[Note: The Lookout Landing staff had the fortune of embarking on a rare group outing, and were thus unable to recap this game. As such, a guest recapper is here to sprinkle your evening with inconsequential dollops of baseball.]
Does the pitcher’s mound in a major league ballpark feel different than the pitcher’s mound at any other level?
Obviously the atmosphere is different - a crowd of thousands, even on the sleepiest of Tuesday nights, versus clusters of fans whose intermittent cheers fight with the screeching of the crickets. But I wonder, when Andrew Moore closes his eyes for a second, if he could be transported back to Corvallis?
Does the dirt in the batter’s box beneath Kyle Seager’s cleats crunch differently than it did at Boshamer Stadium, as he shuffles and swivels into his stance?
Surely the outfield grass must cushion Braden Bishop’s footsteps differently than the turf of Husky Ballpark, but has the soft sting of the ball landing in his glove changed?
Seager’s name was called by the Mariners a decade ago, in the third round of the draft. Four years ago Moore and Bishop’s names rang out in the second and third rounds, respectively. Their successes have scarcely been linear, and that was writ large today. Moore pitched admirably, going 4.2 innings and giving up three earned runs - all from home runs - but it had been nearly two years since he’d last appeared in the majors. Seager, playing in just his eleventh game of the season since hand surgery, came inches from a homer in the eighth (though the game was a feels-already-out-of-hand 11-5 at that point). Bishop got the start in center field, but was mysteriously replaced by Mallex Smith in the fifth inning.
Earlier today, before the big league club bullpen succumbed to an ailing Astros offense, despite Daniel Vogelbach’s most earnest efforts, the Mariners drafted eight new players into the organization between the 3rd and 10th rounds of the 2019 draft. Much like Kyle, Braden, Andrew, and the hundreds of others who have come before them, their pro baseball dreams will begin with Seattle.
Soon we will return to our hand-wringing, to our worries about leg kicks and arm slots and tendons and timelines. If these prospects are fortunate - if the injuries can be kept at bay, if real life doesn’t intrude, if they can simply manage to stay in the organization - we’ll spend years agonizing over the minutiae of their games.
For some, though, their draft day will be the apex of their professional careers, and they’ll never have the opportunity to learn the answers to those differences in playing on a major league field. But for these few days we all get to share in their untarnished moment of triumph. As Kazuo Ishiguro considered in The Remains of the Day, “If some of us are prepared to sacrifice much in life in order to pursue such aspirations, surely that in itself, whatever the outcome, is cause for pride and contentment.”
And hey, while I have you all here and the staff are on a rare night off, a moment of gratitude for all the work that they do. It’s become obscenely cliche to talk about “the grind,” but covering this team can feel like slogging through a marsh just to get to a mud pit. The writers sacrifice a lot - sleep, time with their loved ones, remaining strands of sanity, etc. - to share Mariners content that manages to be thoughtful, creative, and entertaining despite the organization’s best efforts. We’re so, so lucky.