Hope and the Mariners
At the risk of sounding like too much of a pie-eyed optimist, I am getting the sense that it might be safe for Seattle Mariners fans to poke their heads out from their bunkers this year and once again take interest in a team that appears (finally) to be headed in the right direction.
Two years ago the team was historically inept when it came to scoring runs (which is the entire point of striding up to home plate with a bat in your hands).
The 513 runs scored for the season was the lowest in the major leagues since the advent of the Designated Hitter in 1973. This includes even National League teams, whose pitchers are the closest thing there is to an automatic-out.
The M’s run total in 2010 was 208 fewer than…..the league average! It was a full 1.28 runs per game under the league average.
2010 was excruciating, unbearable, horrendous. An abomination.
2011 wasn’t much better, although the M’s improved by scoring 556 runs. Still, this was 166 runs below the league average, just over one run per game less than the norm.
All the while, some above-average pitching was wasted as the moundsmen allowed less than the league average the last two years.
If you had to point a blaming finger for this offensive offense most foul, it would have to be at the front office.
Of all the players the M’s have drafted in the last ten years, only one (1) has started a game for them on Opening Day. (See answer below.)
No wonder General Manager Jack Zduriencik has been pleading patience to all who would listen. It’s hard to imagine any GM in history staring at a barer cupboard when he took over the reins.
Finally, through some astute drafting (as a result of knowledgeable and experienced scouting), and shrewd trading, the team is in a position where the pieces are starting to come together.
And unlike the free-spending Yankees, Phils, and RedSox, this Mariners team is going to have a home-grown feel to it, with numerous players about to come into their own, right before our very eyes starting this season.
The names Ackley, Smoak, Montero, and Carp may take a backseat to Ichiro in the eyes of most baseball fans, but these four represent the backbone of what will soon be the next great Seattle sports team.
This year, runs will be scored.
Rallies won’t die, and deficits can be erased.
Fun will be had, and games will be won.
Even better, the sun will shine and the air will get warm.
And baseball will once again be safe to watch.
There’s no question about it.
Frank the Man
The Answer --- Catcher Rob Johnson (now with the Mets, after a stop in San Diego last year), is the only M’s draftee in the last ten years to play for the team on an Opening Day.