The Seattle Mariners, as they have found themselves many times in the last 26 years, are standing on the edge of something. Depending on who you ask and when you ask them, it could be a beginning, or an ending. A beginning of success. An end of futility. A beginning of new pain. An end of hope.
They are standing in that unique place where they are simultaneously and potentially all of these things. In the next two days, some answers will come into focus. Others will remain fuzzy, for now. Are they rounding the corner, ready to come into view of a prosperous future? Are they already there? Or is this just another momentary, cruel ray of sunlight like 2014 or 2016?
There’s no way to really know, right now. But they will take the field tonight, October 2nd at 6:10 pm, scratching and clawing to reach the surface for just one more breath, in the hopes that they can do it all over again the next day. If they do, they’ll have to do it again the day after that. And the day after that. And maybe even the day after that. At some point, the strength will run out, and they will not reach the surface for that desperate gulp of air. It could be tonight. It could be three days from now. Maybe longer, if some truly mystical things take place.
But regardless, they are on the edge of something. The 2021 season, to be sure. But what else? The plan? The narrative? Some things feel inevitable for this organization going forward. But we never really know, until we know. So much can shift now, and some of it won’t be immediately noticeable. If the Mariners accomplish the highly improbable, and erase the longest postseason drought in major American professional sports with a band of scrappy never-quitters, will it be enough to propel them into the new era we’ve heard so much about? Or just another blip, in a generation full of them? They have a plan. Plans can fail.
This winter the CBA between the league and the players is set to expire. Whatever the plan is, the fallout from this has the potential to alter it drastically. Kyle Seager’s time in Seattle is all but done. An end of a decade that I’m not sure will ever be fully appreciated. Jarred Kelenic appears to have turned a corner; Ty France has blossomed into an all-star. Logan Gilbert seems to have staying power. Some new beginnings, with more on the way.
Tonight, the Mariners will walk onto the field for game 161 of the season, fighting to stay one game back of a wildcard spot, just as they did five years ago in 2016. That Game 161, that beautiful heartache, was too good to have a sequel. But here we are. You know the studios can never keep their hands off of these successful intellectual properties. Maybe tonight, the Mariners will give us a rare sequel that outshines its predecessor. Maybe tonight, they will make Game 161 mean something else for all of us, forever. Maybe it was always supposed to be this way.