Where do you even start with Kyle Seager? I've sat down now to write about him, to try to put words to page, and the clichés "I don't even know where to begin" and "there are no words" could never be felt so literally. I suppose we could start with where Seager finished—or, what immediately preceded that.
It's easy to forget the 8th inning during which Seager hit his dramatic three-run bomb started rather ominously. The Mariners had the heart of the order coming up, trailing by two—stumbling, somehow, to get even that close after being down 5-0.
It feels weird to even have an actual heart of the order, two guys in Robinson Cano and Corey Hart who are clearly more established, and to this point more productive, than the rest of the squad. But while it's refreshing to think "Hey, we got our guys coming up in the 8th, a real last chance for us," it makes things more painful when they fail. And fail they did today, at least in this spot, as Cano and Hart both struck out. Alexi Ogando sat them down on a combined six pitches.
Looking back, it feels a lot like what we've experienced with Kyle Seager in the macro. He was never supposed to be the guy. It was supposed to Dustin Ackley, his college teammate. Or maybe Justin Smoak, the prototypical slugger. Nah, not him, it'd have to be Jesus Montero then.
Still, through it all— even now—he's been the guy to pull through when the Mariners needed it the most.
Though, he didn't do it alone. Not today. An underrated note from today's game is the fact that, after Ogando sent those two sparkling new additions back to the bench, it was Smoak and Ackley who got Seager to the plate. Ogando even came within a strike of fanning the side on the minimum nine pitches before Smoak battled back for a double, and then Ackley got his first-pitch pinch-hit single.
Then, The Boss.
Honestly, I wasn't even watching. I could have been. I was cleaning my apartment and tracking every pitch on Gameday, thinking it'd be less painful if I didn't have to actually watch how the Mariners would go about falling back to six games under .500. But then, that "In play, run(s)." Ah, the beautiful vagueness of "(s)".
I won't say I thought it was gone when I saw that, but I thought it might be. "He didn't—did he?" It was a far cry from Thursday when, between running around the office preparing for a meeting, a coworker asked if I'd seen what happened. I'd seen he was going to be up, but not how it played out.
"Seager, with a walk off," he said. I didn't believe it. I genuinely thought he was messing with me until he showed me Kyle getting mobbed at the plate on his phone. I walked to the printer stunned, and on the way back it was a high five. I had a bit less composure today, where yelling and jumping around my living room eventually gave way to something like dancing as I blared Fernando Rodney's entrance music between innings. I imagine Kyle Seager feels even better.
At this writing, the Mariners are sitting in their chartered Boeing 757 somewhere over Lake Michigan, cruising towards a 1:38 am landing in Newark at 473 miles an hour—or, roughly the speed at which Seager's second dinger left the yard. How might it feel to be Seager, sitting there quite satisfied in one of those cushy chairs?
I imagine it's much different than last week's return trip from the East Coast. This time last Sunday, Seager and his teammates were en route from Miami after a sweep that kicked off with a loss partially caused by him bobbling a transfer at third. He didn't even start on Sunday, a 3-2 loss, instead entering as a pinch hitter in the 7th with the bases loaded. Carlos Marmol struck him out on three straight hanging sliders.
Since: 7-for-18, 5 home runs, 1.339 OPS.
In July of last year, after a win during what was an amazing month, I wrote that the reason we love Kyle Seager is that we tend to project ourselves onto athletes—and Kyle Seager is everything we'd hope we'd be if we were put in his position. Hell, he's everything we'd hope we'd be in our current position.
With Seager, there's more to it than overcoming expectations. Maybe this is narrative driven, and maybe it isn't—either way, I don't care—but it feels as though Seager is never one to believe that an outcome is out of his control. There's always something he could do. Does it always work? No, of course not. But how many times have we seen this now? How many times has he risen up when a negative outcome seemed all but certain?
Shit, remember this?
The genuine belief that one has the ability to instill change is a trait common among all the greats—not just in baseball, or sports, but everywhere. It's a monumental first step to actually doing so.
Kyle Seager is not going to be some all-time great. That's not what I'm trying to say. It's just that, while Seager doesn't have the high ceiling that other players on this team do, he's going make damn sure he does everything that he can to reach his.
Does this all sound fluffy and ridiculous? Oh I'm sure. But with a week for the ages, Kyle Seager may have turned the Mariners' season around.
They won't play in New York until Tuesday. By then, things will have quieted around Seager, and almost the entirety of the baseball world will be looking at Robinson Cano.
Does it matter to Seager? Of course not, and it shouldn't. He'll do his, and try to win the M's some ballgames.
Now let's see if he can rip a couple liners onto that short porch.