You there. Yeah, you. You who works from home, or has the day off. You with the clear AM radio signal that isn’t obscured by a ton of IT equipment. You with your MLB.TV account or your lunchtime access to ROOT Sports. You.
Today, you’re the lucky one. Today, I envy you
When I went to work this morning, the Mariners had taken two games from the Oakland A’s already this week. The first was a nailbiter 3-4, with Nate Karns starting and Steve Cishek giving everyone a bit of a cardiac episode, struggling just a enough in the bottom of the 9th before finally saving the game. Yesterday was Hisashi Iwakuma’s first win of the season, a more comfortable 8-2 rout of the A’s, featuring multiple Mariner home runs, one of which was a multi-RBI Kyle Seager special. I only caught the last few bits of the game last night, and was of course happy with the results. I woke up this morning disappointed in the fact that there was a day game, but feeling OK with it at the same time because we had already taken the series, so if we lost, not a huge deal. Disappointing, but we’re still doing well, and we’re going to Texas and a series against Houston, so maybe not a big setback. Day games are a loss for me; no TV, no radio. I’ve become resigned to that.
And when the game started I checked Twitter and was given alerts from At-Bat, and Oakland was really sticking it to us like I had sort of expected, and I just sat back and relaxed in the knowledge that we had another series under our belts, and that this is just the way things are going for the Mariners this year, and I was totally, really OK with it (outside of Felix getting pelted, of course, but that’s a worry and a post for another day maybe). And then the weirdest thing happened…In the top of the 7th inning, in a one-run game with a man on base, Dae-Ho Lee stepped up to the plate and hit his second home run of the game. And we kept that lead until Steve Cishek was once again able to close it out for us, and we swept the Oakland A’s, maintaining our place in first in the west, and being third in the American League as of this writing. And that’s pretty damn cool. Baseball is even more fun when something unexpected happens, and expectations for Dae-Ho Lee have not been high among the fanbase (a state of being I feel is gradually changing), so having him hit not only two home runs, but a dinger that put us ahead set Twitter ablaze with that kind of single-syllable excitement that only sports Twitter seems to really generate.
Of course, the minute I got off work and on the bus and started trying to catch up on everything that had just happened, I start seeing people coming out of the woodwork complaining about how we won the game. Apparently, some Mariners fans are comfortable having the luxury of complaint about the process, regardless of the outcome. And to those people, I have this to say:
Have you really had it so easy the past eight years that you’re good with grumbling about bad baserunning, or a lack of being able to pull through with runners in scoring position, or even Felix’s not-that-Felix-y performance today? You can’t appreciate the forest for the trees here, and just accept that your up-until-now awful baseball team just swept a up-until-now really good baseball team? Are you so complacently mired in losses and despair that you’d rather focus on what didn’t happen rather than what did? Are you so cozy with the errors that the Mariners have made as an organization in trades and deals and training and coaching, and rushing minors up to the majors that you are totally all right with sitting there behind your computer screen whining about how a team won a game?!
That quote from Nelson Cruz up there isn’t just a thing he randomly said to encourage a press corps member; that was something he really and truly believed. Something he knew in his heart that was going to happen because he’s a professional baseball player, and sometimes (just sometimes, of course), professional baseball players know things about their job. And around the time he was thinking that, he was having this conversation with his pitcher, a pitcher who had a less-than-stellar day:
When was the last time you remember players – our players – talking like this? I mean, we had a little spark of it at the tail end of 2014, but this feels like joy. This feels really amazing. This feels different to me. And I don’t think I’m alone.
It’s just a month into the season, and the Mariners are playing good, fun to watch baseball. Meaningful baseball. Baseball that counts. Baseball that seems to be pointing towards ending the season on a postive note, if they can keep it up. And we all know it could fall apart at any second; we know this because we’re used to it. But think about something for a moment. What if…what if it doesn’t? What if everyone stays healthy? And if they don’t, what if we have the right kind of depth in Tacoma to make the injuries not hurt the whole picture that much? What if all that talking and culture-building that Scott Servais and Jerry Dipoto did down in Arizona is making a difference? What if these guys are the real deal? Look at these guys. Look at their little faces! Look at them! Do you want to be the person who complains about how they win? I don’t. I want to buckle up and settle in for the ride. Let’s do this, you guys. Let’s make this happen.