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'Chill Out, Fans!' Mariners' Season Is A 'Marathon, Not A Sprint'

Mariners2015openingday.jpg
Ted S. Warren
/
AP Photo
The Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels play in the first inning of an opening day baseball game, Monday, April 6, 2015, at Safeco Field in Seattle.

The Mariners are in Oakland this weekend for their first road trip of the season. They got off to a bumpy start at home, much to the dismay of many fans.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says the city seems to be suffering from the “Seahawks effect.”

Breathe, Fans

Art says it's time for everyone to take a deep breath.

"I’ve noticed that among more casual fans, I think their fan meter has been skewed by the Seahawks," he said. "We’ve had enormous football success in this marketplace and there are only 16 games in a regular season. There are 162 in baseball."

"I think most people get amped up at each win based on their experience with the Seahawks. No...please...chill!"

'This Isn't Football'

Art says the football experience and the baseball experience for fans are completely different exercises.

"As everybody who's ever followed baseball has known, it's a marathon, not a sprint," he said. "Football is not a sprint either but each game is more important because there are fewer of them."

"I advise everybody to be calm about the start of the Mariners season because they do have a lot of expectations on them and I think that's a corrupting influence."

Many national sports outlets are predicting that the Mariners will make the playoffs this  year. Some are even talking World Series.

Cruz And Seager 'Feeling The Pressure'

Art says the two players who are perhaps feeling the most pressure right now are Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager.

"Those are the two best examples of guys who are coming into this season with big expectations following big contracts," he said. "I know (manager) Lloyd McClendon loves to say 'these guys are pros.' No Lloyd, they're feeling it because it's just the way it is."

"Nelson Cruz was punished by baseball for performance-enhancing drug use," Art continued. "He sat out a chunk of 2013, came back and had a great year for the Baltimore Orioles in 2014 on a one-year deal and lead the major leagues in home runs."

"The Mariners gave him a big contract - four years, $57 million - to play here. He's feeling it. As is Kyle Seager," Art said. "Seager got a $100-million extension over seven years because he's done so well so far."

"It's human nature to feel this pressure to deliver a five-run home run every time you're up."

"In the opening series against the Angels, Seager did hit a home run - his only hit in 12 at-bats. Cruz had one single in his three games," Art pointed out.

"So, clearly, watching them at the plate, they're trying too hard. They're feeling the pressure. That goes away after you play a month, two months, three months of a season that's very, very long and very daily."

"I think those guys are going to come out of it but people who are expecting instant gratification like you get with a football season - no, that's not happening."

Seahawks Lesson?

Art says the Mariners can look to the Seahawks' 3-3 start last season for some inspiration.

"That's a great example because that was much deeper into their season than the Mariners are into their season," he said. "And everybody said 'Oh, well, they're done. They're can't make the playoffs now. And they made it to the Super Bowl and they came a yard short of consecutive Super Bowl wins."

"I think you can take an example from the Seahawks and say it's no time to panic, it is time to chill. Be patient. Good things will come to this Mariner team."

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You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between historylink.org and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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