Your Seattle Mariners, on the strength of two breathtaking wins this weekend and three in a row over the Tigers are in sole possession of the second wild card spot and second place in the AL west. They have 1.5 game lead over the Angels. At 27-19 they have the fourth best record in the American League and the seventh best record in major league baseball.
Monday is the day ESPN comes out with their power rankings. So does the Athletic. They both have your Seattle Mariners ranked at a solid 14. That’s 14 behind those same Angels. That’s number 14 behind the Cleveland Indians they left a smoking wreck a few weeks ago. Behind the slow starting Nationals and Cubs, behind the Pirates and Cardinals with worse records, and behind the Arizona Diamondbacks that just lost nine of ten.
Just to be clear, all the writers don’t feel the same. CBS Sports have the M’s at 8, up seven spots from last week. Bleacher Report, has the Mariners at nine, climbing five from last week. USA Today has the M’s at 11, less middle of the pack but still well behind the ridiculous Angels at 8.
The two reasons given for the soft appreciation for what the M’s have accomplished to date are: 1) Robinson Cano’s suspension 2) a soft schedule.
Let’s deal with number two. Nobody gets to determine their schedule, Major League Baseball does that. The M’s haven’t played the Yankees or Red Sox, the bullies of the American League. They’ve struggled against the Astros and Angels. But just to be clear, they’ve beaten everybody else. Though the M’s lost the series in Detroit, their three of four wins over the Tiggers at Safeco, gave them a 4-3 season series win. They may have difficult days ahead in June when the schedule is very tough, but we don’t know that yet. Penalizing a team for games they haven’t played seem ridiculous. What is this, the college football power rankings?
The factor everyone drew attention to is Cano’s suspension. It is shocking. It is disappointing, and yes it will have an impact on the team. But it’s impossible to look at what this team has accomplished and not realize they aren’t letting this stop them. If you are an M’s fan and missed the games this weekend, you missed Jean Segura, Dee Gordon, Mitch Haniger, Guillermo Heredia, Mike Zunino and James Paxton asserting themselves as the new leaders of this team. You missed the heartwarming debut performance of Ryan Cook as a new bridge to Edwin Diaz who laid the Tigers low like a scythe through wheat. This Mariners group has more team spirit, they play for each other more than any I can remember for a long time. Will this team miss Robinson Cano? Absolutely, but these guys can play.
I can’t foresee the future. The M’s may go 2-26 in June (but I doubt it because they play the Orioles and Royals as well as all the tough guys.) But they haven’t played them yet, and it seems unfair to dismiss them when nobody expected them to be here, heading into Memorial Day with the wind at their backs.