I’m still processing everything that happened last Saturday night. I’m glad I was there to witness it, but holy crap I wish they’d won and Sunday morning would have involved me sprinting to Safeco again to buy a last minute ticket.
I was so anxious all day leading up to the game. I had bought tickets weeks before for the Oktoberfest promotion (free Mariners stein for drowning your sorrows!) and figured, hey, there’s an outside chance that the Mariners will still be alive for this game. The week leading up to October 1 was ride or die, insane baseball and the team made it. They stayed mathematically alive. Season on the line for game 161. My wife Cassie and I even dragged 3 of our non-baseball fan friends to the game. This was a big deal!
I damn near blacked out from joy when Cruz hit that home run to tie it and lost it again when Gamel tied it up in the 9th. 2 incredible moments that I won't soon forget.
That Cruz home run and his reaction is a top 3 moment for me for the 2016 Mariners. I never thought Cruz would end up being such a favorite for me when he joined the team 2 years ago, but then he went and defied all logic of aging and physics and provided 2 seasons of massive value with his production on the field and paired it with a jovial, fun-loving, and utterly professional demeanor. Nelson Cruz is awesome.
In the bottom of the 10th inning, after giving up yet another lead to the Oakland Athletics AKA the Greyjoys of baseball (What is Dead is May Never Die), I watched that final Seager fly ball as it floated into center field and I actually forgot somehow for just a second that this was it. This was the end. It was one of those surreal "hey wait, no, hold on, that can't be right" moments. The ball was caught and reality sunk back in, like a brick in a lake. I couldn’t leave. I told our friends they could bail, I was going stay for a while.
Cassie and I took our time heading out and walked the long way around Safeco to leave out of the center field gate. Said thanks and goodbye to ushers and security guards. Said goodbye to Dave. The light rail ride home was like a funeral procession. Went to bed sad, woke up sad.
I let myself get my hopes up a little bit for this team. I truly felt like if any Mariners team of the last 15 years could sneak into the playoffs, this one had enough talent and especially enough offense to do so. I bought in a little bit and decided to not quit until they were actually eliminated. They made it quite a bit further then I thought they would and man, they are certainly trending in a much better direction than pretty much every year of the Zduriencik reign. This offseason will undoubtedly be entertaining with the sheer number of transactions we all expect Dipoto to make given his track record. But right now? Spring feels pretty far away.
There's always next year.