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April 2, 2007 at 1:09 PM

Don’t believe the hype

That’s what Mariners manager Mike Hargrove was suggesting moments ago, as he prepared to open the season against the Oakland A’s. Hargrove has seen his share of season openers and knows about the hype associated with them. There have already been suggestions this is a must-win series for the Mariners, given their lowly 2-17 record against the A’s in 2006.
But Hargrove won’t have any part of that talk. Whatever happens today, he says, everyone has to remember it’s just one game of many to come.
“I think we all have to remind ourselves of that,” Hargrove said. “We all care so much about it that you have to step back and remind yourself that this is one game out of 162. You know, today is April 2 and hopefully we’re playing well into October. It’s a long season. It’s difficult to approach baseball as a do-or-die every Sunday kind of thing that’s more present probably in football.”
That said, there’s probably some truth that Seattle would do itself a favor by taking the opener. With Joe Blanton (4-0, 1.55 ERA vs. the Mariners last year) going on Tuesday and staff ace Rich Harden working Wednesday’s finale, this afternoon’s start by Felix Hernandez looks like the team’s best shot at a victory this series. I don’t have to remind anyone what’s at stake this month, where a slow start by the M’s could lead to some big changes in the dugout and front office.
Every loss and every series loss will carry extra weight. That’s not something I’m making up. It’s reality. There isn’t much patience left amongst the fan base. I know, since I speak to plenty of you every day. So, while this series — and this game — won’t make or break the season, it could very well set the tone for a difficult April schedule. An April that could set the tone for the entire season.
How’s that for upping the stakes of this one game? Don’t like it? Fire away.
By the way, yes, yes, it’s spelled “ditto” — I get it. Thank you all for writing in to remind me. You can stop now. And to the person who wrote in last week to ask me about “snarky”, well, this is news to me, but it apparently is a Canadian expression. It means sarcastic. My American girlfriend, Amy, tells me she has never heard the word before I uttered it. So, there you go.
Feeling the excitement yet? It’s a great day here at Safeco. A little chilly, but until you’ve shoveled out from under two feet of snow in 50-below weather in Montreal, you’ve never seen chilly. Green Bay? Hah! That’s summer.
This just in: Mariners still undefeated.
Hmmm, looks like our old setup pal had himself a decent debut. Not so much for Greg Dobbs in the same game.
Another old friend has already given up a run for the Royals. Hey, that return on $55 million isn’t as fast as it used to be.
Sweet Lou’s probably glad he’s out of Tampa Bay (D-Rays lost opener again) but things aren’t going so hot in his new home either. Zambrano had better get that five-year deal inked fast.
C Jason Kendall
LF Shannon Stewart
CF Milton Bradley
DH Mike Piazza
3B Eric Chavez
1B Nick Swisher
SS Bobby Crosby
RF Travis Buck
2B Mark Ellis
RHP Dan Haren
CF Ichiro
3B Adrian Beltre
DH Jose Vidro
LF Raul Ibanez
1B Richie Sexson
RF Jose Guillen
C Kenji Johjima
SS Yuniesky Betancourt
2B Jose Lopez
RHP — Felix Hernandez
So, yes, everyone, Guillen is ready to play.



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