June 14, 2007


Hey, skeptics: These M's may be something special (Larry Stone, 6/14/07, Seattle Times)

If you've been watching lately, you've seen the signs. The improbable comebacks. The unexpected heroes. The crazy victories that bring to mind Jack Buck's famous call: "I don't believe what I just saw."

The initial temptation, of course, is to fight it, to believe it's all just an aberration, the surge before the storm. Cynicism is the natural off-shoot of three losing seasons, and skepticism its identical twin. Besides, have you seen those starters?

But the longer the M's hitters keep bashing, and the more the bullpen keeps escaping, and the tighter the AL West becomes, a belief is solidifying — within the clubhouse, anyway, where it matters most — that something is happening here.

What it is ain't exactly clear, not yet, but its byproduct is confidence, even entitlement. In sports, that's a good thing.

"Now we're starting to get a little swagger, and it's a good swagger," bench coach John McLaren said before the game.

"It's something where we feel good about ourselves. We play the game hard. We make some mistakes right now that could hurt us, and we need to correct those mistakes. We're talking about it, working at it.

"We have some intensity. We pull for each other, we laugh for each other, we pick each other up. That's the sign of a good team when you do that."

McLaren was a coach under Lou Piniella on the 1990 championship Reds team and on all his great Mariners teams, so he knows the feeling of a team finding its place in the baseball cosmos. He sees all the signs.

"It's a great feeling when guys pick up the slack when they're not really the big boys, so to speak," he said. "All those late wins, you get the confidence, like we're never out of it. We still got a chance.

"Teams in the past we've had around here, the good teams, we had that atmosphere. We had that attitude. And it rubs off on everybody."

Jarrod Washburn has seen it before, too, with the 2002 Angels, who started 6-14 and ended with a World Series trophy. He sees a Mariners' team starting to believe in itself. He knows the feeling is not universal. Not yet.

If only they can get King Felix rolling again....

Posted by Orrin Judd at June 14, 2007 7:38 AM
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