December 27, 2012 | Vol. 116 -- No. 36

Beaten, bloodied and fried, Seattle Mariners fans remain the best

I’m not really allowed on the sports pages of the paper too often, and for good reason. But, I do have one sports passion in this world: baseball.

I’m no statistician, or sabermetrics genius, but I do follow players’ stats pretty closely. And, despite their seemingly continuous struggles since 2003, I’m still an ardent Mariners fan.

The team has put together signs of hope in recent years, but none of it panned out. 2007 was a fluke, as was 2009. But, despite a losing record last year, it truly looks like the ship is back on course. Battling its way past the Carlos Silva tar pits, the Chone Figgins whirlpool, and getting caught in the Casey Kotchman flats, this team is learning how to sail in stormy weather.

As a fan, I’m tired. Tired of seeing a stale product on the field each year, tired of getting my hopes up every April and tired of the subpar teams taking to the field 162 days out of the year. That’s the bottom line: we’re tired.

Personally, I thought 2010 would mark a great turnaround for the Mariners. A rotation of King Felix, Cliff Lee and Jason Vargas was destined to be one of the most potent in baseball. Unfortunately, as aforementioned, the offense fell apart and the team ended up losing 100 games.

While the Seahawks seem to be soaring into the stratosphere, clinching a playoff berth this past Sunday, I’m left wondering when their neighbors across the street will see the same success. The last time the Mariners were in the playoffs was 2001, you know, when they won 116 games instead of losing that many.

It’s a simple fact that a winning team is an entertaining team. And, while the Mariners remain one of the most important parts of the Seattle community, for their service projects and support of various causes, the game has been far from entertaining these past few years. Sure, their commercials remain the best in the business, my personal favorite being the introduction of Larry Bernandez, but the magic of going to a Mariners game has almost entirely vanished.

Earlier this year, there was cause for excitement, with Felix Hernandez pitching a perfect game. It’s a memory I won’t forget, because even if I wasn’t in attendance, I felt connected with a vast sea of Mariners fans tuning in through radio, TV or the Internet.

I still get chills when the footage comes up of the team’s young ace leaping into the air. His next game was electric, just listening to it on the radio revealed that even after years of hardships, the Northwest still loves these guys. Just read blogs like USS Mariner and Lookout Landing.

And, if anything about the Mariners franchise is to be said, it’s that. The fan base is incredibly dedicated. We’ll still go to the ballpark to see our favorite faces, whether they’re in a slump or in the running for another Cy Young. There’s still some magic to seeing a baseball game in person, because you never know what you’ll see.

While the Mariners may win or lose, one thing, however, is guaranteed: the garlic fries won’t be beaten.

Now, at the end of 2012 with another baseball season off in the distance, there’s one benefit to the so-called apocalypse not happening: the Mariners still have a shot at winning the World Series.

Bring it on, 2013. We’re ready.

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