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The Mariners lose a game

At the end of the ninth inning, the Mariners found themselves losing 2-0. Because of this, they stopped playing.

momentary relief from the abyss
momentary relief from the abyss
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

I'm getting too old for stories. Novels, movies: the whole lot. The trouble with stories is that they have endings, and that these endings have to be satisfying, or otherwise they wouldn't be stories.

Really, like most things, this is Aristotle's fault.  He invented this thing called "catharsis", or probably took credit for someone else inventing it, and told us that in order to be real drama it has to give us some sort of satisfaction, a release of our collective suffering, a sense that the outcome fits the events that led to it.

For stories, this works well enough, I guess.  It keeps writers from getting lazy and just ending novels whenever they want, unless they're Neal Stephenson. But it also means that Toy Story 3 was never going to end with all the toys getting incinerated in the furnace. It lets us relax. It's a difficult trick to conjure a surprise ending in a story that feels satisfying, which is why it's actually a little impressive that M. Night Shyamalan pulled it off even once.

Most of the time, stories end exactly the way they're supposed to. You can see them coming. They don't really challenge you, don't really make you work. They give you your catharsis, nice and easy, and then you go play Candy Crush. That's it.

Sports don't do this. Sports don't hold back. You have a guy like Chris Young, the baseball equivalent of the BFG, whose regression is bearing down on him like a wolf in one of Grimm's fairy tales. But it doesn't, because baseball doesn't have to make sense. Instead Chris Young's ERA dropped from 3.11 to 3.08. He pitched an absolute gem of a game, marred by a single home run that he himself would have caught at the wall, and he lost.

There is no one to blame for this, no matter how much we want to. Not Dustin Ackley's stupid beard, not Corey Hart's similarity to your disappointed father, not even George Argyros. WPA is a comfort, but a false one. We don't get clues, we don't get Chekhov's gun. Catharsis teaches us that if something has an ending, it was a natural ending. That everything happens for a reason. Life isn't that easy.

The Mariners sent 33 batters up against Phil Hughes and friends. They got eight hits and scored zero runs. The Twins had 34 batters, got eight hits and scored two runs. That's your recap. None of it meant anything, none of it changed anything, more than incrementally. There are no epiphanies; games are arbitrary endpoints. The fact that the game ended after nine innings with a score of 2-0 and not after sixteen innings with a score of 4-2 is due to an arbitrary construction.

But this game isn't an ending, even if it had an ending. It's the 90th inning of a 162-inning game, which is itself a middle inning of an even longer game. And that game only ends because one of the grumpy ushers kicks you out of the stadium.

The Mariners are 49-41. After two and a half hours, they might still win it all. Who knows.