Season-ending scrawl

September 27, 2021 at 7:17 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Around here nearly all daily activity revolves around the MLB schedule. It is even reasonably predicitive of the weather — about half the time when I’m watching either the first game of the season (April 1st or so) or the last (October 1st) I can look to the right out the living room window and see snow coming down. Winter is either ending or just beginning. On April 1st the days are getting longer and I am looking forward to Summer. Six months later, starting to fold up and feel increasingly sorrowful — freezing in the dark — which is always compounded by there being no more baseball, except the playoffs and World Series.

The trouble is, I never really care about post-season play. I should, I tell myself. I’m a Mariners fan, you see — all the way back to the heyday of the ’90s and Ken Griffey, Jr., Randy Johnson, Edgar Martinez, Jamie Moyer and all of their all-time greatest players. And the announcer, Dave Niehaus — that guy was such a scream!

I’ve been paying more attention and watching almost all the games each year since 2007 or so.

Even when they were good, winning the American League Western Division in 1995, 1997 and 2001 they still didn’t make the postseason. Every one of the 30 MLB teams except the Ms have played at least one postseason game and some of them have won the World Series dozens of times. In the past one could rationalize it — the Ms are a relatively new team and it will just take a little longer. By now that is getting tough, the current season being the 44th since the first one in 1977. There are other notable droughts by other teams. This one seems especially tragic, or is it just me?

The 2021 season has been the best one in a long time. At least since the 2014 season, which the team doesn’t talk about much since it was just before the previous management and coaching staff were fired and the new regime took charge.

The current players are an amazing group. Even Kyle Seager, the 33 year old third baseman who is the only player left from the 2012 squad has been enjoying the best performing year of his career, starting to obtain the second or third spots in many of the franchise record statistics alongside Griffey, Edgar, Jay Buhner and others. His contract is up after this year. I really hope they keep him on, although I don’t expect it.

In this and in many other ways — it never seems to matter who is running this team or who is playing for it — what one can always count on, as sure as Summer begins and ends with the baseball season is that if the Ms get close to a next-level performance they find a way to sabotage it. It must be endemic to Seattle, its history of hostile takeovers — logging, Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks and Amazon in succession all doing their best to ruin whatever advantages the city’s residents had — and epitomized by the Loser-dom of its ’90s Grunge music.

As I write, the Ms are 4th in line for two AL Wild Card playoff positions, two games behind the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox and one game behind the Toronto Blue Jays. There are six games remaining, three vs. Oakland (we just swept them in a four-game series) and the Angels, who we just won two out of three.

The inevitable announcement is coming that the Ms have been eliminated from playoff contention. I will expect this in the next couple of days. And the world will go on. The playoffs will ensue and the ten contenders will be winnowed down to two. The World Series will be won by the Yankees or the Giants or the Red Sox — or perhaps, the Cardinals? The snow will finish its run down the Chugach Mountains and overlay the Anchorage landscape continuously until finally, the last few snowstorms (those late ones that are so ridiculous one can’t possibly take them seriously) taper out leaving sunshine, blue skies and new hopes and dreams.

The leaves don’t even come on the trees until the beginning of the second month of baseball. By then we are starting to get a feel for the new composition of our team and its division opponents. For years I have had very modest expectations. For awhile the team seemed to specialize in giving weird, problem players who had been rejected by all the other teams a home in Seattle — perhaps, seeing worthiness and potential that nobody else could see. The caliber of players is much better now. The coaching is sometimes that way. The Mariners was the first team for which Scott Servais has been the General Manager. It still seems a lot of the time that he doesn’t know when to pull a pitcher, or how to really strategize lineup changes, pinch hitters, pitch sequences and the like, despite gradual improvement. I go back to 2014 — then General Manager, Lloyd McClendon did more with a lot less to work with.

As the years wear on, this Groundhog Day-type routine gets less and less endearing. Many relatives and friends have given up on this team long ago, but one wouldn’t know that from watching — the stands are always a lot more full than at many other home games around the MLB. Oakland always amazes me — never seen more than 9,000 there and in 2021 around 4,000 to 5,000. Not sure if that’s any opponent or just the Ms?

In May, Oakland starting pitcher Cole Irvin, after getting hit around by the Ms, declared (on Twitter), “A team like that shouldn’t be putting up 10 hits against me or anyone.” The Ms responded by beating Irvin in each successive matchup, including the most recent on September 23rd that closed the four-game series sweep. I desperately hope Irvin pitches in one of the three remaining games vs the As, just so we can bring the hammer down on him once more! If not we’ll just have to settle for finishing ahead of them at the end of the season (or not — TBD). Irvin takes the Ms about as seriously as anybody else, which is to say, not seriously. As much as that can make me mad and disappointed, in the end the critics are usually right about the Ms odds. One way that Irvin was dead wrong — there are no other teams like the Mariners. I thought everybody knew that!

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