Baseball in August - As Good as it Gets

As I watched Yuniesky Betancourt chat with Felix Hernandez in the Seattle Mariners' away dugout before Tuesday's game, goose bumps popped off my arm and I knew that it must be…August? That's right, August gives me chills. Of all the months of the year, August is a month where baseball can be seen in its purest form.

For some teams it is time to buckle down for the last stretch to make the postseason, for others it is Spring Training at the end of summer. A fanatic always wants to see their team make a run for the playoffs, but a fanatic also cannot resist seeing their favorite bush-leaguer accomplish their life goal right in front of their eyes. The Mariners may not be within a country mile of the postseason, but if you are like me, a Mariner fanatic, you might not want to miss a game.

Tuesday was the perfect example of the emotional roller coaster that one goes through in August. Forget dinner or the sunshine, I am parked a foot from the television to watch Jorge Campillo make his first start as a Mariner. The "Mexican Maddux" finally getting a real shot in the bigs. I am nervous after he gives up a leadoff double, but can hardly contain my childish delight after he gets the next three batters to harmlessly pop up his lazy changeups.

"Oh Yeah the future is now, I told y'all he is better than Sele!" – I say this to no one in particular. Minutes later I see Jeff Harris warming up in the pen because Campillo is done – this is August! "Yes I get to see Harris the 31-year-old lifetime minor leaguer get HIS big shot, but why does Campillo have to be hurt?" Anger, disappointment, excitement, and those pesky goose bumps all during the commercial break. What is wrong with me?

Campillo is headed to the 15-day DL after one inning, but the hard working Harris makes the most of his opportunity and throws five shutout innings. Two minutes after he is pulled from the game my cell-phone dances next to me. That's right, its "props time."

For the duration of that phone conversation yours truly is somewhat of a baseball god to his fellow fanatic friend. Why? Two weeks ago I told my friend all about Mr. Harris and how I thought he deserved a chance and now I am looking like a genius. Getting your props (or recognition) is one of the joys of baseball in August. The fanatic's buddies think he is a genius for knowing all about the Cuban with the weird first name who just bare handed a bad hop over his head and slung a strike from short to first so suddenly that even the runner is baffled.

August is time for a second chance. No, I am not talking about forgiving the busted steroid users, this is not about glorifying the comebacks of cheaters. Because not even steroids can cheat the fanatic from enjoying baseball in August. It may disturb our highlights on TV and cover the front page of our papers, but the fanatic won't let it ruin the story of the men who have worked hard for a real second chance.

I am talking about the minor leaguers who have tasted the Show, only to be sent right back down. The men who have spent the last year working to improve, impress and climb their way back for another bite of the bigs. These are some of the fanatic's favorite players. We feel gratification when George Sherrill strikes out three in his two hitless innings – "should have been here all along," we mumble in unison.

If there is one the thing the fanatic has learned, it is that in August he is NEVER wrong. If someone sparkles in their big debut we knew he would, if someone struggles we easily dismiss it as nerves or that he just needs more time.

August is also time for complete chaos. Nothing will make a fanatic panic like the geniuses that decide to have the 19-year-old phenom make his Major League debut in another city, on a weekday morning in which the game is... gasp... not on television. The fanatic has sunburned in Peoria to see him pitch an inning, gone to odd websites to see his box scores, whiffed the "aroma of Tacoma" to watch him make a start – and now the teenager who is supposed to lift our franchise will make his debut and the fanatic might not be able to see it.

The fanatic is calling cable and satellite companies just hoping for a way to see the game. The fanatic is calling in sick for work and looking for the fastest airline ticket to Detroit. The fanatic is desperate, but even if he has to just listen to it on the radio or is forced to watch the future unfold on the painstakingly delayed internet gamecast, he will be filled with joy with every strikeout "Kid K" throws.

The fanatic's team might be 14 games and counting from winning the division, the fanatic's favorite radio station might have spent the last 48 hours talking about cheating, but the fanatic doesn't care. This is August! This is our month.

Seattle Clubhouse Top Stories