting itself: no series is definitive and nothing means anything. Win two or lose two, hey, whatever! Baltimore? Tampa Bay? Toronto? THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IF IT IS ALL THE SAME. Chris Jakubauskas, the Mariners’ starter for today’s afternoon game, is a 30-year-old rookie who has never faced the Sox before and currently sports the worst numbers on their staff; by all logic he should have dominated the Sox today – and by most measures he did – but when Bartolo Colon is suddenly the greatest pitcher on earth, well, not even the most anonymous of American League pitchers stands a chance.

And yet, one of the potentially great American League showdowns, what the extremely optimistic might call a 2011 ALCS preview, two young arms poised to finally come into their own and announce to the world that the future of American League pitching has arrived, an epic duel for the ages, the kind any of the 5,000 10,000 25,000 brave souls would retell the tale to their children, and their children’s children. Strikeouts! Tension! Baseball!

But alas, it was not meant to be because, as we’ve seen quite a lot of times for such a short amount of season, we certainly knew how this was going to happen, and we were mostly right. Someone scores a lot of runs, someone gets a clutch hit, someone splits a doubleheader with a theoretically inferior team. Except we got the names wrong. Typical.

There are traditions. . .