For those without calendars or a sense of time, today marks the final day of August. As such, the eventual swing into Fall has once again begun. The meticulously distilled spice o' pumpkin returns upon the shelves of our favorite watering holes. September is the do-or-die month. Sure, the games theoretically all weigh the same, but we all know that this simply isn't true. Champions are made in September because limping into the playoffs isn't exactly the recipe for hoisting the trophy. As September beckons, I thought it may be relevant to remember September 1st's of old in the Mariners organization, for comparing and contrasting.
First, let's start with where we find ourselves in this moment. At 68-64, on a current skid, the Seattle Mariners find themselves further from their Wildcard dreams that mere days before, at four games back of being in the driver seat. It's not an insurmountable task, to jump five teams and four games with thirty remaining contests, but the road has gotten, well, tougher due to the recent slip. Sure, it's been tough as of late, but let's compare this September to the one we all endured just last year.
To end August of 2015, the Seattle Mariners sat at 61-71, a full twelve games back of the Houston Astros for the AL West, and the same amount of games behind the Yankees for the Wildcard. They still had thirty games to play, and eventually, thanks to Seth Smith, would lose their protected pick by winning the final game of the season. Drafting eleventh in the ensuing MLB Draft, the Mariners would select Kyle Lewis, a player that was by all accounts one of the top two or three talents on the board. Kyle Lewis would proceed to light his rookie season in Everett on fire until tearing his ACL.
As August of 2014 came to a close, the Seattle Mariners found themselves in a very different spot. At 73-62, riding an amazing season of Felix Hernandez and a deal-with-the-devil Endy Chavez, the M's were a half game out of the Wildcard race. Somehow, despite being eleven games over .500, the Mariners were third in the AL West, 9.5 games behind the Los Angeles Mike Trouts of Anaheim. The M's would go on to flirt with the playoffs for the first time in a decade all the way to the wire, when a series sweep of the Angels in the final three days at home resulted in Lloyd McClendon pulling Felix Hernandez to standing ovation as the A's clinched the Wildcard and we all cried. Like, a lot.
Going back even further, the Mariners haven't had much to talk about heading into September, as you are all well aware. In 2013, they were sitting at 62-73, seventeen games out the West. 2012 wasn't much better at 64-69 and in last place in the West, ten games out of the Wildcard. In 2011, they had won just 58 games, in '10 they were 52-80. In fact, going back, 2009 was the last time this team has won 68 games by September, After that, it's well, 2007 and then we all remember what life was like in 2003.
September is almost upon us. This is the month the Mariners will ultimately decide their fate, and they have thirty games to do so. The wiggle room is quite small, but it's at least going to matter. And looking back, man, that's more than fine.