The Seattle Mariners seem destined to finish in the basement of the American League West. But teams in baseball tend to turn around quickly. Just ask the Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Oakland Athletics and Washington Nationals. And for the sake of the franchise, they had better turn things around and win a pennant soon or they will waste the career of Felix Hernandez like they did with previous superstars.
The Mariners have had a reputation of being the baseball equivalent of Siberia. They are the most remote of all the franchises. Oakland is the next closest big league city and they are 800 miles away.
And considering that Washington D.C. hosted the 1924, 1925 and 1933 World Series when they were the home of the Senators, Seattle remains the only current major league city to never see a World Series.
Three times the Mariners got as far as the ALCS but never won that elusive pennant.
And despite the lack of success and the remote location, some of the most recognizable and dynamic figures in the last 20 years of baseball called Seattle home.
Ken Griffey Jr. is one of the greatest talents of all time whose time in Seattle was nothing short of electric.
Randy Johnson could have been the most intimidating and fearsome pitcher of all time who dominated during the steroid era.
Alex Rodriguez first exploded onto the scene as the Mariners dynamic MVP-caliber shortstop.
Will the Mariners win with Felix Hernandez?
And of course Ichiro Suzuki made the Mariners an international phenomenon with his game-changing play and super cool persona.
They all overcame the remote location and the lack of World Series exposure to become some of the most recognizable and exciting players in the game.
And somehow all of these Hall of Fame caliber players spent years in the Pacific Northwest pennantless.
The 1997 Mariners had Griffey, A-Rod and the Big Unit, along with Edgar Martinez, Jay Buhner and Jamie Moyer. And that group won a single playoff game.
Each of the players ended their time in Seattle with a little bit of frustration thinking of what might have been.
Well, now another unique talent has fallen into the laps of Seattle. Felix Hernandez is already a Cy Young Award winner and may very well win another before long. He is one of the truly dynamic pitchers in the game.
He is a difference maker who can shut down any lineup and make the Mariners favorites in any game he pitches. He is currently signed through 2014 and has said he wants to stay in Seattle. But if he has a few more years of no run support, then that could all change.
The Mariners can not afford to let a unique talent come and go without a World Series appearance. They already have had four “once in a lifetime” talents come and go. They need to put a pennant winner around King Felix.
Give Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik credit for trading for top prospects like Justin Smoak and Jesus Montero to build up a solid lineup. It may not have worked out so far, but the effort is there.
The Mariners should build this team the way the Giants pieced their team around Tim Lincecum: Build the pitching staff and create a lineup that scores just enough to get by.
The Giants were a team that, like the Mariners, let many once in a lifetime talents come and go without a title in San Francisco. Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Orlando Cepeda, Gaylord Perry and Barry Bonds all could not deliver a title to the Bay.
Now that weight is relieved with Lincecum. There are no “what if's” anymore by China Basin.
The Mariners need to do the same. Too many great talents have worn their uniform. They need to deliver a World Series to the king.