The sun rises again

I’m a Mariners fan, so most would say I should not be excited about another baseball season. Considering my team scored the fewest runs in the DH era last year, that would be a reasonable statement. Also, when your biggest off-season acquisition was Jack Cust…well that says it all doesn’t it?

But after this longest of winters, which has seen practically the entire country hit by multiple blizzards of epic proportions, the fact that Valentine’s Day marks the beginning of Spring Training this year seems very appropriate.

It’s time to begin our love affair again.

The baseball season is like an epic movie. It’s not for everyone. Some people have a hard time paying attention for that long. But for those who truly appreciate the beauty of what they’re seeing, it’s worth every minute. The thing about Spring Training is that it’s a time where every team believes there’s a chance this could be their year. I pay almost no attention to pre-season projections because they don’t matter. The lush history of baseball is full of improbable underdog stories of teams and players that no one believed in, rising to heights that no one could have anticipated.

At the same time, sometimes teams suffer through seasons you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy. Luckily for fans, this era of spectacular ballparks makes the suffering a little less harsh. The experience of going to a baseball game today is both tremendously fun and relaxing. Every football game is rife with intensity and you feel drained afterwards. That is fun, but my heart couldn’t handle that intensity for a whole year. Basketball games are indoors and intermittent, there is no rhyme or reason to the schedule; same with hockey.

But baseball is every day (with a few Mondays off), and with a few exceptions, outdoors. Unlike football, you don’t have to stress over the result of the particular game you attend. At Safeco Field, when the Mariners are losing 10-2 to Detroit, I can still breathe in the fresh air and admire the surroundings. I can still appreciate the little things in the game, like a great throw from Ichiro, or a particularly nasty breaking ball. Baseball just relaxes me, yet is still wildly entertaining. It’s like there’s some sort of spell on the ballpark. Once I enter…all is right in the world.

That’s not to say I don’t deeply care about the fortunes of my favorite team. I think what’s happened over the past decade with the Mariners is tragic as we’ve wasted Ichiro’s career. One of the most exciting players of all-time has been to the post-season once due to poor management and bad luck.

But Spring Training is here. There’s already positive news on the Eric Bedard front as he continues to try and revive a career that’s taken a turn for the worse. I’m excited to watch Adam Moore, Michael Saunders, and Franklin Gutierrez continue to develop. Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda are close to Big League ready as well. Maybe new manager Eric Wedge will have an immediate impact. Maybe Chone Figgins will find himself and become the dynamic threat we thought we were getting last year.

Maybe…just maybe…the Mariners can shock the world.

It’s Spring Training time…I’m allowed to dream.


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