I don't know what was more upsetting to me as a Mariners fan this past offseason: seeing Safeco Field get renamed to T-Mobile Park, or having to say goodbye to one of the best lineups this team has had in almost two decades. It is quite sad to think about how the last time the Mariners were in the playoffs was during their iconic 116-win season in 2001. Since then, the team has barely had 80-win seasons.
Having been born about two years prior to the 2001 season and the fact that baseball wasn't introduced to me until the age of 5, I grew up having to either root for different teams during the postseason, or sometimes not even bothering to watch it at all. Because of this, I'm also a Yankees and Dodgers fan, but the Mariners are still my team. I don't remember the exact moment when I first became a Mariners fan, I just like to imagine that I woke up one day and said, "Today, I'm going to become a Mariners fan."
During elementary school, my whole identity was the Mariners. From what I wore, to the book reports I wrote, it was just me. Each day, I would go to school in an Ichiro shirt and it got to the point where my teachers called home to ask if I had other clothes because they thought I wore the same shirt every day. During my own baseball games, I got upset when my coach didn't put me in right field like Ichiro and instead put me in at third base (I later realized that in Little League, the outfield was where they put the kids who didn't want to be there). The best parts of my childhood where the summer nights were spent in the bleachers of Safeco Field, with garlic fries in one hand and Dippin Dots in the other.
Once I decided to "retire" from playing baseball in the fifth grade, it led to me breaking away from being a Mariners fan for a few years. I can only compare this part of my life to when a child decides to give up their baby blanket, except my baby blanket was a whole baseball team. The poster of Safeco field and Mariners jerseys were tucked away in my closet and got replaced with band shirts and 2013-era Tumblr aesthetic room décor. The only time I paid attention to the Mariners during this time was when I got news of yet another losing season during the fall.
Going into last baseball season, I started to hear talk about how Mariners looked good and how they had a shot at the playoffs. This peaked my attention. So I broke out my jerseys and for the first time in four years, I begged my parents to go to a Mariners game. The first half of the 2018 season gave me hope. Was I actually going to witness a Mariners playoff game with my own eyes? Sadly, the team choked and just missed having a 90-win season.
Even though I was let down by the Mariners again this past season, you'll catch me sitting in the left field bleachers of T-Mobile Park with garlic fries and cotton candy, giving my support to my team, my Mariners.
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