After grumbling about the bad hotel wifi while on the road last week, tonight was my first chance to really see the team on a genuine flashy-lighty moving-picture box. Blowing out the Astros is fun, the kind of fun you have as the only adult on a basketball court full of little kids. For 30 seconds you're like, yeah, look at how awesome I am, and then you realize—wait, all I did to deserve this was not die. Let's just say the Angels were auditioning for me in more ways than one tonight, which was also the Mariners home opener. So show me. Impress me with your product. Can I justify not watching Justified?
It started well. It really did. Trout single, Pujols homer, Freese homer, boom, 3-0 Angels in the first inning. I'm pumped. That was all the excitement for the night, though, packed into the first 15 seconds. The Mariners drop four in the third, most of that on a home run by Corey Hart, who does it again in the seventh just to piss me off. Meanwhile, the Angels are done hitting for the night, more or less literally. Kole Calhoun poked a single at some point, and Fraudney is always good for a couple of leadoff walks in the ninth, but that was it. Good night, good luck, sign two more pitchers and call me in the offseason.
So now I'm like, damn. Are we past the point where we can only blame our expectations? I don't mean this season, I mean now that we're about five years into the Mediocre Era. The Mariners might actually have a chance to not be awful this season. They already had some pitching, maybe they've even got enough of that swinging-hitting-running thing to not be a total taken-for-granted series win every time, at least not for another team treading the waters of mediocrity. Is this the world now? Do we learn to live in it, or do we keep dreaming about the old one becoming new again?
I don't know. Those questions are better left to bearded old men on fishing trips. What I do is that (1) we could have just witnessed a disruptive injury to James Paxton, the Mariner's brightest young pitcher; (2) we almost certainly just witnessed Josh Hamilton hurt himself in some minor yet annoying fashion that will somehow get blamed for everything he does poorly this season, again; and (3) congratulations, MLB, on showing us why the new replay system made approximately zero people happy. Silly challenges, confused umpires, more waiting around on the field, and they still get it wrong, or at least, wrong enough to make you wonder just what all of it was for. Of course instant replay can never settle everything, but I feel like the new rules are intended more for hokey TV drama than calm efficiency.