Sisyphus, Selig and Seattle’s Albatross

At some point during some hard day when good work has turned to bad, when the absurd has been capitalized and underlined, when the sweat and stress of grinding it out comes again to rest upon our shoulders we’ve all compared ourselves to Sisyphus. That never ending struggle to just roll that damn rock up and over that hill encapsulates a toiling life.

As Mariner fans we can look back at the mythical King of Corinth and feel that we’re not alone. We see our struggle in his. We hang our heads when some days the rock doesn’t even make it up halfway. We say to ourselves, tomorrow is a new day, tomorrow we’ll get it, well, maybe close to the top. That’s how high we aim, not over the top, but close to the top. Some years not even close to the top, but merely halfway is success. There’s no romance in these losses. No curse, no scrappy urban underdog pride, just a thirty-five year loser.

The thing about Sisyphus though, is he brought his troubles upon himself. He was crafty and dastardly, violent and scheming until the gods could not wait to get their hands on him and make him suffer.

Is the angry Zeus so much different then Bud Selig? This, remember, is a man who stripped us first of baseball entirely when he took the Pilots to Milwaukee. Then came the lawsuit and forced expansion, oh how he must loath this emerald city. Even this year the pettiness comes early with a absurd sojourn east to play for-real novelty games in Japan. All the while flaunting baseball tradition as MLB’s basement plays ball before the hallowed Reds. But what is tradition when revenge is on the mind?

It’s wrong to lay this thing at Selig’s feet though. Yes, it is rumored that late at night chanting can be heard and sulfur smelled from his penthouse suite and those that go in don’t often come out, but conspiracies and black arts are too easy of a crutch for you and I. We must look inward:

In mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
It perched for vespers nine;
Whiles all the night, through fog-smoke white,
Glimmered the white moonshine.”

‘God save thee, ancient Mariner,
From the fiends that plague thee thus!— 
Why look’st thou so?’—”With my crossbow
I shot the Albatross.”

The fates have been mocked, some Albatross shot. Perhaps we have a curse after all:

The other was a softer voice,
As soft as honey-dew:
Quoth he, ‘The man hath penance done,
And penance more will do.’

And until then no pennants for you.

Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.

Water, water, every where,
And all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
Nor any drop to drink.

Go Ms!

With apologies, of course, to Coleridge.

Mervyn Peake, 1949


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About Iaan Hughes

Iaan Hughes is a deejay on 91.3 KBCS in Seattle. He plays country & western music.
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One Response to Sisyphus, Selig and Seattle’s Albatross

  1. Bruce says:

    When I think of the Mariners I think not of Sysphus, Selig or the Albatros rather the Phoenix – I have hope! Oh rise from the ashes.

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