In the summer of 2002, on my ninth birthday, I jumped into a rented car in my uncle's driveway in Burlington, Vermont with my latest birthday present in my hands: Backyard Baseball 2003. As my family and I began to drive across the country to our new home in Seattle, we made some stops along the way, notably a trip to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
While at the Hall of Fame for the first time, my dad and I sat in on a Jeopardy-like trivia game that took place in a small theater tucked away at one end of the Hall. The man running the trivia game was asking questions to the audience that would determine who would play the jeopardy game. The first question he asked was: "Who was the first president to throw out the first pitch at a major league baseball game?" My little arm shot up. How I knew the answer to this question I don't remember, but in a moment of sudden clarity, I shouted out: "William Howard Taft"! That of course was the correct answer. Duh. Who doesn't know that (everyone else in the room didn't, and shot me weird looks)?
Because I answered correct, my dad and I took on a young married couple from Brooklyn in the Jeopardy showdown. And we wiped the floor with them (admittedly, I don't remember whether it was close or not, but the point is, I was nine, and we won). My Dad carried our team of course, but I did answer one question correctly, about one of my Dad's all-time favorites no less.
"In what country was Roberto Clemente born?"
Dad: "Patrick, it's the Dominican republic."
Me: "No, Dad it's Puerto Rico. I swear I'm right."
Dad: "I dunno Pup (my nickname), I'm pretty sure it's the Domincan Republic."
Me: "Just trust me on this one Dad."
Dad: "OK, fine. We'll go with Puerto Rico."
Of course I was right. I dominated trivia when I was nine years old (a stretch). But the point of all this is that at a young age, baseball (not basketball, which has become my favorite sport to play since then) captivated my interest at an early age. Thing is, since I had lived in Maine as long as could remember, I never had a hometown team to support (I loved the Indians and the Diamondbacks. Funny how stuff happens). That all changed when I moved to Seattle.
That summer, I didn't really know anyone my age in Seattle. My family hadn't moved all the way in, since we beat the moving truck across the country. So all I really had to do during the car rides and subsequent days in a virtually empty house was toil away on my gameboy playing Baseball Advance (one of the greatest games ever. I lost it that same summer and found it as we were remodeling my house before I left for college this summer. Played so much of it. The Mariners are unstoppable in it.) and later All Star Baseball. Straight up, I loved baseball. And therefore, I loved the Mariners.
The voice of Dave Niehaus suddenly became port of my life that summer. Listening to Edgar, Ichiro, John Olerud, Mike Cameron, Freddy Garcia, Jamie Moyer, and the rest of the M's that summer hooked me for good. Even though 2002 ended in disaster and the M's missed the playoffs due to Moneyball, My love for the team grew and grew.
After striking out to end my CYO team's season in sixth grade (the pitch was low. Strike one and strike three were both clearly low.), I quit playing baseball. I never was much of a baseball player, but nevertheless, I loved the Mariners, and didn't let my failures on the field affect my love for the SafeCo nine.
Last year, I went to eleven (It was either ten or eleven) Mariners' games, a new personal record for me. What games I didn't go to, I watched on Root Sports or gamecasted on ESPN. This offseason, I scoured every possible rumor I could find on MLB.com, ESPN.com and any other M's website I could find (Lookout Landing is awesome). I needed my Mariners fix, because I missed watching them so much.
More importantly, I started writing about the Mariners back in 2010 for SeaTownsports.net. SeaTown Sports is a great website and until recently was run by the guy who got me into sports blogging. SeaTown is a great source for everything Seattle, and I still write for it and might be posting some of the content from this site on that site as well.
So what is the purpose of this blog? Way Out in Left Field seeks to share my passion (and my co-blogger Anthony Davis' passion) for the Seattle Mariners with anyone who wants to read it and feels the same way I do. I love the Mariners, because even though the realistically won't win anything, they always give you a sense of hope. Baseball, unlike any sport, offers hope, because any team can win on any given night.
DePaul will never beat Syracuse in basketball. The Bobcats will never beat the Heat. The Colts (of last season) will never beat the Patriots (although they came close). But every night, the Mariners have a chance to beat the Yankees. Even when they are buried in the American League West cellar (which they won't be for long. Welcome, Houston!), they can still beat anybody on any given night. Or they can lose 17 games in a row. But I digress.
Way Out in Left Field will reflect the love, hate, frustration, and disappointment the Mariners cause their fans to feel every year. Notice how the last three adjectives used their were negative. Well, there's a reason for that. Just in case you fell asleep in 2001, you haven't missed much. The Mariners haven't been back to the playoffs since that season. In the 10 and a half year period since that nine year old kid hopped into the rental car in Vermont, the Seattle Mariners have not seen a playoff game. I guess you can blame it on me then.
But the reason Way Out in Left Field makes sense now is that that depression that the Mariners have been stuck in since the Moneyball let down of 2002 appears to be ending. This year looks bad, and the next year doesn't look so great either, but with the young talent on the team and in the system, the M's could contend by 2015.
So as the Mariners climb their way back to the top of the baseball heap again, Way Out in Left Field will cover every little detail of their rise, and probably a lot of details that have nothing to do with it as well. Anthony and I want to bring humor and sarcasm as well as intriguing accounts of Mariners' action to this blog.
For now, read our posts and make comments if you want. If you like something, tell us. If you hate something, tell us, and don't be afraid to say how you feel. We are going to tear into Chone Figgins if he swings at a bad pitch to use a game, so if we say something ridiculous or blow a statistic in a post, let us have it. But mostly, we just want to write about the Mariners and want people to enjoy what we do.
Looking back, that nine-year-old kid would be pissed that I'm just writing about baseball and not playing it anymore. But I think he would approve of my passion for the team that always lets me down but keeps me coming back for more. Go Mariners.