Grip on Sports: From no way to cautiously optimistic to all in, local M’s fans are excited to see what the rest of the season holds
Thu., June 14, 2018
A GRIP ON SPORTS • The Mariners won again last night, with Mitch Haniger hitting another home run to end a game. There could be something special brewing on the corner of Edgar and Dave. But local M’s fans, it seems, are still a bit hesitant. Read on.
• What is that old ditty? Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me? What about fool me a dozens times or so? Shame on management, maybe?
That seems to be the feeling of the dozen or so folks who responded to our question about their feelings concerning this year’s Mariners team. The scars of the past as still visible – and no amount of salve will make them disappear. So a majority of those who responded are either waiting to commit or don’t think the Mariners have a shot of breaking their long postseason drought.
Then again, a handful of folks are all in, ready to put the past behind them and get behind a group that is 44-24 and leads the American League West by a half-game.
Here’s a sampling of the comments.
• No way the M’s are going to make the playoffs …
Rob Stark hopes the M’s prove him wrong. But he’s not holding his breath.
“I think the wheels will come off when (Robinson) Cano comes back,” Stark wrote. “The chemistry and pulling together as a team will be upset by his return. Dee Gordon returning to the outfield after not being out there for nearly three months, when he was already learning the position anyway seems like it is ripe for a disaster at just the wrong time.
“I also think the clubhouse gets upset. Since they picked up Denard Span, who is odd man out among Span, (Ben) Gamel, and (Guillermo) Heredia? Felix (Hernandez) never does get consistent, (Marco) Gonzales hits a wall, and another problem happens when (Edwin) Diaz hits that inevitable stretch when he struggles and (manager Scott) Servais starts having (Alex) Colome close, egos get bruised and doubts set in.”
Rick Shauvin has different reasons, but he sees the same result.
“My thought process, other than just expecting a collapse because they always collapse (or fail to launch) is a farm system that has been devoid of any real talent for a long time. This team is a house built with no foundation. The roster is mostly lightning in a bottle with a lot of guys performing better than they ever have before and I doubt it lasts the entire season.
I’m not as concerned about Felix. He’s their fifth starter and he is what he is … every fifth game. If they make the postseason, they’ll further reduce his relevance by going to a four-man rotation and he’s the odd guy out.”
Randy Bell and Edward O’Connell also mentioned Hernandez’s eroding abilities as one of the problems eroding their ability to see the M’s playing in October. But they had more.
“The Mariners were mathematically eliminated from the playoffs before Spring training ended,” Bell wrote before delving into reasons ranging from Felix to Cano, from Mike Zunino’s average to Kyle Seager’s off year at the plate. “Too many years of mediocrity have eliminated any optimism for me. … So for me, Mariners arithmetic says the M’s will fade once again.”
• Let’s see what happens …
The hot start has warmed Kent Leiss’ heart, but he still has questions. And crossed fingers.
“Not convinced yet that their starting staff is good enough to make it through 162,” he wrote. “(And I’m) not convinced yet that Colome is the bridge to Diaz in the ninth. One last concern is the run differential at this point in the season.”
I feel for Nick Fell.
“I’ve been emotionally destroyed by this organization for as long as I can remember, so I’m hesitant to let myself go all in,” the Spokane resident wrote before going into his long-standing love of the team – and how it has failed him over the years.
“With that said, this year feels different,” he adds and gives his reasons why, including the large contributions of players only expected to play a small role.
Like a lot of fans, Fell is, in his words, “cautiously optimistic.”
So seems Jerry Kinnaman, who thinks he will know more really soon.
“I withhold any playoff judgment call for the Mariners,” he wrote, “until after the 10-game stretch this month against the Red Sox and Yankees.”
That stretch starts tonight.
A former colleague, Tom Green, looks at the situation analytically and isn’t sure, mentioning their run differential, the hard-to-maintain success in one-run games and the tough stretch they are in.
He also believes the offense needs to contribute more and wonders what will happen to Hernandez and Cano and how that will impact the clubhouse.
But if his head is telling him one thing, his heart is telling him another.
