That’s how it begins. You make a statement like, “I love this player” or “I think such and such player is really fun to watch in the outfield” or “It’s so great how so and so fights during at bats.”
Then, they gotta come at you with the stats and analysis, and reasons why you are so wrong and so naïve and how dare you even have an opinion on baseball that doesn’t involve spray charts and pitch locations and a paper and a pencil for the calculations. We can do math problems to find out so much about baseball now, and I actually think that’s pretty great. For the most part. I tend more toward the emotional than the rational when it comes to baseball though.
That’s part of the reason I thought the heartbreaking end to the Mariners’ season was actually pretty great.
It was all feeling, all emotion. There were no stats, no analytics, nothing to tell us why it was so different. And it was so different.
I listened to Saturday night’s Mariners game on a drive back from Portland. I’ve been following as closely as I could in a way that I haven’t in years.
Two years ago, the Mariners post-season fate came down to the final game. They played 162 meaningful games. This year, only 161. So it’s probably strange that I’m saying things like, “I haven’t felt this way in 15 years” and “I love the pain because it’s been so long since I’ve felt it.”
Because, it should have been like this two years ago, right?
But it wasn’t. We all know it wasn’t.
I didn’t like that 2014 team. I didn’t enjoy watching them. They weren’t fun.
This team is fun. The players are likeable. I enjoy rooting for them. There was real passion in the way they played. Real wanting. Real desire. I watched them play and I wanted that Wild Card so bad. I knew, I felt, that they wanted it to.
Maybe the craziest thing is that actually making the playoffs matters so much less to me than having a team I enjoy watching the whole 162 game season. It’s tough to enjoy a team if it isn’t a playoff contender, so of course that’s part of it. It’s just not the only part of it.
The spray charts and pitch counts and paper and pencil for calculations are important. Nerdy stats have always been and will always be a fixture of baseball.
How it makes us feel is baseball’s heart and core. I haven’t felt this way in 15 years. I hope I feel this way next season.
I want it so bad.