The House that Jack…Is Building

By Stephen George

Whilst the incidence of Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees merchandise appears to increase each year, I often wonder how many of those stem from the generosity of relatives or friends that visit the north east of the United States in the northern summer leading up to our Christmas.

Irrespective, in a sports mad country such as Australia there must be a significant number of MLB fans in Australia that either genuinely support the Sox or Yankees or one of the other 28 franchises.

I proudly follow one of the remaining 28, the Seattle Mariners.

Since its inception in 1977, the Mariners have not won the World Series, have had some team and individual highlights but unfortunately, had an embarrassing team lowlight in the 2008 season.

Despite winning five out of six games in the last month of the regular season in 2008, they became the first franchise team in baseball history to lose 100 games in a season where payroll exceeded $100 million: not something to be proud of obviously.

It gives further support to the adage that money does not always buy success (GC17 take note).

At the other end of the spectrum: 2001 saw the Mariners tie the baseball regular season record of 116 wins out of 162 games. 2001 was the last of Seattle’s four post season appearances.

In addition to this small amount of team success, one individual’s performances have been a constant since he arrived from Japan in 2001: Ichiro Suzuki or simply Ichiro to the MLB aficionados.

Prior to 2010, Ichiro and a young pitcher named ‘King’ Felix Hernandez have been the two individuals on which Seattle have looked to for success now and into the future.

For the Mariners they would hopefully become the equivalent of Lillee and Marsh, Greenidge and Haynes, Brereton and Dunstall, Carey and well, Carey!

After the 2008 debacle, decisions that were to change Seattle’s immediate fortunes were made. Jack Zduriencik, considered by many experts as a master at drafting and developing baseball players, was announced as the Mariners new General Manager.

So began the beginning of what all Seattle fans hope is a new and successful era.

The ‘clean out’ began in earnest with a number of players from 2008 being ‘moved on’ and new players contracted as the first step in the franchise’s re-building process.

Further, in a move seen by many Mariners as a sentimental one, as many experts considered his best beyond him and announced his career over, the prodigal son in Ken Griffey Jnr returned to Safeco Field at the age of 39.

The team result for the 2009 season: 85 wins and 77 losses. A significant improvement on 61 wins, 101 losses in 2008. A couple of individual performances worth noting: Ichiro breaks the record for the most consecutive seasons of 200+ hits with nine and ‘King’ Felix comes second in the Cy Young award (equivalent of the Brownlow) at the ripe old age of 23.

Bring on stage two of the refurbishment!

Between October 2009 and March 2010, Seattle got down to business with trades and signings that have many pundits convinced that the recruiting of the Mariners in the off-season will have many teams looking over their collective shoulders.

The highlights of the off-season have been the signings of 2008 Cy Young winner Cliff Lee from Philadelphia, Chone Figgins from division rival Los Angeles Angels and outfielder Milton Bradley from the Cubs. In addition, the Mariners have signed ‘King Felix’ to a five year contract extension and convinced arguably Seattle’s favourite son, Griffey Jnr, to sign for another year.

All of a sudden, the experts in MLB world are talking extremely positively about the strong foundations being built in the ‘Emerald City’.

Despite these moves, the building is far from finished though.

If the progress made in 2009 continues in 2010 then Mariners supporters worldwide can proudly (and genuinely) wear their caps, tops and other merchandise knowing that the man simply referred to as Jack is building something special in the north west.

Who knows, one day the Mariners could be spoken about in the same breath as some of Seattle’s other famous products: Jimi Hendrix, Pearl Jam, Bruce Lee, Starbucks, Boeing and another little-known organisation called Amazon.

The Yankees have ‘the house that Ruth built’. The Mariners may one day play in ‘the house that Jack built’.

All dreams start somewhere…

About Stephen George

I am an avid sports fan who admires anyone who can play or participate in sport at pretty much any level. My favourite sports are AFL, soccer, Major League Baseball, Rugby League and NFL. I have recently finished my Diploma in Sports Journalism and I am interested in improving my skills by contributing to the Footy Almanac

Comments

  1. Tim Ivins says:

    I have everything crossed for you Stephen, you have every right to dream but I dare say that’s where it may stay this year. The acquisition of Lee is brilliant but his projected wins over replacement would be quite small given Washburn’s stellar performance with you. The best outcome is that you can sign him to a long term contract.

    I think the Figgins move is brilliant and if Bradley performs on field and is smart off it well dreams may come true. The questions though remain, behind Lee and King Felix, is your rotation deep enough? It’s going to be a tight race in the AL West, the off field chemistry is supposedly amazing, I guess we’ll know soon if it will translate to success on the field.

  2. Stephen George says:

    Thanks Tim. As suggested, the building is far from finished yet but Jack is a very shrewd man.

    In terms of rotation, I am a big wrap on Ryan Rowland-Smith who will be our 3rd starter at the start of the season. Saw him live a couple of years back and he impressed. Our 4th and 5th starters are up in the air and I am guessing the team is hoping that Bedard can get back to something close to his best as he is a quality pitcher and his numbers were quite good last season when he did pitch.

    One thing we do have is quality defence (best in AL last season) and this year we have depth in a number of positions.

    The future looks bright…

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