Baseball is known for making stories that are told from generation to generation. The Seattle Mariners have a story in the making. A prophecy if you will.
The prophecy foretold of a baseball player. A player that would break the longest playoff drought in North American sports. That player’s name… Jarred Kelenic.
On July 15th, 1999, the Seattle Mariners proudly opened the doors to their new stadium, the same where they play their home games today. However, one day later, the world became familiar with a newborn boy named Jarred Kelenic. A boy who would realize the legend he was born to bring to life.
Things looked good for the Mariners in Safeco Field. Less than three years after playing their first game at Safeco, the Mariners tied the American League record with 116 regular season wins leading them to the playoffs for the second year in a row. Little did they know, it would be the last time sniffing the playoffs for a record-setting amount of time.
Fast forward 12 years. Attendance for the games has dropped by half since the magical 2001 season and the Mariners need to make a splash in free agency to keep the fans interested. This is when General Manager Jack Zduriencik enters the story.
Every good prophecy needs a villain and the acts of Jack Z. show that of the deceiver. One who showed messages of hope and promise with no intention of fulfilling said promises. To bring in the fans, he signs the biggest free agent of the year, second baseman Robinson Cano. Fans rejoiced at a new face of the franchise and someone who would lead the team to the playoffs.
However, while Cano did well, it was not meant to be. Cano is labeled as the “False Prophet” because of the Deceiver. He played well through his time as a Mariner, but the Mariners never made it to the playoffs and stayed at a mediocre level.
2015 would be a pivotal year for this prophecy. It would start as the Mariner higher-ups realize that the deceiver Jack Z has had different intentions than winning games and released him in August. The playoff drought reaches 14 years.
He is replaced by a fresh face. The seer, Jerry Dipoto is hired to change their fortunes. The seer sees all and makes trades on a near-daily basis for a period in time trying to shape the team in a new image, one away from where the deceiver left his mark.
In this time, a small move, most dismissed, occurs in the Mariner’s minor-league system. Pitcher Edwin Diaz was drafted in 2012 to be a starter and had mild success. In 2015, he was told he would have more success as a reliever and makes the conversion.
The success comes quickly for Diaz and he makes his debut for the Mariners the following year. His arm electrifies fans and smokes batters setting them down with ease. He looks promising enough that fans are touting him as the closer of the future.
2018 looked poised for Seattle to potentially break the drought which now is at 16 years. The false prophet, Robinson Cano, trying to show he can still be the face of the franchise, Diaz looking to cement himself as the Mariner closer for years to come and King Felix trying to show that he still has plenty left in the tank.
With a promising start to the season at 24-17, horrible news reaches the front desk of Jerry Dipoto, as Robinson Cano is suspended for 80 games. The team loses its leader and has to persevere. They do so keeping up in a tight AL West division and wildcard race going 45-35 during the 80 game span.
The end of the season comes slightly too fast, as they finish the season going 20-21 and miss out on the playoffs again.
The main bright spot for the team was young closer Diaz, who not only excelled, but dominated. He finished the season with 57 saves, which not only led the majors, but also tied him for second all-time for saves in a single season. After this season, he was poised to continue as the team’s future closer.
All of this leads back to the man of legend, Jarred Kelenic. He was a top target in the 2018 draft that the Mariners were interested in taking with the 14th selection. However, the Mets had the 6th selection. They knew the potential buried within Kelenic and took him, leaving the Mariners to select Logan Gilbert.
However, just because he couldn’t draft Kelenic, that didn’t deter The Seer Dipoto. That offseason, he was hard at work making the next part of the prophecy come to light.
Discussions with the Mets proved that two sacrifices would be needed in order to obtain Kelenic for the future. For The Seer, the choice was hard but needed to be done. He sent the False Prophet, Robinson Cano, one of the last remnants of the Deceivers’ damages, but one more was needed. One whose 2018 was a sign of things to come. A player whose 2018 was truly historic. He needed to send Edwin Diaz, dubbing him the lost sacrifice.
With two of the biggest pieces of the 2018 Mariner team gone, fans were not happy with the Seer, but the moves needed to be done to protect long-term success.
The fruits of the trade immediately showed themselves to both teams. The Mariners shed themselves of one of the last remnants of the destruction caused by the Deceiver and the Mets losing out with Cano playing below his level and Edwin Diaz struggling hard and falling out of the closer’s role.
Kelenic showed fans why he is the hero of destiny in the minors, batting nearly .300 and having an OPS of over .900 in his first year with the team. His potential is showing but will need to be groomed before the prophecy can be truly fulfilled.
While the prophecy has yet to be truly fulfilled, it won’t be long before Kelenic will play on the field he was born one day after. Once that day arrives, he will lead the Mariners to the promised land and end the drought. It has been foretold.
Co-Written by Alex Clark and Andrew Scott
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