What Are You Looking For At The Ballpark?

Originally published May 10th, 2012

You can take two things away from this picture that I took at last Saturday’s Mariners game.  1) That I obviously need a better camera on my phone and 2) The Mariners need more fans in the stands.  It was a gorgeous night on Saturday, and Felix Hernandez looked like the pitcher that won the Cy Young award in 2010.  The offense was clicking, and the Mariners took another win from the Twins.  But where were the fans?  Tuesday’s game against last year’s Cy Young, Justin Verlander, was a tough sell too with less than 15,000 fans in the stands.   (And I’d estimate about half wearing Detroit swag.)  When Felix or Justin Verlander, or Prince Fielder’s first trip to Seattle don’t draw, you have to ask “What more do you want?” 

I get the perception that the Mariners are a “bad team”, but they aren’t.  They’ve won 4 of their last 6 and are only 3 games under .500.  It’s weird to think that they had a virtually identical record this time last year — at a glance, you would think they’re the same team.  Even last year’s runs by May 10th (131 in 2011 vs 125 in 2012) makes this team look like Groundhogs Day on paper, but some things to consider:

  • 3 of the Mariners starting 5 have ERAs over 4.00.  They’re going to get better, and if they don’t, we’ve already seen what’s waiting in the wings in Jackson.  Odds are high that we see at least one Jackson General pitching in Seattle by July.
  • The Mariners starting 1B and SS are both hitting under .200 to start the year.  Ryan’s .157 average is a long ways off of last year’s .248.  He’s bound to come around, or be replaced.  Eric Wedge has been clear from the start of the season that he expects performance.  He’s already moved Chone Figgins .188 average to the bench.  Ryan will have to produce to justify his spot in the rotation.  The same can be said for Justin Smoak.  At .173, this is Smoak’s year to produce.  Franklin Gutierrez (knock on wood) will be back in June at which time Eric Wedge will need to decide if a player like Mike Carp goes back to the Minors or moves to 1B.  And what about Michael Saunders and Casper Wells?  Where is their place with the team?  Point being, there are players that are behind the 8-ball, but the Mariners are showing improvement and heart with them performing the way they are.  Where do they go from here?
  • Dustin Ackley is not going to hit .238.  Ackley hit over .270 last year during his first half year with the big club.  Wedge is looking for Ackley’s niche, while Ackley is still searching for his swing.  Ackley is a balanced hitter that doesn’t show emotion during his ups and downs.  He’s the kind of player that will figure it out, and like with our lower lineup hitters, the Mariners are bringing it on the field with him hitting .238.
  • Seager and Montero have both been surprises in the field and at the plate.  Kyle Seager is showing exactly why he’s in the Majors.  He’s played a solid 3B and brings a quiet maturity to the plate.  He doesn’t play or look like a rookie.  It’s unlikely Seager hit’s .298 all year, he’s bound to slump, but he has the attitude to move through it.  Seager and Ackley are very similar players from a maturity standpoint.  It’s going to be really interesting to see how he develops.  After starting slow, Monetero has shown flashes of why the Mariners had tried to get him the last two years.  Montero has been a serviceable catcher.  You can see he’s still working it out with the pitchers.  But, he’s developing quickly as a hitter at the major league level.  It’s been fun to watch — so where is everybody?

That’s the big question.  Where is everybody?  What’s holding you as Mariners fans back from coming to the game?  Is it the team?  What is it about the team?  Is it the experience at the ballpark?  What is it you don’t like, what would you like to see changed?  Post your comments below and be sure to include your Twitter user name in the comments!

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