I could only play baseball for so long in my life. At some point, whether I knew it at the time or not, I quit. I retired. I walked away from the game I loved. Obviously I wish I could have played longer, wish I could have been great, wish I could still be playing. But for so many of us that toe the rubber, run the bases, and swing the bat, we have an end point whether we want to accept it or not.
But being a fan, you can be locked in forever. For life. For as long as you want to be. I can’t quit being a fan. No coach around to tell me I can’t hack it anymore. No back pain from swinging. No .108 batting average with 24 strikeouts and 1 walk to kill my morale. I have invested more hours into it than I’ll ever know.
Despite the painful losses that can possibly zap the life out of me or ruin a weekend (playoff football), I keep coming back. I love it. I love sports. I love the athleticism, the mystique, the unpredictability, and so many more reasons. I will be a Seattle Mariners fan for the rest of my life.
I grew up with the team having zero hope of competing. Stars would last a handful of years before fizzling out and/or be released/traded. I knew Seattle baseball when the Mariners “sucked” and it didn’t matter that they did. It was baseball in a giant cavernous stadium where professional ballplayers would come and play in 81 times in a calendar year. I went to some very memorable games with my dad and brother. The love of baseball entered my bloodstream at an early age; it was with me for life.
So after the 1991 season, the Mariners could finally take claim to a non-losing season. In 1995, well, you know what happened. In 1997, they won the West despite having what seemed like the worst bullpen in franchise history. In 2000, battled all the way until the end of the season and won the Wild Card. They then shocked the best team in the A.L. in the Divisional Series.
2001… wow. 116 wins. I mean what can you say? Unreal, magical, never to be duplicated again. All of this after losing Randy in the middle of 1998, Junior before the 2000 season and A-Rod before the 2001 season. 2002 was a great season, but the A’s were too damn good and the Wild Card wasn’t to be. A 93-win Seattle Mariners team that DID NOT reach the postseason. It was downhill after that.
Many of the “fans” are now disinterested. It has been 10 years since my beloved franchise had a crack at the postseason. 10 long years. There are teams with worse droughts than the M’s, I’m aware of this, but we were teased. We had some incredible teams with magical Hall of Fame players on the roster. The team was so close to that elusive ring, we could all taste it, but failed. The failed and flawed teams pissed fans off in the mid 2000’s and they quit caring.
QUITTING. This so-called “dirty” word of sports and life. No matter what you do, where you go, or what your track record says, nobody wants to be known as a quitter. Being labeled as a quitter is the ultimate form of disgrace. After all, when the going gets tough, the tough are supposed to get going, right? What’s that say about fans?
They’re the ones that come to a ballpark where every tangible item is overpriced. They pay their hard-earned money and give up their time and effort. If they choose to quit coming and quit spending leisurely, I get it. I understand. And I applaud you for sticking to your guns.
Are fans taking the easy way out? I suppose. However, “quitting” isn’t always as bad as everyone says it is. There are times when leaving your team or sport is the absolute healthiest thing you can ever do. If you find yourself as an absolutely disgusted, time-wasting, pissed off mood having, annoyed fan… maybe you need to get away from it.
But maybe you can’t. Maybe baseball is your drug. Maybe baseball is your addiction. Maybe the thought of quitting on the Mariners makes you sicker. I can’t tell you what to do, but no matter what happens, how frustrating this team becomes this season, I’ll be there. If you need to vent, vent to me. Need optimism for the future, talk to me. I’m not going anywhere.
And sure somebody could say, “But Boydwonder, you work in the sports industry, of course you’ll be there! That’s not fair to say.” And I would say to that person “I could get fired tomorrow morning and I’d still watch the game at 7:05PM.” I’m in this forever. If I was into tattoos, I’d have the “S + compass” logo tatted on my back for anybody to see. This game and this team have been too influential on my life to walk away from. It got me through bad times, it got me through good times. Baseball is me.
I know some incredible fans out there who share the same mindset; they can’t quit. I also know some fans that as soon as the losses pile up and the team is deemed a flop, they peace out. They don’t follow it closely. Some of my best friends are extremely fair-weather and quite frankly don’t know much of anything about the team. They won’t get worked up about a loss because they’re not watching. But they’ll be back when the M’s reach star status again.
Maybe that’s the smart move. Maybe being a bandwagoner is the way to go. Support the winners, ignore the losers? Not me, I can’t do that.
So for the real diehards out there like me, I applaud you. I respect you. I’m glad I’m not alone. And just know that one day soon, we shall bask in the glory of postseason baseball and who knows, I might be that guy standing next to you out in The ‘Pen giving you a hug, holding back tears after the M’s win it all.