The vibes are high right now, and rightfully so; the 2023 Mariners are officially streaking, winning their last five games and going an American League-best 22-10 (since June 22nd). The excitement is about to rachet up a notch this Saturday, as Félix Hernández will head into the Mariners Hall of Fame.
The six-time AL All-Star front lined Mariner rotations since his debut in 2005 as a wide-eyed nineteen-year-old. He had a penchant for stepping up his game on the biggest stages and against the most significant competition. Hernandez flashed a five-pitch mix that kept hitters off balance, which allowed him to stay one step ahead.
Hernandez's peak was somewhat short, but there wasn't a better pitcher in the MLB during his heyday than him. He would mow down hitters on a nightly basis for the Mariners, and from 2007 to 2015, he rarely missed a start compiling at least 200 innings in eight consecutive seasons. Additionally, the Venezuelan ace won the AL Cy Young in 2010 with a wildly impressive campaign and finished in the top ten voting on five other occasions.
Most fans will probably think about the perfect game or his last game with the Mariners. There isn't a wrong choice when looking for the best "King Felix" moment because there were so many. However, I gravitate to when he stepped into the box against fellow countryman and New York Mets ace Johan Santana.
His ability to pitch put him in record books and propelled him to a spot in the Mariner Hall of Fame, but that eyes-closed homer was something else. The improbable dinger was one of many emotional moments in Hernandez's stellar career. This weekend, we'll get another one as he takes his rightful place in the Mariner Hall of Fame amidst thousands of "K" cards, the King's Court, and a sold-out T-Mobile Park. Long live the King, indeed.