Rowley: Hail to the King

From SABR member Meg Rowley at FanGraphs on September 27, 2019:

Last Night, Félix Hernández made his final start as a Seattle Mariner, and baseball is a little different for me now. Dimmer, further away. It has been on the road to different for a while, I suppose; it is not an original idea to note how one’s hobby becoming one’s job alters our relationship to our devotions, nor is it novel for a baseball fan or writer to have a guy. You know, your guy? The one who, among all the others, rendered the sport in its most vivid colors, made your appetite for it insatiable, transformed you into a lifer. Your guy. You love your guy! My guy is gone now; I wonder if I’ll ever have another.

To expect that his last outing would mirror his halcyon days would have been to miss the point. Félix is altered, worn. He threw 106 pitches; at times he labored. When the time came, he wept, and the tears marked a father’s face, a man’s; and he had been so young when we came to know him. He added three strikeouts to his career total, which now stands at 2,524, but there were three runs, too. He pitched into the sixth; he never saw October. He may yet pitch again, decamping to some other city after having stayed all of these years, but it won’t be the same. He isn’t their guy. How could he be? He’s ours.

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Originally published: October 2, 2019. Last Updated: October 2, 2019.