The Mariners are 62 and 87, 23 and a half games back. The season was over some time ago, no Mr. Octobers here, though the Mariners must continue to play through to the closing bell. It has been a pleasant September for the most part, comforting in its familiarity. But has it been dangerous in its complacency?
The Mariners are looking at last place in the AL West, falling behind the Oakland As while facing the Yankees and the Rangers. This unwanted title has been with the team for six of the last eight years. Fans this year, at the start of the year, were hoping for improvement of any sort, of any fashion. Win a few more games, maybe land in third in the AL West? This town wasn’t aiming for much. Final numbers are still to be tallied but it is looking like a last place fête once again and perhaps the fourth pick in the next MLB draft.
Next year is firmly on the horizon, with all Mariner eyes on GM Jack Z and what he does in Dallas this winter. The Mariners tentative 2012 schedule has been released. The Mariners will face the NL West in Interleague Play. The team opener is slated for April 6 at Oakland and the home opener is set for April 13 against the Athletics, fittingly that pesky team honing in on third place in the AL West right now.
What does next year look like? Can any predictions be made this September about next September? The Mariners are dancing the same ole same ole routine right now. One day is bleak: Tuesday the Mariners strike out 17 times to lose 3-2 to the Yankees. One day is glory: Wednesday the Mariners Luis Rodriguez hits a walk off homer in the 12th for the victory for teacher turned reliever Steve Delabar. It is a roller coaster this town knows all too well. Striking out could be a symptom of growing rookie pains or it could just be another moment in a chronic offensive malady for Seattle. Any World Series ring will sparkle and say, hitting was part of this; this ring was built on run support. The Mariners need to learn to hit. Last year the Mariners hit 513 runs, the worst record in MLB in the Designated Hitter era. This has to change, whether it is by plate discipline, big swings, or both. No team has ever won it all with circa 500 runs.
Perhaps the Mariners are trying to take a page out of the Moneyball motto, which some say is myth and some say is truth: focus on the little known, the undervalued players. Defy the odds, build it that way and success will come. Maybe one day Brad Pitt and Steven Soderbergh will want to tell the story of the 2012 Mariners. Here’s to hoping.