No matter that orbital mechanics and the calendar determine the transition from Winter, it’s not by-God Spring in the US until Opening Day. For baseball fans whose teams didn’t make the playoffs last year, it’s been a long six months enlivened only by activity in the hot stove league. Now, it’s time for the Boys of Summer to play ball.
As MLB has been wont to do the last several years, the season unofficially opened oversees. This year it was the Dodgers and the Diamondbacks playing a series in Sydney, Australia starting 22 March. How MLB determines the exhibition teams is somewhat opaque, unless they figured that Australians might be interested in a team named for a venomous reptile.
I follow the Seattle Mariners, although that’s been a tough job for a while. The Mariners added a big stick with the signing of 2nd baseman Robinson Cano, and he’s also expected to shore up a defense that was porous at times last year. Mariner pitching features the 1 – 2 punch of Felix Hernandez (12 – 10 3.04 ERA 216 K) and Hisashi Iwakuma (14 – 6 2.68 ERA 185 K). Unfortunately for the team, Iwakuma is on the 15 day DL with a finger injury.
Las Vegas projects the Mariners winning around 80 games this year, which would be an improvement over last season, but still no better than 4th in the AL West, which is where they finished last year. As of this writing, the Mariners are a 1/2 game ahead of Texas, which given the history between those teams, may be the largest lead of the year.
It’s been 11 years since the Mariners reliably posted winning records, and there have been only two successful campaigns since then, with the most recent coming in 2009. It’s going to be interesting, and hopefully fun, to see how this team gels in the next couple of months. I’d be happy to see a .500 year.