You have to wonder how they do it, those Mariners. Not how they lose, per se, because when you’re counting on the likes of Richie Sexson and Carlos Silva you have to sort of see it coming despite what the experts thought would happen this year.
Rather, you have to wonder how exactly the Mariners fail to win, or at least how they have failed to win despite twice replacing the best player in baseball with the new best player in baseball – Ken Griffey, Jr. became Alex Rodriguez became Ichiro Suzuki. They’ve played in a horrible division since the post-strike realignment, and yet all they have to show for it are a few divisional titles, some horrific postseason letdowns and, after winning 116 games in 2001, the harshest reminder imaginable of how little regular-season wins mean in baseball.
Still, you have to chuckle a little when you see that while the Mariners team has never won much of anything, a number of esteemed Mariners players have actually won everything. Randy Johnson 2001; Freddy Garcia and Scott Podsednik 2005; John Olerud and Pat Borders, both 1992 and 1993; Scott Spiezio 2002 and 2006; even Lou Piniella, who managed the M’s through the closest thing they ever had to golden years, made it to the top of the mountain both as a player in 1977 and 1978 and again as a manager in 1990.
Still, this all ignores the larger, harsher question, and one the good people of Jet City probably ask themselves daily. If their players are obviously capable, as are their managers, and they play in one of the finest parks in the sport, but they’re going to ultimately turn out lousy even when they’re great, why do the Mariners even bother to exist?