in the mire and mist of a lingering winter
May was once my favorite month. In spite of the teasing I was subjected to growing up for loving a month filled with final exams and standardized testing, I never tired of the full swing of sun-filled evenings, of the perfectly mild temperatures, of watching the clouds I loathed bleed out into the blue.
My impression of May is, naturally, shaped by my experience growing up at Seattle’s latitude, spoiled by the pristine springs and summers of Puget Sound. In the Midwest, where my father was born and raised, May is linked to gritty snow, road construction and, above all, mud. Precious little love for spring can be found in central Illinois. Between COVID May and the M’s abyssal month last year, I’ve been a bit more inclined to agree with their perspective of late.
This month, one in which I haven’t yet seen the sun, one in which the ground in the garden is still slick, one in which the temperature is barely inclined to break 55, I am feeling a certain degree of sickness with the lack of spring. Based on what we’ve seen so far, it seems as if the Mariners share this newfound disaffection for the month.
Last year’s slump was on a scale that, despite the team’s coronavirus outbreak and inherently impotent offense, I found hard to believe. The season’s thrilling conclusion helped erase the slide from the memory of most fans, but its echoes are being heard in the early goings of this all-but-winless month.
A year ago, Mariners went 6-14 to start the month of May, which included series losses to Baltimore and Texas, getting swept by Detroit and getting swept by the Padres in a combined 31-7 score. They then won 8 of their next 9 games. Baseball is weird https://t.co/KSVu4jMcy7
— Ryan Divish (@RyanDivish) May 6, 2022
The Mariners were not no-hit today. No, they stumbled into 5 of those, and even found 3 runs to boot. Compared to last year and the Houston series we were just subjected to, we frankly ought to be feeling grateful. I just don’t.
For all the heartbreak they cause, I have expectations. Expectations of people, of organizations, and above all of cycles to be constant. That the sun will rise tomorrow is a fact of which I am by no means certain, and my own eschatology makes clear I should not rely on such assumptions, but I nevertheless expect that it will. I expect that in the fall, deciduous leaves will wither and die. Foolishly, this year is proving, I expect that in May I will feel the warmth of the sun on my skin. And, yes, I expect this Mariners team to perform much better than we’ve seen the past few weeks.
Spring is a sneaky period, prone to falsehood and deceit. One day the mercury climbs to tolerable temperatures, the next it sinks back down as if it were still the bleak midwinter. the Mariners have given us this experience in a different sort of way, with the strong early-goings having seemed to taunt us with a vision of the team this can be before vanishing.
Tonight never even felt close, save for the moment Adam Frazier made it a night of two firsts with his debut home run as a Mariner following Jesse Winker’s earlier in the game. If you squinted, you could see the Mariners pulling off one of their old tricks and sneaking away with this one. Erik Swanson and the blessedly-back Paul Sewald, to their credit, clung to this belief: each one pitched a beautiful 1-2-3 inning, with Sewald’s opponents all going down on strikes.
It is, though, only 5 days into May, only 25 games into the season. Robbie Ray did show us some signs of life today before things really went awry, did manage to maintain his velo later than we’ve been seeing. J.P. Crawford and Ty France did add to their almost league-leading hit totals. Eugenio Suárez did get his 14th RBI of the young season. The Mariners do have a significantly lower wOBA than xwOBA. The sun might still shine this month, the temperature might yet rise. The flowers still have time to bloom.