By the time you read this, and perhaps even by the time I’m done writing it, Mike Carp will no longer be a Seattle Mariner. He won’t even be Mike Carp any more, by the way I measure the Mike Carp-ness of a thing. Unless you follow the Mariners, in fact, he was never really Mike Carp in the first place, any more than you are.
There was a time, not so long ago, when the fate of a man like Mike Carp would stand out to me from the general ebb and flow of the general human existence. That time will come again, when the loss of a Mike Carp can be felt, can carry significance. For the Mariners, Carp leaves his team much as he found it.
A couple of days ago on Twitter one Carson Cistulli compared me to the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, and to be honest, I wasn’t initially thrilled by the comparison. After all, Heraclitus isn’t the kind of guy you’d want to have a beer with; he hated almost everything and everybody. We’re talking about a guy who came down with dropsy, ignored the advice of his doctors, rubbed cow manure over himself and baked himself in the sun. He was dead the next day. We’re not talking about an ancient hero here.
It’s not like I’d ask for a Socrates comp, of course, but there are other guys out there I wouldn’t mind getting linked to: Democritus, perhaps, or Marcus Aurelius (minus the Christian-slaughtering). Hell, I’d be happy with Zeno, who’s about as NotGraphs a philosopher as one gets. But the only real reason history bothers to remember Heraclitus is because, beyond the general bastardry, he happened to be right about a lot of things. Among of those things was Mike Carp.
One of Heraclitus’s Greatest Hits was the Eternal River. The premise: we never step into the same river twice; the water we touched has left and been replaced. Change is constant and incessant. Glibly put, it’s not just those who ignore history who are doomed to repeat it.
Heraclitus conceived of the world as made of fire: everything burning up, everything eternal. Everyone and everything is Mike Carp, somewhere along the timeline. Russell Branyan was once Mike Carp. Dan Vogelbach will someday be Mike Carp. Articles about offseason conditioning, how numbers ruin baseball, Josh Beckett’s necklace: all Mike Carp. Spring is particularly Mike Carp.
You, too, will at some point have been Mike Carp, with the lives you’ve run tangent to for a time and fallen away. There are your eternal struggles, the battles you fight each day, each a little different but in essence the same. Baseball is like that itself, with its renewal and endless conflict.
Mike Carp enters your heart, and on a day like today, he leaves. You are not better for it, nor noticeably worse. But you are irrevocably changed.
Tomorrow, the same.