Tonight the Mariners travel 9 years into the future to 2027, a year we last visited in 1998. It has struck me that on a day dedicated to the future, we are spending so much time looking back at the first Turn Ahead the Clock Night.
I was there with my brother on that first glorious trip to 2027, and I can say unequivocally that it was every bit as awesome as everyone says. I want to reminisce a little because what is our vision for the future, if not a vision of our current hopes and past travails?
On July 18th, 1998 Brandy and Monica dominated the radio waves with The Boy is Mine. There’s Something About Mary had just been released and Saving Private Ryan would hit theaters the next week. Dawson’s Creek had wrapped it’s first season and Friends first entered syndication. Bill Clinton was midway through his second term. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets had just been published in the UK. France had just defeated Brazil to win the World Cup. Pluto was still a planet.
Baseball in 1998 was largely dominated by the Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa home run chase for Roger Maris’s record. Ken Griffey Jr. won the Home Run Derby and the American League won the All-Star Game at Coors Field. The Astros were in the National League and the Rays and Diamondbacks were playing their first seasons.
That brings us to the Mariners of 1998.
Oh, the Mariners of 1998.
Following a disappointing early exit from the playoffs the year before, they desperately needed bullpen help. But they largely stayed the course, preferring to spend the off season antagonizing Randy Johnson. I remember 1998 feeling dismal. The idea had taken hold that of the 3 superstars approaching free agency - Randy Johnson, Ken Griffey Jr., and Alex Rodriguez - the Mariners could only afford one of them.
On that day in July of 1998, the team shed the problems that plagued them that season. Ken Cloude had a fantastic start. Bobby Ayala cleaned up well in relief (yes, he technically blew the save, but he pitched great) and earned his first and only win of the year (pitcher wins meant something back then, never forget). Rico Rossy, playing 3rd base in place of the error prone Russ Davis, had perhaps the best game of his 147 game baseball career. The game featured Griffey living his best baseball life in a backward cap and loose jersey. He had 3 hits and a nice catch in center:
The 1998 Seattle Mariners lost 85 games and finished 3rd, 11.5 games behind the Texas Rangers. But that night in July was a bit of hope for the future. We didn’t know then that a Griffey- and ARod-less team would win 116 games just 3 years later. We didn’t know the Randy Johnson trade would end up being one of the best in team history.
Tonight, we have a team that is free from the turmoil of 1998. Coming off a 17 season playoff drought, the postseason finally looks to be in reach. Yet, we hear the whispers of past teams and the derisive cry of, “Same old Mariners.”
Tonight, we look to the future once again, to bolster our present hopes and soothe our past disappointments.
But mostly to have fun. Because it was a lot of fun in 1998, and I’d like to think fun has made some advances in the last 20 years.
|KANSAS CITY ROYALS||SEATTLE MARINERS|
|Whit Merrifield - 2B||Dee Gordon - 2B|
|Rosell Herrera - DH||Jean Segura - SS|
|Mike Moustakas - 3B||Mitch Haniger - CF|
|Salvador Perez - C||Nelson Cruz - DH|
|Lucas Duda - 1B||Kyle Seager - 3B|
|Jorge Bonifacio - RF||Denard Span - LF|
|Alex Gordon - LF||Ryon Healy - 1B|
|Alcides Escobar - CF||Ben Gamel - RF|
|Adalberto Mondesi - SS||Mike Zunino - C|
|Jason Hammel - RHP||Felix Hernandez - RHP|
You’d think that in the future games would be televised directly on your eyeballs, but if you aren’t at Safeco you’re going to have to tune in to ROOT Sports or mlb.tv to watch. Since implanting radio transmitters directly in your ear drum isn’t yet in widespread use, you can listen the old-fashioned way on 710 ESPN.