In a few hours, Seattle will transform. It won't require hard hats and steel beams: no, this change is in temperature. Slowly, people clad in navy and white and green, cream and gold and royal, will find their way from office to the little spots beside downtown. For some, that bar, that friend's apartment, that car radio, is their final resting spot. For seemingly countless more, this is only the first stop. The noise will slowly rise towards the heavens. The roof is open, the sky is blue, and yet the volume only increases. There will be laughter, cheers, hellos from old friends. And then, in a brief moment of silence, there will be baseball.
This post isn't about anything. There's an emotion you, me, the handful of men wearing a Mariners uniform, and this entire city are processing. We haven't felt it in six months. But really, I don't think we've felt this in years, certainly not in April. There's something in the air. Something's different. Something's up. I'm nervous for tonight, but not scared. I'm too excited for the fourth game of the season. Maybe this post is about everything.
Since midday Wednesday, I've had trouble breathing. My heart feels stuck in my chest. It isn't healthy, but it's out of my hands. At 7:02 PM Pacific Daylight Time, Ken Griffey Junior will throw a pitch. I don't know who will walk to the plate, avoid the chalk, squat, and catch the strike, but I have a few ideas.
I keep playing the images of the last games in my mind. I keep seeing Seth Smith house call the second deck. Robby trotting around third, again. Chris fired up after taking a pitch to the thigh. Scott ready to roll. Leonys Martin scoffing at anyone who thought his bat died. There's Kyle making it all look easy at the hot corner. The bullpen is a rock concert.
The opening series wasn't an appetizer, it was a five-course meal of moments and emotions. The ninth inning on Wednesday could be its own documentary. Already, there is a gravity to proceedings that is indeterminably larger than the entirety of last season. This isn't jumping the gun; it isn't foolish to go all-in now. Tonight we are going to celebrate each other, this team, this city, this baseball. There will be ups and downs over the next months, but not tonight. No, tonight the M's cannot lose. It's already written. And that is as it should be, for there are so many hard memories to forget. So many bad streaks and poor rosters. So very many of us sitting at the end of the bench, head in hand.
But there's Taijuan Walker. A promise from long ago. Still here, better than before. Ready. But, so too are we. We are, forty-five thousand of us and more, ready. The sun is shining for what feels like the first time in years. The Seattle Mariners are coming home, and they aren't limping back. No, today we celebrate our generals by joining them in conquest. To the call of the loudspeaker, to a sun-drenched right field upper-deck, to Hendrix as we all reluctantly find the exits, to a sea breeze, salt air, to high-fives with strangers, we go. We are going home, for the first time, again.
I'll see you there.