Right now you have one of those little tiny cartoon devils on your left shoulder, and he's whispering that it doesn't really matter because the Padres are terrible and also that it's too late for the Mariners to make up any ground, because they should have started doing all this about a month and a half ago if they wanted to make the playoffs in 2015.
But on the other hand, or shoulder, there is that other little cartoon person and this one's decked out in a white robe and one of those wiry halos with a thin connector trailing down the back in order to make it seem like it's floating, and he's whispering do the right thing, the right thing and also he's optimistic about this here two-game sweep of the San Diego Padres, these best consecutive days of the entire 2015 Mariners baseball season that saw a no-hitter get carried into the seventh inning, and also witness Robinson Cano become Robinson Cano again.
Now is that the right thing? Eh, I'm not entirely sure. But we must come up with some sort of framework that explains these dueling voices inside our heads telling us to simultaneously worry and hope, abandon and endure. Is it true that the Mariners were able to beat up on a bad Padres team? Yeah. But they are now two wins closer to .500, and it is unequivocally momentum in the right direction. Did this recent offensive competency come off the collected efforts of a mediocre-at-best pitching staff? Eh maybe, but you have to start somewhere, and start hitting they did in this, an extreme pitchers park.
I mean...at some point, you just have to choose which of those little cartoon spirits you're going to listen to. And as soon as you do that, you have the opportunity to realize that if you're in a cartoon, the rest of this Mariners season is going to be a whole hell of a lot easier than the first half we just dragged our caravan of rotting corpses through. That's because suddenly the reality of the Mariners going 20-10 over the next month to save the season can, in a cartoon, be just as possible as this:
Robinson Cano raising his average back up above .300 and Nelson Cruz hitting more than one dinger a month, under the guided hand of a Tex Avery or Hayao Miyazaki, can exist in the same universe where the rules of physics can do both this:
I mean hell, if we really want to start living inside a pretend universe populated with talking rabbits and flying cars, we could sit right down at the drafting table, twist our fingers on our temples for a minute while we contemplate the greatest possible single event imaginable during the sixth inning of a 0-0 game between the Seattle Mariners and San Diego Padres, and get right to work drawing that shit up. And you know exactly what this hilarious and impossible image is: it's the image of a man wearing a late-90's Gary Payton Sonics jersey catching a Robinson Cano home run inside a baseball park in San Diego, California, and then ostensibly calling his friend back home to brag about it while simultaneously having his image broadcast on the local DirecTV programming affiliate.
Jesus, you can hardly tell this stuff is fake anymore.
So yes, in a way what we had here today was kind of a cartoon, just like we can pretend to be in a cartoon while watching the Mariners play ball. I mean try this: after Mike Montgomery carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against these very same Padres last night, Taijuan came out this morning and decided that he wasn't going to give up any walks anymore and also that he wasn't going to give up any hits, either, and so he did just that through three innings.
Unfortunately, Big Game James was himself also throwing a perfect game through three. In a way, this pitching duel was kind of like a two liter of Mr. Pibb shaken violently for an hour before being traded back and forth between starters to unscrew the lid just a *tiny* bit each turn. But since I started this cartoon metaphor thing I suppose I have to finish it, so it was actually more like the Roadrunner and the Coyote--two paragons of inevitability following a preordained path to destruction, and yet, continuing the chase regardless, simply because they are at the mercy of that giant hand in the sky.
Shields was the first to break this time. After Cano and Miller turned two remarkable plays to keep the bases untouched into the third, Logan Morrison walloped a bouncer up the middle which was somehow snagged by Padres shortstop Alexi Ramirez, who batted it down in the outfield, turned on his knees, and fired over to first to miss by mere fractions of a second. The Mariners had their first baserunner.
Then Robinson Cano came up to bat and painted a tunnel on the side of the mountain, causing Shields to run face first into that shit, lose a couple teeth, and then stand up under hovering exclamation marks before staring regretfully into the lens of the camera. Then, an ACME detonator, which was short circuted to fail right as Kyle Seager walked to load the bases. This writes itself. There are 49 of them. Or if you want, 162.
Now the joke is that it is only the Roadrunner who can bend the laws of physics in each episode. Sure, the Coyote dips his feet into the surreal at times, but it usually only lasts for a few seconds before everything comes crashing down, making it all the more cruel on that poor, poor guy who just wants a fucking meal for once in his life. Well today it was right here that Shields got his seconds of flight after running off the cliff, because by the sixth it was nothing but bruises and black eyes as he tumbled down the hill.
There was the aforementioned Cano dinger. Then there was a walk to Brad Miller, a walk to Dustin Ackley pinch-hitting for Taijuan, and a walk to Logan Morrison to load the bases, all in the matter of a few minutes. Big Game James had sold the house for a giant ACME cannon, strategically hidden it in the bushes, and then watch as the fuse lit straight down into that metal canister to shoot the tube backwards in his face, leaving the cannon ball in the very spot from which he began.
And then Robinson Cano hit that cannon ball again, and the Mariners were suddenly up 2-0, an hour away from a series win against the Padres, and probably feeling pretty damn good about themselves for the first time in a long time. There was some controversy over Taijuan being pulled with 76 pitches in the sixth, but we are talking about a cartoon here, and Lloyd was just worried about having his arm literally turn into sand and blow away in the wind after shuffling the rotation around a bit. You can't fuck with this stuff, man, not in a world with no discernible rules. Not when the Mariners win by a score of 7-0 with a Nelson Cruz dinger to boot. Hell, you should probably check to see if you still have legs or if they have been erased by a giant sky pencil while you were busy watching the game.
Now, just because it feels like the Mariners have spent the last two days living in the logic of a pretend world for kids doesn't mean they have actually abandoned a flesh and blood world for grown-ups. I mean, yes, they are spending all day playing a game and wearing sunglasses with matching uniforms, but that doesn't mean we can't enjoy it while it lasts, playoffs or not. And in fact, I don't think it means we have to rule anything out, either.
So tell that motherfucker on your left shoulder that they are letting wallabys talk in Australian accents these days, so there's no reason the Mariners can't turn a corner with three months of baseball left to be played. Tell him that Robinson Cano went 4-5 today with a dinger and a double because he can and also because he will do that again--I mean, have you seen what crazy things they get away with on Nickelodeon these days?
Look, there's nothing wrong with being realistic and there's nothing too wrong with being overly optimistic, but the reality is that I think we have a third way in front of us that we can choose to use if we want to make it to the end of this season in one piece. For once in your life, listen to the good side, and just decide that something nice is going to happen to the Seattle Mariners for once in the history of the world, and then choose to believe that every day you turn on your television. Believe that even when they are hitting less than a dachshund's weight with runners in scoring position and watching an abysmal offense form out of the hands of stars. Choose that not because you have to, but because you can--because in cartoons you can walk in the sky and talk to your pets and yes, have the Seattle Mariners simultaneously lose and win all at the same time.
Tomorrow the Mariners start a four game series with the A's, and what I want you to do until then is watch this video and then realize that you're actually not watching a cartoon. That Robinson Cano, superstar second baseman, is playing a game in a Seattle Mariners uniform (come on, remember how fun that used to feel?). That 2015 Robinson Cano is playing a game in a Seattle Mariners uniform and hitting home runs. That this random Seattle fan who probably misses the hell out of his basketball team and surely misses the hell out of watching the Mariners play meaningful baseball in San Diego got the thrill of a lifetime this afternoon, and it didn't come from the sentimental pen of Walt Disney.
But if we want, we can do the cartoon thing, too.