Sunday, February 05, 2023

The Front Row with JASON ELLIOTT April 14, 2009

| April 14, 2010 9:00 PM

Optimism turns into indigestion

Opening Day.

The start of a new season.

Hope and optimism is at a high as you believe your team has picked up the right pieces to the puzzle to contend for a playoff spot.

That was the same feeling that surrounded Safeco Field on Monday as the Seattle Mariners entertained the Oakland Athletics in the first home game of the season.

Following the game, like most fans, the only feeling I had about the M's this season is indigestion.

THREE OUT of the last four years, I've made the trip over to the Seattle area for the game, with the Mariners defeating the Athletics three years ago and Anaheim last year. Hoping to see some of the same magic happen, I hit the road again, but this time it was a little different.

Oakland had been rolling since losing the first game of the season, meanwhile the Mariners seem to only win when Felix Hernandez takes the mound.

When the stadium speakers began to blare "Welcome to the Jungle" as Randy Johnson entered from the outfield tunnel, the crowd stood in appreciation, much to the same reception for Ken Griffey Jr. when he returned last year.

I wasn't counting on seeing Dan Wilson, Jay Buhner, Edgar Martinez and Griffey reunite at the mound for the first time since Johnson was traded to Houston in 1998.

At that moment, it felt as though it was the beginning of a new era of winning in Seattle.

THE GAME finally got going around 4 p.m. and by the time the third inning rolled around, it was becoming apparent that the M's were definitely going to be a different team this season.

Between the two teams, neither had a hit in the first four innings, but Oakland had a 1-0 lead after Ryan Rowland-Smith walked the bases loaded with nobody out.

Oakland managed to squeeze a run past the tag of Seattle catcher Rob Johnson in the fourth inning. The A's added another run when the ninth-place hitter in the lineup hit a solo home run, not only breaking up the no-hitter, but also putting a fork in the Mariner comeback attempt. Seattle only managed two hits in the game, and gave up two runs when Milton Bradley missed a grounder in left field.

Not exactly the best way to celebrate the return of a former M's great.

IF THE regular season wasn't six months, I'd probably start to panic.

Believe it or not, Ichiro, Chone Figgins and Franklin Gutierrez probably won't go 1 for 12 at the plate the rest of the season at home. At some point, one of them will start to hit and the others will follow.

If the Mariners hope to contend, they'll need to take a page out of the other four players that stood on the field along with Johnson and just flat out "refuse to lose."

Right now, I just need to refuse that second plate of garlic fries.

Jason Elliott is a sports writer for the Coeur d'Alene Press. He can be reached by phone at 664-0239 or via e-mail at

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