No dream! Bring it on! No one would have bought stock in this club 2 years ago!
Just for fun, let's say I could go back in time to October 5th, 2008. The Mariners have just completed a dismal 61-101 season. Their farm system is rated among baseball's worst. Their line-up's best contributor is a pending free agent and unlikely to return, and for the most part, the team is quite old. They're just starting the first year of a painful 3 year contract extension for Kenji Johjima. Speculation is rampant about who the full time replacement for Bill Bavasi will be going forward and whether it makes one bit of difference who the GM is, given the front office's tendency to meddle too much with baseball operations (and rather incompetently, at that).
What if I told you everything that happened since that day. Would you believe me?
Would you believe that our new GM would be given the reigns (almost) unfettered? And would you believe his name would be harder to spell and pronounce than Doug Mientkiewicz?
Would you believe Ken Griffey Jr. would return to Seattle? Would you think it possible for him to hit .216 and still be in demand?
Would you believe that Ibanez would go elsewhere, the team would score fewer runs than it did in 2008, and yet win 85 games?
Would you believe Erik Bedard - one of the most hated men in the Seattle media spotlight - would enjoy his time with the club (despite being severely injured the whole time he was here) enough to make the club his "first choice" and stay on with the team for two more years?
Would you believe the Mariners could trade a broken closer for 7 players, two of whom turn out be major franchise pieces, and have those seven players ben entirely a cast of "who's he??" names? Would you believe one of them would shatter fifty year records for defensive excellence and not win a gold glove anyway?
Would you believe the club would turn things around so fast that "King" Felix would go from grumbling about wanting a competitive experience to competing for the Cy Young and being eager to sign his home-town-friendly long term contract? Would you believe we averted the disaster scenario of having to watch Hernandez pitch in pinstripes until at least 2015?
Would you believe we'd trade three top prospects for a second ace to pair with Hernandez,another for a set-up man and change, four more for a broken down former NL star pitcher and our new shortstop...and still have our farm system go from one of the worst in the business to at least middle of the pack? Would you believe we'd get a studly pitching prospect for Yuniesky Betancourt? Or for aging lightning rod of criticism Jarrod Washburn?
Would you believe you'd find yourself ROOTING...for CHONE FIGGINS? Or MILTON BRADLEY??
Would you believe we'd manage to trade Carlos "the blob" Silva for a useful outfielder?
Would you believe the club would trade Fabian Williamson (who?) for the rights to a burned out Rick Vaughn wanna-be and he'd turn in a 35+ save season and a sub-2.50 ERA? Would you believe he'd be our FOURTH best reliever entering 2010?
Would you believe a club that spent the period from 2005-2008 in the cellar every year in defensive efficiency would become such a dominant fielding team that it could run a gaggle of spaghetti arms like Jason Vargas, Doug Fister, Garrett Olsen, Jarrod Washburn, Chris Jakubauskas and Brandon Morrow out there, none of whom compiled more than 125 innings for the club - and still lead all of baseball in team ERA with the second best club a good 20 points behind?
Would you believe Johjima would walk away from 16 million dollars in the states because he was actually honorable enough to realize he wasn't capable of being worth that much to the Mariners? Would you believe the team would replace him with spaghetti that would very likely outhit him in 2010?
Would you believe the club's leading HR hitter in 2009 would come from the waiver wire? And then disappear the very next off-season? And no one would really worry about it? LOL
Would you believe our new manager, team mascot (Griffey) and supporting cast (guys like Sweeney and Beltre) would take a clubhouse filled with back-biting, internal mutiny and dissension and turn it into one of the most functional, tight-knit and harmonious clubs in all of baseball?
Would you believe it would take less than 2 years for Zduriencik to completely remake the Mariners and spark an outpouring of explosive enthusiasm and hope throughout the emerald city?
Pitchers and catchers report to camp in less than a week. Never had I been more excited to hear my closing words.
I beLIEVE! I beLIEVE!
'Course, I'd believe a whole lot more if we had Adrian Gonzalez slotted in the four hole.
Does the phrase "beyond my wildest dreams" sound reasonable?
It's a little like the 'before' and 'after' pictures of a weight loss success story. You see the first, then the second, with little or no concept of the time and effort involved in getting from A to B. It's not intuitively apparent to the naked eye -- at first glance. But, the moment of thought that quickly follows reveals that real sacrifice and significant duration must've been involved.
Then you meet the person in the pictures -- and they let you in on a little secret. It happened over the space of a couple short months. Far too brief a time to account for the dramatic change. You shake your head in disbelief. How is this possible?
And then you wonder if something so quickly gained can be of a lasting nature. Experience tells us that a proper measure of time and effort is required before we can render a positive forecast for the future permanence of such a profound change.
Keeping the 'before' image of the near past in mind -- frankly, it's hard to accept the beauty of the current situation. The disconnect is in the short time-frame in which it was accomplished -- when weighed against the quality of the change. It's too good to be true.
Don't wake me up. Please turn the off alarm on the nightstand. I like this dream. *ZZZZZZZZ*