Well hot dang. A little over one week ago, the Mariners were rebounding after losing their first five home games in consecutive order. During the same amount of time as it would take for you to finish a single box of freezer taquitos (or not, what are you, a fucking sicko?), the tenor of the fanbase had shifted all the way from optimistic naiveté to pitchforks gathering outside Versailles. Some wanted Jerry's head, others were wondering why Scott Servais wasn't instead cleaning bathrooms in the clubhouse. Felix was already dead (not just on the way there), and my god, I bet Carson Smith already won the Cy Young too.
Well, the lesson we've learned from all this should really be that same lesson we have learned from watching middling mediocrity over the last fifteen years. Violent extremes feel great in the moment. Hell, that doesn't even make them wrong! But you see, baseball can move from a five-game losing streak where Competence looks like a word written in Aramaic to a quiet and slow march right back to relevancy (side note: this is what just happened).
Today the Mariners came out of the dugout and immediately started jumping on Angels starter Matt Shoemaker, before Wade Miley and the Adventures of the Traveling Strikezone had a chance to open the first page on their hopefully brief novelization. First, Nori Aoki drew a seven pitch walk, and then he made it to third after Seth Smith pulled a liner into left field. Nelson Cruz reached on an Andrelton Simmons error (which...), and then Kyle Seager decided that seeing as April is almost over it was time to go back to being KYLE SEAGER. His three run homer was also his third of the year, and if you've watched him play baseball ever before you know that things might start to get interesting here pretty soon. In case that's not interesting enough, then here's a photo of him wearing Wade Miley's beard:
Speaking of Wade Miley, well yeah I guess I *do* have to, don't I. Miley had himself not exactly a bad first inning, but really one of those innings that will occasionally happen when your baseball team is comprised of a once-in-a-generational talent and a locked-in-Hall-of-Famer in the middle of a collection of popsicle sticks and stale gum. With Trout standing on first, Pujols rocketed a 1-2 mistake over the left center wall. It traveled very far and Miley sure could have avoided it all had he located this pitch (and others). After the dinger, he walked Kole Calhoun, who scored on a Geovany Soto double mere moments later. In a heartbeat, a 4-0 lead had dissolved into a 4-3 nail-biter. Here's a picture of Wade Miley wearing Matt Shoemaker's beard:
Things eventually settled right on down, and Miley started locating a bit better. Shoemaker, for his part, did the same. Except then he walked Steve Clevenger to lead off the fourth, and Leonys Martin hit a ball 22 degrees (literally) off the ground which landed here:
It was Martin's third homer of the year, which is some strange power for a guy who we all expected to be a glove-first centerfielder. I mean don't get me wrong--that's seriously all we should have expected or even wanted out of the whole deal. Martin put up 3.5 fWAR in a 2014 season that saw him hitting only seven dingers--his third coming on the first day of June. With the caveat that he's striking out at either a 1. unsustainable or 2. troublesome rate, well...April 24th comes long before June 1st on the calendar. At least it does on mine.
Shoemaker had a hell of a time getting out of the inning, in fact wait, now that I'm typing this out, he didn't. Jose Alvarez managed to get Seth Smith to ground into a double play on his first pitch in relief, but the Mariners still managed to plate Marte on the play. It was 7-3 Mariners. Despite having that bizarre first inning, Miley really settled down and made it all the way into the eighth inning. I know you weren't exactly missing Jason Vargas, but I mean get this: his final line on the day was 7.1 IP with 4 runs, 2 walks, 3 Ks, and a win. He threw 98 pitches. He did give up two dingers, but one was to Albert Pujols and the second was his final pitch of the game, which landed here:
At this point, Wade Miley could be a one-and-a-half-win innings eater in the back of the rotation and the Mariners would still win the trade. That might be a little depressing but it doesn't make it wrong. I don't know if this means anything but for whatever its worth this really does not feel like the kind of trade Jack Zduriencik would have made. Those--you know what I'm talking about, those just fucking golden Oops-I'm-Using-A-Three-Year-Old-BP-Annual high-risk beauties. Jerry probably didn't know that Carson Smith was going to be spending the season in doctors offices, but even if he did, known, quantifiable value was exchanged not only for likely value in return, but with a deal whose biggest downside is but wait I had the other guy's shirsey.
Now, sure. This is a bit unfair--Jack also sprang some bizarre shit from time to time. I won't even rest on the obvious example here, Guti, but in years to come when you look back on Seth Smith's tenure as a Seattle Mariner I bet you'll accidentally think that Jerry Dipoto brought him over with the twilight of mental aptitude. Today, with his team up 7-4, Seth Smith came up to bat a few minutes after Leonys Martin fell victim to a misread double-up no-tag on the basepaths and turned a two-out meh into a two-run blast. It went very far, and it went very fast.
Seth Smith, meanwhile, kind of just slowly trotted from home to first, second, third and home again. He did all this without cracking his mouth more than half a centimeter. He didn't even really lean in the process, he just kind of bent a little at the waist, gently set his bat down, and ran at a speed so as not to disturb his gently-kempt hair underneath a batting helmet .05 sizes too small for his head.
At this moment, I don't think there was a single bead of sweat pouring out from Seth Smith's head, nor in those annoying parts that manage to become magnets for exhausted perspiration with in the advance of years. No, Seth Smith is neither a spry young chap eager to make his first Wheaties box, nor what you feel like after "shooting hoops" with your son, your knees burning in pain with two gigantic discolored blobs emerging from under each armpit. Seth Smith is instead that guy who always takes the nice corner treadmill at the gym and just kind of runs at about 5, 5 and a half--never slower, never faster. You know, that guy either reading a book with a rubber band to keep the pages set in or who has that fancy contraption set to hug his headphone cord to his body, because he actually thought about something ahead of time like a person with his life put together, you idiot.
As Seth Smith touched home plate he did not meet his hands with both of Nori Aoki's, waiting for him there. He did not point at the sky or kiss his first or clap and do that thing where he makes it look like he's an airplane taking off for flight with bent knees. He didn't do some big complicated arm gesture--can't keep up with these kids, despite their good intentions--and he did not point and yell. He did not meet his excited teammates at the top of the dugout with a roar, though they were, each of them, set as if ready to receive one.
He did not abstain from these things out of some sense of moral superiority. No. Seth Smith seems like the kind of guy who would be just as excited to root his youthful teammate on in a bat-flip as he would be when they have a two-for-one sale on cantaloupes. Because you see, Seth Smith is many things--a dad, a good baseball player, a multi-millionaire who could pass for a first-time homeowner while out at the Capitol Hill pop-up farmers market. And with the caveat that we contain multitudes, each of us--there is just something....magical about Seth Smith.
Seth Smith is one of the most vanilla baseball players in the world, and yet he's consistently good. If he hit lefties as well as he hits righties, he would have earned himself a big ol' contract and a few trips to the All Star game--and yet, just look at this guy. This guy is the guy that does the first one instead:
Seth Smith has taken over Chris Young as the mantle of Mariner Dad, and he's also, I think, the most boring Mariner I can remember since at least sometime in the nineties. And when you're talking about fifteen years of back-breaking, stomach-turning mediocrity, then boring isn't a pejorative word. No, it's downright celebratory.
Seth Smith: please, please continue to be your boring ass-self. Please continue to mash boring dingers 453 feet and then just kind of trot around the bases every few days. Please continue to sit against lefties and then show up on a Tuesday and quietly get the job done. Please hit boring doubles and rack up boring walks and get some boring fly balls that Michael Morse couldn't reach with a glove the size of Jupiter. Please continue to give little high fives like this one and by all accounts be a solid clubhouse guy and only eat up 6.5 million dollars on the payroll. I'm begging you, Seth. We've seen some shit, and I mean shit. You, good sir, are anything but.
And if you changed your mind and wanted to be less boring then here, here's a picture of you with Matt Shoemaker's beard.