Believing in baseball again

Seattle’s refreshed positive mental attitude toward electric Mariners squad

Annie Symons, Features Editor

J.P. Crawford and Mitch Haniger congratulating each other after scoring runs. (Courtesy of Ross D. Franklin/AP)

After years of defeat, false hope and broken dreams, Seattle finally has a baseball team sparking citywide attention. 

The final game of the 2021 baseball season left Mariners fans mourning the club’s missed playoff opportunity. They finished with a 90-72 record, just two games shy of earning a postseason berth. Despite this disappointment, the Mariners showcased an impressive display of talent that resulted in citywide momentum at the beginning of the 2022 season.

At the home opener at T-Mobile Park on April 15, over 45,000 fans showed up in SoDo to witness the Mariners in-person for the first time this season, a staggering number compared to attendance in years past. Many players contributed to the team’s success over their nine-game homestand from April 15-24, but a select few gave even the most skeptical observers a reason to celebrate. 

Ty France serves as the Mariners’ starting first baseman, and his offensive numbers of late deservedly earned him co-AL Player of the Week on April 25 (he shared the honor with Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers). 

France batted .500 during this week-long stretch, and he smashed three home runs and batted in 10 runs. A 13-7 Mariners win on April 23 highlighted France’s impressive display; he recorded five hits in that game alone and established himself as one of the best hitters in the major leagues

France’s ability to hit for power and to consistently drive in runs gives Seattle an offensive hero early in the season, which provides more peace of mind in high-stress situations and close games. Paired with his reliable defense at first base, France may give some major league hot-shots a run for their money in the MVP race. 

Another Mariner who boosts the local mindset about the team is J.P. Crawford, the Gold Glove-winning shortstop who has made his presence known in the Emerald City since he joined the club in 2019. Win or lose, Crawford’s youthful energy and positive attitude create an exciting, optimistic mindset in the dugout and offer a break from any mental stress. 

Besides his infectious personality, Crawford also supports the club on both sides of the ball. His scrappy defense at shortstop seldom fails to headline the Mariners’ postgame highlights, and his offensive numbers for April speak for themselves: Crawford boasts a .360 batting average, .449 on-base percentage and .573 slugging, establishing himself as a reliable power hitter in the starting lineup.

The depth and versatility within the Mariners’ roster speaks for itself, especially due to the presence of several rookie players who wasted no time asserting themselves as valuable assets to the club. 

Jarred Kelenic and Julio Rodríguez guarantee coverage in the outfield, and Kelenic’s ability to hit home runs with exit velocities of higher than 110 MPH displays his ability to hit for power. Both of these young men also guarantee speed on the base paths; Rodríguez leads the major league with a perfect eight-for-eight stolen bags. 

J.P. Crawford celebrates a win with his teammates. (Courtesy of Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Another Mariners rookie stakes his claim on the pitcher’s mound. Throughout April, starting pitcher Logan Gilbert has a 0.40 earned run average, the best in the American League, and has yet to record a loss. His control on the mound and his ability to work deep into ball games provide the Mariners with another ace in an already impressive starting rotation.

In addition to Mariners players working on the field to boost their city’s mindset about baseball, the organization invests in the local community in ways that few other ball clubs do. In 2020, the Mariners launched The On BASE Hometown Nine, a program that focuses on propelling young athletes, specifically students of color, to success. 

The program accepts nine incoming eighth-graders each year, and it acts as a five-year commitment that assists them in pursuing their athletic and academic goals. Each of the Hometown Nine Fellows connects with both a Mariners staff member and a current player, who will provide advice and assistance throughout the five years of the program.

The Fellows prepare for high school and college by meeting with their mentors periodically. Under the guidance of the organization, these young people become equipped for their future. In spite of a 162-game season that only just began, the Mariners ball club makes a deliberate effort to better the lives of their most impressionable fans.

The theatrics of T-Mobile Park, the exciting nature of the Mariners ball club and the list of promising players on the roster are resulting in a renewed mental attitude about baseball in Seattle. 

Optimism about the 2022 baseball season is sweeping through the city, and the positive mindset about this ball club proves difficult to ignore.

Make no mistake, Seattle—baseball is back.