After two-plus weeks of watching the Seattle Mariners slowly work out the kinks in ballgames that count, I was tempted to mix things up a bit.
It's hard not to get a bit nostalgic and think back to happier times while watching the current lineup struggle, so I figured it might be fun to piece together an all-time Mariners dream team of sorts.
What would be the starting lineup for my ideal Mariners team?
A solid combination of power and speed, not to mention a little finesse.
Some choices, as you will see, are pretty obvious, but one or two might surprise you.
So if you are like me and happen to be in the mood for a quick diversion, feel free to take a look and judge for yourself if this is the lineup of your dreams.
Leading off I'd probably say it's safe to say that Ichiro is the best option.
It's strange to think that Ichiro has been gone a little less than a year, but in the same breath doesn't it feel like he's been gone for ages now?
Knowing that he's playing in New York with the Yankees right now could be part of that feeling, yet what can't be denied is how great Ichiro truly was with the Mariners over the course of the past decade.
Ichiro could hurt you in so many ways, but my personal favorite was watching him leg out infield hits either off of a bunt or a chopper that some poor infielder struggled to chase with the hope of gunning him out at first.
Batting second, I'm going with a sentimental favorite of mine, second baseman Harold Reynolds.
Maybe you prefer Bret Boone here, but in his prime, Reynolds could steal at least 25 bases a season and hitting behind Ichiro in this dream scenario might have boosted his average a bit.
Seriously though if Dustin Ackley ever lives up to his potential, this spot could easily be his in a half dozen years.
Until that time I'm sticking with my choice.
Yeah, I know.
With each passing year the idea of considering Alex Rodriguez a Mariner becomes all the more ridiculous. For a minute I thought about including Omar Vizquel instead, but how can you exclude A-Rod from this lineup?
If you can get past the awkward baggage of his departure and everything that's happened in the years since then, you may remember that Alex Rodriguez was a force of nature while in Seattle.
From the very beginning A-Rod showed the potential to be an all-time great and based on that small sample size I feel compelled to include him at shortstop and bat him in the No. 3 spot.
Deep down I still loathe him, but this lineup needs him.
To a lot of baseball fans, the Seattle Mariners begin and end with Junior.
The No. 1 pick in the 1987 Amateur Draft changed the destiny of a franchise and became arguably the face of the entire game in the process while playing for Seattle.
With arguably the sweetest swing ever and a megawatt smile, Ken Griffey Jr., over the course of a decade with the M's, was a superhero to both kids and adults alike.
Who else would you consider in the cleanup spot other than Junior?
Edgar at DH, done.
In many ways it's a shame that Edgar Martinez was only a designated hitter for the majority of his career simply because his contributions to the game will likely go ignored outside the Pacific Northwest.
Yet perhaps more than anyone on this roster, Edgar was there.
He was there when this franchise was a joke.
He was there when they finally turned it around, at times willing the M's to victory all by himself.
He was there after just about everyone else left.
It's because he was there while playing as a professional that it became easy to take what he did for granted year after year.
But to fans who know, Edgar was perhaps the greatest Mariner of all.
As we continue our trip down memory lane, it's easy to forget that Jay Buhner needed a few years in Seattle to get settled after arriving in 1988 via a trade with the Yankees for Ken Phelps.
However once he did, he became one of the most popular players to ever wear a Mariners uniform and the punchline to arguably one of the funniest scenes on the TV show Seinfeld.
Who could forget the famous Seinfeld episode where Frank Costanza berats George Steinbrenner upon learning the news of George's death, "What the hell did you trade Jay Buhner for?! He had 30 home runs, over 100 RBIs last year! He's got a rocket for an arm.... You don't know what the hell you're doing!"
Clearly Steinbrenner and the Yankees didn't.
Before Junior, Bone, Edgar, and A-Rod, there was Mr. Mariner, Alvin Davis.
In the seven seasons before Davis burst on the scene in 1984, the Mariners were an expansion team best known for having Gaylord Perry in uniform to get his 300th win.
In '84 Davis won the AL Rookie of the Year award, the first in franchise history and later became the first Mariner enshrined in the team Hall of Fame in 1997.
To this day I still think it's a shame that Davis was born a decade too soon, because it would have been something else to see him in his prime playing alongside the majority of the lineup here.
I must confess, third base is a bit of a black hole for the M's historically.
You could argue that Jim Presley had a few solid years in the mid-eighties and that Mike Blowers as a player only had one or two solid years with the Mariners.
