I feel like I need to apologize to the folks who actually bother to check in here for not being around, but non-baseball stuff is putting me through the ringer lately – and over the last two days, baseball itself has been beating me senseless – I have come to the conclusion that I could never have a full season of tickets and a full-time job. It just wouldn’t allow me enough time to sleep or do much of anything else. Sixteen games and change is quite enough for live baseball when I have to be up early for work, need to spend time with friends and family, that sort of thing. Oh, how I long for last year, when school every other day was the norm.
I went both Wednesday’s and yesterday’s games, with conflicting results. We managed to take the series from the Rangers, and I am gaining a ridiculous amount of confidence in Justin Smoak, who gave us our first run yesterday with a shot over the right field wall. Wednesday’s game was definitely a disappointment, but yesterday’s was that sort of thing you like to see – the Rangers even attempted a rally late in the game with one run to break up Jason Vargas’ shutout, and Brandon League was a little slow, but effective, creating a bit of suspense at the very end. The main bummer for me was finding out that Darren O’Day is apparently on the DL and will likely be there for the season. I was really hoping to get some photos of him warming up at some point, especially with the new bullpen setup downstairs, but instead I took pictures of batting practice, and a few overheads of Mark Lowe and Brandon League. Vargas was stellar though, so it would appear that things are gradually starting to even out. If Doug Fister eventually ups his game again, then I’d have to say other teams might want to beware Mariners pitching. But I won’t say it with too much conviction, not just yet. The bullpen has been full of surprises, for taking such a rough start. I may be late to the party here by announcing all of this (as it’s been obvious for a while now), but it needs to be said. I’m a lot less bummed about the team over the last week or so than I was over the entire month of April. It feels warm and fuzzy.
Tonight’s game was good times, once again. The teams kept it close, Felix pitched through the 9th, Milton Bradley got ejected for arguing calls, Felix was awesome, one of the bullpen guys bare-hand caught a ground rule double (cameras too fast, couldn’t tell who it was), there were massive amounts of tension in the bottom of the 9th before Brendan Ryan hit one into the second base gap with two men on base to end the game, smiling the entire way. We have won 8 of the last 9 games we’ve played, and we are a game under .500. This somewhat tepid paragraph completely cloaks the fact that when that last Ryan hit came through and was missed by Gordon Beckham at second, I yelped out loud like someone had come up and jabbed me in the ribs really hard. I had zero control over that response, and I think that just may be the first time that’s ever happened to me.
Now comes the part where I admit that I’m still skeptical – it is hard to believe that the team of the past few games is the same team that was riding the failtrain for most of April. So while I am extremely pleased with the results recently, I am still hesitant to make with the commitment and such. But I will say that this team has made baseball games so much more fun to watch recently, and it’s not just because they’ve been winning. When guys come to the plate these days, I have confidence that something will happen that doesn’t involve the words “strikeout”, “flyout”, or “groundout”. There are hits. There is baserunning. There is base stealing. There is scoring. There are home runs! Some of this stuff happens at the last minute and very dramatically, some of it happens a little more gradually as we wear the opposing pitcher down or take advantage of a wild pitch or fielding error. But it’s all been fun to watch, and the team is battling, and I have the feeling that if it continues over the next few weeks, I’ll be sold. I’m still not expecting contention, but I do enjoy good baseball.
Because I do have to get to bed for work tomorrow, lastly there is this:
After last night’s win, I stopped by the Team Store and picked up the 2011 team photo that I’ve had the frame for over a month for, and finally, my Dave Niehaus patch. They cannot sew it on for you at their customization center, because it’s not the property of MLB, same way they won’t sew on American flags or other patches that don’t have anything to do with MLB property. While I thought it was odd, I figured I could sew it on – but I’m not good enough a seamstress (read; not at all) to sew it on without it looking awful. However, because I used to be a touring musician, I worship firmly at the altar of duct tape and super glue, two adhesives that can fix anything. So one tube of super glue later, the patch is firmly affixed to the right arm of my jersey, where it will hopefully remain for quite some time.