It takes a special type of wiring to tag the Mariners as your top team in this city. In the words of exhausted-yet-enthusiastic fan Felicia Balschweid — who predicts the M’s will lose their final contest to fall one game shy of the playoffs — “It’s a 24/7 thing with them.”
Complete this sentence: Being a Mariners fan is _____.
That was the task I presented to the people swarming Safeco Field on Saturday. That was the challenge I proposed at FanFest two months before the M’s start the season with the longest playoff drought (14 years) in Major League Baseball.
I wasn’t completely sure what I was going to get, but I expected a game of this-team-drives-me-mad libs. Which is why I wasn’t surprised when the first answer was…
“Loyalty.” — Seth Rohrenbach
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This was a pretty common theme, actually. “Dedication,” “devotion,” and “sticking with the team no matter what” were offered up as well.
You wouldn’t hear these kinds of responses from a Yankee fan who just assumes the season ends in mid-October. These are more along the lines of what an ultramarathoner is thinking on Mile 46.
Yes, it takes a special type of wiring to tag the Mariners as your top team in this Seahawk-first city. In the words of exhausted-yet-enthusiastic fan Felicia Balschweid — who predicts the M’s will lose their final contest of the season to fall one game shy of the playoffs — “It’s a 24/7 thing with them.”
But the same is true of Seattle’s’ front office, which is why Balschweid’s significant other went another direction, saying that being a Mariners fan is…
“Exciting right now.” — Eric Henderson
I was in San Diego a year ago when Padres’ general manager A.J. Preller revamped the roster and (temporarily) rejuvenated the fan base. If die-hards didn’t see news of a trade on their phones, they’d just assume the WiFi went out.
There’s something about a personnel overhaul that breeds optimism no matter how nebulous the finished product may be. And regardless of whether new GM Jerry Dipoto’s plan is any good — he sure as hell followed it to a T.
From Wade Miley, to Nori Aoki to Joaquin Benoit to more than a dozen new faces, Dipoto has been importing players at a rate never before seen in the Emerald City. It’s not the collection of boulders that Preller carried in on his back, but it might be a far more practical, more potent assortment of stones.
This isn’t the NBA, where you can lean on a star or two and take credit for an otherwise “no duh” signing. The world champion Royals or up-and-coming Astros provide the necessary proof that the little transactions are what lead to the big wins.
But as exciting as all the offseason activity was, fans are still tempering their expectations, because if we’re being real here, being a Mariners fan is…
“Difficult.” — Jeremy Hopkins
Hopkins was at FanFest a year ago when it seemed “we’re going to the World Series!” was a mandatory statement for anyone holding a microphone. The M’s fell just one game short of reaching the postseason the year before, signed Nelson Cruz in the offseason, and at the very least, seemed destined for back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2002/2003.
What followed was a 10-games-below-.500 mess. Fans went from expecting a celebration to hoping and praying this was an aberration.
Hopkins said that because “I’m from Seattle,” he tried not to get too caught up in the World Series hype, but everyone else I talked to did. So surely, given all the disappointment in years past, they’re not expecting the playoff drought to end this year, are they?
Actually, most of them are.
I understand that a FanFest attendee represents the average fan about as well as a political-rally attendee represents an average Democrat or Republican. Sure — they may get a little overexcited.
But that’s the beauty of being a fan in January or February, because in baseball, you never really know.
The Red Sox will win a World Series one year, fall below .500 the next, and make pundits look like morons. The Nationals did the same thing last year with their struggles, as did the Astros with their success.
There might not be a specific reason to think this will be the M’s year, but there isn’t anything glaring to say a postseason run is impossible, either. Maybe that’s why, despite the 14 years of futility, people still say that being a Mariners fan is…
“Awesome.” — Dave Ispas
Well, let’s not get carried away.