The last time he was out there he was facing the same team, and he was throwing very fast and very well before he took off his hat and waved it at you, and then he walked into the tunnel and you had to wipe away tears from your eyes. Then there were days and weeks, even months, but if you really want to you can think about it like he just came back from that clubhouse door with a new uniform and a few new bodies on the club and picked right up where he left off.
Then again, we've spent a great deal of time thinking about the past in recent years. One time they called up Ken Griffey Jr. from the 90's and then they played some old home videos on the jumbotron, and he chatted with everyone from a stage near second base until well after the first pitch was scheduled to be thrown. But afterwards Bud Selig still forced everyone to play baseball despite the fact that heads were turned in the wrong direction, and the Mariners lost because they were a bad baseball team. I can't remember anything about that game besides the fact that it was awful, because my head, and hat, were also turned in the wrong direction.
Now the good news is that nobody is going to chew you out for bringing up game 162 from last season, because it really did feel like today was kind of just a continuation of it in a way. But it also didn't really feel that way at all, because the Mariners starting right fielder hit two doubles and a triple, and Dustin Ackley hit a dinger and his wax cheeks actually moved upward as the corners of his mouth bent in a smile, and also there was a new reliever who did this to Mike Trout on four pitches with two runners on because he's either insane or has nerves made of molten lava dried under the sun for seven million years in the middle of the desert:
Carson Smith vs Mike Trout (all pitches) http://t.co/lzlI6yVzY2— Jose Rivera (@Jose8BS) April 6, 2015
So you have two choices, really. You can think about last year or you could think about this year, and while I don't want to tell you how to follow your favorite sports team, I think it would be remiss not to mention that Lloyd had "Enjoy the Journey" posted above the tunnel leading to the M's dugout, and that it only really refers to one moment in time: today. Kitschy catchphrases can certainly make your eyes roll back in your head, but sometimes it's nice to hear one that's not YOU MISS 100% OF THE SHOTS YOU DONT TAKE or PAIN IS WEAKNESS LEAVING THE BODY /FLEXXXXXXX and instead have one that basically says Well, we are going to do this every day for half a year so don't waste all your energy on the first month.
I mean, don't get me wrong. Today gave us a swimming pool full of things to be excited about. Although Felix decided to give up a dinger to Mike Trout in his first at-bat of the season for the second year in a row, he struck him out the next two times he saw him, and one time he did it with a sequence of pitches that looked like this:
The King finished the day with 10 strikeouts and only one walk, and while the zone was egregiously large for both teams all day, he didn't really need it to get his work done. This was night and day to those horrible Spring Training starts. This looked nothing like a pitcher easing his way into his first start of the year, trying to racket up a few miles on his fastball and find the corners of the plate by the third. No, this was Felix putting his hat back on after last year's ovation and then getting right back to business and, ah crap wait no, do you see how hard this is?
The M's got the only two runs they would need in the third inning after Austin Jackson hit a double despite wearing a Mariners uniform, and scoring on a Seth Smith triple (who was plated himself by Cano a few seconds later). But then Dustin Ackley hit a home run and Seth Smith came back up to bat and remembered Mike Trout hitting that stupid home run and thought maybe i'll break his legs or at least make him look like a fool
the second part worked.
Of course the undercurrent of this whole story is that you should never hope for people to get hurt, and we all know baseball would be a lot worse without Mike Trout in it, and I don't want to claim any different. So I guess it was only proper that Trout would get his own revenge later in the game, albeit against a different Mariner:
Now the worst part about this is that it was a replay of the exact dinger hit by Trout himself in the first inning, except instead of being hit to left center it was hit to right center, and also Trout caught his because he actually tried.
Seriously, I don't really understand what Austin Jackson was trying to do here. Part of the problem is probably that Trout makes everything look easy and everything, but Jackson timed this like he had been pounding $6 dollar Rainiers before the game with a few marbles in his shoes. It wouldn't end up mattering much, and to be fair you or I probably couldn't jump a third as high as even Chone Figgins, but this is a Mariners blog, dammit, and we are here to yell and complain. Good Job, Good Effort. Or something like that.
Danny Farquhar gave up two hits in what appeared to be some residual spring struggles, and after Carson Smith's strikeout of Trout--easily the most important at bat of the game--Rodney came in to notch the save after, of course, walking the leadoff batter and lucking into a double play. Some things never change. Except that. Let's change that this season.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen. We've got a hell of a lot of these left to play, and there will be plenty of time for fanfic and surreal moments and bad photoshops and swear words (seriously stop emailing me to complain, it's getting unbearable), but the thing is that there was real baseball to talk about today, played by a team that you kind of have to take seriously for once. And that is a really weird feeling, one that may be harder to accept than winning, playoff odds, or All Star appearances by fresh faces up from the farm.
Nobody knows what's going to happen this season but I know that it will be fun spending it right here with all of you. Lloyd may have put that sign above the M's tunnel for the players, but I think that it would do us well to take each day as they come, to remember each loss can be followed by a win and that all the hype and expectation that has been poured on this team over the past couple of weeks should be tempered by knowing we have more than six months before we know if any of it will matter. So enjoy the journey. And if that's too dumb for you then just be happy Hector Noesi isn't on the Mariners anymore you heartless curmudgeon.