I was unable to exchange my Sunday Rays ticket for another night game (just no time in my schedule this month), so I forfeited fishing for pinks and Coho in the Sound for a Sunday afternoon baseball game with my friend Jessica. Due to the clear skies and heat, and the fact that we are both pale, pale girls even the strongest sunscreen will not protect, we opted for the higher climes of the upper deck, sitting high above the right field foul pole, and wandering further up to safety as the sun moved around the south side of the stadium. The Mariners lost their shirts at 4-1 to the Rays, but took the series, so I didn’t feel too badly.
As we were parttaking of sodas and ice cream and trying to avoid the sun during the later innings of the game, for whatever reason, discussion turned to Brad Miller vs. Brendan Ryan, since Miller was in the field at the time. I don’t remember what triggered it; might have been something on the HD screen, might have been an error or missed hit by Miller, I don’t know. What I do remember is waxing sadly that Brendan Ryan would not be able to come back in 2014. For as much as I have enjoyed watching Ryan in the field, and feeling that oh-so-cozy feeling that comes with having a virtually impenetrable wall there in between 2nd and 3rd (and sometimes 2nd and 1st!), we need offense. I know I’m not saying anything new or shocking here. There is only so much that Mariners fans should be expected to take, though, and Ryan’s .192 AVG and -0.7 WAR is just…it’s not good. Ryan’s best year with us was 2011, when he managed to dazzle everyone with his defense as well as a reasonably passable bat. But after that, it was like stepping off a cliff into an offensive desert, and while his defense will always be some of my favorite, I think, he was always the number 9 guy with good reason.
I’m not even mad though. I am going to miss him badly. He gave the team character, he gave the team solid defense, he gave Tom Wilhelmsen something to do in his spare time. He showed us what good defensive short-stopping should be like, after a few years of torture with Yuniesky Betancourt. The hitting – while it would have been nice – never really mattered all that much to me. I loved his double plays, his diving catches, his jumping catches, his shoulder-licking everywhere…and I’m not going to deny that yes, it absolutely sucks that once again, a player I like gets shuttled off to the Yankees, where he will either flourish for another few years, or flounder miserably in triple, double, single A…i don’t know. I think the fact that I knew it had to happen made it a little easier, but it was so weird to watch last night’s game and know that Ryan had unceremoniously packed up his things, and headed off to New York. No fanfare, no whistles, no time for any of us to prepare to say good bye. Just…gone.
I am glad that there is a very limited about of baseball left, because I’m kind of tired of seeing Ichiro in pinstripes, Munenori Kawasaki in Blue Jays blue, now Brendan Ryan in pinstripes, Morse in Orioles orange (though this one isn’t so bad)…I know that these moves are all done in the best interest of the team and indeed are the right moves as younger kids come up. And I have been very encouraged by what I’ve seen so far from Taijuan Walker and James Paxton, who made his MLB debut the other night the same day that his grandfather died. I have enjoyed watching Brad Miller in his short time here so far.
What I want from baseball is a little bit of stability. And I don’t know how long I’m going to have to wait, but I am hoping it won’t be long. Given the kids coming up so far (and their small, small sample sizes), I’d like to believe that change is right around the corner. Please let change be right around the corner…
In positive news though, my enthusiasm is certainly not gone. Doing some preliminary planning for my trip east next year, if all goes according to plan, I will be able to see the Mariners home opener before flying east, where (again, if this all works out), I will be able to take in a Nationals game in addition to the Orioles and Phillies games I already had planned. I haven’t missed an Ms home opener since 2008, and I don’t want to make 2014 the year that happens. So things are shaping up there, at least. If the Mariners don’t give me something else to look forward to, baseball itself certainly will.
In the meantime, good luck Brendan. I will miss you, and I hope that the change does you some professional good. Thanks for playing here.