Scott Servais nailed it. You may question a lineup move or an in-game decision, but he got this one right: “Good” was – and is – the perfect Mariners motto this season.
It hasn’t been widely publicized since February because Servais wasn’t too keen on talking about “Good,” the simple word he presented to the team on the first day of Spring Training, or explaining its meaning to those outside the clubhouse – especially the media. In a way, that backfired at the time, because to outsiders, the word “Good” seemed to imply something close to “average” or “okay,” or maybe even the throwaway word James Paxton fans would love: “Eh.”
But it meant something deeper, and was on point with what the M’s had dealt with all last year, and (little did he know at the time) what would happen over the next few months.
“Good” is their response to adversity. “Good” is their way of saying “Bring it on.”
We’ve already shown the video Servais used to present this message to the team – a message from a former Navy Seal, Jocko Willink, who preaches embracing misfortune or difficult times, staring it in the face, and taking the challenge head-on. After everything the M’s have dealt with this season, it’s worth showing part of it again:
“When things are going bad, there’s gonna be some good that’s gonna come from it, i.e. Didn’t get promoted? Good. More time to get better. Got beat? Good. You learned. Unexpected problems? Good. You have the opportunity to figure out a solution.”
Nelson Cruz slips in the dugout? Good. Robinson Cano suspended for 80 games? Good. Dee Gordon breaks his toe? Good.
Of course, these things aren’t literally good. They've driven all of us crazy. But I hope you get my point.
I’m not saying that one seemingly innocuous word is the reason for the Mariners success so far this year – that would be nuts. But given some of the circumstances, I’m sure the underlying message of “Good” has helped. I’m sure the mindset it establishes has been effective. And it’s a phrase I believe should continue to be exposed to an entire fan base, much of which spends the year with an appropriately skeptical view, waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The Mariners are in first place in the month of June a full game ahead of a Houston Astros team that’s been the odds-on favorite to win another World Series. They’ve now won 18 one-run games - the most in the league. They’re doing it without one of their best relievers, one of their best position players, a thin starting rotation, and a bunch of other bad luck.
This team has far from called it quits. The exact opposite is true. Who knows if it’s sustainable or not, but it’s been fun to watch. It’s refreshing to see the extra fight, the unexpected resilience, the ways they’ve found to win.
I’m not hoping for any more bad news or bad luck this season. The Mariners have had more than their share. But this team, more than we’ve seen, seems not just willing to tackle it head-on, but to thrive in spite of it too.
Haven’t made the playoffs the last 16 years? "Good." Doing it after all that would be the sweetest surprise of all.