“My expectations about an end to the post-season drought are based more on hope than conviction,” he wrote. “But hope I will.”
• Forget the past, I’m all in …
Keely Freudenstein pointed out a series of positives, from the bullpen to players having breakout offensive seasons, from the starters outpacing expectations to a solid defense. That was enough.
“Considering this, I am buying on the Mariners this year,” Freudenstein wrote.
Lou Nihoul in Hayward, Calif., wrote “this is their year.” But he did have a caveat. “The only thing I see stopping them would be some serious injuries – (James) Paxton breaking his arm type of injury.”
Bruce Hurley is also worried about injuries, along with the fading abilities of Cano and Hernandez as well as Servais’ use of the bullpen. But the bottom line is he feels the M’s will make the playoffs.
“I have followed the Mariners closely since 2010, and have noted their struggles with limited talent, poor management and a lack of ‘team chemistry,’ ” he wrote. “But this year some things are noticeably different, including more talent and better interaction among team members. This year it is evident that these Mariners like each other, and the team as a whole is better than just the sum of its parts.”
Joe and Sarah Stanton pointed to the M’s success in one-run games as the main reason they feel the team will make the postseason.
We’ll finish up with the guy who just may be driving the bandwagon.
Allan LeTourneau has no reservations whatsoever. Well, one.
“This Mariners team is likely the best ever,” he wrote. “This club can make it to the World Series. They are definitely the most balanced team in baseball. Strong in every position. The only obstacle would be injuries to key players.”
WSU: Around the Pac-12, Washington earned a trip to the college world series and kept everyone healthy while celebrating. That’s an accomplishment. … A bunch of Oregon State players earned national awards, including Luke Heimlich as the pitcher of the year. … A California baseball player also won a national award. … The NCAA made big news yesterday, adjusting the transfer rule and giving football players more of an opportunity to play and then redshirt without injury. … Speaking of football, we have news from Oregon, California and Arizona.
Gonzaga: Jim Allen has a fun and interesting story about a former Gonzaga soccer player who will be playing with Iceland in the World Cup. If you want to watch, Will Campbell has this story on good places to do that.
Indians: The season begins Friday and to get everyone ready, the team held its annual FanFest at Avista Stadium last night. Ryan Collingwood was there and has this story. … In anticipation of the season opener, the S-R has just about everything you could ever want to know about the Indians. We start with Dave Nichols joining Larry Weir for the Press Box pod and move on to Dave’s story about the returning stars and the Indians’ first-year manager. He also has a Q&A with Otto Klein … There is a history lesson from Jim Price, another from Howie Stalwick, a list of the special event nights, and a list for Indians who played in the major leagues, those still playing and where last year’s players are this season.
Chiefs: Spokane announced its preseason schedule.
Preps: Spokane is never shy in honoring its young people, which is one of the strengths of this community. That strength showed again last night at the Martin Woldson Theater with the 2018 Spokane Youth Sports Awards. Dave Nichols was at the fifth annual awards ceremony and has this story. Libby Kamrowski was also there and has this photo report. … The Spokane Convention Center will host the Cadet National Duals, a four-day, team wrestling tournament. Ryan has more in this story.
Mariners: Believe it or not, the M’s are 20 games above .500. They got there with an 8-6 win over the Angels. Haniger was the guy in the ninth, but Ryon Healy also hit another dinger. … Healy thinks Haniger is an all-star.
Seahawks: The secondary this upcoming season won’t be the secondary you’ve been used to seeing. The linebackers will be, though. … The front office added a consultant.
Sounders: Before we get into another Sounders loss, 2-1 to the Red Bulls, we have to cover the World Cup a bit. This year’s event starts this weekend and the 2026 tournament will be in North America. Seattle could be hosting some games, but not Portland.
• Thanks for everyone who wrote in, even those I didn’t mention. What I love about our readers is how thoughtful and reasoned you all are. There is passion, sure, but there is also balance and carefully constructed analysis. Well done. … By the way, I will be doing nothing but watching the U.S. Open this weekend. And I am picking an old guy to win. Yes, I think this is the tournament Tiger Woods returns to the winner’s circle. This course seems made for him. Until later …
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