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Slow, Crushing Defeat

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Jack Zduriencik's emphasis on pitching and defense was supposed to produce a fast, lively game of baseball. Tim Ruskell and Jim Mora's emphasis on defense and running the ball was supposed to produce a team that could contend in the playoffs.

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The process was not mistaken in Zduriencik's case. A run is a run in baseball. A run saved is a run earned and if the Mariners bats ever awoke from hibernation, maybe we would be treated to some fast, low-scoring gems. Maybe winning would flip this argument on its head.

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In football, the process was somewhat mistaken. Defense does not correlate as well year-to-year as offense, and so banking on a good defense is a dicey proposition. Further, running and stopping the run may become greatly more important in the playoffs, but it isn't nearly as important as passing and stopping the pass in the regular season. The playoffs only matter if you make 'em.

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The emphasis on defense has produced one thing for sure: Slow, crushing defeats.

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Objectively speaking, offense may not be any more valuable than defense, but eventually a team that cannot score, that consistently produces outs or punts, becomes unbearable to watch. I am not sure why that is exactly. Scoring does not seem, on balance, any more aesthetically pleasing than the prevention of scoring. I would rather see a great, home-run saving catch by Franklin Gutierrez than a bomb by Russell Branyan. But, emotionally, a 7-4 loss or a 42-28 loss just seems more tolerable than a 3-0 loss or a 17-3 loss. It feels like something happened, there were moments of hope, that no matter the outcome, something was accomplished.

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I wonder if the hidden value of offense is excitement. A brassy, unrefined excitement, perhaps, but a less demanding excitement as well. Winning with defense is truly a connoisseur's treat, but losing with defense is a grinding affair. It suffers a higher standard. Winning with offense is all car chases and hooks, but losing with offense still contains an explosion or two. Emphasizing offense over defense may not change the outcome, but it sure makes the process more exciting.