Much of life is coming to terms with the fact that it’s a constant stream of shit just happening. That the same shit tends to happen over and over is both a blessing and a curse: the predictability lends itself to a feeling of stability, though the days do tend to blend together.
Unpredictable stuff happens too, though. Possessions get stolen or destroyed. People get injured or ill. Businesses close, celebrities die, people get elected. Through it all, we soldier on: continuing to exist so that we can observe more things that happen, feel a certain way about them, and hope that the good feelings outweigh the bad.
Part of the appeal of baseball is that each game represents approximately 300 discrete events, instances of something happening. Each one makes us feel a certain way. Most of them aren’t terribly impactful: ball one in a tie game in the bottom of the third inning barely elicits a reaction. As the leverage increases, so too do the stakes. In the later innings, a full count in a tie game presents the chance for each pitch to spell misery or elation.
For some, the twenty years of failure we’ve witnessed from the Mariners have flattened the equilibrium. Exciting moments become muted, tempered by the learned helplessness we’ve experienced. Devastating moments, too, produce mere shrugs.
For the less cautious, and perhaps more stupid, those years of failure have served only to take the equilibrium to its extreme. Today, the team was three games out of the playoffs in a crowded Wild Card race, its odds hovering around 5% as they geared up to face a frankly superior team. You wouldn’t have known it from the atmosphere over this homestand, which ranged from tense to delirious.
As they’ve done so many times, the Mariners disappointed. The hitters stranded runners and missed hittable pitches, the pitchers missed their spots.
Despite it all, they still found themselves in a position to win. With the game tied 3-3 in the bottom of the ninth inning, Red Sox closer Adam Ottavino badly missed with a pitch, throwing it behind Jake Bauers. The ball barely missed his leg, but the replay revealed that it brushed against his pantleg, sending Bauers to first base and putting Jarred Kelenic in a position to win the game.
After Jarred watched a couple of pitches, Bauers took off from first base. Jarred ripped a line drive down the first base line, the ball angled just to the left of the bag. As the bull spun and sliced, it began to curve right. It curved, it curved, and just before hitting the ground, it curved to the wrong side of the foul line. With Bauers’ head start, he would have scored easily. Jarred swore before returning to the plate, where he ended up dutifully striking out.
The very next inning, Erik Swanson immediately got into a jam. Two singles, a walk, and a wild pitch plated a run and loaded the bases. Swanson was immediately yanked for Justus Sheffield, who managed to induce a force out to home plate by Rafael Devers. Up came J.D. Martínez.
Martínez jumped all over a changeup in the zone, ripping a ground ball to J.P. Crawford’s right. J.P. dove valiantly, but failed to come up with the ball. Another run scored, and four more runs followed it, all but sealing the game for the Red Sox. Had the grounder been even inches to the right, J.P. likely would have been able to turn a double-play.
But Jarred’s liner sliced foul. Martínez’s grounder skipped just out of J.P.’s reach. The Mariners lost, and will now need a miracle to make the postseason.
That’s baseball. Things just happen. The right things don’t always happen. For the Mariners, the right things don’t usually happen. Eventually they will, but I have no idea when.