The end of the last Mariners home stand ended on a down note, being swept by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. They lost two games in the 9th inning and dropped the last game due to a familiar performance of absent offense behind Felix Hernandez. After sneakily creeping to the top of the AL West standings, the Mariners were quietly impressing a whole barrage of people, drawing over 110,000 people to Safeco over the past weekend. The weather was amazing and people were ready to see what was going on with their local baseball team.
To the credit of every person that went to Safeco this weekend, the crowd was in full force. All three days, the seats were full and (mostly) remained full until the final pitch was recorded. When Steve Clevenger hit an RBI single in the 8th inning of Sarturday’s game, giving the Mariners a 8-7 lead, the level of engagement from the crowd was exciting and genuine. When was the last time there was that much investment in this team? In mid-May?
For years, I think there has been such a large population of people not willing to let themselves become apart of this fan base. Fear of losing, fear of fruitless trips to the ballpark and fear of standing up the public and saying “I’m a Mariners fan and proud of it.” Feelings to this level of angst and apprehension are not erased after a month of good baseball. That much is evident. However those types of crowds give me hope that the page is finally close to turning. People are loving the Mariners again.
I have a well documented history of not being able to draw a line between reasonable expectations and overly invested emotion in my favorite baseball team. I’m unapologetically apart of the 20% of people who consistently defend this team with every ounce of their being. So a lot of the time I take jabs and snide comments about this team very personally. This completely to my own fault, but when I love, I love hard. I don’t like things/people I love being talked down to, and I fight for these things fiercely.
Over the past few weeks, coworkers would proudly shout the final winnings scores from the night before at me, stop in and make polite small talk about that Robbie guy who was crushing it, or they would simply say “first place, huh?” with a smile and thumbs up in my direction. Yesterday when I walked into work, it was a different story. There was no polite chit chat or thumbs up. What there was, was a resigned, familiar nature of disbelief.
“The Mariners took one to chin, huh Cydnie? They got spanked.” To which I responded, “two hard fought losses and a tired offense on the third day does not mean we got spanked.” The response to that was “don’t be in denial honey, it’s a just a thing they do.” I was so shocked that I had nothing to say to this person, leaving them with a smug look of satisfaction that all but screamed “same old Mariners.” One person in one office building in Seattle is a very small (and hopefully) inaccurate sample size, but it was enough for me to start thinking about what the general fan attitudes were after this weekend.
Being a Mariners fan is a tricky thing. You caution yourself from being boastful when the team wins consistently, for the fear that winning will not be substantiated in the later part of the season. We have developed a mentality that constantly reminds us that eventually the other shoe is always waiting to drop. I wrote last week that this team was different, and I stand by that. However a large part of the different feeling that this year has created, will only remain with constant support from fans. I’m not saying this is the only thing that will help this team succeed, but it sure helps. So I could only wish that most of you do not share the same attitude as my coworker, but you revel in the good feelings of everyone who was apart of that eighth inning on Saturday. The Mariners already believe in each other, so why can’t everyone else believe in them?
The Mariners start a three-game series against a very good Baltimore Orioles team this afternoon. I would venture to say that all the extra support you’ve got to give would be much appreciated as they take on Mark Trumbo and Co. It will be a great series to watch unfold.
P.S We’re in first place again.