When I lived in South Dakota, on sweltering summer days I would saunter to the backyard while the girls splashed around in the plastic pool (aka, The Beach). I didn't think there was a lake or swimming hole worth the travel in South Dakota, so we hung out at "The Beach," and looked forward to hanging out with our neighbors--sharing a beer, some barbecued shrimp, and a fire later in the evening with a cocktail. If we weren't hanging out with our neighbors, I would take my laptop outside and listen to the Mariners, while Dave Niehaus hosted the girls and me like he was our uncle. It didn't matter how good the team was, but it added a little excitement when they played well. I learned this leisurely summer practice from my father--Niehaus painting the story of the game while Dad pulled weeds and my brothers and I explored and played outside, sometimes crafting our own Mariners game through the magic of wiffle ball.
Mariners and baseball games in general give shape to the summer--storytelling by Niehaus, learning the characters/players of the game, excitement and disappointment, and statistics to solidify observations about heroes. I would listen regardless of the state of the team, but this year's edition of the Mariners is enjoyable because they are a plucky team. Back in the PNW, I now have more media outlets with which to enjoy the Mariners--TV, radio, and on the computer if necessary. Playing in the hallowed walls of Fenway Park in Boston--where legends and passion are cultivated, and history wafts in the smells of the park (I'm not exaggerating, it's a pilgrimage), the Mariners played with no fear. They have less talent than the boys from Boston, but the stars (Felix Hernandez) played well and the apprentices stayed focused, and contributed, all the way down to the mediocre stick of Ronny Cedeno. This team is so much better planned and crafted than in recent years. Thank you, Jack Zduriencik, for building this team with a plan. Thanks, Don Wakamatsu, for being a good steward of these baseball resources (I appreciate your style). I'm having that much better of a time with my family this summer already. Keep it going. Stay plucky.