A week from tomorrow, the Mariners kickoff their 2015 season in search of their first playoff berth in 14 seasons – not to mention their first World Series appearance in franchise history.
Imagine if I even mentioned the words “World Series” four years ago. You’d boo me right off this floor!
I mean, do we really need to revisit the M’s starting lineup in 2011? Can we play the laugh track now? Some wondered why I was so critical of the organization back then. Do I really need to explain it? It was never a case of being a fair-weather fan. It was a case of “Why should WE put an effort in rooting for THIS, when the franchise won’t put any effort in themselves?”
Now, we have a reason to care. And it’s not limited to the financial investments put into Felix Hernandez, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, although it's nice to see some of the team's profits going toward a $100+ million payroll.
It’s the organization’s ability to finally – FINALLY – cut ties with players like Justin Smoak and Michael Saunders, who often resembled dead weight.
It’s been refreshing to get emails with all these players either optioned to Triple A or reassigned to Minor League Camp this week - guys who we’ve consistently seen in the M’s starting lineups the past few years. Franklin Gutierrez, Endy Chavez, James Jones, Jesus Montero, Stefen Romero, Joe Saunders, Mark Lowe. Add Ichiro to this list, and we might’ve been able to field a starting lineup from these guys a few years back!
The point is – M’s fans are intelligent – and I just felt like the organization was insulting that intelligence back then. And fans deserved better.
That’s what it seems they’re starting to get. And frankly, it’s way past time.
It’ll be fun to look around a packed Safeco Field in eight days and know that this team actually has a legitimate chance to go far. It’ll be fun to look around and not have to shake my head, hoping that blind faith is enough. We’ve been down that road too many times. And fortunately, all indications are that’s not the case this year.
So, thank you to the Mariners for fielding more than a minor league team the past couple seasons. Thank you for giving us a genuine and justifiable reason to believe.
Postseason baseball is the goal this year. And I’m just excited it won’t feel like a miracle when it finally happens.