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Mariners fall to Athletics, probably call Ichiro’s leadership into question

A sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier times

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier today, the Seattle Mariners signed Ichiro Suzuki to a one year deal. While many were quick to applaud the return of a legend to Safeco Field, many others were equally quick to bemoan what could have been. They had a point, too. How could the Mariners not just sign Jon Jay? He’s projected for 0.3 WAR by ZiPS, an entire 0.4 more than Ichiro! Didn’t they learn from 2014, when they missed the playoffs by a mere 1 game, or just 2.5 times 0.4?

What the naysayers didn’t account for was the intangibles that Ichiro brings to the clubhouse on a daily basis. What the 44-year-old baseball savant lacks in youth he more than makes up for in wisdom. The emphasis the Mariners have been placing on the players taking care of themselves physically could be accentuated by the presence of the most meticulous man in baseball. Even if you don’t believe in intangibles, it’s hard not to believe in Ichiro.

And yet, this is a story all too familiar to Mariners fans. The team promises the moon and gives the fans Deimos, the deformed potato-like moon of Mars that’s named for the Greek god of terror. How are fans supposed to believe in Ichiro’s intangibles if the moment he’s signed, the team flounders about on their way to a 7-3 loss to the Athletics.

Even Scott Servais threw in the towel, pulling most of the team’s starting lineup by the 6th inning. It was all so laughably Mariners. Jon Jay never would have let this happen. See you all next year, because I hate baseball.

For those of you foolish enough to still have faith in a team so obviously checked out, the game did hold some promising signs for the future. Marco Gonzales started for the Mariners, and pitched a solid 4.0 innings of shutout baseball. Marco has now thrown a full 9.0 innings this Spring Training, and has yet to allow a run. He’s looked as good as the team will probably need him to be.

Gonzales was helped along by one Dee Gordon. In the 2nd inning, the Athletics’ Mark Canha doubled off of Gonzales. Gonzales tried to pick him off, and ended up throwing the ball into center field. Disaster, or opportunity?

This wasn’t the longest throw, but seeing a dime like this certainly bodes well for Gordon’s prowess in the outfield going forward.

Unfortunately, David Phelps had himself one hell of a time in the 6th inning. Phelps failed to record an out and gave up two dingers on his way to allowing the Athletics four scores. Seven years ago, an outing like this might have been a portent for Phelps’ success going forward. For now, chalk it up to early Spring Training jitters.

Robinson Cano made the most of his last at-bat, casually chipping this one over the fence.

It was not to be, however. The Mariners failed to come back from their deficit, and to add insult to injury, it was an old friend who absolutely robbed Mike Ford of a double in the 7th inning. Thanks a lot, Jerry.

Some other notes:

  • Dan Vogelbach had himself a nice night, going 2-for-3 with two doubles. He’s a long shot to make the roster with Ryon Healy progressing from his injury faster than expected and Mike Ford needing a 25-man spot for the M’s to keep him, but this Spring Training has been encouraging so far.
  • The only Mariners pitchers who are particularly likely to make the team are Marco and Mike Rzepczynski. Both of them pitched quite well.
  • Nelson Cruz has yet to record a hit this spring, but I wouldn’t worry. He hit 0.167 in 2016 Spring Training before hitting 43 home runs. He’ll be fine.

Of course, none of that actually matters, because the Mariners are capital-T toaster strudel. I can’t wait until 2024, when all of the current players are off the books and I can finally start enjoying this game I’ve enjoyed my entire life. That’ll be great! See you in six years.

Oh wait. Ichiro turns 50 in six years. Better find another team to emotionally invest in.