In a city that has been swept up by the success of the Seahawks since quarterback Russell Wilson‘s arrival three years ago, it’s easy to describe Seattle as a “football town.” Add the fact that the Mariners haven’t made the playoffs since a magical 2001 season and the Sonics were robbed from this city seven years ago and it’s no wonder why everyone in Seattle has jumped on the Seahawks’ bandwagon. That’s not a bad thing at all.
However, over this time, Seattle sports fans have taken on the mentality of football fans, which are much different than baseball fans. In the NFL, everything is so emotional because nearly every play matters. With only 16 games in a season, one loss can be detrimental to a team. Combine that with the reality that the Mariners missed the playoffs last year by one game, and it’s no wonder why this city has learned that every game matters.
So when the M’s enter 2015 with lofty expectations and stumble to a 6-9 start, some fans naturally abandoned ship. The trademark phrase, “same old Mariners” has been murmured in households and bars throughout the state of Washington for the past two and a half weeks. Gut-wrenching losses have filled the first 15 games of this season.
So far, Mariners fans have seen solid offensive contributions, especially from the newly acquired Nelson Cruz, who is batting .328 and already has 8 home runs and 17 RBI’s. At the same time, though, they’ve seen some terrible pitching. Outside of Felix Hernandez and J.A. Happ, the starting rotation has failed to go deep in games. This has put pressure on a bullpen that has been overused early in the year. As a result, the Seattle has blown late leads and lost a few games that they absolutely should have won. The Mariners’ pitching staff has a 4.83 ERA, which is 14th out of 15 teams in the AL and 28th out of 30 teams in the MLB. Not good.
But as a rational fan, it’s hard to think that a team full of talented pitching will continue to struggle this much. I’m confident that the starters will get right and this team will turn it around – starting tonight against the Minnesota Twins. And this leads me to the point of this post: settle down Seattle fans and please read the following reasons why.
1. The offense is better at the pitching will turn it around. There’s simply too much talent on this pitching staff for them to not turn it around. It couldn’t get much worse than it has been. Once they do the M’s will win a lot of ball games because the offense is better and will continue to get better. Adding Cruz to this lineup has allowed everyone in the order to see better pitches. It’s only a matter of time before they start hitting them consistently.
2. The rest of the AL West has also struggled so far. The 8-7 Houston Astros lead the division, and that should tell you everything about the beginning of this season. As disappointing of a start as its been, the M’s are only two games back in a division race that we shouldn’t even be talking about in April.
3. Baseball is a marathon. It’s way too early to jump to any kind of brash conclusion about this ballclub. There’s 147 games left in the 2015 season. Last year’s squad started the season 7-13 before nearly making a playoff run. At least wait until June to start making judgments about the 2015 Mariners.
I felt like it was important for me to put my emotions about this topic on paper (or the internet, rather) because I, too, am guilty of approaching baseball with a football mentality at times. But the truth is we all need to relax and just enjoy the romance that is baseball, however frustrating it can be at times. There’s still so much season left and there are so many good (and bad) times ahead of these 2015 Mariners.
As Seattle fans, we’ve all witnessed some really tough times throughout our sports history (RIP Sonics). Yet we continue to cheer on our teams because years of failure have to be followed by success at some point, right? So keep your heads up and believe that this team is going to be different. Believe that Seattle can once again be a “baseball town.”
Besides, what choice do we have?