Celebrations

The Mariners are back at home tonight. You might not realize this, but of the 59 games the Mariners have played this season, 37 have been on the road. That's the highest total in baseball, with the Braves and Cardinals behind them at 34. On the one hand, that means the Mariners should be a little better going forward on account of home-field advantage, but on the other hand, I hope you enjoyed all those runs because there are probably going to be fewer runs.

Tonight, the Mariners kick off what the marketing department is referring to as the hottest June on record. This weekend the Mariners host the Dodgers, and the Dodgers have the best record in baseball by three and a half games. This is the first time the Dodgers will be playing in Seattle since July 2000, a three-game series the Mariners won two games to one, out-scoring the Dodgers 15-3. The Mariners' lineup in the last game of that series finished with David Bell, Joe Oliver, and Mark McLemore, and in the second game of that series, Eric Gagne started and lost.

The Dodgers are very good, they haven't been to Seattle since before the Ichiro era, and they're one of baseball's most classic, storied organizations. So I've decided to write some stupid frivolous bullshit about how Mariners pitchers celebrate after saves.

I won't take up too much of your time, although these .gifs might take up a lot of your time while you wait for them to load. There are people who are able to make smaller-sized .gifs that retain a lot of the quality but I don't know their secrets. I apologize, and, you're welcome, because this shit is free. So far this season, three Mariners pitchers have recorded saves: Brandon League (9), Tom Wilhelmsen (2), and Hisashi Iwakuma (2). Some guys have special celebrations after saves. What do we see from the Mariners?

Off the top of your head, you probably know that League has a little something he does. Below:

Leagueolivo

Nobody else in baseball that I've seen does something like this, and I've spent a lot of time looking at save celebrations. The grasping, the churning, the punching - none of it makes sense, so all of it makes sense, and it's about what you'd expect from a guy who has the personality we pretend that Brandon League has since we don't actually know Brandon League as a guy. Interestingly, League only seems to do this with Miguel Olivo. Here's League with Jesus Montero:

Leaguemontero

They come together, and they embrace, but nothing's choreographed. Here's League with John Jaso:

Leaguejaso

Kind of the same as with League and Montero. In fact, it almost seems like Jaso can't wait to get away from League and talk to somebody else. Look at how quickly they separate, and notice how they don't look at one another or smile after coming undone. Do Brandon League and John Jaso despise one another? On the Internet, this might be used as evidence, because the Internet is terrible.

Now let's turn to Hisashi Iwakuma. Iwakuma is recording a lot of firsts this year, on account of being a rookie, and here's how Iwakuma celebrated his first-ever Major League save:

Iwakuma1

Aw, look how happy he is, and look at his gummy smile. But of course, this wasn't a regular save, as the Mariners beat the Rangers by 13. But then Iwakuma recorded a real save in extra innings. That clip:

Iwakuma2

Aw, look how happy he is, and look at his gummy smile. And look at his super lame high-five. Hisashi Iwakuma comes away from these .gifs seeming soft and gentle which are qualities you don't ordinarily observe in guys who have saves. I wonder if Hisashi Iwakuma gives up hard hits because hitters ask him to throw hittable pitches and he's too nice to say no to them. Eric Wedge goes a long time without using Iwakuma because the coaching staff is still teaching him how to say no. A lot of us struggle to say no, especially to friends and family, but a lot of us aren't professional baseball players.

Now for Tom Wilhelmsen, who's more classic closer material than Iwakuma is:

Wilhelmsen1_2

This was Wilhelmsen's first-ever save, and interestingly he didn't go straight for his catcher. Granted, the last out was recorded on a grounder instead of a strikeout, but he celebrated with his infield before he was reminded to celebrate with his catcher. You can tell that Wilhelmsen is new at this because he wasn't aware of the standard closer protocol. You always go to your catcher, even if just as a formality. Then you can smile at everyone else.

The catcher greeting, once it happens, is generic. High-five, ephemeral hug. Some words are exchanged, or rather, some words are said by Olivo to Wilhelmsen, as Wilhelmsen leans in to listen. Here's Wilhelmsen after his second save, a couple days later, and this is also the biggest .gif. Oh no!

Wilhelmsen2_2

You always get the best view of a closer celebration after a game-ending strikeout. Wilhelmsen's immediate response is a fist-pump, but not a particularly animated fist-pump. It's like a fist-pump because somebody told him he should pump his fist in such situations. Wilhelmsen then walks in for the high-five/grasp-pull and hug, and then he gets a bonus head rub that it doesn't look like he was expecting. Olivo seems more amped about this save than Wilhelmsen does. Tom Wilhelmsen seems like a guy who speaks in easy monotone, with every sentence ending with an ellipsis. He has the stuff to be a closer, but he might not be excitable enough to be a closer. But then some people would say that's because he has ice in his veins, or because he's uncommonly immune to the stresses of the ninth. There are cliches for you to apply to anything.

This is how Mariners pitchers have celebrated saves so far in 2012. Your life has been enriched. Let's face it, whatever else you were going to do with these five minutes was probably really dumb. Stop going on Facebook. Always stop going on Facebook.

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