Today’s game saw the Mariners play the Milwaukee Brewers in a game that ended up lasting over three hours. The two teams tied, 7-7, which was the same final score as the 2002 MLB All-Star game. The players who played in this game were not All-Stars. The Mariners ran out a lineup that did not consist of nearly any actual starters, and I have thus decided not to obsess over which players’ results might mean something for the 2022 Mariners’ chances.
Instead, I have decided to talk about which Arcade Fire song each of the members of the Mariners starting lineup reminds me of. Arcade Fire, if you’re not familiar, is a Canadian indie rock band whose music generally evokes the dull desperation involved in being a human being in the 21 century Western world. Kinda like the Mariners.
Billy Hamilton: Keep the Car Running
The association between this song and the Mariners’ leadoff hitter from today could scarcely be more shallow: this is the only Arcade Fire song that has the word “running” in the title, and Billy Hamilton’s whole thing is that he runs fast. I don’t feel compelled to manufacture any deeper meaning, because Billy Hamilton’s value as a baseball player is literally as shallow as “run fast”. Seriously, until he became a Mariner, I hadn’t realized how bad he was at hitting. His career wRC+ is 66. We did get to see him run fast today, when he reached on a leadoff error, promptly stole second, and then advanced to third on a throwing error by the catcher. He didn’t end up scoring, because Mike Ford was batting cleanup. Frankly, this song is much better than Billy Hamilton deserves.
Taylor Trammell: Wake Up
Now, this. This is song that helped Arcade Fire burst onto the mainstream as a force to be reckoned with, and your first inclination might be that Taylor Trammell isn’t exactly “Wake Up”-caliber as a baseball player. I chose this song because the somber lyrics contrasted with the hopefully melody reminds me a lot of Trammell and the context in which he plays for the Mariners. Trammell came over from the Padres alongside Ty France and Luis Torrens in exchange for Austin Nola. It was, in retrospect, such a fleecing of a trade that anything Trammell contributes for the Mariners should feel like gravy. A two-decade playoff draught, however, has made squeezing every possible win out of every roster spot feel like a matter of desperate urgency. “Children, wake up,” Win Butler cries on Wake Up. Trammell is one of the kids that has the opportunity to build a better future out of the ashes of the fuck-ups that came before him. His solo dinger today was yet one more glimpse of what might be.
Luis Torrens: Ready to Start
Luis Torrens’ career arc, as LL staff writer Connor Donovan wrote so eloquently earlier this month, has been marked by injustice. Seeing his development (both in a baseball sense and a human one) stalled by the Rule 5 draft and a trade before he had even hit double-A, feels emblematic of the struggle of the modern fringe baseball player being seen more as commodity than human. The opening line of Ready to Start, “The businessmen are drinking my blood”, is appeal against capitalism that most any young worker can relate to. It’s an acknowledgment that when the world is bleached by business, considerations other than value are disregarded. Torrens was never given a fair shake, and the defenders of the status quo, both active and complicit, will say: “well, baseball is a business, and that’s how it works”. I will likely never convince those people otherwise, so I’ll instead say that, now that Torrens has finally been given a fair shot at development, I’m excited to see what he brings to the table. His 2-for-3 batting line today against a solid Major League starter is encouraging. He might finally be ready to start.
Mike Ford: Suburban War
Suburban War is a nostalgic ballad that laments how much we’ve changed in the years since we first forged a friendship. The world is hard. As much as we might try to resist, it changes us. Mike Ford has never played a regular season game for the Mariners, but for some reason it feels like he did. The Mariners selected Ford in the 2017 Rule 5 draft, though Ford didn’t end up making the team out of Spring Training. The 2017 team that Ford broke camp with was of a different era: Jean Segura, Robinson Canó, Nelson Cruz, and Félix Hernández were all roster stalwarts at the time, and the Mariners were expected by most to make the playoffs. They didn’t, of course, and the Mariners ultimately blew everything up after 2018. The complexion of the team unrecognizably altered since Ford first wore the uniform, it feels weird seeing him again. It almost feels like we failed, and Ford got lucky by not ever having to be a part of that star-crossed team. “All my old friends, they don’t know me now.”
Tom Murphy: Normal Person
Murphy seems on the outside to be the furthest thing from a normal person. This 4.5 minute panic attack of a song tells the story of a man staring at other people on the street, whose perceived normalcy seems to him to be impossibly alien. Murphy, whose value as a baseball player still seems very much in question based on which of his 2019 or 2021 seasons you think was more representative, does not trigger those feelings of alienation within me. No, the intense joy and weirdness with which Murphy plays baseball is a reminder that ennui does not have to be the default mode of existence for anyone. I hope against hope that the power that Tom Murphy displayed in 2019 comes back and that he is a key contributor for the 2022 Mariners, because every minute spent watching Tom Murphy is a minute spent realizing how I want to live my life.
Steven Souza Jr.: You Already Know
“Please stop wondering why you feel so bad... you already know.”
