With NCAA March Madness coming to an end, the NBA Playoffs not starting for another month, and football season not set to start for several months, it is time to get ready for America’s past time. That’s right we are less than a week away from the start of Major League Baseball. With one of the best rotations in baseball, the top rated bullpen, and newly acquired 2014 home run champion, Nelson Cruz, the Seattle Mariners face the highest expectations the franchise has in years.
In 2014 the the World Series was played by the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants. The Giants took the series in 7 games. The Giants finished the regular season with a record of 88 wins and 74 losses. The Mariners finished just one game worse with a record of 87-75. Just one game separated the Mariners from a chance at the post season, and sitting home for the fourteenth straight October.
Mariners fans have adopted the unofficial slogan of “We’ll get um’ next season!” So when the buzz in Seattle is high for the team, it may not be anything to get too excited about for the casual fan. The buzz is not just in Seattle though. ESPN has picked the Mariners as the favorite to win the American League West division, “King” Felix Hernandez is one of the favorite to win the Cy Young award again, Kyle Seager added a Golden Glove award to his young career at third base, and Robinson Cano is comfortable heading into his second year as a Mariner.
The Mariner front office was not shy in the off-season either. The office quickly added another big bat, in home run champion Nelson Cruz. The Mariners were able to get those 87 wins last year based in large part to the pitching, and in spite of their lack of offense. Nelson Cruz most likely will not repeat his 2014 performance of 40 home runs. If Cruz can take 28 to 30 to the house, it will be an improvement over last year. Seager lead the team with 25 last season, followed by Mike Zunino with 22.
Cano and Hernandez graced the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine in2015 already, with the caption “Time to Believe!” For a team that has been all but forgotten by main stream media for over a decade, it is a nod in the right direction. Perhaps the Mariners are ready to finally take the next step back in to relevancy.
Rather it is the crop of young talent, the right management, or maybe the cross town Seattle Seahawks’ success, something is motivating them and sending them in the right direction. For a team that has never even made a world series in franchise existence, the attitude down in Peoria for spring training seems to be “World Series or bust!”
The Mariners start the season on Monday April 6 at Safeco Field in Seattle. This will be the first time the Mariners start the season at home instead of on the road since 2008. The Mariners start the season with a three game series against division rival, and other top pick to win the west, Los Angeles Angels.
Commentary by Andy Lapic
Photo By Daniel Gasienica –Flickr License