The Seattle Mariners have really been something of an enigma for the past 3 weeks. After losing six in a row, including getting swept by the lowly Detroit Tigers, the team rebounded nicely, winning 7 of 8 games. But now the team has lost two straight games, including a brutal bullpen implosion on Tuesday night.
The offense is still struggling and now faces the prospect of losing their second best player, Kyle Lewis, for the rest of the 2021 season after re-injuring his troublesome knee on Monday afternoon. Top prospect Jarred Kelenic has failed to live up to sky high expectations. Evan White and Dylan Moore haven’t played in nearly a month. The team is still running out the likes of Donovan Walton, Jack Mayfield, and Jacob Nottingham on a regular basis.
On the pitching side of things, their bullpen has been brutalized by injuries and self inflicted IL stints. The rotation, which lost James Paxton after 24 pitches and had to try and survive without staff leader Marco Gonzales, appeared to finally be back to 6 strong before a promising start for righty Justin Dunn was delayed by a trip to the IL with shoulder pains. The team is running out players like Daniel Zamora, Hector Santiago, and JT Chargois on a nearly nightly basis.
And despite all of this, the Mariners have managed to crawl their way to just 1 game below .500 and are still very much in the mix for a playoff spot with just over 2/3 of the season. All things considered, this is an applause worthy effort. And yet, the fan base seems too angry with the organization to acknowledge this simple feat.
It doesn’t take a psychiatrist to understand why Mariners fans feel this way. The answer is hope. Because despite two decades of constant disappointments, Mariners fans who still watch this team on a nightly basis cling to hope. What more do they have? And this team, despite all of its injuries and shortcomings is JUST good enough to give them hope, while somehow being utterly hopeless.
This roster is doomed to fail. The injuries are mounting. So many of the promising, young players are failing. The depth, which was thin to begin with, is being stretched to the max. And it was all so avoidable. The Mariners chose to be cheap this winter. To pull a 180 on their GM and their fan base. And they deserve every ounce of criticism that can be mustered for it. This team deserved a deeper investment than what John Stanton gave them.
There’s an old saying that goes something like “the night is darkest just before the dawn”. And that’s where the rebuild currently sits. Stuck in the darkness because ownership decided to turn back the clock for an extra hour of sleep.
The team hasn’t won anything meaningful in 20 years. They were cheap this winter and left the 2021 team and the entire baseball ops department out to twist in the wind. The young guys are struggling to find their footing. Promising players are seemingly headed to the IL daily. These are truly the days that will try your soul.
And yet, we tune in. We continue to hope, because hope is what makes the world go around and keeps us marching forward. A wise man once said “happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”.
Frustration is natural and totally warranted. It takes a bit of blind faith to believe that better things are around the corner. Many will not or have already decided not to take that leap. To those people, I say that I understand. But the struggle is what makes fandom a beautifully moronic thing. And if my hope is ever rewarded, it’ll make these dark days well worth it.