The bitter, arduous winter has finally molted, shedding its pale skin for spring greenery, and with it comes the promise of a new baseball season. In the early days of my baseball fandom, I used to cross my fingers and squeeze my eyes shut and wish for a World Series championship… then “just” a winning season… then a handful of good games… a good player… finally, nothing more ambitious than a stretch of mediocre baseball capable of eliciting more enjoyment than pain from its dwindling audience.
My tastes are far simpler these days. The business of baseball is to win games, certainly, but the business of the baseball fan is to take deep comfort in the ritual of bat touching ball touching glove, of a home run well-struck and a fly ball caught at the warning track, over and over again, through the chill of spring ball to the stress-laden weeks of autumn postseason. I don’t need the no-hitters or the MVP titles or the pennant wins or the hitting streaks extended and retracted. They’ll come in their own time.
For now, it’s enough to have the Mariners for another 162 games. Even in the heart of the Bay Area, some 790-odd miles from the newly-christened T-Mobile Park, I feel at home once more.
“The Mariners suck, do you know that?”
The gaggle of 15-year-old boys eyes me warily as I approach the LL Gate, the brims of their green and gold caps tilted to flaunt an array of New Era stickers. Two of them are debating the merits of their fantasy football rosters while another two commiserate over the injustice of being served a “down low” when they specifically requested an “up top.” I hope they’re referring to high fives.
“I don’t think she heard you,” one of the boys stage-whispers to his friend. I am the only Mariners fan in a scraggly line of forty wrapped around the perimeter of the O.co Coliseum. It’s days like these when I miss Safeco Field — the foghorn signaling the opening of the gates, the smell of chili cheese fries wafting through the air, the mild buzz of M’s fans around the concourse during batting practice.
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