For every beginning, there’s an end. The end, no matter if time is viewed as linear or cyclical, can through a change of perspective or a process of amelioration be considered the instigator of new beginnings. Yearly, by day, and by the minute things begin, and others end. Somethings are dragged out and others pass from birth to death in such quick succession we barely notice their passage from one to the other.
Much in the same way as time, baseball is fathomed, compartmentalized, and measured as either linear or cyclical. For instance, it is easy to grasp a single game in linear terms; there’s a beginning and end. Seasons have a beginning and end. Streaks have a beginning and end. However, when you’re wrapped up in it, experiencing it and studying a game, games, a season, the cyclical aspect of baseball opens up passages that were once obscured. Games begin to look the same, months aren’t counted by day but by series, the distinction between at-bats rounds off into the average of their operator’s greater body of work. You lose yourself in the constant stream of cause and effect.
Dee Gordon and Edwin Diaz are the Alpha and Omega of the Mariners. One is a lead-off hitter and the other a closing pitcher. One is built to add and the other to subtract. One represents life, the other, death.
It’s speed and calculation that unites them. Dee Gordon has led the league in steals three times in his career and currently leads the league in steals this year. Gordon is dangerous because any ball he puts into play needs special care when delivered to a bag. His speed compacts time and diminished a fielder’s probability to correctly execute whatever action they must make to retire him. When recently asked in an interview why the legendary Cool Papa Bell was his favorite player of all time, Gordon said, Cool Papa was fast, hit well, and was fast. Dee knows how his gift to manipulate time gives him more control of the game on the base paths than most players and he generates runs as a result. This season, nearly a quarter of the M’s total runs have come in the 1stinning.
In the inverse, Edwin Diaz uses speed to kill. Throwing in the high 90s to over 100 MPH Diaz’s arm comes down on his opponents like a scythe and they end their at-bat how it began, inert.
In eight games, Diaz has registered a 0.00 ERA, with seven saves, only one hit, and 16 strikeouts. He’s been nearly unhittable—His pitches a manifestation of perfectly calculated chaos. Watching him this season has been otherworldly. His talent looks as though it surpasses man’s abilities to combat it.
Gordon and Diaz bookend a highly talented group of ballplayers and energize the lot through their electric polarity. One begins the assault and the other ends it. One ends it, and the other begins where he left off. Nearly every day for the next five months one will begin where the other ended and so forth and so on. Games will bleed into series, and into a cyclical narrative of success, failure, and tomorrow.
If Gordon continues to get on base and manufacture runs through his incredible speed and baseball acumen then he’ll continue to be the spark that Jean Segura, Robinson Cano, and Nelson Cruz need to drive in early runs. Likewise, if Diaz can maintain at 85% of what he’s doing now, he’ll still be otherworldly.
They are the alpha and omega of this team and hold the keys to the two most fundamental components of the game of baseball: scoring runs and getting outs. They truly are the beginning and the end of why we’re all here watching this game.