Fridays at Safeco is delayed today due to my sleep schedule and a post-work appointment, but I will try to complete it before the day is over. Hopefully as I’m watching the tail end of the Mariners game in Texas.
I have some thoughts on the Mariners performance through the second month of baseball season, but I’m not sure I can properly articulate them all. Last night’s game featuring a Kyle Seager bomb, and a Dae-Ho Lee pinch-hit 3-run blast (literally, into the second deck of Petco Park over left field) was mind-blowing in it’s mind-blowing-ness. I had to work late, but got home during the course of the 7th inning. Daniel was texting me that they had started the turnaround, and I clicked the TV on just after the dinger. After working for some 13 hours, it was really hard to wrap my head around what was going on, and without going into a play by play, the whole thing nearly defies explanation. The Mariners took a 12-7 game in the 7th inning, a game most people thought we would lose in the moment, and absolutely LIT. UP. Padres pitching, scoring 9 runs in the top of the 7th. This is even more amazing when you realize that in the top of the 6th inning, the Ms were down by 10 runs. The box score wrap on MLB At Bat is hilarious. Those are Mariners hits and Mariners runs. It’s unbelievable.
In the moment, as all of Mariners Twitter was losing their minds and verbally hugging each other last night, I posted this:
Now, I am very well aware of how other teams fanbases are perceived when their teams do well. To put it flatly, a lot of them look like smug jerks who feel entitled to the win column, and since I have a lot of fans of other teams that I follow and who follow me, I didn’t want us to be perceived that way. Mariners fans have had it rough. We’ve been promised so much in the last 8 years that hasn’t been delivered on. We’ve been told a New Day a New Way. We’ve been asked to Believe Big. We’ve been given reasons for trades that we didn’t think made a lot of sense, told to keep believing in the team when they lost 101 games twice in three years, assured that SABRmetrics were being used to determine low cost and high value, and fed excuses when things didn’t work out. A lot of us were excited about the changes being made going into this season, but wary all the same because so much has gone wrong, and we’ve been to this dance before.
But as the season goes on, I’m not sure we have been to this dance. This looks like it might be a new dance, a party at someone else’s house. I have already made new fan friends both online and in person, and watching them have as much of a good time with this as I have been is incredibly entertaining. I have been looking forward to attending games in person and have been pretty bummed out when I can’t actually watch them or finish them on TV (which unfortunately has been a lot more than I’d like this year). But you can feel it. Something is different. There’s a glorious blue and gray tint to the air we breathe, and it smells like cut grass and hot dogs and garlic fries. It smells like victory and glove leather, and dirt; and all of that is really weird and unfamiliar, but at the same time it’s been making my heart skip a beat when I even so much as see a baseball, bat, or glove. This is a different dance, and all of it makes me feel like maybe I’m crashing a party that I have no right to be at, but maaaaaan is it fun!
The Mariners, for their part, are doing baseball like I have never seen baseball done. Not only the way they have won games, or the fact that they’ve won them at all. This organization has taken a bunch of athletes who were more or less not totally acquainted with each other – even when they were on last year’s roster – and put them in situations where they are getting to know each other and having fun doing it. This is not just a group of guys showing up to work every day to get paid. These are people who know and believe in each other, who work hard and hold each other up. It’s maybe the greatest trust exercise in the history of trust exercises. It is absolutely amazing.
Will it continue? There is no way we can know. Felix is out on the 15-day DL right now, which is scary, but James Paxton is doing OK (the defense behind him on Wednesday notwithstanding), and we’re getting Leonys Martin back soon. Joel Peralta was just DFA’d , rather than being kept on in an infinite loop of try, try again, and Steve Cishek can be Fernando Rodney-esque in his closing duties, but not quite as terrifying. If everyone stays healthy-ish and our depth works out in the minors, I don’t see any reason the momentum cannot keep going. I am cautiously optimistic; but I am optimistic, and that might be the first time I can honestly say that, unclouded by my love for the game itself. I’m just going to say it; these Mariners are the Real Deal. And that is both terrifying and exhilarating, and I love it.
After one of the craziest games in team history last night, the boys are going to be in Texas to face the team that we are currently locked jaw in jaw with for first place. There may be a score to settle, given how we started out there, but only game time will tell whether revenge is exacted for the Chris Iannetta plunking, or if the Seattle Mariners choose to demonstrate retribution by simply winning. Either way, this weekend’s series is going to be a nailbiter for all of us watching at home. I cannot wait.
And if Mariners fans in other cities could keep getting behind the visitors dugout and chanting Kyle Seager’s name, that’d be fantastic.