Humanity has spent the vast majority of its time on planet Earth as a nomadic species. Sedentary civilisations are a new construct, relatively speaking. For 99% of our existence we have roamed the steppe, living off the land. Agriculture was the great invention that allowed people to stay in one place, to literally and metaphorically put down roots.
Why, then, do we experience such profound and desperate longing for home when we are away? Should being away not be the natural state of existence for us? Perhaps the answer lies with the Seattle Mariners.
This season, at home, the Mariners have been a force of nature, nigh untouchable. Their two losses came from a gem by Justin Verlander, and in a game that was cursed by the gods. They scored 56 runs in just 9 games during the last homestand, and set T-Mobile Park and the whole city of Seattle buzzing with electricity.
On the road, it’s a different story. They have only 4 road wins, and those feel more like luck, such as putting 7 unearned runs up against the Rays, with each passing game.
So it was tonight against the Miami Marlins, nearly 3,000 miles away from home.
Like ZAM wrote about yesterday, I don’t pay attention to Miami. I’m sure they play baseball and have a fun time and whatnot, but I don’t notice. I think I’ll keep it that way after this series.
Today’s game started as it meant to go on, painful and with a ball hit to Marlins third baseman Brian Anderson. Abraham Toro, my beloved, smashed a ball down the left field line, one of the hardest balls I’ve ever seen him hit as a righty, and it just happened to go straight into Anderson’s glove.
Anderson would turn out to be a specific problem for the Mariners tonight, as he would go on to record nine outs today, a third of all outs the Mariners made. Another third were on strikeouts, and the remainder were struck to a smattering of other fielders. Anderson also went 2 for 4, and scored one of the Marlins’ only three runs in the fifth. So yeah, he was a problem.
The Mariners offense just looked out of it today, and aside from a few hits, including a solo shot from Dylan Moore of all people, was held in check. I say this as someone whose favorite part of baseball is offense: the Mariners were painful to watch at the plate today. They simply didn’t put together good plate appearances, and the box score shows it.
My star of the game is definitely the camera operator who got this shot, though. Love the drama zoom.
On the pitching side of things Robbie Ray was mostly good. Through the first four innings, he was great, even. The velocity on his fastball was back, hitting 95, and his slider generated some nasty whiffs. Look! He even got a Pitching Ninja tweet!
Robbie Ray, Crave Case of Sliders. pic.twitter.com/KFybx7pwh4— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) April 30, 2022
But his fifth inning was Not Good. Bad, some might say. Anderson led off with a double, and moved up to third on a Miguel Rojas flyout to Moore in right field. It was Dylan’s poor throwing arm rather than Anderson’s speed that let that happen. I like Dylan, I think he’s mostly fine as a hitter, but I do not like him in the outfield.
In the fifth, Robbie’s big issue was his command. He issued three walks, one of which with the bases loaded, and gave up three hits. After striking out Avisail Garcia to end the inning, he did not return to the mound.
Eric Swanson, Paul Sewald, and Diego Castillo filled out the rest of the innings and were fine, allowing only two hits and a walk between them, with that walk and one of the hits belonging to Swanson. It’s good to see Sewald back from the covid IL, hopefully the Mariners will be able to ride his arm to many win in the future.
The goal of baseball is to come home. The team that comes home the most wins. Right now, I think the Mariners can’t wait to get home. They feed off the energy the fans pour out for them. Seattle fans can turn a cold April night into a buzzing atmosphere that propels the team to a win. On the road, the Mariners are deprived of that love, and I think they are the worse for it.
That, I believe, is the answer to my question. We are drawn home because home is where we are loved. Where we are known. While we have been nomads, we have also been creatures of kinship. Travel, though airports and buses are crowded, is an isolating experience. What connects us to the humans of eons and eons ago is that we a need for simple, unadulterated acceptance. Whether it be a mother’s hug, or a pet dog’s excited hop, after a long stay away, we need the simple pleasures of coming back home. The Mariners have four more days away, but soon they’ll be back where they belong.