Life is full of unanswerable questions. What happens to the night during daytime? Are we all an amalgamation of the world around us, or does the world reflect all of us? Why are literally any of us here? Is Elon Musk the world’s smartest dumb guy or dumbest smart guy?
The nice part of simpler, binary questions is the closure that comes from their resolutions. Even though it’s a cold comfort, the question of “Did the Mariners make the playoffs” has rendered a hard result each September after 2001. No.
As such, there’s been a lot of baseball in Seattle that has no implications on the playoff picture. These end-of-season games conjure up their own unanswerable questions about whether Mariners vs. Fellow Bad Team is actually meaningless, or if the meaning is found in their inherent uselessness.
This weekend, the 2018 Mariners close their season against the Texas Rangers. Neither team will be going to the postseason. That much is set in stone. However, these final three games can deliver closure on some yet-unanswered questions. A couple of these are statistical, in which a player needs a defined amount of something to reach a personal benchmark. Others are drenched in existentialism, and really just birth other questions. Watching the team play out the string is always an odd sort of relaxing-meets-cleansing, and doing so this year can tie a bow on this depreciating gift of a season.
Will Jean Segura hit his 30th double?
The Mariners’ enigmatic shortstop needs one more double to reach 30 for the season and match his total from 2017. Hitting just one more two-bagger also gives Jean 30 in both of his seasons with Seattle, making him the only Mariner shortstop not named Rodriguez (duh) or Betancourt (huh?) to hit 30 doubles in back-to-back years.
Will Ryon Healy reach 25 home runs?
Like Segura and his 30 doubles, Healy is one home run short of reaching a nice, round number. For as much hemming and hawing as we’ve done about RyOn and his .278 OBP, the power tool that executives raved about has shown up. Granted, 25 home runs + .239 AVG and a 4.9 BB% = -0.6 fWAR, which is less than Ichiro. Still, if there’s any positivity to be gleaned from Healy’s season, it’s that he’s still capable of sledgehammering a baseball every so often.
With Daniel Vogelbach finally getting some regular time in the everyday lineup, Healy may have to knock his 25th dinger in pinch-hit duties. If the Mariners have been paying attention to #advanced #stats, they should let Healy take his swings in Sunday’s day game. Not only would an afternoon homer be hilariously in-line with his season stats, it would also give Healy some much-needed good vibes heading into a long offseason.
Can the Mariners hit 89 wins?
Our star-crossed, rudderless franchise has some fairly low bars in terms of success. While other teams measure themselves by playoff appearances and World Series rings, the last decade has forced the Mariners to examine things through a different lens. For instance, getting four players on the All-Star team felt like a big step forward. Making savvy trades for Segura, Mitch Haniger, Marco Gonzales, Denard Span, and Alex Colomé—easily five of the M’s most valuable players this year—was a heartening reminder that not every transaction has to be a rat-infested trash bag inside a larger, more rat-infested dumpster.
With that in mind, the Mariners can unlock a quasi-achievement should they win each of their last three games. A trio of victories puts the Mariners’ final record at 89-73. This would represent the best win-loss record since 2003. For context, the manager in 2003 was Bob Melvin, Ryan Franklin and Joel Piñeiro combined for 423.2 innings, and a large portion of the Lookout Landing staff were still mastering multiplication. Of course, the only thing winning does at this point is give the organization a later draft pick, but 89 wins is still a nice consolation prize for a team that hasn’t soared that high since Speakerboxxx/The Love Below came out.
Are these Nelson Cruz’s final games as a Mariner?
Okay, time for the sad one. As much as I don’t want to think about it (and as much as I don’t think it will actually come true), these could be our final chances to watch Nelson Cruz as a Seattle Mariner. The humongous-armed, impeccably dressed, immaculately eyebrowed slugger is a free agent this winter, and will undoubtedly draw attention from DH-hungry American League teams.
That list is already relatively small and excludes the usual AL East suspects after their recent additions of Giancarlo Stanton and J.D. Martinez. We can also probably rule out teams that are years away from contention, as Nelson’s age makes him better suited for win-now teams. Barring a misguided play by a National League team to turn 38-year-old Nelson Cruz into an outfielder, the list of candidates is likely Seattle and *gulp* Houston.
If you’re going to Safeco this weekend, please shower Nelson Cruz with unwavering love and appreciation and perhaps even a wheelbarrow of gifts.
What will Ichiro do?
This season, we’ve seen Ichiro get an Opening Day Start, ascend to a front office role that is extremely dugout-based, become the fastest thing on land again, don a fake mustache, and rob a home run. When we last saw him, he was starting a gruesome beef with a pillow-wielding horse.
WARNING: EXTREMELY VIOLENT CONTENT
What sort of things will Ichiro do next, in what are likely his final appearances at Safeco in a Mariner uniform? I, for one, think they should let him coach first base on Friday, third base on Saturday, and be the manager on Sunday. Above all else, if I could ask for just one more sign of life from this smoldering husk of a season, it’s this.
Let Ichiro sing the national anthem.
Will Edwin Díaz record two more saves and surpass Bobby Thigpen for second place on the single-season saves list?
Does Andrew Romine get a chance to show off his whimsical versatility? Will they let him catch a few innings? Why not let him take the reins on play-by-play? How about tossing some peanuts around the upper deck? Would anyone even notice if Andrew Romine was the peanut vendor?
Tired: these could be Adrián Beltré’s last MLB games.
Wired: this could be the last chance for an elaborate head-touching prank.