A Glimmer Of Hope From The Mariners
Since their last winning season in 2009, the Seattle Mariners have more resembled a comatose hospital patient in the ICU, stuck on the Critical list, than a competitive baseball team for the last three and a half years.
Yet during this time, I have purposely plopped my patootie on the couch every night, turned the TV on to the M’s game, and had two thoughts in mind---- ‘I can’t believe I’m watching this …stuff… again’; and ‘I sure love Baseball’.
Their inability to score runs reached epic proportions in 2010 when they plated only 513 runners, the lowest in Baseball since the introduction of the Designated Hitter to the game in 1973.
For some perspective, the LA Dodgers of my youth were renown for not scoring runs.
During the pitching heyday of Sandy Koufax and Don Drysdale, a ‘Dodger Rally’ consisted of a Maury Wills walk, a steal of second base, a sacrifice bunt by Junior Gilliam, followed by a sacrifice fly from Tommy Davis.
A run on no hits --- a Dodger rally.
More often than not, that one run would stand up and be enough to get the Dodgers a win on their way to pennants in 1963, ’65, and ’66.
In those three years, those anemic Dodgers scored only 640, 608, and 640 runs.
Again, in 2010, the M’s mustered only 513 runs. In 2011, the number improved, albeit slightly, to 556. Last year it ‘rocketed to 619’.
The league averages those same three years were 721 (’10), 723 (’11), and 721 (’12).
During this time, a two-run deficit has been a death sentence in any given game for this team.
In fact, the M’s have struggled so much at the plate the last three years, you could play the Alphabet Game with them while you’re waiting for the light to turn green.
Start with the letter A and find an adjective to describe them -- ‘awful’, ‘abyssmal’ and ‘atrocious’ come readily to mind. Work your way up the rest of the alphabet. (When I’ve gotten to E, I’ve had to settle for ‘ewww’.)
Having said all this, finally, at long last, the M’s are starting to show some signs of life, like that patient finally beginning to emerge from his coma.
In the last month, seven young position players (virtually all of them home-grown) have begun to click as their baseball pedigrees have suggested they would, sooner or later.
Zunino, Smoak, Franklin, Miller, Seager, Saunders and Ackley have provided a spark, reintroducing local fans to the long-forgotten concept of the timely base-hit --- one that actually drives in a runner and puts a run on the board. Sometimes, even, the next hitter does the same thing, and what do you know, will you look at that?
It’s a crooked number on the board!
With runs (or simply the threat of being able to score) any and all things are possible.
This is not to say this team is a threat to play .500 ball this season, much less contend for the post-season.
With a pitching staff of “Felix and Iwakuma and three days of doom-a”, this team’s recovery is nowhere near complete.
But at least there is reason to hope, if not believe, that there are better days ahead.
I say we upgrade this team, cautiously, to Watchable.
In time, we may even pronounce them Interesting.
There’s no question about it.
Frank the Man