The Ball’s in Your Court: Mariners Midseason

It’s sad to say it, but the Mariners season is on its last legs. Being seven-and-a-half games behind a team as hot as the Anaheim Angels is a death sentence for any team this late in the summer. It’s important to remember that this team has defied all expectations, and to even be above .500 at this point in the season is an achievement, considering where this same club was in August of 2008. The long-shot hope of a repeat of 1995 is all that separates the Mariners from irrelevancy in October.

Coming out of the All Star break, the Mariners were still involved in the AL West hunt, within four games of first place in the west. It was thought that if the M’s could simply keep pace with both the Angels and Texas Rangers, the Mariners could win the remaining division series and pave their way to the postseason. Unfortunately, the team fell off the map in the series against the Cleveland Indians, losing by a total of 31 to 6. In that same time frame, the Angels won all four of their games.

The small hope that the Mariners will be able to make the playoffs depends on the Angels. Seattle plays them six more times this year, and even sweeping them in both series—which itself is an improbable notion—would still leave Seattle with a game and a half to make up. That is, of course, assuming that the Mariners are able to keep pace with the Angels and not fall even farther behind before the two teams meet up.

That said, baseball in Seattle will continue to be fun to watch through the end of the year. The addition of Jack Wilson, an exciting defensive infielder, will reverberate throughout a club that has struggled to put a competent shortstop on the field for years. Ichiro will take home another 200 hits, tieing for the most consecutive 200 hit seasons ever.

Ryan Rowland-Smith is showing signs of having taken the next step up, and may be a pitcher that the Mariners can rely on in the future behind Felix Hernandez. Of course, the main show will be watching Griffey in what will likely be the last games of his career.

Mariners fans should be very excited for what the future brings for the organization. General Manager Jack Zdurenzik has shown that he is capable of making all the moves, ridding the team of players who couldn’t play and getting real value back for them. After getting two live arms for Yuniesky Betancourt and a minor league pitcher of the year for Wladamir Balentien, I am beginning to wonder if Jack is truly a mere mortal as he has us believe he is, or if he has some sort of mind control power over other general managers.

Though this season may as well be lost, the Mariners are a team to be excited about once again. It is fair to be excited for what the future might hold for this newly promising franchise.