If Felix Hernandez isn’t your current favorite Mariner, then you are wrong. That’s all there is to it. I know there’s usually a subjectivity to this type of argument, but in the case of King Felix, you’re either with us or against us. And if King Felix isn’t your favorite Mariner (assuming, of course, that you’re actually a Mariners fan), then frankly, I don’t want to know you! YOUR ARGUMENT IS INVALID!
Now, believe you me, I know the appeal of rooting on the underdog; shit, I’m a fan of Seattle sports teams for Christ’s sake! I also find myself – more often than not – holding an opinion that runs counter to the opinion of the general public. A lifetime of using words like “sheeple” notwithstanding, I get the appeal of going against the grain. Taking the road less travelled. And so on.
But, when it comes to Felix Hernandez, I make a hearty exception. In this one instance, it’s okay to drink the Kool Aid. It’s okay to go with the crowd. Yes, Felix is the best player on this Mariners team, but that’s not the only reason why he should be your favorite Mariner. If you don’t get the warm fuzzies when you think about King Felix, if you don’t instinctually treat him as you would a beloved member of your own family, if you don’t boil with murderous rage every time this Mariners offense lets him down, then I don’t know what to do with you. You’re a lost cause! And if your favorite Mariner is a member of this offense – I don’t care if it’s Kyle Seager, Kendrys Morales, or even Raul Ibanez – then you should be ASHAMED! You need to go to your room and think about what you’ve done. And if I hear you in there playing with your Ninja Turtles, I’m taking them away and giving them to that foster family down the block, you hear me Mister Man?
Exactly 11 months ago today, I had the idea for this post. Essentially, the idea spawned from another in a long line of quality Felix starts squandered by this fucked up waste of space of a team. Yesterday, Felix faced a resurgent Yankees team, went 7 innings, gave up 5 hits and 2 walks while striking out 7 and only giving up 1 run. He received, for his efforts, a no-decision, as the Mariners were only able to score one run themselves in a 2-1 defeat. 11 months ago yesterday, Felix went 7.2 innings of 6-hit, 3-walk, 6-strikeout, 1-run ball against the Oakland A’s where he was again rewarded with a no-decision, as the Mariners were only able to score one run themselves in a 2-1 defeat, this time in 13 innings.
Starts like these happen ALL THE TIME. I love Felix for all of his bad-ass-ness on the mound, when he’s plowing through opposing lineups like they’re warm butter, but I think I love Felix even more when he’s getting absolutely screwed over by his own team. He may not see it this way, but when Felix gets Mariners’d in these types of no-decisions, it becomes a 24-vs-1 showdown where, if I had the power, I’d toss each of those other 24 guys into a well full of man-eating crocodiles. But, that’s not even the main point of this post. My idea, initially, was to look at these types of players from a national perspective. When you think of elite players on shitty teams, throughout the generations, who do you think of?
I’m sure, when I thought of this 11 months ago, we were in the midst of another round of national sports writers demanding the Mariners trade Felix to a contender for the best batch of prospects possible. Those articles were always written for two reasons. The first, because the Mariners are terrible, so why not trade their best asset for a bunch of other, really-good assets? You’ve got to jump-start this rebuilding process SOMETIME, right? Whatever, I’m not going to re-hash that old argument again, especially considering that the Mariners have just extended Felix with a long-term deal that essentially shut those stupid motherfuckers up.
But, the second reason why they would write those articles is simple: they wanted to see what it would be like to have Felix Hernandez in the playoffs. And they know – as well as I know, as well as you should probably know – that it’s likely never going to happen while he’s wearing a Mariners uniform.
Take off your Mariners cap for a moment. If you’re a fan of baseball, then you want to see the very best players work their magic on the game’s biggest stage. You want to see Verlander and Trout and Kershaw and Posey and all the other current greats in the playoffs and ultimately the World Series. If you’re a fan of baseball, even if you live in Tampa or Toronto or Dallas or Fargo, you want to see these players. And you want to see Felix Hernandez. People (and not just Seattleites) feel SORRY for King Felix. Because he’s saddled with this God-foresaken team with no end in sight for all of our misery.
Now, before I continue, let it be known that this isn’t an article where I’m looking at the Best Players Who Have Never Won A Ring. I don’t have a whole lot of interest in that, as it doesn’t really apply to Felix’s situation. No, he doesn’t have a ring, but he also doesn’t have a playoff appearance, and that’s WAY worse. I’m looking for the dregs of the dregs. I’ll continue this post tomorrow with some of the greats of Seattle’s past who have had limited (or no) post-season opportunities, and try to expand on that by looking at other players in other cities who have had similiar experiences to our beloved King.