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Commentary: A thank you – and an apology – to “The King,” Felix Hernandez

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I want to start tonight by apologizing to Felix Hernandez. No one deserves a bigger apology than “The King.”

Yes, Thursday night was emotional. It was special. It was memorable. Watching Felix take the mound one last time, seeing his affection for this city, his genuine love for the fans – and that incredible reciprocation back - was one last reminder: Felix has been (and is) an extraordinary sports figure who will be forever loved in this city.

And all I wanted to say was “I’m sorry.” More than 14 years of blood, sweat and tears to one city – and not a single opportunity to put his team on his shoulders on the national stage in a playoff game.

Not one. Frankly, it makes me mad.

I understand that, at times at least, it wasn’t for a lack of trying by the front office. But the fact that Felix stayed loyal, stayed patient, and stayed optimistic for so long without that chance is an absolute abomination. It’s inexcusable. And even though his overall career was hardly a waste on Mariners fans, it’s certainly a waste of talent from an outsider’s perspective.

A couple years ago, the website Fansided ranked the top 30 players of all time to never make the playoffs. Two of them – Felix Hernandez and Kyle Seager – were Mariners.
Felix was the top-ranked pitcher who had spent his entire career with a single team.

So, major props to all the fans who showed up at the end of another lackluster season just to show their appreciation and admiration one last time. Kudos to those within the M’s marketing department who helped give Felix the best possible sendoff, given the overall circumstances.

But we all know it wasn’t nearly enough. Not for seven All-Star seasons and a Cy Young Award winner. Not for the face of this franchise for so long.

Again, this has nothing to do with the current direction of this organization, which is still up in the air. It also has nothing to do with whether Felix was compensated enough monetarily, because he certainly was. Instead, it has everything to do with the big picture and the failures of multiple regimes that ultimately failed this Seattle legend in the process. It’s regrettable, and it’s wrong.

And for that, on behalf of anyone else who wants to join me: “Thank you for everything, Felix. But for the fact that you never got the playoff stage you deserved, we’re so incredibly sorry.”

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