The first year was 2007. Felix Hernandez, a week from being able to legally consume alcohol in this country, faced an Oakland lineup featuring, among others, Shannon Stewart, Mike Piazza, Jason Kendall, and Bobby Crosby.
Felix went eight innings, struck out twelve, and allowed no runs. The Mariners won 4-0.
The baseball season is a set of traditions and rhythms, and starting the year with Felix Hernandez stomping out to the mound as Seattle’s personal kaiju to lay waste to some other city’s helpless collection of humans has become something to check off the calendar every April. In 2009 it was Felix throwing eight and allowing only a run against the Twins. 2011 was a complete game, 108-pitch master class in efficiency against Oakland. 2012, eight more innings of one-run ball. 2014 was eleven strikeouts in only 6.2 innings against the Angels.
Year after year, seemingly with no end, an always preposterously ever-young Felix would welcome opposing teams to start their season as he turned Safeco into his own personal Area X. Teams would walk in wide-eyed, gaze in awe, and know that nature can create in ways more great and terrible than we can conceive. Then, whomp, the trap would spring, and out of the shadows would jump Felix’s horrors. ANNIHILATION.
Time and progress though, know no gods but themselves. Years, innings, injuries, and the Mariners themselves have worn Felix down. He has been supplanted by James Paxton, both in ability and in the hearts of Mariner fans. It is only by the very slimmest of margins, and by cashing in the very last credits of deference and respect that the current front office feels towards him, that he has earned one final Opening Day start. We as fans and the Mariners themselves stand upon a bridge between eras, with Felix on the shoreline, growing ever distant.
Below you will see the predictions of myself and the rest of Dome and Bedlam. The win totals and general outlook will be much bleaker than other Mariner fansites. It is, generally, more in tune with what you’ll see from projection systems, and the opinions of national writers/analysts with less of a personal stake in the team’s fortunes. It reads like we want failure, or that we don’t care. I get that, I really do. You’re a fan, and you want hope, excitement, a reason to feel like this season will be different.
I can’t give that to you. We will not give that to you. Dome and Bedlam is not a hype site, and for many of us saying something will happen that we don’t truly believe will happen is anathema to what we hold dear. The truth is as we see it the Mariners will probably need a large amount of good fortune to make the playoffs, and once-in-a-lifetime amount of luck to challenge for anything beyond the participation trophy that is the Wild Card playoff game.
What I can also tell you, what we can offer, is that, for at least one more year, Felix is toeing the rubber in the top of the first of Game 1 at Safeco Field. For that, in honor of that yearly tradition, of the familiar rhythm it sets in motion for our spring and summer, for Felix’s decision to stick with this team, city, and fanbase through it all we are here, ride or die, win or lose, to be a part of whatever happens to the 2018 Seattle Mariners with you.
Long live the King.
Season Prediction in a Sentence
Andrew: Although the Mariners largely avoid the injury bug (somehow), the bullpen disappoints and the ravages of time continue to slowly errode the Seager+Cano+Cruz triumvirate.
Dan: Veterans with too much dropoff to offset the gains of the young players
Matt: They raised the beer prices at Hit It Here Again?!?
Nathan: The scene in Last Jedi where Rey is down in the Dark Side hole and there are thousands of reflections of her doing the same exact thing echoing through the eternity of time and space
Weebs: Wait, what inning is it?
Skiba: The scene in Last Jedi where Yoda burns the tree and can’t stop laughing.
Woodsy: Is it college basketball season yet?