“You never get a second chance to make a first impression.”—Andrew Grant
You heard about their 2014 season, when they finished just one game out of a wild card spot and had a record of 87-75. You were told they would be even better this year, picked by Sports Illustrated and Fangraphs to win the AL West and by many other national publications to compete for a playoff spot. You had high hopes. You were looking forward to getting to know them and dreamed about enjoying a great summer together and maybe even an exciting fall.
Then the season started and they weren’t at all what you thought they’d be. Things got off on the wrong foot. They were like that first date who shows up late, constantly looks at their cell phone and saying cringe-worthy things that make you reconsider the whole thing.
The Mariners went 10-12 in April. They followed that up with a thoroughly mediocre record of 14-14 in May. They bottomed out in June, when they went 11-16 and scored an average of just 2.7 runs/game. At the end of June, the Mariners were 35-42 and 9 ½ games out of first in their division. The 2015 honeymoon was long over. Your hopes had been dashed and you were ready to move on. When would football season start?
Then the Mariners started to play better, like that ex that you dump who turns their life around and becomes much more desirable after you’ve said goodbye. It started slowly, with a 12-15 mark in July. Even with a losing record, though, there was potential because they suddenly started scoring more runs. After sitting near the bottom of baseball in scoring through the season’s first three months with an average of 3.4 runs per game, the Mariners averaged 4.4 runs per game in July. In August, they averaged 4.8 runs per game and went 14-14. They’ve been even better in September, going 10-5 with an average of 5.4 runs per game. Suddenly, they were attractive again. They had lost some dead weight and made some improvements. Now they are wondering if you’ve noticed.
With a little more than two weeks left in the season, the Mariners have become respectable. They are still five games under .500, but they’ve quietly improved and aren’t as bad as many people think. They are six games out of a wild card spot and play three games against the team currently holding that second wild card spot, the Houston Astros. Those games are at Safeco Field and Houston has been terrible on the road, so the Mariners could creep closer to the playoffs with a three game sweep. Of course, there are four teams ahead of the Mariners who are also trying to catch the Astros, and the Mariners only play one of those teams, the Los Angeles Angels, so they would need a ton of help to make the playoffs. I don’t expect them to actually do that, but they’ll finish much closer to contention than it looked like they would at the end of July.
The Mariners have improved. Since August 25th, they are 14 and 8 and have outscored their opponents, 114 runs to 79. They’ve been scoring more runs and winning more games. They feel bad about the way the season started, but they’ve put the past behind them and are hoping they can one day be the team you want them to be.