Dee Gordon

Being a sportswriter comes with a healthy dose of cynicism. We scribes don’t easily fall in line with the popular thought on the local sports teams. In other words, we are not fans. We don’t root for the local team. We instead cast a skeptical eye to what we are witnessing.

But I’m going to go against my sportswriting instincts and say that I really like what I have seen of the Seattle Mariners through their first four games, three of them wins. Four games don’t make a season – 162 games do – but there is something in the air around them that I like. And I think it comes from Dee Gordon.

Many years ago I was in the midst of sportswriters covering the Mariners and I happen to say something that almost got me booed out of the Kingdome. I said it was tough to be a professional baseball player. They have to play for nearly seven and half months (counting spring training) and come to play every day despite likely being physically banged up.

My fellow scribes rolled their eyes and responded that these guys make millions of dollars. I insisted, though, that doesn’t make the hurts, the bruises, the tiredness go away. Try to play 162 games in six months and see how you feel.  Sure, all of us would love to be paid millions to play a game. I get it. But don’t forget that they play through a lot of pain to get their money.

My fellow scribes didn’t buy my argument. But combine those games with all the extensive traveling, especially for those playing for the Mariners because this is a baseball franchise that does more traveling than any other team because of being located in the far north corner of the left coast of this country.

For example, this month the Mariners play at San Francisco, Minnesota and Kansas City, return home to play seven straight games with Oakland and Houston and then take to the road again to play in Texas, Chicago and Cleveland for 10 more straight days.

That kind of grind has to take its toll – physically and emotionally. But now comes the Dee Gordon factor. There are three guys I can think of off the top of my head who play this game of baseball like it should be played – like a kid playing with his buddies in a vacant lot, using rocks for bases and a battered bat and a ball that has been excessively wrapped in tape to keep it together. I throw that in because that is what I and my friends did as young boys back in New York State. And we loved it.

And Dee Gordon, Houston’s Jose Altuve, all five-foot-six of him, and Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor, whose nickname is Mr. Smile, all play the game like they are in a vacant lot playing with a cracked bat and scruffy ball. Watch them the next time you see them play and you will see what I mean. They are all smiles, laughing and enjoying themselves, their teammates, fans and the game. They are playing the game like it should be played.

Gordon’s enthusiasm for the game has already affected his teammates. They are playing relaxed and enjoying themselves. They are playing the game like they are still young kids. See Gordon speed to second base, stealing the bag, and you can’t help feel excited for him and for the team.

He has stolen 280 bases in eight-plus seasons, 60 last year with Miami which was just four off his career high of 64 he swiped in 2014 while playing with the Dodgers. He’s exciting to watch and he is excited to play. And his excitement has amped up the Mariners who needed a playful boost.

So my getaway is that the Mariners look like contenders. And I don’t say that lightly. We are only four games into a long season in which injuries, bumps and bruises will exact their toll. But right now I’m saying look out World Series defending champion Houston, here comes Dee Gordon and the Mariners.

Ok, go have some fun. I’m going to the Y to work out.

Be well pal.

Be careful out there.

Have a great day.

You are loved.