The Seattle Mariners are two games out of the playoffs, afforded 21% odds of making the postseason, and are largely broken. The holes of the roster are being exacerbated as of late and we can see them from miles away. Ketel Marte's bat can't even stick at short, Mike Zunino's K% rhymes with "dirty-bum". Kyle Seager recently ran out of steam.
As is almost always the case with broken things, in order to break the cycle, some other part of the machination must work with greater proficiency to overcome the shortfalls of the misspent pieces. Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz have found a vein of form in which it looks harder for them to not hit home runs. Somehow, this team has gone the entire year as a top-five team in the MLB in wRC+, and find themselves currently tied for #2 with the World-Beating, Best-Team-Ever Chicago Cubs with a team 106 wRC+. The holes are gaping, or maybe they're about to close back up. Shawn O'Malley should be this team's starting shortstop, with playoffs on the line.
On the flip side, the pitching staff as a whole has been middling all year. The team's 4.18 FIP puts Seattle almost dead-middle of the MLB. Having what has essentially been a revolving door all year in the bullpen, an on-and-off-again Taijuan Walker, a "shrug-emoji" version of Felix, it's hard to know what you'll be getting out of any member of the staff on any given night. If I would have told you back in March that this team's most reliable starters in September included James Paxton and Ariel Miranda, you would have said "Gross" then "Who?" then assumed the team blew apart, fell to Earth, caught on fire again, burned the entire Olympic National Forest, and lost 100 games. Hisashi Iwakuma hasn't missed a single start all season after the Dodgers dumped him for an "elbow issue".
"Edwin Diaz is the closer."
Yet here we sit, 83-73, the exact same tally we woke up to on the morning of September 27th, 2014. The exact same amount of games behind as we were then. We all know what's left for the Mariners. Two more in Houston, then four against the A's, at home, who will be likely trotting out a roster of AA dudes and The Real Khrush Davis. Coco Crisp won't even be around anymore. In those same six games the Orioles will play the Blue Jays and the Yankees three times apiece. The Tigers have three more against Cleveland and finish with the Braves. The Blue Jays finish with the Red Sox. Our schedule has never looked more favorable. By winning last night, the Mariners essentially ended Houston's season. Tonight they'll throw Felix with everything on the line, then James Paxton on Wednesday to head home. This stupid team, like so many of us, is beautiful despite, and perhaps partially because of, how broken it is.
I'd like to speak briefly about loving what's broken. It's something I've often done, subconsciously, but maybe quite consciously in retrospect. I intentionally designed A Local Brewery with loads of asymmetry as a means of allowing comfort in your own incompletion. Broken things have no means of disappointing you. They allow for the only failure to be yourself. There's comfort in that control. They are safe sources of optimism. When the floor is low, you only leave yourself room for hope or for pain. One feels amazing, the other feels alive. There would be no such thing as joy were it not for its counterpart. Too often we are reminded of the fragility of things, of the people, ideas, and concepts we grow to love. I think I love broken things because I, myself, am broken. All of us are, in our own, little ways. The Mariners have been for quite sometime.
I remember a time when I was visiting colleges while in high school, and sat in on a second-year philosophy course. The professor was discussing a concept wherein nothing is real. All objects, people, places, memories, were simply images and nothing more. The class devoted hours and weeks of time to this idea. Obviously, Great Thinkers, minds considered, rightfully so, much deeper than my own had fumbled, and still fumble, with this idea. It was in that class, mulling this concept, where I knew quite clearly where my future rested. That I didn't care to imagine my life as mere image. That I would choose to feel and make real all things. That life is, for me, the six inches in front of my face.
We've all felt the weight of things, both literally and figuratively. I know how it feels to hold something or someone I love. I know the weight. The rush of watching Marte round third headed home, I can feel the resistance of the wind against Robi's jersey as he trots around first, popping his gum in defiance of the air he just shattered with another second-deck blast. There's a gravity to all things, to all images, that isn't imagined at all. It's measurable. And now, in this moment, it is measured in six games to make up two. In pitch to pitch heartbreak and elation. In meaningful, September baseball. And this is a rare form of gravity for all of us gathered here. This broken thing is beautiful and lovely. It is heavy upon me. It is more than image. This weight feels good to me.
Maybe that's too simple. Maybe, just maybe, that's a broken way of seeing the world. But fuck it. Six games.