Refrain from Excessive Optimism for the Mariners

(8/13) Pump The Brakes On The Optimism For The Mariners' Season

They haven't won the championship yet.

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I never thought I would be saying this. The Seattle Mariners are unexpectedly dominant this MLB season. They may be currently third place in the AL West, but they have compiled an impressive 65-48 record approximately 70% of the way through the season. Although many Mariners fans and Seattle sports fans, in general, are excited to see the team performing fairly well for the first time in seemingly forever, I see the reason to pump the brakes on the optimism just a little bit.

The Seattle Mariners have no World Series titles yet, so it is important not to raise hopes too high because the fall will be that much greater if they fail to win the World Series this year. After so much failure, it is never a good idea to simply assume that a team will win a championship after a sudden stretch of success.

As mentioned before, the Mariners are only in third place in their division, behind the Houston Astros and the recently surging Oakland Athletics. Houston is the current AL West leaders and defending World Series champions and are seeking to repeat and claim another title, so they are more determined than ever before. Oakland is currently on a hot streak, winning six consecutive games since July 30. They have overtaken Seattle with a 67-46 record. The Mariners have no time to rest on their laurels as they enter a crucial stretch of the season.

Another reason for refraining from excessive optimism is some of the Mariners' recent performances in games. The most prominent example of cause for concern for Mariners fans is the four consecutive blowout losses at the hands of the Toronto Blue Jays, which featured a complete thrashing by pitcher Mike Hauschild. Hauschild was released by the Houston Astros three days prior to that game and was signed by Toronto on August 2, the day before the game. On top of that, he did not have a professional track record before that one game. If the Mariners are to be taken seriously as a legitimate contender for the playoffs, they cannot afford to suffer losses like that to inexperienced players.

Finally, there is the fact that the Mariners have not played all of the high-level teams in the league yet. Chiefly, the top teams in the NL. Even if they make it to the World Series, the Mariners will have to face one of those teams and there is no telling what will happen in that scenario. Teams like the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and Milwaukee Brewers all look promising and could be unpredictable if Seattle manages to meet them in battle.

In addition, the Mariners have struggled against a few of the top teams in the AL. They were swept by the New York Yankees, struggled against the Boston Red Sox, and lost most of their games against the Astros.

In short, it is fine to be optimistic for the Mariners with their recent success, but it may be wise to refrain from expecting an abundance of victories for the rest of the season.

Settle down with the championship talk.

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A Thank You Letter To The Best Teammate I've Ever Had

There's no "I" in team.
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We all have those amazing memories when it comes to sports. Sometimes it is from winning tough games, but most of the amazing memories that we have come from the teammates that we shared those wins with. Teammates are the people who you spend so much time with that you eventually become a family. Teammates do more than help just win a game; they can be there through everything. There's always that one teammate that stands out from the rest, and this letter is for you.

Thank you for being selfless.

Looking back, I remember a lot of teammates. Some were great and some were not that great. I've had teammates who have only cared about their playing time. I've had teammates that have only cared about if they score more goals or more points than anyone else. You did not care about that. If the coach told you to play a position that you did not want to play, you still played it without a complaint. If I was tired at a certain position and wanted to switch you, you did it. You never complained about where you were playing or how many goals you had; you just wanted the team to win.

Thank you for having my back.

The best kinds of teammates are the ones that support you no matter what you do. I got a red card? That referee is stupid. I got into a fist fight during a game? You were the first one next to me swinging. Some girl makes fun of me on social media for messing up in a game? You were roasting her in her mentions. Even if I was right or wrong, you always supported me no matter what I did.

Thank you for seeing me at my worst and building me back up.

There are always times in an athlete's life where we run to the point to where we need to throw up. There are times where we go through games and miss too many shots. There are times where we get a little too mad at our coaches and feel as if we cannot deal with it anymore. You were the one that got me through it. When I was in the middle of a run and my lungs were burning, you stayed right next to me and reminded me that there wasn't much longer to go, even if there was. You always reminded me how capable I was by yelling at me and telling me to go score. You've seen me tired, sweaty, crying, screaming and throwing up. After all that, you still went out of your way to build me back up and I cannot thank you enough for that.

Thank you for making me love the game.

Without people like you, I would have had a very rough ride through my sports career. I have had teammates that have made me go home crying because they were so mean and rude. I have had teammates who have only cared about themselves. Without you, I would've forgotten what a good teammate is. Looking back, all I remember is the celebrations, the screaming random songs in cars and us hating each other's exes automatically... Then talking about all these things at practice. Thanks for being a leader with me. Without you and the rest of the team, I would not have loved the sport that I played.

Cover Image Credit: Cheap Seats Photography

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Dexter Fowler Deserves An Apology

Roughly a fourth of the way through the season, it's very clear that a lot of us were wrong about Fowler.

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Baseball is a mental game just as much, if not more of a physical one. Baseball is one of those unique games where failure is present at all times. If you hold a .300 batting average, you've got a pretty good chance of getting into the Hall of Fame. For context, Ty Cobb holds the record for highest career batting average at .366 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame. In any other sport, if you're only successful 30% of the time, you're rarely viewed as excellent in your sport.

But I don't think the nature of the game usually sways fans from shortsighted opinions and conclusions about the players, especially if they're on our own team. Cardinals fans went through something very similar with our own Dexter Fowler, and some of us really dragged him through the mud. In the second year of his five-year, $82 million deal, Fowler had the worst statistical years of his career. A .180 batting average with a .278 OBP were the cornerstones on what was a very confusing year for many Cardinals fans.

But I want to be very clear when I say that there were two camps with the Fowler situation: those who thought the year was simply a statistical outlier and those who thought that Fowler was at the end of his career, the Cardinals were foolish to give him the money and that the team would be better off trading him if they could find a suitable trade partner for such "broken goods". And maybe this is just my biased Cardinals Twitter point of view, but I felt like the second group was definitely the vocal majority.

But what I think we often forget to remember is there are real people out there playing that game. As weird as that may sound, sports fans often forget that athletes are just as vulnerable to the mental lows that plague so many everyday Americans. Dexter Fowler spent the majority of last season in a deep depression that was both caused and a source of his poor performance on the field. And I'm sure all the negative press he got and the angry fans in his mentions didn't help in the slightest.

But the Cardinals never gave up on him, and for good reason. The numbers Fowler has put up this season are outstanding thus far with still roughly 80% of the season left to play. The commitment the front office showed to Fowler is a reflection of the culture established that makes players want to come and play for this organization. The Cardinals never gave up on him, and so many fans should have taken that same approach. As I said earlier, those are real people out there playing in those Cardinal uniforms.

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