The Mariners played baseball tonight and casually beat the Oakland Athletics at home. The stakes were low, even with the A’s technically in contention for a Wild Card spot, but Marco Gonzales threw eight strong, bullpen-icing innings and the bats did more than enough damage to sock away a morale-boosting victory.
My 2-year-old daughter threw a pitch to me for the first time today. I play in a wiffleball league (#LGSC) and this season I decided to finally buy a wiffleball bat and some balls and do some practicing between games when I can, but also I figured our kiddo would enjoy playing with them, as well. She loves to drag the bat around and hit balls with the skinny end like she’s golfing. But today, it was like a little something finally clicked after watching me and my teammates play wiffleball in the park so many times. I had the bat, so she stood 6 feet away or so and threw the ball at me, unprompted. I politely bunted it back to her, and she repeated the process three times before finding something else fun to do. It was just a small moment, but it was special.
Later I saw my dad pick up the bat and hit a few lazy pop ups across the yard, trying to get the dog to chase them. It made me further realize how beneficial and joyful it can be to have bats and balls laying around the house. As someone who inundates himself with baseball games and all the baseball news, happenings, and social media shenanigans that go with it, it’s easy to become removed from the actual physical game itself. As you get older and you become more focused on your family and your work, making time to play games tends to fall to the wayside. Today was a reminder that throwing a ball around and hitting a ball with a bat is a pure and true thing. It’s not an obligation, it’s a privilege and if you have the time and space to play it, then your life is going just fine.
I really just want to talk about three things in regards to tonight’s game. The first one is MLB ALL-STAR Daniel Vogelbach’s home run, during which I folded a load of laundry while the ball was still in the air.
That Vogelbach moonshot had the third highest launch angle of any Mariner HR since 2015 at 43 degrees. Nelson Cruz had a 45-degree launch on a HR in 2015 and Leonys Martin had a 44-degree launch in '16. #funwithStatcast— Greg Johns (@GregJohnsMLB) July 7, 2019
Get after it, my son.
The next thing is our beleaguered and long-tenured third baseman, Kyle Duerr Seager, who is 31 years old. Kyle had a good game tonight, as he followed Vogey’s dinger with a 2-run right field blast of his own to give the Mariners the lead. And then he even kindly added another run with a sac fly. Seager may in the twilight stage of his productive years as a ballplayer, but he’s still out there giving it his all and I appreciate that.
The last thing I want to talk about is Marco Gonzales. As a somewhat soft-tossing lefty, when Gonzales is working his stuff and his defense is on point, he can easily work deep into games and tonight was no exception. He gave up two runs through eight innings, striking out six and only walking one batter. Marco’s has had his fair share of rough outings this season, but when he’s on like tonight, he can sure shield the team from a lot of damage. It’s also easy to forget how good he was in March and April of this season, since that feels like it was 100 years ago at this point.
As much as we talk about low stakes and a lost season, it’s also good to remember that such phrases mean absolutely nothing to the ball players out there actually playing the game, like our erstwhile fireballing starter, now crafty occasional closer Roenis Elías.
Baseball is true. Baseball is good.