By Jim Moore
I took some justifiable criticism on the text toy Thursday from a listener who’s sick of me and my outrageous predictions.
Such as thinking the Seahawks have a shot at going 19-0 when they have five 10 a.m. games and a stretch in which they play four games out of five on the road.
Such as thinking the Mariners will hit 200 home runs this year. After going homerless during the Tigers series, they’re on a pace for 153 for the season.
I’m sure there are other examples, but let’s just stop there and get to the point if I have one.
I went to Thursday’s Mariners-Tigers game with my 8-year-olds. Yanked them out of their third-grade class at 11:30 to take them to Safeco Field. They were excited until the game started.
“Hey, dad, this looks like a crowd at a Cougar basketball game,” Stevie said.
The Mariners are 5-10 in their last 15 games after losing two of three to the Tigers. (AP)
The crowd got bigger, but it topped out at 15,742, continuing an early-season trend of empty seats at the ballpark.
For me, it was a great game. The Mariners beat Justin Verlander, the Cy Young Award winner, 2-0. That’s fantastic stuff. He struck out 12, but the Mariners still scratched out nine hits and cobbled three in a row in the seventh inning with two outs to score their two runs.
My kids were on their feet, clapping and cheering when Robert Andino, Kyle Seager and Endy Chavez went back-to-back-to-back with hits. But for the most part of the nearly three-hour game, they were bored. My kids – maybe other kids, too – need more action to keep their short attention spans engaged.
I don’t know if attracting new fans will be a problem for baseball in the future, but it was pretty telling when my kids told me that night that they’d rather go to a lingerie football game than a Mariners game.
Regrettably, I get it. After opening the season with two wins over the A’s, the Mariners have gone 5-10 since, going 4-6 on the just-completed homestand.
Injuries to Michael Saunders, Michael Morse and Steven Pryor haven’t helped. But the Mariners still look like a feeble outfit in the batter’s box. We were led to believe that they would be dramatically improved with the additions of Morse and Kendrys Morales.
The thinking went something like this: Not only would Morse and Morales deliver – and they have – but their presence in the lineup would help the Mariners’ younger hitters – and it hasn’t.
Just like last year when it was John Jaso, another backup catcher, Kelly Shoppach, is the Mariners’ best hitter thus far with a .381 average.
Dustin Ackley looks like he might be snapping out of it with three hits in the past two games, raising his average to .154. But Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero are still sputtering around the Mendoza line.
Even the older newcomers – Raul Ibanez and Jason Bay – are struggling, hitting .195 and .194. ESPN’s Keith Law might have been right after all when he told us that “Jason Bay stinks.” If Casper Wells turns into a star in Toronto, you know this team is truly snakebit.
Manager Eric Wedge continues to tell us that he’s confident his team will hit. But does anyone believe him? I want to believe him, but it’s hard to forget three years of futility and expect it to magically happen this year.
Actually, let me take that back, I did expect it to magically happen with the prediction of 200 home runs and thinking the Mariners would go 85-77. Maybe both things will happen, but right now, skepticism has a healthy lead over optimism.
I want to believe that the Mariners are good enough to take two of three this weekend in Texas and sweep the three-gamer from Houston next week. They could go 5-1 on the trip, but 2-4 is more likely.
I don’t want to think they’re the same old Mariners. But ask my kids – so far, it’s hard not to think that they are.