Baseball’s Back

Jeff Sullivan · April 17, 2014 at 12:58 am · Filed Under Mariners 

It really does feel fresh at the beginning. No matter what happened the season before, no matter what the expectations might’ve been in spring training, every season feels like a new season until it feels like a familiar season. And in the beginning this season, the Mariners didn’t just sweep the Angels — the Mariners obliterated the Angels, on the Angels’ own field, and that allowed us a certain set of feelings one doesn’t come across very often. We knew what it was like to watch the Mariners blow a team out. We didn’t yet remember what it was like to watch the Mariners struggle. So for a few days, we got to feel not just confidence, but overconfidence, in the Seattle Mariners.

Reality would start to set back in with losses. Losses are inevitable, and even the best teams ever lose literally dozens of games every year. The Mariners lost and we came down from our initial high. They lost a little more, and they won a little more. In a lot of ways baseball ends up the same gift in different wrapping paper. It’s something to get excited about at the start, but it isn’t long until you’re like, “oh yeah, this.” Not always necessarily in a bad way, but it takes no time at all for baseball to go back to feeling like routine.

But now — now — baseball’s officially back. Mariners baseball is officially back. Thing about those earlier losses is they were easier to take. The first loss was weird, and corrupted by a terrible umpire and a Hector Noesi, but you don’t look for much from the debut of Roenis Elias. Then the other losses were just run-of-the-mill losses, mostly losses in which the Mariners didn’t hit. Those games suck, because those games do nothing to get you excited about baseball. Watch one and it feels like it was a complete waste of time. But now we have our first loss that makes us dread baseball. It isn’t displeasure because a game was boring and pointless. It’s displeasure because a game genuinely hurt, and we’re the ones who put ourselves in that position.

These are the ones that hurt the most. Throw in the Felix factor and these are the ones that hurt the very most. The team wasted unhittable brilliance, and now it has the maximum wait until the next opportunity to try to not waste that. You can shrug off a blowout loss. A blowout loss is just one of those days. A blown-save loss? A blown-save loss is a loss that gets you just as you start to assume the victory. A blown-save loss is a fire-everybody loss. It’s the most devastating sort of loss for the emotions, and it’s the kind of loss that makes you actually, legitimately hate baseball, if only for as long as you sit there blankly.

These are the losses that make you want to lash out and blast every single thing that isn’t going well. Lash out at Brad Miller, obviously. Lash out at Fernando Rodney. And maybe lash out at Lloyd McClendon. Lash out at Robinson Cano. Lash out at Justin Smoak. Lash out at Abe Almonte and Kyle Seager and whoever else. Basically, these are the losses that make you want to vent. Which is a funny thing in a way, since this loss was an underhand toss from Brad Miller away from being a victory on the road over Yu Darvish. The games that hurt worst are the almost-wins, the should’ve-wins.

At the beginning, you start fresh. You don’t yet remember what it’s like to love baseball. You don’t yet remember what it’s like to be annoyed by baseball. And you don’t yet remember what it’s like to hate baseball, to hate every last part of it, to wish that baseball would just crawl into a gutter and die. Now we’ve officially checked off all the boxes. Now we get to go back to being ourselves, equipped with all the appropriate emotions, and we’ll think of Mariners baseball the normal way until Mariners baseball stops being so god-damned normal.

No part of me even wants to think about the fact that the M’s get back at it early Thursday. But they do, and I will, too, because that’s how this works. Out of my own experiences with therapy I’ve come to understand that things are never as bad as they seem when you’re upset, and things are never as good as they seem when you’re giddy. That’s a rule to keep in mind, with sports and all things. Before all else, recognize and acknowledge your own mood. Then apply the necessary adjustment to your evaluations. Wednesday made us hate baseball, and it made us hate the Mariners, and when you hate something you go looking for flaws. The Mariners are better than your storm-cloud thoughts and unsavory language. Acknowledge that. The Mariners are worse than they seemed when they wiped the floor with the carcass of the Angels’ simian figurehead. Acknowledge that. The clearest thinking will have to be done on off days. Gamedays will bias us, and this gameday biased us quite a lot.

Games like this do happen, even to the good teams, and as an example you can consider the first-place A’s and the issues they’ve already had at the closer position. Odds are, the Mariners will end up winning a few of these over the next five and a half months. But that doesn’t make the day-of experience better, because nothing changes the fact that this loss was avoidable. It’s simultaneously senseless and sensible when people reflect on all the almost-wins, because those were almost wins, and what if the team got one or two more breaks? How much better would the record suddenly look? This feels like too much of a wasted opportunity, and now the Mariners have done this to Felix almost 20 times. Let’s not pretend like his unwavering loyalty to this organization isn’t probably a sign of some sort of worrying neurological disorder.

