As the season continues to slip into nothingness for the Seattle Mariners, the fans are left to ponder what has become of their team.
Honestly, what gives?
The 2010 season had promise. General manager Jack Zduriencik made moves to acquire some big names like Chone Figgins, while dumping wasted cap space in trades such as the one that sent Carlos Silva to the Cubs for Milton Bradley.
Aside from all the offseason moves, the M's actually had a decent 2009 season. Rookie manager Don Wakamatsu impressed a lot of people, and no one doubted that 2010 would have Seattle improving on their 85 wins from last year.
A clubhouse nap, some emotional problems, and the lack of an offense have all contributed to the Mariners yet again falling considerably short of the season's expectations.
At 16-28 and 8.5 games back in the AL West, the season looks lost. While things continue to spiral downward for the M's, a disturbing trend caught my attention.
The Mariners as a franchise have a tendency of signing players who appear to have promise, but then when they show up in Seattle, their production drops. For examples, see Rich Aurilia, Randy Winn, Jeff Weaver, Jeff Cirillo, Erik Bedard, Figgins (though it could be a little early to tell)—oh, and Carlos Silva.
Silva went 5-18 in two pathetic seasons with Seattle while making $44 million. Magically, he leaves Seattle and starts this season off at 6-0 in Chicago.
Then there's Adrian Beltre. Longtime Mariner, a pretty consistent bat and a good glove, but he never quite lived up to what Seattle had hoped for. He never batted over .276 in five seasons in Seattle, but throw him into Boston's lineup and he's batting .325.
This season's example thus far has been Figgins, who batted .300 for the Angels last year and had a handful of good years there. So far for Seattle, he's done nothing but add a .200 batting average and a measly 13 RBI to one of the worst offenses in MLB.
All of these guys clearly have potential, because they showed it either before or after their time in Seattle. But there's just something about the Emerald City that can lead to cellar-dwelling and bad individual stats.
But what is it about Seattle? It sure isn't their beauty of a stadium, which is regarded as one of the best in baseball. Can't be the weather, because even with all the rain, Safeco Field has a retractable roof.
Perhaps Seattle is under a curse of some sorts. Now, I know the Mariners aren't as rich in tradition as the Cubs and Red Sox, who many believe have had curses. That being said, the M's did win 116 games back in '01, yet failed to make the team's first World Series.
Since 2001, Seattle hasn't made the playoffs, and they've gone through five managers. Who's to say the managers are exempt from this curse also?
When Bob Melvin replaced Lou Piniella, he made it two years but then was fired after only winning 63 games in 2004. After this, he found success with Arizona and took them to an NLCS in 2007, winning the NL Manager of the Year.
Former Mariners manager Jim Riggleman is now in Washington and has the Nationals looking pretty decent. Once he gets Stephen Strasburg into the bigs, expect Riggleman to get a lot of praise.
But none of this love and success has occurred in Seattle, and it likely won't this season.
Whether it's actually a curse, maybe The Curse of 116 if you will, or simply just flat-out bad luck, you can't say the M's haven't given just as much effort as any other ball club to put a playoff-caliber team on the field.
A curse? Perhaps. If anything, I'll settle for calling it flat-out bad luck.
But just a heads-up, Seattle fans: You can expect a Cy Young from Cliff Lee elsewhere in 2011.
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