I used to know this guy that loved to ask people whether they were optimists or pessimists. I don’t think he really gave a shit about their answer, he was just one of those people that asked the question so he’d have an opportunity to share his own opinion. No matter how you answered, he’d be able to one-up you. In his mind he was an “optimistic realist.” Whatever, dude.
Still, maybe he was on to something. I was thinking about this game and this series all day. I kept thinking about the very real possibility of the Mariners taking two out of three from the Angels this series, the Astros dropping two out of three to the first-place Diamondbacks, and the Mariners ending up on top of the division. After all, the Angels have cooled down considerably after their hot start. The Mariners have looked spectacular over their last couple of series, and the Astros have stumbled. Being in first place on Monday looked not only possible, but likely.
Every five minutes, though, I snapped myself out of it. The wound of last year’s Deadgar Weekend might be scarred over, but the scar is still quite visible.
It was so easy to visualize Shohei Ohtani making Mike Leake’s fastball look like a tee-ball, or Albert Pujols getting his 3,000th hit, and then his 3,001st. After the Mariners’ recent uptick in stranded runners, I spent Friday at my desk imagining the team going 0-for-whatever with runners in scoring position and Ben Gamel striking out in all however-many of his at-bats. I wondered if Kyle Seager really was cured, and whether Mitch Haniger would make us continue to question whether his April was a mirage.
When you deal with anxiety, and your brain starts running through all of these worst-case scenarios at hyper speed, maintaining your sanity becomes an exercise in convincing yourself that your brain is wrong. Which feels a bit like an oxymoron. It sure doesn’t help on the rare occasion that your brain is proven to be correct.
I see this play, and my brain starts running through all of these worst-case scenarios. I see Shohei Ohtani terrorizing the Mariners for the next six years as they desperately try to tread water in relevancy. I wonder whether Ben Gamel is really an alright left fielder solution, or if he just had three good months last year. My brain presents me a vision of a Mariners franchise forever cursed to bounce between having decent pitching and decent hitting, but never both at the same time.
This was one game. The Mariners are still five games over .500, and have a better shot at the playoffs than they did at any point over the last couple years. Mitch Haniger, Kyle Seager, and Ben Gamel will probably be fine. But after sixteen years, it’s nights like this that I sit at home and I’m just not convinced of any of those things, regardless of any tangible evidence to the contrary. We just saw how it could all go wrong, and it felt extremely realistic.