I have many character flaws, but one of the most glaring is I often run to excess, which I like to frame as a refined, indulgent, Cecil B. DeMille-ish character trait but is probably just base gluttony when you get right down to it. It’s something I try to be conscious of in my writing, knowing that I have a tendency to use three adjectives where one will do (I am less good about being conscious about that where food or drink is involved—why have one cheese puff/glass of wine/whiskey ginger when you could have three!). What can I say? I’m a child of the 80s, that decade where greed was not just good, it was god. My memory palace is a pastel-and-rattan edifice with mirrored walls and Memphis Milano couches with girls in Laura Ashley dresses lounging upon them.
And this: Edgar Martínez hitting three home runs in a single night, in July of 1996, against Texas. For someone who grew up watching the offensively anemic Mariners teams of the 80s and early 90s, this was a revelation. It’s not the most home runs that have been ever hit in a single game by a Mariner—that record is 4, held by Mike Cameron (2002). And it wasn’t even the first time that season that it had happened—both Dan Wilson and Griffey had had three-homer games earlier in the season, because that’s how stacked the mid-90s Mariners were. A little of the 80s must have carried over—or maybe Seattle was just slow in catching up—because that team was an embarrassment of riches.
The team didn’t have Griffey that night in Texas, though, as he had been out with a broken hand since late June. Edgar had been doing his part to fill in while the ailing superstar was out, posting an OPS of over 1 for every single game Junior missed. On July 6, Edgar took it even a step further: in his five plate appearances he walked twice and hit three home runs, for an OPS of 1.185 and a WPA of .219. (That number might not sound like a lot out of context, but I remember writing several charts this season where the highest WPA was .086 or .035 or some such nonsense.)
Really, maybe the 80s didn’t have it all that wrong. Sometimes it’s good to be excessive. It’s good to love in excess, and laugh in excess, and hit bombs in excess. You never know when your extra bit of joy can sustain someone who’s short on it.