When the average baseball fan thinks about the Seattle Mariners, they have to remember two key points in history; the magical 1995 season and the record-setting 116 wins in 2001. But since then, not much has happened in the sleepless city that is Seattle. For years the Mariners have been losing, not just on the field but also in the stands.
The frustration has mounted in Seattle and fans don't come to the ballpark because of it. Every city wants to win, that goes without saying, but in Seattle if they don't win NOW the stands are empty. We have seen a glimpse or two of greatness with this team but overall it has been a bust.
One thing has been a constant in Seattle and that is starting pitcher Felix Hernandez. He has stayed true to this team through many losing seasons and all he's done is win a Cy Young and continued to be on top of the innings-pitched and strikeout categories in all of Major League Baseball.
It is no secret that Felix has been the face of the franchise since he's arrival in the Emerald City, and he has not disappointed. Getting the ball in his hand every fifth day, Felix continues to excite the crowd with his electric fastball and infectious personality. Felix not only has the power on the mound, he also has the power to revive baseball in a city that has all but fallen off the face of the earth.
On August 15th, 2012 Felix "The King" Hernandez threw the 23rd perfect game in Major League history and only about 20,000 were there to witness the feat. With that being said, 20,000 people in Safeco field is a number the Mariners would take in recent years as the attendance has been very low since the team hasn't been winning.
Five days following the perfecto, the Mariners ran a promotion to commemorate the perfection that is King Felix and about 40,000 came out to the field to tip their caps to him. This shows one thing, the fans in Seattle understand baseball and understand greatness.
The Mariners are the hottest team in baseball right now, riding an 8-game win streak that includes back-to-back series sweeps and leaves them just three games under .500 and 7.5 games back in the wild card standings. Obviously Felix hasn't pitched every single one of these games, so the other guys around him are getting it done as well.
What 40,000 people saw the other night in Safeco Field was a young, talented and very capable Seattle Mariners team starting to break through to a threshold that has been holding them back over the past seasons. The fans are starting to see why patience is sometimes a virtue in the game of baseball and that the future is mighty bright in an organization that desperately wants to get back on the winning track.
Seattle manger Eric Wedge has sounded like a broken record over the past couple of seasons, saying that patience and hard work is needed both by the organization and the fans that surround it. Wedge has never swayed from his belief that this team and organization is headed in the right direction, but complete makeovers don't happen overnight.
With young talent all over this organization both in the big leagues as well as in the farm system, this team is poised to make a run in the upcoming years. If you were to ask Mariners fans two months ago that their team would be three games under .500 and within eye-sight of the wild card, they would probably laugh at you. Now, will they make the playoffs in 2012 as the wild card? It's at least a possibility.
With players such as Michael Saunders, Kyle Seager and Dustin Ackley in the show, and others such as Danny Hultzen, James Paxton and Mike Zunino working their way through the system, this team could explode on the scene as early as next year and in the years to come.
All of these players will mix with King Felix and the rest of the club to form what could be the next powerhouse in the American League West.
What Felix Hernandez did on the mound when he threw that perfect game was much more than make baseball history. He made the fans come to the yard five days later, and the club backed him up. Felix made those people come out to show appreciation and give congratulations to him, but they also saw firsthand that this team is coming.
With that, expect attendance in Seattle to climb the rest of the season and not just on the days Felix is on the mound.
This city has seen the excitement and is starting to feel that championship baseball is on its way back to town.
All hail King Felix!