Monday, January 12, 2004

Embracing Optimism 

Dave at Dave's Mariners and More tells his story of how he lost his optimism about the Mariners after the 2002 season. In it, this blog was referenced as "only the second blog out there that defends Bavasi." (I'm guessing that Cracking The Safe is the other).

I do not try to defend Bavasi, necessarily. I just want Mariner fans to remember just how good our team is, and to look forward to 2004 and continue to follow the team. I think Bavasi has made some horrible decisions, that I would never make if I was the GM (and yes, I am available to interview for the position next year). But I also try to look at what they might have been thinking when decisions were made, and I remain hopeful. Not every decision that is universally praised works out. I think most pundits thought Jeff Cirillo would bat .300 for the M's but probably not provide much pop. Nor is every decision that is universally panned a bad one. (The whole scenario leading up to the Griffey trade seemed to work out okay). Some of my favorite players have been dealt or lost - I lived for a Randy Johnson start every five days, and the trade of fellow Rice alum Jose Cruz, Jr. for a steaming pile of dogcrap could have killed my love for my team.

But it didn't. Sure I yelled and cursed these moves and Woody Woodward and Bobby Ayala's names were usually greeted by a boo at my house for awhile. But, time heals these wounds, and in the end, you have your love for a team. Not their owners and management, but for the players and the uniform, and your fellow fans. And things have been great for the past 10 years, when compared to the first 15 for the M's. Things have a way of working out. I'm here to say that if Rice University can go from laughingstock in all sports to NCAA Champions in baseball in a 15-year span, then the Mariners can win it all this year. Easily. So, be irate with management, but don't turn against the team. Don't boo Quinton McCracken, or curse Kevin Jarvis just because you know a better player should be out there. Be optimistic that the one hit they collect each week, or one stikeout they throw, will be the one that wins a game.

I hope that this blog has at least helped to start a trend. It seems like other M's blogs seem to be embracing or at least discussing optimism, or at least throwing out reminders that they are M's fans and for the most part hope things break right. Paul at SS Mariner apparently got some hot email from his Sunday note of Boonie's optimism. But he reminds us that for a team-oriented blog, its good sometimes to remember that we can be fans first, and amateur sabermatricians second.

Derek at USS Mariner gets downright giddy with... despite being a significantly worse team (and a tremendously worse team than they could have been), the Mariners may finish as with as many wins or more than they did last year, and compete for the AL West pennant all year long. And if luck breaks their way all year long, they could win it all, and have a chance at the World Series.

Of course, he then goes on to say that "if you gave me the choice between 90 wins this year and a first-round playoff defeat or 75 wins and a third-place AL West finish, I don't know what I'd take, because the latter might result in the team firing Bavasi and bringing in the kind of state-of-the-art GM they should have hired this year to clean up this mess and start fielding competitive teams for years to come. And yet I can't say that I actually want to see that happen. I'm a fan, and when I go to games I like to see good baseball and the team win." Winning is fun. Playoff chases are fun. And I'll take a 90-win playoff chase that ultimately fails over a throwaway 75-win season without blinking. Heck, I might even consider it over the disappointment of 2001, when the M's won 116, but their big lead combined with the events of 9/11 seemed to sap away their energy so that they could not turn it on again in the playoffs.

Give me a September race where every game matters, and I'm in Heaven, win or lose. And one of these years, things are gonna break right and we are gonna win it all. I think it will be in 2004 - why else would Edgar still be here?

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