I haven't yet written any postings about the Mariners. This does not mean that I don't watch the games. It just means that they've disappointed too many times in the past to warrant my getting overly excited about them this season. In fact, when they started out so well this year, I almost broke down and wrote about them. Then they slid. I felt nearly responsible. Even just my thought of speaking excitedly about them must have caused a jinx.
Still, I sometimes watch the games. And I always follow the scores. And although I don't know the players now as well as I knew them back, say, in the 1995 and 1996 seasons, I do have a sense of who's playing. And I'm glad that Junior's back.
I flipped on the game last night. I watched them go from 1-0 to 3-1. Then I flipped it off - not because I believed it was a foregone conclusion that they would win, but just because I didn't want to have my now-slightly-happy mood to be dashed upon the rocks of disappointment right then. I was willing to read the final score in the next day's newspaper (and postpone my nearly-inevitable disappointment).
But then, like someone watching a train wreck, or knowing that there's one just down the street, I flipped back to the game - just in time to see that the score was now 3-3. No, no, no! How did it happen? And then came time for the "go ahead run," as they say in the baseball biz. Just - darn. But now I really couldn't look away. If only they can get this last out - if only...
Ball is hit foul. Someone - first base man? not Ichiro - runs to catch it, nearly flips into the stands and voila. He has caught the ball. Inning over. Mariners maintain the tie. Then to the bottom of the ninth - Mariners get the bases loaded, no outs - no outs! - then an out, then another out (at this point, if you're a Mariner fan, you're just grateful that this second out wasn't a double play)... And I'm thinking, the agony will extend to extra innings...
But wait. Who is it at home plate? Can it really be - Ichiro? With his zen-like batting stance (pointing the bat to the sky before bringing it in for the landing)? If it's Ichiro, it's a chance. No, not Junior - though it used to be and maybe one day he'll be the DH that Edgar always was - no, today, the hope lands on the shoulders of the quirky guy from Japan.
A strike and a strike (and a weird swing). Uh oh. Even Ichiro can't succeed. I go to change the channel again - this will be too much to watch - but then something keeps me put. And the pitch comes, and Ichiro makes some sort of golfing-bowling move, and then the ball lands - plop! - into the center of center field, where no one - not the shortstop, not the second base man, not the center fielder - can scoop it up before it lands... And we score and we win, and the Mariners descend upon Ichiro, who is happy and laughing and glad he could help.