It's hard to define what's normal. Normal, in essence, is an abstract word. Whatever the social norm is in the Midwest is different than what's acceptable in metropolitan cities and so forth. It's supposed to mean typical or standard, but what does that even mean? We live within the constraints of societal norms because typical is safe. Average is safe. Not standing out in the crowd is safe.
As baseball fans, we have tools to help us determine what the standard for performance is. There's wRC+ for batters and FIP- for pitchers, for example. If this is the first time you're skimming through this site, this might be new information to you. I encourage you to read up on these statistics at Fangraphs. But chances are, this isn't your first time at Lookout Landing. In fact, this is probably a part of your daily routine and you are well aware of the type of analysis that goes on here. You are probably also aware of the type of ballclub the Seattle Mariners are.
It's becoming normal to accept a Mariners' loss.
And it's so frustrating.
Felix Hernandez brought his good stuff today. It wasn't his best, but it was his Mariners best, and that's all that we can ask of him. Felix got hit around in the top of the first -- his breaking stuff was down, but it wasn't down enough. The runners that inning didn't score, and Felix continued to be Felix in the way that we know and love him. It's the Felix we didn't have to worry about. It's the Felix we never have to worry about.
It's everyone else we're worried about. It's the Seagers and Ackleys and Smoaks and Wilhelmsens and Medinas that cause Mariners fans so much anxiety. It's a roster decision. It's the injury bug. It's a pinch runner. It's a high leverage situation against a young Yoervis Medina. It's a bunch of little things that peck away at our calloused skin. It's the minutia of baseball that we used to enjoy. It eats away at our fandom until we can't take it anymore.
So we hit the gamethread. We get on Twitter. We post on Facebook. We read the comments. We do anything and everything to justify following the seemingly abysmal Seattle Mariners. We do everything we can to help us keep our sports sanity.
It would be crazy to think that Felix or Henry Blanco or Dustin Ackley never get frustrated. Of course they do. They're human. We want them to win so badly because we love baseball. They want to win badly because it's who they are. It's what defines them. For some 16-year kids from Venezuela, it's all they've ever known.
Fans and professionals have a breaking point. Word is that Mt. Wedge erupted post game.
To paraphrase Wedge: Enough w mechanics and practice, etc - they've got to f-ing hit when they need to.— Aaron Levine (@AaronQ13Fox) June 26, 2013
I can only assume a baseball manager's job is tough, but I am in no way qualified to assess whether or not Eric Wedge measures up to the golden standard of managers. And as a baseball fan, that's perfectly okay. I'm qualified to optimize SEO and tune guitars, but when it comes to managing a group of 25 thousandaires/millionaires, I'll leave that to the professionals.
Wedge knows these players better than any of us. If he thinks screaming and yelling is the best way to light a fire under them, I'll have to trust his judgment. We've all worked under different managerial styles, and for the Mariners, this is where they are at as a team. We'll never know if this was the right time for Wedge to do this, but barring the Many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, we'll have to accept it.
Here's the stark reality: There are some young players on the Seattle roster. Nick Franklin and Mike Zunino are both 22 years old. Dustin Ackley is 25. Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders are 26.
As a 27-year-old blogger, I'm reaching an interesting point in my life. I remember graduating high school and what I did after that. I toured with my band, lived independently and became my own person. I made mistakes and learned from them. I had successes that I shared with friends and family. I was growing up.
You know what Nick Franklin was doing when he was 18 years old? Playing professional baseball. It took me nine years to figure out how I wanted to live my life -- Franklin is only four years removed from high school and he's playing in the majors. That's not normal, that's not ordinary. That's amazing! That's incredible! It's something everyone dreams about doing, and he's living it.
Here's something pretty extraordinary: When you think about it, we get to watch these young players develop, and that's awesome. In what other facet of life can you say that? In what other circumstance would you want to? I don't want watch a CEO rise to the top of a corporate ladder -- boring! How about watching some young adults learn how to play the American pastime. That's something I can get behind.
I want to root for the Mariners. They are frustrating and unbearable but they are my team. I've experienced the ups and downs alongside them. It may seem like selective memory, but sometimes we need that to keep it together as sports fans.
So I'll try to enjoy the little things from today's game. Mike Zunino pinch hit for Brendan Ryan and got a hit. Woo! Felix Hernandez went seven innings, struck out 11 batters and only gave up two walks. Woo!
Sometimes the minutia is frustrating. It leads to overanalysis, regurgitated opinions and illogical reasoning. But sometimes the minutia is all we have.