Life teaches you many lessons. A little one over the years is that the Seattle Mariners are a confusing mess of a Major League Baseball team. While I will limit that statement to the timespan of my own fandom, starting around 2010, one would say it is a foregone conclusion that weeping and outrage extend beyond a trivial date at the turn of the decade.
I am not here to dunk on the Mariners or analyse their previous missteps and flared-mishits. So rather than talking about the depressing existence of our World Series-less franchise, my inspiration comes from a unique and outstandingly emotive, fan-oriented piece written by Robert Mays, which is well worth a read.
Like Robert expressed, family and baseball is a bond that intensified his love of the game. Love that spawned a slow-burning desire to celebrate and be proud of our Seattle heritage in a way that the city has never been able to. And with that admittance, I, for one, am a hypocrite. A Tacoma-native, who, yes, is saddened by the lack of sustained success this franchise has displayed since its inception, but also defiantly chooses to remember and embrace that exhilarating moment where a gliding Austin Jackson caught a drifting flare in centre field and sealed Hisashi Iwakuma‘s no-hitter.
The instant the ball disappeared into Jackson’s glove was pure joy. The mobbing devolving into forceful hugs and visible glee from an ageing veteran pitcher who had just left yet another mark that transcended the team’s 54-61 record on 12 August 2015.
Iwakuma’s achievement left him, alongside Hideo Nomo (the “Tornado”), as the only two Japanese-born pitchers to throw a no-hitter in the MLB.
And while posterity can say that the end of the 2015 season, alongside his defeathering of the Orioles on that wet August day, may have marked the beginning of the end for the ever-reliable and affectionately-named “Kuma Bear”, these bright spots continue to spring eternal.
Hope is arguably the opposite of resignation. And more recently than not, people I admire in my life have to some degree stated that “Unless you learn and appreciate, then you will never feel whole”.
That is not to say that Mariners’ fandom should or could be a parallel to their words, but I would argue we can attest to the seemingly ever-present spectre of disappointment and defeat.
In the process, we may have become numb to and unseeing or entirely shunned the moments that make Mariners’ baseball, and arguably baseball in any format, great.
Feel free to see my words as an accusation of those who have given up hope. That is not the intention nor should you feel any less dissatisfied with whatever feelings you harbour towards rooting for a team that borders on distress or apathy for the some or many. Therefore, given we tend to think we know ourselves best, I will speak for the only person I can: myself.
After years of unfulfilled ambitions, the Mariners are seemingly approaching another crossroads; another year on a journey where hope is all we have.
Photo courtesy of Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Andreas Fopp is a guest writer for Bat Flips and Nerds. You can follow him on Twitter @SadMariner
Have you ever wanted to write about baseball? Do you want to tell the story about your baseball fandom journey? How about a favourite player? Or, just get silly and write something to make people laugh? Slide into our DMs, contribute now. We’ve never rejected a post.