If I really wanted to be clever I'd move A-Rod to third base and sneak Omar Vizquel into this lineup, but based on his work in the booth for the club and in being inventor of "Rally Fries" (via Wikipedia) at Safeco, I'm inclined to give Blowers the nod here.
Honestly though if Kyle Seager can piece together a half dozen seasons on par with last year, he could very well take over this spot by the end of the decade.
Finally batting ninth, catcher Dan Wilson.
Once again, who else would you choose instead?
Besides my wife would probably disown me or at least refuse to speak to me for a day or two if I even hinted at suggesting anyone else.
Maybe Jesus Montero or perhaps Mike Zunino will take over this spot some day, but for now and probably for the next several years this position is owned by Wilson.
On to the starting rotation with the Big Unit at No. 1.
While it was tempting to bump up Felix to this spot, I feel compelled to give Randy Johnson the nod given his body of work.
Think of all the clutch moments and big games the Big Unit pitched for the M's, not to mention throughout the remainder of his career.
If the season came down to one game, with one pitcher, I'm going to elect to go with Johnson.
Some day King Felix may reign supreme here, but for today he's No. 2.
Honestly, there is no shame in that given Felix Hernandez may still have quite a few years ahead of him.
Fortunately, those years will be in Seattle wearing a Mariner uniform.
By extending his deal through the remainder of the decade, Felix may become the greatest Mariner of all time if he can continue to work his magic.
Time will tell, but here's hoping he gives Randy Johnson a run for the top spot before all is said and done.
When Jamie Moyer arrived in Seattle mid-season in 1996, he already had a decade of service time in the major leagues under his belt having played with seven teams.
What happened next still amazes me.
Moyer over the next decade in Seattle basically became the franchise's all-time leader in starts, wins and innings pitched while compiling a record of 145-87 with an ERA of 3.97.
After 11 years in Seattle, Moyer was traded to the Philadelphia in 2006, won a World Series with the Phillies in 2008 and was still pitching last season.
While it may seem that Moyer at age 50 is done, given the current state of the team's rotation, it might be tempting to see if the old man would be interested.
At the No. 4 spot in the rotation, I'm going with another lefty, Mark Langston.
Crazy to think that it's been almost 25 years since Langston was traded to Montreal for a young pitcher named Randy Johnson.
Once upon a time, Langston was so good that the Expos traded for him in a push for the postseason and included the Big Unit as part of a package to the M's.
The move backfired as the Expos missed making the postseason finishing 4th in the NL East, Langston signed with the Angels over the winter, and Randy Johnson went on to become the No. 1 pitcher in this dream rotation.
For a minute, I was tempted to put Taijuan Walker here as a future consideration, but quickly came to my senses in selecting Freddy Garcia. After all I really don't want to jinx anything.
Meanwhile for a few years time, the right hander was arguably the M's best pitcher having come to the team from the Houston Astros in exchange for Randy Johnson back in 1998.
Finally, if I really wanted to get cute, I suppose I could move Garcia up to the No. 4 spot so the dream rotation could go lefty, righty, lefty, righty, lefty, but for today I will leave him at No. 5 behind Mark Langston.
In terms of the bullpen, with the exception of closers like Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman, most relievers tend to have a fairly short shelf-life.
Throughout the course of time the M's have had a few decent relievers, such as Jeff Nelson, Arthur Rhodes, and Norm Charlton to name a few, but if given a choice Kaz Sasaki would be my closer.
Sasaki, like quite a few players here, made a name for himself at a very important time for the Mariners, after arriving in Seattle back in 2000.
Over the course of four seasons with the M's, Sasaki averaged over 30 saves a year while winning Rookie of the Year his first season and making the AL All-Star team the two seasons after.
Not bad, but before you knew it, Sasaki was back in Japan pitching for the Yokohama BayStars.
Such is life with the Mariners, as fame, with the exception of a rare few special players, is truly fleeting.
Could anyone in the current lineup or in the team's farm system some replace anyone on this list?
If you ask me, most of the infield is up for grabs, but whether the likes of Dustin Ackley or Kyle Seager ever emerge as stars remains to be seen. There's also a spot or two in the starting rotation that could be snagged by perhaps a Taijuan Walker or Danny Hultzen some day.
Finally there's a shot that Mike Zunino could grab the catching spot over the course of the next decade if he can continue to build upon his impressive start since joining the organization last summer.
Of course in this household, Dan Wilson always has and forever will be the Mariners best catcher.