Were this a traditional sports website, I may start this recap with something like this:
After striking out Josh Donaldson to end the ninth inning, Mariners' closer Fernando Rodney reached back to grab his 45th arrow of the season, launching it over the Safeco Field wall to tie a Mariners' franchise record for saves while bringing his club within a half game of tonight's rivals, who lead them by only a half game for the top Wild Card spot.
"No, I didn't know," said Rodney, when asked about tying Kazuhiro Sasaki's all-time Mariners' record of 45 saves in a season,"but I just kept thinking that we have a few more games to play against these guys, and hopefully the week will bring us more chances to find the arrows as they land."
Well the Mariners did their fair share of finding arrows, as Logan Morrison, Kendrys Morales, and Robinson Cano all went deep for solo home runs to keep the Mariners on the board against the pesky A's, who find themselves on in the middle of an all-time collapse all while seeming ready to pick right up where they left off last season with a home run off the bat of Adam Dunn, or from a diving grab in right field into the glove of Josh Reddick.
I could do that, and while saying I'm not going to seems foolish because I just did, I'm not going to keep doing it anyway. In fact, I could parody any sort of famous writer associated with the Mariners.
I could talk about payroll and front office instability and the need for a unified vision. I could do all that and then talk about the Expos and TV deals and then grind my teeth a little bit on Twitter and in buried ledes. I'm not going to do that.
I could give insightful little quotes from my crazy talent of asking interesting, probing post-game questions as one of the only female members of the Seattle sports media while invading the old boys' club, proving myself to be a better journalist than I am often given credit for, which is a damn shame, a goddamn shame. I'm not going to do that because I'm not that, and I don't want to pretend to be.
I could throw back a glass of Crown Royal while dealing with inane trolls on Twitter as I just try to do my job. They give me the lineup and I am *literally* paid to convey that information to you, but I have to deal with absurdity on a Kafkaesque scale and with that sentence I haven't even begun to talk about Kendrys Morales. I'm also not going to do that either, because clearly this isn't me.
I could give you MLB.com published analyses of James Paxton's great night that saw him going six innings with eight strikeouts and only four hits.
I could argue ERA from commenters on my website and Twitter. Or retweet people that complain about this and that and just shake my head in utter disdain, slowly realizing that a newspaper paycheck isn't enough to cover up the experience of covering two franchises run into the ground during the past ten years.
I could be super optimistic and meet all the other Lookout Landing writers before the season in the 'Pen happy hour and be the only one that predicted 90 wins in 2014, possibly correctly, infuriating many.
I could stop writing about the Mariners and only make occasional jokes from various avenues to make it clear I'm still following the team I spent so much time with despite the fact that I surrendered the keys to the best damn baseball website in the country and also learned how to breathe and let my heart rate come back to a normal, healthy standard.
I could do all those things, but I'm not going to do any of them (except for maybe totally rip off the last guy with everything I try to write) because I'm someone else--not a journalist, not a writer, not a media professional. Instead I'm some guy that grew up watching this baseball team be the worst baseball team next to the Royals (hah) and now they are one of the best baseball teams (like the Royals, goddammit), and it's exciting as hell. So I'm going to just be a fan, and cover these next couple of weeks like that. Cover tonight like that. Just have fun.
As many of you know, I've moved to the East Coast to start grad school, and it's been increasingly difficult to follow the M's in the process. But games like this--three and a half hours of James Paxton owning the (on paper) best team in the AL while free-agent Mariners hitters knock in a bunch of dingers--are fucking fun as hell. So enough of all that stuff above. There is half a month left to get into those details. We have some incredible baseball writers following this team and this franchise, and I would be foolish to think I'm anything other than a fan incredibly ecstatic that his team is relevant for only the third time in his lifetime--and honestly, 2001 doesn't even count. So onto the bullets.
- James Paxton had a great line tonight, suggesting that he is *ready* to go into the playoffs, should they come. Of course, *ready* doesn't quite show that he had a bunch of trouble locating the strike zone tonight, and even loaded the bases with walks in only the third inning. But he fought through the trouble and ended the night after six innings. Those three walks, which could all be attributed to either stress, another lefty zone, or just wait he's still technically a rookie, shouldn't be something you are too worried about. You know why? James Paxton hasn't given up an extra base hit in 112 batters. He is trotting out a handy ERA of 1.83, and ERA is stupid but he's also trotting out an xFIP of 3.31 and oh, James Paxton might be really good. He also has a loveable dad gut and has a propensity towards pancakes and strawberry syrup. In short, he's the trade-deadline trade the Mariners should have made that they didn't have to make. And now they might make the playoffs.
- As you may have heard, Robinson Cano and Kendrys Morales and Logan Morrison all hit home runs tonight. Those three dingers would be all the Mariners would need to win the game, but Mike Zunino also hit a lucky "double" that was really a botched fly ball in the A's outfield that suggests the recent struggles they have been having may be due to some sort of computer virus that infects the A's players now that they have all been replaced by computers that try and fit Billy Beane's shit into the real world. Should've thought of that, buddy, rather than listening to your daughter play a song on the guitar or take advice from Jonah Hill, you idiot.
- Mike Zunino is a professional baseball hitter, but he's also a professional baseball catcher. His hitting is clearly taking a late-season dive, but wow you need to be glad that this person is behind the plate right now:
- The A's got a couple of runs, but you know, that happens sometime in baseball. Two years ago I plugged in headphones to my phone and opened the At Bat app during my Film History I course while we watched D.W. Griffith's Intolerance, and I listened to the A's defeat the Tigers in this insane 9th-inning comeback that was later immortalized into a bobblehead. Intolerance is like four hours long, and it's silent, and it might be one of the most absurd movies ever made, but as I watched those giant Egypt sets take form as Lillian Gish rocked the baby Jesus to sleep, I heard sounds of Coco Crisp and that obnoxious Oakland PA announcer leading forty thousand Oakland fans to cheer on their team that wasn't supposed to be in the playoffs in the first place come back from drowning in a swimming pool. I can't imagine what that's going to be like when Mike Zunino knocks in Kyle Seager from third in four weeks, but holy shit, I'm ready.
Two more games against the A's and then the M's take on the Angels. This is seriously the most important stretch of 2014 baseball, and if the M's go even a game over .500 then the playoffs are still in reach. Think about that for a minute. Even if this all comes crashing down, it's been so much fun. I'm sorry I didn't talk much about tonight's game, but you know what? Tonight's game wasn't really about tonight. It was about tomorrow, and it was about next week, and it was also about October.
And that's a lot more exciting than a good eighth inning by Carson Smith (which was wonderful).
Meanwhile, I'll see you in a few days. This is getting fun. Please all be here.