I don’t want to do this.
I don’t blame you for not wanting to read it, and would totally understand if you didn’t at all.
The Seattle Mariners, a near-constant source of joy from March through the first week of July, have cratered. Each loss sinks them deeper and deeper into the crater, with today marking the date they finally reach the lava. It is an enormous bummer made worse by the stadium takeover dastardly executed by our neighbors from the north.
The trajectory of this season feels like a lived experience in “Tis better to have loved and lost then never loved at all.” I love this franchise, and I especially loved the 2018 version, but this rough patch has me wondering if I should have stayed away entirely. It goes beyond just the product on the field currently being lifeless and unwatchable. The string of bad feelings born from the team’s struggles reached a crescendo when news of Kevin Mather and Bob Aylward’s workplace harassment surfaced, and swelled even stronger when the organization kept them around. Everyone can, and rightfully should, harbor their own opinions about karma and the universe and their roles in real life occurrences, but the Mariners’ lackluster performances since the front office story broke feels like some sort of cosmic punishment.
Part of me is inclined to believe that losing to the Blue Jays is largely due to the energy in Safeco Field being entirely on their side. I was in attendance on Friday night and felt extremely disheartened after the first inning, when the Blue Jays pushed across a run to get their hive of fans buzzing. The combination of excited Canadians and the Mariners’ anemic offense made a 1-0 deficit feel insurmountable.
Tonight, watching from my couch, it didn’t take long for those feelings to avalanche back. It started before the game, to be honest, when I encountered approximately 45 Blue Jay fans during a walk on the Elliott Bay trail. I had small, albeit ultimately insignificant “stranger in my own land” feelings, succeeded by “stranger to my own feelings” feelings. As recently as this Monday, I wholeheartedly believed the Mariners were a playoff team. That headspace was a fun and wildly thrilling place to live. It happening in concert with moving to my first adult apartment seemed to signal a promising new direction in my life.
Today, everything else in my life is still mostly chill, but my beloved baseball team brought a jarring reminder that the world does not care about you. Like when shuffle takes me from YG to Death Cab for Cutie, I’ve been involuntarily subjected to a harsh mood swing. Just the same as when shuffle drops Grapevine Fires during an otherwise happy mood, there’s no one to really get mad at but myself. The impossibly long schedule of an MLB season is akin to shuffle in that it can quite literally cover every feeling, genre, and tempo the library has to offer. To avoid this, I can always just select what songs I want to hear, just like I can choose to ignore the Mariners if I want to.
Getting chain-snatched by Marco Estrada might be the game that launches me into a self-imposed Mariner break. I am 100% aware of how alarmist this may sound, especially with the cupcake Rangers offering a potential feast in Seattle’s next series. But tuning in every night to watch a team flail away hopelessly is blatant self-harm. Sports are a tiny speck of importance in the real world’s landscape, in that the outcome of Mariner games typically don’t impact lives directly, and that not participating in its fandom doesn’t bring negative effects the way ignoring human interaction or good health does. I realize that for many of us, the Mariners are, for better or worse, a necessary constant in the unpredictability of daily life. That said, two or three days without them sounds like a nice break right about now.
If there are any bright spots from this game, they challenge the boundaries of the word bright’s definition. James Paxton did well to limit damage by forcing a series of inning-ending double plays, which of course are only possible if runners reach base in the first place. The hitters “rallied” to break up the no-hitter and shutout, which is only possible if you’re getting no-hit and shutout to begin with. We got to see Kyle Seager play second base, made possible by Chris Herrmann pinch-hitting for Andrew Romine and re-jiggering the entire configuration of the infield. Seager at second, Herrmann at first, and Healy at third felt like garbage time of an NBA game when the coach puts together a funky lineup that you’ve only seen in video games. Fun, but in a try-to-forget-about-how-we-got-here type of way.
Other bright spots include hearing Ryan Rowland-Smith say “slider” and Ryon Healy drawing a walk. Gotta grasp for straws before they’re banned forever, ya know?
On Sunday, I want one of two things to happen.
1. The Mariners beat Toronto and score at least five runs, which feels like an enormous ask right now.
2. Should they continue walking this boulevard of broken dreams, Scott Servais finds a way to get ejected.
For now, the only thing we can do is move on. Like with every other problem we face, miniscule or massive, wallowing in it does no good. The Mariners will play on Sunday at 1:10 p.m. PT. Maybe you’ll watch in hopes that they remember how to be good, maybe you’ll join me in walking into the ocean first thing in the morning. Regardless of how you deal with this Blue Jay-induced misery, please do so healthily.
Watch the M’s when they try again tomorrow, or do quite literally anything else instead, all that matters is that you do something. No matter what your fatalistically-trained mind is telling you to do, I urge you not to sit in the darkness and revert back to the perverse comfort of bad baseball.
That’s it for this recap, and for my armchair therapy. Please feel free to share your preferred coping mechanisms in the comments, and, as always, in sickness and health, in dingers and doomsdays, Go M’s.