facebook asking me why I don't want to see memories, "nostalgia is a dull knife at the achilles of present joy" not a listed option— Sorry Everyone (@sorryeveryone) August 20, 2015
During a game last week I was driving for work, listening to the game on radio. I don't remember the specifics but, as is so often the case this year, the Mariners were losing and losing bad. As the game drifted into its latter third, beyond all hope of salvage Rick Rizzs somehow (perhaps there was a stolen base?) found a connection to Vince Coleman. This was all he needed to launch into The Story of the 1995 Seattle Mariners (tm).
"Of course so many heroes in that September of 1995...."
I turned off the damn radio as fast as I possibly could. There have been crimes innumerable perpetrated by the Mariners but one of the most stomach churning has been turning 1995's joy into a kind of tentpole movie franchise. By seemingly responding to every seasons' failings with another attempt to horizontally expand '95's brand; be it a new giveaway, promotion, or appreciation night the Mariners have instead, through the best of intentions, largely burned through everyone's patience. People love to look have a reason to remember a beautiful memory. They like it less when they are told to do it. They like it far less when told to do it while the building they are in is on fire. '95 fatigue is real, and I understand it.
However I want to lean into that prevailing wind a bit. This morning, August 24th, 2015 I woke up and the first thing that popped into my head was Dave Niehaus. As a blogger of the team and supposed "superfan" or whatever these kinds of things actually don't really happen to me that often. Despite my love of baseball and the Mariners life with two kids, a mortgage and other trappings of daily life means that if I'm not writing about the team I'm usually not thinking about them.
Today, that was different. I could hear Dave ringing in my ears. You know the words. But you're going to listen anyway:
Chills. Every time. The farther I get away from those 6 weeks the more I recognize how formative they were for me and so many Seattle people of my generation. But this isn't about that. The preceding paragraphs hopefully gave that away. We're not going there today.
But I thought of Dave, and the reality of where I was 20 years ago today. I tweeted about it a bit and, as expected, got a fair amount of the "shut up about '95 the team is terrible" blowback. I understand it. The idea of "Lookout Landing" as a person is probably more abstract these days with our large staff and plurality of voices. So when I as "Lookout Landing" say "20 years ago today the 1995 story began" or some such people hear it as just another media entity telling them to ignore all of today's miseries.
Nostalgia and remembrance are not the same. Nostalgia longs for the past, at the expense of living in the present. Remembering is about acknowledging and honoring the past. I do want to remember 1995. It is a part of me, a gigantic portion of why I and many others are Mariner fans to this day. I don't long for it, but I do want to honor it, in such a way as feels natural and un-exploitative. I don't accept that because the organization in the past has attempted to blunt criticism by using some of my foundational sports memories as a shield that I am should treasure them less, or speak of them only sparingly publicly, for fear of arousing a tidal wave of angry, contrarian discontent.
Those of us who were in our formative years in 1995 are not old but neither are we young. We are well into adulthood at this point. Part of adulthood is accruing a hell of a lot of memories, both good and bad. There are many things about my life I wish hadn't happened, that I would gladly push down into some hole and try to forget. Watching a baseball team compress two decades of happiness into a month and a half is not one of those things. Maybe you weren't there. Maybe you are too young. Maybe you were there and you just disagree with me. That is ok.
A reminder: One of the very worst things we can do as individuals or a group of sports fans is attempt to rank, judge, or codify what it means to be a fan. There are as many ways to follow and gain enjoyment out of the game of baseball as their are people. One person's sacred memories are another person's cobweb-ridden relic. As for me? I'll remember, because it brings me joy. It marks where I have been, brings sanity to my surroundings and orients me towards the future. I'll remember because I love Dave Neihaus and that was absolutely one hell of a ride. You do what you will.