10 years ago I stepped away from the Mariners. 10 years ago I stepped away from Baseball.
I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t watch. Every pitch was a gut punch, every swing was like an elevator dropping out from my feet. Every loss was infuriating, every win merely relief. There was no more pleasure in the game for me. I couldn’t appreciate the highlights, I couldn’t enjoy the beauty of the game. So I stopped watching it. Then I stopped reading about it. And finally I stopped even paying attention at all. I’ve been away from baseball and the Mariners for over ten years. I think I want to come back. But I’m not sure.
The game has changed. 20 years ago I hadn’t even heard of Wins Above Replacement. I didn’t know it was even possible to compare players outside of Triple Crown stats. Then in 2007, I found Fangraphs and that led me to Lookout Landing and I found a whole community who shared my love of the game, and the team that I grew up with. I was introduced to tons of new stats and methods of evaluating players that I could never have dreamed of when I pulled I cards from Topps wax packs and looked at the stat lines on the backs.
I learned so much in a short time it was amazing.
And it was terrible. The stats were like black boxes to me. Some hid behind paywalls, some hid behind proprietary formulas, some simply using math that was apparently too advanced for my monkey brain. So I just trusted them. But, in the same way I never really trusted that the number my graphing calculator was spitting out at me in trig class because I couldn’t work it out on my own on paper, I never really trusted these stats. And because baseball had adopted them so wholly, I didn’t trust baseball. I didn’t trust my own eyes.
And my stomach was sick from the losses. Bad baseball is no fun. Watching players who were amazing on other teams come to the Mariners to play terrible to my uneducated eye was no fun. And to be told (indirectly, because I would never have the guts to disagree) that actually that player is amazing and I should just appreciate him made me feel even worse. I couldn’t appreciate the greatness, because I couldn’t see it. And what I did see made feel stressed. And sick. And tired.
And then my favorite player was traded. And he was over the hill. And he was my age, so I guess that means I was over the hill. And it made me depressed. My favorite game in the whole world made me depressed. So I stopped watching it. And then I stopped reading about it. And finally I just stopped paying attention at all.
And 10 years went by. And nothing really changed. Except, everything changed. Everyone is 10 years older. That sounds like a lot, but it seems like nothing at all. My kids are in high school instead of just being little kids. Technology that was not even conceived of 10 years ago is everywhere. Some how the base paths got shorter and robots are umpiring games. Players who hit .234 are superstars and every pitcher can throw 105 MPH. The game is amazing.
But I still can’t watch without feeling sick. I removed myself from being a baseball and Mariners fan for 10 years and I thought I was better. But I’m not. I miss it so much that it hurts. But not as much as watching and caring hurts. So I’ll keep staying away. But I want the Mariners to succeed. I want them to win. I can root from afar. I can say that, yes they are awesome. But I still can’t be part of it.
So good luck M’s! Win it all! Refuse to Lose! But I still won’t be there. But I hope that you all will.