If it was a person, it would have a driver’s license.
It’d be wrapping up eleventh grade, might have a boyfriend or a girlfriend, may have just gone to prom. It’d be concerned about little more than finishing the penultimate year of high school before transitioning to a carefree summer filled with friends and fun. It’d be quite convinced it knew all there was to know in the world, yet still naïve to the reality that awaited later in life. It’d be a pain in the ass at times, an endearing goofball at others.
But it’s not a person. It’s a 17-year-old curse. A shadow that has loomed large, if not visible, over Safeco Field for nearly two decades. It has sucked the life out of a fan base that has become increasingly absent as time has passed. It has plagued a franchise and burdened a city.
Seventeen years without a playoff appearance. The longest drought of its kind in American professional sports. Even the Cleveland Browns have been to the postseason more recently than the Seattle Mariners. The biggest laughingstock in football somehow plays second fiddle to our baseball team.
Baseball has spent much of the past decade looking for ways to speed up games, increase attendance, and attract a younger viewership. They’ve implemented changes like limiting mound visits, installing pitch clocks, and utilizing instant replay. But with each little change, few of the desired outcomes have been achieved. Games haven’t sped up all that much, attendance is about the same, and younger viewers are still gravitating towards other sports, like basketball and soccer.
So what’s baseball to do? They need help, and they need it fast. That’s why we’re here with some new ideas that will rock the boat and disrupt an entire industry. Some of these ideas are really stupid and mostly just serve as vehicles for throwaway jokes that the world would otherwise never read. But within the inanity there may be a gem or two. And before you ask, yes, alcohol was involved when this was written.
1. An expanded strike zone for pitchers who throw under 90 MPH
It seems like every big league pitcher throws his fastball 95-plus these days. Sure, velocity is fun to watch, but is it really fair to those guys who rely on finesse and savvy to get by? No, it is not.
One of my very first sports memories is the very first no-hitter in Seattle Mariners history. June 2nd, 1990. Randy Johnson, against the Detroit Tigers.
I was five years old and quite possibly the biggest little Mariner fan in the world. I wore a royal blue cap emblazoned with the team’s familiar gold “S” every single day (seriously, there are very few pictures from my childhood where I’m without that hat). The M’s were my entire being at that point in my life. I could name all the players on the team right down to the most obscure: Bryan Clark, a veteran relief pitcher; Dave Cochrane, the ultimate utility player; Jeff Schaefer, another utility man who was so irrelevant he would later be replaced on the front of his 1992 Donruss card by a picture of Tino Martinez. And of course I had my favorites, too: Ken Griffey Jr., Alvin Davis, Edgar Martinez, Omar Vizquel, and yes, the six-foot-ten-inch southpaw, Randy Johnson.
We didn’t always stay all nine innings back then. I was young enough to necessitate an early bedtime and my brother was even younger, so attending a full game was, for us, as rare as a no-hitter. But on that particular day I was fortunate enough to be in attendance at the ballpark along with my dad. And we weren’t leaving until the final out was recorded.
Through the fog that shrouds the memories of childhood, I remember standing and cheering during the ninth inning. We were in our usual spot in the Kingdome, 300 level, first base side. When Tigers catcher Mike Heath swung at a high fastball to end it, everyone on hand went nuts. There hadn’t been much to cheer about in the annals of Seattle Mariners baseball and this was one of the franchise’s first noteworthy triumphs. It was a memorable evening, one nobody in attendance would ever forget.
With every ill-advised decision their favorite baseball team makes, the frustration boils and festers until it can’t simmer any longer. It’s the kind of maddening anger that widens the eyes and quickens the pulse and feels as if it can only be satiated with destruction and rage. Unleash a fury of haymakers upon a punching bag. Smash a Louisville Slugger upon the ground until splinters fly in every direction and sweat drips to the earth. Throw a TV out a window, scream to the heavens, sprint until a lung bursts, whatever it takes to ease the angst. And yet the angst never eases.
The club’s latest maneuver has nearly everyone wondering whether the brass on the corner of Edgar and Dave have any clue what they’re doing. On Sunday, the M’s optioned outfielder Guillermo Heredia to Triple-A Tacoma to make room for the activation of pitcher Erasmo Ramirez. In doing so, they elected to keep outfielder Ichiro Suzuki on the big league roster – despite the fact that Heredia had outplayed Suzuki in every facet of the game to begin the year.
Though any of number of excuses could be conjured to justify keeping the 44-year-old future Hall of Famer around, the reality is that the organization chose to honor a legend rather than invest in the on-field success of the ballclub. Anyone with two eyes and a passion for the game could see right through the front office’s intentions – and that, above all else, was incredibly irritating to a fan base that has suffered long enough.
They slowly wither away in dark rooms illuminated only by the iridescence of a television set, mainlining ROOT Sports coverage of Seattle Mariners baseball like heroin junkies slumped upon the dusty plywood surface of a neighborhood drug house.
They find comfort in Brad Adam, take solace in Angie Mentink. This is what they know, what they crave, what they need to survive this day and the next. They know they should quit, but how does one loosen the firm grasp of addiction?
They are lifers, these people. They bleed every shade of Mariners blue that can be bled: royal, powder, navy, teal. They’re in it for the long haul, despite the utter misery of the situation in which they find themselves.
For the most part, they are passionless, barely functional, hardly human. Losing is what they’ve come to understand, and each subsequent loss registers no more than a facial twitch or a shrug of the shoulders. Wins, those fleeting moments of abbreviated happiness, result in tempered celebrations that only serve to worsen the dependence upon this poisonous chemical.
Those homewrecking charlatans. Those self-indulgent jerks. Those bastard sons of bitches.
We were in a relationship once, you know. For 41 years. Happily married. We entrusted them with our hearts and our souls. And then one day they ripped them to shreds.
But they didn’t just stop there.
The divorce was bitter. They took everything and left us with nothing but memories. They had all they needed, but still wouldn’t quit. They spun a dirty narrative: that we weren’t any good to them, that we didn’t do enough to keep them around, that it was our fault, that we were the bad guys.
What had we done besides faithfully devote ourselves to them? We showed up en masse, filled an arena to its gills, lived and died through the good seasons and the bad. They weren’t satisfied with leaving, though. They needed the rest of the world to scorn us, too.
For the 12s is a recurring installment at Seattle Sportsnet. Every week we’ll preview the Seahawks’ upcoming opponent, with each gameday primer geared towards those individuals who have been fans of the Seattle Seahawks since no earlier than 2012.
Big news in Seattle!
Your Seahawks made a noteworthy move this week, signing veteran defensive end Dwight Freeney to shore up a defensive front that recently lost Cliff Avril to a season-ending injury. While many 12s may recognize him as a journeyman who bounced around the league throughout the duration of their fandom, Freeney was actually really good prior to 2012!
A seven-time Pro Bowler and a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team in the 2000s, the 37-year-old established his Hall of Fame career as a member of the Indianapolis Colts. Freeney’s wisdom and unquestioned talent should be a welcome addition to a Seahawks defense that will be facing a tough task this Sunday.
The Houston Texans come to town and are certainly no pushover. Though their brief 15-year history makes Houston the youngest franchise in the league, they are coming off two consecutive division championships and are a perennial power in the AFC, which is a conference in the NFL in which the Seahawks used to play.