I don't know what's happening in Seattle right now. I'm not there. I'm a long, long ways away in Charleston, South Carolina. But, I can hear y'all down here. The cheers are evident every time I find internet or a quiet moment (there aren't many in this town) to check back home. Something is brewing, and it ain't just the beer.
Last night, I'm sure you know better than I, the Mariners won in an absolute rout of the pre-season favorites to represent the American League in the World Series. Beyond that, the consensus pick to win the division, the Houston Astros, have been absolutely falling apart to start the season. The team is sputtering, Dallas Keuchel gave a sort of shell-shocked post-game interview last night, and the Mariners have taken no sympathy on them.
This is a different feeling than before. Last season, anytime the M's found themselves in a position to take advantage of another team slipping, they followed suit. It was a constant slip down a slide towards a failure to meet expectations. This season, the M's entered the season with something like a one-thirds chance of making post-season play. It was a wildcard shot they'd be fighting for. Well, according to projections, that's all gone to hell.
Our friends over at Baseball Prospectus do us the great favor of updating their playoff odds quite often. Last night, after an 11-1 route of the reigning Cy Young Award recipient, the M's odds of making the playoffs jumped to 59.0%. It's the third highest in the AL behind the White Sox and Cleveland. To really make you drool, they even boast a 7% chance of winning it all. Once again, the third highest chance in the AL. It's bonkers, Fool's Gold, a hope and a prayer and not much else. It's too early for this.
For what it's worth, Fangraphs and BP agree that the M's now have the highest odds of winning the division. They give it a one-in-two shot. That's crazy. That hasn't happened in fifteen years.
On April 11th, when the M's were burning down Twitter by failing to start hot and fast, I got a letter from one of my best friends from college. It was a simple thing, just checking in, thinking of you, imploring me to drink more. It was classically him, overflowing in joy and love in an easy way. Like everything Dave did, it was so quick and loving and fun, and felt so close, that I had no inclination to reply immediately. "See you soon" was his final sentiment.
Last weekend I was called and informed of Dave's heart attack on Saturday morning. That the coma wasn't going to end. And at 3:30 this past Monday at Boe Chapel on St. Olaf College's Campus, the funeral was held. It was all, I am sure, very simple and loving and full of joy.
I am here in Charleston because, like all those who made it to Dave's service, I am helping someone close out a chapter of their life. Things change in a blink of an eye and ever-faster in this modern age. I don't really have time to make sense of it all, but when you sit around a group of ladies in the twilight of their lives, spinning yarns about a town much older than your own, while thinking about a dear friend who just passed too young, you start to feel something about the preciousness of our situation. That fifteen years of losing baseball just might mean jack shit.
I won't watch a game all week, and that's a mixture of force and choice. The internet is bad, but the scenery is more beautiful. That doesn't mean that late at night I don't think about what is happening under Safeco's sacred lights. I am quite jealous of all of you who get to witness this week. Who get to live and die with each pitch. This is a special time during, what I have always hoped would be, a special season.
I want to simply implore you to enjoy this. To savor this feeling, because as we are all too familiar with, it is indeed fleeting. However, even having the chance at this feeling for our team is different. It's worth celebrating. Go to a game, catch this fever and let it overcome you. This is what baseball is about, it's why we all love it. Sure, we can look up playoff odds and OBP and lefty/righty splits. But ultimately, I think we are all here for fun. Today, this game, this week, this season. This will all be fun.
Today the Mariners go for a series sweep, and a fourth consecutive series win, with Kuma on the mound. The odds have never been so in our favor. It's uncomfortable, but I hope you're ready. The Seattle Mariners are going to the playoffs. They have great odds. And I'm sure that will be simple and loving and full of joy.