20-23: We Continue to Wait

the end - Jason Miller

Today wasn't the day. Maybe tomorrow will be.

A couple of days ago, a gentleman some of you might know by the name of Jeff Sullivan cautioned Mariners fans to be patient. He was referring specifically to the Brendan Ryan benching, which drew some ire from the fanbase (and myself) at the time, and which has over the past couple of weeks sorted itself out. Ryan is back as the starter, and is showing signs of improvement. All the fuss was over next to nothing.

There's a danger in patience, however, or at least a danger in avoiding fuss. Because if we take the philosophy to its logical extreme, one could easily argue that many of the things we care about as fans are similarly negligible over time, to the point where wins and losses themselves become meaningless. Because everything is based on perspective, and tinged with uncertainty, patience leeches out the passion in a fan. Why spend a Saturday afternoon listening to a Mariners game that ultimately won't matter? Why read a recap? Why write one? Why care about baseball at all?

I don't think Jeff is saying that fans shouldn't be passionate. He's right; it's all too easy to lose perspective. But I do believe that while being too narrow in one's view can cause one to overreact to something like a Brendan Ryan benching, being too broad can be equally harmful. With this team, in this era, it can be so easy for the emotional fire to flicker and die. Joe Saunders nearly doused my own spirit with five-plus innings of eleven-hit, one-run baseball, a sort of water torture. But I persevered, partially because of my silly obligation to write this, and those of us who did were rewarded with two innings of legitimately exciting baseball.

For a couple of innings, it didn't matter that we were hoping for a single victory in mid-May by an also-ran baseball team. We didn't really worry how each play affected the M's playoff odds. We got caught up. (The actual, abbreviated recap in this article: the Mariners came back from 4-0 to tie the game 4-4 with three home runs, only to cough it up in the bottom of the ninth.)

There are countless different ways to approach fandom, and no right or wrong way to care about baseball. But from a communal standpoint, one of the greatest feelings is getting caught up, and we want to experience that wave from its very earliest moment, its origination. We wait for a time and a place for the story to start, where we can start constructing our own narrative of our fandom. Narratives get a lot of bad press lately, and certainly, they're really terrible if you're using them to make predictions. But there's nothing wrong with using narratives to frame our own experiences and create our own history.

Today, for a little less than an hour, it felt like this might, just maybe, be the beginning of a wave. The two-run home run by Brendan Ryan, of all people, cascading down the LL comments before my phone had reached through the internet to learn of it, was one moment.

It didn't quite work out. It usually doesn't, which is why it's so special when it does. Instead, we'll just wait a little longer.

Seemingly needless bullet points:

  • If there is such a thing as style in baseball, Joe Saunders is the absence of style. Every inning was a series of wounds, seemingly self-inflicted.
  • Justin Smoak increased his season OBP to .374. That puts him in the top-20 in the American League.
  • I'm going to disagree with Logan here and say that if Mark Reynolds wore a Mariners uniform next year, I‘d be perfectly content. At the right price, of course, which it probably wouldn't be. I'm probably overrating him, but from my viewpoint, his improvement doesn't look like all luck.
  • Asdrubal Cabrera has about as much faith in Raul Ibanez's defense as we do. He was halfway to third when Ibanez caught a fairly easy (albeit wind-deadened) fly at the wall, and got doubled off easily running all the way back to first.
  • Wedge's refusal to employ his best reliever in a tie game in the ninth inning was as frustrating as it was unsurprising. We've come a long way since Dave's letter found its way into Felix's hands way back when, but it's 2013 and we're still saving the closer. It hurts.

More day baseball tomorrow, beginning at 10:00 AM. Adjust your sleep schedule accordingly.

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