On Wednesday, baseball reminded us that it can really suck. We knew that, but we couldn’t readily recall the feeling. Now we’re bleeding from fresh wounds, and the reason is because baseball’s back, and sometimes it can be a real bitch, and we know that now, officially, for 2014. Today we hate baseball. Tomorrow we give baseball another chance, because these things are always temporary. But boy do they ever not feel temporary. Boy does the hate just feel like it’s going to burn on forever. If we could actually leave baseball, we would’ve by now, but in my dreams I’ll be launching the Mariners into the sun. And I’m going to make damn sure they have enough fuel to get there.

Comments

9 Responses to “Baseball’s Back”

  1. Mariner.lovechild on April 17th, 2014 1:07 am

    “if we could actually leave baseball, we would’ve by now”

    your whole last paragraph summed me up, post game…
    that was therapeutic.

  2. Creature34 on April 17th, 2014 1:25 am

    Felix losses definitely hurt the worst, because they seem to waste his talent on two levels.

    As a team, each loss adds to the likelihood of Felix not being able to pitch in the postseason.

    For Felix himself, each chance of victory taken away lessens his chances of winning the Cy Young again, which for Mariners fans is the only lofty goal we get to still have while maintaining a feeling of rationality.

  3. maqman on April 17th, 2014 4:08 am

    Even after you have had 60+ years of it it never stops hurting. Baseball is a bitch, except when it is great.

  4. Westside guy on April 17th, 2014 6:25 am

    We are so lucky to have Felix… but, yeah. What’s wrong with him?

    A counsellor would probably recommend he walk away from this relationship.

  5. bookbook on April 17th, 2014 6:46 am

    “Today We Hate Baseball” is a strong slogan. Has that same sense of inevitability as “Winter is Coming.”

    Your Seattle Mariners, squandering Hall-of-Fame performances since 1969.

  6. Ralph_Malph on April 17th, 2014 7:53 am

    1977. 1969 was the Pilots.

  7. 11records on April 17th, 2014 8:26 am

    Thanks Jeff. I wonder if days like yesterday are the days that you thank God you’re no longer writing daily recaps, or where you perversely miss it? But, I for one am glad you wrote about it.

    What makes yesterday extra painful as a fan is that it’s hard to take that game in isolation. It’s a culmination of the Paxton injury, the Taijuan Walker shutdown, the Victor Sanchez shutdown; even the Blake Beavan injury (the team needs him now, even if it’s chuck, duck and pray). Then you see on Twitter that Austin Wilson was drilled in the ankle and had to leave the game and oh my god will this stop?!? It has been just a miserable week for the franchise as a whole.

    But then Felix comes out, and is so Felix-y. Nick Franklin hits a triple the 1st pitch he sees… And you feel like there’s a break in the storm. The clouds drift away, and as you look to the clear blue sky a sinkhole opens up beneath your feet and drags you down to the pit of hell.

    So – good times! Go get ‘em Erasmo.

  8. kimalanus on April 17th, 2014 9:54 am

    Taijuan has been shut down with a ‘shoulder impingement’ for two weeks. A shoulder impingement can be a lot of different things, including simple inflammation. It depends on what caused the inflammation. From my own experience, the inflamed bursa led to growth of bone spurs that chewed on the rotator cuff tendon until the bursal sac burst and the lack of lubrication would let the tear hang up on the bone spurs in the groove the tendon runs in causing bursts of ‘oh,god, oh, god’ blinding pain. On the up side, surgery fixed it. On the down side, while I regained full flexibility, the strength was never the same. So, be very afraid for Taijuan.

  9. MrZDevotee on April 17th, 2014 11:14 am

    It’s all about perspective… Just think of all the Rangers fans who didn’t have to commit suicide after a day of “Really? Yu pitches great and we can’t score 1 freakin’ run? Against the MARINERS? Prince Fielder looks like Carlos Peguero taking advice from Jesus Montero’s life coach…”

    It’s important to remember it’s only a bitch to HALF the people watching. She’s easy AND has a good personality too if you’re a Rangers fan last night. The girl that was mean to you all night changed her mind and said, “I was wrong, you’re really REALLY handsome… Take the gun away from your temple and take me home!”

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