A year ago today I woke up in the same bed, in the same house, bright and early in the morning. Last year I rose with the sun thanks to a discombobulated internal clock, courtesy of having just driven 3,000 miles over the course of two days. This morning it was the result of an impromptu overnight at my parents’ house, and a 9:30 bedtime. Same, but different.
Just like I did back then, I worked intermittently throughout the day, wrote about baseball and ate dinner with my family. Last year the baseball writing was my work; today, I snuck it in at the end of the day, in the yawning hours of the evening. Same, but different.
On a beautiful Tuesday night in Seattle, we got a great outing from a beloved starter, and solid production from a team veteran and two offensive stalwarts. A young upstart homered, a vaunted prospect flailed, and a series of anonymous bullpen arms frittered a once-close game against the A’s away. Same, but different.
Tonight it was Marco Gonzales with the start, his first since returning from the IL, and he squeezed four innings and 50 pitches out of what reporters originally stated would be a three-inning outing. It was classic Marco, from the gorgeous change to the many strikes, to the weak contact and the fired up final out. Honestly, the game should have just ended after this.
Kyle Seager, the only true veteran of the offense, teamed up once again with Mitch Haniger and Ty France to power the offense with back-to-back-to-back doubles in the third. Those three and J.P. Crawford, the M’s first four hitters in tonight’s lineup, collectively went 9-for-20 on a night when Seattle had 11 hits overall.
Taylor Trammell, fresh off the plain from Reno and a torrid stint in AAA, demonstrated that his .726 SLG in Tacoma wasn’t a mirage.
Meanwhile, Jarred Kelenic celebrated the one-week anniversary of his last major league hit, and the anti-Cerberus of Hector Santiago, Paul Sewald and Daniel Zamora combined to give up nine runs over four innings.
Same, but different.
By now we’ve all experienced our fair share of bad baseball, and countless Mariners-related disappointments. It can be tough - if not impossible - to greet every new year with an open mind, free from the shackles of previous years. Baseball is an old game. For all that there are still new and spectacular ways to fail at it, that doesn’t make the old standbys any less viable, and the cyclical nature of the sport only fuels this infinite funhouse mirror effect.
We spackle our fears of failed potential atop new faces, and surround standalone excellence with titans of the sport. Past actions impact present performance, certainly, but sometimes it feels like we, as Mariners fans, cheer on each new season with an increasing copse of albatrosses draped ‘round our necks.