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Approaching the Tropic of La Stella
Finding a sustainable mindset for this iteration of the Seattle Mariners.
One of my favorite characters in Mariners Twitter lore is someone who isn’t really on Twitter at all. Which is great for them, really—given the community’s current state of affairs.
This individual would be Chris Crawford’s grandmother—or, simply, “Grandma.” She loves this club, has for a long time and it’s folks like Grandma who make the precariousness of seasons like these even tougher.
Last week, as the Mariners were in the process of having the waistband of their underwear pulled up and over their heads by the Texas Rangers, Chris asked if he should tell Grandma not to watch the game, as she was recording it.
The official poll had predictable results but this response and reasoning stuck with me.
Baseball is better than no(t) baseball.
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve seen me make reference to the old Tropic of Cairo, a relic of late-aughts/early-2010s Lookout Landing.
People may think this team is frustrating or bad, whew. There were some real clunkers back then. If the season competitively made it to even June, that was an enormous success.
Thus, the Tropic of Cairo.
This is the second time I’ve written a blog post making reference to said theoretical meridian—the previous being in June of 2015, with another highly-anticipated Mariners team failing to meet fans’ high hopes.
In that post, I was despondent. There was a corresponding podcast. Even one of the most cynical fans I know commented and said something like “Ay, you need to chill or you’re not gonna make it.”
That’s not how I feel today, and not because I was at last night’s supremely-enjoyable homestand-opener—but because I’ve decided to do something like I did last year, when the Mariners were ten games under.
“Indifference” doesn’t quite describe it, because I still care whether the Mariners win or lose. But for at least a little while, I let what I think about whether the Mariners won or lost to be a little more fleeting.
Thus, with all due respect for Jeff Sullivan, we have the Tropic of La Stella.
I’m not going to do the whole chart, but the Tropic of La Stella is for sure below mad. I can’t do that, be actually legitimately super pissed three or four times a week, because it sucks.
The most apt analogy I can think of is a mindfulness practice called “observing.”
The little Google blurb pulled from whatever Bridge Street Psychology is describes observing, in this context, as such:
To observe the present moment, we must notice our sensory environment. To observe is to experience. What do you see, hear, smell, taste and feel? Start to take a step back from your thoughts, opinions and judgements and gently surrender to observing your body and your surroundings. The observe skill can allow you to feel grounded in the present moment, which minimises worries of the future and minimises your focus on the past.
You know those old 3D art books for kids, and how you’d kind of unfocus your eyes and look past the art to try to see what was there? I’ve heard observing described as like that…but for reality.
You’re not judging anything, not describing or thinking anything about it, just softening your whole view of the world and taking it all in.
For at least a bit, that is me and the 2023 Seattle Mariners.
I’m not going to do standings, I’m not doing playoff odds, I’m not doing payroll or free agent classes or failed player development or why this changes everything or any of that.
I’m doing baseball. That’s it. It’s a pretty good game, to be honest.
Life is short, it is fleeting. We all only have so many summers.
If you’re in calm waters now, you either know or should know they won’t always be this calm. If the water of your life is choppy, there’s no reason to go out of your way to slosh it around.
The last thing I want anyone to take away from this is that you should just care less about the Seattle Mariners from a competitive standpoint. Not only is that not quite it, but it’s also really tough to do when you don’t want to do it.
The Seattle Mariners are in a competition. Well, mostly. Literally they are; figuratively, less-so at times.
I’m also not telling fans to just shut up and be happy with what you get—to not hold the team accountable or whatever.
But that’s the thing right there. It doesn’t always have to be something bigger.
For at least a little while, I’m going to hang out at the Tropic of La Stella, where there is no big picture. There is no past or present. No implications. No big narratives that one game or one at-bat or one pitch underscores.
It’s just baseball. It’s a 70-degree evening as the sun slinks behind the third base side of the ballpark. It’s filling a long road trip with an hour of pregame and an hour of postgame bookending a nine-inning Rick Rizzs soliloquy.
Is it better when baseball is bigger than that? Sure.
But being mindful, being present is a lot better than being indifferent.
So crack a ballpark High Life and hang out for a bit at the Tropic of La Stella.