Life moves quickly. Baseball does not. It has been fifteen years since the Seattle Mariners made a playoff appearance; long enough for the minutiae of life during that time to be lost, but short enough for bigger memories to remain potent. Time has been a double-edged sword for this franchise. We may be years removed from the playoffs, but we aren’t all that far from the excitement of late-season contention. Just two years ago an unlikely Mariners team was smote by time, and Fernando Rodney, and fell one game shy of the promised land. In this world where all our focus and energy is devoted to getting things done quickly, making things go faster, baseball stands alone as an outdated, misshapen lump on the cultural landscape. There are, of course, people working to streamline this lump, or at least make it a bit more attractive to non lump-lovers. Rob Manfred would like to speed it all up, Bryce Harper wants to make it fun again, Mike Trout is here to tell you about clouds. But at the end of that 2014 season, that team could have used even more time. Will this 2016 team run into the same problem? Or have they maybe, possibly, finally, got the timing right?
This 2016 team has taken advantage of the slow trod of the baseball season in a way that other recent teams have not. Save for that 2001 team, which acts as the counter to every argument about rationality and baseball, it is unrealistic to expect a team to sustain a staggeringly high level of success throughout the season. At the start of June, just as things began to drop, it seemed as though April and May might have been the Mariners’ peak, but the 30-22 record of the first two months could be enough to sustain them. The team seemed competent in a way that a Mariners team has not looked in years, and it looked like they would be capable of weathering the inevitable rough patches of a long season. Unfortunately it wasn’t just a few rough patches, it was a rough few months, wherein through June and July they managed to have precisely the inverse record of the previous two months. August started off strong, but the Ken Griffey Jr. Magic narrative was too good to be real, and they utterly tanked in the final two weeks of the month.
At that point, we all began reverting back to our traditionally glum September baseball mentality, because humans are nothing if not creatures of habit, but this team would have none of that. They’ve gone 10-3 since the start of the month, made quite a few pieces of writing on this site now utterly irrelevant, and the tickets I bought as a consolation prize for the final series of the season now hold a lot more hope. We’re fortunate now, because suddenly the time left to play is a gift again, rather than an annual curse. Fifteen years is the amount of time that has loomed large over the Mariners this season, but now it’s time to set that behind us. The Mariners will not be automatically awarded a playoff spot simply as consolation for enduring the longest playoff drought in the MLB. Instead, the only time that really matters now is the next sixteen days of baseball. The Mariners have sixteen more days to help us forget about the last fifteen years, and we have sixteen more days to cheer them on.
Goms, gobiz, let’s hecking do this.