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Series #1: Athletics vs Mariners - Paradise Awaits

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MLB: Spring Training-Seattle Mariners at Yomiuri Giants Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

“No death, no doom, no anguish can arouse the surpassing despair which flows from a loss of identity.” - From The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath

Except, perhaps, the A’s history in the Wild Card play-in game.

The 2018 season ended with not a bang, but a whimper, and a frigid, dark, damp winter was required for the team to lick its wounds, reload, and move forward. And while 2018 was a surprising success, the team now has lofty expectations that need to be met. Players and fans alike are itching for the team to take the next step forward - to win a playoff series, if not each and every playoff series. The offense packs a serious punch, the defense is legendary, the bullpen can end games by the sixth inning, and the starting pitching shouldn’t be slept on, especially considering the reinforcements due to come up throughout the year.

On paper, this is a championship team. Just need to play the games. Injuries are bound to happen. There will be roadblocks that build up. It’s damn near impossible to predict. Baseball is rarely fair.

No fanbase is as acutely aware of baseball’s lack of fairness as Seattle’s. After spending big and sacrificing the team’s future for the present, the Mariners’ finally caved in to a rebuild after failing to make the postseason for an 18th straight season. What had been a promising start to 2018 ended with yet another slow spiral out of contention, and the ever-tinkering Jerry Dipoto went to work. Robinson Cano is gone. James Paxton is gone. Nelson Cruz, Edwin Diaz, Mike Zunino, all gone. This is not Yer Dad’s Mariners, anymore.

But things are looking up for Seattle! While the team may be willing to take a few steps back in 2019, the A’s are proof that rebuilds don’t have to be all that long lasting. With the right talent coming up through the pipeline, success may not only come quickly, but also be sustainable. Time will tell if the likes of J.P. Crawford, Justus Sheffield, Kyle Lewis, and others will be the guys to bring Seattle to the postseason for the first time since the team won 116 games, but it was clear that the Mariners’ big spending ways wasn’t the answer, and it is for the best that the team is taking on a new strategy.

The AL West is shaping up to be one of the stronger divisions in the sport, and teams like the Astros keep on getting better. While the Mariners aren’t likely to contend this season, they aren’t likely to be pushovers, and they aren’t likely to fade in the second half like the team has for the last half-decade either.

In The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, by H.P. Lovecraft, a man named Randolph Carter aspires to reach a magnificent, sun-kissed paradise city that repeatedly appears in his dreams. Very few know of the city, and none know how to reach it. His journey is long and consuming, bringing him in contact with strange creatures and ghouls who both aid and hamper him, but he never stops working towards his goal. When he finally reaches Kadath, it is not how he had dreamed it, and at the story’s climax he is forced to abandon all he had been working for and take his destiny into his own hands.

The Mariners’ have been spending big money for a long time in an effort to reach their dream of winning a World Series, only to find that attaining that goal wasn’t as easy as they believed. Their superstar studded lineup was never able to bring them to their promised land. King Felix, like King Kuranes in Kadath, has become a relic of the past, and likely won’t appear in the opening series at all. The Mariners’ needed to take their destiny into their own hands, so that they may finally reach the paradise they seek, and they have now taken a mighty leap of faith in order to do so.

Potential Lineup

Dee Gordon - 2B

Mitch Haniger - CF

Jay Bruce - 1B

Edwin Encarnacion - DH

Domingo Santana - LF

Omar Narvaez - C

Ryon Healy - 3B

Tim Beckham - SS

Ichiro - RF

Pitching Matchups

Marco Gonzales (LHP) vs Mike Fiers (RHP)

Yusei Kikuchi (LHP) vs Marco Estrada (RHP)

Game Information

Game #1 - Wednesday, March 20th, 2:35 AM (In Tokyo)

Game #2 - Thursday, March 21st, 2:35 AM (In Tokyo)

Both games will be broadcast on ESPN.