The Feast of Franklin the Ill-Fated

fg1On Friday, the Seattle Mariners granted Franklin Gutierrez his freedom, as defined by his freedom to not be paid seven million dollars by the Seattle Mariners. A scant four days later, November 5, marks his Feast Day in the latest of an unrightfully-neglected series. Raise a glass to our friend, the Job of baseball, and join us in prayer.

Life: In 2009, his first season with the Mariners, an age-26 Gutierrez posted a six-win season. In the four years since then, he has suffered ailments from his elbow, knee, shoulder, groin (three times), back (twice), oblique, leg, hamstring (three times), pectoral, heel, head (twice), neck, and lower intestine. He also had a bad case of the flu.

It is, one must admit, a novel way to avoid the dehumanization of synecdoche so common in baseball. The man is not just He also, in his brief window of playing time, posted a slugging percentage north of .500. Some team will therefore take a chance on him, and he will either prove to be a winning lottery ticket, or a losing lottery ticket, or not a lottery ticket at all but rather a crude-crayon-drawn map leading to the buried remains of the family gerbil.

Spiritual Exercise: Consider the Protestant work ethic that has made America so great, at least according to your outdated middle-school history textbook. If hard work and talent are what bring people success, how do you explain the misfortune of Franklin Gutierrez? Conjure some moral failing that designates his suffering as justice, and relieve yourself of the crushing burden of knowing that happiness is essentially a series of meaningless die rolls. Then drink an American lager, and think about all the things you’d like to own if you made more money.

A Prayer for Franklin Gutierrez

Franklin Gutierrez!

Or should I say,
“Franklin Gutierrez.”
The pragmatists believe that
It is not what we are
That defines us
But what we do.
For you, however, it is neither.
Franklin Gutierrez is not
The invisible benevolent force
Nor the tangle of intestine
Blood cells and bone spur.
Franklin Gutierrez is the deficit between
What should be and what is,
What we are owed.
Someday, the two
Will meet again.

You are not Franklin Gutierrez.
We own that name, that concept now,
Twisted it to hide our own fears
Of death, or worse, getting old.
You are a thrift-store copy
Of Operation
With half the body parts missing.
You are the Russian judge
Whose fatal flaw is to be bad
At hanging curtains.
You are the cockroach
With the apple rotting
In your back.




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Patrick Dubuque writes for NotGraphs and The Hardball Times, and he serves as Bill Spaceman Lee Visiting Professor for Baseball Exploration at Pitchers & Poets, which is now housed at The Classical. Follow him on Twitter @euqubud.

2 Responses to “The Feast of Franklin the Ill-Fated”

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  1. Kyle says:

    This is goddamned excellent. All of it, and the Spiritual Exercise especially.

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  2. Mr. Observant, Theosophist says:

    I was hoping this would be a devotional to Franklin the turtle. Y’know, who lives in Woodland. He also plays baseball. And is funny. And loves his mama. Still, anytime someone may be referred to as a cockroach in an apple it’s not a wasted effort. Nice work. Now, I’ll go drink an american lager, likely a Coors Banquet. Yum.

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