76-68

Mariners Fan Steve: Hey, Joe, I've got a question.
Mariners Fan Joe: Shoot.
Mariners Fan Steve: At the end of the game, when the Mariners win -
Mariners Fan Joe: ...I don't understand.
Mariners Fan Steve:
Mariners Fan Joe:
Mariners Fan Steve: When they don't lose.
Mariners Fan Joe:
Mariners Fan Steve: When they have more points than the other team.
Mariners Fan Joe: Oh yeah, I've heard about that.
Mariners Fan Steve: When the Mariners have more points than the other team, what's that thing you do?
Mariners Fan Joe: Huh?
Mariners Fan Steve: That thing you do with your mouth. To express contentment.
Mariners Fan Joe: Oh man.
Mariners Fan Joe: Smile?
Mariners Fan Steve: No, no, that's not it.
Mariners Fan Joe: Um. Geez. Chuckle?
Mariners Fan Steve: No, not chuckle.
Mariners Fan Joe: Flash those pearly whites?
Mariners Fan Steve: Haha, no
Mariners Fan Steve: It's on the tip of my tongue.
Mariners Fan Joe:
Mariners Fan Steve: Dammit what is it!
Mariners Fan Joe: I'm trying to think
Mariners Fan Joe: Thing with your mouth...
Mariners Fan Joe: Oh, hey!
Mariners Fan Joe: Not vomit?
Mariners Fan Steve: Yeah!
Mariners Fan Steve: Not vomit!
Mariners Fan Steve: When the Mariners have more points than the other team, you use your mouth to not vomit.
Mariners Fan Joe: It's fun not vomiting.

Biggest Contribution: Adam Jones, +30.7%
Biggest Suckfest: George Sherrill, -24.6%
Most Important AB: Betancourt single, +38.5%
Most Important Pitch: Piazza single, -34.5%
Total Contribution by Pitcher(s): +13.3%
Total Contribution by Hitters: +36.7%
Total Contribution by Opposition: 0.0%

(What is this chart?)

If you'll allow me to break character for a moment -

To most of us, these games don't mean anything anymore. We'd all like to see the Mariners win, but in the end it doesn't really make any difference, and no longer are we going to let the final score determine our mood the next day. If we watch, we watch because we love baseball, and we watch to see guys like Felix and Adam Jones, but we don't watch with a real strong emotional attachment. Not now, not after the slump that killed any hopes of seeing October.

In a like-minded environment (you're all here for a reason), it's easy to forget that not everyone shares the same feelings. Not everyone takes the same approach to the Mariners that we do. For one example, in the bottom of the fifth inning, the FSN camera panned the crowd and settled on this little kid sitting next to his dad, who'd bought him a new hat before the game:

If this wasn't the kid's first-ever Mariner game, it was almost certainly close to it, and I'm guessing it was definitely his first cap. In other words, it wasn't just another ordinary day in his life. This was something special, the kind of day he'll remember for a long, long time.

I think we all remember the first few Mariner games we saw in person. Let me tell you, when I saw my first, I couldn't have cared less about the context of the season, or who the players were on the field. All I wanted was to see the Mariners win. They did, and to this day I still treasure the memory. For as long as I live, that meaningless day in Mariner history is going to be one of the top baseball experiences of my life.

On the way to Safeco tonight, I'm sure all this kid wanted was a hat and a win. He got his souvenir, and on top of that, thanks to Adam Jones, Yuni Betancourt, Jose Vidro, and the rest of the team, he was also given a memory that'll last a lifetime. From the drive to the park to the team store to the celebration to the excited trip home, he probably couldn't have had a better day. All because of a game between two teams going nowhere. You and I may not care very much anymore, but for every new fan that's made between now and the end of the year, they'll always reflect on this September as being a truly wonderful month.

Alternate ending: that kid just made a devastating mistake in falling in love with the Mariners. Better parenting would've guided him to a more successful, less condemned organization. It's always sad to see such potential go to waste.

I don't care who you are, walk-off wins are always totally boss. In a flash, all the bad pitching, all the mistakes at the plate, and all the embarrassing defensive miscues are forgotten as you jump out of the dugout and bumrush the field. Yeah, on the one hand it took us three tries to beat the Sacramento River Cats by the slimmest of margins, but on the other, if ever there were one game that could help us close the book on one of the most humiliating chapters in franchise history, this was it.

Man. It's about damn time.

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