This photograph is a metaphor.
Felix Hernandez completed a perfect game some hours ago and I was present at Safeco Field for the final six outs. This is my story of how that came to pass. It is not going to feature any statistics or analysis or insight of any kind, this story is a simple one and I’m telling it because I honestly don’t know what else to write right now. I am a Mariners fan and so this is a very enjoyable day/evening for me. I am currently experiencing a lot of positive feelings and emotions and while those feelings and emotions are very nice and pleasant, they make writing about baseball with a clear head somewhat difficult. I’ve also been celebrating with an adult beverage or two which means this blog post is part of a grand literary tradition, a literary traditional that usually ends in tragedy and liver failure but a tradition nonetheless. Felix Hernandez has thrown a perfect game. This is my silly little story of how I experienced history. You have been warned.
I did not have tickets to attend this afternoon’s Mariners game but my wife did. This is one of the myriad examples of why my wife is smarter than I am. Put in charge of a work function, my wife made the particularly inspired choice to attend today’s game with a group of co-workers. The fact that Felix Hernandez was pitching seemed reward enough for her clairvoyance, but we all know there was more to come. I was tasked with picking her up in my car after the game ended and the timing seemed to be perfect. When the game started, my wife sent me a taunting text featuring a picture of a full beer and a hot dog and it made me very jealous. From that moment on, I began following the Mariners/Rays game very closely, texting my wife comments about certain happenings in a feeble attempt in interject myself into her revelry and good times. By the fourth inning I was discreetly watching the game on MLB.TV, what with it being the special free selection of the day and all. Painfully aware that Felix was pitching a perfect game, it struck me that his breaking ball was noticeably sharp and difficult to make contact with. I’m by no means an expert on this sort of thing, but I’ve watched the man pitch quite a few times and he was beginning to show signs that he was at the very top of his game. Unhittable. Perfect. Knowing that I had to drive to Safeco Field to pick my wife up from the game regardless, I told myself that were Felix to remain perfect through six innings, I would leave work early and make an attempt to attend the final innings live.
It happened. I left work. I drove very fast. I struggled to find parking for quite a while before an above-average spot opened up before me. I ran towards Safeco Field. I asked for the cheapest ticket available. I paid thirteen dollars and ran some more. I entered the stadium in time to watch Brendan Ryan battle and foul off many pitches during a lengthy at bat. I stood behind the seats behind home plate. Other things happened and then Felix was pitching and it was the eighth inning. He was to face Longoria/Zobrist/Pena. Snark all you want about the Rays lineup but I defy you to disrespect that collection of hitters, especially given the circumstances. All three struck out. The atmosphere of the stadium was electric, metaphorical sparks and all that. I spoke to my wife on the phone and after some more running around the two of us ended up standing behind the seats on the third base line as Felix faced the final three batters of the game. I’m unclear on the details but I’m pretty sure all three were retired from the game without a successful hit or walk. Two of them struck out, the eleventh and twelfth of the contest. Everyone yelled loudly and jumped into the air. Emotions were purged. Catharsis was achieved. There was joy.
Joy, perhaps the rarest of human emotion. A word that looks strange in isolation. Say that word—Joy. Think about what it actually means. Delight, gladness, pleasure, mirth, rejoicing. This is what sports did, what baseball did, what Felix Hernandez did. There’s something to be said here about how bad the Mariners have been at playing baseball and how long things have been this way. I’ll leave this truth to more thorough writers. I’ll compromise by saying they’ve been pretty damn bad for a pretty long time. And then there was this, and all of a sudden everything was worth it. Everything we had endured up to this point only served to heighten the elation of the experience. Pain provided perspective and our appreciation was stronger for it. That sounds lame, trite. You might sense hyperbole in those words but I swear that they are true. Felix Hernandez pitched a perfect game and I can say that I was there. I was there with my wife and we were happy and things were good and baseball was the cause. That’s validation enough for this ridiculous hobby we all share. That’s something be grateful for, that’s something to celebrate.
As evidenced by the above image of and Jon Heyman tweet about, Mariners pitcher Oliver Perez is now an official vessel of the Divine. Tasked with removing all hell from all baseballs, Perez has begun his righteous journey in Arizona, where he’ll be pitching for his home country of Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. So far, he has risen to his saintly challenge, and he has succeeded. Today, there are baseballs in Arizona who have had all the hell removed from within, and there shall be more to follow in likewise manner. In order to begin a long and arduous quest, one must simply take the first step. Oliver Perez has done just that. Godspeed to him.
I remember having these in elementary school, back when you would take a box of Valentines to school and fill one out for every kid in your class and then walk around in circles, dropping them off one by one at each individual desk with its very own painstakingly handcrafted card-receiving paper receptacle. Ken Griffey Junior was a Mariner then. The world was less complicated and terrifying. It was pretty alright.
Thanks to betterthanbeckett.blogspot.com for the amazing compilation of Valentines
Ruben Amaro leans back in his chair and swivels one-half turn to face the windows behind his desk. His back is to the door. He gently closes his right fist and taps his knuckles on the arm rest. He glances at his watch, is unmoved by the time, looks upwards and closes his eyes. The phone rings. He opens his eyes. In the reflection of the dark windows he can see the plastic light of the device flashing orange and intermittent. He turns and faces his desk, lets the ringing go unanswered three more times. He picks up the phone.
A: Oh, good evening, Jack. I didn’t think it would be you.
Z: No? No, I suppose you wouldn’t.
A: It’s been a while.
Z: Indeed, it has been. Are you busy?
A: I’m always busy, Jack, you know that. But what’s up?
We’ll leave the serious analysis of this trade to the professionals. A quick sourcing on the Internet reads Bad Trade Mariners, but what’s done is done. The Seattle Mariners have like, 19 different players who are all 1B/DH/LF type players. No matter their resemblance, they are all beautiful and unique snowflakes. Here is some more than likely nonsense information about all of them.
There was a call, sounded out through the pipes and tubes of the Internet and that call was from NotGraphs and it was for villanelle poems. I responded to said call, I responded because I am a sad and lonely man and because I’m desperate for any shred of inspiration to write, no matter how flimsy or structured or poetry-based or not. My poem was about the Seattle Mariners and how they are always bad at baseball and never seem to win all that many baseball games. Today, the destiny of Seattle sports seems even more clear than when I penned the lines, but let us not speak of such things. Instead, here is the internet hyperlink that you can click to read my submission and many others. May sadness not completely consume us just yet.