“Now that we have come out of hiding,
Why would we live again in the tombs we’d made out of our souls?”
I don’t wish to discuss what happened yesterday afternoon. Not in particulars, anyways. Zach already did a good job of that. We know what happened.
I’m more interested in writing about what’s next, in the short-term and the long-term. About how we choose (and how we do not choose) to rationalize, process, and mentally deal with this soul-crushing loss.
We saw the ball leave the bat and, before we even got the outfield camera angle, we knew it was over. In the immediate aftermath, in those 30 seconds, I felt everything that I know all of you felt. Hope, first, that the ball hit at 118 mph off the bat would somehow be caught. Please, not this.
Anger, next. The floral throw pillow I was anxiously clutching flung across the room in disgust. Not this.
I walked to the back door of our kitchen, and put my head against the doorframe. Deep, immense sorrow. Not this.
I walked back to the TV, willing the scene to look different. Willing myself to see anything but the Astros mobbing Álvarez around home plate, dumping Gatorade and water on him, joy plastered across their stupid faces. Please. Not this.
And then, in a moment of either clarity or perhaps an all-time case of “cope,” I realized that this is it. This is exactly what we have been waiting and waiting for, for 21 years. We paid money to go to Safeco Field to watch a lineup that would lose games to some AAA rosters on cold April evenings, waiting for this. We watched games doomed from the start to be unwatchable affairs, impossibly dull 7-1 losses to the Texas Rangers, waiting for this.
Playoff baseball. A day where every pitch matters so much that a single one can break an entire geographic region’s heart. We waited for this, and now we’ve got it. And, yeah, surprise, it hurts. It hurts so fucking much.
But the only reason it has the capability to pain our souls so deeply is because it also contains the possibility of joy beyond our knowledge as Mariners fans - or, at least, beyond any knowledge that we’ve lived since 2001. This joy is within our grasp; it could be ours. We got a huge taste of it against the Blue Jays last week when we sat on the other side of the table, watching the Mariners claw back to eliminate Toronto and break their hearts.
Earning the right, in the process, to this.
Playoff baseball. This loss.
There are, I’m sure, dozens of clichés to describe what we’re living right now: Nothing ventured, nothing gained, no guts, no glory, no pain, no gain, etc. But I think that’s truly the point, now. We couldn’t possibly feel the elation of defeating Houston when it means everything, without, inherently, running the risk of losing to Houston when it means everything.
So, we may win this series. If we do, it will be a feeling like no other.
We may lose this series. If we do, it will be a feeling like no other.
But both of those feelings are natural consequences of what we hoped for at the beginning of the season, denied ourselves in the throes of mid-June, dared to dream about again heading into August, and finally declared for ourselves, full-throated and triumphant, on October 1st, 2022.
Playoff baseball. Let’s enjoy it, embrace it, together, as a community.
The opening lines that I included up top is the first stanza of Now That We Have Tasted Hope by Khaled Mattawa. It’s a poem that I like very much. It’s included in full in the hyperlink above, but allow me to share the last few stanzas of it below. It’s obviously about things much more meaningful than a silly baseball game, but I think Mariners fans should be able to relate all the same.
I need not look far to imagine the nerves dying,
Rejecting the life that blood sends them.
I need not look deep into my past to seek a thousand hopeless vistas.
But now that I have tasted hope
I have fallen into the embrace of my own rugged innocence.
How long were my ancient days?
I no longer care to count.
I no longer care to measure.
How bitter was the bread of bitterness?
I no longer care to recall.
Now that we have tasted hope, this hard-earned crust,
We would sooner die than seek any other taste to life,
Any other way of being human.