Felix Hernandez’s 2018 Campaign Begins

SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 28: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 28: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez /

HAPPY FELIX DAY! 12:05 pm PST this afternoon will mark the beginning of Felix Hernandez’s 2018 campaign as he takes the hill vs the Chicago Cubs in his first spring start.

A day historically showered with gross volumes of hyperbole will get a much different treatment this year. Little to no pomp and circumstance. No TV and a delayed Mariners radio broadcast (airs tonight at 7:00 pm on 710ESPN). Twitter updates, game tracker cartoons, and a MLB.TV Cubs radio broadcast will be your only options to tune in live.

Not much of a roll out for the King.

Of course, this is spring training and Felix getting his first start on a Monday afternoon, away from Peoria, with very little coverage and a minor league lineup behind him could be a simple coincidence. It could also be part of a calculated plan.

Today’s Offensive Lineup

  1. Gordon, CF

  2. Romine, SS

  3. Perkins, DH

  4. Lake, LF

  5. Nieuwenheis, RF

  6. Motter, 3B

  7. Hague, 1B

  8. Freitas, C

  9. Beckham, 2B

Since 2007 Felix has been the ace, the number one, the opening day starter (I am purposely pretending 2008 and Erik Bedard never happened). Ten opening day starts in all. The most in Mariners history and as many as Randy Johnson and Jamie Moyer combined.

Over that time the expectation has always been, even at spring training, for the Mariners to roll out the red carpet treatment. Let the baseball world “all hail the king.” Despite injury plagued seasons, reduced velocity, and an overall decline in production, K cards, bright yellow t-shirts, and plastic crowns have had a presence from Arizona to the Pacific Northwest.

This year, things feel different.

The debate on who should get the Opening Day start has become a legitimate one. The thought that Felix will be able to get back to his old self has become more of an overly optimistic pipe dream than an expected outcome. The inevitable shifting of the tides is seemingly upon us.

As Mariners fans, we need to continue to support our guy and we will. “K” chants will be heard in Mesa today and in Seattle come March. The super star who chose to stay when he could’ve left (and should’ve left) deserves it.

Next: Projecting the 2018 Mariners: Felix Hernandez

But it’s also time for fans and the organization alike to remove the fanboy glasses and stare reality in the face. It is time for a changing of the guards and maybe – just maybe – today’s subtle introduction to the aging king’s 2018 season is where the organization has chosen to start. Or maybe – just maybe – it’s nothing more than a coincidence.