Sometimes we forget where baseball players come from. Most of us read about the signing of Tom Wilhelmsen with a form of mild curiosity. We read about Wilhelmsen’s back story, giving up baseball to escapade through Europe, and his days mixing drinks at the local bar. We stored it away in some compartment in our brains to be accessed at some later time. Most of us then forgot about him, we had other things consuming our attention at after all and Wilhelmsen wasn’t exactly a premiere prospect.
The Mariners were attempted to catch lightning in a bottle, hoping they were getting what they now have. But Wilhelmsen’s ascension was not free of a few lows. Upon his original promotion, Wilhelmsen didn’t preform all that well, in fact he was bad… really bad. So the Mariners demoted him back AA for a while until they decided to give him another shot late in the season. The results couldn’t not have been any different and he’s been running away with it ever since.
It’s strange to think that our current closer didn’t even come into spring training with a guaranteed roster spot. The majority of the bullpen was up for grabs and Tom was going to have to prove to be the caliber of pitcher the Mariners needed. The rest has been a blur. While Brandon League began the season as closer, he soon faltered leaving the position wide open. Wilhelmsen seized his opportunity taking the “closer by committee” decision out of Wedge’s hands. The Mariners have suddenly stolen a closer out of the reclamation bin. I’m not sure how easy that is to grasp. Tom Wilhelmsen gave up baseball to backpack through Europe and become a bartender. He gave it up completely, no practice, no soft toss with Grandpa, he makes it sound as if he didn’t touch a baseball throughout his entire five year hiatus. His comeback alone is incredeble, and to ascend to one of the leagues most dominant closers–it’s almost unfathomable.
The Mariners have been very good at creating a cost effective bullpen pieces this past decade, but this is even beyond that. The Mariners gave a pitcher a second chance and he has done everything to capitalize on his opportunity. To take a quote from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, “Sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.”. The recent life of a Mariners fan has not been easy, we deserve what ever reward baseball feels fit to give us.