The last weekend in September marked the last series for the 2013 Seattle Mariners season. The M’s capped off fourth place in the AL West with a final loss against the Oakland Athletics, 9-0, ending the season with a record of 71-91. Sigh.
I’m not going to focus on how the Mariners had more losses than wins, or how this is the 12th season in a row without a postseason appearance, or how that glimmer of hope in July that seemed so long ago fell flat after the All-Star break with that losing streak and the only thing truly exciting to see at Safeco for the rest of the summer was Ken Griffey Jr.’s induction into the Mariners’ Hall of Fame. But as I wrote a few weeks ago, it could’ve been worse.
Since 2001, it’s been the same song and dance each October: look forward to April and hope that the front office can build on the young talent they already have. But April 2014 is six months away and there’s still some baseball to enjoy with the playoffs (go Pirates). But before closing the book on the Mariners in 2013, here are some big picture things I’d like to see for the Mariners in 2014.
1. See the Mariners Win the Pennant
I know this seems really, really far away, maybe unattainable at the rate the M’s are going. Out of the 30 current MLB teams, only the Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals have never won a pennant and taken a trip to the World Series. In fact, the Mariners have become the butt of jokes even in mainstream media as playoff contenders. In one of my favorite shows, “How I Met Your Mother,” Marshall Eriksen says inviting an ex to your wedding is like inviting the Seattle Mariners to a World Series game – it’s weird for everyone. Burn, but sadly true.
But I have hope! The Oakland Athletics sure turned things around fast, so it’s not too far-fetched for the Mariners to become World Series Champions – someday, even if not in 2014, at least in my lifetime?
As J.P. in the movie “Angels in the Outfield” says with child-like innocence, “It could happen!”
2. The First Mariners Player in Cooperstown: Edgar Martinez
I don’t have to explain to Mariners fans how beloved Edgar Martinez is and why he is deserving of such an honor. The man has a street named after him, south of Safeco Field, after all. Retired after the 2004 season, Martinez has been eligible for the Hall of Fame since 2010, but that 75% vote eludes him and the majority of baseball writers (BBWAA) refuse to recognize his talents. He has gone 0-4 on the ballot with a peak of only 36.5% in 2012. As long as he is named on at least five percent of ballots each year, he can remain on the ballot for at least 15 years. In 2013, no one made the cut because of the sullied names eligible that year (e.g., Barry Bonds), so 2014 is due for some hero-worship – the anti-Bonds; Edgar fits that bill.
I could write a whole essay on why Edgar Martinez needs to be and should be in Cooperstown, but in staying relevant to the 2013 season, I’ll bring up one point about another iconic DH in the Boston Red Sox franchise who retired after this season: David Ortiz. He played the majority of his career at DH and if baseball fans think “Big Papi” should be in the Hall, then the player who is the namesake of the Outstanding Designated Hitter Award needs to go first!
3. Better Relief Pitching
It would be easy to nit-pick and find some weakness at each position or facet of the organization. But the one big problem that needs to be fixed or addressed in the offseason: relief pitching. Close leads by the Mariners collapsed countless times going into the later innings because of bad relief pitching. Set-up pitchers, closers – didn’t matter because Mariners pitchers were consistent in their inconsistency in the seventh, eighth and ninth innings. For example, how many times did I watch Hisashi Iwakuma’s brilliance on the mound, only to watch him get a no-decision because his relievers blew yet another save opportunity?
It’s true that the Mariners have a lot of work to do in the offseason, on and off the field. But again I stress to my fellow M’s fans, stay positive and have hope! “It could happen!”