By Aaron Levine
We start with a word that we haven’t associated with the Mariners at the All-Star Break in the last decade: Relevant.
Right now, they ARE relevant – and the buzz at Safeco Field is starting to build.
Tonight, we applaud that refreshing feeling – one we haven’t felt very often about the M’s at this time of the year. We can give thanks to the second wild card, but the fact that we’re even talking about legitimate playoff chances in mid-July is a stunning fact. As the trade deadline approaches, there’s an invigorating pleasure in being labeled a “buyer” rather than a “seller” throughout the baseball landscape.
Then again, if the Mariners continue to contend, more and more skeptics will jump on board.
My take? Be kind to those critics – because many of them ARE loyal fans too.
I know it won’t make sense to the Mariners fan who’s had blind faith in this organization through the flood of disappointments in the last 12 ½ playoff-less seasons. But you have to remember that some of the most outspoken dissenters, critical of past leadership and skeptical of the franchise’s future, ARE some of the most hardcore Mariners fans too.
Remember, criticism or cynicism is always better than complete indifference.
At this point, there are obviously many doubters who still need to be convinced. When and if they are convinced, they should be welcomed – rather than shunned.
Here’s the best comparison that I can make: The Mariners are like the relative or best friend who you love, but who continually lets you down. Consistently, that person asks for forgiveness – promises to change their ways - yet everyone has a different threshold to forgive and forget. For many fans, the Mariners have reached that threshold.
It’s now a matter of “Show Me” – Prove it to me. Lip service is no longer valid.
And while the Mariners are starting to do just that, there are clearly a number of fans taking longer to jump back on board.
In the end, anyone who’s made it to Safeco Field in the past month has felt the growing excitement. Many fans are getting goosebumps at the thought of a Mariners playoff run for the first time in forever. There’s no question this city is incredibly overdue.
But please excuse the loyal fans who are still waiting until August or September to jump on board.
You simply can’t blame them for being gun shy – and taking just a little more time.