There couldn’t have been a more perfect night for Mariners baseball. The sort of day that tricks fools into moving to Seattle, with a technicolor clarity to the seemingly-endless mountains, water and sky. The starting nine took the field in their classic home whites, doing their best fellas-next-door impression, and when Logan Gilbert toed the rubber the 9,880 fans in the stands roared like they were quadruple that.
One 96 MPH fastball to Cesar Hernandez, one flyout to Mitch Haniger in right.
Another 96 MPH heater to Amed Rosario, this one a called strike, then a 95 MPH four-seamer out to Haniger once again.
Jose Ramirez took two balls, including an outing-high 97 MPH fastball just outside, swung through 96, fouled off 96 and then flew out to Kyle Lewis.
Jarred Kelenic, hitting leadoff, stepped up to the plate for his first time in an MLB uniform and immediately swatted an outside fastball down the line...
With each pitch and each play of that inning of firsts, the crowd seemed to scream themselves hoarse, and as I listened on the radio I felt an old giddiness sneak into my bones. The good feelings didn’t last long (Gilbert took his first career loss after four innings and 71 pitches, relying too heavily on his fastball and giving up four earned runs (though also striking out five and walking none), Zach Plesac carried a no-hitter into the eighth) but they were there.
Under the very best of circumstances, Mariners fans assume nothing. Quite often, we assume the worst. And yet there’s still something that keeps us returning year-by-year, running like a faulty wire through our souls. For some it’s hope, others it’s self-flagellation, and many vacillate somewhere in between. We anticipate no rewards, and carry no sense of entitlement towards goodness; the passion is still strong, but there is no confusion about the one-sidedness of this relationship.
So we pocket smaller glories like tonight’s debuts with a different tenderness than most; tucking them away with the cool-looking rocks and the smooth bits of sea glass and the maybe-used tissues, toying with them absentmindedly as we go about our lives.