More on Hope

This “hope” thing is tricky.

The Mariners gave some to their fans with a winning road trip (five wins, four losses) that included several games where they remembered how to hit the ball. Then they came home last night and demonstrated how easy it is to score a bunch of runs and still lose the game. Five runs will win a lot of games, but not the ones where your opponent scores twelve. With the All Star Break, the official half-way point in the season, less than a week away, they’re at 38-45, hoping to hang on to a one game lead over last place Oakland.

Meanwhile, over in San Francisco, the Giants have now lost seven games in a row. They’re at .500 on the year, still hoping (there’s that word again) to catch Los Angeles, win the division, and break the Curse of the Odd-Numbered Year.

So how best to celebrate hope for a pair of teams that both expected to be better off than they are? Me, I’m off to San Jose today to watch a game between the Mariners’ and Giants’ Class A (Advanced) teams.

I’ve written about the joys of minor league baseball before, so I won’t rehash it here. I’ll just note that IMNSHO, Class A (Advanced) baseball is the purest baseball experience you can get from professionals. Most of the players have solid skills, though they’re still working to master their abilities. And, by and large, they’re young enough that you can legitimately say they could put it all together and become a star. (For the record, the oldest player on the Bakersfield roster is 26, most are 23 or 24, and the youngest–Rayder Ascanio, a shortstop from Venezuela–is 19. San Jose’s team skews a little older; leaving aside Juan Perez, who was on the major league team last year and is currently on a rehab assignment, they have several 26- and 27-year-olds, and the baby of the bunch is Christian Arroyo*, who just turned 20 a month ago.)

* I find it amusing that the youngest player on both teams is a shortstop. Clearly, I’m easily amused.

As a fan of the Giants and the Mariners, I’ll be cheering for both teams–wearing a Mariners’ shirt and a Giants’ cap–and hoping to get a look at a few of the guys who’ll be leading their major league clubs to titles a couple of years from now.

The weather is perfect and I’ve got nothing riding on today’s game. It’s amazingly easy to ignore the odds that say few of these kids will ever make it to the majors. Maybe hope isn’t so tricky after all.

See you at the ballpark.

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