How do we collectively define what feels right? What matters, or counts for legitimacy purposes? It’s certainly a difficult exercise to define, analyze, and apply these artificial parameters to real life events, but then again that’s all we can really do. Bouncing these thoughts around in your own mind can only take you so far. Sometimes others’ perspectives drizzle some much-needed context on the brain. That’s where I’m here to help.
Should the Seattle Mariners miraculously qualify for the 2020 playoffs, it will be an unequivocally good thing.
Good for the players who worked so hard for it amid strange and challenging circumstances, particularly the younger ones who haven’t had a chance to get beaten down by failure yet.
Good for members of the organization who’ve been drowned in negativity about the history of the inept Mariners, most of which has nothing to do with them and came long before they were even involved.
Good for the fans who have never seen or don’t remember the Mariners ever making the playoffs, as well as the ones who worried they might never see it happen again.
Think about the goals of your life, or the things you dream about in a fairy tale type of way. The aspirational part is never the journey, it’s the conclusion. No one who fantasizes about their dream home stares out the window with heart-shaped eyes imagining realtors or brokerage fees or mortgages. The fun part – the part you want more than anything, the part that keeps you going – is the ending. That moment of euphoria upon realizing that everything you wanted to happen finally, magically, for once, actually happened. Those are the joys in life, the actualized fantasies, not their messy backstories.
I will readily admit that my preferred playoff drought buster would come in a normal, 162-game season. Both to erase all arguments about its legitimacy and for the burst of emotion that would come with clinching a playoff spot after six months of games. But that, as we know all too well, is never guaranteed. The M’s have a real shot to make it this year and play in postseason games that build toward a World Series, just like the ’95 team did, same as the ’01 boys. The fact that it may come in a one-third season playing only nine other teams with no fans is more of an unfortunate truth than a knock on the team. It’s not their fault that a completely altered playoff structure might benefit them. What are they supposed to do, not try to make it? Surely every player understands that the 2020 playoff race began with a shorter finish line. That doesn’t mean they should let the other, more talented people who are “supposed to be there” run right past. Quite literally the entire point of regular season games is to try and make the playoffs, and as of today, Seattle is only two games back of that goal.
Think about the boost that a playoff spot would provide for the young players. Playing meaningful MLB games down the stretch and into the postseason is the best possible way to prepare them for even more meaningful games in the future. Experience is often the best teacher, and I imagine playoff games in an empty stadium would be a nice little baby warmup for the circus of standard ones.
Think about the potential boosts in free agency should the Mariners eke in. If they can enter the offseason with the credentials of a playoff team, courting available players with the added selling point of a stacked minor league system ready to contribute sooner rather than later, Seattle suddenly becomes a sexy destination.
Any good therapist will warn their patients about the dangers of romanticizing the struggle. Just because tradition tells us we’re supposed to arrive at something a certain way doesn’t mean we have to or should. The end goal is an end goal for a reason; the route to get there is just semantics. Of course, the semantics of a 60-game season with over half the league making the ‘yoffs are likely a once in a lifetime. A playoff spot this year, while cheapened and easier, is still earned, and would shine through the dark, daunting cloud that’s loomed for nearly 20 years.
There’s no harm at all in making that part a little easier for everyone.