Moments Of Worth

Jeff Sullivan · May 20, 2013 at 9:11 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

As a sports fan, you can’t just look at a season as championship or bust. Maybe in select cases that makes some sense, but we’re all still here, and the Mariners have never won a championship. It’s about the experiences along the way, the things that lift your spirits, even if hope for a title has long since deteriorated. Approaching things as championship-or-bust isn’t sustainable. There have to be other upsides, other things that make it all worthwhile, and usually, there are. We’re all rational enough that we would’ve abandoned the Mariners entirely if we weren’t getting anything out of it. There’s something there, even if it too often feels like a barren emotional hellscape.

What is a baseball game but a baseball season crammed into three hours? Just as a season shouldn’t be winning-or-bust, a game shouldn’t be winning-or-bust, because of the same principles. A single baseball game is a collection of hundreds of individual events, all stringed elegantly or inelegantly together. Even if the ultimate event is a disappointing one, there can and often will be preceding events of worth. Moments that you’re glad you watched, in a game you sometimes wish you hadn’t. Moments you remember longer than you remember the final score.

Early Monday, the Mariners lost to the Indians. That much is typical, and that the Mariners lost in devastating fashion also seems typical. They wasted leads in the ninth and the tenth. Errors were committed in the bottom halves of both. Tom Wilhelmsen had the game in his glove, and he dropped it on the ground. If the Mariners were contending for the playoffs, this would’ve been a heartbreaker. As is, it just sucked. This game will subconsciously contribute to your negative impression of the city of Cleveland, even if you’ve never been for a visit. Ten years from now you’ll be in the Cleveland airport on a layover, and you’ll just feel kind of agitated, and you won’t be able to put your finger on why. There are much more palatable ways for a baseball team to lose.

But though the Mariners lost, this game came with particular moments of worth. There was Endy Chavez’s miraculous pinch-hit home run. There was Justin Smoak’s extra-innings home run. And there was a curveball. A curveball I’ll remember as long as I remember Tom Wilhelmsen dropping the baseball at first. An element of sports fandom is wanting to feel superior to other fans. A big part of that is a team seeming superior to other teams. A big part of that is a team making another team look feeble and stupid. In the bottom of the ninth on Monday, Tom Wilhelmsen made Asdrubal Cabrera look feeble and stupid. Wilhelmsen, of course, would look stupid himself moments later, but by that point the curveball was seared into my memory. You don’t soon forget a batter looking like this:


(.gif 1)

(.gif 2)

Baseball players, almost all of the time, manage to look like legitimate, talented baseball players. Tom Wilhelmsen threw a curveball that could make a man wonder what he’s doing. Yes, absolutely, the Mariners would lose the game. But they sure as hell didn’t lose all of it.


10 Responses to “Moments Of Worth”

  1. Westside guy on May 20th, 2013 11:24 pm

    Tom has shown that curveball before – when it’s on, it really is a remarkable pitch and a thing of beauty.

  2. LongDistance on May 21st, 2013 1:39 am

    There’s something wrong with Wedge.

    My first reaction, when Wilhelmsen was changed out, was to look at the Cleveland lineup. Result: unconvinced.

    But I thought there must be SOME reason. Then came Wedge’s post-game explanation. Try as I might, I can’t get there. Protecting Wilhelmsen from… himself? Protecting, what, his ERA (is he trade bait or something)?

    Emotional? Wilhelmsen has the same sort of emotion in these situations Felix has. He would have come out in the 10th and blown a hole through Cleveland. Should have been given the chance, instead of having to leave and get on the plane with it.

    It’s a pretty insulting way to assess game-time bullpen capabilities…

    Sure, they skated on thin ice from the 3rd on… but based on that particular error (as though it was the only one, although particularly egregious) Wedge transformed what would have been dicey, at best, into an (this was my exact, untampered feeling at the time) odds-on poop fest.

    If someone can explain what Wedge did, I’m all ears. In fact, I’ll bet Tom would like to know as well…

  3. Gormogon on May 21st, 2013 8:03 am

    I think he made two men there wonder what he was doing. Montero had to move his mitt 2 feet!

  4. Greeff on May 21st, 2013 9:20 am

    Can’t stop looking at that second gif!

  5. LeftField on May 21st, 2013 9:42 am
  6. CCW on May 21st, 2013 10:02 am

    Did Pitch FX call that a strike? Because to me, it clearly was, yet the tracer showed it as significantly low and away. When it crossed the plate (and I think it did), it was not low. Maybe it was outside, but certainly not way low. I don’t think the ump would have called it a strike…

  7. jordan on May 21st, 2013 10:46 am

    Greatest curveball of all time. ALL TIME.

    If you want to be rational and debate it, I will have none of it

  8. MrZDevotee on May 21st, 2013 10:55 am

    To quote myself as I watched the gif…

    “What the FUCK is that thang?”

    It’s like the “slurve” equivalent of a half-curve/half-changeup. Literally drops off the table. Started at eye level and almost hid the dirt? And his delivery is way faster than the ball actually moves.

    Wicked stuff. I mean, like CCW said- it fooled PitchFX badly.

    So, does GMZ get duly recognized for finding the guy who throws that pitch for basically $1 in MLB dollars?

  9. Westside guy on May 21st, 2013 12:12 pm

    LeftField – THAT was beautiful.

  10. Typical Idiot Fan on May 21st, 2013 12:56 pm

    If you have a slow enough connection and an android based phone, those gifs loaded each frame then repeated while loading the whole image. Made it look like a series of rapid repeats until the download was finished. Looked cool as hell.

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