I've always loved when games become disrupted by something unexpected, and the rote pathway of the event is transformed into a unique experience. Often this comes through weather, where rain or snow transform the competition into a collective endurance. Maybe the lights go out. Maybe, like the Baltimore game played last year in an empty stadium, the atmosphere is surreal. Sometimes the stakes shift dramatically prior to or during the game and it transforms a well-rehearsed sequence into something unforgettable. I hope that final option comes to pass today.
The Mariners will play what is essentially an exhibition match against the Oakland A's today, and after that there will be no more Mariners' baseball for months. Félix Hernandez will take the hill against lefty Sean Manaea. Despite a surprising season, this may be the last game of Franklin Gutierrez's career, based on his health. This team has fallen just short of the playoffs. If you define whether a team has been a success or not by them making the playoffs or winning the World Series, that absolutely makes sense, because it is the very clear goal of the sport. I feel strongly that that is a major part of a team's ability to count itself as a success or not. I would not be carrying around a weight that feels like a boulder in the pit of my stomach the last 13 hours if it wasn't, as I'm sure all of you are. The devastation I feel, however, is mostly because I am not ready to say goodbye to this team.
We watch sports for entertainment, and without reservation this team has been the most successfully entertaining team I have ever seen. It will feel like a friend is moving away when the 27th out is recorded today, but let's make this their going away party. For them, sure, but for us, too. If you're happy or sad or disappointed or appreciative or whatever you may be feeling, come to the park, or put the game on wherever you are and let's commiserate together watching this weird lineup in this strange, strange game.
|OAKLAND A'S||SEATTLE MARINERS|
|Marcus Semien - SS||Guillermo Heredia - CF|
|Joey Wendle - 2B||Shawn O'Malley - SS|
|Stephen Vogt - DH||Robinson Cano - DH|
|Ryon Healy - 3B||Franklin Gutierrez - RF|
|Yonder Alonso - 1B||Kyle Seager - 3B|
|Bruce Maxwell - C||Dae-Ho Lee - 1B|
|Brett Eibner - CF||Ben Gamel - LF|
|Matt Olson - RF||Chris Iannetta - C|
|Jake Smolinski - LF||Mike Freeman - 2B|
|Sean Manaea - LHP||Felix Hernandez - RHP|