Regret is an emotion all humans are well acquainted with. Maybe you met a woman at a coffee shop, struck up a conversation near the cream and sugar when she asked you to pass her a top for her latte; but she left you with no way to contact her, and the next day it seemed she chose to get her coffee elsewhere. Maybe you were driving through downtown and took a moment, just a quick moment, to look down at your phone as the light shifted to yellow. Maybe you let your grandmother’s missed call go unreturned for just a day too long. Whatever the moment, how big or small, we’ve all experienced regret in some form or another.
This evening the Seattle Mariners experienced some regret of their own, in a lackluster 5-1 loss to the Yankees. They could have capitalized on a big loss for Texas, to move 4.5 back in the division, they could have continued to push their way into a wild card spot, heck, they could have just had some of the pleasure that comes from triumphing over an oft-hated rival. Instead, they flailed and they whooshed and not even the way they lost carried any sort of drama. But here’s the great thing about sports, often lost in the raw moments of the game: for all that we rejoice, or bemoan, or rage, they don’t matter. If you’re going to allow yourself to feel regret towards something in your life, please, let it be sports. Because you can move on from what if that fourth ball was called a strike, or what if the third baseman hadn’t made that great grab; it’s more difficult to come to terms with regret in other spheres of your life.
If Taijuan Walker had gotten a called third strike in the final pitch of Gary Sanchez’s at bat, rather than ball four, would his composure have been stronger towards the end of his outing? If Nelson Cruz had managed one hit, just one, in place of his three strikeouts, would more runs have been scored? Maybe the balance of power on the field would have shifted? It’s likely that tomorrow, or even much later tonight, these men will literally rewind the game, to seek out what could have been done differently, to make a plan for the future to alleviate some of that regret. Even those who succeeded, like Robinson Cano with two hits and an outstanding defensive play, or Wade LeBlanc who made his bullpen debut striking out four through two innings and giving up just one unearned run, are left with a measure of regret. After a win it is easy to move on from the should haves and could haves, but after a loss regret pulls everyone into its vortex.
If we allow ourselves to be sucked into this vortex too, the vast majority of the regret can be seen in the "H" column of the box score. Four. The Mariners came together for four hits tonight. In a season where scoring with RISP has often appeared as an insurmountable mountain, tonight’s offensive performance seemed to cackle with irony. It’s true though, there’s no need to drive in base runners when there are hardly any base runners to be found. And those offensive woes are truly the crux of tonight’s regret because, although Walker could have performed considerably better, he managed to spread six hits out through 5.2 innings and only allow three earned runs. The bullpen held strong throughout the final frames, allowing only one unearned run, and did its best to appear blameless.
Does a loss like this stink? Yeah, of course. And is it made worse by the scoreboard watching we all seem to be captivated by? Absolutely. but,unlike other moments of regret in life, there's nothing you yourself could have done, and so we must move on. 162 game often seems interminably long but, though it can be exhausting, it also means that the next chance for redemption is just around the corner. And hey, in the case of tonight, there's only about 14 hours until the next winning opportunity. Here's to a collective shrug and another step forward.