Chaos Ball

How to Survive the Stress of Mariners Playoff Games

Say it with us now: Julioooooo.

By Benjamin Cassidy October 6, 2022

Julio Rodríguez laughs.

Let the irrepressible spirit of Julio Rodríguez guide us.

Welcome back to playoff baseball, Seattle.

After two dismal decades, there's no doubt it will be incredibly exciting to finally see the Mariners in the postseason this weekend. But it's also a lock to be incredibly nerve-racking.

People who drag our national pastime for its monotony probably haven't watched the sport in October, when a slog of a season is decided in a harrowing sprint riddled with a million potential missteps along the way.

Seattle fans can be forgiven for forgetting how tense playoff games are—or for never knowing, considering the franchise's postseason drought almost turned drinking age before meeting its merciful end. Gen Z wasn't even born when Ken Griffey Jr. dashed home against the Yankees for the 1995 "Refuse to Lose" Mariners.

It's been a while since we've been through the grind of a championship run. And even in the best of times, this city tends to get anxious about stress. So here's a full count of dos and don'ts to help ride out the emotional turmoil of the Mariners 2022 playoff run, for die-hard and bandwagon fans alike.

Do: Lose yourself in the thrall of Julio Rodríguez. When the Mariners signed the star outfielder to a record-breaking contract extension in August, they all but guaranteed that the next decade of baseball in Seattle will be a pretty good time. There are no sure things in sports, but Baseball America's Rookie of the Year is about as close as it gets to a can't-miss prospect on the field. Away from the diamond, the 21-year-old is a hit with kids, an earnest, joyful dude who even saved a player development coach's job from pandemic cuts. Even if things get bleak for this edition of the playoff Mariners, take solace in knowing that the J-Rod Show is poised for a multi-season run.

Do not: Fixate on Robbie Ray's tight pants. Ray is your likely starting pitcher for game two of the series against his former team, which means the TV audience at home will have a prolonged view of Ray's butt-clenching baseball bottoms. While his sartorial choices have spawned an ironic fanbase, including a Twitter account, this oddball's devotion to leg day means his seams are perilously close to bursting at any moment. Don't eye his trousers too closely if a pitcher potentially bringing new meaning to "splitter" induces anxiety for you. Or maybe do, if that's your kink.

Do: Embrace the stoicism of Scott Servais. Seattle's manager exudes the best kind of dad energy, a steady hand whose faith never wavered after a sputtering start to the season. Only when umpires were robbing Rodríguez did he ever lose his cool, and even then it was tactical. A voice crack while yelling "let's party!" after the clincher further suggests this is a man who typically lives at an even keel. Follow his lead.

Do not: Watch alone. Baseball misery loves company. While the Mariners may not play any home games during the Wild Card Series against the Toronto Blue Jays, the franchise will host ticketed watch parties for each game at T-Mobile Park. Bars and restaurants near the field, and for many miles in any direction, are bound to have the ESPN telecasts on. If you're a constantly-screams-at-the-TV type, or are just a bit wary of mingling with masses amid the latest variant of Covid anxiety, you can still follow along with the squad's robust online community. Lookout Landing's bloggers, for instance, pair heartfelt fandom with clear-eyed analysis; they can cover all of your (Mariners-related) emotional needs.

Do: Remember this is just the beginning. Rodríguez isn't the only Mariner around for the long haul. Ray signed a five-year deal before the season. Game one starter Luis Castillo's contract extension runs the same length. Eugenio Suarez, the slugging third basemen and other fan favorite "Geno" in this town, could be here through 2024 or 2025. And the franchise's bevy of homegrown prospects—pitchers Logan Gilbert and George Kirby and catcher Cal Raleigh, to name just a few—basically ensure that the team will continue to develop or add pieces to a championship contender for years to come. Baseball playoffs might be stressful, but it seems like, for once, we might just get used to it around here.

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