Before tonight’s game began, everyone in T-Mobile Park collectively bowed their heads, closed their eyes, and took a moment of silence to honor Tyler Skaggs, who passed away yesterday.
When I was a kid, I never knew what to think during these moments of silence. I would stand and try my best to be quiet, but I didn’t really understand the purpose, or what I should be doing.
As it turns out, becoming an adult hasn’t shed much light on what to think or feel. There’s a sense of profound loss. A sense of injustice. An aching, unrelenting sense of finality associated with every thought. Just a few brief moments feeling all of those things, and trying to acknowledge them and then process them, could never be enough. When the shared moments are over, turning one’s attention to something as trivial and absurd as a baseball game at first feels perverse.
Every aspect of Tyler Skaggs’ death is devastating. He was just 27. He had loved ones, whose anguish I cannot begin to comprehend. He visited sick children in the hospital. It doesn’t make any sense, and it doesn’t feel fair. It isn’t fair.
It was natural, then, that any game should feel completely meaningless in the wake of a tragedy like this. How the Angels managed to play in their game is beyond me. And yet, when Billy Eppler spoke of the decision to play today, he said: “I don’t want to speak for [the players], but it was what Tyler would want.”
It was a reminder of what this game means to all of us: the fans, the coaches, and the players. Life, like baseball, can so often feel meaningless. Just under the surface, though, there’s so much meaning to be found in each. And as the moments of silence echo through me, I’m reminded of the importance of looking a little harder.
Tim Beckham hit a pinch-hit solo home run in the bottom of the eighth inning to put the Mariners ahead by one run, and then Roenis Elías got out of minor trouble to record the save. Normally, my first instinct would be to make a sarcastic comment about the meaninglessness of the season, of the win, and of Tim Beckham’s status as a Seattle Mariner.
Tonight, though, as I watched Beckham’s swing connect and as I saw the ball rise, and keep rising, I couldn’t help but feel gratitude. It was one of a limited number of home runs I’ll ever get to see, and it helped seal one of a limited number of Mariners wins I’ll ever get to see.
I hope I won’t start taking these moments for granted, no matter how small they may seem.
Rest in peace, Tyler Skaggs.