From the Couch of a New Fan

All my friends hate baseball, and I don’t really have anywhere or anyone else to say this to, so if you guys don’t mind, I’m just gonna dump every single thought I have about this team right here. I’m hoping my bright-eyed, naive point of view might be refreshing to some, but maybe that’s just wishful thinking. I’m probably just talking to the void, but it’s nice to get it all out of my head and onto paper.

First off, I’d really like to thank the folks at this blog for their wonderful writeups of every single game, relentless optimism, and genuine dedication to this team, community, and goodwill to all baseball fans.

This was my first season as a baseball fan. I couldn’t stand baseball for most of my life, only eventually finding it interesting through the works of Jon Bois. When his and Alex Rubenstein’s Mariners doc came around, I loved it, but still never really followed the sport like I did football or basketball. For some reason, I chose this year to try and get into baseball, and why not pick the team that made me interested in it? Not to mention I just like rooting for underdogs.

I started out knowing absolutely nothing. I wasn’t really sure what good or bad baseball looked like. What to think of any stats I saw. What to expect out of any given plate appearance. I knew not of the Mariners’ current players, not of their near miss of the postseason last year. I knew of the drought, but of course I didn’t know it personally. I wasn’t even alive the last time the M’s were in the postseason, and I live in Southern California. Shoutout to MLB TV for giving free access to college students. I didn’t understand the pain and apathy the rest of you strong, stubborn, fine folks have stayed true to the blue through. After a disappointing start to the season, 10 games under, I assumed I would soon begin to know that feeling through my TV screen.

And then the M’s fought the Angels.

And then they rattled off 14 wins in a row.

I bought a hat, to the amusement of my family.

And then I watched that 13 inning game against the Yankees. That was the moment I was fully hooked, in love with this team with no chance of turning back.

I annoyed the hell out of my family by running around my house yelling when Julio and Geno hit those bombs to bring it back in the 9th against the Braves.

I managed to see Julio, Ty, and Carlos hit dingers live one night in Anaheim, and got to hurl expletives at Jesse Winker for his outfield antics.

I watched Big Dumper’s Biggest Dump Of All (bought his jersey), the comeback in Toronto, and then the Mariners fight damn hard in 3 close games that everyone else expected to be an absolute stomping.

I’m not satisfied. This is a squad that has proven it can win big games and I can already see the great things this team will do in the next few years.

But am I unhappy about it? Hell no! There were some goofs and gaffs and bad baseball here and there but hey, overall I think I had a good time. I’m enjoying baseball. Cool little sport y’all got here.

While I didn’t know the breadth of the Mariners drought, I do have my own apathy to relate with. I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan (long story) and I haven’t seen them get to the NFC championship in my life. No playoff drought, but nothing but first round/wild card exits. Bad Analogy Incoming: I like to think of Tony Romo as the Cowboys’ King Felix. Anyway, I haven’t felt much of anything at all, positive or negative, about the Cowboys since the Green Bay Tragedy of 2014, so finding myself engrossed in an entirely new sport where I was ready to feel things, good and bad, was wonderfully refreshing. I’m glad I found baseball.

This team helped me learn the ropes of the sport this year. The emotions of it. It’s incredibly unique in comparison to football or basketball. And I loved every minute of it.

I didn’t come in with any real opinions on any other teams. I knew to hate the Yankees, as is the duty of every true red-blooded American (like how most hate the Cowboys or Patriots) and I knew to hate the Astros, because they’re dirty cheaters and never really paid for it.

But the biggest thing I learned in this here first season of mine in baseball fandom is that I don’t really dislike any teams in particular, at least not the players. I kinda like the Yankees actually. It was awesome watching Judge chase history and they have some players that are tons of fun to watch (idc how annoying it is to some, everything Nestor does is absolutely hilarious and I want more of it).

And I don’t really hate the Astros.

I mean, I hate them because they’re our division rivals and stupidly good and just swept us and also Cheated That One Time, but they’re so many personnel changes removed from all that. I can’t be mad at all of these players who had nothing to do with any of the scandal. What are these new guys supposed to do, not play their hardest? I can’t bring myself to try and take away from the exceptional ability of Alvarez and such.

An exception, of course, is Altuve, who I’m sure we’re all happy went 0-16 in this series.

But no, I don’t really hate the Astros as they are now. Some of their former (and a few current) players who went along with with the trash can banging and didn’t say sorry until they got caught, and never really seemed very sorry at all, and never really got punished, of course I hate those guys. A few I think are seriously remorseful, but I digress. I don’t hate any of the fresh faces. That team is plain old damn good.

And I don’t mind all that social media stuff. In the end, whoever wins is gonna talk shit. Par for the course in sports.

I mostly just hate their fans. I doubt I need to explain why; people on the internet spend an astounding amount of time and energy to go out of their way to really suck.

Just as many, though, I found to be perfectly normal. I mean, think about how literally cheated everyone felt when it was found out the Astros sullied the integrity of the game to win. Imagine how that must have felt for Astros fans. Learning that your joy of success came from such illegitimacy. Having to reconcile with that and still be a fan of your hometown, once-lovable-underdog team. It’s gotta just be confusing and a bit heartbreaking. I feel for em a bit.

But a lot of them online still are just assholes. Oh my god, such huge, gaping assholes.

Maybe baseball needs a pure villain. Maybe they like being hated by everyone. They can do their thing, I guess. After this post I probably won’t think about them much.

Even so, many of the Mariners fans I encountered on the internet were equally joyless and draining to see or interact with, sometimes myself included. No fanbase is perfect, and I had to relearn to stop caring. In a time of some apathy in my life, this M’s team has given me something to care about. The ups are absolutely worth the downs, but it meant I placed a bit too much of my daily emotions on this team. It’s been a great learning experience for me.

I will be back next year. Maybe I’ll make my way to the home of Pearl Jam to watch some games and the All Star festivities.

I still know so little of baseball I can’t even begin to have an opinion on which players to keep and which to consider letting go, but I’ve grown particularly fond of Mr. Jumbo Penis Crawford. I’m glad he’ll be sticking around.

I hope either the Padres or Phillies win it all in these coming weeks.

I hope the Mariners get their bats up next season (and maybe sign Aaron Judge lol) and prove they’re here to stay with the big dogs.

Get a new hitting coach, maybe.

I never knew those 20 years of drought, and I hope I never have to. I got lucky with the year I chose to start rooting for these lovable teal fellas. May that luck continue.

I hope the infectious joy of all the members of this team grows evermore, and I hope they get their rings.

If anyone’s managed to read to the bottom of these semi-pieced-together ramblings, word salad, and stream of consciousness, thanks.