I am sitting in an awful motel room on Mercer Island, one I wouldn’t recommend to a Giants fan, and trying to catch up on the news.
Actually, I’m trying to see if the game stories caught the excitement that was running through the stands last night in the 5-4 comeback victory over the Orioles. For the most part they did.
I’ve covered a lot of games over the past 30 years and I do know the atmosphere in the press box is different than in the seats – and that’s a good thing. Writers are not fans, and shouldn’t be. But it is important to know how the team’s fans are reacting, which is what I decided to discover last night.
Now there weren’t a lot of people at Safeco – 19,287, not all of whom were baseball fans; some were there for the beer, others for the cotton candy and all those types seemed to be continually walking in front of me – but there seems to be a current of electricity starting to build around this team. A string of comeback victories will do that.
As I wandered and listened, what I heard in the early innings revolved around a confidence the M’s would rally, that the Orioles lead would melt away as soon as the Mariners got into the O’s bullpen. Which is exactly what happened.
There was a (positive) confidence in the stands, something that’s been missing for a few years (read: since Bill Bavasi came aboard). The past couple years it seemed the M’s faithful was waiting for the other shoe to drop, the opponent to rally, the Mariners to blow the game. Last night, at least, the expectations were different. Even Ichiro felt it.
“There is some kind of atmosphere that this team has,” he said through an interpreter in the Times. “I’m not exactly able to put a finger on it. But we definitely have something going on.”
Do they? As that famous baseball writer Abe Lincoln once wrote in Washington Post (and I’m paraphrasing): You can fool all the people some of the time and you can fool some of the people all the time, but you can’t fool all the people all the time. The next few weeks will show if the M’s fans are just being fooled.
We’ll be back at Safeco today (1:05 p.m.; no TV; 700-AM) for the final game in the M’s brutal 194-day stretch without a day off. Listening to some of the griping, it’s been worse than Bataan, believe me.
Today’s hot list …
• The most recent in a string of comebacks was the lead in game stories from the News Tribune, the Times, the P-I and the Herald. From Baltimore, the death watch is beginning again for manager Sam Perlozzo, and you can follow it in the Sun.
• All is well. That’s the Mariners’ line about Felix Hernandez. At least physically. His pitching? That can improve.
• I’ve written this here before, but there is no doubt Kenji Johjima is one of the three best catchers in the American League right now. But that doesn’t mean he will make the AL All-Star team.
• After today, the M’s play nine of their next 10 games in National League parks. To get Jose Vidro’s bat in the lineup, this year’s DH will have to pick up a glove. Remember when Edgar had to do this? He always seemed to get hurt trying to catch a pop up or something. Let’s hope for Vidro’s sake the same doesn’t happen.
• Now this is a story that won’t surpri