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58-95, Game Thought

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Sad, or awesome
Sad, or awesome

The Mariners lost. Oh, no! I can't imagine there are actually people out there who still care. Grown people, anyway. Kids might still care, but kids care about everything, and kids can find the joy in everything, too. Fuck them kids. You'll matter when you're world-weary.

The story of the game for me - and the story of the game, I imagine, for most of you, too - was this:

2 IP, 1 BB, 3 K

RRS didn't allow a run. Adam Moore got two singles. Michael Saunders walked, and Justin Smoak singled, and Matt Mangini came up, and all that. I know. I know all that happened. But the only things I found myself caring about as the game wore on were the Major League debuts of Dan Cortes and Anthony Varvaro. And those debuts went about as well as they could've, all things considered.

It was Cortes who came first, in the seventh. Billed as the guy who could fall out of bed and throw 102, Cortes didn't actually reach triple digits with any of his nine pitches, topping out at 98. In a way, maybe that's a plus. We know Cortes can throw that hard. He proved it time and time again in Tacoma. But he didn't do it today, in the one game where he would've been perfectly justified in feeding off the adrenaline and overthrowing. That's...mature? I don't know what it is, but I'm perfectly fine with rookies maybe easing off a little bit when they get their first sip of coffee.

It's not like Cortes was lobbing the ball up there, either. He was sitting around 97-98, and it was an easy 97-98. It's hard to explain what "easy" means in that context, but you know it when you see it. There just isn't much visual violence or strain. And in addition to Cortes' fastball, he also cut a couple mid-80s breaking balls, one of which got Kelly Shoppach to miss, and the other of which froze Shoppach where he stood. Two groundouts and a strikeout later, Cortes was back in the dugout to soak it all in.

And then came Anthony Varvaro for the eighth. Varvaro hasn't gotten nearly as much attention as Cortes or Josh Lueke, and that's because he too frequently fights himself to throw strikes. We certainly saw that today, as seven of his 14 pitches missed, and he walked B.J. Upton on four straight heaters. But then you see the stuff, and you can understand why Varvaro has a spot on the roster. His fastball has fine velocity and movement, and his curveball is a true weapon. Sean Rodriguez and Matt Joyce were both caught looking by hooks - the first two big league plate appearances of Varvaro's career. Then came the walk, but Varvaro came back to get Jason Bartlett to ground out to end the inning. Another debut, another scoreless frame.

Sure, the Mariners were losers in the end, but that isn't what it's about anymore. It's about finding other things to enjoy, and there are few things I've enjoyed more over the past few weeks than watching Varvaro, Cortes, Greg Halman, Mike Carp, and Matt Mangini smile and joke around on the rail. They're ecstatic to be up with the team, and their enjoyment is infectious. You can't not root for them. Not after what we've all been through.

It's not even just about rooting for Cortes because he's a piece of the future, either. Mangini's got major question marks. Halman's got major question marks. Varvaro's got major question marks. Carp's got major question marks. If none of those four guys go on to have lengthy big league careers, it won't surprise me in the least. I know that none of them are great bets to stick around for the long haul. But, so what? It's nice to have new energy. It's nice to have some players who can enjoy themselves in a season so far gone. And even if they're questionable talents, it's nice to have some glimmers of hope. That's what can make a bad team's September so much more fun than a bad team's August. A bad team's September, with all of its new youth, is like getting a head start on spring training. There's hope again. Not for the immediate, but for the days to come.

We've been waiting a long time for these call-ups. They had the nerve to go and win the PCL championship, which set us back. But now they're here, and given that Daren Brown's the man in charge, they're going to play at least a little bit. For me, that's a reason to keep tuning in. When Jamey Wright freezes a guy with a big yakker, nobody cares. When Anthony Varvaro freezes a guy with the same pitch, you wonder. It's fun to wonder.