“There’s nothing we can do about it now. We just have to fix it and move on.”
That’s what I just texted my wife this morning in reference to her car windshield that got hit by a small rock and ended up cracking. “It happened and there isn’t anything we can do to go back and make it not happen. So instead of being upset by it, let’s just get it fixed and move forward.”
As I put my phone down, I couldn’t help but notice the irony in what I had just said. Because of course this was happening on Monday morning, the day after the Seattle Mariners were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
“There’s nothing we can do about it now.”
Walking out of the stadium yesterday, I’m not sure I said more than 20 words or so. I was very well aware of the required minor miracle needed for the Mariners to get back to the playoffs, but that didn’t make the final result any less painful in real time. My wife, trying to be supportive and understandably not wanting to be dragging around a sad sack all day, told me that it would be okay and, in jest, that I should be used to this by now.
And to fair, I am! Just two years ago we were walking out of the stadium after watching Felix play his final game in a Mariners jersey just as we did Kyle Seager on Sunday. And Ichiro before them. And not too long before that was the 2016 heartbreak and every other heartbreak before that.
The point is, yeah, I am used to this. I get it. It’s that fact, that in most others years, I would totally be able to accept that there isn’t a damn thing to be done about the situation now. But it’s the next part that made this particular loss so hard.
“We just have to fix it and move on.”
Maybe the bullpen defies regression and remains nigh-impenetrable next year. Maybe Jarred Kelenic continues to become the Jarred Kelenic we all imagined and hits .280 with 30 bombs. Maybe Kyle Lewis puts his injuries behind him at gets on base at a .360 clip with 35 dingers of his own. Maybe Cal Raleigh figures it out. Maybe JP Crawford and Logan Gilbert take next steps. Maybe Julio Rodriguez really is the prince who was promised.
The ugly truth is that the 2022 edition of this Mariners roster, as things currently stand, is built on a whole lot of hope and a whole lot of maybe. There are perfectly acceptable explanations for the run differential the Mariners ended up with in 2021, but for all the faults of such a metric at its base level, it does tell a story. It tells a story of a team that was outstanding in close games but lacked the ability to find many comfortable ones while letting too many others get out of hand. More often than not, those are the types of teams that struggle to repeat such performances.
As we move into the offseason, Jerry Dipoto has a true chance to build a team the likes of which Mariner fans haven’t seen since…the one he tore down. But the thing is, he doesn’t have to dip into free agency and the trade market in order to build a championship team, he has to do it just to fix the one he has now. And that is the scary part.
The Mariners’ windshield is cracked. There’s the third base crack, now that Seager has been all but officially kicked to the curb. There’s the starting pitcher fracture with one set for free agency (Tyler Anderson) and one who needs to be set for free agency (Yusei Kikuchi). A rock flew up and smashed into where the left fielder is supposed to be. The bench spots are all starting on the edges but are slowly growing into ruptures themselves.
Question number one is whether Dipoto will get the go-ahead from his insurance company to replace the windshield in the first place. Question number two is whether he’ll take that money to buy a brand new, streak-free windshield, or if he’ll take the payout and try to buy the supplies for a DIY fix for $100 million cheaper.
This, the fact that we as Mariners fans are forced to ask these questions is why Sunday’s result was so hard for me to take in. Not because they were so close and came up just short, but because in order to even stay in this ‘just short’ range, they need to start acting like a team that wants to win.
I so badly want my pessimism here to be proven wrong and I hope that a year from now someone screenshots this article and tweets it at me pointing out how stupid I am. But until that happens, until the Seattle Mariners are built to truly be a team that gives this city reasons to cheer every September and October, it’s much easier to reserve my feelings of calmness and logic for an actual windshield, something that I can say with confidence actually will be repaired. “There’s nothing we can do about it now. We just have to fix it and move on.”