The Mariners Finally Did It!

Friday didn’t start out super fun, from a sports fan perspective. That Husky loss to UCLA was wildly frustrating; I’m never used to this team not being great on defense. The days of Nick Holt were some of the darkest in my entire fandom, and that’s including the punchless offense of the last few years. I can’t fucking stand a bad defense, and while it’s a breath of fresh air to have a competent quarterback and to be able to move the ball seemingly at will, there are going to be games like Friday’s where the other team’s offense makes a few more plays than you do, resulting in a 40-32 loss that could’ve been a lot uglier if they didn’t take the foot off the gas in the second half.

So, I was in a pretty sour mood once I settled into the two-TV set up. I had the Mariners on the little TV with no sound, but that changed after halftime, when I couldn’t deny there was something special going on with the M’s and A’s.

To set the stage, Baltimore had won. Their game started before ours and it was decided well before the end of the Mariners game. This was important for a couple reasons. For starters, as I had said before, part of me really wanted us to clinch it on Saturday, since that was the game I was going to. Selfish, I know. But, as we saw on Friday night, that’s an environment you absolutely want to be a part of.

The other reason why it was important for Baltimore to win is because I think it’s more valuable – psychologically – for the Mariners to go out and win their spot in the playoffs. We’ve already kind of been backing in all month, and thanks to the Orioles similarly going in the tank, it became an inevitability as time went on. They could’ve easily blown their game on Friday, and it would’ve been announced in the middle of our game, and we all would’ve celebrated, and the Mariners would’ve had their champagne showers, and that’s all great.

But, how cool was it to be tied 1-1 in the bottom of the ninth, two outs, nobody on, full count, pinch hitter Cal Raleigh at the plate, as he yanks one down the right field line to send everyone into hysterics?! That’s just the ultimate hero-making moment of all time. Cal Raleigh is going to be a legend around here for the rest of his life. That’s up there with The Double (even though, clearly, we were going to get into the playoffs eventually, what with our magic number being down to one and all that).

I wasn’t there, so I didn’t get that wish to come true, but I was still as happy as I’ve ever been. That’s 21 years of heartache finally going out the window. That’s a whole generation of Mariners fans finally getting to feel success for the first time. I was by myself in my living room with a beer in my hand and I was as rowdy as all get-out; it was the best sports night in forever. I watched all of the post-game interviews, I relished all the post-game Tweets, I texted with my brother and my friends. It was just a night of pure joy.

Saturday’s game was kind of like a hangover, except you’re not actually sick. It’s one of those miracles that almost never comes around. Our lineup was clearly riddled with players who didn’t spend all night at the club. The under of 6.5 combined runs was the easiest bet of the day, even with both teams getting 4 runs in the first. The Mariners led 3-1 at that point, then we added a couple runs late, but it held at 5-1.

Sunday was the REAL hangover. The two-nights-of-drinking-in-a-row kind of hangover. We lost 10-3; the less said about that one, the better.

Right now, we’re at 87-71, with four games to go against the Tigers, starting tonight. We’re 2.5 games behind the Blue Jays, meaning we would have to sweep and they would have to lose 2 of 3 to the Orioles. We’re also 1.5 games ahead of the Rays, which means that if we go 1-3, they would have to sweep the Red Sox in three games.

It seems pretty safe to say that the Mariners will be the #2 wild card, playing the wild card round IN Toronto this weekend. You hate to see it, but it is what it is. What matters is that we’re there. And it’s helpful that we have a mostly-meaningless series the next three days, to help us better align our pitching. Get guys work who need the work (Julio will hopefully be back from the IL today), and rest the guys who need the rest (maybe Cal sits out most of this series).

Regardless, it’s just great to have playoff baseball back in my life. I can’t wait for this weekend!

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