Narratives shape our experience of the world in ways that supersede our conscious understanding of physical reality, whether they be spiritual, superstitious, political, or linguistic. We enter each moment with our heads full of stories that allow us to contextualize every passing event, stories that are grounded in our cultures, our adopted or engrained ideologies, our own shared or personal pasts.
Devotion to a sports team is no different, of course, as the actual events that play out on a baseball diamond, a gridiron, a court, or a pitch take the backseat to the stories we form out of those athletic undertakings. John asked us to put the memories of the so-called Deadgar weekend to rest several days ago, noting that the narrative he helped shape is nothing but that: a story.
The Mariners themselves implored the same of us this series. Set aside your dearly-held preconceived notions, let them rest where they belong. Let the dead bury the dead.
Returning home from a giant-toppling roadtrip to the field where they set the reigning American League champions to rest just over a week ago, they demanded of us the hardest thing a person or a group of people can be asked: let your past be past, and let the world say “no” to your narratives. Forget Lollablueza, lay down the pain Mariners teams of years gone by have caused you, ignore the run differential. Give the present moment its chance to show you something you have not yet seen.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
Certainly, a rocky 7-2 loss stood in between the walk-off thriller and the romp we witnessed today, but the result speaks for itself, whatever narrative you choose to ascribe to it: the Seattle Mariners stand just barely outside the two Wild Card slots in early July.
You can devise any number of reasons for, say, Chris Flexen’s success at home or Luis Torrens’ post-demotion resurgence, and any one or a number of them may be correct. The fact of the matter is that on short rest, Flexen carved up a lineup (admittedly a poor one) with a confidence he has forged from his own narrative, not ours.
The battle raging in the heart of Luis Torrens is beyond any of our comprehension, no matter the numbers we see on FanGraphs or Savant. Which story does he have to tell himself to find the power he has in his capacity since returning from Tacoma? If you believe, sincerely, that you can find it in his Statcast percentiles, you may be too far gone.
Let this team be what it is, good or bad. Let them emerge triumphant where Mariners past have found nothing but their own failure reflecting back at them. Let Mariners departed, dearly or not, find success elsewhere.
The stories we tell ourselves about games, seasons, franchises, and players are nothing but shadows of the truth, shadows that reflect our shapes between the light and the wall of the cave. Rejoice with each victory, suffer with each loss. Sports offer us nothing but this.