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The Bear and the Afternoon Fair

The view is actually pretty darn ok, even with the storms.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

1) We almost didn't go. I had tickets to this game since before the season started but in my phone it said this:

Mariners iCal

It wasn't until Monday afternoon I figured out that the game was a getaway matinee. Couple my poor planning with my family's schedule, a forecast calling for highs in the 90s and the team's general depressing play and we almost sat it out; my son has not yet manifested the deep love of the game his father has. But after straddling the fence for awhile and the game too close at hand to giveaway tickets, we decided to make it work. I was, to use the cliche, just happy to be there.

2) My son is 7 and counts Minecraft, Star Wars and not sitting still his three primary passions. It was the top of the 5th inning when, for the first time, he looked at me and said "Dad can we go home after this inning?" Age and parenthood make you a butcher of your earlier years' sacred cows. Once upon my early 20's I would heap scorn and mockery upon the idea of leaving a baseball game early. But today I simply said "After Iwakuma gives up a hit."

For three more innings this turned my son into a a short term Orioles fan, as he rooted for the single hit that would grant him freedom.

3) David Lough's 9th inning pop up honestly looked like it was headed 10 rows into the seats. There is the popular narrative that every no-hitter has at least one amazing defensive play in the late innings. I have no idea how well that narrative checks out with reality but there was, immediately, a noticeable earnestness to Kyle Seager's sprint towards that hip high fence past the dugout. You could practically see the thought bubble over Seager's thought bubble shaped head: "Get to the fence, find the ball, make a play."

He found the fence but lost the ball. Looking up he simply launched his arm into the void behind him, contorting his body into a 90 degree spin at close to top speed, inches from the wall. When the ball found that glove the noise came, that SEATTLE noise; a roar from a population that spends most of its time carefully considering which emotions are presented and to whom. That caution and deliberateness craves, it requires a release; we want something to just make us forget where we are, because on our own we so often cannot. It's why everything that happens just North of Safeco happens, and why we are so good at it. When Kyle Seager caught that popup we forgot. We screamed. We were not humans, just sound.

4) Has science, in all its breadth and wisdom, mapped out the networking that allows the human brain to experience and remember decades of life in the span of seconds? When Gerardo Parra hit that weak fly ball for the last out there was no drama. It was clear that we were moments from witnessing a no-hitter in full.


I thought of my grandfather, Elmer. After his death a few years ago my father and I emptied his house. It was a home he moved into for his last years and he had shed many of the trappings of his long, diverse life. The home was defined by two features: He was slavishly devoted to his cats, and there was an entire room packed to the brim with every kind of baseball trinket, program, hat and giveaway he collected over his 80+ years of life.

I thought of my father, who never, not one time, ever said no to throwing me batting practice or playing catch. I thought of him using our Compaq 386 to make a spreadsheet to keep full league stats for my Little League for two years, a compendium he freely shared with every coach, parent and league official that asked, simply for the joy of it. The love of something is not an accident, and it doesn't happen without nurture.

I thought, weirdly and perhaps sacrilegiously of Jeff Sullivan, the closest thing internet baseball writing has ever had and may ever have to a Dave Niehaus. When Felix threw his Perfect Game almost three years ago I remember being devastated that Dave wasn't there to call it, and overjoyed that Jeff was to recap it. I hope that the decade of doing this task that's worn me out completely in two months didn't preclude him from watching this, and I hope it brought him joy. He deserves it.


Mostly I thought of the little human being for whom I am almost wholly responsible for educating, feeding, loving and modeling a life for. He got into it, finally, as the 8th wore on. When the 9th came he stood on his chair to see, everyone stood up after the 8th, and roared for every pitch next to his old man. When Austin Jackson caught Parra's fly he threw himself at me, held on and began to cry. He cried the senseless wails we cry when the inputs to our senses simply overload our capacity to experience them. He cried the cry of utterly rapturous joy. He did not let go or stop crying until we were out of Safeco on our way to our car.

Sometimes, dads know what they're talking about.

5) I think Joe Posnanski nailed it when writing about that insane Game 162 in 2011 - "Baseball, like life, revolves around anti-climax." For Mariner fans we could easily substitute "disappointment" for "anti-climax." This season has been among the most bitter tonics any of us have swallowed, and we've swallowed gallons of the stuff. There is no guarantee that anything tomorrow will get better. We are not owed anything for past failures or suffering, there is no credit we are accruing that we can someday cash in. There is just belief, and love of the game. There is screwing up your calendar, almost backing out because it's all just too complicated and hard, before deciding that another day of it beats giving up.

It just comes down to continuing the journey, and choosing carefully what you take with you along the way.