The Long Slow Ride to the End of the Trolley Line

The Mariners are bad and depressing and there’s just no way around it, not enough sugar for the coating required to make it any less so.

I have a tough time with the fans preaching optimism and decrying the cynicism that so naturally erupts from the Mariner faithful. I don’t get it. How can they not want to punch walls in frustration, being stuck on this treadmill of fandom, barren of scenery, rolling on and on?

Non-sports people wonder why I’m a fan. “Why do you care when they’re so bad?”, they ask, shaking their heads in confusion. I just sigh and tell them that they don’t understand.

But the truth is, I don’t understand.

I’ve run through the explanations ad nauseum. I’m masochistic and love the pain. I’m an eternal optimist and think that someday this will turn around and all be worth it. I’m naturally cynical and pessimistic and the Mariners justify my world view.

Each of these explanations is true, but none gives a satisfying answer.

I have even less an explanation for why I stopped watching. I do know that on a cold April evening at Safeco Field the scoreless innings piled up and I reached a point where I just couldn’t do it anymore. I wearily closed my scorebook, despite having started a new page for the double-digit inning that was beginning. I left the stadium and I haven’t seen a full game since.

I hate not watching. I sneak a peek every now and then because I miss my stupid team. Yet, I find that it is physically painful to watch. I observed Mike Zunino’s first Major League at bat with a gnawing in my stomach that warned me not to get attached and an ache that told me not to let hope twist the blade already bleeding my heart. I glance at Twitter and read that another game has unraveled.

Maybe this new batch of sprouting prospects will grow into superstars. Maybe Jack Z’s 7-Year – nee 5-Year – Plan will work. Maybe it’s true the team will never improve until Chuck Armstrong and Howard Lincoln are gone, and a new owner takes charge. Maybe they’ll never be good again and the beautiful 1995 run and 2001 dream season are the best we’re going to see.

But the Red Sox were cursed for 86 years before they won the World Series. The Mariners have only been around for a fraction of that time. As stupid as it feels, I still believe it can happen.

I haven’t given up or abandoned my team; I’m just clinging to the little sanity I have left.

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