As I sit and think about the current Mariners team, it reminds me of the teams from the mid-late ’90s. The last time the Mariners were both exciting and good. They made the playoffs four times from 1995-2001, and it’s something that many fans are hoping repeats itself. The team seems to be set up for some future success, and I realize that I’m more excited about what it means for my son as compared to me.
I was seven years old at the start of the 1995 season. For the childhood years that I remember relating to baseball, the Mariners were good. They made the playoffs more than they missed them. Exciting players were all over the place. Ken Griffey Jr, Edgar Martinez, Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson. I loved it.
Simply put, It was fun being a Mariners fan as a young kid.
I look at the team now, and there are so many exciting players. Things just feel different in Seattle. You look at Logan Gilbert, and you see a pitcher who could be meaningful with a strong impact near the top of our rotation for years to come. Emerson Hancock and George Kirby are in the Minors, but they’re supposed to be great as well. Kirby could be an Ace, and will likely be up next year. They’re unlikely to be Maddux, Glavine, and Smoltz… but it sure is fun.
Even Brandon Williamson is making noise in the minors, giving them a lefty to go along with the trio of righties. OH, don’t forget Dunn and Flexen. And Kikuchi. He’s a modern-day crafty lefty who could probably go back to painting a bit more but is still exciting to watch.
The pitchers in the system give us a lot of hope, but the offense might even provide more. JP Crawford has a gold glove and likely will win a few more. Evan White, if he ever figures out how to hit, will give us another multi gold glover. We have the reigning Rookie of the Year in Kyle Lewis. A Catcher in Cal Raleigh that could surpass Dan Wilson as the greatest Mariners catcher in the franchise’s history.
Fraley is feisty and fun. France is a hitting machine (just please stop hitting him), and might be best as a DH. No, I’m not comparing him to Edgar, but France definitely has a .320 season with 20 home runs and 40-50 doubles in his bag somewhere.
Do you know what’s crazy? You hear about all these players, and I haven’t even told you about three of the best four. Noelvi Marte is either the shortstop of the future or third baseman of the future and has the potential to be a little bit slower Hanley Ramirez. No, not the old slow Hanley who hit .250 for Boston. I’m talking about the one who put up this stat line from age 23-26.
- Averaged 150 games with a .319/.394/.532, 38 2B, 27 HR, 36 SB, 111 R and 82 RBI
Marte doesn’t have that speed, but he’s got that kind of bat and power. He’s supposed to be a special player, and could be up to the Mariners in 2023. If you think that’s special… there are still two guys above him.
Jarred Kelenic is supposed to be some kind of mix between Matt Holliday and prime Grady Sizemore. A great hit tool, good defense, and good power and speed. Julio Rodriguez, meanwhile, could be a monster power bat, providing 35-40+ home runs in right field. Not as a .250 hitter either, but as potentially a .280-.290 hitter. A multi-MVP candidate. Yeah, they are both supposed to be that good.
Think about how excited I’ve sounded as I’ve been writing this. I’m 33. Now, imagine a seven-year-old, coming into being a baseball fan for the first time, and getting to watch all those players. My son is five years old. Once all these players are up in the majors, contributing to the team, and hopefully, leading them to multiple playoff appearances, it’s likely going to be 2023. My son will be seven then as well. Just like I was in 1995.
This. This is what excites me more than anything. I have so many childhood memories of going to the Kingdome (oh man, I miss that stadium. Dark and scary and loud and wonderful), watching games with my dad, and seeing all kinds of things happen.
Griffey breaking his wrist, and coming back as well. Dan Wilson’s inside the park grand slam. A massive comeback where it was so loud, you couldn’t hear a thing. You couldn’t hear yourself yell. Playoff games in 1997 (yeah, we got lucky and got tickets). Sitting next to the same people randomly over and over, and them asking me questions because I lived for the Mariners. Do you know what I remember the most though?
Creating memories with my old man. He’s still around, and I hope he can join me and my son for more memories. Every single one of those games started with either leaving school early or heading down on the weekend, and watching a game with him. I lived two hours away from Seattle (still do), and it was always such a wonderful time. I never realized how much it affected me until I starting writing this. I keep taking breaks because I’m tearing up and choking up.
Honestly, for the next 5-10 years, I don’t care how the Mariners do. Yeah, it’s gonna be cool If they’re winning, if they can break the missed playoff streak. If the Mariners can make my son fall in love with baseball the same way I did back in 1995, then I’ll be one happy dad.