It was a perfect night.
A night of honor and celebration. A night where, for just a short time, we were able to free ourselves from the concerns of mortals and live in simple joy and celebration of the King who chose us.
Félix is ours, and you can’t have him.
Ours, because we claimed him. Ours, because he chose us back.
It’s nights like last night that allow us a glimpse into a perfect world, one where we have heroes we love and who love us back. It’s nights like last night that give us the chance to bask in a perfect moment and celebrate our beloved King.
It’s hard to evaluate this claim, because #hometown #bias, but it’s often said the Mariners do this kind of thing par excellence: the celebration of franchise icons, weaving in bits of their Mariners legacy and seamlessly blending that with how they were embraced by their adopted city, and vice versa. The organization has put on a truly impressive show each time there’s a franchise icon to be honored, an incredible track record of success. But there was something extra-emotional about this celebration, with tears streaming freely down everyone’s faces seemingly from the jump. There’s maybe no player in Mariners history more connected to the fans than Félix, the inspiration for one of the best fan sections in baseball ever, if not the best; an organic, irrepressible expression of mutual love between franchise star and fanbase.
Perhaps something that makes these celebrations even more meaningful is the oft-repeated fact that the Mariners have never won a pennant. For all of the heroes and all of the greats that Seattle has produced, none of the teams that the 11 Mariners Hall of Famers played on made it to the last game of the season. But, seeing the love on every face in the park, you wouldn’t know it.
The love was not just reserved for Félix. Every member of the extended Mariners family received a standing ovation. Marilyn Niehaus, Alvin Davis, Jamie Moyer, Edgar Martinez, Ichiro, and Ken Griffey Jr. were each given an outpouring of love from the passionate Seattle fans. It was almost too much to handle.
It is not enough to know, on an intellectual level, that these players are beloved. That this city makes them into heroes. On nights like last night, you can feel it, down to your core. It is written plain on the face of every one of the thousands of people in the stadium. As Félix walks through the bullpen door, and the crowd erupts into adoring applause, the love for him shakes the very ground. The pageantry - the novelty throne, Félix’s golden suit, the sea of gold in the stands - which should, in our cynical world, feel trite and cliche instead felt right. Like nothing else would be enough.
As the celebration ended, and the grounds crew removed the tarp, podium and chairs, they took Félix’s throne last. For just an instant, there was nothing on the field except the bases, home plate, the mound, and the throne of the king.
Félix is ours. Now and always.