The Mariners are 10 games out of first place in the AL West. They are 8.5 games out in the Wild Card. There are several teams they would have to leapfrog to make the playoffs. Any projected standings out there (including my own) don't like the team's chances to make up the ground. The odds are stacked against the 2009 Mariners playing in the postseason.
In response, many fans are conjuring up 1995 memories. The M's were at one point 13.5 games back, and we all remember how that turned out.
However, just take a look down the road for inspiration. Meet the 2009 Rainiers.
Tacoma is back in town to finish out the season with an eight-game home stand, starting tonight with a four-game set against the Salt Lake Bees. The Rainiers are coming back from a nine-game road trip.
The Rainiers left Cheney stadium 7.5 games out of first place.
They went 9-0 on their road trip.
They are now tied for first place.
After playing four games against Salt Lake, Tacoma faces the Colorado Springs Sky Sox to finish the season. The Sky Sox are the team Tacoma is tied with for the division lead.
From a personnel perspective, it's worth paying attention to Tacoma, because a playoff run would delay September call-ups. The Rainiers need to field a team, after all.
However, more importantly, the Rainiers are living out a diamond fairy tale. Their last nine games are what sports is all about. Tacoma was finishing up a mostly mediocre season, but technically wasn't out of it. Then, out of nowhere, they got red-hot, and the Sky Sox stone cold. It's about the only way Tacoma was going to get back in the race.
Sure, the Rainiers got a big assist from the Sky Sox's parent club, the Rockies. Carlos Gonzalez, the best player in the whole PCL, is now leading off for Colorado as they surge in the NL West. This isn't the same Colorado Springs team that built a large lead. Still, it always takes a perfect storm of luck, breaks, and skill for the improbable to happen. It's stories like the one unfolding in Tacoma right now that I live for as a sports fan.
Maybe the Mariners can find a perfect storm too. It's not probable, but it's possible. I'll be keeping close tabs on Tacoma's remarkable run, because it stands by itself as a tremendous story. However, I'm also dreaming of a similar surge making its way up the I-5 corridor.