I would always get asked, “Why do you love the Mariners so much?” To which I would usually respond, “The Mariners have never let me down.”
On purely surface level, that might seem like an odd statement. What do you mean the Mariners never let you down? They’ve been letting you down your whole life. If you are qualifying that statement based on the Mariners playing record over the years, I guess I can see how that would ring true. However, the reason the Mariners have never let me down is because my relationship with the game of baseball has always gone beyond the game itself.
Now allow me to explain a little bit about myself. For a very, very long time in my life I struggled to find a place where I actually felt like I belonged. It was never the question of finding someone to talk with or share ideas, I could always get along with a variety of backgrounds. However the title of a people pleaser always got thrown around in conjunction with my name. I was never anyone’s last perfect puzzle piece, merely around when tolerated. I struggled with that for a very long time, in all walks of life, school, sports teams, friends, family, relationships, etc. Everywhere except for baseball. Baseball, and more importantly the Seattle Mariners, is where I knew I could always find a certain peace. Cliché level-100 as that may sound.
Since I understood the game and could function within the Mariners family, I knew I’d find someone or something that could constantly reflect my feelings. Baseball was just different. Good or bad, the Mariners were always there, late February-September (with a couple games in October if we were lucky). Regardless of how unsure the rest of life might have been, hits, fly balls, home runs, box scores and even strike outs were always something I could understand. Things that would never change.
As I’ve grown older throughout the years, my love for baseball, which began as a simple escape, has become a corner stone that shapes my life. I schedule work and other activities around it. I revel in the conversations that are cultivated and the genuine friendships I have forged because of it. I can always tune out whatever has happened throughout the day, watch a ball game and know that my feelings about this game and what it means to me could never change. No matter what the Mariners did on a given night, I could count on them to always be there. I never had to question if they were the right decision. The Mariners have never let me down.
Why did I just spend 5-minutes of your life telling you my feelings, you ask? Well I’ll tell you why. This season, as many may know, feels different from the seasons of recent past. More people are becoming invested into the Seattle Mariners. We have won 7 of our last 8 series (only splitting a four game set in Houston), our second baseman has become everything we ever wanted, and despite our bullpen stockpile of guys that made you go “wait, who?” all off-season, we are standing our ground. We are now creeping dangerously past “it’s too early” onto “we are actually playing some real baseball and gosh darn it these boys may be good.” This is a very good place to be.
Cydnie. Get. To. The. Point. Oh yeah, sorry. What I’m really here to say is that the 2016 season of Seattle Mariners Baseball feels oddly close to the affinity that I formed for the team in the first few formidable years that I became a baseball fan. A sense of undoubtable inclusion that only comes with appreciation and love. It’s no surprise that team chemistry is an age-old secret ingredient for any group attempting to function as a cohesive unit. However, that element seemed to be missing from years past. The teams in the past years did not play like a family. They played like a group of semi-familiar, friend of a friend, strangers who didn’t know what their purpose was.
This is why I think this team is special. Why I think this year is different. Not necessarily because they are winning, although it does help, it is because everyone is playing for one another. If you look at the Mariners 25-man roster, you don’t see a crop of former top-100 prospects or superstars that were attracted to team with a rich history of winning. For the large part, the men you see on this season’s team were carefully chosen and crafted to fit a specific vision. A vision that has *so far* worked out in our favor.
Whether it be a team leader firing up the team to come back from being down 8-4 to winning 8-9, the new lovable guy from Korea buying the entire team custom sunglasses or the wonderfully weird center fielder that really likes his ice cream… This team is different. Much like I needed something or someone to accept me all those years ago, this team is doing that for each other. They believe and accept each other and because they believe, the fans believe. Funny how that works out.
My experiences may certainly not be unique. I’m positive many people have been rescued by their love of baseball. A love that I hope grows with this special team we have. This season is different, and I want it to remain unlike the other seasons in the past. And even if this this success comes crashing down tomorrow, thank you Mariners, for never letting me down.
Happy off day everyone, spend it doing fun stuff with people you love.