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Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Mariners blew chance to land Stephen Strasburg


You know who I feel sorry for? Seattle Mariners fans. (Umm, that includes me, so consider this a declaration of self-pity.)

Mariners fans got hyped up in the offseason after the team acquired Cliff Lee. Pitching and defense were the "it" things, and the Mariners were a trendy pick to win the AL West.

Today? Today we wake up to a miserable last-place team. Our city's greatest sports icon ever hit .184, reportedly fell asleep during a game, quietly retired and was last seen at a gas station in Montana. Meanwhile, rumors are floating that the Yankees will acquire Lee.

That's not even the worst of it.

No, we had to watch Stephen Strasburg blow away the Pirates with 14 strikeouts in his major league debut. Here's the deal: The Mariners can't even lose right. Seattle entered the final weekend of the 2008 season with a record of 58-101. The Nationals entered with a record of 59-99. On Sept. 26, Collin Balester gave up seven runs in 1 2/3 innings, and the Nats lost to the Phillies. On Sept. 27, the Nats lost again. On Sept. 28, the Nationals threw out the scrubbiest lineup seen in the major leagues since the 1972 Texas Rangers hit .218 as a team: Emilio Bonifacio, Anderson Hernandez, Kory Casto, Ryan Langerhans, Alberto Gonzalez, Roger Bernadina, Luke Montz and Pete Orr. (Ryan Zimmerman and Cristian Guzman were on the bench.) Even ESPN.com's fantasy analysts haven't heard of most of those guys. The Nats lost again.

Meanwhile, the Mariners beat the A's 10-8 on Sept. 26. Yuniesky Betancourt, one of the worst Mariners of all time, went 2-for-5. The Mariners beat the A's 7-3 on Sept. 27, and Betancourt went 3-for-3. The Mariners beat the A's 4-3 on Sept. 28, and Betancourt's two-run triple scored the winning runs.

That's how the Nationals ended up with the No. 1 pick in the 2009 MLB draft, a pick they used to select Strasburg. The Mariners got the No. 2 pick and drafted Dustin Ackley, who GM Jack Zduriencik said he thought "will be a bat in the middle of our lineup for years to come."

Ackley is currently hitting .243 with one home run in Double-A.

So, thank you, Yuniesky Betancourt, for continuing to be a big, fat, ugly scar on the lives of Mariners fans.