Commentary: Mariners are a Houdini act that’s defied statistical realities, but fun to watch nonetheless

We start tonight with Harry Houdini, who freed himself from handcuffs, chains, ropes – escaped from jails and water tanks – and did so, defying all logic.

The Mariners are this year’s Harry Houdini. 

Heading into the All-Star Break, the M’s are five games over .500. They are only 3.5 games out of a Wild Card playoff spot. They’ve won 17 of their last 25 games, and there is no question that they should be buyers instead of sellers heading into the trade deadline at the end of the month. 

But what we’ve seen so far this year is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Which is actually more remarkable than anything else. 

Consider this: More than halfway through the season, the Mariners have the worst team batting average in all of baseball (.217). They’ve been outscored by a combined 50 runs this season – the only winning team to have a run differential worse than negative 30. 

These guys are somehow in contention despite losing one of their best starting pitchers, James Paxton, at the start of the season. The reigning American League Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis missed the start of the year and is in the middle of missing another three months. The Jarred Kelenic call-up was a failure the first time around. And Evan White is out until the middle of next month.

And did I mention they’ve been no-hit twice already this year? 

I mean, as cursed as this team has been all season long, it is an absolute miracle that they are still in the conversation. And this Houdini act is a credit to every player and coach that hasn’t let any of these setbacks affect the big picture. At the end of the day, the Mariners are in it, which is more than we can say at this point for a majority of seasons over the last two decades.

I understand any pessimism, or calling them "Paper Tigers," or anticipating a sustained collapse. But why not enjoy this run while it lasts? Enjoy an energy in the ballpark of which we were deprived for more than a full season. 

Because whether the players understand their statistical realities, they refuse to believe them. They refuse to back down. They realize that part of building a team from the ground up is learning to win in in a variety of ways. And watching the Mariners pull rabbits from their hats when they’re least expected to has been one of the bright spots of this season.

So the Mariners might be giving their best Houdini act this season, but the entertainment value has certainly gotten a boost. 

And at the end of the day, despite all the setbacks and lackluster stats, they’re still in this thing.

Frankly, we can’t ask for any more than that.