When True Detective was on the air last summer, the internet was ablaze with Detective Cohle's pseudo-intellectual dorm-room ruminations on the nature of time and capital-M Meaning, coyly finding ways to insert lines like time is a flat circle into just about any conversation on like, buying groceries and shit. Like all silly internet memes, the buzz died down pretty quick and people went on to doing whatever it was they were doing before all the buzz had started, which if you really think about it, either disproves or completely validates that oft-repeated quote sitting in italics up there a few lines earlier.
Problem is, though, that the concept doesn't solely come from the pen of series creator Nic Pizzolatto, or even horror writer Thomas Ligotti, who inspired much of the show's dialogue. No, German philosopher and hella-moustache-haver Frederich Nietzsche was talking about this same shit back in the late 19th Century, quoting even earlier religio-mystic notions found in ancient cosmologies and early pre-Christian religious traditions. At one point in The Gay Science, he famously writes,
What, if some day or night a demon were to steal after you into your loneliest loneliness and say to you: 'This life as you now live it and have lived it, you will have to live once more and innumerable times more' ... Would you not throw yourself down and gnash your teeth and curse the demon who spoke thus? Or have you once experienced a tremendous moment when you would have answered him: 'You are a god and never have I heard anything more divine.'
You're probably wondering what the hell any of this has to do with baseball. Actually, you probably aren't wondering that at all, because you've read even more obtuse ramblings on this website and feel very comfortable in your prediction as to where this recap is going to go next because we've done all this before. See what I did there?
And really, I'd stop short of saying that the Mariners are nothing more than a Sisyphusian manifestation of Nietzsche's eternal recurrence, because that would be all too easy a metaphor for me to dish out. It's not exactly that this team is just the same Mariners team as all those other ones except with a few shuffled variables thrown in the mix. I mean, for starters, we could look at the specifics--they gave up 18 hits today and only lost by three runs. They were vaguely competitive through eleven innings, and despite coming up short on the afternoon, didn't exhibit any glaring structural problems that can't be fixed through a little roster shuffling or low-level impact trades. Please note I used italics to guard my optimism here and do not feel like arguing any of these points in the comment section below.
No, see, the point that everyone misses with Nietzsche's conception of the eternal recurrence isn't that he thought there was literally a demon that was manipulating our experience of time into some hypothetical flat circle for Matthew McConaughey to ramble about. It's that the simple concept--it's philosophical possibility and our resulting meditations on it--would change quite literally everything about the way we relate to the world, ourselves, others, and our experiences of all three. Just the simple thought, and everything else goes out the door.
Now we're getting somewhere. See, when you turned on your television this afternoon to watch Jason Kipnis do this in the top of the third,
you could be forgiven for wondering what the hell was happening exactly one hour later in the fifth as the same person did the same thing off the same pitcher in the same ballpark in the same game against the same team with the same bat with the
That, of course, is a little silly. These two videos are not of the same event, because they depict Kipnis' 50th and 51st hits of May, respectively. Now, we could go as far as to point out the idea is that time itself is infinite, that events and objects are finite, and the whole point is that those finite things will start repeating themselves within a framework that never ends. I mean, this is literally baseball, and it turns out that Nietzsche probably had it all figured out even though he didn't watch a single Old Hoss start in his tragically shortened life. But even that would be giving in a bit too much. No, our übermensch friend would be quick to remind us that the point is that such a concept can even be conceived of in the first place. What happens next doesn't actually matter--it's the possibility that "it" will simply happen again, and again, and again like it never ended in the first place. And now, my friends, we have arrived.
Today, the Seattle Mariners lost their 26th game of the season, and if you watched any of it you would have to be forgiven for worrying for even a split second that the past fifteen years of your life have been nothing but a cyclical farce returning endlessly to the same conclusion, laughing in your face as it tosses you hope and $240 million dollar free agents before parking the car back in the same garage from where it came. I mean, where else are you going to put it?
