Sometime in the next week, the Mariners will be officially eliminated from the playoffs. It’s a procedural note only, as they’ve been hemorrhaging fuel and adrift for months. But tonight it was memorable once again - it’s August with Félix on the mound, and the Mariners’ season will conclude as scheduled in a month. He took the ball, gave Seattle a chance to win, left with a lead, and watched them lose from the best seat in the house.
We’ve spent almost three years talking about what Félix was, lamenting what he is. MLB is obsessed with its past, and it encourages us as fans to embrace a sense of nostalgia, treating even our most dismal memories with the sport as formative experiences, and our highlights as cherished moments of transcendence. Mariners fans are well-versed in our nostalgia - for many it’s all there is to celebrate about the franchise. In the moment we appreciated Félix and his greatness, but for half a decade now we’ve been pointing backwards. Barring something extraordinary, it’s the only direction we’ll have left to point when it comes to Félix soon enough. No matter how easy to understand, it will be a difficult day when our goodbye arrives in just a few short weeks.
We’ll sit and watch and listen, in grandstands and on couches, on the bus to work or riding home, as Félix climbs the hill at
Safeco T-Mobile Park the final few times until there’s just three more, then two, and then one final start, and the lights go out. They’ll escort us out, gradually but firmly, until you’re barely close enough to smell the popcorn or see the posters by the Occidental entrance. Nothing will remain but those memories, videos that show only the past and never again a new entry into The King’s hopeful future.
For some, it is a reminder of mortality, and that is daunting enough, but more heart-rending to me than the simple certainty of death is that something we all believed in - that Félix would one day get his chance - never came to fruition. Perhaps you never believed the Mariners would make the playoffs, and that is all well and good. But the idea that across 18 years with the organization, four GMs, nine managers, and multiple faces of ownership groups, not a single chance to play on the biggest stage arrived is something that stings in its improbability.
All we can do now is remember, and hope the next time someone truly remarkable becomes a part of our lives and our fandom, they are able to reach what we inevitably realize we want for them as much as we want it for ourselves.