Steven Souza Jr. is not a good baseball player. He has not been a good baseball player in five years. I don’t know why he’s a member of the Seattle Mariners. He is not going to be a part of the next Mariners World Series team. He is not going to be a major contributor for the Mariners this season. He is a warm body to eat up Spring Training at bats. I would personally rather those at bats be allocated elsewhere. You Already Know is about knowing something isn’t going to work out, and doing it anyway. Just stop, Mariners.
Dylan Moore: Afterlife
This one makes me really sad. Dylan Moore, for better or worse, has been a part of so many core Mariners memories from the past several years. In just his fifth MLB game, he recorded three errors! And the Mariners still won! Later that year, with the Mariners firmly out of contention, Moore made a spectacular inning-saving catch to bail out Félix Hernández, turning a potentially horrifying evening into the bittersweet one it was supposed to be. Moore followed that up with a fairytale 2020, during which he performed at what would have been a 5 fWAR clip over a full 162 games. And then... he came crashing back to Earth last year, posting a 74 wRC+ that seems more representative of his skill as a player.
D-Mo, who actually posted a replacement-level line last season, is a useful MLB player. But his tenure with the Mariners has represented more of what he isn’t, rather than what he is. He was given almost 400 plate appearances last season because the Mariners opted not to spend money to try to contend. Had those plate appearances gone elsewhere, they might have gotten over the hump.
I would prefer for Dylan’s tenure with the Mariners to end soon. I hope this primarily because he isn’t a very good baseball player. I also hope this because I unfairly associate him with much of the pain the last three years have brought. Whenever he does end up leaving, though, I will be sad. It’s a strange mix of emotions, and an exercise in cognitive dissonance. “Afterlife. Oh my God, what an awful word.”
Sam Haggerty: Modern Man
Modern American life can feel cyclical and pointless to the point of absurdity. The routine of pulling up one’s socks day-in and day-out, of going to whatever government agency you’re obligated to go to once every few years to “wait in line for a number that you don’t understand”, of losing whatever it was that you thought made you human... it can wear on a person. So too has the experience of watching Sam Haggerty worn on me. Each weakly-hit grounder is a piece of sandpaper that erodes one of the remaining vestiges of patience I have for watching baseball. That Haggerty played in 35 games last season feels like an absurdity. Should he play in more than 10 this season, I fear for the last of my own humanity.
Kevin Padlo: It’s Never Over (Hey Orpheus)
I do not have much to say about Kevin Padlo, who is indistinguishable to me from Haggerty or Moore, so I am instead using this space for a general commentary on the Mariners. The myth of Orpheus is an incredibly sad one. After his beloved wife Eurydice dies, Orpheus plays music so mournful and beautiful that it tugs on the heartstrings of even Hades, god of the underworld. Hades agrees to let Orpheus return to the land of the living with Eurydice on just one condition: that he walk in front of her, and not look back at her until they both reach the surface. The different adaptions of the myth vary: some say that Orpheus’ feet touched the grass on the surface and he turned back to his beloved with excitement before realizing with horror that she hadn’t yet reached the surface. Others say that Orpheus could not hear his wife’s footsteps, and found his faith waver as he came close to the surface, ultimately turning around. In any case, he failed his task, and was thus forever separated from Eurydice. In Arcade Fire’s version of the song, Eurydice pleas with Orpheus: “Don’t turn around, just wait until it’s over.” The ending lines of the song see Orpheus’ faith waver. “It’s never over” repeats, over and over again. I do not know whether the Mariners will ultimately turn things around. I do not know whether they will spend more money next offseason. I do not know whether Jarred Kelenic will end up being a star, or Julio Rodriguez a superstar. But the myth of Orpheus cautions us to have faith. Ultimately, faith is a choice. One can choose to have faith, and all of the comfort and fulfillment it brings, or one can choose not to. Even if the Mariners do not end up being good, and Jerry Dipoto’s tenure ends with promises unfulfilled, we will never get back the moments we’ve spent up until that point. They may as well be filled with hope that we shall see Eurydice.
Some brief bullet points on the game.
- You might feel somewhat alarmed at the three dingers given up by Chris Flexen or the one given up by Diego Castillo, but the power alley and center field fences in American Family Fields of Phoenix, where today’s game was played, are a good five-to-ten feet shorter than those of T-Mobile Park.
- Yohan Ramírez remains unbearable to watch. His inning seemed like it took about an hour, in part due to the two walks he surrendered.
- Members of The Pile Matt Festa and Danny Young each had excellent outings, with the two of them striking out five between them in two innings.
- Alberto Rodriguez’s presence on the team is unacceptable, if only because I keep getting hopeful that he is Julio Rodriguez, which he decidedly is not. Sorry, Alberto.
- The second inning saw Sam Haggerty reach base on an “infield single” which he definitely did not beat out. It’s okay, though, because Dylan Moore was then promptly picked off of second base. Then, Haggerty was picked off of first. Great stuff all around.