It’s come to my attention, via the Internet, that a faction of the Mariners fan base took umbrage with what Alex wrote the other night in the wake of the Josh Hamilton news. I feel compelled to defend him. I don’t know why. Trust me, Alex does not need my defense. I’m pretty little, after all — what could I do if there was an attack? But hey, a lot of unnecessary things are written on the Internet. So, here I go! De-fense!
I don’t agree with everything Alex writes on this web site. He can be pretty brash. I am a little more reserved and pragmatic. Alex swears in his articles on occasion, while I’m not the online-cursing type. In fact, I often censor Alex by substituting words like “poop” when I share his jokes with my Twitter followers. But when he asked me to write for the blog, I was excited. I had secretly hoped he would. I thought it was a nice match because, despite our different approaches, we have an identical, deeply-rooted love for Seattle and its sports teams.
I’m not sure the critics of his last Mariners post understood what he was doing. Do you guys read much? How is that going for you? Let me explain.
You see, Alex encapsulated a feeling. Nothing more. Nothing less. That’s pretty much all he does here at Seattle Sportsnet. He never claims to be right. He only claims to feel. And feelings, as many of us learned in kindergarten, aren’t right or wrong. A feeling just is.
In a nutshell, Alex said, “It sucks how the Mariners make me feel.” Regardless of the Mariners’ effort or intent, or the prudence of their process. The net effect of the Mariners on their fans is that of continual disappointment and frustration, and sometimes anger.
If you read that item about the Mariners and didn’t understand that, you’re not as bright as you think you are. Alex knows exactly what he’s doing. He writes feelings, and he captures moments. And he’s pretty darned good at it.
The new age sports fan is a more educated one. We are armchair general managers. We like to rationalize and think pragmatically about our teams. There is so much information out there, we can see, or think we can see, what’s happening. I am undeniably that guy. I have spreadsheets, dag nabbit. But, hopefully, in all of our pretend planning, fantasizing, and saber-ing, most of us realize we are not actually working for the Mariners.
In the few years I’ve been reading his work, Alex has never fancied himself a reporter, an analyst, or some talking head who bestows his sports wisdom on the masses. His niche is the essence being a fan. A raw, yearning, unbridled fan. That’s his format, at least as I see it.
To not understand Alex is to not understand a fundamental part of being a passionate sports fan — that you love your team so much, so irrationally, that logic flies straight out the window.
It’s why you “love” a professional athlete you may never meet. It’s why you turn your hat inside-out in the ninth inning, when you know in your heart that six runs is too many, against this closer, on this night. It’s why you get a little teary-eyed when some dudes, in some other city you don’t care much about, hoist that World Series trophy every October.
And it’s why, in the face of logic, you feel betrayed by your team when a great baseball player, who you know, deep down, probably never wanted to play ball in your town, doesn’t sign that bazillion dollar piece of paper.
Look, I don’t know that Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln are stupid whoosie-whats who don’t care about us. I’ve never met them. And neither has Alex. But that’s not what is at issue here. What’s at issue here is that, whether they care or not, the Mariners have been really bad at making their most loyal fans feel happy, or cared about, for quite some time now. That’s the truth, no matter how you choose to express it.
And I’m certain that’s what Alex was saying, proudly doused in so many pop metaphors. The Mariners make him feel like (poop).
Am I a homer for Alex? I guess. I think he’s pretty neat. I know good writing when I see it. Bad writing makes me chafe, and it’s all around us.
Am I defending Alex a little bit because I haven’t written for SSN in several months, feel bad about it, and want him to like me? Maybe. We can’t say for sure.
One thing I do know: Alex loves the Mariners, and you’ll stop loving them long before he ever does.
All right, I need a shower. I laid it on a pretty thick.