***EDIT: This was posted 23 minutes before Milton brought the Funk Blast back to the Safe in game-winning fashion. I would like to give a special thanks to the LL reader who printed this out on his Iprinter at the game and handed it to Mariner Batting Coach Alan Cockrell, who then handed it to Milton before his at bat as a motivator. I now consider myself worth about 1 WAR this year, and I am hoping to cash in on that as a free agent in the offseason.***
Isn’t it fascinating that I'm writing you a letter right now? Think about it. You’re a thirty-three year old professional athlete from Long Beach. I’m a twenty-eight year old attorney from a little town that’s on the outskirts of the outskirts of Seattle. We’ve never met. We don’t have much in common. We have different passions; different pastimes. You’re probably a little cooler than I am. Well, maybe not. I have my moments. If we hit on the same girl at a bar, she’d at least think twice. She’d go home with you Milton, don’t get me wrong, but she’d think twice. But you’re getting off topic Milton—we’re talking about the unpredictable twists of fate here. And I think it's pretty extraordinary, the long series of events in both our lives that have led to this: Me, sitting down on my couch with a cup of tea, writing a letter to you.
Don’t worry Milton, this is not hate mail. I don’t want you to get hurt, and I certainly wouldn’t be up to the task if I did. And even if I did, I wouldn’t write a random post on a blog about it. I’d probably dress up in a black ninja outfit and infiltrate the Mariner’s clubhouse and stick a note in your cubby, and then I’d take a few mitts and cleats and things to sell on Ebay on my way out and then I’d slip away to go fight crime or something, which is a little ironic, if you think about it Milton.
But that’s not what this is. I want you to do well Milton. I like you.
It’s weird. I started out just liking you out of self-interest. You see, as you may have guessed, I like the Mariners. Can’t get one by you Milton, ya detective you. I spend gobs of time thinking and caring about the Mariners; reading about them; watching them; sometimes I dream about them. Not in a weird way, Milton. That’s not funny. Just in the kind of way where you dream about the thing you were thinking about right before you went to bed. So, when you became a Mariner, of course I wanted you to succeed.
But somehow, this feels a bit different now. When you came over to the M’s, there were a lot of dumb fans from the Cubs and even some semi-reputable commentators who wrote snarky comments about how you are the Devil, or you’re a malignant tumor, or you’re not good at hitting baseballs with baseball bats. And I got all defensive and started thinking things like, “he’s not a malignant tumor…dummy! He’s awesome!” Though, truth be told, Milton, I did not actually know whether you were a malignant tumor. I did not really know all that much about you then. Only that you were ours. And that was enough.
Well, now you’re playing baseball. And there are men with cameras who film you when you play, and then the images are sent live to my home so that I can watch you. It’s pretty crazy Milton, isn’t it? Anyway, I’ve been watching, and rooting for you, ya know? Like I root for everyone else.
Well, Milton, you’re off to a rough start. And sure, you haven’t had that much of a chance yet, and we’re only eight games in or whatever, but you have swung and missed so many times Milton! Sucking in an ugly way has a much larger psychological impact on a spectator Milton, especially one who has been trying so hard to convince people that you are not a tumor.
But here’s the weird thing. You know when you root for a team, and then one of their players starts to suck, and then you hate that player, and you get mad at him for messing up your team, and then you cut out his head in magazine articles and glue them to your dog’s chew toy and cover it in peanut butter so the dog chews extra hard? You know about that Milton? Well, I don’t feel that way at all about you Milton. I have not seen many magazine articles with you in them lately to see if I could resist temptation, but I’m pretty sure I could. I still really like you!
I’m rooting for you on a personal level now Milton, not just cause you’re a Mariner. I watch you play and root for hits because I want you to feel good about yourself—not just because I want the Mariners to win. I get all defensive watching the Oakland fans hurl insults at you. I listen to your interviews and I tense up when they give you a tricky question that seems obviously designed to push your buttons. Then when you say something arguably inflammatory, I curse the biased mainstream media and their gotcha journalism. I know, Milton, I’m basically Sarah Palin! Good joke by the way. You are a pretty funny guy.
But, back to the point, all this caring that you hit, and caring that you not suffer a meltdown, and caring that you stay healthy, and caring that you not corrupt the fragile atmosphere of the Sweeny/Griffey Love Shack Clubhouse, has caused me to…well…it’s caused me to care about you too. Honestly, when I watch the game tonight, I’ll root for hits and runs and wins from the Mariner side, but I’m not sure there is a single thing I would react to with more emotion than a giant unbridled Milton smile.
So there, I said it. And here we are. Just two dudes, caring about each other. Well okay fine, just one dude, caring about another dude, who doesn’t even know about dude number one, and who might or might not be a malignant tumor. Nevertheless, it’s a rather extraordinary state of affairs, you must admit.
Sincerely, your friend,
PS, happy almost birthday Milton! Tax day baby, huh? You were destined for controversy.