Players come and go all the time. Depending on the circumstances, a team's roster one year might look very different the next. Yet when a player leaves your team, he doesn't become just any other player; there's a connection that's formed that can never be completely undone. Whether positive or negative or a little bit of both, that player will be colored in some way based on your previous experiences. It's why one name will jump out at you from the following list:
A Mariners fan will read that and think "nothing nothing nothing OH BLEEDING JESUS, OH JESUS nothing." That's because Miguel Batista was a Mariner, and not a very good one. Granted, he did have some success, but even when he was modestly effective, he was difficult to watch. In a word, the Miguel Batista experience was unpleasant, and that will never be completely forgotten.
So, we're Mariners fans, and the Mariners are not participating in this year's playoffs. It's the tenth consecutive year that they've missed out, which - think about that. The Mariners haven't made the playoffs in a decade. The Cubs have made it three times. The Astros have made it twice. The Padres have made it twice. The Mariners haven't made it. Ten years is a really long time. People born after the Mariners' most recent playoff appearance are in the fifth grade. They're multiplying shit. They're using decimals. They might be on Facebook.
So we like the Mariners, and the Mariners are done playing. We still want to watch the playoffs, though, and watching the playoffs is more fun when you have rooting interests, so I thought it'd be worth examining the landscape of former Mariners scattered among the eight playoff teams, just to see what's out there. A team with cool former Mariners might be easier to root for. A team with uncool former Mariners might be harder to root for. I'm not sure that a team's former Mariners should be the entire basis for your fleeting allegiance, but it's probably a consideration.
What do we have?
Immediately, this is hard. The Brewers are probably the most generally appealing team of the eight, just because they hadn't won their division since Poltergeist. They're the best bet to be America's bandwagon, and Miller Park has a hell of an atmosphere. I was all ready to cheer for them, too, but, Yuni. You know that whole line of thinking where you look at a player and ask yourself "could a team win with this player?" Yuni blows that line of thinking to smithereens, because the Brewers won, and Yuni is absolutely fucking terrible. He was terrible as a Mariner, and he's been terrible elsewhere. I was reading the other day about how Ron Roenicke has all but given up trying to get Yuni to take a different approach to the plate, implying that he's uncoachable. We've known this to be true for years, and I guess this means Yuni won. As a Mariners fan, it's impossible to root for Yuni. He stands for so much wasted promise. It's possible to still root for the Brewers around him, but personally I hope Yuni goes hitless.
I don't know if Josh Wilson's going to make the playoff roster. If he does, he wouldn't make up for Yuni. Wilson was inoffensive. He was not good, or special. But he sure was boyish.
St. Louis Cardinals
I have three memories of Arthur Rhodes as a Mariner. In one, he makes like he's going to slug Omar Vizquel in the face. In the next, he allows a critical ALCS home run to David Justice. In the last, he allows a critical ALCS home run to Bernie Williams. Corey Patterson was a Mariner for one spring training. Their former Mariners do not make the Cardinals more appealing to Mariners fans.
Now this is strange. For some Mariners fans, Putz and Willie are going to cancel each other out. For other Mariners fans, they're going to add on top of one another. I think Putz is pretty much universally liked for his contributions in the uniform, even despite his on-record opinions of Ichiro. Willie, though, is and forever was somewhat contentious. Some Mariners fans loved him, and some Mariners fans never cared for him. Whichever group you belong you will determine how you proceed, here. I certainly don't think their former Mariners hurt the Diamondbacks' appeal.
Cliff Lee was pretty much perfect in his limited time as a Mariner, both on and off the field, so he's one of the easiest players to root for in baseball. Raul Ibanez had his downsides, but he was productive and professional the whole way, and is supposed to be a great dude. Wilson Valdez was a Mariner, too. For a kind of long time, in 2005. He eventually gave way to Mike Morse, who gave way to Yuniesky Betancawww dammit this isn't helping. Overall, good, though. Lee and Ibanez. Pretty rootable.
The big one here is Beltre, and it's just really, really hard to root against Beltre when you see the level of joy and enthusiasm with which he plays. People are critical of his time spent in Seattle, but anyone who's been on this site for more than five minutes knows that I and others love him to death. This is only Beltre's second shot in the playoffs and I'd like to see him have some success, even if I wouldn't like the same of the Rangers as a whole. As for the other guys, my memories of Lowe are mixed, and he won't be on the ALDS roster anyway. Yorvit Torrealba has a plaque alongside Wilson Valdez in the Armando Benitez Wing of former Mariners. And with Chavez, all I can think is that, if the Rangers and Brewers meet in the World Series, it'd be great to see Chavez slide into second and snap Yuni's ankle.
Tampa Bay Rays
Yikes. I was already kind of over the Rays before, but yikes. I'm tempted to include Matt Joyce here because I think of him as a former Mariner, even though he's not. Read about a trade rumor enough and the brain does funny things. Remember when the Mariners traded Richie Sexson and Rafael Soriano for Adam LaRoche and Tim Hudson? That was an exciting day. I made a cake!
It tickles me that the Tigers have Carlos Guillen, and the main guy for whom Carlos Guillen was traded. And by the way, Ramontiago is kind of good now. He just needed to get out of Seattle. Anyway, I don't think any Mariners fan has particularly strong feelings about Guillen or Santiago anymore, and honestly I'm not sure any Mariners fan has particularly strong feelings about Pauley, either. He was just a half-decent middle reliever. The main guy here is Fister, and I think I speak for everybody when I say, as much as I wish he were still a Mariner, I think it's awesome to see him flourishing in Detroit. It's as awesome to see Fister flourishing in Detroit as it was to see Jarrod Washburn basically fall down the stairs for two months. I guess he fell down an escalator. For me, Fister pretty much cements the Tigers as the team I want to see emerge from the AL playoff pool and lose the World Series.
New York Yankees
It's funny - Garcia and Soriano played fairly prominent roles in this organization's somewhat recent past, and I don't really know if they left positive, negative, or overall neutral impressions. I guess that's maybe as strong a sign as any that they left overall neutral impressions, but that seems weird given how important each player was. No matter, since, A-Rod. I don't hate A-Rod to the same degree that so many other Mariners fans do, but that's only because so many other Mariners fans still want to push him into the street. I'd probably just, I dunno, trip him on the sidewalk, or move in front of him and walk really slowly. Haha, you're being inconvenienced!