The Mariners kick off the most important series of the season tonight, and they will face a team that they have a complicated relationship with. In many ways, the Blue Jays are like the Mariners’ foreign cousins, who entered the world at the same time, with a similar penchant for long stretches of postseason absences and seeing their high-profile stars leave for greener pastures.
Don’t let the familiarity lower your guard. With the first game just hours away, here are is a brief guide for what to look for, root against, and chant or not chant.
1. 3B Josh Donaldson, former Oakland A, and current star of the Blue Jays, has been worth 6.9 fWAR this year, and has been a rude, very intentional roadblock to Kyle Seager’s recognition as a national treasure. Donaldson has been atrocious recently, however, slashing just .196/373/255 in the past 15 games, and has been struggling with hip pain.
Fan Tip: Pepper Donaldson with ‘grandpa’ hecklings, and perhaps bring giant signs of him with his hair edited to be bald and a clever witticism, since that might really unnerve him. If you need one prepared I asked our graphics sorcerer José Rivera to cook this up for y’all.
(If anyone actually does this, PLEASE tweet me the evidence. You will be my hero.)
2. Toronto has a .498 winning percentage as a franchise, outpacing Seattle’s .469 mark narrowly.
Fan Tip: This is inconsequential. Tell any uppity Blue Jays fans you meet to ‘Remember ‘95!’ when the Mariners finished a full 22.5 games better than Toronto. Immediately afterwards, you should likely vacate the area, so as to not allow for a rebuttal.
3. The Mariners will likely face at least four of their five former players with Toronto this series - JA Happ, Justin Smoak, Joaquin Benoit, and Michael Saunders, as well as RA Dickey, whose rotation spot will likely not come up. Additionally, Ezequiel Carrera, received in the Mike Carp/Endy Chavez trade, then shipped out for Russell Branyan in 2010, may make an appearance.
Fan Tip: I don't know how it works up there in Canada, but here in the United States we have a little thing called copyright law. If you are well versed in these realms, please feel free to bring a suit against the Blue Jays franchise for their overreach.
4. Speaking of nationality, ‘Canada’s Team’ employs just 5 Canadians on its active roster.
Chant U.S.A. all the time. The Seattle Mariners’ active roster consists of just 57% players born in the United States, and only 3-4 of its ideal starting 9. This does not seem like the stand to take for inspiring the teams on the field is all I'm saying.
5. In 2014, the Blue Jays tagged Félix Hernández for 8 runs in 4.2 innings and brought the death knell for both the Mariners’ season and the King’s Cy Young campaign.
Fan Tip: Idk, ask them how Roy Halladay’s late career success felt? Remind them Pat Hentgen was one of the worst Cy Young winners in history? Look, I need a minute.
6. José Bautista has seen a steep dropoff in his production, and has struggled with his health all year.
Fan Tip: Since Bautista likely follows on Twitter anyone who would be reading this list, help out your old buddy José and DM him some WebMd diagnoses for potential maladies signified by a hamstring pain.
7. The Blue Jays’ stadium, the Rogers Centre, formally the SkyDome, is a festival of flawed English.
Fan Tip: Contact Rogers Communications, the stadium’s sponsor, and demand they shutter the stadium until they either add an apostrophe to indicate ownership, or insist the Blue Jays vacate their roster of any players not named Roger or Rogers, or accuse them of false advertising.
8. Future Hall of Famer/Mariners AA Star Tyler O’Neill’s MLB Comparable was former Blue Jay and fellow Canadian Brett Lawrie.
Fan Tip: Some Canadians are wonderful, and many are even Mariners. Brett Lawrie is neither of of these. In fairness, this is currently more of an A’s tip, so save that for the future.
9. Aaron Sanchez has become the ace of the Toronto staff in his first full MLB season, and will match up against a struggling Félix Hernandez in the third game of the series.
Fan Tip: Aaron is likely excited about his success, but will never outpace his far more successful older brother, Pablo, and is liable to break down if reminded of that fact.
10. The most fun series of the past several years I've attended contained the famous Thunderstruck game, which featured this very Toronto team coming to Safeco in 2014 to be walloped by Robinson ‘Zeus’ Canó.
Fan Tip: Sneak into the Mariners’ clubhouse and affix some metal to the ends of Robbie’s bats, so that he may be charged back up with some power this week. Please remember to add rubber to his batting gloves as well.
With these pieces of advice in your back pocket, you should be ready to powerfully root on the M’s against their
northern southeastern (maps are weird) relatives. Feel free to share any other tips you may have, and let's get this week started right.