What's Tony Thinking

How ‘Bout Those Mariners?


Isn’t it wonderful to have such a happy diversion as the M’s and the astonishing season they are having? Another one run victory last night against the smug Red Sox.

Remember writer David James Duncan’s (The Brothers K) thesis that the job of baseball players is to keep the peace? Here’s Duncan:

“I cherish a theory I once heard propounded by G.Q. Durham that professional baseball is inherently antiwar. The most overlooked cause of war, his theory runs, is that it’s so damned interesting. It takes hard effort, skill, love and a little luck to make times of peace consistently interesting. About all it takes to make war interesting is a life. The appeal of trying to kill others without being killed yourself, according to Gale, is that it brings suspense, terror, honor, disgrace, rage, tragedy, treachery and occasionally even heroism within range of guys who, in times of peace, might lead lives of unmitigated blandness.

“But baseball, he says, is one activity that is able to generate suspense and excitement on a national scale, just like war. And baseball can only be played in peace. Hence G.Q.’s thesis that pro ball-players—little as some of them may want to hear it—are basically just a bunch of unusually well-coordinated guys working hard and artfully to prevent wars, by making peace more interesting.”

I am not entirely sure you can characterize ours as a time of peace. We have the prince of distraction and duplicity in the White House, Lord help us.

Which makes the break the Mariners are providing, at least to those of us in Seattle, all the more welcome. In times of such lunacy, an unexpected bit of joy.

“Unexpected” is the key word. Unlike several recent seasons when the Mariners hyped expectations of “this is the year,” there was none of that for this year. They limped through spring training looking more like a MASH unit than a ball club. The starting pitching was suspect and the bullpen an unknown, even if the offense appeared potentially potent.

And then Robinson Cano, arguably our best player, took himself out of the line-up with an 80 game suspension for PED’s.

So that’s a part of the thrill too — it wasn’t expected. A gift.

By the way, if you haven’t read The Brothers K, it would be a fine summer read. We heard Duncan several years ago when he keynoted the Fishtrap Writers Conference at Wallowa Lake. He is one of those people who is gifted at finding the extraordinary in the ordinary, which included childhood recollections of his first look underwater, there at Wallowa Lake with a mask and snorkel. (That’s a pretty strange image in itself, you don’t see many folks so adorned. Beautiful, but not quite Hawaii.). But as a boy so clad, Duncan found a whole new world there.

So, thanks to the Seattle Mariners, our “bunch of unusually well-coordinated guys working hard and artfully to prevent wars, by making peace more interesting.”




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