This season has been — in one word — disappointing. The Mariners entered the season amidst controversy regarding their playoff hopes and questions as to whether they should even be going for a winning season in an American League that looked unwinnable. They came out, and they played well, and they “silenced the haters.” For two or three months. And then they collapsed.
It’s interesting to compare a season like this to, say, 2012. The Mariners absolutely sucked in 2012. They had — checks notes — exactly nothing going for them. Yet, because I like baseball and because I like the Mariners, I watched most of their games through the entire disappointing season.
This season has been different. Maybe it’s the disappointment. Maybe the taste in my mouth is just that bad, that I can barely stomach watching this team. Maybe it’s just that their shortcomings are of the incredibly un-fun variety. The <5% BB% and >35% K% as batters variety. In any case, it hasn’t been fun to watch this team, so I’ve found myself no longer watching this team more than I absolutely have to.
Tonight, I absolutely had to watch the team, and tonight, they engaged in fun baseball.
For starters, they played the Angels. Just getting reminded of the Angels’ putrid 2018 existence usually cheers me up, so that set the stage for a nice background buzz throughout the game. Even as Erasmo Ramírez gave up three runs in the bottom of the first, the sight of Mike Scioscia felt soothing and ridiculous rather than enraging. Like some weird tomato tea tree bath bomb.
The game got fun (and weird) when Ryon Healy hit a bunt single to load the bases in the fourth inning. Yeah.
I’m sure Healy was as shocked as anyone. The bases were now loaded with nobody outs, and the Mariners couldn’t score. Sure. The great thing about being all-but-eliminated is that stranding three runners on base doesn’t all-but-raise-my-blood-pressure-to-the-point-of-having-a-stroke any more!
The Mariners finally did get on the board in the fifth, when Kristopher Negrón hit his first dinger as a Mariner!
Mitch Haniger would follow up later that same inning with a dinger of his own.
It was absolutely crushed, and it was splendid. Even though it’s not clear that the Mariners Twitter account understands the meaning of “Absolute unit.”
Tonight’s game really was all about Mitch Haniger. It was fitting. As the team around him has collapsed, Mitch has been one of the few players that has continued to produce on a near-nightly basis. He is one of the only reasons that we as fans shouldn’t feel completely despondent about the future of this team.
This season has slowly taken nearly everything that was good about the Mariners this season, and it’s turned it to dust. The exception is Mitch Haniger. Here, we see Mitch Haniger taking everything that the Angels have going for them (Justin Upton, Shohei Ohtani, and Mike Trout) and turning it to dust. I love him so much.
Of course, the Mariners did actually need to score more runs to win the game. Who could make it look more casual than Robinson Canó?
(Nobody. The answer is nobody.)
This season has sucked because too many of the singular games have sucked. This one did not suck. It’s weird, and clearly not quite rational, that we continue to regularly watch the team on the off chance that a game might not suck.
It sure does feel nice when it happens.