There is, finally, I think, a distinct possibility that the eternal recurrence has finally, empirically occurred for the first time in the history of human experience--and right when I stop mid-sentence to assure myself that all that would be impossible through our current understanding of the cosmos, I realize that I'm sitting there thinking about it, and the damn German bastard has won again, like he always does.
It's not that the Mariners aren't going to make the playoffs. It's not that the Mariners are a bad team. Hell, they are four starters away from locking down that final Wild Card spot! No, it's the distinct possibility that what we watched this afternoon was not Justin Ruggiano striking out in all three of his at-bats and crudely trying to air-mail one throw back home rather than protect an open second base, it was that Chone Figgins was out there doing all those things I just described. It's not that the Mariners bullpen failed to protect a lead and watched as their worst arm gave the game away while no one was left to replace him, it's that last year's kick-ass bullpen was all some sick joke that didn't actually change anything from the years before or after it. It's that Justin Smoak and Yuni and fuckin' Carl Everett were sharing the dugout with Willie Bloomquist, who actually WAS in the goddamn thing this afternoon.
No. The point isn't that the Mariners are going to do the same crap again this year. The point is that the Mariners could, and that feels awful, just awful and I don't want to even entertain the idea except I kind of have to because I've been conditioned to it, and so have you, probably. A flat circle. Eternal return. Some old guy with a huge moustache. At some point you have to wonder if the cosmos is even trying anymore.
Yeah, so not the prettiest picture. Some good stuff was peppered in here for sure, though, as you have to appreciate the piece of art that was this game-saving double play from Logan Morrison after Happ led off the sixth with a homer and helped Tom Wilhelmsen load the bases a few minutes later:
And I suppose if we are being as generous as all that, we could look to the fact that the Mariners got on the board first, after they remembered that Danny Salazar often has the command of a limp pool noodle used as a catapult against the invading hordes and stopped swinging at everything. It pays to be aggressive, but I've played enough Mike Piazza's Strike Zone for N64 to know that it is actually possible to be on the wrong end of an 81-pitch perfect game, especially when the computer can make the pitches go into the other room willy-nilly.
After LogDog led off the fifth with a single, Brad Miller walked and then found himself standing on third base after Dustin Ackley set down a beautiful bunt and reached on a bad throw. Austin Jackson tallied a run in the next at bat, and the runners moved up to score the third run off the bat of Cano after Salazar balked with Seth Smith at the plate.
And if we want to get crazy, we could look to the aforementioned sixth inning drama that saw the game tied but could have ended much, much worse were it not for a slick glove and throw by a particularly adept first baseman. But of course, we are ignoring where we started from with all this happy talk of flowers and junk. Because if you remember, Kyle Seager's extra-inning grand slam against the White Sox didn't end up winning the game back in 2013 because a certain pitcher named Hector Noesi had to throw a few more pitches and promptly laid one hell of an egg on top of what should have been something beautiful, something wonderful.
And now we arrive back to today, with soon-to-be-Rainier Dominic Leone left out there all by himself in extras, thanking Welington Castillo for "sticking in there for (him)" despite the fact that the rulebook says there has to be a catcher behind the plate at the beginning of every single play. But I guess the Indians wouldn't have gotten all those hits had he thrown the first pitch and then stared at it sitting in the dirt for the next three hours.
But that, of course, didn't happen. Instead we have the distinct possibility that our favorite German philosopher who lost his mind over a horse was actually right all along, and as a result, have to reconcile the fact that it doesn't actually matter whether or not we are stuck re-spawning in a video game as much as it matters that it just kind of feels like it sometimes, goddammit. And while we sit, fearfully staring into the flesh that covers the bones inside our palms, hoping for some tangible indication that there is actually a way out of all this garbage, Terry Francona finds himself protesting baseball games he goes on to win ten minutes later.
I'm not saying any of it is true, but that was never the point in the first place. And if none of that opens any doors for you, then at least know that this here baseball game was better than the ending of True Detective. And that, my friends, is just about all we can actually ask for.