Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
Probably the best part about a computer is the ability to reboot. Ya know, the machine’s been running so long it exhausts itself. It gets feisty and hostile and irate.
Just like Seattle Mariners fans.
For all the poor souls who’ve gone cynical through the dark ages of Seattle baseball, now is the time. Power off and power on again.
Welcome to 2014. We have a ball team.
Yes, we do.
And the truth is, it has little to do with Robinson Cano. Sure he’s a spectacular talent who will deliver in many ways. But a 25-man roster is built upon the strength of it’s homegrown talent—not it’s brightest star. Ask Felix Hernandez. He’ll affirm that a super-giant shines only so far.
What we’re seeing now is a Mariners team built in three tiers: The homegrown varsity players, the homegrown freshman players, and the recruited talent.
The varsity players are a jostled bunch. Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Michael Saunders and Kyle Seager. They struggled to produce in a lackluster team atmosphere. Perhaps some of the responsibility is theirs, but they’re thirsty for change. They provide experience and a baseline to build from.
The recruited players are oft-discussed and get more attention than what’s warranted. Besides the $240 million dollar man, they include a few nice short-contract pieces to fill out the holes.
But the homegrown freshman class. Wow. Here’s where you find the nucleus of the 2014 Mariners. Mike Zunino, Brad Miller, Abraham Almonte, James Paxton and Taijuan Walker. Not only do those five names hold incredible talent, they provide the energy and blood to a team that otherwise has identity issues.
These young guys bring with them the lust for major league baseball. It’s an energy that is unmistakable, privy only to the boyhood dreams that remain in rookies. It’s a radiant energy that, if in enough abundance, affects every player on a team.
And abundance there is.
The youthful excitement will surely increase performance and production. But it’d be missing the point to say this is merely about winning. This is about finding pride in a team that has personality. It means enjoying them even if they struggle for .500. Those who say baseball fans only want to watch a winning team are wrong. We want to watch a team we care about. Winning is only part of the picture.
(Besides, what good is a ring if your team has no personality? Do we want to be the Yankees?)
It’s two weeks in and anyone who’s watched the Mariners can see it: This is a team.
Power off, power on.
It’s time to enjoy Mariners baseball again.