You've probably heard by now that Brendan Ryan was traded to the Yankees. The trade came down in the middle of a crappy game against the Houston Astros on a random Tuesday night in mid-September. Two bad teams playing a bad game that a lot of fans of both sides weren't watching. To say Ryan's departure was unceremonious would be an understatement.
Mariner fans didn't get to say goodbye. This season was as rough for Ryan as it's been for the team. He was here, then he wasn't really here, and then he was gone. There was no chance for a thank you to the fans, or a highlight reel showing his greatest hits. No wave to the crowd in a final start, and no bleary-eyed press conference. Just a blip on the radar in yet another lost season from a team playing uninspired, terrible baseball. I was watching a movie. I scrambled to put up a post, but didn't have time to properly gather my thoughts. How could I? How could anyone? How can you sum up three years of memories in 20 minutes?
I didn't get to see Ryan's last putout. I didn't get a chance to appreciate his glove for a final time. Brendan Ryan is just...gone. I feel hollow and numb, like everything else this season has done to me. I hate it.
Ryan was always a favorite of mine, and many others within the Mariners community. I'm not sure there's been any other player since Omar Vizquel so well-loved despite being an offensive black hole. There was something delightful about a player who could provide 2-3 wins with his glove alone, despite the bat. Ryan wasn't much of a hitter to begin with. He slowly got worse, until it became so bad that the Mariners simply couldn't stomach it any longer, and a change was made. He was a man of two extremes. He began as the best defender at his position, and ended among the worst. It killed him. It killed us. If he could just hit a little, we said, he could be a star. He couldn't, and that's what made him so fascinatingly polarizing.
Outside of the dazzling glove work and elusively rare streaks of offensive contributions, Ryan is an enigmatic, bright personality. He's loved within the Mariners clubhouse, and everyone who's covered him has only had the best things to say about, without using cliches. Ryan Divish did a guest post for Baseball Prospectus back in May, and not only talked about his defensive brilliance, but his character. It seems like nearly everyone who watched him, whether they were close to him or far away, admired him.
When you're covering a bad baseball team in September, you look for little things to grab your attention. Taijuan Walker's first start, James Paxton's debut. Abraham Almonte's plate appearances, or Dustin Ackley's improvement. I tuned in for those moments, and I always kept my eyes open when Brendan Ryan was in the field, because you never know when something truly magical will happen.
Many times, magical things did happen. The Mariners were bad with Brendan Ryan, and they would have been bad without them. But they were so much more entertaining with him here.
I spent hours over the last few evenings putting together a collection of Ryan's greatest moments. It would have been easier if there weren't so many to choose from. Which barehanded picks? Which jump throws? This collection could have easily been three times bigger than it was. I made every single one of these gifs. They aren't in any particular order. Feel free to share them - let's just appreciate what Brendan Ryan brought to the Seattle Mariners.
Thank you for everything, Brendan.
Thanks for the memories.