EWU Students Reflect on Mariners Memories and Look Ahead to 2017 Season
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Spring training is underway in Peoria, Arizona as the Seattle Mariners look to end their 16 year playoff drought. The drought is the longest active streak in Major League Baseball and it’s not getting any younger.
That 2001 Mariners team won over millions of fans in the Pacific Northwest.
The team won 116 games (tied with the 1906 Chicago Cubs for the most in MLB history), the All-Star Game was held at Safeco Field and outfielder Ichiro Suzuki won both the Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. But for many, the season ended prematurely in the American League Championship Series, when the Mariners lost to the New York Yankees in five games.
“It was heartbreaking for my family,” said junior Grady Stevens. “Especially because we lost to the Yankees.”
Despite the team’s extended lack of success, students on the EWU campus hold fond memories of the Mariners and express optimism for the possibility of playoff baseball to engulf Washington state once again.
“Growing up, I always used to go to Mariners games with my family,” sophomore Tyler James said. James is from Bellevue, and his family has many fond memories of attending Mariners games during the summer.
Expectations are high for this Mariners squad. They finished last season with a record of 86-76, just three games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles for the final playoff spot in the American League.
For the Mariners to be successful this year, they’ll need starting pitcher Felix Hernandez, their ace, to rebound from a rough 2016 season. Hernandez posted a 3.82 earned run average (ERA) last season, his highest ERA in a season since 2007.
Jerry Dipoto, general manager of the Mariners, made plenty of moves over the offseason to try and find the perfect blend for creating a playoff baseball team. The team traded starting pitcher Taijuan Walker and shortstop Ketel Marte to the Arizona Diamondbacks for all-star shortstop Jean Segura and up-and-coming outfielder Mitch Haniger, while also trading away outfielder Seth Smith and trading for starting pitcher Drew Smyly.
The team also replaced its platoon at first base, bringing in Danny Valencia and Drew Vogelbach via trade. They also acquired outfielder Jarrod Dyson, who should provide stellar defense and speed on the base paths.
The Mariners open the regular season on the road in Houston, Texas against the Houston Astros on April 3.