We begin with my usual claptrap
“Our Song” isn’t a top-50 Taylor Swift song, and it’s not the example I’d use to try to convert a skeptic. But it is good. It’s characteristically clever for Taylor Swift of all people to write a song about how there are some feelings that music can’t capture. Sure, it lacks the lyrical complexity, next-level bridge, and wisdom beyond her years that characterize her best work. But for such an early-career effort, it bears most of the hallmarks that would make Taylor the era’s greatest songwriter: It has an ear-worm hook, conversational lyrics, specific but unversial details, and a subltle lyric shift at the end. It also demands that you take young people’s emotions seriously and is performed by someone who’s actually thinking about what she’s saying (“when you talk reaaaaallllll slow”). It’s a well above average, radio friendly pop country song, and it was good enough to go multiplatinum and win awards.
I bring it up not because it’s the most relevant Taylor song (that’s the cathartic “Clean”—“the drought was the very worst ... I think I am finally clean.”). Rather, I bring up “Our Song” because Taylor wrote and performed it at 15 for her high school talent show. Some poor schmuck had to get up and perform after that. This is how it feels to recap the game after the Mariners broke a 21-year playoff drought. Bad Zach impossibly meeting the moment by writing an all-timer recap doesn’t help matters. Nevertheless, the Mariners did play a game today, so, Lookout Landing’s poor schmuck that I am, I’m here to recap it with what I hope is the same day-after insouciance with which they played.
I recap the actual game
The game’s most eventful inning was its first. As is tradition, Tony Kemp singled on the first pitch of the game. He came around to score on a single that Jesse Winker turned into a double in what’s surely one of his final acts as a left fielder.
But Seattle answered right back with a three-run first inning. Mrs. O’Leary’s cow was Dylan Moore, leading off with a well struck double to center, and he scored on a Carlos Santana single up the middle that tied the game at 1-1. Two wild pitches in a row got Santana to third, and cleanup hitter Luis Torrens (you read that correctly) walked to put runners on the corners with one out. That brought up Jarred Kelenic.
Kelenic might not even be on this roster if Julio hadn’t needed a stint on the IL, but I’m starting to wonder if Kelenic will ever see another game in Tacoma. Jarred got himself into an 0-2 count on a called strike and a whiff, and then fouled off a fastball at the top edge of the zone. He was gifted a ball on a curveball right at the lower-inside corner, but even if that had properly been called strike three, I would have still been thrilled to see him let it go by rather than hack at it. Jarred finally looks like someone who’s seen a breaking ball before rather than someone who’s only ever had it explained to him. After a non-competitive fifth pitch got the count to 2-2, Jarred laid off a beautiful cutter just below the zone to get the count full. That’s two pitches in the same plate appearance where he showed us the New Jarred. I don’t know if it’s his new stance, increased confidence, or an ephemeral hot streak, but Jarred looks like a new man, finally resisting the temptation of good pitches.
This loaded the bases for Sam Haggerty who did Sam Haggerty things to get the score to 3-1. And after that, Luis Castillo cruised through five more innings without allowing another baserunner. He left the game after six innings on just 77 pitches, presumably to save those bullets for the playoffs because that’s the kind of thing playoff teams do and, as you may have heard, the Mariners are a playoff team. Matt Boyd and Diego Castillo took the seventh and eighth, allowing just one baserunner between them. And it was a good thing the pitching was so dominant today because ROOT was using the top halfs of the innings to replay player interviews from amid last night’s locker room mayhem. I choked up several times, especially at Matt Boyd.
On the other side of the ball, Brian O’Keefe capped his MLB debut with his first hit, a line drive to left. I swear the ovation from the crowd was louder for that than for at least 500 of the team’s 21st-Century wins. This city’s in a good mood, and it’s showing.
A quick digression about brain science
I only got a social-promotion D- in Biology (thanks for doing me the solid, Mr. Hargus—I got my act together after high school!), but based on about 10 minutes of Wikipedia research, I’ve learned that γ-Aminobutyric acid, also known as GABA, is an important part of mammals’ central nervous systems. Though it can sometimes be overactive, it’s the mediator that helps us recognize and avoid danger.
Some chemicals are able to bind to your brain’s GABA receptors and more-or-less turn them off. These are called GABA agonists, and one of them is alcohol. This is the science behind the feeling of invincibility you sometimes get when you’re drinking. I looked this up because I couldn’t otherwise understand what happened in the seventh inning: Adam Frazier, who was so toasted last night that he took the field to watch the fireworks without wearing pants, decided to steal second ... and third?
This is a long-winded way of saying I think Adam Frazier is still drunk. He was stranded at third, but the Mariners did push two more across in the eighth. This was thanks largely to the “Athletics” outfielders miscommunicating and letting a routine ball drop in for a double. With the game at 5-1, Chiuderista Matt Festa closed it out, and the hootenanny continued.
Wherein I get back on my BS
This leaves the business of bestowing the final Sun Hat Award of the (regular!) season. Looking at the leaderboard, I see Cal Raleigh and Julio Rodríguez tied at the top with four each, which feels exactly right.
For the final one, let me take a page from Taylor Swift and use an extended metaphor that can double as my take on last night. I’ve been thinking about how Penelope waited for Odysseus, a mariner, for two decades. As her mariner fought battles and braved the seas and a vengeful god, she waited. Just like we waited for our Mariners. What is Lookout Landing if not a multi-authored epic poem about a lost mariner?
Along the way, the Mariners faced tempting songs sung by Dustin Ackley, Justin Smoak, and Jesus Montero. Getting here required outlasting the Scylla and Charybdis of Billy Beane and Jeff Luhnow. The Mariners endured Circe drugging Robinson Canó’s wine with furosemide. And they had to wake up from the lotus-eaten years like 2010 where they didn’t even think about returning to the Ithaca of October. To complete the final leg from Calypso, they had to rebuild (or reimagine) a whole new ship.
All the while, frustrated though she may have gotten, Penelope never wavered. She dutifully weaved and unweaved her shroud at 7:10 each night.
The journey had its moments of excitement. Titans were felled, the old time religion lived, and herores took flight. Some days were even perfect.
But it was a rough journey. There remains the slaying of the suitors in October to take the throne as king, but after a two-decade journey, the Mariners have finally reached their destination. And for Penelope, it wasn’t easy, but it was worth the wait. So too for you.
So if you’ll forgive my making it about me for a minute, as a very long-time LL reader but new writer, it’s been a privilege writing for you this year. I am deeply grateful that after 20 years of frustration, your spirit remained generous enough to not only indulge my nonsense, but to make me feel at home here. (Our song has been when we’re in a thread and Coral loads reaaalllllllll slow.) And therefore, for all you’ve brought to this community, but mostly for waiting all this time, you, the reader, get today’s Sun Hat Award. Thank you for your patience.