After predicting last June that the Mariners would make the playoffs, it’s time to make another prediction
I’ve done some silly things in my 35 years on earth.
I’ve sung along to Nickelback. I’ve scarfed a 7-Eleven hot dog. I’ve even purchased a fedora.
But last June I did something even sillier: I wrote a column guaranteeing the Mariners would make the playoffs.
I realize this is a bit like guaranteeing the Generals beat the Globetrotters, but I was confident. The M’s were two games out of the wild card, had just gotten Felix Hernandez back, and were expecting Hisashi Iwakuma and Drew Smyly to return to the rotation shortly.
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Throw in the fact Mike Zunino was playing in another dimension, Ben Gamel was leading the AL in batting, and the bullpen had gone from awful to awesome — and the end of the 15-year postseason drought seemed inevitable.
Well, the Mariners ended up losing seven of their next nine games — including two out of two to the Phillies, owners of the worst record in Major League Baseball. They also announced that Smyly would be undergoing Tommy John surgery two days after the column ran.
A week later, Iwakuma suffered a “setback” that would eventually end his season, and the wild-card gap tripled in size.
M’s fans emailed and tweeted me in disgust, accusing me of jinxing their team. Others gave me a welcome-to-Seattle chuckle, essentially greeting me as the newest member of the “We’ve Been Wrong about the Mariners, Too” club.
I didn’t retract the prediction, though. I was gonna stick this thing out. And then — bam. The M’s won their first four games after the All-Star break, and five straight overall. They won their final three games in July and their first one in August.
By Aug. 9, they had the second wild-card spot. By Aug. 15 … they had dropped five in a row.
This became the maddening theme of the second half of the season, as the Mariners revealed their .500 addiction. Every surge was followed by a plunge — every dip followed by a spike.
In one sense, it was admirable that Seattle was able to tread water amid all its injuries. It lost James Paxton and Hernandez from early August to mid-September, yet maintained relevance with its piecemeal pitching staff.
By Sept. 14, they’d strung together three consecutive victories to improve to 74-73 and climb to 3½ games of the Twins for the final…