Ups and downs all season long
Man what a season the Mariners had in 2012. For a last place team, there sure were some fireworks surrounding this club.
A little bit of magic, a fond farewell, and a trip to the land of the rising sun all to start it off.
This season will surely go down as one of the most memorable seasons in Mariners history, regardless of how their record was at the end of it.
Without anymore fanfare, I give you my top 10!
#10: The trip to Japan
With a the 25 man roster consisting of 3 Japanese players at the start of the season, it was only fitting that the M’s led off the 2012 MLB season with half of their 4 game series against the Oakland A’s in Japan.
Nothing quite like seeing the fans mob Ichiro like they do in his native land.
Just one more thing to add to the list of memorable moments that the one and only Ichiro Suzuki had with Seattle.
#9: The Guti saga
Once again the Mariners were without star center fielder Franklin Gutierrez for much of the season.
Freak accidents have become the norm for this guy over the last two years, but one good thing that did come from it, was the emergence finally from young outfielder Michael Saunders.
All of the young guys did their part with Guti down, but Saunders proved that the M’s were right for sticking with him.
The first of three no-hitters, and two perfect games to be played at Safeco Field in 2012 was one that the Mariners would like to forget.
An early season game against the Chicago White Sox, the M’s just couldn’t muster anything against Phillip Humber, not even a single baserunner.
That’s okay though, we would have a little perfection of our own later down the road.
#7: Mid-season heroics
Coming out of the all-star break, the M’s went on quite a little tear with their American League foes.
For a little over a month, the M’s could do no wrong, and even had their names in the Wild Card hunt as they flirted with .500.
It wasn’t to be, but boy it sure felt like ’95 all over again for a few weeks.
#6: Say hello to the future
With the first selection in this years draft, second overall, the M’s went with power hitting catcher Mike Zunino out of the University of Florida.
Zunino seemed to already be fast tracked in 2012, after barely spending a month in single A Everett before making the jump up to AA.
I expect him to make a serious push for opening day starter at the 2 spot this year, but I’d bet money that he gets that spot in Tacoma for a few months first.
#5: Back to back
Another rarity for last place clubs is one of their own winning any sort of Player of the Month award.
This season though, the M’s had two such awards come home to Seattle.
For July, Jason Vargas was named the A.L. Pitcher of the Month. Not to be outdone as the ace of the staff, Felix Hernandez doubled up for the M’s and won the award for August.
Not too shabby of a one-two punch, but management did try their best to break it up, as Vargas was put on trade waivers near the end of the season, though he was never dealt.
#4: No-no-no-no-no-no hitter
During inter-league play, the best team in baseball at the time, the Los Angeles Dodgers came to town for a three game set.
Obviously they weren’t thinking too much of this trip when they showed up in Seattle, as 6 Mariners, led by Kevin Millwood, no-hit them.
A combined no-hitter is even more special than one by one pitcher, as each pitcher has to emulate the same intensity as the previous pitcher, and keep the no-no intact.
#3: We are getting better
Even a 5 game swing is something to cheer about with this ball club.
Entering into the second decade of our rebuild, Jack Z finally has something to show for all of the hard work he has done in cleaning up the mess left with the previous coaching staff and GM.
#2: Perfection again
What can you say about Felix Hernandez that hasn’t already be said.
Oh yeah, he’s now the owner of a perfect game pitched.
There was only one other moment in my lifetime that I was so proud of my Mariners as when Felix recorded that final out, when I was at game 6 of the series against Cleveland in ’95.
Yeah we lost, but for a team that wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place, especially after the comeback win against the Yankees, it is tops in my book.
#1: Saying goodbye to a legend
Ichiro was a staple in right field at Safeco Field for over a decade.
Those years were mostly insignificant to the baseball world, but what he brought to Seattle was our first bonafide superstar since the likes of Ken Griffey Jr.
No one will ever play the game at the level, intensity, and skill that Ichiro did.
It’s funny, I speak of him like he has retired or something.
Yes, Ichiro deserves a ring just like Junior did. And yes, he was aging faster than he would have liked to admit, and yes, the M’s were right to trade him.
I hope him the best, even if it means I have to root for the Yankees if they make it to the World Series.
Just think, his absence opens up a spot for one of Jack Z’s prodigal youngsters for next year!
Sleep well M’s fans, for spring time will be here soon enough, and a new attitude will follow I think.