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Mental Ward: On depression, Mario, and Mike Moustakas

Where tortured metaphors thrive.

Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

There was an off-day yesterday, and off-days to me are a problem. Mainly because I lose my routine. Attending and/or watching a Royals game, though not necessarily my raison d'etre, is certainly a part of my daily schedule, and routine for me is a bit of a life saver.

Not to get too personal, but I struggle with depression and anxiety. For a lot of people who do, routine is a management tool. For people like me, stacking and planning a daily itinerary keeps us away from black voids. Wake up. Eat breakfast. Exercise. Take a shower. Go to work. Come home. Watch baseball. Write. Go to sleep. Repeat.

If one thing slips out of place, it can wreck you for days. Once, when I went to go make a bowl of cereal, I discovered that I didn't have enough milk. The normative brain would move on to toast, or a bagel, or a granola bar. For someone who struggles with depression, being two ounces shy on a food staple is a deposition on existence; a bleak reminder that all things end, that through our consumption we destroy the very things that sustain us. Life feeds on life in an endless cycle of destruction, and a reminder that we are all slowly drained out of our cartons, drop by drop, until there is nothing left.

That's what Mondays look like.

Humor is also a great mask to wear. People think you are funny, so people think you are happy. As we have recently passed the one-year anniversary of Robin Williams' death, it's important to remember that humor and happiness are not causal. There is no panacea for depression, but humor makes for a pretty good placebo.

With that in mind, let's talk about Super Mario Bros.

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Last night, in an effort of diversion, I was roaming my Twitter feed. Caused by a Craig Calcaterra tweet, to which I replied, and was subsequently responded to by another person, a discussion began about Mario Mario and his size.

I have lived a majority of my life (all that I can remember) under the impression that Mario, little sprite Mario, is a normal-sized human being*. Although I will concede that he straddles the Altuve Line in terms of height, he is for all intents and purposes a full-sized human being from the minute World 1-1 starts.

*This really only pertains to Mario as depicted from Jumpman Mario in Donkey Kong to Super Mario World, as more recent iterations have more or less removed the distinction between default Mario and Super Mario.

This would imply that the Koopas, Goombas, and various Bullet Bills of his destiny are gigantic terrors of the Mushroom Kingdom, ranging anywhere from four to six feet in height and weighing several hundred pounds.

When Mario consumes a Power Mushroom, he becomes Super Mario, increasing in height, strength, and constitution, in order to more easily fend off the wandering horrors of the realms.

I did not realize that I was in the extreme minority in this belief:

Needless to say, I was taken aback.

Most of the arguments from the mini-Mario camp revolved around two things: The first of which was his relative size to the other sprites on screen, which is tenuous at best. Andre the Giant in a magical land of elephant-sized koalas would look diminutive.

The second revolved around his character design as a stout, somewhat portly fellow. Nowhere near the peak of his physical condition, but someone who gets by on his strengths and determination in spite of his flaws, whose success is relative to his environment.

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Which brings us around to Mike Moustakas. As of this morning, he is hitting .274/.342/.415, good enough for a wRC+ of 111. Though still a more than cromulent effort, particularly in light of his, er, career to date, the ballyhoo of Spring is gone, as for the last three months (give or take) Moustakas has hit about as well as he did last year. Which is to say, pretty bad. Since May 22nd, Moustakas is hitting .233/.311/.361.

There's a growing contingent that believes this is evidence that Moustakas' early success this season was merely a blip, and he has now returned to being the pull-happy popup machine he was in previous seasons. There's a decent amount of evidence to support that assertion. His batted ball tendencies have been going in the wrong direction for months, his on-base percentage is being propped up by an obscene number of HBPs (12, 6th in MLB), and following a July swoon where he hit .269/.350/.462 over 14 games, he's hit .160/.295/.300 in 16 games since.

You can point to his BABIP across that same time period being .242, and assert that he has potentially been unlucky, but considering his career BABIP is just .265, I wouldn't hang your hat on it. He has maintained his walk rate consistently, and his strikeout rate hasn't gone up noticeably as his production has fallen off. He's started to heat up again, hitting .300/.462/.600 in the past week, but questions of sustainability abound.

I don't know if the April/May Moustakas was the only glimpse we'll ever get of Super Moose. I don't know if he's a mini-Moose who grew to regular size, or maybe he's regular-sized and grew to be a giant for a brief period of time: