Did you know that Saturday night at Safeco Field is Dustin Ackley Bat Night?
All kids 14 and under will receive a full-sized Dustin Ackley Louisville Slugger, complements of Jack Link's Beef Jerky.
Seriously, I can't make this stuff up.
Don't believe me?
Feel free to check the official 2013 promotions and special events schedule at Mariners.com.
Honestly, sometimes you need to laugh to keep from crying with this team.
However, if you've already given up all hope, feel free to simply take the bat home to smash your "Smoakamotive" (eBay) from last year to pieces with it to vent your frustration.
That's assuming you will make the journey to Safeco in the first place.
If I had to venture a guess, I'd imagine that more people in the region probably watched the NFL draft the past two days to see who the Seahawks selected in their quest for a Super Bowl than any of the Mariners' games.
Making matters worse as we approach the month of May it appears we're already potentially on course for an expansion team performance this season, according to Larry Stone at the Seattle Times.
I suppose it didn't help that beyond Monday night's offensive outburst in support of Felix Hernandez's 100th career victory and Hisashi Iwakuma's 11-strikeout performance the next night, the trip to Texas was a complete disaster as the Mariners dropped five of six games.
Whether these moves have any meaningful impact remains to be seen, yet I suppose Wedge is simply trying to work with what he has at his disposal given that the list of potential reinforcements fail inspire much confidence, according to Stone in another report filed this week:
At Tacoma, there are several players with major-league experience who are off to decent starts. The problems is that in most cases, they are players who have already had struggles at the major-league level. Now, that doesn’t mean they are doomed to have their weaknesses exploited for perpetuity. But it gives you pause.
Perhaps then, I should pause in wondering whether the demotion of Brendan Ryan in favor of Robert Andino is really just the M's way of paving a path for Brad Miller to take over in the second half?
Regardless, it just doesn't make sense to get too far ahead of yourself this season with this crew, especially when you look at the upcoming Seattle Mariners 2013 Schedule" href="http://espn.go.com/mlb/team/schedule/_/name/sea/seattle-mariners" target="_blank">May schedule (ESPN).
After finishing up this homestand against Los Angeles and Baltimore, the M's will head to Toronto and Pittsburgh, then come back to Seattle for a three-game set to face Oakland before swinging back east to play New York and Cleveland. They will finish off their road trip with two mid-week games against Los Angeles before having Texas show up at Safeco for a weekend series.
I'm feeling jet-lagged just typing that, I can only imagine how the M's will deal with it in real time.
Oddly enough though, that brutal stretch could set the tone for the remainder of the season.
Coming out of spring training, I had hoped the Mariners would avoid this level of desperation, assuming (more like, hoping) the veterans brought in this winter could help bridge the gap until the team's top prospects could be integrated into the lineup over the course of the season.
However, beyond the occasional solid pitching performance from Hernandez and Iwakuma, along with the recent hitting streak of Kyle Seager, the rest of the team has generally failed to show any sort of consistency.
With no solid options to promote, does that mean Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik get to take the fall instead if things continue to spiral downward?
As always, Dave Cameron at USS Mariner, is one step ahead of us:
If it happens, I’m not going to be against the decision, and I don’t think having an interim manager or GM would lead to impending doom. But, I don’t know that it would really help anything either.
During a season, there’s only so much an organization can really do. The Mariners made this bed when they let the front office try and build a winning team around dingers and voodoo. It has blown up in their faces in a comical way, and it’s probably going to cost the people in charge their jobs. But, I don’t know that it needs to cost them their jobs in a RIGHT NOW THIS MINUTE I DEMAND CHANGE kind of way.
I can't argue with any of that, although part of me would like to see Cameron given a shot to see if he could turn things around.
Meanwhile, I can only imagine what will be going through Dustin Ackley's mind tonight at Safeco as his teammates likely joke with him about the fact it's his bat night. Hopefully, in spite of their struggles, the players will still have a sense of humor.
Truth be told, I almost pity this team. As we saw in spring training, they seem to be a decent bunch, but bless their hearts, they can't quite get their act together.
For his sake, I hope Ackley can at least give Saturday night's crowd something to cheer about. It may not be much, but at this point, any small gesture is welcome.
To think that only two years earlier, Ackley was still struggling at Tacoma before catching fire prior to his arrival in Seattle. I remember him continuing his impressive stretch after joining the M's in what looked like the beginning of a promising career.
Deep down, I still think there's a solid ballplayer in Ackley searching to rediscover that spark, as evidenced by what we've seen the past week.
Once again though, I'd like to avoid getting too far ahead of myself and take this one step at a time.
Yet, if you're of the tender age to receive a bat on Saturday night, you may be left to wonder why the adult accompanying you struggles to find the joy that he or she once had for the game and this particular franchise.
It's not that anyone should expect the Mariners to win, it's more that a ticket to the ballpark should afford you an experience worth savoring, regardless of whatever swag/trinket the team hands you at the turnstile.
It doesn't necessarily have to be this way, but the "dingers and voodoo" approach that Cameron described, has struggled to generate wins or excitement; therefore fans are staying away.
Could things change?
Anything is possible, yet barring a minor miracle, I think this team will look very different by midsummer.
Until then, the show must go on. Just don't expect anyone to show up to watch unless a bobblehead, key chain, hat or T-shirt is involved with bonus points on night's like tonight when King Felix is pitching.
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