There is a fellow named John Koenig who has endeavored in the past decade to color in the edges of the English dictionary. The goal of his Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows to capture feelings, sensations, and situations that lack a word. Often this is accomplished, unsurprisingly, by leaning on other languages, as English has always done. In this vein, the word anemoia was born, from Ancient Greek ἄνεμος (ánemos for “wind”) and νόος (nóos for “mind”); it is a word for feeling nostalgia for a time or thing that never existed or that the individual has never experienced.
I am considering this new term in relation to last Thursday’s trade, with the Seattle Mariners acquiring C/OF Cooper Hummel in exchange for OF Kyle Lewis. The deal shuffles depth for Seattle with Hummel giving Seattle the credence to set loose both Brian O’Keefe and Luis Torrens, while also covering the outfield depth. Lewis, the first draft pick of the Dipoto era and 2020 Rookie of the Year, gets a fresh start in an organization with no lengthy hang-ups on what could have been if not for a fateful day in Everett, an uncomfortable leap in the outfield, a careless Houston Astros pitcher; the Diamondbacks have the distance to recognize only the player who they see now. Perhaps, if knee cartilage is kind and there is a certain timbre of beauty in the Sonoran Desert, Lewis can roam free alongside Corbin Carroll and Alek Thomas. Maybe Hummel can find his groove as well, for a challenge trade that benefits all. It would be a relief beyond words.
My imagination cuts me off without much leash, here, because I am drawn to the anemoia once more.
The Mariners are unfathomably fortunate to have Julio Rodríguez, a beacon of joy on and off the field who is and will be the face of the franchise, possibly more than any player before him. And yet, it is our nature to dream of new horizons and greater possibilities. There was a world in which the outfield chart ran Kelenic-Rodríguez-Lewis, from left to right. In a world not so different from our own, that world could have been viewed this past Opening Day in Minnesota, but Lewis could not yet play healthily. He battled his body all season, unable to fully recover and fighting significant pain that came and went with the days of the week in a maddening inconsistency that forced the team to put him out of the lineup, and ultimately out of their plans.
That we never got a single day of the three players a game is not an objective tragedy, but it is a sorrow I cannot shake. Kelenic played a part in this, of course, not yet meeting the moment in full as a big leaguer and thus ceding time to local Souzas when the opportunity nearly arose in mid-2022. Rodríguez as well missed time briefly, yet much like Lewis, when healthy he delivered, and exceeded his predecessor en route to the Mariners’ second Rookie of the Year Award in three seasons. If Kelenic had performed at the level of his massive expectations, it could have quite easily been a PNW three-peat.
Instead, Lewis will attempt to prove his resilience in the desert, while Kelenic will hope to still have a job in Seattle alongside Rodríguez. It is okay. They will all have further opportunities to showcase their greatness. But the dream of all three in Seattle has been laid to rest. I will mourn it in my anemoia for at least a few more winter days.