Smile, Seattle, we’re winning again

Ken Griffey, Jr. celebrates the Mariners' 6-3 win over Detroit. (Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times)
Ken Griffey, Jr. celebrates the Mariners' 6-3 win over Detroit. (Mark Harrison/The Seattle Times)

In the last two months, two of my closest friends have been laid off from their jobs. Our favorite stores and restaurants have gone bankrupt before our eyes. We have seen our finances dwindle, our daily lives change drastically, and witnessed worldwide panic in the midst of the worst economic crisis of our generation.

The situation has gone from ho-hum to dire, and it affects nearly every one of us.

In 2008, the city of Seattle endured perhaps one of the worst 366 calendar days of any municipality across America. Our businesses suffered, like everyone else’s. Our local government, at both the city and state level, handcuffed itself by finding few solutions to an ever-growing number of problems.

And on top of all that, our sports teams were horrible.

It may sound trivial, but sports are something we rely on when times are tough. Even if everything else in life just plain sucks, we can at least count on our favorite teams to provide us with relief. That is, unless you lived in Seattle over the past year.

However, since the clock struck 2009, times have changed. The economy is still horrible, our daily lives may still be filled with bumps in the road, but all of a sudden our sports teams are winning.

You know the story by now: the Husky Men’s Basketball team found their way into the NCAA Tournament, the Sounders FC kicked off the first year of their franchise with three straight wins, and the Mariners, suddenly and surprisingly, became an overnight success story.

And this is where our story shifts. Because in the last few days, since this team has started winning in ways unfamiliar to most of us, fans of the team have been divided as far as their reaction to the unexpected start to the season.

Many fans are excited, and enjoying the ride the M’s have put us on from the opening bell. But many more fans are cynical, and doing their very best to rain on this impromptu parade.

“What will happen when they start losing?” they ask. Or, “It’s not even May yet, let’s just wait and see.”

I can understand how the culture of losing may have brought some of you down in recent months, but how can you not enjoy this?

Do you not see the smiles on the players’ faces when they play the game? Do you not notice the rallies they’ve put together, including a five-run fifth inning that gave them a victory over Detroit last night? Do you not see the parallels between this year’s club, and the teams of 1995 and 2001? All those things are there, you just have to put aside your anger, your bitterness, and your lack of optimism and see them.

I feel like the kid from Angels in the Outfield while enjoying every minute of this. Here I am standing up, flailing my arms, trying to get people to believe, and I’m greeted with stares and grumpiness instead.

This 2009 Mariners team is 8-3 now, and not even a one-loss hiatus could keep them down for more than a day. Even if they lose every game from here on out, we’ll at least have these initial two weeks where we can honestly say we had some fun.

Because it is fun right now, and if you’re not a part of it, I implore you to look inside yourself and find the kid in you again. We all had our moments of innocence when things were as simple as good and bad, exciting and boring, black and white. We still have that capability as adults, even though we often tend to ignore it.

It’s as simple as this: a team that wasn’t expected to be any more than a last-place finisher has started the season with an 8-3 win-loss record. They are in first place in their division, and have the best record in the American League. Those are the facts.

What we’ve come to expect is losing. What we’ve received so far this year is winning. The players on this M’s team are doing their part to help us enjoy it. You need to do your part and come along for the ride. It’s as easy as taking a second to enjoy a good thing, smile every now and then, and appreciate life. You can do it. I believe in you, Seattle.

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