Sometimes, nothing happens.
The events in question: The Seattle Mariners lost today, by a score of 1-0. The excellent pitchers pitched excellently, assisted by a wobbly strike zone and foolhardy baserunning. Derek Holland looked like Derek Holland we know and hate, striking out his usual allotment and inducing glove-bound liners and warning track flies. James Paxton held his own, despite being beset by a bevy of bunt singles, Texas leaguers, and infield errors. The relievers all did their jobs. Two productive outs were the difference, moving Leonys Martin from second to home in the sixth. So it goes.
The memorable moments included a nifty little 6-4-5-6 double play, in which a hasty Ryan Rua got caught in a rundown between second and third, and a trailing Luis Sardinas was picked off trying to sneak into second. Leonys Martin then reached on one of those annoying bunt singles only to be gunned down by a pristine throw by Jesus Sucre to end the inning.
That was the extent of it. My notes, already a slim volume, petered out after the sixth. Nothing really happened until the ninth, when the M's put up their Battle of the Bulge, getting a pinch-running Danny Farquhar to third on a Kyle Seager line single with one out. But the Mariners hit their fly outs in the wrong order, with James Jones popping to short and Justin Smoak drifting one to deep left to finish the game.
On an ordinary September day, we'd be a little annoyed with our beloved corporate conglomerate for wasting a slice of a sunny Sunday afternoon, or perhaps proud of ourselves for getting the gutters done. This year is different, of course. Twenty games remain. If life continues at its current pace for the next couple of weeks, the Seattle Mariners will reach the playoffs for the first time in twelve years. Three hours later, it could be over.
There are different types of playoff teams. There are the regulars, teams like the Rangers and Cardinals whose fans are sometimes disappointed with first round losses but who immediately go and clear their calendars for the following October. Then there are the house money clubs, like the 2012 Orioles, who play so far over their heads that their entire journey is a pleasant laugh. Then there are last year's Pirates, who spent twenty years with their heads in paper sacks before getting a taste of what winning might be like. Fortunately, they won their play-in game and got to experience true playoff baseball before predictably losing and regressing this year. But what if they had lost? What if those three hours had been it?
That's what we're looking at right now as Mariners fans. This is what comes with winning. Sure, getting knocked out early is better than not making it at all. But losing ballclubs have months to adjust to the losing. A Wild Card team gets it all at once. If things go well, we'll get three hours against an equally talented team to justify six months' worth of struggle and investment. And it's baseball, so it could be three hours like the three today, where every double kicks off the wall right to an outfielder, and every line drive heads straight to a flat-footed defender. It could be an ump show.
Houston did us a solid and allowed Oakland to hand one away, so we're only a Detroit loss away from dismissing this whole afternoon as a fever dream. We're still on track for the most exciting and enjoyable September since many of you were in middle school. But today was a good reminder that baseball, as true American game, isn't fair, either on the micro- or the macro-level.
Any team can lose a single game. So come up with a disaster recovery plan with your loved ones. Plan which parking lot you'll meet at after the evacuation. Decide which forties you'll drink there. You can never be too prepared.