You’ve probably detected a trend this season involving the Seattle Mariners.
OK, maybe body counts don’t exactly qualify as a “trend.”
But we’re all aware how the M’s roster has been ravaged – how injuries have become the singular narrative of Seattle’s 2017 baseball season, so much so that they’re considering rebranding the “Hit It Here Café” as the “Where Does it Hurt Café?”
Every night’s lineup card is a word-search puzzle for manager Scott Servais. His four highest-salaried every-day players are seldom to be found together in the batting order any day – Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Kyle Seager and Jean Segura have shared the field only 17 times.
It’s even screwing up the analytics. The M’s are 8-1 with the Safeco roof open, but they keep it closed just as often – and not because of rain.
No one wants to see the buzzards circling over the field.
It may not be unprecedented, but it’s still staggering: 11 players on the disabled list, including four of the five pitchers who were supposed to make up the starting rotation – and two pitchers named Evan. Four others who’ve done time on the DL. Seventy – 70! –transactions in the season’s first 48 days. Ten pitchers have started games and on Saturday, Servais didn’t know who would be getting the ball come Sunday.
And, of course, it’s playing hell with what the Mariners do best: hand out bobbleheads to goose the gate.
Safeco attendance skidded under 2 million a year early this decade and while lousy teams were responsible, lousy merch didn’t help.
Maybe all you need to know about Mariners baseball of that era is that (Mark) McLemore’s doll night drew 30,000 fans; Macklemore’s packed in 40,000.
But the M’s have put a better product on the field the last few years – well, not Saturday night – and really ramped up their giveaway game. This year alone, the club is staging seven bobble nights, not counting the Ken Griffey Jr. statue from the first homestand. There’s lots of other swag, too. Except there’s been a problem.
Just about everything they’ve given away so far has honored someone retired, long since traded or on the DL. How do you sustain a fan following on ancients and MIAs?
Felix Hernandez was already nursing a dead arm on his bobblehead night. Hisashi Iwakuma’s bear-ears hoodie was handed out Friday, but he won’t be back in uniform until July, maybe.
Saturday was Jay Buhner Bobblehead Night – the best gift a Mariners fan could receive, other than Bone coming down with laryngitis on nights he’s working the TV booth.
So it looks as if some adjustments might be necessary to the remainder of the M’s promotional schedule – in some cases to counter the existing karma, in others to familiarize fans with the ever-rotating cast of characters:
June 3 – Nelson Cruz Bobblehead Night. Canceled. Replaced by Nelson Cruz Crutches Night. Time to fool the baseball gods. If they figure he’s already hurt …
June 6 – Bullpen Phone Night. Limited to just two fans, because they’re giving away the actual phones – the one in the dugout and the one in the bullpen, so neither Servais nor coach Mike Hampton will be tempted to use them again.
June 8 – Funny Nose Glasses Night. Hey, it’s a keeper, whatever the year.
June 23 – Ben Gamel/Taylor Motter Wig Night. Guys, chicks will dig this a lot more than what you brought home from Beard Hat Night.
June 28 – Reusable Grocery Bag Day. Another keeper. No more wearing brown paper sacks over your heads, fans.
July 2 – Mitch Haniger Corset Night. Keep that oblique muscle supported or you, too, may see your Rookie of the Year season unravel.
July 8 – Kyle Seager Bobblehead Night. Canceled.
July 9 – Drew Smyly Sling Night. Will fans ever see the $6.85 million lefty in a Mariners uniform?
July 20 – Marc Rzepczynski Eye Chart Night.
July 29 – Replica U.S.S. Mariner Day. The old tub that sat behind the outfield wall in the Kingdome and celebrated home runs with cannon fire will have to be retrofitted to resemble a water ambulance.
Aug. 10 – Dan Altavilla-Dillon Overton-Evan Marshall-Emilio Pagan-Chris Heston-Casey Lawrence Photo Array Night. Just like the six-packs cops show witnesses in lieu of a lineup to identify the perps.
Aug. 11-13 – Edgar Martinez Bobblehead, Replica Retired Number and Replica Jersey nights. Canceled, canceled and canceled. Three giveaways? You really think the way the Mariners’ luck is going that a batting coach can’t go on the DL?
Sept. 9 – Robinson Cano Bobblehead Night. Canceled.
Sept. 19 – Tuffy Gosewisch Slide Rule Night. Figure out the backup catcher’s plummeting batting average (currently .040) after his latest strikeout. On second thought …
Sept. 20 – Tuffy Gosewisch Bobblehead Night.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.