Game 46, Astros at Mariners: Caring

marc w · May 27, 2022 at 5:15 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Chris Flexen vs. Justin Verlander, 6:40pm (This is the last of the early starts this season. Tomorrow’s game will begin at 7:10).

The M’s are in last place after a disastrous stretch of poor play. The game itself seems to stumble; the ball is dead on the whole, but subject to striking variance from game to game. This is both kind of annoying and also lends itself to conspiratorial thinking. I mean, if you *wanted* to enrich your new partners in the gaming industry, wouldn’t this be a good way to do it? Baseball’s broadcasts are splintered into several competing platforms, as MLB tries to profit off of the streaming wars that threaten its big cable revenue streams. And, yes, all of it – good and bad – pale in comparison to what we see on the news every night. I’m a parent, and needed some off days from whatever this is. Now, more than ever, it’s harder to have a great answer when someone asks why you like the Seattle Mariners.

Roger Angell famously said, “It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look – I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring – caring deeply and passionately, really caring – which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naïveté – the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman to dancing in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball – seems a small price to pay for such a gift.”

Today, David Roth wrote a great post at Defector on Angell and caring, and it struck a chord. We all care so much about this strange game, and we seem to get so little out of it – especially those of us following such a flawed entity as the Mariners. I keep wanting there to be a great origin story of my fandom, an answer to why we might care about the haphazardous flight of a distant ball. But there’s not.

I don’t remember anything before loving sports. I would wake up early every Sunday and stare at the Ed Hume gardening show because once it ended, the NFL pregame show would appear. I could’ve watched something else until then, or nothing at all, but I couldn’t move lest I miss a note of the opening theme. Football was always a TV spectacle, and kids are attuned to things that reek of spectacle, so maybe that was easier. But baseball did the same thing. I think I saw bits and pieces of the 1980 World Series, and that was just that. I liked what was going on without knowing what was going on, and I haven’t stopped yet. Little bits and pieces just get appended to your identity at that age, but that one stuck.*

Much of the next decade was having that care – the unearned, almost subconscious care – rewarded and bolstered by things like going to the Kingdome, the arrival of Mark Langston and Alvin Davis, and then, the miraculous and all-conquering coming of Ken Griffey Jr. It was not rewarded with a whole lot of winning, but by the sense that winning would arrive soon. I wasn’t in the area for the miracle comeback of 1995, but I was in grad school in 2000, the beginning of that short, glorious period of M’s success. A friend got tickets to game 3 of the ALDS in 2000, the first playoff game in what is now T-Mobile stadium, and we sat out in center field on a warm fall day. Memorably, the game ended on a walk-off drag bunt by Carlos Guillen, and the stadium went wild. It was cathartic, it was ecstatic, it was repayment for years and years of frustration and potential moves and awful owners. We stood and yelled, not moving, for a long time, and then, suddenly, Mike Cameron leapt on to the CF wall. To this day, I smile every time Cameron pops on a broadcast, or when he’s shown working with OFs in spring training. He was there, literally climbing the barrier between player and fan, when all of that caring seemed to be repaid, when all of us, players and fans, knew how deep that care went.

The Mariners are, again, bad. Or at least: they’re playing like a bad team. This week of all weeks it is easy to stop caring and get back to caring about the things we all need to care about. It is *harder* to care now, and it’s why I am consciously trying to keep doing it. As Roth writes, “When that light goes out, it stays out; what keeps it on, whatever keeps it on, seems very valuable.” I don’t want the light to go out, and I hope you don’t either. I can’t blame you if it does, and there are days when it seems like it’d be easier – more rewarding, maybe – to let it. But that’s too easy – we care about hard, imperfect things, and boy do the Mariners check both boxes.

1: Frazier, LF
2: France, 1B
3: Rodriguez, CF
4: Crawford, SS
5: Suarez, 3B
6: Lewis, DH
7: Trammell, RF
8: Raleigh, C
9: Haggerty, 2B
SP: Flexen

Connor Jones threw a 7 inning no-hitter for Arkansas yesterday as the Travs swept a double header. Levi Stoudt starts tonight for them against the Amarillo Sod Poodles.

Las Vegas is in Tacoma to take on the Rainiers. Vegas won last night 5-2; Pierce County native Nate Mondou went 0-4 for the Aviators.

Adam Macko starts for Everett tonight.

* One that didn’t was being “Steve.” There were so many Steves in the NFL that it seemed like a smart move to re-name myself to fit in with what I assumed would be my future colleagues.


5 Responses to “Game 46, Astros at Mariners: Caring”

  1. Stevemotivateir on May 27th, 2022 6:38 pm

    It’s not just the bottom of the order that’s uninspiring, it’s Crawford batting cleanup and the fact that they’re facing the Astros.

    The light has been reduced to a pilot.

  2. Stevemotivateir on May 27th, 2022 7:34 pm

    Is Verlander tipping his pitches?

    Nice start to the weekend

  3. heyoka on May 28th, 2022 8:25 am

    I played baseball as a kid and didn’t much care for it until I started collecting baseball cards. The stats on the back delighted me and even inspired me to get a degree in statistics in college.

    I do not fit the stereotype of a “sports guy.” Since I grew up in Washington, the Mariners became the team I followed.

    During the early 90s I created fantasy mariners teams where they had their best players but did or didn’t make certain trades and then I tried to ascertain what their record would actually be with that lineup. In retrospect, how much better would the team have been had they kept Ivan Calderon and Danny Tartabull?
    How much better would they have been had they cut bait with Jimmy Presley and brought Edgar Martinez up earlier? Or never signed Pete O’Brien and brought Tino Martinez* up earlier? Would Mike Moore still have put it together in the kingdome? We were pretty pleased with Jay Buhner.

    *his 88 Topps Traded card was valuable at the time.

    The suffering of being an M’s fan is the norm (charlton.)

    I forgot we had Taylor Trammel. Good night for him last night.

  4. Stevemotivateir on May 28th, 2022 10:28 am

    Last night’s game was fun. I don’t care if Verlander’s command was off, Seattle did what they were supposed to do.

    But the odds are stacked against them, and what’s troubling me, perhaps prematurely, is that they may very well have their minds/plans set: Kids will play, the kids will produce, and if it takes another year or three, so be it.

    The goal was supposed to be a World Series title and consistent contender, right? Everything we’ve seen screams ‘TRY TO SNEAK IN AND HOPE WE SURPRISE EVERYONE!’.

    Hearing Dipoto’s comments about clawing their way out of this makes me think he’s mostly content with what they have.

    He shouldn’t be. I really hope that isn’t the case.

  5. bookbook on May 28th, 2022 12:37 pm

    It’s hard to find someone willing to trade you a Ty France on a regular basis. The M’s offense in 2022 is going to go as far as this current roster (plus Haniger and Murphy and maybe Kelenic) can take them. (The pitching options are more plentiful, as are the minor league prospects who could help.)

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