For the Seattle Mariners, 2011 is over

And just like that, the 2011 season is effectively over for the Seattle Mariners.
For three months, Seattle was teased with the idea that the playoffs could be, may be, coming back to Seattle. For three months, for the first time in eight years, this team knew what it meant to be in the hunt at the All-Star break.
But, as with all illusions, our little dream world fell apart quickly and unceremoniously. Some of us truly believed that our incredible pitching staff would keep us alive all the way to the MLB playoffs. That they would make up for the second coming of the worst offense ever assembled. And when the playoffs start, who knows what can happen?
But it was not to be. After a few great months from the likes of Brendan Ryan, Adam Kennedy, Justin Smoak, Carlos Pegeuro and Miguel Olivo, the wheels fell off. And when these guys stopped producing, there was no one left to produce. Ichiro and Chone Figgins sure haven’t been getting it done.
And perhaps it’s as simple as that. This team was already cutting it close offensively as it was. When the supposed “sure things” weren’t so sure anymore, it may have been one shave too close. A shave that has seen the Mariners lose nine straight. In that stretch, the division-leading Rangers took the opposite road, winning every one of those nine and then some.
The Mariners could have added Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum to the rotation of Hernandez, Pineda and Bedard, and they wouldn’t be in a much better position right now. The Mariners have three players hitting over .260. They have no one hitting over .280. Like last year, these Mariners are looking to set records for offensive ineptitude, and an all-star lineup of pitchers can’t fix that.
This end has made the Mariner’s constant issue all the more clear. No matter how great their pitching is, they can’t score runs by themselves, at least not in the American League. The Sounders scored more goals in their last game then the Mariners scored in their last home stand. A team can’t win when they can’t score, and our team is the Ben Stein of not scoring.
2011 must now be thrown to the rookies, the youngsters that can make a difference in 2012 and 2013. This year will be used to see if Mike Carp and Kyle Seager are part of the future. It will also be used to turn Smoak, Dustin Ackley and Michael Pineda into the stars of Seattle’s tomorrow.
Last Saturday was 2001 Celebration Night at the Mariners, marking the decade anniversary of that club’s 116 win achievement. It may as well have been a celebration of the last time the Mariners were good enough to be worth celebrating. Those ten years have been fraught with inept management and substandard play. It’s a lot for GM Jack Zduriencik to make up for. Every year makes it that much harder to come back and support this team.